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View Anne Minh-Thu Quach Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by people from my riding, Beauharnois—Salaberry. Bill C-45, which is now law, made changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. As a result, only 62 rivers, 97 lakes and three oceans will remain protected, while previously, that legislation protected all of Canada's waterways.
Bill C-45 shifts the burden of responsibility onto citizens, groups and municipalities, who now have to take project proponents to court themselves if their navigation rights are breached. The government made it impossible for anyone to comment on the minister's decisions or to hold public consultations on any projects proposed by proponents.
The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to take responsibility for protecting navigation rights, reverse its decision compelling citizens to take project proponents to court themselves, and guarantee that the right to navigate on all waterways and lakes in Canada will be maintained and that an environmental assessment will be conducted for all projects near any bodies of water.
View Alain Giguère Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alain Giguère Profile
2013-06-18 11:14 [p.18516]
Mr. Speaker, corruption is an evil thing that is very similar to cancer. Unfortunately, when Canadian companies are allowed to get away with things too easily, once they become corrupt, it rubs off on the lives of Canadians as well as on our institutions and our representation.
All too often, at our embassies overseas—
View Alain Giguère Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alain Giguère Profile
2013-06-18 11:15 [p.18516]
Mr. Speaker, the problem is that, unfortunately, at our embassies—
View Alain Giguère Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alain Giguère Profile
2013-06-18 11:24 [p.18516]
Mr. Speaker, if we are serious about fighting corruption, we should also discuss the often inappropriate behaviour of the Canadian government, which provides scholarships, immigration opportunities and jobs in our embassies to foreign students whose parents or families are associated with foreign governments.
Will our diplomats not only seek to enforce this legislation but also ensure that, ethically, they are beyond reproach?
View Sylvain Chicoine Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Ottawa Centre for doing a great job as the foreign affairs critic for the official opposition. At the same time, I would say I am rather shocked that the minister has failed to recognize the hon. member's excellent work.
Indeed, judging by his question to my colleague, he seems to have been offended by some of the points he raised, yet my colleague was quite right when he said that this bill does not go far enough and will barely lift Canada out of Transparency International's bottom rankings, in terms of the transparency measures in its anti-corruption legislation.
My colleague mentioned several extremely interesting points. I would like him to talk about them a bit more. In particular, he stated that Canada is a laggard when it comes to bringing its legislation in line with the international treaties it signs. Often, Canada simply does not live up to these treaties.
What does my colleague think Canada can do to improve its image, which has taken a serious beating in recent years?
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2013-06-18 11:43 [p.18519]
Mr. Speaker, in its 2012 report, Transparency International indicated that active enforcement was a real way of combatting this type of foreign bribery. We also know that the RCMP is the body responsible for conducting these investigations and reporting the facts.
I would like to know what my colleague thinks about the cuts that have been made to the Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP in successive budgets.
Can he elaborate on that?
View Djaouida Sellah Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, first, it is important to point out that this bill originated in the Senate. In a report released in 2011, Transparency International ranked Canada as the worst of all the G7 countries with respect to international bribery. The organization pointed out that Canada rarely, if ever, enforces its negligible anti-corruption legislation.
There have been only three convictions under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. Does my colleague agree that this is an embarrassment to our country?
View Dany Morin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Dany Morin Profile
2013-06-18 12:42 [p.18526]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill S-14, An Act to amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.
I would like to explain to those watching at home what this bill is about. It proposes four major amendments to the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.
First, it increases the maximum prison sentence for bribing a foreign public official from 5 to 14 years. Next, it eliminates the exception for facilitation payments, where a foreign public official is paid to expedite the execution of his or her responsibilities. It also creates a new offence for falsifying or concealing books or records in order to bribe a foreign public official or hide that bribery. Finally, the last major amendment establishes nationality jurisdiction that would apply to all of the offences under the act, such that Canadian nationals could be prosecuted for offences committed overseas.
The bill is very important for fighting corruption despite what the Conservative MPs might think. In this debate, the Conservatives are siding with the companies that unfortunately are engaging in corruption. I am very proud to be Canadian, but when companies think they are above the law and want to engage in corruption in Canada or abroad, the NDP is here to go after them and make them pay for their crimes.
Our position on this bill is very clear. We will support it at third reading. We were a bit disappointed to see that in committee, our proposals to improve the bill did not get the attention we would have liked. There is always room for improvement, even if the Conservatives across the way do not think so and believe that everything they do is perfect. The NDP has long been in favour of clear rules requiring Canadians and Canadian companies working abroad to be transparent and accountable. The bill builds on the legislative initiatives put forward by NDP members with the goal of promoting responsible, sustainable, transparent management practices.
Canada's deficiencies in enforcing anti-corruption laws are embarrassing. However, it comes as no surprise since our government likes to stick with corrupt and unethical people. It is no wonder that under the Conservatives', under this Prime Minister, our country has leaned toward corruption.
As members of the New Democratic Party of Canada, we are glad that the government is finally doing something about this problem, but it is disgraceful that it took so long and that Canada had to be criticized and discredited for the government to do anything about this. Later I will get into the types of criticisms our international allies were making.
Canadians want the companies that are representing Canada to do so in a responsible and respectable manner, and Canadian companies want clear and consistent standards when it comes to international trade. Enforcing rules without loopholes will level the playing field for all companies and protect the environment, labour and human rights, something we could all be proud of.
I would like to provide some background and talk about the criticism of our international allies. In a report released in 2011, Transparency International ranked Canada as the worst of all the G7 countries with respect to international bribery. The organization pointed out that Canada rarely, if ever, enforces its negligible anti-corruption legislation. Since then, the government has been working on resolving the problem. However, since 1999, there have been only three convictions, two of the them in the past two years.
The bill is of particular importance for the mining industry, where the NDP has been and continues to be a strong advocate for accountability. Take, for example, Bill C-323 sponsored by the NDP member for Burnaby—New Westminster, which would permit persons who are not Canadian citizens to initiate legal action based on violations of international law in Canadian courts, and also Bill C-486, sponsored by the NDP member for Ottawa Centre, which requires companies that use minerals from the Great Lakes Region of Africa to exercise due diligence.
It is clear that the NDP stands up for people abused abroad and for justice. We expect Canadian companies to have good standards. We are always disappointed when we learn that Canadian companies are involved in corruption.
The political elite that benefits from corruption, particularly in countries and industries where corruption is rife, is made up primarily of men. Men will try to get away with whatever they can. Unfortunately, that is why we should never expect people and companies, even Canadians, to always do the right thing. Protocols must be put in place to ensure that everyone, individuals and companies alike, does their part by obeying Canadian and international laws.
At the same time, it is primarily women who lack government protection. That is why the NDP is very proud to be listening to women across the country. This is also why we are always actively looking to engage women during elections and consultations. We believe in the principle of equality, unlike certain other parties that prefer women to be a minority in their party.
I would like to talk about some numbers and facts that people at home might find interesting. Earlier, I mentioned that there have been three bribery convictions, and I would like to talk about that some more.
Since the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act was enacted in 1999, there have been three convictions. Hydroclean Group was fined $25,000 in January 2005 for bribing an American immigration official at the Calgary airport. Niko Resources Ltd. was fined $9.5 million in June 2011 because its subsidiary in Bangladesh paid the moving and housing costs of Bangladesh's then-minister of energy and natural resources. Finally, the third conviction involved Griffith Energy International Inc., which was fined $10.3 million in January 2013 for agreeing to pay $2 million to the wife of Chad’s ambassador to Canada and to allow her and two other individuals to buy shares at a reduced cost in exchange for support for an oil and gas project in Chad.
Naturally, I hope that the Conservatives will condemn these acts and continue to flush out other companies or individuals involved in bribery. It tarnishes our international reputation. The Conservative government has done enough to tarnish it over the past seven years. This needs to stop.
Transparency International's 2011 bribe payers index ranks the oil and gas industry fourth and the mining industry fifth in the list of sectors most likely to engage in bribery. In addition, the mining and oil and gas industries are ranked second and third in the list of sectors most likely to give major bribes to high-level public officials and politicians. Bill S-14 is particularly relevant to those sectors.
To conclude, I would say that, unlike the Conservatives, the NDP is listening to the people. When the business sector tells us that Canadian companies want clear, consistent international business standards, we listen. Enforcing regulations that are free of loopholes will level the playing field for all companies.
In addition, the NDP is listening to environmental groups and task forces that want to ensure that local communities are not abused in the course of development.
Finally, we are listening to international stakeholders to ensure that Canadian companies have sound, responsible management practices.
View Dany Morin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Dany Morin Profile
2013-06-18 12:54 [p.18528]
Mr. Speaker, I find the attitude of my Conservative colleague completely shameful. He does not really seem to think it is serious that Canadian companies are involved in corruption overseas.
He even asked what they, the Conservative government, are supposed to do. Are they supposed to play sheriff overseas?
I think that the government needs to show some backbone in the case of companies on Canadian soil that fall under federal jurisdiction, but are doing business overseas. We need to put forward legislation in Canada to protect people in other countries from Canadian companies.
If they obey the law and do not engage in corruption, they will have nothing to hide. However, because of the Conservative government's complacency, companies are currently involved in corruption and the Conservative government is washing its hands of the situation. I do not mean to insinuate anything, but I am not surprised.
View Dany Morin Profile
NDP (QC)
View Dany Morin Profile
2013-06-18 12:56 [p.18528]
Mr. Speaker, I find it rather ironic that my Liberal colleague is asking for my support and wondering if Canada can do more. Yes we can, and that is why the NDP introduced Bill C-300. That bill would have required mining companies that receive government support to comply with certain standards, but it would also have established a system for lodging and evaluating complaints against such companies.
Unfortunately, the government members voted against the bill. What people may not know is that 13 Liberal Party members, including the member who asked me the question, voted against the bill. Bill C-300 was defeated by six votes.
Yes, Canada can do more and so can the Liberals, by supporting NDP bills that are designed to strengthen these types of laws. We need to do more than just talk. We need to take action and vote the right way.
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2013-06-18 12:57 [p.18528]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill S-14, An Act to amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. The bill talks about corruption and transparency.
I will be sharing my time with the member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert.
As an NDP member of Parliament and the proud representative of LaSalle—Émard, I want to say that it is very important to my constituents to have a transparent and corruption-free government, whether we are talking about this government or any other level of government. The same goes for all elected officials, at any level of government.
It is ironic that this bill was introduced in the Senate—a point that has already been raised—when we know very well that that place is severely lacking in transparency and ethics when it comes to corruption, for example.
However, when I see my Conservative colleagues rise in the House and say that a bill is a priority for this government, it always makes me wonder why the government did not introduce the bill itself if this was such a priority. I have asked myself that question about all of the bills that have recently come to the House.
This is not the first time this kind of bill has come up. In 1997, Canada signed the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. Canada ratified the convention in 1998. That was a while ago.
Then, there was the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2004. This convention was ratified in 2007. That was not all. In 2008, the RCMP created an international anti-corruption unit, made up of two seven-person teams in Ottawa and Calgary. This unit focuses on detecting, investigating and preventing international corruption such as bribery, embezzlement and so on. The RCMP oversees this unit.
Canada and Canadians have been concerned about this issue for many years.
In March 2011, Canada and the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act were reviewed by members of the OECD working group on bribery. They welcomed Canada's efforts on this issue, but raised objections to the limits on the legislation's jurisdictional reach, the insufficient number of investigators working to uncover bribery of foreign public officials and the lax penalties that would be imposed upon conviction. These were the two criticisms presented.
Since we are part of this convention, it would be useful to conduct periodic reviews and evaluations on this.
They also made a list of recommendations, which is a little too long for me to read here. I would still like to talk more about some points related to the bill now under debate in the House.
Then, in September 2012, Transparency International, a non-governmental organization, released its eighth annual progress report on the enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, which I mentioned earlier. Moreover, the Transparency International board of directors is chaired by a Canadian, who indicated that Canada was in the moderate enforcement category.
This is one of the problems: despite ratifying these conventions for several years, Canada is still enforcing them only at a moderate level despite what the bill says. However, according to Transparency International, active enforcement is necessary to ensure that the legislation actually enables us to tackle this problem. We think that there are not enough resources specifically allocated to do this.
The report also made some interesting recommendations. It proposed ensuring that charges not fall under territorial jurisdiction, but rather be based on the principle of nationality. That is one of the interesting parts of this bill. In other words, any time a Canadian national bribes a foreign public official, the principle of nationality will facilitate the beginning of the legal process under the Criminal Code.
This recommendation, originally made by Transparency International, has been included in Bill S-14. The hope is that it will facilitate launching legal proceedings dealing with the bribery of foreign public officials. Clearly, whether we work here or abroad, we must always hold ourselves to the highest standards regarding ethics and transparency.
This is important for Canadian industries that operate here in Canada as well as abroad, because there is a cost involved any time Canada's reputation abroad is sullied. There is a high cost for the Canadian economy as well as the industries that operate here or abroad.
Canada also needs to show some leadership. We are a democratic nation that has ethical standards. We have established standards regarding working conditions, living conditions and the environment. It is therefore very important that we continue to lead by example, both here and abroad. It is very important to keep this in mind.
Canadians want businesses representing Canada overseas to do so in a responsible, respectable manner. Canadian companies want clear and consistent standards for international business.
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2013-06-18 13:08 [p.18529]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the question.
In fact, Canada often puts up obstacles instead of actively participating in implementing bills that tackle corruption or bills that will improve environmental standards here or elsewhere in the world. The same goes for Canada's participation in fighting climate change or banning terrible weapons such as cluster munitions.
If Canada actively addressed these issues at an international level, that would help make the world a better place.
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2013-06-18 13:11 [p.18529]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that the Conservative member who asked the question alluded to the need for resources to tackle the problem of corruption of foreign public officials. As I was saying in my speech, that is the RCMP's job.
I hope that the government will give the RCMP the necessary financial resources and means to tackle the problem of corruption of foreign public officials.
View Djaouida Sellah Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address Bill S-14, An Act to amend the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, to increase the maximum sentence of imprisonment applicable to the offence of bribing a foreign public official; eliminate the facilitation payments exception to that offence; create a new offence relating to books and records and the bribing of a foreign public official or the hiding of that bribery; and establish nationality jurisdiction that would apply to all of the offences under the act.
For a long time now, members of the NDP have supported clear rules requiring Canadians and Canadian companies abroad to show transparency and accountability. This bill complements the legislative initiatives put forward by members of our party to promote responsible, sustainable, transparent business practices.
In a report published in 2011, Transparency International ranked Canada as the worst of all the G7 countries with respect to international bribery. The organization pointed out that Canada rarely, if ever, enforces its negligible anti-corruption legislation. Since then, the government has started trying to address this national embarrassment. However, since 1999, there have only been three convictions, two of them in the past two years.
By eliminating the facilitation payments exception, the bill will bring Canada’s practices into line with 36 of the 39 other OECD countries. However, while the remainder of the bill comes into effect on royal assent, the rules on facilitation payments will come into effect at an unknown later date, as cabinet wishes. In the United States, the rule on accounting records is already enforced in civil matters by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Canada has no equivalent regulatory authority, but there is a similar rule in criminal law.
The bill is of particular importance in the mining industry, where the NDP has been and is still an ardent defender of accountability. I can cite, for instance, Bill C-323 introduced by the member for Burnaby—New Westminster, which seeks to permit people who are not Canadian citizens to initiate tort claims based on violations of international obligations in Canadian courts, as well as Bill C-486 introduced by the member for Ottawa Centre, which requires companies that use minerals from the Great Lakes Region of Africa to exercise due diligence.
Canadians want our companies to be responsible and respectable representatives of Canada, and Canadian companies want clear and consistent standards for international business. The enforcement of loophole-free regulations will create a level playing field for all companies, while protecting the environment, labour and human rights, something we could all be proud of.
The news headlines concerning SNC-Lavalin are enough to convince us that this is necessary. A number of people in my extended family and some of my childhood friends in Algeria have written to me to find out whether corruption of foreign public officials is the norm in Canada. We are aware that a number of allegations of corruption are floating around the activities of SNC-Lavalin, not just in Libya, but also in Algeria. The company has even been blacklisted in Algeria, including by Sonelgaz, Algeria’s electricity utility.
Clearly, this incident was an embarrassment for Canadians. This is why Canada has a duty to adopt responsible management practices. This bill helps ensure that operations conducted by Canadian businesses abroad meet high standards, of which we can all be proud.
Under the current version of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, however, Canada exercises only territorial jurisdiction, which allows Canada to prosecute the foreign bribery offence when it is committed in whole or in part in Canada. There must be a “real and substantial link” between the offence and Canada. The fact that Canada does not exercise nationality jurisdiction in order to prosecute a Canadian for bribing a foreign public official without needing to provide evidence of a link to Canada has been the subject of negative commentary by Transparency International and by the OECD in its Phase 3 Evaluation Report. Both bodies have recommended that Canada amend its laws to exercise nationality jurisdiction over the foreign bribery offence to promote prosecution of cases under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.
The incorporation of this recommendation into the bill means that offences committed abroad are deemed to have been committed in Canada. As a result, proceedings for an offence can be commenced in any territorial division in Canada, and the provisions of the Criminal Code relating to the appearance of the accused at trial apply to the proceedings. With certain exceptions, the new provisions also provide safeguards for people who have already been tried and dealt with outside Canada for an act or omission that is deemed to have been committed inside Canada under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act. This prevents people from being tried twice for the same offence, once by a court exercising jurisdiction on the basis of territory and once by a court exercising jurisdiction on the basis of nationality. Similar safeguards are already set out in the Criminal Code.
That being said, once again, as the hon. member for Outremont is fond of saying, the government needs to put its money where its mouth is both in this and in many other matters. In Canada, our inability to enforce anti-corruption laws is a source of embarrassment to the country. We are pleased that the government is finally looking into these problems, but it is deplorable that it has taken so much time and that Canada had to be condemned and discredited before the government took any action.
I would like to quote Janet Keeping from Transparency International. She said:
In our view, it is a very good thing that the Canadian government is responding to criticisms of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act that have mounted over the years.... I did want to have an opportunity to say that good law on the books is really important and essential, and Transparency International Canada is behind the adoption of Bill S-14. But just as in any other country of the world, legislation is only as good as it is enforced, especially in the criminal law area.... [Keep] in mind that we must have the RCMP and the prosecution services adequately resourced to enforce the legislation.
We must therefore ensure that our excellent police officers have the resources they need to do their job. If the RCMP does not have enough staff and resources, the legislation alone will not be enough and will not meet its objectives.
View Djaouida Sellah Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his pertinent question.
Our goal was to have an exception in the bill that would accommodate non-profit organizations and level the playing field for them. The fact remains that we are supporting a bill that should have been brought forward a long time ago.
I would like to quote one of my constituents, who I met at a playground. He said to me, “Madam, politics, it is the same old story.” The NDP is different. We are working to protect human rights. Furthermore, we want to protect labour rights and the environment.
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2013-06-18 13:24 [p.18531]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her speech. She did a good job of summarizing Bill S-14.
She mentioned something that we often point out in our speeches. In her opinion, what concrete action could the government take? The House of Commons often votes on budgets that are part of omnibus legislation, which is really disturbing and shows a great lack of transparency on the part of the government.
What resources should be allocated to ensure that the bill is implemented properly, especially with respect to RCMP officers?
View Djaouida Sellah Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her insightful question. She is a very bright parliamentarian, who works very hard for her constituents.
According to Janet Keeping, from Transparency International, it is all well and good to have laws, but we need to follow up with meaningful action. Cuts are to be avoided. Instead, funding must be provided to police forces, such as the RCMP, so they can do their job properly.
Unfortunately, this is a very short-sighted government that cannot see past its nose. People are clamouring that we need human and financial resources. I hope that passing this bill will ensure that this government will put its money where its mouth is.
View Alain Giguère Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alain Giguère Profile
2013-06-18 13:26 [p.18531]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to state right from the outset that the NDP is in favour of Bill S-14. We would have liked the legislation to go further and move faster, but it is a good start.
The key thing to understand in combating corruption is the importance of being vigilant. The primary purpose of this bill is to guarantee that corruption is never considered an acceptable modus operandi. Not only do we want to stop Canada from getting a reputation abroad as a corrupting nation, we also want to prevent this corruption from having a damaging effect at a local level. We do not want to be complicit in the misfortunes of people who have never done anything to us.
An Italian judge, Giovanni Falcone, when speaking out against the Mafia, stated that politicians can be divided into three groups: those who are fighting the Mafia, those who are working alongside the Mafia and, lastly, the most dangerous of all, those who let the Mafia go about their business unfettered. That last category may include any of us, hard-working people who work long hours and take part in fundraising activities where we meet all kinds of people, including lobbyists. That is part of our daily work as members of Parliament, and it can be difficult and trying. It is easy to overlook certain things. All that is needed is a moment of inattention. Nobody in the House is immune to that. Unfortunately, dishonest people take advantage of our weaknesses. The huge majority of honest people are convinced—and rightly so—that other people is just as honest as they are. That is what allows swindlers and corrupters to abuse our trust.
Bill S-14 would punish Canadians who attempt to corrupt foreign public officials. Canada must engage fully in the joint effort by the family of nations to put an end to this scourge. This corruption, in far too many countries, is a source of human rights violations. A corrupt officer in his own country breaks the law of the land at home. When a journalist writing an article on an allegedly corrupt minister challenges this officer, is he really going to incriminate himself or will he be tempted to have the journalist killed?
Corruption goes hand in hand with the destruction of the values of freedom, justice and democracy. The more corruption is tolerated, the more perilous it will be for democracy in these countries. We ask countries to engage in good governance, but in the same breath, we turn a blind eye to Canadians offering bribes. That has got to stop. This legislation is the House’s response, across party lines, to this problem. It is also important to us. If we do not do this, our credibility as advocates for human rights and freedoms will be in tatters.
Canada missed out on the opportunity to obtain a seat on the United Nations Security Council. This is directly attributable to the fact that our foreign policy has, at times, fallen short of what is expected in terms of our reputation on the world stage. We have allowed our reputation to be tarnished, and it has sunk to new lows. The time has come to rectify this.
We remain saddled with the problem of tyrants and dictators. Both tend to be corrupt, which is why they hold on so tightly to the reins of power.
They are continuing to get rich off the backs of their own people. Corruption, misappropriation of funds, nothing is beyond these people. We are now openly declaring that we will no longer be complicit in this.
Libya is a hugely embarrassing problem. Mr. Gadhafi was no boy scout; he did not respect the laws and freedoms of his own people. Unfortunately, the bungling of some of our officers at the Canadian embassy in Libya, combined with the dishonesty of certain engineering firms and a number of Canadian construction and natural resources development companies, meant that a small portion of the Gadhafi family's income came from Canada. This is not something to be proud of. It is important to be aware of it and to address the situation.
Our response to the incident is Bill S-14. The legislation will punish Canadians who seek to corrupt foreign public officials. It was high time legislation like this was introduced.
Let us not complain. For once, all the parties in the House will support the bill. We support the fact that an individual found guilty of corrupting a foreign public official is liable to be sentenced to up to 14 years behind bars. There will no longer be an exception in the case of facilitation payments. This was a handout to officials not because they agreed to take on a case, but to have the case processed more quickly. Building permits, for example, were requested. People were entitled to these permits, they were legal, but the public official would claim to have a lot of work. Now, if he were enticed, the official might say that he could look after the case the following week rather than two months down the road. These facilitation payments will no longer be permitted. There will be a zero-tolerance policy.
Cooking, or concealing, the books to hide corruption will not be allowed, either. It will not be possible to tell Canadian shareholders to look at the company’s terrific bottom line when it hides the fact that $60 million or $80 million has ended up lining the pockets of corrupt foreign officials. Sometimes, the money finds its way into the pockets of top Canadian executives, who receive what is commonly called a kickback. For example, a person might hand over $50 million and get a kickback in the form of $10 million deposited into a Swiss bank account. That, too, will no longer be tolerated. It was high time. Canadian shareholders were getting the wool pulled over their eyes, and this had to stop.
The bill applies to all Canadians. Regardless of where the crime is committed, Canadian citizens will be accountable under Bill S-14. Often Canadians have several citizenships and do business in all corners of the globe, and now, extraterritoriality will no longer be grounds for immunity.
Turning a blind eye to Canadians offering bribes abroad is dangerous because once they are back in Canada, the very same Canadians end up bribing Canadian officials. That is the problem: corruption knows no borders. Corrupt people in Libya or in Latin America will be just as corrupt in Canada. Unfortunately, that is a fact. That much is obvious when it comes time to foot the bill, and the bill is steep. Canadian taxpayers have contributed to the tax-haven-sheltered bank accounts of far too many corrupt people and corrupters.
This is why the NDP strongly supports this bill. We stand by our position. The NDP is unequivocally opposed to corruption, which is a source of embarrassment for our country. It ruins our reputation and has an adverse impact on Canada’s financial and economic opportunities.
Mining, gas, oil and manufacturing companies, the pulp and paper industry, and equipment and service suppliers will think that it is dangerous to do business with a Canadian company because they are corrupt. This kind of thinking has to stop. People need to know that if they do business with a Canadian company, that company is accountable under the law. It is not true that Canada tolerates corruption. Canada will not have that kind of reputation.
Corruption is a cancer that does not stop at our borders. It insinuates itself into our politics. Recently, cases of corruption have surfaced among our political parties. This morning, I researched the ideological path taken by one individual. My goodness, he was involved in every municipal political party, every single one. He did them all in Montreal, bar none. Provincially, he was close to the Quebec Liberal Party and the Action démocratique du Québec, Mr. Dumont’s party. He toyed with the PQ, having the occasional flirtation here and there. Then, federally, he was a member of the Liberal Party of Canada, even seeking to run for the Liberal Party of Canada. It now turns out that he was a candidate for the Conservative Party. He wore every political stripe. He was always very close to power and always played the corrupt card when it came to power, always.
I can guarantee that, if he had not been caught and arrested, he probably would have tried to join the ranks of the NDP when it takes the reins of power in 2015. He is that kind of person.
No political party is immune to that kind of person. People cut from that cloth are dishonest and use how busy we are to take advantage of us. They aim to profit from the money Canada has. Indeed, if Canada were as poor as Job, they would not be like bees to honey. They seek, above all, to satisfy their personal interests, and they generally succeed. That is why we all, collectively, have a duty to be vigilant. From a purely non-partisan perspective, I can say that nobody is safe. This is happening right now. It is all well and good to say that a Conservative got caught. He was never a Conservative, but he was, and has always been, a thief. That is the take-home message.
In the past, our laws were weak. Not only did this give Canada a bad reputation, it led to some pretty poor outcomes. There have only been three convictions since 1999, and those convictions were not particularly impressive. The major players were not really caught in the net. A $10 million fine was issued, which is nothing to be sneezed at. However, the contracts were worth billions of dollars. The penalties in other countries for corruption are significant, and those found guilty see their wealth go up in smoke.
Canada had such a bad reputation that international agencies were saying that Canada ranked fourth or fifth among the most corrupting countries. It is embarrassing.
Thanks to Bill S-14, we are collectively correcting our past mistakes. No one is infallible. Only those who never do anything never fail. It is because we collectively realized our mistakes that we were able to correct them. That is the difference between a mistake and a fault. Anyone can make a mistake. It becomes a fault when you keep making the same mistake over and over, without correcting it. Thanks to this bill, Canada does not have this problem.
We also need to talk about other problems, such as money laundering. Imagine a corrupt government official in an African country who finds himself with $400 million or $500 million, as we have seen. Nigeria once had a president who died of a heart attack and was later found to have had $6 billion in Swiss bank accounts. When people are corrupt in their own country, they want to buy things for themselves in that country, but above all, they want to ensure that if they lose power, they will not lose their money, so they transfer it to tax havens. We need to tackle this problem.
Bill S-14 does not tackle it. However, we will tackle it through other bills. In the future, it will be impossible to divert money like that. In terms of international co-operation, we will have better regulations. It will be easier to exchange information and easier for countries that have lost money like this to recover it. That is an important element.
We have a significant banking sector. Our banking institutions play a major international role, and that is good. We cannot complain about having a solid banking system that plays an important role internationally. That is why we have to be careful. These institutions must not be left open to criticism or become a way to launder dirty money, corruption money. We will also be introducing crime bills to correct this situation.
There was also discussion about Canadian officials who represent us in embassies. They have a role to play. They must not encourage or tolerate this corruption. From an ethical standpoint, they must also avoid becoming corrupt by being so close to power.
Far too often, we have seen the children of a foreign president, minister or senator obtain bursaries to study in Canada or have their Canadian citizenship process fast-tracked. We have seen that sort of thing quite often, even in Syria. For example, in one case, the daughter of the immigration minister was working on the immigration portfolio at the Canadian embassy. That was not very smart.
The last few minutes of my speech will be on the Mafia and organized crime. Organized crime knows no borders. Corruption attracts corrupt people, and there is nothing more corrupt than organized crime on a global scale. It has interests in anything and everything. It knows no borders. In that sense, Bill S-14 could be improved in future when we deem it necessary. Bill S-14 is a first step, but not the last. We all think it is a good one.
View Steven Blaney Profile
CPC (QC)
View Steven Blaney Profile
2013-06-18 13:49 [p.18534]
Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my hon. colleague.
In his speech he said that there were three types of politicians: those who participate in corruption and those who are unaware—of course everyone is against corruption—but those who know it exists and who do nothing are the worst.
I would like to know how concerned my hon. colleague is about the actions of his leader who knew about corruption in Laval for 17 years yet did nothing. Not only did he do nothing for 17 years, but he also denied that someone had attempted to bribe him.
Does that not correspond to the third definition he just mentioned?
View Alain Giguère Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alain Giguère Profile
2013-06-18 13:50 [p.18534]
Mr. Speaker, my colleague's last question is unfortunately so partisan that he has missed the point.
Collectively, it is our duty to protect our country against corruption and the corrupt. Unfortunately, those who disregard this make personal attacks and focus on imagined facts. At present, people are fighting corruption in Canada and abroad.
Unfortunately, collectively, we are sometimes not vigilant enough. Canada's response to this lack of vigilance is Bill S-14. We are going to deploy teams of expert police officers to fight this phenomenon.
In Montreal, the Marteau squad is tackling corruption. Unfortunately, if the member would open his eyes, he would see that the Marteau squad arrested the assistant to one of his ministers. These are not just suspicions; he is being charged with corruption. Just two months ago, that man claimed to be the shadow MP for the riding of Mount Royal.
We can fight corruption, not with partisan attacks, but by working together as we did on Bill S-14 and as I encourage the House of Commons to do in all circumstances.
View Alain Giguère Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alain Giguère Profile
2013-06-18 13:53 [p.18534]
Mr. Speaker, people who are corrupt outside the country will also be corrupt inside the country. They are the same people. That is clear from the criminal charges that were recently laid.
The same people who gave bribes to Mr. Gadhafi gave bribes to the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal. The people who said they were experts in military intelligence and were members of the CSIS board of directors are the same people who accepted bribes.
No one is immune to corruption. Nor is any political party. However, we can implement measures to correct the situation as quickly as possible when it does happen. We can combat corruption with legislation, regulations and joint effort.
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2013-06-18 13:54 [p.18534]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin for his very eloquent speech.
I would like him to talk a bit more about Canada's international reputation. Indeed, The Globe and Mail reported today that Canada is still seen as the holdout at the G8 summit. It is not willing to make reforms on tax transparency at the international level. It is resisting reform and putting on the brakes.
Could my colleague comment on the way Canada has been doing things over the past few years, resisting reforms that would make us active participants in the global efforts to improve the situation?
View Alain Giguère Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alain Giguère Profile
2013-06-18 13:55 [p.18534]
Mr. Speaker, this is directly related to a government policy. The government chose to never be on the right people's side.
An Israeli minister once said, “Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”. That is exactly what is happening with this government. Canada is receiving environmental booby prizes. We are in last place, the biggest polluter. We are also in last place when it comes to money laundering. The government is making cuts to the Canada Revenue Agency, which should be working to combat money laundering. Canada is also lagging behind when it comes to combatting foreign corruption.
We still have not voted on Bill S-14. We are the last of the G8 countries to have a bill of this nature. At some point, the government will have to take full and exclusive responsibility in all areas.
We lost the opportunity to get a seat on the United Nations Security Council. That should have been a red flag. The Conservatives trivialized the incident. They trivialize everything. They are against anything that could stand in the way of a Canadian company making a quick buck. Unfortunately, this is tarnishing Canada's reputation on the world stage.
View Alain Giguère Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alain Giguère Profile
2013-06-18 13:57 [p.18535]
Mr. Speaker, Canada is in last place because it is the last country to pass this type of legislation. Our country has become a laughingstock. This government has known for years that this type of legislation is essential.
At the very beginning of my speech when I quoted what Judge Giovanni Falcone said about politicians, I said that there were those who are fighting the Mafia, those who are working alongside the Mafia and those who let the Mafia go about their business unfettered. Clearly, the government's actions in this case were not inadvertent or due to a lack of vigilance. This government knowingly allowed companies to engage in wrongdoing.
Diplomats at the Canadian embassy in Libya were involved in the corruption surrounding the Gadhafi family. That is unacceptable. That is why Canada is in last place and everyone knows it.
When it comes to making a quick buck, this government will support the corrupt, regardless of the long-term effects or the impact it will have on Canada's reputation. The government wants Bill S-14 because it no longer has a choice.
The NDP government will go much further. We will re-establish Canada's reputation of excellence.
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
NDP (QC)
View Hélène LeBlanc Profile
2013-06-18 13:59 [p.18535]
Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate that the NDP has always been in favour of responsible, sustainable and transparent management practices. My colleague alluded to this during his speech, and I would like him to reiterate the NDP's commitment to that.
I also appreciated how he mentioned that it was up to each one of us to recognize our responsibility to adopt ethical and responsible measures.
View Alain Giguère Profile
NDP (QC)
View Alain Giguère Profile
2013-06-18 13:59 [p.18535]
Mr. Speaker, that is a good question.
In many cases, the purpose of corruption is not just to facilitate access to the resources of a foreign country. Often it is used to bypass the basic rules of sustainable development. I am talking about anti-pollution rules, respect for workers' rights and respect for the right of local communities to live in a healthy environment without having to disturb modes of transportation or water supplies. All of these things are part of regulation, and corruption can deny these people their right to sustainable development.
View Jean-François Fortin Profile
(QC)
Mr. Speaker, Quebeckers can point to a dismal record for the parliamentary session just ending.
In terms of governance, the Conservative government is navigating from scandal to scandal without a moral compass. The attempt to cover up the fraud committed by senators to the tune of thousands of dollars and the defence of former minister Penashue, who broke campaign spending rules, are obvious examples of this government's moral bankruptcy.
With regard to consequences for Quebec, across the economic, political, social and environmental spectrum, the government has made a growing number of decisions that clash with Quebec's interests. The government's actions in maintaining the Clarity Act with the support of the NDP and the Liberals, thereby preventing the Quebec nation from deciding its own future, and the support from all federalist parties to fund the Churchill Falls project, which uses our own money to compete with Hydro-Québec, show just how far all federalist parties are willing to go to harm Quebec in favour of Canada.
At the same time, the deeply unfair employment insurance reform, which is devastating and weakening our regions, leads us to conclude that this is indeed a dismal record.
View Jacques Gourde Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that two municipalities in my riding—Saint-Édouard and Leclercville—are gearing up to celebrate their 150th anniversaries.
Rich in history and filled with welcoming and vibrant people, these two municipalities continue to grow and develop. They are good places to live. A variety of activities will be held in the near future, giving residents and everyone else the opportunity to celebrate with loved ones and discover this beautiful part of the country along the river.
I would like to acknowledge the outstanding work of those organizing and volunteering at these events, which promote cultural and local development and help form friendships that will last for years, for generations.
Happy 150th everyone!
View José Nunez-Melo Profile
Ind. (QC)
View José Nunez-Melo Profile
2013-06-18 14:07 [p.18536]
Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government's days are numbered. Considering its track record in recent weeks, with merely a glance, anyone can see that the Prime Minister's Office is in full panic mode. With 48 gag orders under its belt, this government is limiting debate on issues that affect all Canadians, because it is afraid of defending its indefensible positions. By silencing the opposition, the Conservatives are really silencing the voices of all Canadians.
The sense of panic within the government is obvious in its members' speeches. The Conservatives are clearly scraping the bottom of the barrel and are all over the map: endless gag orders, senators who keep spending irresponsibly and a Prime Minister who cannot even control his own caucus.
In 2015, and perhaps even before that, the NDP will be there to get Canada back on track and replace this government with a competent and compassionate team.
View Ève Péclet Profile
NDP (QC)
View Ève Péclet Profile
2013-06-18 14:13 [p.18538]
Mr. Speaker, June 20 is World Refugee Day. It reminds us of the importance of showing leadership to prevent and stop conflicts that force families to leave their homes. Canada's role in improving conditions for current refugees, the victims of modern conflicts, must continue to be a central pillar of humanitarian aid.
We must not abandon people in need. People do not choose to flee. Their forced displacement endangers lives and the safety of families. Kidnapping, rape and torture are just some of the dangers faced by refugees.
When we celebrate this day, we remind ourselves of the challenges faced by refugees and our duty to take action.
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