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View Jenny Kwan Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jenny Kwan Profile
2019-05-17 12:26 [p.28014]
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to finally have the opportunity to contribute to a long-awaited debate on an oversight body for the Canada Border Services Agency. It has been over a decade since Justice O'Connor recommended that there be an independent oversight for the CBSA. Since then, a chorus of voices have consistently and persistently called for accountability for the CBSA.
I will state very clearly that the NDP supports Bill C-98, as this is something the NDP and stakeholders have been calling on the current Liberal government to act on for a very long time.
In fact, back in 2014, the BC Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, issued a joint press release and called for an independent review of all of CBSA's national security enforcement and border policing activities.
The CBSA is the only major federal law enforcement agency without external oversight. CBSA officers have a broad range of authority. They can stop travellers for questioning. They can take breath and blood samples. They have the ability to search, detain and arrest non-citizens without a warrant. They can interrogate Canadians. They also have the authority to issue and carry out deportations on foreign nationals. Many of these authorities are carried out in an environment where charter protections are reduced in the name of national security. However, despite these sweeping powers, it is astounding that there is no independent external civilian oversight for complaints or allegations of misconduct for the CBSA.
Without a doubt, the overwhelming majority of CBSA officers carry out their duties with the utmost respect for the individuals they engage with and recognize that the authority provided to them is to be used responsibly. However, stories of horrific misconduct have also come to light, and the complaint mechanism is anything but open and accountable.
Joel Sandaluk, a Toronto immigration lawyer, said, “CBSA, for many years, has been a law unto itself.”
Mary Foster of Solidarity Across Borders said, “We have enough experience to know that making a complaint to the CBSA about the CBSA doesn't really lead anywhere.”
It is my understanding that between January 2016 and the middle of 2018, the CBSA investigated around 1,200 allegations of staff misconduct. The alleged misconducts are wide-ranging. They include things like neglect of duty, sexual assault, excessive force, use of inappropriate sexual language, criminal association and harassment.
In 2013, there was a case where a woman, reportedly fleeing domestic violence, died in the CBSA's custody. An inquest into the death concluded that there is “no independent, realistic method for immigrants to bring forward concerns or complaints.”
In 2016, two more people died in the CBSA's custody within a span of just one week.
With incidents such as these, it is vital that there is accountability and transparency to ensure that procedures are respected and that there is no abuse of power. That means it is critical that there is an independent oversight body in the event that complaints are lodged.
Right now, if there is an incident where travellers, whether Canadians or foreign nationals, feel something is not right, be it harassment or use of force, the only recourse is to submit a complaint to the CBSA, which undergoes an internal review. We must keep in mind that the nature of the power imbalance that exists between border authorities such as the CBSA, and travellers, especially those in a foreign country, makes lodging any sort of complaint very difficult. Some people elect not to file a complaint. There are real fears, especially if the process is not well known and the body looking into the complaint is not an independent body. People fear, for example, that future travel could be impacted. People are afraid that by speaking out against mistreatment, they may be punished the next time that they try to travel.
We should keep in mind that for some, such as temporary residents and visitors to Canada, they simply are not around long enough to file a complaint or to see it through. We have a responsibility, especially as a nation that welcomes millions of tourists a year, has our own citizens exploring the world and welcomes hundreds of thousands of newcomers who immigrate here each year, to ensure that people feel safe, respected and protected by our border officials. This is why it is critical that there is a public, independent, civilian oversight body for the CBSA.
The BC Civil Liberties Association has studied this issue closely and has done a report on it. From its report, “Oversight at the Border: A Model for Independent Accountability at the Canada Border Services Agency”, it has recommended “two separate accountability mechanisms for the CBSA, one charged with providing real-time oversight of CBSA’s policies and practices, and one charged with conducting investigations and resolving complaints.”
I would be very interested to hear what it and witnesses say about this proposed bill, and whether or not they feel it meets the call for independent oversight and accountability measures for the CBSA.
I must note that while we debate Bill C-98, another bill, Bill C-59, is currently moving to third reading stage at the Senate. We expect we will see that bill return here in the near future.
Bill C-59 introduces a review agency, the national security and intelligence review agency, or NSIRA. This new body would replace the Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner and the Security Intelligence Review Committee, as well as the national security review and complaints investigation functions of the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission. This means that the new body would have jurisdiction over activities that fall under the umbrella of national security. As for what remains as the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, it will continue to have the external investigative body that reviews complaints from the public about RCMP conduct. However, the bill before us today would rename the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission to the public complaints and review commission and expand its mandate to have a similar review function to the CBSA.
As a result of these changes, depending on the nature of the complaint against the CBSA, a different body with different authorities will be the reviewer of conduct. This will undoubtedly cause confusion at times. Therefore, one wonders why this approach was taken and why it is being done in two separate bills.
However, more concerning is the lack of lack of consultation and the last-minute nature of this proposed legislation. Too often we have seen the government consult and consult, and then do nothing, but then in areas where consultation and study are vital to ensuring that the legislation is what it needs to be, the process is short-changed.
The Customs and Immigration Union, which represents over 10,000 Canadians working on our borders, was not consulted on Bill C-98. This makes no sense to me. Why would the government not be seeking out the views of those individuals on the front lines who are doing the work and who would now have a new body reviewing them and their representative organization? This is not a good way to proceed.
Sadly, as the NDP critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, I have become incredibly familiar with the Liberal government's failure to follow through on its promise on good governance.
As we have seen in Bill C-97, the budget implementation act, the Liberals have decided to ram through dangerous changes to Canada's refugee determination system and put vulnerable lives, especially women and girls fleeing violence, at risk. I suspect that the Liberals are feeling the pressure from the right and want to be seen as being tough on asylum seekers. With an election six months from now, they are jamming draconian changes through in an omnibus budget bill.
I suppose, at least in this case with Bill C-98, while the measures for the changes for the CBSA complaint process were announced in the budget, they at least are tabled in a separate stand-alone bill, Bill C-98.
That is more than I can say about the changes to the refugee determination system, which are being rammed through with minimal study in the omnibus budget bill. In a rush to look tough on borders and caving to pressure and misinformation campaigns by the Conservatives, the Liberals again, without consultation, made very sweeping changes to the asylum system in the budget. Experts immediately called for the provisions to be withdrawn or, at the very minimum, to table them as a separate stand-alone bill. The Liberal government refused.
Some 2,400 Canadians wrote to the Prime Minister calling for the same action. That too fell on deaf ears. Its advice, as recently reported by the Auditor General, was that the 1.2 million calls to the IRCC last year did not get through to the government. I will say that Bill C-98 is at least a stand-alone bill.
With that being said, it must also be recognized, given that the Liberals have failed to take action until the eleventh hour, that there is a chance this bill might not receive royal assent prior to the election. If that occurs, this would then represent yet another broken promise by the Liberal government, another broken promise through its failure to act.
I do wonder what took the government so long to table this bill. Why did it wait until there are only five weeks left in the sitting of the House to bring Bill C-98 forward? I suspect that the Liberal government would employ time allocation measures to limit debate, a tool that Liberals consistently spoke against when the Conservatives were in government. I fear that they will once again have our debate in this place limited because the government could not get its legislation in order in a timely fashion.
The risk that this represents with a bill of this magnitude cannot be ignored. The government, in the rush to table it before the session ends, has failed to properly consult the experts on what the bill should look like. Now, in a race against the clock, the Liberals, if they want to be able to claim that they followed through on their promise, will need to limit the democratic debate of this bill. That is what I expect will happen.
This is not a good recipe for good legislation. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The government has stated that in 2017 and 2018, over 96 million travellers were engaged by CBSA employees, which is over 260,000 per day. They processed more than 21 million commercial shipments, which is over 57,000 per day. They processed over 46 million courier shipments, which is over 126,000 per day. This is a serious matter and deserves thorough debate.
It is our hope that the government will allow for a thorough study of this bill at committee. I also hope that the government, upon hearing from stakeholders and experts at the committee stage, will be amenable to any amendments that expert witnesses put forward. I hope that the government will allow for that work to be done in a proper fashion and is open to input by stakeholders.
This bill has been long awaited for by the community. I regret that the government has waited this long, until the eleventh hour, with only six months until the election and only five weeks of sitting in this place, to table Bill C-98. Canadians deserve to have an independent, external civilian oversight process for the CBSA. The government should have done this work much earlier to ensure that the proper process is in place for all Canadians.
View Joyce Murray Profile
Lib. (BC)
View Joyce Murray Profile
2019-03-21 6:51 [p.26306]
moved:
That Vote 1, in the amount of $2,425,100, under Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police — Program expenditures, in the Interim Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020, be concurred in.
View Scott Brison Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Scott Brison Profile
2018-11-20 15:09 [p.23623]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, on behalf of 86 departments and agencies, the departmental results reports for 2017-18 and, if I may add, what great results they are.
8563-421-256 Performance Report of Admin ...8563-421-257 Performance Report of Agric ...8563-421-258 Performance Report of Atlan ...8563-421-259 Performance Report of Canad ...8563-421-260 Performance Report of Canad ...8563-421-261 Performance Report of Canad ...8563-421-262 Performance Report of Canad ...8563-421-263 Performance Report of Canad ...8563-421-264 Performance Report of Canad ...8563-421-265 Performance Report of Canad ...8563-421-266 Performance Report of Canad ... ...Show all topics
View Scott Brison Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Scott Brison Profile
2018-06-15 5:15 [p.21071]
moved:
That Vote 1, in the amount of $9,667,981, under Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police—Program expenditures, in the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019, be concurred in.
View Bardish Chagger Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bardish Chagger Profile
2018-03-23 7:43 [p.18001]
moved:
That Vote 1, in the amount of $2,416,995, under Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police — Program expenditures, in the Interim Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019, be concurred in.
View Scott Brison Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Scott Brison Profile
2017-11-09 10:04 [p.15177]
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of 84 departments and agencies, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the departmental results reports for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
8563-421-170 Performance Report of Admin ...8563-421-171 Performance Report of Agric ...8563-421-172 Performance Report of Atlan ...8563-421-173 Performance Report of Canad ...8563-421-174 Performance Report of Canad ...8563-421-175 Performance Report of Canad ...8563-421-176 Performance Report of Canad ...8563-421-177 Performance Report of Canad ...8563-421-178 Performance Report of Canad ...8563-421-179 Performance Report of Canad ...8563-421-180 Performance Report of Canad ... ...Show all topics
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
View Candice Bergen Profile
2016-09-28 15:28 [p.5214]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and join in the debate on Bill C-22, which would establish a national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians.
I will be sharing my time today with the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.
National security has taken on even greater importance over the last number of years. Abroad, we have seen horrific jihadist attacks just months ago, in fact, month after month in countries like France, Belgium, and even the United States.
Right here in Canada, we saw a jihadi inspired attack in October 2014. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed in Quebec, and Corporal Nathan Cirillo was killed while he was on guard at the National War Memorial, just steps away from where we are standing today. Many of us who served in the last Parliament will recall being locked down, and not knowing what was going on, and we remember that day.
It is important that our national security agencies have the tools they need to do their job, and keep us safe from terrorists. That is why the previous Conservative passed the Anti-terrorism Act in 2015, more commonly known as Bill C-51. Bill C-51 is good legislation that struck an appropriate balance between protecting national security and protecting the privacy of others.
In fact, the director of CSIS recently told the committee in the other place that CSIS agents have used the powers created under that legislation at least two dozen times. That record speaks volumes.
Today, I am not here to talk about that bill, but I am here to talk about Bill C-22, and how to ensure that the rights and liberties of Canadians are appropriately protected through extensive review and oversight of our national security agencies.
While our men and women in these agencies do excellent work each and every day to keep us safe, it is always important to have a third party watchdog. Currently, national security agencies have a substantial review mechanism. CSIS is reviewed by the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which is composed of former parliamentarians and other prominent Canadians. The Communications Security Establishment is reviewed by the CSE Commissioner, and the RCMP is reviewed by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission.
However, we note that the Liberals, in their platform, promised that they would “create an all-party committee to monitor and oversee the operations of every government department and agency with national security responsibilities.” Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, depending on how we look at it, that is not the bill that we have before us today.
First, the bill does not provide for any oversight of national security agencies, in fact, the word oversight is not even in the bill. It is nowhere in the description or in the body of the bill. What it provides is a review mechanism for after-the-fact assessment, but it does so with enormous caveats. In fact, there are seven large caveats contained in section 14 of the bill.
These caveats allow the cabinet to deny the committee, a committee of duly elected parliamentarians sworn to secrecy, the access to any confidence of the Queen's Privy Council, any military operation information, any information on the Investment Canada Act, and any information that may lead in future to criminal charges, among other things.
That pretty well covers off all of the information in the possession of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. That is pretty well all of the information that this so-called committee would need to do the so-called oversight that it is created to do.
Unfortunately, what we have under this legislation is a committee that does not actually have any access to any relevant information. What is more, it is not actually a parliamentary committee. Right here in black and white in subsection 4(3), the bill states that this would not be a committee of Parliament, rather it would be a committee made up of parliamentarians.
What we have right now is a committee made up of parliamentarians with no ability to collect information. We will also learn it has absolutely no teeth to do anything because it cannot report anything outside of the committee, and we have the Prime Minister and ministers able to cleanse the report before it is brought to Parliament.
We kind of have a glorified parliamentary friendship group here, and really nothing more, because the committee cannot review any information. It cannot do anything with the information that it finds because if the Prime Minister deems it is not appropriate for a number of reasons, the Prime Minister or the Prime Minister's Office can change it. Really, this is a pretty hollow shell and nothing more.
I want to speak a bit about the fact that in section 12 parliamentary privilege is eroded by making it clear that a whistleblower could be prosecuted for making any of the information public. Let us think about that for a minute.
The Liberals have said they want this committee to fix the situation where they felt it left the public uninformed and unrepresented on critical issues, but they have established, through this legislation, a system where it would be a crime for a whistleblower to disclose anything from the committee. So, how can there be any access to the information by regular Canadians?
The bill before us does not even come close to meeting the Liberal platform commitments. In fact, it is a bill that further serves to centralize power in the Prime Minister's Office.
Typically, like in the United States and Great Britain, committees of this nature would report directly to the legislative branch rather than to the executive. Yet, in this legislation, the Prime Minister gets to play middleman between the committee and Parliament.
Under this legislation, it says in subsection 21(1) the Prime Minister will receive all annual reports, special reports, and other findings of the committee, so the Prime Minister is going to get everything before Parliament does. He will then have the opportunity to edit and change any report to suit his liking, and subsection 21(5) says that the Prime Minister can refuse to release information at his discretion.
The Liberals have said that this is to protect serious national information and security information, but let us read the text of the bill:
If,...the Prime Minister is of the opinion that information in an annual or special report is...injurious to...international relations...the Prime Minister may direct the Committee to submit...a revised version of the annual or special report.
I want to remind my hon. colleague, the parliamentary secretary, that the Prime Minister actually can direct the committee to submit a revised report. In this case, it would be if it contravened or hurt international relations.
What does that mean? That means that the Prime Minister and his office could delete or eliminate information that they thought might hurt international relations. From what we have seen recently, does that mean if this report said something that would show that the Chinese are doing something they should not be doing, that the Prime Minister would say not to say anything about the Chinese because we do not want to offend them? Maybe the Prime Minister would be concerned that his vanity project of getting a seat on the UN Security Council might be offended.
With the Prime Minister having the motivation, and the naïveté that he seems to be displaying, it is very concerning that this power would be in the Prime Minister's Office to vet this information, and eliminate information that he thinks would not be beneficial to international relations. This is not transparency in any way, shape, or form.
It is definitely not transparent that several months before this legislation was even tabled, we found out, through the media, that the member for Ottawa South was given the sweetheart deal as chair of this committee. That in and of itself is very disingenuous.
The government and the Liberals could have at least had respect for Parliament and for its own platform to have withheld that. I do not know why the Liberals felt they had to make that announcement, and do that so quickly unless it had to do with an inside deal that they were concocting.
How can someone become a chair of a committee that has not even been constituted by Parliament in legislation? With a partisan appointment like this, it is clear that the government is not taking the non-partisan goals of this committee seriously.
Let us look at the facts. The Minister of Public Safety and many of the Liberals who have spoken before me have touted that this proposed committee is modelled after the United Kingdom, but the Liberal partisan appointment of the chair is completely different from the U.K. model which allows its committee to elect its own chair.
Second, the committee reports to the Prime Minister, not to Parliament, and the Prime Minister has the ability to omit items and ask for revised reports.
There is more that I could say on this piece of legislation but at the end of the day we are seeing more and more that this is a hollow shell with no substance. This committee will be made up of parliamentarians with no power to do anything, with no power to get information, and with the Prime Minister vetting all of the information. It looks again like the Liberals want to look like they are fulfilling a campaign promise but they are actually not fulfilling it and they are being disrespectful and disingenuous by doing so.
Unless there are major changes to the bill, I cannot support it.
View Michel Picard Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Michel Picard Profile
2016-09-28 16:39 [p.5224]
Madam Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-22, which will create a national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians. There can be no greater obligation than to protect the security of one's citizens, both here and abroad.
The government of a country such as Canada, which cherishes its hard-won freedoms, its democracy, and its rule of law, has another obligation, and that is to uphold the Constitution of Canada and to ensure that all laws uphold the rights and freedoms we enjoy as people living in a free and democratic society.
The need to simultaneously fulfill these two key obligations is at the very heart of the bill before us. This bill is a response to the threats and attacks that have targeted various countries in the world, including Canada and some of our closest allies. Faced with this violence, we must remain alert and never let down our guard.
In addition, Bill C-22 responds to the many calls over many years for enhanced accountability of departments and agencies working in the area of national security. Hon. members will recall that these calls intensified last year when the previous government introduced the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, also known as Bill C-51. At that time, our party made the argument that Canada's approach to national security legislation should avoid not only naïveté, but also fearmongering.
The threats are real, and so is the need to protect civil liberties. That is why we included improvements to our national security framework, including the creation of a national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians, as a major part of our campaign platform in the last election.
The bill before us would establish a committee with nine members. Seven of the committee members would be drawn from the House of Commons, and of these seven, only four can be government members. Two members would be drawn from the other place. This committee will be different from other committees and offices established to review security and intelligence matters.
Under the accountability framework, some review bodies can have access to classified documents, but only for a specific department or organization. The members of these committees are not sitting parliamentarians. Parliamentarians may be involved, but they do not have access to classified documents. Those external review bodies are the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which reviews CSIS, the Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner, and the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP. None of those bodies include sitting parliamentarians.
On the one hand, parliamentary committees review security and intelligence issues, but they do that primarily by listening to testimony during their public meetings. On the other hand, the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence has a broad mandate to examine legislation and national security and defence issues.
Moreover, in the House, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security studies legislation or issues related to Public Safety Canada and the other agencies in the public safety portfolio. They do extremely valuable work, but as a rule, neither of these committees has access to classified information. They have neither the mandate nor the resources to dig deep into the details of national security matters in order to hold the government and national security agencies truly accountable.
Under the bill before us, members of the national security and intelligence committee of parliamentarians would obtain the appropriate level of security clearance and would, therefore, have access to highly classified security and intelligence information regarding national security and intelligence activities across the Government of Canada.
I would also point out that our Five Eyes partners have review bodies that function in similar ways. In those countries, select parliamentarians have access to highly sensitive intelligence so that they can help protect the public interest with regard to civil rights while also helping protect public safety by ensuring that national security organizations are functioning effectively.
Until now, Canada has been alone among the Five Eyes partners in not having a committee where parliamentary representatives can access classified information. This bill would close that gap.
In fact, in some respects, our proposal goes a little further than that of our allies from Westminster parliamentary democracies. This committee will review all departments and agencies whose activities are related to security and intelligence. It will also have the authority to investigate ongoing operations.
When it comes to establishing a national security accountability mechanism, this bill sets a new standard that some of our allies might well follow.
Robust powers are given to this committee, its members, and its secretariat. The committee will be able to access any information it needs to conduct its reviews, subject to some specific and reasonable limits. As is the case with similar committees in other countries, while committee members are not in a position to disclose the classified information to which they will have access, they can bring tremendous pressure to bear on a given organization or the government in power by letting Canadians know that something is not right.
Clearly, this new committee represents a major step forward in strengthening the accountability of our national security and intelligence system. It will provide elected officials with a real opportunity to evaluate our national security policies and operations and to ensure that Canadians and their civil liberties are protected.
I encourage members to join me in supporting this vitally important bill.
View Robert Oliphant Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Robert Oliphant Profile
2016-06-06 15:09 [p.4072]
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, entitled “Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017”.
I also have the privilege to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, entitled “Supplementary Estimates (A)” for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017.
View Michel Picard Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Michel Picard Profile
2016-05-09 13:09 [p.3054]
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today to speak to the debate on a bill that has an impact on Canada's national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a police force that has been the pride of Canada for nearly 100 years.
As we look back throughout Canada's history, the RCMP contributed in many ways: from the march west from Fort Dufferin in Manitoba, to the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway in Craigellachie, British Columbia, back when the organization was known as the North-West Mounted Police, to the St. Roch's passage through the Northwest Passage, to the vital roles it played in World Wars I and II. The RCMP's history is indeed Canadian history.
The bill before us is another important step in that history because we are seeking to give RCMP members the right to collective bargaining for the very first time.
Bill C-7 will establish a labour relations regime for RCMP members that complies with the Constitution. This regime will give them the freedom to choose to be represented by a union and to negotiate with the employer so that their labour needs are taken into consideration.
For now, I would like to talk about the second and third amendments proposed by the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
As with the labour relations regime that governs police forces across the country, Bill C-7 would exclude some elements from collective bargaining, particularly because of the unique nature of the work RCMP members do. These two proposals would remove conduct, including harassment, from the list of exemptions.
I know that all members share the concerns the hon. member raised about harassment in the RCMP, and this issue is particularly worrisome to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
I want to share a quote from the Minister of Public Safety's mandate letter, in which he is clearly instructed to “Take action to ensure that the RCMP and all other parts of your portfolio are workplaces free from harassment and sexual violence”.
The minister clearly indicated that he expects allegations of harassment in the RCMP to be handled with comprehensive, transparent investigations; strong discipline; support for victims; and plans to prevent toxic workplace behaviour.
To that end, he asked the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP to undertake a comprehensive review of the force's policies and procedures on workplace harassment, and specifically to examine and evaluate the implementation of the commission's recommendations in its 2013 report.
Furthermore, as the minister emphasized to the committee, this is part of a whole set of initiatives under way to deal with this very troublesome concern, and there is more to come.
Other questions were raised in committee, and there was a lot of discussion about clauses 40 to 42. Under those provisions, the RCMP's occupational health care benefits for workplace injuries or illnesses would have been administered by provincial workers' compensation boards and coverage for RCMP members would have been similar to that of officers working in other police departments. This issue was examined at second reading and then again in committee, where several witnesses appeared to talk about it. In the end, it seemed that everyone agreed to defer consideration of this issue to a later date so that it could be examined in more detail, and these provisions were removed from the bill. This shows how committed our government is to respecting Parliament and the independence of parliamentary committees.
The government still believes that it is not ideal for employers to make the final decision as to whether an injury is work-related.
We will continue to work with the RCMP, its members, and the governments that have contracts with the RCMP in order to implement a long-term solution that will meet members' needs.
Nevertheless, the bill before us is one that would achieve the essential objective of allowing RCMP members to be represented by an employee organization of their choosing. In its decision that found the previous labour-relations regime unconstitutional, the Supreme Court determined that the staff relations representative program, which was imposed upon RCMP members, violated their charter rights because it did not allow members any option for representation, nor did it provide an effective mechanism for dispute resolution. On top of that, the program was not independent of management. Bill C-7 would ensure that RCMP members' charter right to freedom of association is respected.
In addition, the legislation would ensure that any certified RCMP bargaining agent is solely focused on the representation of RCMP members and would clarify that the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board would have to consider the unique role of the RCMP in administering and enforcing the act. The bill also proposes binding arbitration with no right to strike, which would ensure both that the labour rights of RCMP members would be respected and that Canadians could continue to rely on the RCMP to ensure safety and security in communities from coast to coast to coast.
This bill's real purpose is to ensure respect for RCMP members' rights. They were consulted throughout the development of this new labour relations regime, and they are the focus of our attention as we study the bill before us today.
I will conclude by pointing out that, every year, RCMP members respond to well over two million service calls from Canadians while conducting all kinds of complex, long-term federal investigations related to organized crime, financial integrity, corruption, and terrorism.
In addition, as we have seen in northern Alberta, RCMP members are always ready to respond when tragedy strikes. From the onset of the crisis in Fort McMurray, the local RCMP and members of detachments across Alberta have acted in countless ways to support search and evacuation activities, and we will be forever grateful to them for the outstanding work they are doing during this extraordinarily difficult time.
To sum up, the bill before us would protect those who protect us by ensuring a labour relations regime that respects their rights.
View Ralph Goodale Profile
Lib. (SK)
View Ralph Goodale Profile
2016-02-24 15:05 [p.1314]
Mr. Speaker, our election platform provided a clear mandate to ensure that the RCMP is indeed a healthy workplace. Sexual harassment is never acceptable.
On February 4, I asked the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP to undertake a comprehensive review of RCMP policies and procedures to evaluate the implementation of recommendations against harassment, which were made by that commission in 2013.
Instances of harassment must be met with comprehensive, transparent investigations, strong discipline, support for victims, and action to ensure a safe and respectful environment going forward.
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