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View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-09-18 15:56 [p.13169]
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to see you in the chair again, guiding our democratic exchanges in the House.
I began my speech before question period. Having used up six minutes, I now have four left. In the first part of my speech, I explored the notion of borders from various perspectives: security, trafficking, trade, and the need for some to commute between various countries, in our case Canada and the United States.
As a certain philosopher whose name escapes me once said, borders guarantee a country's sovereignty. It can then be said that they guarantee our Canadian democracy, because in order to be enforced, rights must rest upon institutional foundations, foundations that can only be guaranteed within the borders of a sovereign state that has institutions such as the House of Commons, for instance.
The purpose of Bill C-21, which the Minister of Public Safety introduced on June 15, 2016, in this House, is to amend the Customs Act. Let me remind my colleagues that the whole content of this bill comes from the beyond the border action plan, introduced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2011. The general aim of that plan was to address any emerging threats to the Canada-U.S. border; to promote trade, which makes for continuous economic growth and job creation; to have an integrated cross-border law enforcement; and to establish critical infrastructure for cybersecurity, a need that keeps growing over the years as new technologies become more important in our daily lives and our institutions.
In my view, this bill was put forward in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Americans wanted to address the concerns of their fellow citizens about security in North America, which is quite natural. In fact, the goal is still the same. As good partners, we not only wanted to address the concerns of Canadians regarding their security, but we also wanted to be good economic, military, and social partners with the United States. We still want that today. Therefore, we began discussions about border security in good faith and with an open mind.
That being said, it was imperative for us, Canadians, to ensure the continuity of trade flow. That is what is difficult to maintain with this type of bill. As my colleague from Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, our critic on this file, mentioned, this bill is intended to finally respond to the threat of terrorism. However, how can we achieve this while ensuring the continued free flow of goods?
We believe the government has accepted the main points we presented in 2011, which is quite interesting. However, this government still has many questions to answer about this bill. Will there be new infrastructure costs related to carrying out the inspection of outgoing people or goods? What measures have been put in place by this government to protect privacy and ensure that the collection of any new entry and exit data is carried out in a secure manner? How will this bill affect those people who enter Canada at unofficial entry points, as we saw this summer in Manitoba and Quebec? Finally, how is this issue reflected in our trade negotiations with the United States at this time, and will all Canadians benefit from these changes?
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-09-18 16:02 [p.13170]
Madam Speaker, at the end of my speech, among other things I asked what careful steps the government intended to take in order to protect the privacy of Canadians.
Clearly, that is one of my concerns. This bill may deal with sensitive matters, but it is absolutely essential. The Americans want to strengthen border security, but we would like trade to remain unimpeded. That said, with regards to the issue raised by the member for Sherbrooke of the privacy of people going abroad, the Canadian government can already access their information today. Peoples' passports get stamped when they visit other countries. This bill will make it so that information is available automatically and will also give us useful tools to deal with certain issues that may not be raised today, EI for instance.
Imagine someone that is drawing EI benefits and should be actively looking for work but instead is travelling in some tropical paradise, or in the United States. This legislation would let the authorities know automatically, and the information could then be relayed to the appropriate department. It would also allow us to interrogate the individual in order to better understand the specifics of the case and why they would be looking for work outside the country.
The member asks an excellent question. I do believe that we should make sure that the government specifies how it intends to protect privacy in the digital age.
View Alupa Clarke Profile
CPC (QC)
View Alupa Clarke Profile
2017-02-07 11:32 [p.8551]
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate having the opportunity to speak this morning. I will be sharing my time with the member for Richmond Centre.
Like the members who have already spoken today, I want to talk about Bill C-36, which is meant to strengthen Statistics Canada's independence. Together, we will look at whether this bill can achieve that official objective because it might also have unofficial objectives.
I think it would be useful to explain to our constituents, including the wonderful people of Beauport—Limoilou, that Statistics Canada was created in 1971 because the federal government has a duty to collect and compile statistics on Canada and its people. Its duty is right there in the law that sets out the federal government's responsibilities. Statistics are therefore under federal jurisdiction. Even provincial statistics are within the agency's purview.
Statistics Canada has been serving Canadians for 40 years. It has produced many studies that I am sure have formed the basis for many of Canada's public policies. Those studies have led to positive outcomes for all Canadians.
In our Liberal democracy, data are extremely important. I used data when I was studying political science, and I use them now in my day-to-day work.
Statistics Canada seeks to produce statistics on the country's populations, resources, economy, society, and culture. Statistics Canada is currently conducting over 300 studies, which will provide us with objective information that will help us make informed decisions while ensuring that the source of that information, the everyday lives of our fellow Canadians, is kept confidential.
I use these data in my capacity as an MP and so do my employees. The data are also used by businesses, universities, and scientists. They are used by the parties to determine their political platforms so that, when a party wins the election and takes office, it can develop informed public policies.
What does Bill C-36 do exactly? After reading the bill, my understanding is that it makes changes to four key areas.
First, the chief statistician would be appointed for a fixed term of five years, renewable for good behaviour and removable only for cause by the Governor in Council. That seems commendable. Although it is not the bill's intention, the chief statistician would nonetheless be authorized to choose where the statistical data would be stored. We think that could be problematic since the government gave the new Canadian statistics advisory council its name and so it obviously expects that council to advise the chief statistician.
Second, the bill provides for the creation of a new Canadian statistics advisory council made up of 10 members. It would replace the National Statistics Council, which currently has 13 members. I will come back to this later since it seems that this change will negatively impact provincial and territorial representation.
Third, under the bill, the consent of Canadians will no longer be required to transfer their census information to Library and Archives Canada.
Fourth, the bill will remove the penalty of imprisonment for Canadians who fail to fill out the census forms, a change that we strongly support.
I would like to say that one of our Conservative colleagues in the previous Parliament, Mr. Preston, had brought forward a bill to repeal the penalty of imprisonment for all surveys. Unfortunately, the bill did not receive royal assent before the writ was dropped.
Obviously, we support this aspect of the bill given that we wanted to make this change.
I will now speak to our position on this bill. We want to debate it in the House and vote to send it to committee for more in-depth study in order to make some amendments. In particular, we find that it is very important to amend the provisions of the bill that would change the National Statistics Council to the Canadians Statistics Advisory Council, a body with 10 members instead of 13.
We believe that this new advisory council would give the Liberals another opportunity to appoint their cronies. We have another concern. Since the council will provide advice about relevance, the surveys could be biased towards the Liberals and even friends of the council.
We find it hard to understand why the government must establish a new council rather than just revising the mandate of the current National Statistics Council, which currently has 13 members representing the 10 provinces and three territories.
Much like we did during the debate on the selection of the next Supreme Court of Canada justice, we voiced our grave concerns regarding the importance of ensuring strong representation from all regions of Canada on the Supreme Court.
Because the council is going to have only 10 members instead of 13, we find ourselves debating the issue through the lens of defending the federation. Obviously, the representation of three jurisdictions in Canada will have to be cut from the council. Does this mean that three of the 10 provinces will no longer be represented on the new council, or have the Liberals decided that the three Canadian territories, that is, Nunavut, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories, will no longer be represented? In either case, whether representation on the council is taken away from three provinces or the three territories, we think it is appalling.
As I said earlier, the mission of Canada's statistics agency is to provide information to Canadians, particularly for the development of sound public policies with objectives based on reliable hard facts. At present, the council that is supposed to support the work of the chief statistician so that he can effectively run the agency will not have the support of people who understand the realities of the provinces and territories.
Furthermore, the bill does nothing to address the concerns raised by Mr. Smith, the former chief statistician. He resigned last summer after voicing his concerns, which are being ignored. When he appeared before the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates on November 16, 2016, Mr. Smith shared his three main concerns with us. This first was this:
...Shared Services Canada represented a major and unacceptable intrusion on the independence of Statistics Canada.
His second concern was as follows:
...the arrangement with Shared Services Canada imposed on Statistics Canada was inconsistent with the confidentiality guarantees given by the Statistics Act to persons and organizations providing information to Statistics Canada for statistical purposes.
His third concern was:
...dependence on Shared Services Canada was hobbling Statistics Canada in its day-to-day operations, reducing effectiveness, increasing costs, and creating unacceptable levels of risk to the delivery of Statistics Canada's programs.
The former chief statistician says he was not satisfied with the government's response to his concerns. I get the impression that this new bill does not fare much better.
For all these reasons, we hope that during review in committee, the government will accept our key amendments.
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