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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
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
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
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
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
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.
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