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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 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 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 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 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 Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-18 14:37 [p.18542]
Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak to the details of any ongoing investigation, but I can assure the hon. member that although ECBC is an arm's-length crown corporation, I expect officials to co-operate with any investigation that is ongoing.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-18 14:38 [p.18543]
Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member there was no whitewashing of any report.
The Public Service Commission found no evidence of any political interference, which not surprisingly is in stark contrast to a 2006 report on the Liberal phantom job scheme. Maybe the Liberals could talk about that.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-18 14:47 [p.18544]
Mr. Speaker, we cannot speak to the details of any ongoing investigation, but as soon as I became aware of these allegations, I did direct ACOA officials to refer the matter to the Ethics Commissioner.
We do expect ECBC to conduct business with integrity, with accountability and with respect for Canadian taxpayers.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-18 14:48 [p.18544]
Mr. Speaker, ACOA is actually busy doing a lot of good work in that member's riding.
What the member is alleging is completely false, and he knows it. The Public Service Commission was very clear in its report. The member obviously has not read that report, which he should do before making all these ridiculous allegations.
We did not write the report, so we could not change something that we did not write.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-17 14:53 [p.18429]
Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak to any details of any ongoing investigation, but as soon as we became aware of any allegations, I directed ACOA officials to refer the matter to the Ethics Commissioner.
We expect that ECBC will conduct their business with integrity, accountability and respect for Canadian taxpayers. I can say that the proper process is in progress to deal with these issues, and they will be addressed in due course.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-14 11:03 [p.18366]
Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize Erskine Smith, who recently passed away.
Involved in theatre as an actor and director for more than 50 years, he and his wife, Pat, founded the Victoria Playhouse in 1982. His family and the playhouse is the heart of Victoria-by-the-Sea, entertaining tourists from all over the world and locals.
Erskine spent many years touring maritime theatres and festivals and performed at the CBC nationally. In 2012, he was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contribution to theatre and the arts.
His lifetime in dedication and self-sacrifice serving the theatre community reflects the exemplary man he was. His humility, integrity and hard work continue to inspire, expressed by many as “how kind, welcoming and generous he was”.
As Erskine moves on, there is no question that he will always be centre stage, from memories of artistic expression to the kindness that was his very being.
On behalf of the House, we recognize and thank Erskine for his dedication and contribution to his community and the arts sector as a whole.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-14 12:05 [p.18378]
Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege last night of attending the citizenship and immigration committee while it was studying a private member's bill. Then I came in here today and I heard a backbench Conservative ask the minister a question so that he could answer and misinform the House on what the discussions were, as if somebody was supporting terrorism.
The real issue is the government is hijacking a private member's bill to try and get its way across, and that goes against our very democracy in this institution.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-13 15:06 [p.18304]
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.
I think if you seek it, you will find unanimous consent for the following motion:
That the House commend and thank the RCMP for the excellent work that they do protecting Parliamentarians and all staff who work in the Parliamentary Precinct, recognize that traffic regulations and signage are important for the safety of those working on the Hill including construction personnel and visitors, and that the House reminds all members, and staff that their full compliance and cooperation is required.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-13 17:19 [p.18323]
Mr. Speaker, I wanted to ask a somewhat different question before the member for York Centre asked who we should be consulting and said that the official opposition would be suggesting that we should be consulting with the smugglers.
That is what is wrong with this place. This was, until that time, a fairly sensible debate. I have been here pretty near 20 years. I have never sat through a question period as embarrassed for every one of us as I was today. It is because of the kinds of remarks from the member for York Centre. The government sets the tone in here, and the tone is spiralling down so much that we are all embarrassed by what happens in this House. That question just shows the kind of attitude government members have to sensible debate in this House.
My question to the member on the legislation, the key point, is whether it will work. The government comes forward, in every bill, with minimum sentences. Minimum sentences, I submit, we will see in ten years' time are not the answer. There is much more than minimum sentences required.
Why do we appoint judges? Why do we instill experience in judges so that they can make decisions for extenuating circumstances? That has to be taken into consideration as well. Minimum sentences in themselves will not do the job.
We will be supporting sending this legislation to committee in the hope that proper discussion can take place there.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-13 17:30 [p.18324]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on this motion. I congratulate the member for Brant for putting it forward. There are a lot of points to be considered. I know he has done a lot of work in the disability community, so he is probably the proper one to be putting forward this motion based upon his experience in that area.
As our critic indicated, Liberals will support the motion. However, beyond the motion itself, we want it to be a call to action for the Government of Canada.
The report that came out is entitled “Rethinking Disability in the Private Sector”, and the subtext reads “We all have abilities, some are just more apparent than others”.
That is, I think, a remarkable statement. Everybody has talents that we do not see.
I can remember that during my time in the farm movement, when I used to stay in people's homes night after night, I would always find that people had a second talent that was not visible. One farmer whose place I stayed at was an expert in lead glass. He shipped it all over the world. I never knew that until I happened to stay at his house.
When we see people with disabilities, we do not often see that inner ability and talent. Whether they have a mental disability or a physical disability, given the opportunity, those inner abilities and those talents will come out.
There are a couple of things that should be mentioned about that report.
Number one is that there is a business case for employing people with disabilities. It states that there are 795,000 working-age Canadians in that category and that 340,000 of them have post-secondary education.
We hear in this House and we hear in our communities all the time that there is a shortage of skilled workers, a shortage of all kinds of workers, and although we are looking at the business sector being involved in this area, there is a real opportunity to give people with disabilities an incentive so that they have a better quality of life for themselves and can take pride in the work they do.
The other side of the coin is that they can be productive in a job and in the Canadian economy. That potential is pretty good when we look at 795,000 people, with 340,000 of them having a post-secondary education.
The report states clearly that there are myths and misconceptions in the business community about the costs and risks associated with hiring people with disabilities. It claims there are no costs at all in half the cases—I am going from the study—to accommodate a person with disabilities, but that on average the cost is $500. That is a pretty small down payment to get a loyal and engaged employee, as the report talks about.
I have seen people with disabilities in my riding. I know people who, if they could get a job and have the atmosphere and the technology they need to do a job in a productive way, would turn out to be the most faithful and loyal employees any employer could have, as they would appreciate the employer working with them so that they could have the opportunity to work with that employer.
The report, “Rethinking Disability in the Private Sector”, provides a good basis, a good foundation for moving forward.
The motion itself has five sections, and due to time I will concentrate on the last one. It says:
(e) strengthening efforts to identify existing innovative approaches to increasing the employment of persons with disabilities occurring in communities across Canada and ensuring that programs have the flexibility to help replicate such approaches.
There is so much we can do with new technologies. Investments have to be made in many areas to assist the people in the disability community, not only in terms of getting to work but also in terms of having the technology at work to be able to do whatever it is they may be doing.
How do we make this technology work for people with disabilities? I think we have all seen examples. I know one of the bankers I have dealt with was legally blind, but he was still a banker doing productive work every day. He had a computer program that would either talk to him or adjust the print so he could see it.
Just imagine how many people in North America would be helped by technology that assists people who are legally blind. It would help them to be gainfully employed and to be productive in their lives.
I am sure there are other technologies out there that could assist people with other kinds of disabilities. As MPs we go out into the schools, to high school classrooms and others. There is one thing that always amazes me in those classrooms, and that is the personnel who work with the people with disabilities, as well as how the education system, at least in the schools I have been in, utilizes technologies to assist young people with either a mental or a physical disability to learn and to gain their education.
It may take extra personnel, but the technology is improving all the time for these people so that they can gain their education.
The problem is that sometimes that effort, in terms of helping those people with disabilities, stops when they graduate from the school system.
I think the last point in the motion by the member for Brant really goes to that point, that more effort needs to be made to find a way to transfer that technology and to encourage the business sector to utilize that technology so that these people can be productive in their lives.
Let me close with a quote from the title of the report: “We All Have Abilities, Some Are Just More Apparent Than Others”.
This motion gives us the opportunity to work with people to find those abilities that are not so apparent on the surface, and to utilize the technologies so that those people can add to our economy, assist the business community and find a quality of life in their own livelihoods. This motion could give us that opportunity.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-12 16:42 [p.18194]
Mr. Speaker, is this the 46th time allocation, is it the 47th, is it the 45th? It almost sounds like a farm auction. Will it be 47? Will it be 48? Will it be 50? When are the Conservatives going to hit 50?
This the most secretive, debate-reluctant government that the country has ever seen. We could have a little contest here. We could all make offers and bets on what day and what hour they hit 50. It is getting pretty close. Yesterday was 44 and 45, I believe. This one is 46.
This is not only about what is happening in this chamber. Because of the votes on time allocation, the committee that I sit on, which is the international trade committee, has had its meetings cancelled five or six times, so it is shutting down. There are other issues that need to be dealt with, and the way the current government operates prevents us from dealing with real issues at committee. That is a serious issue, because the Conservatives are such an undemocratic bunch.
I had a motion today that I wanted to give notice on at committee. It was to ask the government to table the human rights report under the Canada-Colombia trade agreement, which is an obligation on the government and which it has not tabled as yet, and now I cannot debate that motion at committee. No doubt the committee would have gone in camera anyway, into more secrecy, and an open debate would not have been allowed.
My point is this: the government is not only preventing business and debate in this chamber, but its actions and the way it is handling closure are hurting the ability of committees to do their work.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-11 14:56 [p.18090]
Mr. Speaker, the suggestion that we are resisting efforts to combat tax evasion is completely false. We support Prime Minister Cameron's efforts to achieve a G8 consensus on tax havens and on tax evasion.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance was at the OECD just last week, working on this very issue. Our government has a strong record of getting tough on tax cheats, including obtaining information on Canadians with offshore assets from our international partners. Since 2006, we have introduced over 75 measures to improve the integrity of our tax system—
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-10 13:24 [p.17962]
Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member for Kitchener—Conestoga and he had nice-sounding words, but making a national park is just not enough to do the job.
Prince Edward Island National Park, or Green Gables, is in my riding, and the big issue is the resources that will accompany the putting in place of a national park to establish the protective measures necessary.
I can tell the member that with the cutbacks at Parks Canada over the last number of years—and I do not know what will happen this summer with further cutbacks—there are not sufficient wardens to show people how to handle things within that national park now. The sand dunes are very fragile structures and depend on grass to hold the sands in place. People are going up those sand hills and coasting down them. They are tearing the sand hills apart, and there is no one there to explain how that cannot be done within that national park zone.
Yes, Liberals support its becoming a national park, but resources are required to do the job that has to be done to preserve the natural resources that are there, and I do not see those resources accompanying this bill.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-10 14:48 [p.17976]
Mr. Speaker, our government has been working with partners abroad to crack down on tax cheats. Today, we are seeing the benefit of Canada's close collaboration with our international partners.
I am pleased to announce that Canada is now in the possession of extensive data on Canadians with offshore assets. CRA experts are reviewing the information on a priority basis and will undertake compliance actions where warranted.
This is, once again, a great day for hard-working taxpayers and a bad day for tax evaders.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-10 15:10 [p.17979]
Mr. Speaker, I, in fact, did use those words, and I will withdraw them.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-07 11:50 [p.17919]
Mr. Speaker, it is widely known that Nigel Wright, prior to his removal from the Prime Minister's Office, was really the one in charge of the CIDA and the TPP trade files.
We also know, by Premier Dunderdale's statement, that in meetings with her, Nigel Wright tried to draw concessions out of the province on the fisheries.
Who is in charge in the Prime Minister's Office of the trade files now, and will the Prime Minister assure us that there will not be concessions on fisheries, on supply management, and on drugs?
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-06 10:09 [p.17794]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from constituents and others who are concerned about the possibility of an oil spill in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. They request the establishment of an immediate moratorium on oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and they call on the government to commit to establishing an environmental assessment review panel, which would include representation from all gulf provinces and aboriginal leaders, to determine the impact of oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-06-06 14:38 [p.17823]
Mr. Speaker, we cannot speak to details of an ongoing investigation. However, as soon as I became aware of these allegations, I directed ACOA officials to refer the matter to the Ethics Commissioner.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-06 15:32 [p.17833]
Mr. Speaker, I have a point of order.
The Speaker, in the chair that he or she occupies in this place, is a position that has to be beyond reproach. I have been a member of Parliament for nearly 20 years in this place, and by your ruling, my confidence in the Speaker has been thrown into jeopardy. Let me explain.
My concern is based on the Speaker's response to a point of order raised by the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel immediately following question period about a letter from Elections Canada that referred to the member for Selkirk—Interlake and the member for Saint Boniface. The member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel asked that the Speaker table that letter.
In my view, a letter to the Speaker with that kind of content is a letter to us in the House of Commons. The response from the Chair was that the letter is on the Elections Canada website. We have now looked. That letter is not there. The letter is on CBC's website.
However, this concern goes far beyond whether the letter is available or not. A letter with that kind of content, referring to the ability of members to sit in this House of Commons and suggesting that two members should be suspended, is, I believe, a letter to all of us. That letter should be tabled, in my view, by the Chair.
I am certainly willing to accept that in the heat of the moment, your office thought that it might be available through Elections Canada. Maybe you did not have time to consult with the desk and respond accordingly.
However, Mr. Speaker, in all seriousness, this is a serious matter for our chamber and our confidence in the Speaker and how the Speaker operates.
I respect the position. I respect the individual. I think an error has been made here in terms of the kind of response to that question.
I am asking the Speaker to reconsider—maybe not right in this moment, but I am asking the Speaker to reconsider.
View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
2013-06-05 15:43 [p.17719]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from a number of constituents from Prince Edward Island. They wish to indicate to the House that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as a national public broadcaster, plays an important role in reflecting Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences while serving the special needs of those regions.
They call upon the Government of Canada to maintain stable, predictable, long-term core funding to the public broadcaster, including CBC Radio and Radio-Canada, in support of their unique and critical role.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-05 17:22 [p.17734]
Mr. Speaker, I very much enjoyed the speech by the member for Markham—Unionville. He posed a question that I would like to hear the answer to.
He indicated that this motion is grounded in one of three possibilities: it is a cynical political stunt, it reflects a misunderstanding on the part of the NDP as to how government works or it reflects the New Democrats' idea of federalism.
The member left it as an open question. I would invite him to answer it.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-05 21:24 [p.17767]
Mr. Speaker, I did not think that I would ever say this, but I agree with much of what the hon. member has had to say, especially with respect to the check on majoritarianism. It is particularly relevant in my small province of Prince Edward Island. Since the Conservative government has come to power, we have seen the withdrawal of front-line services for immigrants, taxpayers and veterans. There needs to be some sort of a check on this majoritarianism.
However, the member did say that he has some difficulty with there being a reopening of federal-provincial negotiations with respect to Senate reform. Does he not agree, given the long delay that the government went through before sending this to the Supreme Court of Canada, that the result of the reference to the Supreme Court of Canada will inevitably be those federal-provincial discussions that the Prime Minister seems to abhor?
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-03 14:02 [p.17513]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Ira Lewis, who recently passed away.
Ira, from York, P.E.I., served his community and fellow Canadians in many capacities, but first and foremost he was a family man, proud of his heritage and so satisfied to see the family farm continue.
His son described his principles as his God-given love, respect and responsibility. Through a number of organizations, including the PEI Federation of Agriculture and the P.E.I. Fluid Milk Association, Ira worked to benefit the total farm community. He was known for being at the cutting edge of agriculture technology.
With his brother Claude, they were recognized internationally as a breeder of purebred Holsteins and won awards in Charlottetown, the Atlantic Winter Fair and The Royal, carrying such honours as premier exhibitor.
In 1984, Ira was inducted into the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame.
On behalf of the House, I recognize and thank Ira Lewis for his dedication and contribution to his community and the agriculture sector as a whole.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-03 16:31 [p.17539]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to debate Bill C-60, the budget implementation act. In answer to the previous question, the parliamentary secretary should know that the debt has increased. Again, we are seeing a further addition to that total debt through this budget.
It is interesting that when the Minister of Finance gave his budget speech, he committed to balancing the books by 2015. Well is that not wonderful? The only problem with what the minister said was he has never hit one single target he has ever set, when he was minister of finance with the province of Ontario or when he was Minister of Finance with the federal government.
In fact, the government came to power when there was an annual surplus. Conservatives squandered that away. Now, so the parliamentary secretary understand because he is part of the cabinet, we have a government that is the biggest spending government in Canadian history. It has cut more services and programs than any other government in Canadian history. It is still in deficit spending.
My colleague, the member for Kings—Hants, in his remarks pointed out that there were a number of areas in the bill that we could support, but there were a number of areas that we could not. I have said in this place before that one of the problems is that for some of those technical areas we cannot really get into a discussion and debate on because they are all tied up in the omnibus bill. This one is not as bad as previous ones in covering so many topics, but it still is bad and takes away the ability to really debate in-depth and hold proper hearings on specific sections that are affected by Bill C-60.
My colleague from Kings—Hants indicated that there were two key reasons that we would continue to oppose the bill. One is the legislation threatens the independence of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In the section in Bill C-60 that talks about crown corporations, Treasury Board collective bargaining, it would allow the cabinet to require that a crown corporation have its negotiating mandate approved by the Treasury Board before beginning negotiations.
It would also allow cabinet to require that a Treasury Board employee attend and act as an observer during that collective bargaining process. In other words, the real ability of a crown corporation to operate in its own right would be taken away by Treasury Board. That is just pure wrong.
We know the dislike that the Prime Minister, the cabinet and government has against the CBC. They are basically going to have the mandate to order the crown corporation, which is supposed to be independent of government, on how it should negotiate. This really undermines that independence in a very serious way.
The second area my colleague from Kings—Hants mentioned, which I agree with, and as our leader has said many times in this place, was the budget continued to raise taxes on middle-class Canadians to pay for the Conservatives' wasteful spending. That is so evident.
It is interesting that when the Minister of Finance got up and read his budget speech and talked a bit about the budget, he outlined the tax relief on hockey equipment, et cetera. What he failed to talk about were all the areas where there would be really, in effect, tax increases or cost recovery fee increases and other measures that would place a financial burden on middle-class Canadians. It is middle-class Canadians who make our country tick. What we see in the budget are a number of tax measures that are really making it much more difficult for Canadian middle-class families to make ends meet.
It is not just the tax measures. The government members get up and say that by our not wanting to increase the tariffs on China, we are putting a damper on creating jobs in Canada. That is not true at all. The fact of the matter is that none of the low-end bicycles are produced in Canada. The higher end, the $5,000 and $6,000 bicycles, are, in fact, produced here. It goes to show how narrow the focus of the government is. It tries to paint everything with the same brush. As a result, ordinary Canadians are facing increased costs and certainly a lot fewer services.
The budget also raises taxes on small business owners by some $2.3 billion over the next five years, directly hurting about three-quarters of a million Canadians and risking Canadian jobs. That is what the budget actually does. Employment insurance premiums will go up. There is a huge cost to Canadians.
In Bill C-60 there was an opportunity for the government to show some vision for the future. Where that vision really needs to be shown is in the whole area of youth employment. That is an absolute missing factor in this particular budget. Canada's labour market for young Canadians has yet to recover from the recession. Unemployment for young people is around 24%. Young people need the opportunity to have a job to help pay for their education but also to give them skills in the employment field and in the business market. Youth employment has been completely ignored by the government. It had an opportunity to do something about Canada's future, but it is failing dismally.
In fact, as has been said in the House a few times, there have been ads during the Stanley Cup playoffs hockey series about Canada's action plan. The government spends on Canada's action plan ads and talks about the student program, but there are a lot of disclaimers at the end of the commercial. It talks about it, but consultations with the provinces on that program have not even started. It is not up and running, and here is the government spending on ads, when the cost for one of those ads, under the current assistance for student work, is equivalent to 32 student summer jobs, in terms of the federal government share. Every time Canadians look at those ads, they must think that there is money that could have been spent more appropriately creating student summer jobs. That is what really needs to be done, and the government failed dismally in that area.
The government will talk about the incentive for greater charitable donations for young people. However, unless it is a family of wealth, and that is not the middle class, that is not going to make any difference either.
To close, this budget is terrible for Prince Edward Island. In my province, the cuts to the Canadian Tourism Commission mean stopping its advertising in the United States market. That means fewer tours coming to Prince Edward Island to help our economy.
There would be cuts to agriculture. That would hurt us in Prince Edward Island. There would be cuts to the fishery, which would hurt us as well.
This is a dismal budget, and the government should just admit it.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-03 16:43 [p.17541]
Mr. Speaker, that is why I am on my feet. It is because I do support our youth. The problem is that the budget does not.
Maybe the members are just looking at the talking points. Take, for instance, the $47 billion in infrastructure. Does that number not sound good on the surface? However, it is stretched out over 10 years. It is back-loaded on the other end, well after the next election. For the next two years, there is hardly anything in that budget for infrastructure.
The member can get up to talk about the $47 billion. The problem is that the $47 billion does not exist for that age group that is now youth. By the time that money is available to be spent, they will be well beyond being youth.
That is the problem with the current government. It talks a good line, but it fails to put in the measures to actually do the job. That is the problem with this budget.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-03 16:46 [p.17541]
Mr. Speaker, in terms of the Investment Canada Act, the reason we did not support the motion coming forward from the NDP was that it would not allow the necessary investments. We are in 2013. The figures from 10, 15 and 20 years ago, in terms of global investment, just do not work anymore. There are other measures we can take to ensure that the investment coming in, whether it is from foreign countries or state-owned enterprises, meets the requirements we believe are necessary in Canada to protect our natural resources and our value-added industries for Canadians.
We live in a global economy. In fact, I was at a trade session this morning where we were talking about the necessary investment to utilize the best aspects of our natural resource industry.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-06-03 19:15 [p.17562]
Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the remarks from the member for Ottawa Centre. When he talked about the Canada job grant and that the program does not actually exist, I think that is symbolic of a lot of things in this so-called budget. It is a lot of fiction. What we also have in this so-called budget is a statement from the Minister of Finance that he will balance the books in 2015. It is as if it has already happened when we listen to them, but we know that it is fiction too, because this Minister of Finance has not hit a budget target yet.
My question really relates to the other aspect of the member for Ottawa Centre's critic portfolio, and that relates to CIDA. It definitely should not be in a budget bill. What does the member see as the implications for international development assistance as a result of it being transferred to Foreign Affairs, more for business interests than development interests?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-03 21:00 [p.17577]
Mr. Speaker, I was interested to hear the hon. member's comments with respect to how this budget would purportedly help veterans, and the measures that are in it with respect to the War Measures Act.
The member would undoubtedly know that those measures are a direct result of a five-year court battle that the government waged against disabled veterans. Those amendments should actually be called the “Manuge amendments”, because they are in the budget only because of Dennis Manuge.
While these amendments would stop the clawbacks as the court ordered, they would continue to claw back welfare payments, other payments made by the Department of Veterans Affairs, old age security payments and CPP payments. That is how far this would go. It would go only as far as the court said it had to.
The member stood and said he is proud of what this budget would do with respect to veterans in the Last Post Fund; however two-thirds of all applications to the Last Post Fund were rejected before this budget and would continue to be.
He talked about the investment in the helmets to hardhats program; however the Government of Canada's investment into the helmets to hardhats program is $100,000 to a website. That program is pretty much totally funded by private industry.
My question is for the member. Is he generally proud of what this budget would do for veterans, considering that all the changes in the budget with respect to veterans were forced on the government by the court in the Dennis Manuge case?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-05-30 10:54
Mr. Speaker, here we are debating a motion for closure just after a very passionate presentation by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands with respect to how these motions for time allocation impact on individual members.
I am a new member of Parliament here, but in my previous career I had occasion to work with the hon. minister when he was general counsel with an insurance company. Back then, one of the principles by which he guided his career was that a negotiated resolution was always better than one imposed.
Given the minister's previous work history, my question for the minister is this: what measures were taken to try to come to a negotiated resolution and try to come to a compromise in terms of debate limits before this draconian measure was imposed yet again?
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-29 14:48 [p.17240]
Mr. Speaker, Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation is an independent arm's-length crown corporation. My expectation is that ECBC conducts its business with integrity, accountability and respect for Canadian taxpayers.
We have ensured that this matter was brought to the attention of the Ethics Commissioner, and we do expect that the CEO will fully co-operate with that investigation.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-29 14:49 [p.17241]
Mr. Speaker, ACOA is very busy supporting economic development in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Public Service Commission is an independent body, and as such, makes its own determinations on what or what not to include in this report. This was their report.
The independent investigation by the Public Service Commission did not find any evidence of wrongdoing or influence on the part of the ministers, or of any political staff, for that matter. We have taken action in response to the commission's recommendations.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-28 11:00 [p.17124]
Mr. Speaker, my question relates to the member's comments on how the government's tax regime is affecting tourism.
We have dropped from seventh or eighth place in the world as most visited by international visitors to 18th. We understand the cutbacks to the Canadian Tourism Commission have forced it to cut advertising for tourism in the United States, which is a major drawing market for us in Atlantic Canada. It will impact our tourism industry, our seasonal workers and our economy.
Could the member elaborate further on how some of those hidden taxes by the government have impacted tourism? I know airport fees is one. What others might the member elaborate on?
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-28 12:07 [p.17132]
Mr. Speaker, before I ask my question, do you see quorum in the House? I do not.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-28 12:07 [p.17132]
Mr. Speaker, it was just like watching ants come out of an ant hill as we asked for a quorum. Members are almost like the Prime Minister; they are in hiding over there today.
In any event, we are talking about the bill and various areas of tax relief. I wonder what the hon. member thinks of the fact that the government continues to reduce taxes to the corporate sector to the point that companies are sitting on about $560 billion of cash. They are not using that money to increase productivity, to create jobs or to develop new investments in technology. Is that not an area the government should be looking at to bring in revenues? The fact is that the tax system is out of balance, and the corporate sector is not pulling its weight.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-28 14:39 [p.17154]
Mr. Speaker, that question, I have to say, was very void of facts.
The Public Service Commission is an independent body and, as such, makes its own determinations on what to include or not include in its reports. The independent investigation by the Public Service Commission did not find any evidence of any wrongdoing or influence on the part of ministers or political staff in this matter, and ACOA has taken action in response to the Public Service Commission's recommendations.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-27 15:55
Mr. Speaker, I move:
That, in relation to Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, the First Nations Goods and Services Tax Act and related legislation, not more than five further hours shall be allotted to the consideration of the third reading stage of the Bill; and
that at the expiry of the five hours provided for the consideration of the third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the Bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-27 15:59
Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that I am very proud of what our government has done for Canadian business and taxpayers.
It has been over a decade since Parliament last passed a comprehensive package of technical tax amendments. This particular bill has been in Parliament for nearly 200 days now. Surely 200 days is long enough. Let us show some respect for Canadian taxpayers and get moving on this bill.
Even before this bill was introduced, it was consulted on literally for years in advance, with repeated public consultations. We know that all sides support this bill. All sides recognize that it is a technical bill. All parties supported it at second reading at finance committee, without amendment.
We need to get on with it. We need to do this for Canadians.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-27 16:02
Mr. Speaker, the answer is, because we are the party and government that gets things done.
This bill has been in Parliament for seven months now. It has had nearly 200 days for debate and study. It is a bill that all parties support. It is a bill that has been a decade in the making. We need to move forward. This is something that non-partisan groups have been demanding of us, groups like the Real Property Association of Canada, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Tax Executives Institute and the Canadian Tax Foundation.
Listen to what the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada, which is a professional organization representing over 75,000 tax professionals, had to say:
Some of the measures contained in today’s bill were initially proposed as early as 1999....With unlegislated tax measures, taxpayers and professional accountants must maintain their records and forms—sometimes for years—to be in a position to comply, even without knowing when and if these measures will be approved by Parliament and enacted. This uncertainty and unpredictability places an enormous compliance burden on taxpayers, businesses, professionals and their clients.
Our government wants to do the right thing by these groups.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-27 16:05
Mr. Speaker, as I did say, the bill has been before Parliament for 200 days. Even before the bill was introduced it was consulted on for literally years with repeated public consultations with professional groups.
I know that at finance committee all parties have supported the bill. They voted for it at second reading and at the finance committee stage. I should note that the all-party finance committee endorsed the bill without amendment after a detailed study. Indeed, witness after witness spoke in favour of the bill. Therefore, I want to share with the House what some of those witnesses said.
The vice-president of taxation at the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants stated:
We support Bill C-48. [We understand] how important it is for taxpayers to have greater certainty and a clearer understanding of Canada's federal income tax system....Bill C-48 helps improve clarity and certainty, and it mitigates the negative effects of uncertainty identified by the Auditor General.
Therefore, it is important that we ensure that this bill is passed as soon as possible.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-27 16:08
Mr. Speaker, that is some slip, 200 days.
I want to first point out in response to the hon. member that it was his party, the NDP, that moved to end debate last week because it wanted to go home from the House. We came here to work and we came here to work for Canadians. On this side of the House we know how important it is to pay our taxes and to collect our taxes. That is what we intend to do.
I could go on about the groups that support this bill and want to have it passed very quickly.
I will quote Larry Chapman, who is the executive director and CEO of the Canadian Tax Foundation. He stated:
Bill C-48, the Technical Tax Amendments Act....represents 10 years of repairs and maintenance in updating the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act. Its passage is important to all Canadians. You heard that in the earlier presentation. I want to emphasize it again. Its passage is very important to all Canadians.
Further, he said:
Delays in the passage of tax legislation leave taxpayers and their advisers in a no man's land of uncertainty. My message for the Standing Committee on Finance is that you should encourage passage of this legislation....
That is what we intend to do.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-27 16:12
Mr. Speaker, I will remind this member that it was the NDP members who wanted to go home early last week. On this side of the House we come to work for Canadians.
On meeting the needs of Canadians, this bill has probably been more than 14 years in the making, so it is hardly rushing anything through. There has been a lot of public consultation on the bill, and it has been before Parliament for 200 days now.
Part of the bill would also close tax loopholes. What could the opposition possibly have against closing tax loopholes? When we collect tax owed by Canadians, we can fund the services that Canadians need to have, like schools, hospitals and other services that we provide for Canadians. Bill C-48 contains measures that would implement a more rigorous information reporting regime for certain transactions associated with schemes to avoid taxes. This, along with our budget this year, contains measures as well to crack down on tax evasion and tax avoidance. We certainly hope that the NDP will be supporting not just this bill, but our budget as well.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-27 16:14
Mr. Speaker, if both opposition parties have said that they support the bill and have supported the bill, one can assume they have read the bill and they are fine with the bill.
Let me just quote a tax partner from KPMG, Paul Hickey. He said:
[I] ask Parliament to act decisively and to pass Bill C-48 to essentially clean the slate of this old pending legislation and to finally bring the Income Tax Act up to date. Taxpayers could then move on and focus on running their business, and the CRA could carry on administering and collecting tax in a more stable system.
I believe this is what all Canadians want. It is obviously what the professionals are asking for. I urge the opposition members to support the bill.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-27 16:17
Mr. Speaker, as I have said, this bill is more than 10 years in the making and throughout that time, extensive consultations have been had with industry and professional associations on many aspects of this bill.
I will quote Carole Presseault, who is the vice-president of Government Regulatory Affairs for the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada. In her remarks to the committee, she said:
—I wish to say that we support the tabling of the bill and that we encourage you to move swiftly to pass this important piece of legislation. The bill deals with a massive backlog of unlegislated tax measures. Its passage would, in our opinion, bring greater clarity to the tax system and strengthen the integrity of our laws.
We intend to support requests such as Carole Presseault's and pass this legislation swiftly.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-27 16:19
Mr. Speaker, I applaud the hon. member for being a small business owner because our government has done a lot to support small businesses since we became government, probably more than any other government in history.
One of the changes I am very proud of is that we have lowered taxes for small businesses a number of times to allow them to keep more of their own money and invest in their own businesses. Small business is the backbone of the Canadian economy.
As I said, this is a very technical bill. The hon. member wants to hear the opinions of others before he makes his decision. I have just shared the opinions of six or seven professional associations, which they shared in the finance committee. This represents a wide variety of Canadians from coast to coast to coast, who urge us to pass this bill swiftly to give them certainty in their professions.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-27 16:23
Mr. Speaker, that is exactly why it is important that we pass this legislation and soon, because it does date back so long.
We have applauded the Office of the Auditor General for its report on this issue and its success in highlighting the need for action both from government and from Parliament. The Auditor General made a series of recommendations to help deal with this issue going forward, and we agree with each of those recommendations.
For instance, the Auditor General recommended that the Department of Finance use an integrated and consistent process for reporting, tracking and prioritizing all technical issues for possible legislative amendment. We agreed and moved to consolidate the Department of Finance's system to ensure technical issues would be documented and catalogued consistently and that the system would be maintained and kept up to date.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-27 16:25
Mr. Speaker, all these amendments are currently being used in our tax system and that is why it is important they be enshrined in legislation as soon as possible. Most of what is in this technical tax bill has been discussed at length with the professional organizations.
I also want to add that in the Auditor General's report, he also recommended the Department of Finance regularly develop and release draft technical amendments, including those that arose from comfort letters, so taxpayers and tax practitioners would know what change would be made and could provide input. Again, we have agreed with that and we are formally committed to bringing technical amendments packages forward for consideration where appropriate, notwithstanding the fact that the prior technical amendments had not yet been adopted by Parliament.
In fact, this past December, the Department of Finance released a package of draft legislative proposals for public comment relating to a number of technical tax changes.
We know we have to do a better job going forward and a more consistent job so that we do not end up with very large bills like this, which has been a backlog for the last 10 years.
View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
2013-05-24 11:54 [p.16982]
Mr. Speaker, the government is in the process of selling the Montague post office building as well as another important government building in Summerside.
The Montague building has served as a focal point for the town for decades. The sale of the building would eliminate the last remaining presence of the federal government from the town and would have resounding effects throughout eastern Prince Edward Island.
I ask the government to immediately halt the sale of these buildings and the march toward eliminating the federal government presence on Prince Edward Island.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-23 14:48
Mr. Speaker, I do consider any misconduct by CRA officials disturbing. CRA investigated these matters some time ago and referred the findings to the RCMP. These individuals have not worked for CRA for several years.
Over the last few years, we have worked with the RCMP to clean up the situation at the Montreal tax services offices. We are committed to protecting the integrity of our tax system and cracking down on crime, and we are pleased with this most recent progress by the RCMP.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-23 14:59
Mr. Speaker, we will take no lessons on integrity from that party, I can tell members that.
The independent investigation by the Public Service Commission did not find any evidence of wrongdoing or influence on the part of ministers or political staff in this matter.
The Public Service Commission report clearly states, and I would ask that member to listen, “No evidence was found to support allegations of political influence in the ACOA investigations”.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-05-22 14:07 [p.16794]
Mr. Speaker, today I join many of my colleagues who are spending the day in a wheelchair in support of the Chair-Leaders Campaign for spinal research in Canada. We are doing this to raise awareness of the challenges and difficulties experienced on a day-to-day basis by Canadians impacted by spinal cord injuries. We also want to highlight the ongoing need for more inclusion and accessibility. We are told that each day, some 12 new spinal cord injuries occur in Canada, an average of over 4,000 a year, and often, those most impacted are young men.
My day in the wheelchair has not been easy. Whether navigating the washroom and elevator or trying to have a coffee, I felt in some small measure what it must be like for Canadians who live with these injuries every day. It is not easy.
We have made a lot of progress, but we must do more, including investing in spinal cord research and development. We must also ensure that buildings and public spaces take into account those Canadians who use wheelchairs.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-22 14:47 [p.16800]
Mr. Speaker, the independent investigation by the Public Service Commission did not find any evidence of any wrongdoing or influence on the part of ministers or any political staff in this matter.
I hope that member is listening. The Public Service Commission report clearly states, “No evidence was found to support allegations of political influence in the ACOA investigations.”
ACOA has taken actions on all the recommendations of the Public Service Commission.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-05-22 14:59 [p.16803]
Mr. Speaker, I spent Saturday afternoon going door to door on Lilac Avenue and Dale Drive in Charlottetown and the feedback was unanimous: disgust and embarrassment.
The Prime Minister should never have appointed his buddy from Ottawa—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-05-22 15:00 [p.16803]
Mr. Speaker, it was unanimous. The Prime Minister should never have appointed his buddy from Ottawa to a Prince Edward Island seat. Mike Duffy is now on the ropes and, for reasons still unknown, a full scale cover-up is under way with deals done in secret to protect him. Through all of this, the Prime Minister has shown very poor judgment.
Will the government apologize to the people of Prince Edward Island for the insult of this senate appointment?
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-22 16:01 [p.16808]
Mr. Speaker, it is important to understand what this time allocation motion is really on. It is really on the motion to extend the hours of Parliament. This is coming much earlier than normal.
We do not mind working late hours, but we are incensed that the government is always invoking closure and limiting debate on real issues.
The government is trying everything it can do to avoid the PMO-Duffy scandal. We know that the Prime Minister is out of the country. Is this really an approach to try to get what government business it can get done now so that it can prorogue Parliament earlier and get out of town and not have to answer questions in this House? Is that really the game being played here? This is an extension of hours way ahead of the normal time. It is about three weeks ahead. Is there a scheme at play, coming right out of the Prime Minister's office, to avoid the scandal the government is caught up in?
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-22 19:30 [p.16826]
Mr. Speaker, I have to laugh at the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, because he talks about the mandate the Conservatives were given. The problem is that the way they are utilizing the mandate they were given is not to represent all Canadians; it is to represent just a certain base. Legislation does require more debate.
Certainly, 20 hours per week sounds lovely, does it not? However, let us look at the history. This is coming from a government that does not really listen to any debate. We can talk forever in this place. Does it ever change anything on the government side of the House? No, it does not. This is coming from a government that seldom allows amendments in the chamber and certainly does not allow amendments at committee. This is coming from a government that even shuts down committees when debating motions. It puts committees in camera, in secret, so that they are not transparent when debating motions. That is simply how the government operates.
I worry about this extension of sitting hours. As my colleague in the NDP asked a moment ago, is the government really going to go until June 21, or is this another strategy? We know that the Prime Minister has left Dodge, with a scandal on his desk. Is this really a strategy to have an extension of sitting hours, get through a couple of bills, and allow him to prorogue Parliament? Will the member guarantee—
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-21 14:32
Mr. Speaker, the independent investigation by the Public Service Commission did not find evidence of any wrongdoing or influence on the part of the ministers or political staff in this matter. The Public Service Commission report clearly states, “No evidence was found to support allegations of political influence in the ACOA investigations”.
ACOA has taken action on the recommendations of the Public Service Commission.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
Mr. Speaker, on that last point, while the Minister of Labour is discussing the issue with the Minister of Finance, due to some of the changes that the government has made, we have more and more people commuting to Alberta and Saskatchewan for work. One guy told me the other day that his cost of transportation was $18,000 for the year, but that was not deductible as an expense in going to work. Therefore, I would encourage her to talk strenuously to the Minister of Finance.
I enjoyed the minister's remarks and she made some goods points on some of the things she was doing under her portfolio. However, the problem is with the other changes that the government has made, which are really affecting labour in my province. Those are the employment insurance changes. These changes are affecting labour in the seasonal industries negatively.
Does she have any solutions to propose that would stop this disincentive to work in much of rural Canada, which is happening as a result of the EI changes in those seasonal industries?
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-10 11:03 [p.16647]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Ms. Carolyn Francis, who was recently presented with the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award. The award recognizes individuals who volunteer their time to help others and to build a smarter, more caring nation.
Carolyn, a resident of Kensington, P.E.I., is just so much the right person to be recognized. She is a dedicated educator and has a passion for teaching within the island community. She has carried that passion beyond Canada's borders. As an educator, she has been closely involved in teacher exchanges between Canada and Uganda that help girls stay in school, as well as a twinning program that links schools in Kenya with those in P.E.I., connecting her province with people in developing countries.
This volunteer work has made her truly one of the unsung heroes of our communities whose passion is so much a part of the Canadian character.
Congratulations go to Carolyn, and we thank her. The world needs more people like her.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-10 11:39 [p.16653]
Mr. Speaker, how can the minister stand there and reads those words—“the Canadian Tourism Commission will continue to promote Canada”—when he knows full well that is wrong? The headlines in the paper state:
Tourism Commission Axes U.S. Advertising
The Canadian Tourism Commission confirms it has eliminated all general advertising in the U.S....
International tourism is the fastest growing market in the world, and Canada has dropped from 7th place as the most visited country to 18th.
Why is the government spending money on its own propaganda rather than creating jobs for the tourism business?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-05-09 12:10 [p.16555]
Mr. Speaker, this problem is not unique to what was in the Auditor General's report, nor is it unique to the period in question. In fact, there is a more recent example in this year's budget.
I am the critic for Veterans Affairs. Within the budget this year, there is an indication that $65 million has been allocated over the next two years for the Last Post Fund. The Last Post Fund spends about $10 million a year, so we know very well that $65 million will not be spent in the next two years. A few years from now, is there going to be another Auditor General's report that says that $40 million cannot be accounted for and that it was not spent when the government said in the budget that it was going to be spent?
Given what is in the Auditor General's report, and this behaviour apparently continuing in this year's budget, how do we stop this from recurring in the future?
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-08 14:35 [p.16499]
Mr. Speaker, last year alone, the Canada Revenue Agency recovered about $40 billion in tax debt.
The Auditor General was very clear when he said:
The improvements the Canada Revenue Agency has made have resulted in a significant increase in the amount of tax debt being collected.
Our economic action plan 2013 proposes a number of measures to close tax loopholes and crack down on international tax evasion. We look forward to the NDP supporting that budget.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-08 14:36 [p.16499]
Mr. Speaker, since 2006, our government has introduced over 75 measures to improve the integrity of the tax system.
We have increased the size of our international audit program by roughly 40%. Since 2006, more than $4 billion in unpaid taxes have been identified. That is compared to just $174 million during the last year of the Liberals.
The efficiencies identified in budget 2013 apply only to internal operations and will not affect CRA's audit or enforcement capabilities.
View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
2013-05-08 15:06 [p.16505]
Mr. Speaker, lobster prices at the wharf are at rock bottom.
Fishermen across Atlantic Canada are tying up their boats in protest. This is an absolute disaster affecting an industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs.
Is this just another way to cut the feet out from under the fishers in the Atlantic region, or will the Conservative government work with the fishing industry to try to rectify this serious situation?
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-08 15:12 [p.16506]
Mr. Speaker, we always will work with small business and in the interests of small business. I will look into that situation and get back to the hon. member.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-07 10:52 [p.16386]
Mr. Speaker, we know there is a cabinet shuffle coming up, and if there is one thing the Prime Minister likes it is someone who can give a good message even when it is really a bad one. When we listen to the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, her remarks almost make this draconian budget, which is an attack on the middle class, look good. The Prime Minister certainly should consider her as a replacement.
The fact of the matter is that this budget would increase taxes on middle-class Canadians by close to $2 billion every year. The Conservatives take $550 million more every year from the profits of small business owners. She talked about that, but did not mention that figure. There is the recurring payroll tax hike of another $600 million each year. She talked about some of the tariff cuts, which would reduce hockey equipment, yes, but she did not mention the tariff increases that would increase the costs for many Canadians, while not doing anything about enhancing the manufacturing base within Canada.
In her remarks, she does not mention the hidden measures that are an attack on the middle class in our country. It is easy to see why we will oppose the budget because—
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-05-07 11:35 [p.16392]
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Huron—Bruce for his comments. I serve with the member on the veterans committee. He is indeed one of the hard-working members of the committee and someone who I think really does have the interests of veterans at heart. This is why some of his remarks with respect to the government's record on veterans are somewhat troubling. When he trumpets the fact that the government says it has maintained funding for veterans, he forgets that there have been more than 800 job cuts. He forgets that there has been a download of services to Service Canada at the very same time that it is making cuts; cuts of 46% in my province. He forgets about the comments that were made by the Auditor General, highly critical of the case management services provided by Veterans Affairs. I would add that my province is the only one that has no case managers. They were all taken out in the last budget.
However, I want to focus on the Last Post Fund. He trumpets the Last Post Fund. My question for the hon. member is this. There have been improvements made in the budget for the Last Post Fund, but two-thirds of all claims are rejected. Of those two-thirds that were rejected prior to these changes, how many of those two-thirds of veterans who were rejected would now receive help under the fund?
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-07 12:59 [p.16404]
Mr. Speaker, members are not supposed to suggest whether people are here or not here in this place. That member is insinuating that the leader of the Liberal Party is not here. He is doing good work meeting Canadians across the country, which that Prime Minister—
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-07 13:04 [p.16405]
Mr. Speaker, the member for Vegreville—Wainwright was a little off base when he said that the leader of the Liberal Party has not said anything about this budget. Maybe the member for Vegreville—Wainwright has not been listening. I do not know.
Every day that the leader of the Liberal Party has asked questions in the House, he has talked about the middle class. He has talked about the damage the Conservative Party is doing, through this budget and other measures, to the middle class in this country. He has said things such as that $550 million annually is coming out of the small business sector, which supports the middle class and is, indeed, the middle class. There is a $600-million payroll tax hike in this budget, which is hurting the middle class. The member may have slapped aside the leader of the Liberal Party, but he is absolutely wrong. The leader of the Liberal Party is standing up for the middle class.
The member said quite often that we should find it in our hearts. Once when I was in London, England, I came out of a facility and a guy asked if I could find it in my heart to lend him a copper. Could the member find it in his heart to support the middle class?
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-07 13:33 [p.16409]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to ask the member for Richmond Hill a question, and it will not be partisan; it will be, in fact, facts. The fact of the matter is that in this budget there is a $550 million tax on small business. There is a $600 million payroll tax, and those taxes would be annual. However, the member talked about the reductions in the tariffs that would make hockey equipment and a few other items cheaper. He failed to mention the fact that the tariff changes on many products that come into this country would be changed to the extent that it would take $338 million out of ordinary Canadians' pockets. That comes right out of these pockets right here. They are empty now, and the Conservative government would be taxing middle-class Canadians even further. Why does he fail to mention that $338 million tax increase on those products, and how can he support this bill with this attack on the middle class?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-05-07 14:05 [p.16413]
Mr. Speaker, the Equitas Society was formed in 2011 to support veterans returning from Afghanistan.
These veterans feel disadvantaged by the new veterans charter. The charter was meant to be a living document, one that is open for review and improvement. Only one such review has taken place in the last seven years, and the Conservatives are now dragging their feet to delay a second one.
Today we are debating a budget bill that allocates funds owing to disabled veterans after the Conservatives lost a five-year court battle, yet the Conservatives continue to fight disabled RCMP veterans in court over their disability pensions.
The Equitas Society has sued the government to win equality for injured Afghan vets as compared to individuals receiving workers' compensation benefits. The first day in court is tomorrow.
It does not have to be this way. Instead of digging in, the Conservatives should do the right thing and enter into negotiations with Equitas and settle this lawsuit. They should treat these Afghan veterans with respect.
Equitas representatives will be on the Hill tomorrow. The Liberal Party calls upon the government to sit down with them and resolve the lawsuit.
View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
2013-05-07 14:14 [p.16415]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about a great Prince Edward Islander. Everett MacDougall was born on May 7, 1913, in West Cape, Prince Edward Island. In 1948, he opened his own poultry and egg grading business in Vernon. He then started buying and shipping farm produce. Shortly after, he was approached by Canada Packers to start a Shur-Gain feed mill. When a tragic fire struck five years later, Everett turned the disaster into an opportunity and built a new quality feed mill equipped with all the modern equipment and employed 15 to 20 people.
Everett was involved in his community's life, serving on the Bunbury Town Council for seven years, and he was an avid volunteer.
Everett is the oldest Mason on Prince Edward Island and will receive his 70-year pin this afternoon from Allison Coles, Grand Master for P.E.I., at Andrews Lodge.
On behalf of all members of the House of Commons, I want to wish Everett a very happy 100th birthday.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-07 14:57 [p.16423]
Mr. Speaker, did the minister just not hear the facts put to him? The facts of the matter are that on international tourism, Canada has dropped from 7th in visits to 18th. In terms of attractions, Parks Canada has cut staff, increased entry fees and implemented user fees. That is a negative to attracting tourism. The Canadian Tourism Commission's spending has been cut to the point that we are spending one-third what Australia does. That is also a negative to attracting tourism.
Why can the government not promote tourism in Canada?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-05-07 18:33 [p.16450]
Mr. Speaker, I begin my speech by acknowledging the work of Senator Yonah Martin, who has championed and introduced the bill in the Senate.
The Korean War and armistice have special meaning for Senator Martin, having been born in Seoul, Korea, and being a recipient of Korea's Order of Civil Merit Moran Medal.
The Liberal Party joins with the government, the New Democrats and the Green Party in support of Bill S-213. The bill would mark each July 27 as a special day to acknowledge the signing of the armistice between South Korea and North Korea, and to honour our soldiers who went there in the service of their country and in support of the United Nations.
Last month, I was included in that delegation that the member for Wetaskiwin referred to, which went to South Korea to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. I was there with 36 veterans and their caregivers. It was a very moving experience. I am grateful to have the opportunity this evening to share with the House some of my thoughts about that trip.
The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when the military forces of North Korea crossed into South Korea. Canada, operating under the United Nations, contributed significant combat forces to defend South Korea, and as the hon. member for Toronto—Danforth pointed out, this was also a very, very important day in the early history of the United Nations. It was the first time that a United Nations force was deployed, fighting under the United Nations flag.
There were many fierce battles during this conflict, and many soldiers paid the ultimate price. Canadians played a critical role during the war and saw action in the Battle of Kapyong in April 1951. During that two-day battle, 10 Canadians were killed and 23 were wounded.
In late October 1952, in a place referred to as Little Gibraltar, Canadians fought bravely, as they did in Kapyong, and held their own against a determined North Korean enemy.
There are many other stories of bravery and heroism. In total, more than 26,000 Canadians served in the Korean War, and 516 young Canadians died in the service of others and in defence against aggression.
Two other stories about the Korean War also stand out. It was an especially sad day on November 21, 1950, when 17 soldiers of the 2nd Regiment of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery died in a train crash in British Columbia. These 17 soldiers were on their way to Korea. They were ready to take up the challenge and the call to service that would have taken them into a war zone. We cannot and shall not forget those 17 soldiers so tragically lost on that day.
The second relates to the contribution of Canadian women during the war. Not unlike the Second World War, women once again stepped up and played a vital role in the service of their country and to the war effort. More than 5,000 Canadian women served during the Korean War. They, too, bore witness to the brutality of war, many of them helping to nurse wounded soldiers. We think of them for their courage and sacrifice to Canada.
It is true that there was an armistice in 1953, but hostilities are still evident. While I was there, I was struck that just a mere hour north of Seoul, one is confronted by barbed wire fences that line the waterways. Heavily armed checkpoints are frequent and staffed around the clock. Spiked barrels prevent the easy passage of vehicles.
The demilitarized zone still has minefields and explosives set to destroy bridges and roads literally with the flip of a switch. Observation points continue to monitor movements of the enemy all along the 38th parallel. This is just in South Korea.
A state of alert continues to exist along the border. Not much is known, really, about North Korea, because of the tight control exercised by that regime. What we do know tells us a story of great poverty, human rights abuses and a country intent on continuing its nuclear weapons program.
It is my hope that one day this armistice will lead to a permanent and lasting peace, a peace that will allow for these two proud nations to set aside the past for good, for the good of harmony and prosperity.
Having been there, I can say there are a couple of encouraging signs. There is indeed an industrial park in North Korea that is operated with the co-operation of the two governments, with managers coming from South Korea and workers in the north. There also is a ministry of unification within the South Korean government, strangely enough.
The progress South Korea has experienced in the last 60 years is nothing short of remarkable. It is now the tenth largest economy in the world. The capital, Seoul, is a world-class, vibrant city of 11 million people, with high-rises and modern infrastructure. It has hosted the Olympics as well as the FIFA World Cup. It is a world leader in electronics and manufacturing. We have all heard of Hyundai and Samsung.
Again, what information we do have from North Korea indicates that this communist country has not fared nearly as well.
There is no question that the Canadian and UN veterans can take pride in and credit for the remarkable progress South Koreans have experienced over the last 60 years. South Korea has gone from being a recipient of foreign aid to a contributor. Canadians have helped a world citizen achieve its potential. It is the international community, not just the South Koreans, that is better for it.
The South Koreans have not forgotten. Everywhere the Canadian delegation went in Seoul, Busan, Kapyong and points in between, there were civilians waving, smiling and thanking us. Those smiling and acknowledging their Canadian heroes did so in a way that movingly broke through the language barrier. That was completely separate from the official, formal and military expressions of gratitude that were extended. Everyday citizens reacted to our veterans in a way that was spontaneous and heartfelt.
I should acknowledge the Minister of Veterans Affairs who led our delegation of Korean War veterans in Korea. We were there, as I indicated, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. The minister included representatives from each of the opposition parties. The bipartisanship he has shown in this and in other commemorative events is a good example for his caucus and his cabinet colleagues.
We do not know when this conflict will finally end. We do hope that one day North Korea, a place of repression and secrecy, will begin to open up and allow more freedom and the protection of human rights.
We also hope that one day the sacrifice made 60 years ago by Canadian soldiers and others in defence of freedom will result in better conditions for the people of North Korea.
I again want to congratulate the government for bringing this bill forward to the House of Commons and, again, thank Senator Martin for her service and dedication to the people of Korea and for efforts to make this special day to mark the end of the Korean War a reality.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-05-06 11:36 [p.16309]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to rise today in the House to speak in support of Bill S-209. I want to applaud the hard work of the Liberal member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel. He has worked very hard with other members from all parties and with the mixed martial arts community to make this happen. I am also very pleased that the government is in support of this Liberal initiative in the House of Commons.
The purpose of this bill is to legalize certain combat sports that are currently illegal under the Criminal Code. Mixed martial arts is a growing sport, and its popularity is clear. It is, therefore, critical that we amend the Criminal Code so as to remove any uncertainty regarding the legality of the sport. By way of background, the provisions of the Criminal Code that deal with prizefighting have not been amended since 1934. Much has changed, obviously, since then.
During the early decades of the last century, these sports were primarily boxing and wrestling. Following the conclusion of the Second World War, mixed martial arts and combat sports saw significant growth.
Let me give a few examples of the growth in this industry, in particular the influence of martial arts such as judo, karate and tae kwon do. The influence of Asia in this regard is remarkable and a direct result of our Allied soldiers having been stationed overseas in Asia. Soldiers brought those sports back home, and today we can see how far they have come in becoming mainstream. Young and old, all appreciate these sports. Even more enjoy watching them, either in person or on television. Likewise, these sports are recognized by the Olympic organizing committee.
While these sports are somewhat new and popular, some are still illegal because the only exception to prizefighting set out in the Criminal Code is boxing. There can be a situation then, for example—and this happens—when, let us say, two women trained in the sport of tae kwon do decide to have a match for a prize in a basement. This fight would be only legal so long as they do not use their feet. The definition, therefore, is too restrictive and needs to be expanded. That is why Bill S-209 intends to change the definition to include feet.
As it was established in the Senate committee, adding more descriptors to this definition, such as elbows and knees, is not necessary and could even be counterproductive since contact sports such as hockey could then be considered prizefighting sports. That is why the definition is limited to fists and feet. By modernizing the Criminal Code to permit combative sports such as mixed martial arts and karate, we would go a long way to encouraging wider acceptance of these activities as legitimate and mainstream sports.
One other feature of this bill is to provide greater uniformity and, again, clarity from one jurisdiction to another. Currently, some provinces call mixed martial arts “boxing” to ensure compliance with the Criminal Code. They do so because the code provision specifically references hands and fists. In other provinces, these sports are not permitted simply because those provinces apply a more stringent standard to the application of the Criminal Code.
As a result of this lack of uniformity, many groups organize underground contests that are not governed by provincial commissions. This, as everyone can imagine, is very dangerous. In underground contests, there are seldom any safety standards or, if there are safety standards, they vary from contest to contest. This bill would hopefully lift these underground matches to the public arena where they belong and where they could be properly regulated by the provinces. In fact, the bill would free provinces to construct or develop safety standards as they see fit, and we assume the provinces would look to each other for best practices in this regard.
Likewise, as my colleague from Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel noted in an earlier speech, these proposed changes to the Criminal Code would provide amateur and professional level organizations enhanced stature and public approval through appropriate legislative oversight, when needed.
It is true that some Canadians have raised concerns about the perceived violence contained in these sports. Injury in sport is common. We see it time and time again in hockey, when a clean check on an opponent can cause great damage. How often do we see in hockey games concussions and injury resulting from a hard check? We need only recall the Montreal-Ottawa game just this past Thursday, when we saw Lars Eller knocked out, injured as a result of a check. Depending on which team one roots for, that particular check was either clean or dirty. The point is that in most sports, contact sports particularly, the risk of injury exists.
As noted by the mover of the bill, we have heard from experts who appeared at committee and referred to a study from Johns Hopkins University that compared injuries resulting from mixed martial arts to those occurring in other major sports. The rate of injuries is not inconsistent with that of other sports, for example, hockey. In fact, it suggests that the injuries in mixed martial arts are generally less serious than those in boxing.
The reality is that mixed martial arts sports exist and a significant number of Canadians participate in them. These sports should not be confined or relegated to underground contests away from public scrutiny and proper regulations, and that is exactly the point. The sport of mixed martial arts must be regulated, not banned. Prohibition only leads to more underground fights and, as I mentioned, this is dangerous. Prohibition also means that the illegal underground economy is allowed to benefit. Revenues from underground prizefighting go undeclared, which again does not benefit the public nor taxpayers.
We know that when we watch a UFC contest, we are watching athletes. We are watching individuals who take their sport seriously. We are watching athletes who train hard. We are watching athletes who respect each other. We also know that every precaution is taken to limit injury. However, when injury does occur, medical teams are ready to intervene. My colleagues will know that Canada is the home of the world's most accomplished mixed martial arts athlete. Quebec's Georges St-Pierre is a world champion and an example of professionalism. He is a true athlete.
Bill S-209 would support both fans and organizers, which will in turn help improve the Canadian economy. Expanding the scope of what is permissible under the Criminal Code is important.
For all these reasons, I support the bill and congratulate my Liberal colleague for his efforts to modernize the Criminal Code to reflect the new realities of these popular sports.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-03 10:47 [p.16265]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the budget implementation bill, Bill C-60, but I think we have to understand in the beginning that many of us do it under some duress. Under the Prime Minister's leadership, he is again suppressing debate with another time allocation motion, which seems to become the norm in this place, and a budget that seems to have been prepared without the proper analysis. Certainly, the Atlantic premiers said that the proper analysis was not done, and I will get to that in a moment.
On the positive side, this document is not quite as big an omnibus bill as the previous two budgets were, so it is a little shorter and does not cover pretty near everything the government does. However, on the negative side, in following up on the budget, the budget implementation bill builds on the damage already done by the federal government on its ability of be a leader in Canada among the provinces to build our economy, to put some foundation under our social programs, to assist industries, to establish more trade in a way that benefits Canadians. This builds on the damage and even makes it worse from previous budgets.
Members will recall quite vividly when theMinister of Finance stood in his place and said that the government would balance the budget by 2015. Is there a Canadian who actually believes that? There are a couple of members who have raised their hands over there, but they raise their hands any time the Prime Minister says anything. They jump to the tune. For the information of Canadians and the members opposite, there has never been a target that the Minister of Finance has hit, whether it was when he was the provincial minister of finance and did the great damage to Ontario, which it still suffers from, or when he has been the federal finance minister, which the whole country suffers from now.
It is important to note in the beginning a couple of key messages and summarize them.
There is no question that this budget will make it harder for Canadian middle-class families to make ends meet. Middle-class families are really starting to suffer and suffer substantially as a result of the activities of the government. Bill C-60 raises taxes on Canadians in order to pay for the Conservatives' wasteful spending. Last night in the media, the Minister of National Defence, who is becoming infamous for his inability to manage his portfolio, saw Canadians spend twice as much on ships as other countries had. There is not time in the rest of the day to spell out all the other areas the Minister of National Defence has spent money wastefully.
The problem is that there is no joy in the Minister of National Defence, backed up by the Minister of Finance, spending wastefully because middle-class Canadians are the ones being asked to suffer and pay for irresponsible fiscal and financial spending by the government.
The budget raises taxes on small business owners by $2.3 billion over the next five years, directly hurting 750,000 Canadians and risking Canadian jobs.
There are other policy cuts. In the area of agriculture when I used to be the critic, I went to an announcement in P.E.I. two weeks ago on a Friday. I listened closely while the Minister of National Revenue made the announcement for the minister, and she said something along the lines that “We're increasing by 50% the shared funding”. It sounds really good, does it not? The Conservatives are increasing the funding. However, what we have to understand is the key words “the shared funding”. That means farmers are picking up half, where the previous government was really paying for it. If we look closely, we will find that the safety net programs, like agristability and agri-invest, have been cut substantially by the federal government. Therefore, what happens the next time when prices fall on grains in Alberta? The safety nets are not going to be there for the farm community. More middle-class families have been asked to suffer for the incompetence of the current government.
Last Sunday, I happened to be at some of the harbours in my own riding, including Stanley Bridge and Malpeque. Fishing season started early Monday morning. What were fishermen doing on Saturday and Sunday afternoon? They were stressed out and nerved up because DFO, through small craft harbours program, had not done the dredging so they could get out of their harbours. Finally, after a lot of pressure, the dredge was working and the fishermen did get out of Malpeque at six o'clock in the morning. In Stanley Bridge the fishermen had to load their traps from elsewhere because, with the cutbacks to Fisheries and Oceans to the small craft harbours program, fishermen were being asked to pay and suffer as a result of the federal government failing to live up to its responsibilities.
As well, this budget would raise taxes on credit unions by $75 million per year, which is an attack on rural Canadians and Canada's rural economy. The credit unions are right across the country. People who invest in them and put their money in those are usually small businesses. Again, the government is imposing further taxes on the credit unions.
I do not have time to go into all the nickel and dime issues where the Conservatives will tax Canadians, but they will put GST and HST on health care services, including medical work that victims of crimes need in order to establish their case in court, and hospital parking lots will have extra tax on them. Those things add up and they are all be imposed on Canadians as a result of the absolute incompetence of this Minister of Finance.
Let us turn for a moment to the attack on workers and seasonal industries. Except for the minister in charge, we all know the damage that has been done to the seasonal industries and seasonal workers through the changes to employment insurance. However, a special thing happened last weekend, and that was the Atlantic premiers issued a press release through the Council of Atlantic Premiers on April 29, in which they came together. They are from three different political parties, four premiers representing four provinces, and they spelled out fairly clearly the damage that the federal government had done to this federation called “Canada”. They talked about the impacts of employment insurance. One point they raised was:
These impacts are most acutely felt in seasonal industries, which make up a significant portion of the Atlantic economy. These changes were introduced without consultation or shared analysis, and therefore without a full understanding of the effect of the changes.
Clearly, the Atlantic premiers are coming together and saying that there is no federal leadership in our country and no consultation. The role of the federal government is to use its spending power, the budget and the budget implementation act, to do things that will build up Canada and set a foundation under our economy and our social programs. All we would get in this budget implementation act from the federal government is more and more damage, building on the poor fiscal management that it already has.
Worse yet, not only is Atlantic Canada being targeted, but middle-class families right across the country are being asked to pay the price for the fiscal incompetence of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the backbenchers over there who fail to stand and speak out against the Prime Minister and the damage that has been done to the Atlantic economy and to the country.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-03 10:58 [p.16267]
Mr. Speaker, what the elimination of the tax credit shows is the misplaced priorities of the government. It is a government of big business. We see that with China, the Nexen-CNOOC deal, where special privileges may be granted to big companies to come into our country to invest even if they are state-owned enterprises.
We have seen the corporate tax reductions where the multinationals, the big corporations around the world, are getting tax breaks in our country even though they are sitting on $560 billion that they are not using to increase jobs, improve technology and productivity. The venture capital the hon. member is talking about comes basically from workers. They also should have that advantage to invest where they see fit to improve the economy.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-03 11:13 [p.16270]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Father Andrew MacDonald of P.E.I., who recently passed away.
To quote Campbell Webster, “His courage no doubt originated with his faith, but perhaps most importantly, he did not allow his faith and courage to be confined by any one institution. He would even denounce his own church, as an institution, if it was not standing with the poor and the oppressed.”
Father MacDonald supported the island's strong Catholic traditions. He was a founder and ongoing member of the Latin American mission program and was its first missionary in the Dominican Republic.
He was a promoter of youth involvement in social issues and fought against social injustice. As often as not, being a fiddler himself, he supported the cause through song and music.
Parishioners were blessed by Father MacDonald's word and touched by his efforts to better the world.
On behalf of the House of Commons, I would like to recognize and thank Father MacDonald for his dedication and his contribution to global society.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-05-03 11:52 [p.16277]
Mr. Speaker, budget 2013 falsely claims to commit $65 million over the next two years for veterans' funeral and burial expenses. However, the minister knows full well that this $65 million will not be spent over the next two years but will be spread out over some undefined, indeterminate period. It is a ruse. Further, every single veteran who is presently ineligible under the program will not be helped by this budget.
When will the government stop misleading veterans?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-05-02 10:09 [p.16182]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of several residents of Atlantic Canada who are concerned about the decision with respect to the Experimental Lakes Area.
These petitioners call on the government to recognize the importance of the Experimental Lakes Area to the government's mandate to study, preserve and protect aquatic ecosystems, and to reverse the decision to close the ELA research station.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-05-02 15:39 [p.16228]
Mr. Speaker, I was interested to hear my colleague talk about how good the economic policies of the Conservative government have been for the province of Saskatchewan, where the unemployment rate is 3.7%. The government decimated the economy of my province with the disproportionate civil service cuts and the gutting of employment insurance.
My question relates to the super credit for first-time donors. Here we have a bill that does absolutely nothing for the youth of this country. It does nothing to address the outlandishly high rates of youth unemployment in this country, and the government is patting itself on the back for developing a philanthropic gene among our youth.
I would suggest that for our youth to develop a sense of philanthropy, they would have to have something to give, which would involve having a job. The government has done absolutely nothing in this bill in that respect.
I would like to have my colleague respond to the contradiction in giving a credit for donating money that, under these circumstances, they undoubtedly will not have.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-05-02 16:26 [p.16235]
Mr. Speaker, it will come as no surprise that, as the Veterans Affairs critic for the Liberal Party, I do not share the minister's view with respect to the impact of this budget on veterans.
With respect to the Last Post Fund, first, the budget trumpets a $65 million increase over the next two years. The minister knows, and I would like him to admit it, that this $65 million would not be spent over the next two years, in spite of the announcement in the budget.
Second, that increase to the Last Post Fund would not help one more veteran. The veterans who qualify would get more money, but not one more veteran would qualify, because the criteria have not changed.
The last thing I will say is that there is much trumpeting over the fact that the government has been beaten into submission by disabled veterans in court and now it is paying up. The exact same day as that lawsuit was launched, there was another lawsuit launched by disabled RCMP veterans. The government has refused to include them in the settlement discussions.
Therefore, does the minister really believe this budget has gone far enough to address the serious problems that exist in the veterans community?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-05-02 16:41 [p.16237]
Mr. Speaker, I again want to address my question to the comments made by the member for Ottawa—Orléans with respect to the measures in the budget for veterans and his specific reference to the doubling of the amount of support that is available for funeral and burial expenses.
The chair of the Last Post Fund testified at the veterans committee a year and a half ago, as follows:
For more than a decade, the Last Post Fund has advocated that the program be extended to modern-day veterans in the same way it was offered to traditional veterans. Unfortunately, the governments of Canada during this period have declined to do so, despite the urging of all veterans organizations.
That wrong has still not been righted by this budget. This budget has increased the amount available to those who are eligible, but it has not changed the eligibility criteria. Not one additional veteran will benefit. Is this really the best we can do?
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-02 17:11 [p.16240]
Mr. Speaker, I especially understand the comments made by the member in response to her last question on the impact EI changes have on a region.
The Atlantic premiers wrote a letter. In it they said:
These impacts are most acutely felt in seasonal industries, which make up a significant portion of the Atlantic economy. These changes were introduced without consultation or shared analysis, and therefore without a full understanding of the effect of the changes. Atlantic premiers urged the Federal Government to suspend the changes to the program pending the completion of an evidence-based approach.
That is in information from the Council of Atlantic Premiers, and what those people are saying is that the current government's changes—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-02 17:13 [p.16240]
Mr. Speaker, I hear some of the backbench members from Atlantic Canada over there chirping, but they stand and support the Prime Minister like trained seals.
My question for the member is this. Does she see the same kind of impacts in the rural areas of Quebec?
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-05-02 17:43 [p.16245]
Mr. Speaker, the member for Burlington, just like the Minister of Finance, talked a fair bit about hockey helmets. I guess he believes that his request to reduce the cost of hockey helmets really helped, and maybe it did.
Does the member for Burlington not have any young families in his riding who happen to ride bicycles? Does he not have any really young families that like to buy little red wagons?
Does he not recognize that in that area the government is proposing to put $338 million, which is a tax, on people? If the government was doing something to improve the manufacturing sector in Canada, that would be one thing, but what it is really doing is taking that $338 million out of the back pockets of middle-class families. Why?
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-01 14:36 [p.16139]
Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General was very clear and stated that the improvements the Canada Revenue Agency has made have resulted in a significant increase in the amount of tax debt being collected. We accept all of the Auditor General's most recent recommendations, and we have already taken action on the recommendations, including measures to ensure that tax debts do not expire.
Our economic action plan proposes a number of measures to close tax loopholes, address aggressive tax planning and crack down on international tax evasion, and we will be happy to see the opposition vote for it.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-01 14:37 [p.16139]
Mr. Speaker, since 2006, our government has introduced over 75 measures to improve the integrity of the tax system. The NDP voted against all of those.
The Auditor General was clear and has stated that the improvements that have been made at the Canada Revenue Agency have resulted in a significant increase in the amount of tax debt collected. In the fiscal year 2011-12 alone, the CRA recovered over $40 billion in tax debt.
View Gail Shea Profile
CPC (PE)
View Gail Shea Profile
2013-05-01 14:55 [p.16143]
Mr. Speaker, the decision to stop contributing to the costs of the daily operations and expenditures of the regional economic development organizations will allow for a more efficient economic development in the Atlantic region by reducing duplication and overlap. This will allow us to focus our efforts and resources on providing directly to entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized businesses and communities, the programs that are aimed at creating jobs for Atlantic Canada.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-04-30 17:43 [p.16125]
Mr. Speaker, the biggest single problem the Liberal Party has with the bill is the introduction of yet another mandatory minimum sentence. The introduction of mandatory minimum sentences through private members' bills, of course, avoids the necessity of having a review done by Department of Justice officials with respect to their constitutionality.
We know that mandatory minimums have been struck down as unconstitutional in this country. My question for the member is the same one I posed to him at committee: What measures has he taken to ensure that the bill will be constitutional, in view of the decisions that have already been made with respect to the constitutionality of mandatory minimum sentences?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-04-30 17:54 [p.16126]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the debate on Bill C-394 and the issue of gang recruitment. I had the privilege of sitting in on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights while it considered this legislation, and I will expand on some of the issues discussed in those meetings.
I speak, I believe, for all members of the Liberal Party when I say that I want to deter youths from joining gangs. Indeed, if this legislation served any preventive end, we would gladly endorse it. However, not only does Bill C-394 fail to address the fundamental reasons that youths join gangs—the root causes, if I dare say that—but it also would employ a mandatory minimum penalty, which the Liberal Party opposes in principle.
I raise the root causes of youth gang involvement as an issue, because the government acknowledges the problems but it fails to provide solutions either in Bill C-394 or elsewhere. For example, the website of the Department of Public Safety lists risk factors relative to youth gang involvement and includes the following as major risks: limited attachment to the community, over-reliance on anti-social peers, poor parental supervision, alcohol and drug abuse, poor educational or employment potential and a need for recognition and belonging, yet Bill C-394 does not address any of these. In fact, the government is missing in action on things like youth unemployment and access to education, things it could take proactive measures to correct.
With regard to violence among aboriginals, public safety's website explains:
The increase in gang violence and crime in some Aboriginal communities has been attributed in part to an increasing youth population, inadequate housing, drug and alcohol abuse, a high unemployment rate, lack of education, poverty, poor parenting skills, the loss of culture, language and identity and a sense of exclusion.
As Idle No More and similar movements demonstrate, the government is out of touch with the needs of aboriginal communities. If it took those needs seriously, we could begin the process of reconciliation. We could address the social problems plaguing first nations. We could give aboriginal youth access to education and opportunity. Instead, by ignoring these problems, we further the cycle of despair that makes gang life attractive to youth.
It is interesting to have this discussion in light of the Conservatives' attack ad on the member for Papineau. They criticize him for being a camp counsellor, a rafting instructor and a drama teacher. If we want kids to feel included in their communities, to have a sense of belonging and purpose, we ought to have more camp counsellors, more rafting instructors, more teachers seeking to make a difference in the life of a child, not attacking these sorts of things as useless pursuits unbecoming of a leader. However, the government buries its head in the sand and refuses to acknowledge that preventing crime involves addressing tough issues beyond the Criminal Code.
I can assure the House that youths are not joining gangs because they believe their activities are lawful, nor do gangs recruit because they believe it is legal to do so. This is the problem with the Conservative approach to crime. Everything is a matter for the criminal law, and every incident provides a pretext to legislate.
As was said by the member for Toronto Centre, “when the only tool we have in our toolbox is a sledgehammer, everything starts to look like a rock”. For Conservatives, criminal law is all about punishment. By adding new offences and penalties and, in some cases, duplicating existing offences and penalties, the Conservatives attempt to regulate on the back end, after the crimes have been committed. This ignores the fact that there are other elements to criminal justice such as prevention, rehabilitation of the offender and reintegration into society, let alone addressing the underlying causes of crime.
As I mentioned, I may be accused of perhaps committing sociology on this. Let there be no mistake. Bill C-394 deals with gang recruitment only on the back end once it has occurred. I submit that by then, it is way too late.
As I have indicated, this issue is already addressed by the Criminal Code. Former justice minister Anne McLellan said in this place, upon the introduction of what is currently in the Criminal Code that we are seeking to amend today, the following:
We know that successful recruitment enhances the threat posed to society by criminal organizations. It allows them to grow and to more effectively achieve their harmful criminal objectives. Those who act as recruiters for criminal organizations contribute to these ends both when they recruit for specific crimes and when they recruit simply to expand the organization's human capital.
In other words, we knew when introducing what was already in the code that recruitment was an issue, is an issue, and we put in place offence language that captured it. Thus, while the regime in the code at present may not use the word “recruitment”, the intention is clear in the record and there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that prosecutions for recruitment are not happening because of some legislative loophole.
Indeed, as it is proposed, the bill will actually add to the problem by putting in a mandatory minimum penalty. International studies corroborate what even Justice Canada has found, that mandatory minimums do not deter crime. Among other things, mandatory minimums remove prosecutorial and judicial discretion. They lead to prison overcrowding. They lead to more crimes in prison and more crimes outside of prison. They contribute to a clogging of the courts, resulting in accused persons being set free. They are, as I indicated in my question to the member earlier, constitutionally suspect. Mandatory minimums have prejudicial consequences, particularly on aboriginal peoples and minority communities.
I know colleagues in the NDP have argued that the mandatory minimum in this bill is light and, therefore, acceptable, in their view. We take a different approach, which is that there is no need for adding something that could lead, in the right fact situation, to this legislation being overturned. This just is not smart legislating.
However, if I were to address the Conservatives' inability to legislate intelligently, I would certainly run out of time. In fact, we might be here all night. Instead, I will focus on one shortcoming relevant here, which is the failure to vet bills for constitutionality. Much has been made of that in the House and, in particular, by my colleague, the member for Mount Royal, of the obligation of the Minister of Justice, under the Department of Justice Act, to review government legislation for compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights.
The minister, time and time again, has said that his bills are constitutional, yet time and time again the provisions are struck down and the government is called to account for its failure to comply with the supreme law of the land. Not only does legislating in such a reckless way risk the statute being struck, it also clogs up the courts with challenges that could have been avoided. It also costs the taxpayers, who bear the burden of defending the government. For a government that claims accountability, why is it not accountable to the charter and its statutory obligations? For a government that prides itself on fiscal restraint, why is it wasting taxpayer money?
One may wonder why I am raising this issue when the obligation for a charter check is only on government bills, not on private members' bills like Bill C-394. The answer is that the government has been increasingly using private members' bills to legislate through the back door. If this bill was so important, why was it not included in the omnibus crime bill, Bill C-10? Why has the minister not introduced it on his own accord? Surely, if it were so necessary, the minister could have made this change to a government bill and it would have passed through the House much faster. Indeed, by using the private member bill route, the government minimizes House debate and circumvents the required charter review.
We must address the cycle of poverty and homelessness that affects too many children in the country. Where is the government on that? We must say to ourselves that if children are to be the priority, maybe we need more camp councillors, rafting instructors and drama teachers. What they do not need is a government that says it cares, throws a Band-Aid on the problem that will not hold and then pats itself on the back for having done anything at all. Bill C-394 would be just that, and that is why the Liberal Party will vote no on this bill.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-04-29 12:33 [p.16005]
Mr. Speaker, I am extremely worried about the proposal that the government has on the books, and my colleague mentioned his concerns as well. There is this whole problem of the balance of justice, and I wonder whether the proposal for the military justice system whereby people may be denied their rights in terms of fairness under the law is actually creeping into our civil justice system.
We heard the announcement on the weekend that if a member of Parliament wants to talk to a commanding officer in the RCMP, the minister's office will have to be notified. This goes against everything in terms of the separation between the political process and policing in this country. It is just pure wrong.
I ask my colleague whether we are seeing that creeping in from the military system. Is everything going to be politically influenced, whether it is in the civil justice system or the military justice system?
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-04-29 13:33 [p.16013]
Mr. Speaker, I too am pleased to speak on Bill C-15, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. As with most bills, there are some good points and some problems with some of the clauses in this particular bill. I will spend most of my time on concerns with changes to the military justice system. I want to outline a few good points that are to the government's credit, but overall the bill does not have the balance that is needed.
Providing for security of tenure for military judges until their retirement is a good proposal. Permitting the appointment of part-time military judges to conclude cases in a timely manner is fine, and specifying the purposes, objectives and principles of the sentencing process makes a lot of sense.
However, the area of concern is that the bill makes amendments to the delegation of the power of the Chief of the Defence Staff as the final authority in the grievance process, and it makes consequential amendments to other acts to make that possible.
The Liberal Party does not believe that introducing a criminal record for Canadian Forces members for certain service offences is fair and just, since the means for pardoning offences has been recently removed by the Conservatives. What Bill C-15 would do is enshrine in law a list of military offences that would carry a criminal record, some of which are hardly appropriate for a criminal record, and others before me have spoken about the seriousness of this measure.
I expect many offices, both on the government side and this side of the House, have dealt with people who have applied for pardons, have found the period has been extended for a longer period of time and as a result have found themselves in an employment category that is probably not as good as they otherwise would have had if they had been able to receive their pardons in a timely fashion. In fact, I have talked to a quite a number of people who said that obtaining a pardon used to carry a reasonable cost but is now very expensive and difficult to afford.
There is an attack by the Government of Canada on people who have, yes, done wrong in life, but punishment is everything on the government side, it seems. Yes, a lot of these people got into trouble, but they can be productive players in Canadian society, and the ability for people to be productive players in Canadian society has been diminished by what the government has done on the pardoning provisions alone, and that hurts us all. It hurts society and it hurts the economy.
Under the new rules, Canadian Forces members would be left haunted by a record, would be unable to find employment upon release and would face greater difficulties in getting a pardon.
Michel Drapeau, who is a retired colonel, noted the following in his committee testimony:
—[an] accused before a summary trial has no right to appeal either the verdict or the sentence. This is despite the fact that the verdict and sentence are imposed without any regard to the minimum standards of procedural rights in criminal proceedings, such as the right to counsel, the presence of rules of evidence, and the right to appeal.
That is a serious matter in terms of the list of military offences, some of which should not be criminal charges, that would affect individuals and individuals' families. As I said, tougher rules to obtain pardons even diminish the ability for folks to contribute to the Canadian economy.
The other very serious matter in the bill that we find extremely problematic is that the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff can intervene and give direction in military and police investigations. The Vice Chief of the Defence Staff is certainly subject to the code of service discipline, but the ability to intervene in a case and maybe deny a case or have more authority in a case is a concern.
I am personally worried by the lack of separation we are seeing in the military justice system. I am worried about the balance of justice, the fairness aspect and in this case, the ability of the command structure to influence and control. As well, as I said earlier when the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence was on his feet and laughed at this, thinking it was not possible, I am also worried that the situation in the military of superior authorities influencing decision-making down the line is starting to creep its way into the criminal justice system.
Let me spell out what I mean in that regard. This weekend we found out about the decision of the Conservative government to forbid any RCMP official from meeting with members of Parliament without prior approval from the office of the Minister of Public Safety.That decision carries with it all the implications of the government transforming the RCMP into a Conservative Party security service.
I say that in relation to this bill because we are seeing influence higher up in the chain, whether it is through the military system or now, seemingly, through the civil justice system by the Minister of Public Safety imposing rules that the RCMP is not allowed to talk to members of Parliament unless the minister's office is first notified. It is political influence on the day-to-day policing carried out by Canada's national police force. That is absolutely wrong.
The Minister of Public Safety with the Department of Justice and cabinet designed the law, and that is good and appropriate, but for a minister to be involved practically in the day-to-day affairs of policing is way beyond the pale.
As a former solicitor general, I was well aware that one of the principal obligations was to ensure that there was never a hint of direct political interference in the activities, obligations and duties of the RCMP. That standard of professionalism no longer exists under the current Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety. We found out about that this weekend.
What will this mean? I see what is outlined in Bill C-15 creeping into the civil justice system under the authority of the Minister of Public Safety.
It would mean that before approval of any requests by members of Parliament to meet with members of the RCMP to discuss what at times could be sensitive security issues related to constituents, the political staff within the minister's office will have access to the request and, of serious concern, the reasons for the request. This, in short, will give Conservative Party operatives sensitive information related to individuals, information that should only be shared with law enforcement personnel who have the training and the mandate to have access to that information. That is a serious matter.
Being compelled to inform the political staff in a minister's office about a simple meeting, maybe just over law enforcement in my riding, could jeopardize individuals or investigations. I make that statement in relation to Bill C-15 because it is a recent issue that has not been talked about: the creeping aspect of the authority of the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff in all things related to the military justice system.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2013-04-29 13:45 [p.16014]
Mr. Speaker, the member, for whom I have a lot of respect, could not have gotten what I said more backwards than he did.
I raised the issue because of the directive of the Minister of Public Safety to the RCMP, as announced by the Commissioner of the RCMP, to the effect that members of Parliament are not allowed to talk to commanding officers or whomever in the RCMP unless the minister's office is first informed. That is not getting into day-to-day issues of the RCMP from the perspective of the member of Parliament; that is doing our jobs as members of Parliament by talking to commanding officers about policing in a region, talking about what is needed if we see a problem in one area and more personnel are needed on the ground, et cetera.
However, what is terribly wrong about it is that the Minister of Public Safety now is involving himself in day-to-day policing and that operatives, political staff in that minister's office, are going to have to be informed on issues that could be serious concerns that would be better left with the police that are involved.
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