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Results: 1 - 60 of 1843
View Craig Scott Profile
NDP (ON)
View Craig Scott Profile
2015-06-19 11:32 [p.15347]
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Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect Parliament to get results on issues that matter. A bill by an NDP member to ensure that transgender people have the same rights as everyone else and a bill to give more autonomy to members of Parliament have both passed in the House. Yet the undemocratic Senate is killing them, just like it did with Jack Layton's climate change bill. The government ordered its senatorial troops to pass Bill C-51 without amendment. Why the double standard?
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View Bob Dechert Profile
CPC (ON)
View Bob Dechert Profile
2015-06-19 11:32 [p.15347]
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Mr. Speaker, ever since we were elected, our government has put the rights of all victims first, regardless of their gender, race, or religion. We are aware that the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs made amendments to the bill. The House hopefully will have an opportunity to review these changes in accordance with parliamentary procedure. There are significant protections currently found in the Canadian Human Rights Act as well as in the Criminal Code.
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View Irwin Cotler Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Irwin Cotler Profile
2015-06-19 12:05 [p.15353]
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moved for leave to introduce Bill C-701, An Act to establish the Office of the Commissioner for Children and Young Persons in Canada.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce this bill to establish the office of the commissioner for children and young persons. This legislation is inspired by a bill previously introduced by the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie. I thank him for the excellent work he has done to promote the well-being of children and youth in Canada and around the world.
Indeed, the true measure of a nation's standing is how well it cares for its children. Especially after the recent report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into the experiences of the survivors of Indian residential schools, we understand now more than ever the dire consequences of failing children.
Accordingly, a children's commissioner would advocate for children and examine law and policy with a view to ensuring children's rights and welfare, including their health, their education and simply their sense of being loved.
The legislation is inspired as well by my daughter, who when she was a child herself told me, “Daddy, if you want to know what the real test of human rights is, always ask yourself, at any time, in any situation, in any part of the world: Is what is happening good for children? That's the real test of human rights.”
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View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Speaker, with your permission, if we could revert to introduction of private members' bills, I have two bills that I would like to introduce.
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View Barry Devolin Profile
CPC (ON)
View Barry Devolin Profile
2015-06-19 12:10 [p.15354]
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Does the hon. member have unanimous consent to revert to introduction of private members' bills?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
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View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-702, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Parliament of Canada Act (by-election duration and vacant seat).
He said: Mr. Speaker, this is unrelated and I apologize for including it, but I would like to assure the member for Essex that after 10 years I am indeed standing.
Bill C-702 would amend section 57 of the Canada Elections Act in that once the writ for a byelection is officially issued, the maximum length of the campaign period cannot be more than 44 days. The bill would amend section 31 of the Parliament Act requiring that the writ must be issued within 30 days.
I would like to thank my assistant, David Graham, for his tireless work on this bill.
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View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-703, An Act to establish a commemorative monument for search and rescue personnel in Canada.
He said: Mr. Speaker, the bill calls for the creation of a search and rescue commemorative monument in order to recognize the services and contributions of search and rescue personnel across Canada. This is to commemorate the death of those in the service of all Canadians, who provide safety to all citizens. It is not just for the members of national defence, such as 103 Search and Rescue Squadron, which is in Gander in my riding, but also for the volunteer organizations and the police officers who provide such a valuable service to all Canadians. We wish them the best. We would set up this monument to commemorate those who have lost their lives in the service of others.
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View Barry Devolin Profile
CPC (ON)
View Barry Devolin Profile
2015-06-19 12:19 [p.15358]
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There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed without debate to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.
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View Barry Devolin Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
NDP (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
2015-06-19 12:19 [p.15358]
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moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
He said: Mr. Speaker, how befitting that we should engage in a slight bit of time travel to end this Parliament. That brings me back to a quote from the veterans affairs minister when he spoke in favour of this bill at second reading and said:
The specifics of the bill before this House are to correct a drafting oversight from the 1970s, when the Holidays Act treated Remembrance Day slightly differently from the way it treated Victoria Day and Dominion Day, now Canada Day. I am proud that it seems most members of this House will support the member for Scarborough Southwest in rectifying this oversight to ensure that as a federal holiday, Remembrance Day is treated in the same way as those other days that are important to our country.
I would now like to thank my colleague from Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier for seconding my motion today and for her excellent work on the military file in her role as deputy national defence critic. I would also like to thank my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue for seconding my motion at second reading and for having served in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Remembrance Day has always been a very important day for my family, and the reason I wanted to bring this bill forward is to rectify that drafting error from the 1970s so that Remembrance Day would stand on an equal footing under the Holidays Act with Canada Day and Victoria Day, the other two legal holidays that we observe in Canada.
Yesterday I had a very touching moment when I took part in a special ceremony at my father's elementary school, Donwood Park Public School in Scarborough. My father is retiring this year after 28 years as a teacher in Scarborough, the last 25 of them at Donwood Park Public School. During the ceremony at the school yesterday, one of the other teachers, Shane Matheson, said that when he joined the teaching family at Donwood Park, he asked the principal and other teachers which of them took care of the Remembrance Day ceremonies, because usually one teacher is designated. All of the teachers immediately shouted out that it was Mr. Harris.
Of course I mean my father, David Harris, who has taken care of the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the school for years and years. He had a talk with my father to find out how he could help to further improve the ceremonies. They actually got a letter from the current Minister of Veterans Affairs to thank my father for the tremendous work he has done over the years in teaching the next generation about the importance of Remembrance Day here in Canada. It is particularly important work for communities that have a large number of new citizens.
The veterans affairs minister wrote the letter, and it was a very touching moment for us. As I have said in the House before, my family has a long-standing military tradition. My great-grandfather served in the both world wars; my grandmother was in the Canadian Women's Army Corps; my great-uncle, Bill Riley, was in the service in the Second World War and served in Europe. Last weekend, for the very first time, we were able to find and visit his tombstone in Pine Hills Cemetery in Scarborough. My father just happened upon the tombstone. He was there for a memorial service for a friend of his and happened to walk by the tombstone. That was certainly a very sombre but important moment for my family.
This bill went before committee. It went before two committees, in fact. It was there for 205 days before it was reported back to the House. Witnesses appeared multiple times both in the heritage committee and the veterans affairs committee, and there seemed to be some confusion about what the bill would actually do.
Let me clear that up now.
Just as the Minister of Veterans Affairs said, this bill would correct a drafting error from the 1970s. It would elevate Remembrance Day to the same status as the other holidays.
This does not create a statutory holiday. We in Parliament cannot impose holidays on the provinces. That is provincial jurisdiction. The provinces get to decide which holidays to observe, and of course, every province does it a little bit differently.
With respect to Remembrance Day in particular, six provinces and three territories treat it as a statutory holiday. In Manitoba, businesses have to be shut down until 1 p.m. so people have the chance to go to ceremonies, and Nova Scotia has its own Remembrance Day Act. There are lots of models to follow. Ontario and Quebec do not do anything special with respect to a holidays act or changing the normal course of business.
I would like to quote my colleague from Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley in Nova Scotia. He said:
I want to thank you for bringing this legislation forward. I think it is a very interesting discussion.
I'm from Nova Scotia. We have the Nova Scotia Remembrance Day Act. It means a day off school. Businesses are closed. It's a really big event. It's become bigger over the years. I think your legislation is timely, considering the age of our World War II and Korean War veterans. I can remember, as a child, watching the World War I vets. All of them are gone. My grandfather was in World War I. I have military history in my family that is very similar to yours.
As a former elementary school principal, I can tell you that the local legions, in the 19 cenotaph services in my riding, are very active in all the elementary schools, the junior highs, and the high schools in the area, but particularly in the elementary schools. The schools embrace the legions. There's a really strong partnership.
That is the important point. Everyone who works towards honouring and remembering our veterans and the brave service and sacrifice they have all made works together so that we can continue to impart to future generations the importance of that sacrifice and so that we never forget.
Regardless of what different provinces do, whether it is a day off school or not, that relationship between the kids and all the other groups that participate in Remembrance Day is what will help keep the spirit of that day alive for us so that we never forget.
I am certainly hoping today that we can actually end the 41st Parliament on a high note; more than likely we will not be coming back here until the election. We all came together as a Parliament on November 5 to vote on this bill. It was indeed fast-tracked through second reading. It passed second reading with a vote of 258 to 2. We were all able to come together in November to move the bill forward, and I certainly hope that now, in the waning hours of this Parliament, we will be able to do so again and get the bill through third reading before we all rise for the summer.
Some of our colleagues, and you, Mr. Speaker, are not coming back. I would like to thank you for the wonderful job you have done in that chair over the last four years I have been here. I am certain that you did a great job in your previous capacity, but I was not witness to it.
I just want to thank all the people who make Parliament work on a day-to-day basis: the clerks, the folks at the table; the pages and the incredible work they do; and the constables and security services here that work to keep us safe every single day. We would not be able to do the work we do on behalf of Canadians without all of them, and I just want to say thanks to them before we rise for the summer.
I am going to cut my remarks short, because I want to make sure that we get to the other speakers and that we actually have a chance to wrap up debate and move things forward. If we do not horse about here today, the bill will get through. I am certainly hoping that my colleagues, in particular those across the way, will agree to wrapping up the debate.
Again, I quote what the Minister of Veterans Affairs said:
The specifics of this bill before this House are to correct a drafting oversight from the 1970s,
He went on to say:
Bill C-597 would make it clear where the federal government stands with respect to the importance of Remembrance Day to our country. It would give provinces the opportunity to revisit whether they want to make it a statutory holiday as well.
It would not force them to do so.
That is what this bill does. It clarifies Remembrance Day within the Holidays Act by according it the same status as Canada Day and Victoria Day. It changes exactly one word by adding the word “legal” in front of Remembrance Day so that it matches what is says for Canada Day and Victoria Day.
I think it is a simple change that we can all get done today.
I want to thank all my colleagues and everybody who has been a part of this 41st Parliament. It has truly been an honour and a privilege to sit here and to represent the constituents of Scarborough Southwest, where my family has lived for almost 90 years.
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View Royal Galipeau Profile
CPC (ON)
View Royal Galipeau Profile
2015-06-19 12:30 [p.15359]
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Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Scarborough Southwest for presenting this bill, and maybe even commend the people of Scarborough Southwest for sending to this place a member who is so passionate about veterans affairs.
I have some questions, and I will do them without preamble.
The sponsor of the bill said that he would contact the provinces after second reading. First, I would like to know, what did the affected provinces, particularly Ontario and Quebec, where November 11 is not a statutory holiday, have to say about this bill?
Second, what did the member hear from the Ontario school boards about this bill? My understanding is that school boards have been clear in saying that they want to keep students in school on November 11.
Third, has the member calculated how much it would cost small businesses to make November 11 a statutory holiday?
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View Dan Harris Profile
NDP (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
2015-06-19 12:31 [p.15359]
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Mr. Speaker, the bill would not create a statutory holiday, so there would be no cost with respect to that.
It is actually a little difficult to calculate the exact cost with respect to adding Remembrance Day as, say, a statutory holiday. If we were to add another new holiday, something else, it does not matter what, that would impact the entire country, it would be easy to measure that.
If Remembrance Day was made a statutory holiday, it would not impact six provinces and three territories; it would slightly impact a couple of provinces, and it would impact two provinces.
It is hard to find out what the cost would be to businesses right now. Businesses I have spoken to have said it is very confusing if they have an operation in Ontario and one in B.C. The folks in B.C. would be off for the day and the folks in Ontario would not be and if they tried to conduct business between the two, they could not get it done. That has a cost as well.
Businesses want predictability. Sometimes uniformity across the country is actually helpful to business. We only have to look to our neighbours to the south, the United States, for an example. The U.S. federal government passed a bill, and then every single one of the states passed their own bills. Now they have uniformity with respect to the observance of Remembrance Day, which they call Veterans Day.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2015-06-19 12:32 [p.15360]
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Mr. Speaker, my question is related to my first-hand experience when there was a discussion in Manitoba to look at expanding it from a half day to a full day in terms of the statutory holiday. There was a lot of the resistance to moving to a full day which actually came from veterans. They indicated their concern was they did not want people to see it strictly as a holiday to go off and enjoy themselves. The veterans seemed to lobby that what we should be doing is encouraging school activities and programs. Ultimately, it was decided that we would stick with the half day. It seems to be working in Manitoba. This was debated in the 1990s.
Has the member had any indication from veterans who believe that a half day would suffice, and that what they are more interested in is those moments of remembering and opportunities to educate the public as a whole?
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View Dan Harris Profile
NDP (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
2015-06-19 12:34 [p.15360]
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Mr. Speaker, with respect to Remembrance Day, we have a situation here in Canada where every single Canadian who wants to go and pay their respects, however they want to do that, should have that opportunity. The model in Manitoba where businesses are shut down for half the day, certainly in the vast majority of instances would allow that to happen.
That is also why I have not been pushing specific suggestions with respect to what to do. Some of the provinces have done different things. Manitoba has gone in one direction. Nova Scotia has gone in another direction. Six provinces and three territories have decided to make it a full statutory holiday.
When we were hearing witnesses in committee, Canadian Veterans Advocacy said something that was quite poignant, that we were supposed to go and pay our respects and lay down our poppies, but afterwards we are supposed to carry on and continue to live our lives.
If families were to have that opportunity to spend the rest of the day together and choose to use the day however they wished, I do not see a problem with that. They would get to spend time together. It would also offer the opportunity for Canadian society to perhaps even do something for veterans and their families if we were to start organizing things. However, that would be a much larger discussion and a different debate on a different bill at a different time. However, I am always happy to talk about Remembrance Day.
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View Royal Galipeau Profile
CPC (ON)
View Royal Galipeau Profile
2015-06-19 12:35 [p.15360]
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Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to have the opportunity to rise in the House to talk about veterans issues. However, before I do, I would like to pay tribute to you and the wisdom you have shown in the House in chairing the 40th and 41st Parliaments. I will always remember fondly that I gave you your first tabs. You have worn them proudly. The House is better for the service you have given it, and I thank you very much.
Thank you to my Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs members for working together to move this bill as expeditiously as possible. It is good to see everyone working together for Canada's veterans.
While on the subject of this committee, I would like to take a moment to express how much I enjoyed chairing our meetings. No one can deny the earnestness of each and every person sitting at the committee table, and this is to the credit of its members. Thank you for your commitment to helping veterans.
Furthermore, when Parliament is dissolved, two members of this committee will be leaving to face new challenges. I wish the member for Edmonton Centre and the member for Guelph much success, and I thank them for their contribution to the high-quality discussions of this committee. I thank them for their wisdom and for their passion.
Bill C-597 would not create a statutory holiday, as the member for Scarborough Southwest said. That is a day off work or out of school.
For anybody who might be unclear on that point—it could not direct the provinces to let everyone out of school and out of work. That is because letting people out of school and out of work is provincial jurisdiction, not federal jurisdiction.
Thanks to the knowledgeable witnesses we heard over the past several months, we have learned there is a great divide over whether Remembrance Day should be a statutory holiday.
That is a debate for another time and place.
In getting to where we are today, we had some great ideas come forward on how Canadians can best honour the fallen and our veterans.
The whole debate has been very informative and has inspired a healthy conversation about remembrance. Thanks to the members of the committee for that.
We have heard how commemorative ceremonies take place across Canada, in all major cities and towns. Some of these are led at the grassroots level by young and old, military and civilians, by various levels of government, schools, churches, and private businesses. These events depend largely on the organizational culture and leadership.
As we heard from the witnesses, some groups broadcast the last post and reveille—combined with a moment of silence—over the internal PA.
Some employees take time off to attend the local cenotaph ceremony, but anything more organized, on a larger scale, requires strong leadership. Certainly with the hire a veteran initiative and the Veterans Hiring Act, both of which were spearheaded by this government, we will begin to see more veterans in the workplace in the future. Perhaps that leadership will come from them and it will only be a matter of a few years before we see more organized commemoration activities in the workplace.
As an aside, I wonder how many in this room know about the last post ceremony in Ypres, Belgium. The Last Post Association ensures that those who died in the First World War are remembered to this day, in a simple ceremony that takes place every evening.
At 8 p.m. all traffic through the Menin Gate is halted, and two buglers move to the middle of the street and sound the last post.
On July 9, this simple 15 minute act of remembrance will be performed for the thirty-thousandth time. Now, that is leadership. That is dedication.
Would it not be wonderful if we could duplicate the last post ceremony in at least one Canadian community every night, like the citizens of Ypres?
I believe we all agree that the present system in Canada is not perfect and could and should be improved, especially in the public school system. Imagine how much more meaningful Remembrance Day would be with a little leadership, imagination, and dialogue.
The tools are there. Veterans Affairs Canada creates some excellent learning materials for schools and education authorities.
The Tales of Animals in War and the Canada Remembers Times are great resources, which do a good job of engaging students in remembrance. On the learning section of the department's website, schools can also find information on how to plan a successful remembrance ceremony. In reality, there is no amount of commemoration we can give to the fallen, our veterans, and our Canadian Armed Forces members to make up for their sacrifice.
The Minister of Veterans Affairs has worked extremely hard since his appointment to create a more respectful and veteran-centric environment.
The government introduced some new measures this spring to help provide security and peace of mind in retirement.
We broadened eligibility criteria for a financial benefit called the permanent impairment allowance.
As well, financial benefits for injured part-time reserve force veterans have been enhanced. These men and women who have careers in the civilian world now receive the same minimum income support payment through something called “earnings loss benefit”.
We also introduced the critical injury benefit, commonly known as CIB, which will provide a $70,000 tax-free payment to support the most severely injured and ill Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans. The family caregiver relief benefit will provide veterans who have a service-related injury with an annual tax-free grant, to provide caregivers in the home with flexibility or relief while ensuring that the needs of the seriously injured veterans are met.
As well, the process has begun to hire more than 100 case managers and locate them in key sites across the country. By increasing the number of case managers, we will be able to provide improved one-on-one service and better meet the individual needs of veterans. The government is working hard every day to provide the supports and necessary benefits so that Canada's veterans and their families have the right amount of assistance, income, and peace of mind.
Veterans deserve the highest respect we can give them. This conversation on how we can best honour the tremendous sacrifice made for our country over the years by countless individuals is certainly an important dialogue to have and to continue to have. In fact, it would be an honour for me to personally lead that conversation if given the opportunity.
Our nation's serving military and veterans are an inspiration to Canadians. Those I meet at the friendliest Legion in the region, branch 632 in Orléans, prove it to me every day. They inspire us to embrace freedom.
They inspire us to oppose oppression.
And they inspire us to do the right thing. We will remember them.
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View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Kevin Lamoureux Profile
2015-06-19 12:45 [p.15361]
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Mr. Speaker, this will likely be my last opportunity to address the House. Some members might be somewhat disappointed to hear that.
For a very brief moment, I would like to acknowledge what a privilege it is to be in the House of Commons and to be afforded the opportunity to be able to communicate a message to Ottawa on behalf of the constituents I represent. What a privilege it is to represent the constituency of Winnipeg North.
I also want to very briefly comment on the degree to which all of us, as elected officials, have phenomenal support groups that enable us to do what we do, whether they are our families or our friends—close friends in particular, but friends in general. Without those individuals, we would not be where we are today.
I also want to acknowledge the incredible work done within our constituencies by our support staff, who make it so much easier for us to do the things that are important to our constituents and our parties.
I want to acknowledge the phenomenal efforts and incredible talents that we have within our party. I suspect that applies to all parties, but I am going to be a bit biased here. I am referring to the support staff. Whether outside in the lobby or upstairs, people on and off the Hill contribute so much in terms of ensuring we are able to operate as a party on the floor of the House of Commons and beyond.
Again I emphasize my gratitude and my thanks to everyone from the people who do the recordings to the Speaker of the House to the support and security staff, and to everyone else who in essence makes the House the best place in the world when it comes to participating in democracy. I still believe that Canada has the greatest democracy in the world, although there is always room for improvement.
That said, how appropriate it is that we are speaking on something that is of great importance to all Canadians.
Bill C-597 deals with remembering Remembrance Day in particular. How important it is that we remember those who have lost their lives or who have been maimed in significant ways, both physically and mentally, in ensuring that all Canadians have what we have today: the rule of law, the freedoms. These are things we should never forget.
Across this great nation we have monuments. We have murals. We have all forms of dedications. People want to express the fact that we will not forget. They want to express how much we love and appreciate the modern-day force that is there to protect us. We know that the sacrifices they make can never really be repaid.
That is one of the reasons we aggressively pursued the issue of Veterans Affairs when we saw closures of offices or when we saw government policies that affected our veterans. Both as a member of Parliament and as a person, I want our vets and members of the regular force to know that the Liberal Party is going to be there in a very real and tangible way. We do care about what is taking place in our Canadian Forces today. We understand and appreciate the sacrifices that are made.
I have had the good fortune of being a member of the regular forces, and I am not alone. The member from Montreal was also a member of the regular forces. Although it was short, just over three years, it was a wonderful experience to serve in the forces. I know first-hand the sense of pride that members of our Canadian Forces have for what they do. Whether they were throwing sandbags in Winnipeg during our great floods or serving abroad in the world wars, we understand and appreciate the important role of our Canadian Forces, not only in the past and today but also into the future.
This bill is about Remembrance Day. The legislation cannot mandate a statutory holiday all across Canada, but we can try to bring some influence to bear. There are many people who truly believe it should be a statutory holiday, coast to coast to coast. There is a great argument to be made for that.
That said, it is important that we respect provincial jurisdictions. As was pointed out, Manitoba has a half day. There was consultation in that regard. There are some provinces that have a full day as a statutory holiday; there are others that do not have a statutory holiday at all.
The Liberal Party has indicated its support for Bill C-597. As much as possible, we want to see our provinces deal with this issue in a fair and compassionate way and to respond and put into place what they believe their veterans and their citizens as a whole would like to see done in their provinces.
There are many within the Liberal caucus who believe it should be a full statutory holiday coast to coast to coast. Others, myself included, would like to ensure that the provinces play a stronger role in recognizing the requests from many to examine full statutory holidays. However, Bill C-597, at the very least, heightens the importance of recognizing the significance of Remembrance Day. To that degree, every member of the Liberal caucus is in full support. We voted for the bill at second reading and we were encouraged by the comments we heard at committee stage.
We recognize that it is an important issue, and it would be nice to see it resolved in a very positive way. I personally think it is important to look at ways we can honour our vets. Our vets are, and should be, an inspiration to us all.
There are certain things we can do as individual members of Parliament. We can approach local businesses, encourage our local schools, and get involved in worship centres to encourage some form of activity such as the laying of wreaths. We can do things within our communities to make sure people understand how important it is that we not forget.
I would like to close, as I started, by thanking the good citizens of Winnipeg North for choosing to support me in 2011. What a wonderful privilege it has been to represent Winnipeg North.
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View John Rafferty Profile
NDP (ON)
View John Rafferty Profile
2015-06-19 12:55 [p.15362]
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Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on Bill C-597, on the last day of the 41st Parliament. This bill would amend the Holidays Act to make Remembrance Day a legal holiday. That is an important distinction. People watching and listening to this debate might be a little confused with the words “legal” and “statutory”. It is not calling for a statutory holiday. A statutory holiday would be a holiday like Canada Day, a day off that celebrates Canada right across the country. That is not what this bill is asking for.
It is simply asking for a one-word change to section 3 of the Holidays Act. I will read that section with the change in it. After this bill passes, section 3 would read as follows:
November 11, being the day in the year 1918 on which the Great War was triumphantly concluded by an armistice, is a [legal] holiday and shall be kept and observed as such throughout Canada under the name of “Remembrance Day”.
It would simply add one word, “legal”. Again, I have to emphasize that we are not talking about a statutory holiday; we are talking about a legal holiday. I will say a few more words about that in a moment.
Remembrance Day is important, and this change is important. There are four reasons why I think this change is important and I will go through each of them. The first is to commemorate and honour our fallen soldiers and veterans on a national level. Remembrance Day is celebrated and talked about in many different ways across the country, and there is no real unanimity. As we know, every year the number of veterans from past wars diminishes, and I think it is time that we show our support on a national level. Modern and wartime veterans are to be thanked for preserving the democracy that we live in and thrive in today.
I can only go by the experience in my own riding of Thunder Bay—Rainy River of what happens on Remembrance Day now. It is interesting to note that with the one-word change, things would likely not change in my riding.
In 1970, Thunder Bay became the city it is today from two separate cities. My riding encompasses the south side of Thunder Bay, which is the old Fort William. In Fort William Gardens every Remembrance Day, without any exaggeration, there are 3,000 to 4,000 people. The complete ice surface, which then is a cement surface, is covered with veterans, presenters, wreath layers, honoured guests, and so on. It is a wonderful celebration of what Remembrance Day means to so many people in Thunder Bay.
On the other side of town, in Port Arthur, there is also a celebration on Remembrance Day, which happens at exactly the same time. However, what is interesting is what happens in the rest of my riding on that day. I attended the Atikokan ceremony last year. I have to pick and choose each year and rotate where I am at 11 o'clock on Remembrance Day. I was in Atikokan last year, where there was a wonderful event put on by the legion. I should also mention that in Thunder Bay the legions are terrific, both on the day before Remembrance Day and the day of, in terms of how they treat everyone who attends to be part of Remembrance Day with them.
In the far west of my riding, at 11 o'clock, Fort Frances has its Remembrance Day ceremony. That is supported and organized by the legion. As one goes down Highway 11 to the end of my riding in Rainy River, the Remembrance Day ceremonies are staggered so that when I am in the west end for a ceremony, I can actually get to Fort Frances, Emo, Stratton, all the way to Rainy River without any problem to be part of the Remembrance Day ceremonies.
When I am in Thunder Bay, I attend the 11 o'clock ceremony. That is eastern time, do not forget. We gain an hour going to the west end of my riding because it is central time. I then hop in my car and drive all the way to the other end of my riding, 500 kilometres, to be at the legion supper in Rainy River. I know that many other MPs do the same sort of thing when they have large ridings.
The point of my talking about that is to emphasize that under this bill what happens now for schoolchildren attending and everybody else making time to be part of the various ceremonies right cross my riding. It would not really change under the bill because we are not talking about a statutory holiday; we are talking about a legal holiday.
A legal holiday would help to provide an equal opportunity for everyone in Canada to observe November 11. It is really a symbolic change and hopefully it would entice provinces that currently do not observe November 11 as a holiday to change their practice. Six provinces and all three territories already observe November 11 as a holiday. Again, the bill would not force the rest of Canada to have a holiday, but it would give it a slightly different status by using the word “legal”, which is an important distinction.
Many people in constituents in my riding, young and old, all attend Remembrance Day ceremonies. It is a solemn time in my riding. Members may or may not know that thousands of young men and women have been involved in war efforts over the years, including, most recently, in Afghanistan. There is a real understanding in Thunder Bay in particular of the importance of Remembrance Day.
While a lot of people already do attend, the bill would go further to encourage all the provinces to give an opportunity for everyone to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies.
My last point is that it important to have an additional opportunity to educate the next generation. I want to say just something very briefly about that. The school boards right across my riding make a terrific effort to have veterans come into the schools. The children enter the poster contests with the legions and so on. There is not one schoolchild in my riding who does not have an understanding and appreciation of Remembrance Day and what that means. The education of the next generation is already happening, and the next generation after that. I suspect it is much the same right across the country in just about everybody's riding. A lot of things would not change with the bill, but it would increase its status somewhat, and I that is important.
I am going to finish off with just a brief recap of the bill and bills like it, and what the history has been in the House. I hope people will get the idea that it is high time to give support a bill like this.
I will talk about the NDP first. The NDP has put forward similar bills in the past. In 2006, our MP for Hamilton Mountain brought forward Bill C-363. She did the same in 2009 with Bill C-287. There have also been two motions in the past: Motion No. 424, in the year 2000 by Nelson Riis; and Motion No. 27, in 2006 by our member for Sackville—Eastern Shore.
It is also interesting that in the past the Conservatives have brought forward similar bills. Inky Mark brought forward two bills: one in 2004, Bill C-295; and one in 2006, Bill C-354.
The Liberals have also brought forward bills that are much the same in the past. They brought in two bills and a motion. Ronald MacDonald from Dartmouth brought forward Motion No.699 in 1990, another one in 1991, and another in 1994. Roger Gallaway from Sarnia—Lambton brought forward Motion No. 298 in 2002.
Given the history I have ended my speech on, I can see no reason why we cannot get unanimous support right through the House for this.
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View Rick Dykstra Profile
CPC (ON)
View Rick Dykstra Profile
2015-06-19 13:06 [p.15364]
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Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand in the House on our last sitting day of this session and speak to Bill C-597, an act to amend the Holidays Act, which was introduced by the member for Scarborough Southwest.
I want to congratulate him on his ability, from a House perspective, to get the bill this far through the House of Commons. I know that it is never easy. I believe we have had 40 private members' bills receive support from the House during this term, and getting to third reading is no small feat. I congratulate him on that.
The Holidays Act was created in 1970 to consolidate the Dominion Day Act, the Remembrance Day Act and the Victoria Day Act. Although all three days were designated as holidays within that specific act, Remembrance Day was not designated as a legal holiday.
Initially known as Armistice Day, and still known by that name in Newfoundland and Labrador, Remembrance Day was created by King George V to commemorate the armistice that ended the first world war on Monday, November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m.
The first Armistice Day in Canada was observed in 1919, and is still observed every year as Remembrance Day. It was a day on which we remember the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country so that we may live in peace and freedom.
For most of us, Remembrance Day is not only an occasion to remember those who gave their lives and those who continue to fight for our country. It is also a day to be grateful for the sacrifices, bravery and selflessness of our soldiers, and the country we have today. Remembrance Day is an opportunity to give thanks to those who fought, and still fight, for our freedoms and rights. We must never forget this.
That is why our government has been working hard to provide veterans and their families with the care and support they need. In fact, since forming government, we have invested over $5 billion in funding toward programs and services for Canada's veterans that provide them with the support they need and deserve. Our government will continue to leave no stone unturned as we continue to find innovative new ways to build on the supports available to veterans and to their families.
I would like to address Bill C-597 specifically. There needs to be some clarification, as the member for Scarborough Southwest has been misleading Canadians somewhat about his bill. The purpose of the bill is to make November 11 a legal holiday. However, as my colleague opposite said on numerous occasions, “I believe that it is time to make November 11, Remembrance Day, a national statutory holiday”. He said that on November 3, 2014.
I listened to my colleague's speech just before mine and he iterated on a number of occasions that the purpose of the bill was to make Remembrance Day a legal holiday, not a statutory holiday. I find it somewhat ironic that the reason the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River had to say that was because the purpose of his rationale and building up of his argument in his speech was based on comments that were made by the very mover of the bill, not by anyone in any of the other parties in the House and certainly not by anyone who sat at committee after the second reading vote and during our hearings on the legislation.
Currently, on the member for Scarborough Southwest's website, which I have mentioned a number of times to him both in committee and in the House, there is a statement which says:
Having November 11th made into a statutory holiday will allow every Canadian an opportunity to attend their local Remembrance Day ceremonies and participate in this important day.
That was never taken down. We have had this conversation over a period of many weeks. It makes it clear that the member for Scarborough Southwest believes that his bill would, in fact, make Remembrance Day a statutory holiday.
There are numerous problems with that statement. First, witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs made it very clear that they did not support making November 11 a statutory holiday.
In fact, at committee, Mr. Bradley K. White, dominion secretary, Dominion Command, Royal Canadian Legion, said:
We remain concerned that if given the time off as a legal holiday Canadians may not take the time to remember, that it may simply become a mid-week break or just part of another long weekend.
Mr. Bradley also said:
It is the Legion's position that November 11 not be a legal or statutory holiday.
This testimony makes it clear that the Royal Canadian Legion does not support Bill C-597 from the member for Scarborough Southwest.
Furthermore, to back up Mr. Bradley's argument, Ms. Sonia Gallo, who is a communications manager at York Catholic District School Board, said during her testimony:
The York Catholic District School Board...does not endorse Member of Parliament [for Scarborough Southwest's] private [member's] bill to make November 11, Remembrance Day, a statutory holiday.
Second, the member opposite knows full well that even if Bill C-597 were to receive royal assent, it would be up to the provinces to decide what days are statutory holidays. This means that his piece of legislation would have, in essence, no effect.
This is important to note because as stated above, the member has been misleading Canadians in saying on June 15:
This Friday, let us end the 41st Parliament on a high note and elevate Remembrance Day to the same status as Canada Day and Victoria Day by passing Bill C-597....
The bill would not give Remembrance Day the same status as Canada Day or Victoria Day. Should the bill pass and make Remembrance Day a legal holiday, it is the provinces that have the final word of what holiday is statutory or not.
According to the Constitution Act, legislation relating to provincial non-working holidays is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces. Therefore, for Remembrance Day to become a non-working holiday for all Canadians, legislation would have to be adopted by provincial legislatures and most of them already have done this.
Remembrance Day is currently a paid non-working holiday in all provinces and territories, except in Ontario and Quebec. At the federal level, Remembrance Day is a paid non-working holiday for public servants and those working in federally regulated institutions.
This being said, whether Remembrance Day becomes a paid non-working holiday throughout the country or not, we must all remember its significance.
We must remember the reason the day was created in the first place. We must continue to honour it, to be proud of our veterans, of our history and the wonderful country in which we live. We are thankful to those who were and are still willing to fight for it.
We must continue to educate our youth and future generations about the importance of our military history and its place within this world. We must teach them to recognize and appreciate the breadth of the sacrifices of the men and women who put their lives on the line for us, whether they did that previously or whether they do that today, or whether they do that in the future on behalf of this country.
Lest we forget.
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View Chungsen Leung Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2015-06-19 13:14 [p.15365]
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Mr. Speaker, as I am one of the last speakers of the 41st Parliament, I extend my thanks to the staff and wish my colleagues, those who are coming back and those who are leaving, Godspeed.
As a proud piper, every Remembrance Day I attend the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 66, to perform in the ceremony for the Gordon Highlanders. It is a tradition I have carried on for about 10 years, since I started to learn to pipe. I must say that it is quite an honour to be part of Remembrance Day.
Today I am honoured to be here to speak about Bill C-597, an act to amend the Holidays Act (Remembrance Day). Bill C-597, which seeks to designate Remembrance Day a legal holiday, was introduced by the member for Scarborough Southwest. Its intent is not only to raise the profile of the day and ensure that it receives the same federal recognition as Canada Day and Victoria Day but to make Remembrance Day a paid non-working holiday.
November 11 is a day to remember the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces. They have made great sacrifices for our country and our freedoms. They have also sacrificed for the rights and freedoms of others who are part of our global community but who have not been as fortunate as those of us who call Canada home.
On this day we remember those who have died fighting for us. We remember the sacrifices being made by those who are still with us. We remember the military families who live in uncertainty, never sure whether their loved ones fighting abroad will return home or be present for milestone occasions such as graduations or the birth of a child.
Remembrance Day has a long history in Canada. In 1919, King George V proclaimed November 11 Armistice Day. He declared:
there may be for the brief space of two minutes, a complete suspension of all our normal activities. During that time, except in rare cases where this may be impractical, all work, all sound and all locomotion should cease, so that in perfect stillness the thoughts of every one may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.
In Canada, at precisely 1100 hours local time, businesses, factories, schools, offices, and traffic come to a halt for two minutes of silence.
We have observed this day, now called Remembrance Day, ever since the end of World War I. In 1970, the Holidays Act was passed to consolidate the Dominion Day Act, the Remembrance Day Act, and the Victoria Day Act. While Canada Day and Victoria Day are called legal holidays, the Holidays Act does not use this language for Remembrance Day.
With the intent of the bill in mind, it is important to note that the word “legal” before “holiday” has no effect on whether the holiday is a paid non-working holiday. A legal holiday and a holiday have exactly the same status.
We all respect the constitutional authority of the provincial and territorial governments to choose whether their residents have a day off from work and school on Remembrance Day. November 11 is a paid holiday for employees under federal jurisdiction, including those who work in banks or in the federal public service. However, it is up to the provincial and territorial governments to decide whether it will be a paid holiday for workers under their jurisdiction.
One reason for making Remembrance Day a paid non-working day is to give it a status equal to Victoria Day and Canada Day. Another reason—
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View Dan Harris Profile
NDP (ON)
View Dan Harris Profile
2015-06-19 13:18 [p.15365]
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Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. It seems as though all parties have been supporting this bill all along the way and congratulating me for this work. However, for some reason, the Conservatives seem to want to talk out the clock today instead of getting this bill over to the Senate for study and adoption. Here is the last chance.
Therefore, I would seek unanimous consent for the following motion: that notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House—
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View Barry Devolin Profile
CPC (ON)
View Barry Devolin Profile
2015-06-19 13:18 [p.15365]
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Order. Does the hon. member have unanimous consent to put this question forward?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
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View Chungsen Leung Profile
CPC (ON)
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2015-06-19 13:19 [p.15365]
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Mr. Speaker, currently in provinces and territories where Remembrance Day is not a paid non-working day, many schools organize commemorative events to teach and increase students' knowledge of the importance of this day. Schools hold assemblies and invite veterans to speak. The activities at school ensure that students learn about our veterans and the role our soldiers played and continue to play in Canada—
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View Barry Devolin Profile
CPC (ON)
View Barry Devolin Profile
2015-06-19 13:19 [p.15366]
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Order. Unfortunately, the time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.
It being 1:20 p.m., pursuant to an order made earlier today, this House stands adjourned until Monday, September 21, 2015, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 1:20 p.m.)
The Second Session of the 41st Parliament was dissolved by Royal Proclamation on August 2, 2015.
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View Elizabeth May Profile
GP (BC)
View Elizabeth May Profile
2015-06-18 10:13 [p.15256]
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seconded by Mr. Rathgeber, moved for leave to introduce Bill C-699, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act (scientific research).
She said: Mr. Speaker, it is a real honour. I want to thank my colleague from Edmonton—St. Albert for seconding the bill.
This is a bill that deals with an issue that has been very much of concern to Canadians, that scientific research conducted within the Government of Canada has not been as accessible as it used to be.
The act to amend the Access to Information Act for scientific research, the short title of which will be the public access to science act, references that access and the pursuit of scientific knowledge and information is a pillar of a healthy democracy, that public policy, as developed within this house and throughout the Government of Canada must rest on evidence, and that evidence comes through scientific research.
The effect of the bill would be very straightforward. With the passage of the bill, all publicly funded science in Canada must be made public, must be made public expeditiously, and must be accessible to all Canadians.
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View Christine Moore Profile
NDP (QC)
View Christine Moore Profile
2015-06-18 10:15 [p.15257]
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moved for leave to introduce Bill C-700, An Act to Establish National Perinatal Bereavement Awareness Day.
She said: Mr. Speaker, every year, thousands of families are affected by perinatal bereavement. This kind of loss is considered one of the hardest things anyone could ever go through in their adult life, and it can cause physical and psychological suffering for the parents and the extended family. These parents often isolate themselves, since it is such a difficult experience to go through.
I therefore ask my fellow parliamentarians to recognize the importance of raising awareness about perinatal bereavement. That is why I want October 15 to be declared national perinatal bereavement awareness day.
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View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2015-06-18 16:24 [p.15307]
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I have the honour to inform the House that when the House did attend His Excellency the Governor General in the Senate Chamber, His Excellency was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill C-247, An Act to expand the mandate of Service Canada in respect of the death of a Canadian citizen or Canadian resident—Chapter 15.
Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons)—Chapter 16.
Bill C-591, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act (pension and benefits)—Chapter 17.
Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act—Chapter 18.
Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act and the Nunavut Waters and Nunavut Surface Rights Tribunal Act—Chapter 19.
Bill C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Canada Information Sharing Act and the Secure Air Travel Act, to amend the Criminal Code, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 20.
Bill C-46, An Act to amend the National Energy Board Act and the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act—Chapter 21.
Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act,—Chapter 22.
Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, to enact the High Risk Child Sex Offender Database Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 23.
Bill C-63, An Act to give effect to the Déline Final Self-Government Agreement and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts—Chapter 24.
Bill C-66, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2016—Chapter 25.
Bill C-67, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2016—Chapter 26.
Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Firearms Act and the Criminal Code and to make a related amendment and a consequential amendment to other Acts—Chapter 27.
Bill C-555, An Act respecting the Marine Mammal Regulations (seal fishery observation licence)—Chapter 28.
Bill S-7, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act and the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 29.
Bill C-12, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act—Chapter 30.
Bill C-52, An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act—Chapter 31.
Bill S-4, An Act to amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act—Chapter 32.
Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Statutory Instruments Act and to make consequential amendments to the Statutory Instruments Regulations—Chapter 33.
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Aboriginal self-governmentAgreement on Port State Measures to Prev ...C-12, An Act to amend the Corrections an ...C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drug ...C-247, An Act to provide that the Depart ...C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, ...C-42, An Act to amend the Firearms Act a ...C-452, An Act to amend the Criminal Code ...C-46, An Act to amend the National Energ ...C-51, An Act to enact the Security of Ca ...C-52, An Act to amend the Canada Transpo ... ...Show all topics
View Blaine Calkins Profile
CPC (AB)
View Blaine Calkins Profile
2015-06-18 17:53 [p.15321]
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Mr. Speaker, I am truly honoured to rise and speak on this piece of legislation that is before us in the form of a private member's bill.
I want to thank my colleague from Northumberland—Quinte West for his camaraderie and friendship. He is a kindred spirit to me. We are both former law enforcement officers, although he has much more experience than I do. We are both hunters and fishermen who love the great outdoors. I can only commend him for the excellent work he has done on the hunting and angling caucus and in passing a bill in this place that recognizes those historical traditions in our country. I want to thank him deeply for his service, and I wish him all the best, good health, and a long and healthy retirement catching all the fish and hunting all the game that is out there and available for him over the years to come.
I thank this House for the opportunity to speak to Bill C-661 and to discuss how our low-tax plan is providing all Canadians with tax relief and to talk about our strong record of helping farming and fishing businesses succeed.
As the member opposite may know, our government holds an impressive record on tax relief. In fact, since 2006, the government has introduced over 180 tax relief measures, and the overall federal tax burden is now at its lowest level in more than 50 years. I have been proud to stand in this place over the last almost nine and a half years and vote in favour of all of these tax reductions.
Canadian families and individuals have benefited from significant tax reductions that have given them the flexibility to make the choices that are right for them and their families. Canadians at all income levels are benefiting from the tax relief introduced by the government, with low and middle-income Canadians receiving proportionally the most relief.
Our government knows a thing or two about tax relief. In fact, many of these farming or fishing businesses the member is raising awareness of through the proposed legislation are in fact small businesses. Our government believes that small businesses should spend their time growing their businesses and creating jobs, not choking on stifling high taxes. Cutting taxes and reducing red tape is the way to create prosperity for these business people.
We cut the small business tax rate to 11%. I actually know that number, unlike the leader of the NDP. We also increased the amount of annual income eligible for this lower rate from $300,000 to $400,000 in 2007 and to $500,000 in 2009, creating more wealth for job creators.
We cut the general corporate income tax rate to 15% in 2012, which is the number the leader from the NDP does not seem to know, from 22.12% in 2007. This benefits successful small businesses on their way to becoming big businesses, when their income exceeds $500,000.
We also reduced small businesses' El premiums by introducing the small business job credit. This credit is expected to save small businesses more than $550 million over 2015 and 2016.
To encourage further small business growth, economic action plan 2015 proposes to reduce the small business tax rate to 9% by 2019, which in effect will be the largest tax rate cut for small businesses in more than 25 years.
Let me present a few numbers to illustrate the impact of the tax reductions introduced since 2006. For example, take a small business with taxable income of $500,000. The amount of federal tax paid by that business in 2019 will be 46% lower than it would have been in 2006. This represents an annual tax reduction of up to $38,600 for that business. That is enough to create a job.
These changes, among others, will help enhance the ability of small businesses across Canada to retain capital, grow their businesses, and create jobs.
If the hon. member who introduced the bill is looking for an example of a tax relief measure that benefits a number of farming or fishing business owners, she need look no further than the lifetime capital gains exemption, which this government has enhanced.
The lifetime capital gains exemption for farming or fishing property provides an incentive to invest in the development of productive farming or fishing businesses and helps farming or fishing business owners accumulate capital for retirement. This is already a measure that provides real value to these businesses, but in economic action plan 2015, we are proposing to make it even better. Economic action plan 2015 proposes to increase the lifetime capital gains exemption applicable to capital gains realized on the disposition of qualified farm or fishing property on or after April 21, 2015 to a whopping $1 million.
It is estimated that this measure will reduce capital gains taxes on owners of farming and fishing businesses by about $50 million over the 2015-16 to 2019-20 period. This is money that farmers and fishermen have invested in their businesses. They have grown their businesses. They are now able, when they dispose of these assets, to keep that hard-earned money in their pockets, money that they have invested over the years to grow their businesses. Clearly this measure would provide much more significant tax relief than Bill C-661 from my colleague across the way ever could
Before I wrap up, I want to touch on the measures our government is taking to help Canadian farmers. Through the Department of Agri-Food and Agriculture and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, our government runs several programs to help farming and fishing businesses succeed.
Under growing forward 2, which is a $3 billion dollar investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments and the foundation for government agricultural programs and services, farmers have access to a suite of business risk management programs, including agri-invest, agri-stability, agri-insurance, and agri-recovery, which help farmers in managing risk due to severe market volatility and disaster situations. These initiatives also help the industry in its efforts to research, develop and implement new agricultural risk management tools.
In addition, the federal agri-marketing program under growing forward 2 helps farmers and food processors compete in markets at home and around the world. It supports the agriculture industry by creating and maintaining access to markets and taking advantage of market opportunities. Economic action plan 2015 has provided $12 million over two years, starting in 2016-17, to expand the agri-marketing program.
I will go back to the bill. What is so confusing about this one is the irony of the NDP's position on this. We know that Bill C-661 would allow siblings to benefit from the exception to the existing anti-avoidance rule, which is presently only available for spouses and children. This would effectively enable siblings to exit the farming or fishing business, while deferring capital gains tax. This is no small matter. This would be a special tax concession not available to others in similar circumstances, and it is inconsistent with the general scheme of the tax rules, which for the most part limits tax deferred asset transfers to spouses and in some cases their children.
I recall another debate that the House had recently, and that is in regard to the family tax cut. Our Government is proposing that a married couple is a single economic unit, that two spouses should be considered an economic unit. The NDP members have rejected that definition and have been opposed to this tax fairness from the very beginning. However, now they are in fact proposing to expand the definition of a single economic unit to a brother and sister or any combination of siblings. That is complete and utter hypocrisy.
Therefore, the New Democrats do not think spouses are an economic unit, but they do think that siblings somehow are. It simply does not make sense. Either they support tax fairness or they do not. Clearly this hypocritical bill put forward by the NDP suggests that it does not truly understand tax fairness either way.
In closing, allow me to reiterate that Bill C-661 would offer limited benefits for a handful of people, and would loosen the application of the anti-avoidance rule, and as such, I urge my colleagues to oppose it.
Going forward, our Government will continue to work diligently toward making life more affordable for hard-working Canadians and helping Canadian farmers and fishermen who are the backbone of our country. We will continue to build on our impressive tax relief record with measures that make a difference on the bottom lines of Canadians, and implementing measures that will help create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.
In the time I have left, I just want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, and everybody who occupies the chair and all of the staff at the table as well as everybody who does wonderful work in this place.
I have been a member of Parliament for almost 10 years. I tell the pages that there are 308 MPs during a four-year term and there are only 160 pages. It is harder to become a page in the House of Commons than it is to become a member of Parliament. I thank them for the diligent work they do.
I thank all of the staff and all the people who support us. I especially thank Constable Franchi for the excellent work he did on October 22. He has become a good friend of mine. He came into the room and calmed us all down on the day we were all deeply affected. I want to thank all of the House of Commons and Senate security guards, the RCMP officers who are here and keep us safe, not only on Parliament Hill, but all across the country. They do an absolutely excellent job. I thank all of those who serve here to empower me to do the best I can for my constituents in Wetaskiwin.
This is the end of the constituency of Wetaskiwin. I will be the last member of Parliament for the federal riding of Wetaskiwin, which because of the growth in Alberta is going to see new seats. I just want to say to everyone who volunteered, encouraged me, supported me, or voted for me that I could not have been more proud to be their representative for these last nine and a half years, and I look forward to running in the new riding of Red Deer—Lacombe.
From the bottom of my heart, I just want to thank everybody in the constituency of Wetaskiwin for allowing me the privilege and honour of being their member of Parliament.
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View Mark Eyking Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Mark Eyking Profile
2015-06-18 18:04 [p.15322]
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Mr. Speaker, I am glad to rise today to speak on Bill C-661, introduced by the member for Joliette.
I must first state that the Conservatives were speaking about how much they were supporting agriculture, but what we have seen over the last few months is pretty bad.
Two things that they have done are pretty bad. First, we have seen members from that party speaking against supply management, which is one of the pillars for agriculture in this country. Second, there are big cuts in the budget to business risk management, the tools that farmers need when they have bad years. That has been cut by hundreds of millions of dollars. It is very disappointing to see the Conservative government do that.
In speaking on this bill, I will be basing my remarks on my personal experience as a farmer and on the importance of maintaining family businesses. In the context of this bill, the main objective is to treat siblings like any other family members by exempting them from the anti-tax avoidance measures by amending the Income Tax Act. We are supporting that.
The reality is that even if farmers have the opportunity to give part of their farm value to their children or grandchildren without income tax consequences under the Income Tax Act of Canada, they still need to maintain sufficient investment income to ensure a healthy retirement. This is also necessary if a farmer wants to provide for their other children who are not actively involved in the operation, and the same goes for fishing families on the east coast, the west coast, and in central Canada.
Even though Canadian agriculture has changed so much, the family business is the cornerstone of the industry. Canada's agri-food sector accounts for 7% of Canada's GDP and over two million jobs. That is one job in eight. While primary agriculture accounts for a small share of the total economy, about 2%, it is at the heart of the agriculture and agri-food system and has grown over 1.5% per year since 1997.
Agriculture and fishing have drastically changed, and we need to make sure that legislation governing these industries is able to keep up with the rapid pace. In 1991, there were 280,000 farms in Canada. In 2011, that number had fallen to 206,000. However, the average size of Canadian farms has grown tremendously, from an average of 200 acres to 800 acres. In that same time period, the average age of a Canadian farm operator has risen quite dramatically, going from 48 years of age to 54. It varies across the country, but that is the average.
Urbanization, an aging population, globalization of the economy, and consolidation throughout the agri-food chain have brought fundamental structural changes at the farm level. More specifically, the need to develop new markets and to comply with consumer demands has required an adaptation of production structure and practices within the agriculture sector. Although this adaptation creates new opportunities, it poses many challenges to our young farmers and fishers.
Over the next decade, we are going to be seeing a lot of these family businesses being passed down from one generation to the next. Given the extremely harsh economic context, this bill being debated today is crucial to helping ease those transfers to other family members. Between 1991 and 2011, the number of farmers under the age of 55 fell 42%, from 265,000 to 150,000. In that time, the number of older operators increased, as I said before.
Quite simply, the Canadian farming and fishing population is aging. That does not mean there are not a lot of young people who want to get into it, but the road map there is very difficult. There are now fewer and fewer young people to replace these retiring farmers and fishers. This situation is worrisome, as young farmers guarantee the future of agriculture and play a key role in rural economic development. Many other activities in rural communities depend on the agricultural sector, including fishing, milling, hardware, processing products, and even transporting. Many of the people we see driving down the highways every day are people involved in the whole agri-food sector.
The federal government has an important obligation to improve its programs and policies to keep young farmers in the industry. By supporting the bill, we are trying to ensure that the Income Tax Act does not discourage the best-qualified person in the family from taking over the business because of tax implications.
Agriculture is more and more capital intensive. Producers have to invest in buildings, machinery, and other equipment to become more efficient and to satisfy consumer demand for low produce prices. We also see many times that in many farming operations it is not just for maintaining prices but is for food safety.
I have been travelling across the country visiting farms over the last year. It is amazing how modern these farms are, how they have HAACP in place and cleanliness and tracking of everything they are doing on the farm. This all costs money.
Market conditions also contribute to increasing the value of assets, such as land and quotas. This can cause some challenges for young farmers, as the rise in asset values are not always covered by sufficient income. It is one of the lowest returns when we look at the amount of capital spent on a farm. Many times these young farmers are operating an enterprise to put food on the table with a fairly low return.
Some agriculture sectors are doing a little better, especially with supply management, which the Liberals brought in many years ago and which we are going to stand behind 150%.
Thanks to the supply management policy governing agriculture production in Canada, farmers enjoy an environment of stable and predictable milk prices and poultry prices with the formula they have in place. The supply-managed industries collectively generate $25 billion in GDP, $5 billion in tax revenues, and over 300,000 jobs. That is just in supply management alone.
Despite these favourable conditions, under this system intergenerational transfer is difficult. When there is a need to plan for succession, numerous cases have been reported of farmers not being able to find the right arrangement to meet the expectations of the exiting farmers or of the new entrants.
I think if there was a return, a lot of people would probably think it was a good occupation and an interesting occupation and would be inclined to pursue it.
The best way to keep young farmers in the industry is to make it profitable. Farming is a lifestyle, not just an occupation, but at the end of the day, farmers still need to make money. We do not expect our health professionals and many other people in our society to work for free, and we cannot expect the producers of our food to do so either. Young farmers are not going to invest millions of dollars in something if they do not know if it is going to produce a return. Supply management provides that to them and gives them stability. As I mentioned before, business risk management is very important.
I think we can all agree that there seems to be a growing disconnect between the general population and agriculture.
Young farmers also know perfectly well that agriculture faces numerous challenges related to the increasing cost of products, as I mentioned before, reduced margins, trade and marketing issues, et cetera.
I commend groups such as the Canadian Young Farmers' Forum and the Canadian 4-H Council for their efforts to educate, energize, and empower the next generation of Canadian farmers and agriculture leaders. However, these groups need a comprehensive federal policy targeting young or new farmers to make it feasible.
That is not to say that this shift in the agricultural sector should diminish the importance of maintaining smaller operations. There are also many small successful farms, and the government should be doing more to help those operations as well. Small operations as well as big ones can contribute and can work together.
I am very much in favour of the motion. It would be another tool in the tool box to help farmers get through. For those farmers who work so hard and put so much into their farms, many of them 60 and 70 years old, the only return they can get will be through the implementation of this bill.
This is the last half a minute of what is probably my last speech in the House. I am glad I am doing it on agriculture. I am a farmer from Cape Breton, and our family has a farming business.
I would like to thank all my colleagues, and I wish them well through the summer and in their future endeavours. I thank all the staff here who have done so much for us and have kept the place going, the staff in our whip's office, who keep us here all the time, and of course, my colleagues here tonight who stayed with us for the last shift.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for this opportunity.
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View Mylène Freeman Profile
NDP (QC)
View Mylène Freeman Profile
2015-06-18 18:14 [p.15324]
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Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak in support of the bill introduced by my colleague from Joliette. I want to commend her on this excellent initiative and on all the good work she has done over the past four years. I really enjoyed working with her and I thank her. I also thank her for truly being a strong voice for farmers in Quebec and for standing up for our regions. I am proud not only to support this bill, but also to have worked with her.
The NDP believes that it is important to support our family farms in Quebec and Canada given that we recognize how important they are to our regions and to the Canadian economy as a whole. Bill C-661 is a step in the right direction for family farms. It makes a small change to the Income Tax Act. It is a small change, but a logical one that will have a big impact. This change is needed to remedy a situation that can create serious problems for farmers. Transfers of family farms are often very complicated. I doubt that any MP in this House believes that that is good for the economy. We want to make it easier for farmers to get down to work, pursue their passion and be able to transfer these farms to family members who want to take them over. We want to ensure that they put all their time, money and energy into this very important work.
Under existing laws, brothers and sisters are not considered to be family and are therefore penalized if they want to buy, sell or transfer land to each other. This can make it even more difficult for them to manage their family farm, especially when they are looking for someone to take over, which may sometimes be a brother or sister. This makes the situation more difficult. We all know that farmers need a government they can count on to make these transfers easier so that they can get back to their work, which is so important to our economy and to all Canadians. We want to be able to eat food grown in Quebec and to take advantage of it.
In my riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, agriculture is an extremely important part of the economy. There is a huge amount of diversity in the agriculture, in the type of agriculture and in the changes taking place across my riding, whether it is in Argenteuil, Papineau, Mirabel, the Deux-Montagnes region or even Les Pays-d'en-Haut. It is incredible to see all of the microclimates that exist. This means that different crops can be grown in these locations. It is very important to note that families put their hearts and souls into their passion in order to be able to feed Canadians and Quebeckers. Agriculture is therefore an important economic reality in the region. They are all family farms. Eastern Canada is at a real risk of losing its family farms. We must do everything we can to reverse that trend. Since the Conservatives came to power, thousands of family farms have had to shut down. That is unacceptable. This government has not been able to protect struggling local communities and farmers.
We must also realize that when the agricultural sector is under pressure, the whole rural community feels the effects. We are referring to all the people who make their seasonal contributions and all the small businesses that depend on farmers' investments. Therefore it is very important to ensure stability and investment in this industry. A small change like this will have a huge impact because, as I said, it will eliminate a lot of stress and problems surrounding transfers, rather than creating more paperwork and wasting time, energy and money. We truly must encourage the new generation.
Let us remember a few facts. Canada once had a world-class agricultural infrastructure, and family farms and rural communities were the heart and soul of the industry. Today, however, Canadian agriculture faces the problem of land takeovers, with farmland being purchased and concentrated in the hands of huge businesses. The family farm and the small agricultural business are definitely endangered.
In order to combat this phenomenon and the decrease in the number of farm owners in Canada, the NDP knows that we must lend a hand to family farms and facilitate the transfer of assets between family members.
We simply want to make it possible to recognize the family ties between brothers and sisters in an agricultural operation, in order to make intergenerational transfers and division of assets more flexible and encourage new blood, a new generation of farmers who will be able to carry the torch and invest in their business as their family has done.
I wish to reiterate my wholehearted support for this bill, and I thank my colleague for introducing it. It is extremely important that we have a chance to debate it, and I am pleased we are able to do that this evening.
Since we are at second reading, I hope we will be able to pass this bill, because this is important legislation. My constituents in Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel believe this bill is necessary and is a step in the right direction.
To conclude, because I think this will be my last speech in this Parliament before we leave and the election is held, I would like to thank all my constituents in Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel for a wonderful four years.
I have learned so much from the day I was elected, at the age of 22, to today, when I am 26 years old. I feel that I have grown up here, in a way, and that is thanks to the support of all these fantastic people: my colleagues, my constituents, my team and everyone who works in Parliament every day. I have enjoyed my experience tremendously, and I would like to thank them, because they are what have made it so wonderful.
I am very eager to come back in the fall. I hope to see many of the faces I see today again. To those who are retiring, my thanks and my best wishes for their retirement. I wish everyone a lovely summer. Thank you once again.
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View François Choquette Profile
NDP (QC)
View François Choquette Profile
2015-06-18 18:22 [p.15325]
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Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House to speak.
I listened to the speech by my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, who has done an excellent job in her constituency and here in the House of Commons. She has been a strong voice for the status of women, among other things. I am very pleased. She talked about how important this bill is.
I would also like to congratulate my colleague from Joliette for introducing Bill C-661, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (transfer of family farm or fishing corporation). She has done excellent work with the agricultural community. She has worked very hard, visiting farms and doing a number of tours around her constituency, to get to know the municipalities and the rural communities. She has worked with people in agriculture, and that is where this bill originates: from a broad consultation in her community that has enabled her to introduce a bill in answer to what the agricultural community has asked for.
This is what is at issue in this bill. Bill C-661 makes a small change to the Income Tax Act, but the change is one that is completely necessary and logical. Farmers all across Canada know they can count on the NDP to make more intergenerational transfers possible in family farm or fishing corporations.
For many years, in fact nearly a half-century now, the NDP has been part of the agricultural community. That community is truly important to us. One thing that is essential is to ensure that our family farms and our agricultural community do not just survive, they prosper, and that they thrive and are effective and dynamic. That is why introducing this bill is important.
We support an economy in which farmers are entrepreneurs, not wage workers. In a majority of cases, the ideal situation is to have entrepreneurial farmers. To combat land grabbing and the galloping decline in the number of farm owners in Canada, we have to be prepared to lend our farm families a hand, and that is precisely what we want to do, by facilitating transfers between members of the same family. That is what this bill proposes.
Bill C-661will facilitate intergenerational transfer in the case of a farm co-owned by a brother and a sister, for example, where the farm could be passed down only by one of the co-owners. The owner not leaving an inheritance could then withdraw without an insurmountable impact on operations, and the co-owner passing the farm on to the next generation could proceed with an orderly handover.
This is in fact a minor change. However, it will provide considerable help to family farms. It is important to remember that family farms have gone through some tough times in recent years. Here are a few statistics to support my case. For instance, in Quebec, the value of land has jumped 600% over the past 23 years. Obviously, the stakeholders in these transactions are motivated by reasons other than farm development. These transactions are often speculative in nature. This hampers our ability to save family farms. As well, we have seen family farms really running out of steam in recent years. Between 2007 and 2012, 22,235 farms ceased operations. Over 22,000 family farms have disappeared. That is a drop of close to 13.6%.
The disappearance of small and medium-sized family farms throughout Canada and in the greater Drummond area is of great concern.
I mentioned the excellent work done by my colleague from Joliette, in whose footsteps I followed. In fact, since I was elected in 2011, I have made a number of tours. Every year, I do what I call the municipality tour, the main goal of which is to tour the rural areas. I have had an opportunity to visit a number of businesses, including many family farms. I will name some of them to demonstrate the agricultural wealth and vitality in Drummond.
The Entreprises G.M. Benoit farm is an excellent dairy farm that belongs to the Benoît family in Sainte-Brigitte-des-Saults. Stéphanie, Andréane and Yanick do an excellent job and have won prizes for their high-quality products.
There is also a farm in Saint-Cyrille-de-Wendover that belongs to the Jutras family, called “Les cultures de chez nous”. This is the kind of farm found throughout Quebec, and it is a source of great pride. The family produces leeks, and the leeks from our farms are renowned throughout the region. They also produce berries and asparagus.
I would also like to mention the Claumond chicken farm in Saint-Edmond-de-Grantham.
We also have the Ferme Bel Alpaga et Bon Autruche in Saint-Bonaventure, which is owned by Claude Petit and Mélanie Boucher. As the name of the farm says, they are specialists in raising alpacas and ostriches. They also produce excellent meat that is sold in our region.
Another one is the Valnico farm in Sainte-Brigitte-des-Saults. This farm belongs to Mr. Jutras and Ms. Ross, who own dairy cows and do wonderful work. It is another family farm that has come down through the generations.
I must also mention the Canneberges Drummond farm, as there are a lot of cranberries in the region, especially in the municipality of Saint-Lucien. The Gardner family is doing a wonderful job of allowing family farms to survive.
All these descriptions are meant to show the wealth that family farms and agriculture represent in Drummond. I could name dozens more. I wanted to give these examples to show the importance of having a thorough knowledge of our rural community. In addition, it was because she understands our rural community that the member for Joliette introduced this bill.
Now let us come back to the bill. Joint ownership by the children of one family will be increasingly common over the next 10 years. We must therefore give them greater flexibility so that they can buy and sell their operation within the same family, including between brothers and sisters.
The NDP has been committed for a long time now to promoting family farms. We have a food strategy that aims at tackling farm accessibility issues, facilitating farm succession, because it is very important to have access to the capital and the land necessary for food production, providing support for planning the succession arrangements for family farms and revising the tax code to facilitate the takeover of farm businesses.
In short, this bill is extremely important, because it is a first step in encouraging our family farms. It encourages not only their survival, but also their vitality, so that family farms in the greater Drummond area, in central Quebec, in Joliette, in the province of Quebec and throughout Canada will be able to prosper. This is what is important, and this is why we are doing this work.
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View Francine Raynault Profile
NDP (QC)
View Francine Raynault Profile
2015-06-18 18:37 [p.15327]
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Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues who have spoken to this bill.
In recent weeks, I had the opportunity to present my bill to farmers with the UPA. As my colleague from Drummond just said, in 2013 I toured the farms around the riding of Joliette. We had a chance to talk about Bill C-661, as well as other issues surrounding young farmers and the transfer of family farms.
I came away enriched by these discussions, which confirmed that Bill C-661 is truly a step in the right direction, if not a miraculous solution. It is a small change, but as we have said again and again, it is an important one.
Members will recall that Bill C-661 amends the Income Tax Act in order to provide that, in the case of the shares of the capital stock of a family farm or fishing corporation, siblings are deemed not to be operating at arm’s length and to be related. Currently, section 55 of the Income Tax Act is the only one that does not acknowledge that brothers and sisters do not operate at arm’s length. This is an inconsistency that affects family farms held by siblings, depriving them of the flexibility they need at this time.
I should point out that land grabs have inflated the value of farms to the point where it is now unthinkable that a farm belonging to brothers and sisters might survive if one of the owners leaves. In fact, the income tax alone on the value owned by one of the partners could destroy the farm’s profitability. In Quebec, for example, the value of land has increased by 600% over the past 23 years.
Still in Quebec, the number of transactions has increased by 67% in the past year alone, and the value of those transactions has climbed by 84%. The main players in these transactions have no interest in agriculture, and their actions are primarily speculative. It is the same throughout Canada, so much so that Saskatchewan recently passed legislation prohibiting purchases of farmland by pension plans.
This state of affairs is of great concern to me and, as a former farmer, I can clearly see the risk that it poses to the future of farming in Canada. It is dangerous. Unfortunately, I am afraid that we are encouraging an industry of paid farmers rather than entrepreneurial farmers.
Frankly, it has become impossible for a young family to get into farming if the family members do not have any relatives who are farmers, and even if they do, it is not easy to transfer ownership. In fact, the current situation is still conducive to selling to a large investment company that is outside of the family. This puts our food sovereignty into jeopardy.
Society has made this choice, but is it our choice? I do not think so. We have the ability to turn back the tide. There is still much to be done to help the next generation of farmers, but Bill C-661 is a step in the right direction. This bill is a clear solution to a glaring problem.
Over the next few years, the aging of the population will affect farming as it will everything else, and we will see more and more brothers and sisters becoming owners of a farm. We have to give them the flexibility they need to embark on this adventure confidently.
Once again, I think that the NDP has found a concrete solution for our family farms, and we will continue defending them staunchly. I hope that all my colleagues on the government side will vote in favour of this wonderful bill.
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View Barry Devolin Profile
CPC (ON)
View Barry Devolin Profile
2015-06-18 18:42 [p.15328]
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The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): In my opinion the nays have it.
And five or more members having risen:
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, September 23, 2015, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.
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View John Weston Profile
CPC (BC)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-695, An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (prohibition against abandonment of vessel).
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is with a sense of pride on behalf of B.C.'s coastal communities that I introduce a long-awaited private member's bill to counter the increasing problem of vessels abandoned on B.C.'s coastal waters. As of last year, Transport Canada had identified 245 boats that might be deemed abandoned off B.C., in addition to vessels abandoned on the east coast.
The bill is called a prohibition against abandonment of vessels, and it would provide jail time and fines for people who intentionally abandon a vessel. I hope that all members in this chamber will work with me to get this bill passed.
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View Rathika Sitsabaiesan Profile
NDP (ON)
View Rathika Sitsabaiesan Profile
2015-06-17 16:33 [p.15221]
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moved for leave to introduce Bill C-696, Act to amend the Rouge National Urban Park Act (ecological protection).
She said: Mr. Speaker, over the last year, the government has pushed through critically flawed legislation for Rouge National Urban Park, ignoring the advice of several thousand Canadians, 106 members of Parliament, the Ontario government, and several of Canada's top environmental organizations. Even the former chief scientist for Parks Canada, Stephen Woodley, publicly stated that the Rouge National Urban Park Act “falls considerably short” of the accepted environmental standards for protected areas, whether urban or wilderness.
The new park that is being created would be less than two square kilometres and would not include the currently existing Rouge Park. The bill that I have put forward would actually fix many of the serious flaws in the existing Rouge National Urban Park Act by prioritizing and protecting the restoration of ecological integrity and watershed health; by respecting water quality agreement objectives and policies for the provincial Greenbelt, Rouge Park, the Rouge watershed, the Oak Ridges Moraine, and the Great Lakes; by requiring good public consultation and scientifically sound park management; by supporting healthy and sustainable farming in the park; and by respecting the history and heritage of the first peoples of the land.
I hope that we will be able to move forward with the bill and see a Rouge national park that is 100 square kilometres, a people's park and will continue to be the gem in everybody's backyard in the city of Toronto and the greater Toronto area.
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View Brent Rathgeber Profile
Ind. (AB)
View Brent Rathgeber Profile
2015-06-17 16:35 [p.15222]
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moved for leave to introduce Bill C-697, An Act to establish a process to recall members of Parliament.
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise to table a private member's bill, an act to establish a process to recall members of Parliament. This legislation, also to be known as the “recall of a member of Parliament act”, would allow the electors of an electoral district to apply to the Chief Electoral Officer for the issuance of a petition for the recall of their member of Parliament.
Recall legislation would allow electors disappointed with their representative to recall or fire that member. If the petition was signed by at least 25% of the electors who were eligible to vote for that member and still resided in that electoral district, the seat would be declared vacant and a recall election would be held on the same basis as a by-election.
The recalled member could contest the by-election to determine if he still maintained the confidence of his or her constituents. A recall petition could not be issued within 12 months from the member's election or within the 12 months preceding a fixed election date.
For a representative democracy to function, government must be responsible to Parliament and parliamentarians must be accountable to their constituents. Accordingly, I encourage all members to support the recall of a member of Parliament act.
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View Randall Garrison Profile
NDP (BC)
View Randall Garrison Profile
2015-06-17 16:36 [p.15222]
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moved for leave to introduce Bill C-698, An Act to amend the Navigation Protection Act (Tod Creek).
He said: Mr. Speaker, today I rise to introduce a private member's bill to restore federal environmental protection for the Tod Creek watershed. This protection was removed from all rivers, lakes, and streams on Vancouver Island by the Conservative government in 2012.
The Tod Creek watershed covers 23 square kilometres on the Saanich Peninsula. Its headwaters are found at Maltby Lake, but it also includes Prospect Lake, Durrance Lake, three other smaller lakes, 29 wetlands, and many small creeks as it winds it way to the Saanich Inlet.
Over the years, a wide variety of volunteer groups have undertaken efforts to preserve and enhance this watershed. In the last 15 years, there has been significant progress in restoring salmon runs by improving fish habitat and creating a fishway around the waterfalls 450 metres upstream. Today significant efforts are also under way to protect the watershed's headwaters at Maltby Lake, a jewel of a lake with near-pristine water, surrounded by 172 acres of undisturbed forest and wetland and the home of a rare freshwater jellyfish.
Restoring federal environmental protection to the Tod Creek watershed would put the federal government squarely on the side of local efforts by Friends of Maltby Lake, Friends of Tod Creek, the Peninsula Streams Society, and others to restore and protect this precious urban watershed.
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View Jim Hillyer Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Hillyer Profile
2015-06-17 18:30 [p.15244]
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moved that Bill C-644, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (failure to comply with a condition), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
He said: Mr. Speaker, nine years ago, our Conservative government made a pledge to overhaul our criminal justice system. We told Canadians we would make sure that our laws, the police and the courts would be focused on the needs and rights of victims, and we have followed through on that pledge.
Notwithstanding the bleeding hearts who think that every violent criminal just needs a hug, most Canadians want a more just justice system, one that puts the rights of the victim above that of the criminal and one where punishments fit the crime.
As happy as people are with measures like the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, they shake their heads in disbelief when they find out why we needed such a law in the first place. They cannot believe that such a particular measure was actually needed to address a real problem that allowed foreign criminals, individuals who committed a crime in their home country, to enter our country on false pretenses, which is crime two, and then commit crimes in Canada, which is crime three.
These foreign criminals were able to exploit our generous nature and our generous systems by making appeal after appeal for up to 10 years before we had the legal right to get rid of them. Thankfully, that mind boggling problem is fixed. Even though, for the vast majority of Canadians, this change is simply common sense, I actually heard opposition members say that the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act discriminated against criminals. Canadians want to see us continue on with our commitment to common-sense reforms of some of our laws that clearly fly in the face of our sense of justice.
As part of our ongoing efforts toward a more just justice system, I have introduced my private member's Bill C-644, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (failure to comply with a condition) to create a new offence for violating parole and requiring these violations to be reported.
Canadians would probably be astounded to know that violating parole is not a criminal offence. It is not even necessary to report parole violations to judges when criminals are being considered for early release or release in general. Currently, the singular method for parole review does not work.
It is well documented that a disproportionately small number of offenders are responsible for a disproportionately large number of offences. Yet, when it comes to parole, all criminals are reviewed in the same manner which permits the most dangerous offenders to slip through the cracks and back into society to offend again and again.
My proposed legislation will correct that shortcoming through two simple reforms. First, the bill would make parole violation a criminal offence. Second, the legislation would also make it mandatory for the Correctional Service of Canada to report to the police all cases parole violation.
Reporting parole violations will help ensure the justice system has all the information on an offender in order to make the best public safety decisions before determining whether an offender should be given parole in the future.
By legislating parole violation as a criminal offence and making it mandatory to advise judges and parole boards of these violations prior to sentencing and early release considerations, we establish firmly that early release from jail or parole is a privilege to be earned and not a right to be demanded.
This legislation is consistent with other kinds of release from jail laws. For example, it is already a criminal offence in itself to skip bail and it is already a criminal offence in itself to violate probation. Then why is the violation of parole not a criminal offence in itself? There is no good answer.
Let us look at how the system works today. Under the current law, offenders who are granted conditional release or parole are subject to a certain number of conditions. That is why it is called conditional release. Some are standard conditions such as staying within Canada at all times and reporting regularly to a parole officer. Some offenders receive additional special conditions depending on their specific risk for reoffending. This could include a condition to live in a halfway house, or to abstain from drugs and alcohol or to refrain from associating with certain individuals.
If offenders violate parole by breaching any of these conditions, such as showing up late for a meeting with their parole officer or breaking curfew, the law provides a range of options for correctional authorities on how to deal with that violation. They can either do nothing, other than tell the offender he or she should not violate parole, which is usually what happens, or they can add stricter parole conditions, like an earlier curfew, or they can revoke parole and send the offender back to jail.
If he commits a crime while violating parole, he will be charged for that crime, but there will be no additional penalty for violating parole. It is as if the only punishment for escaping jail is a return to jail, with no additional sentence. The violation does not even have to be reported to future parole boards. In fact, until the changes we made in 2012, police could not even arrest parole violators caught in the very act of violating parole. Now, thanks to the Safe Streets and Communities Act, they can do that.
Let me re-emphasize that it is possible, and based on research it is even highly likely, that an offender can violate parole and receive no penalty. Of course, this does nothing to promote respect for the rule of law, and it greatly increases the likelihood that offenders will reoffend.
After the initial astonishment of learning that violating parole is not already against the law, people gave strong support to this amendment. For example, the mayors and reeves of my region of southern Alberta have written a joint letter urging the government to support this legislation. The good news is that it supports this legislation.
Tom Stamatakis, president of the Canadian Police Association, said:
Our members appreciate the step taken...to introduce this legislation which will ensure accurate records are kept, and that a full history of an offender’s actions can be considered before any parole is earned.
This legislation is named after Constable Ezio Faraone, who was killed in action while he was attempting to arrest repeat criminal Albert Foulston. If one Googles Constable Faraone, Albert Foulston's name comes up over and over again, even though it was Foulston's accomplice, Jeremy Crews, who pulled the trigger.
Albert Foulston was out on parole. He had repeatedly violated parole, yet he was on the streets. He was under surveillance, but police were not able to do anything until he actually robbed a bank. Constable Faraone had him cornered in an alley when Foulston feigned surrender, allowing his accomplice to shoot Faraone with a sawed-off shotgun at point-blank range.
In 2009, Foulston was released on parole after just 20 years of a 30-year sentence. His parole was automatic, even though he was involved in about 100 incidents while in prison, including fights and assaults on staff, and even though the parole board assessed his risk of reoffending as moderate to high. According to the board, it had no choice but to release him, because the law said that parole was automatic after serving two-thirds of the sentence. All the parole board could do was impose various conditions on that parole.
The trouble is, no matter how many or how limiting the conditions of parole are, there are no criminal consequences for violating those conditions. If Foulston's parole conditions said he could not hang out with other drug dealers or bank robbers, it would not matter. It was not until he actually robbed a bank that he committed an actual crime. If my bill had been law, he could have been arrested just for hanging out with his accomplice, Mr. Crews.
Sure enough, the next page in our Google search shows that in 2012, Albert Foulston recommitted again and was facing jail time for trafficking illegal drugs. No wonder the Edmonton Police Association refers to Faulston as the poster boy for problems in the Canadian correctional system. Faulston has spent more than 30 years behind bars on more than 50 convictions. He has been released ten times.
Sadly, his name came up more recently. In fact, it was in an interview with retired police sergeant Tony Simione, the sergeant who replied to Constable Faraone's fatal shooting 25 years ago. Sergeant Simioni was responding to the tragic death of Constable Daniel Woodall recently, on June 8, in Edmonton. He said that the incident brought Faraone's shooting home like it was yesterday. He said that it was very vivid, very profound, and brought back very traumatic memories and emotions.
He said, “It's surprising how long it does last. And the [Edmonton police] who went through what they went through [June 8] will be experiencing the same, I'm sure”.
While this legislation would give police important tools for crime prevention, there are other important reasons to support these changes. According to the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act:
The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions...
There is more to it than just crime prevention. Critics of our tough-on-crime measures focus only on the impact of the measure on the criminal himself. Clearly no amount of deterrent would be enough to dissuade someone like Albert Foulston, but our laws are not in place just to control the criminal. Laws and the rule of law have great power over the minds of law-abiding citizens. One of Canada's great values is the rule of law, or respect for the rule of law. We are a law-abiding people.
Why do most Canadians honour and obey the law? It is not because we fear punishment and it is not because we fear a minimum sentence. It is because we want to be a law-abiding people.
However, law has the power to command a willing respect and obedience of those who are subject to it only if the law is legitimate. There are a few key principles or elements that make law legitimate. One, for example, is how the law was made. Was the process leading to the development of the law legitimate?
As well, the law must also contribute to a just, peaceful, and safe society. For law to be legitimate, it must satisfy our sense of justice. This is one reason that we say the punishment must fit the crime. Anything more or less than that violates our sense of justice. A society can only find themselves saying “that is ridiculous” about so many laws before they start saying that the law itself is ridiculous.
When we reach that point, there will never be enough police to monitor and enforce obedience. Of course we do not want to lock up someone for life for making a youthful mistake. While mercy cannot rob justice, mercy is actually compatible with our sense of justice. We do not want to live in a Hugo-like miserable society that would force Jean Valjean to live for a lifetime carrying a yellow passport for stealing a loaf of bread for his sister's starving children. Punishments that are too severe are unacceptable, but so are punishments that are far too lenient. They simply violate our sense of justice.
This bill addresses an important particular loophole in the justice system, but it is just part of our overall common sense reform of our justice system. Simply put, Canadians want a more just justice system. Our sense of justice cries out that the rights of the victim must take priority over those of the criminal and that the punishment must fit the crime.
This legislation complements our government's ongoing work to support victims of crime in this country and further holds offenders to account for their actions. I look forward to receiving support from all parties on this much-needed piece of legislation.
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View Rosane Doré Lefebvre Profile
NDP (QC)
View Rosane Doré Lefebvre Profile
2015-06-17 18:44 [p.15246]
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Mr. Speaker, I am truly proud to rise in the House as the deputy public safety critic for the official opposition and speak to Bill C-644. I will have the opportunity to do so in my speech.
I must say that I am rather surprised by this bill, which was introduced by a backbencher and pertains to the Criminal Code. There are specific aspects of this bill that will be very harmful to the Parole Board of Canada. The member mentioned in his speech that we have no choice but to release inmates after they have served two-thirds of their sentence. I would like to set the record straight by reminding members that that is not true. The people who work at the Parole Board of Canada do a very good job, and they always consider whether an inmate should or should not be released. They will always act in the best interests of Canadians.
The current system already allows for the return to custody of offenders who violate parole. I truly believe that the Conservatives are heading in the wrong direction by interfering in the operations of the Parole Board of Canada and the rehabilitation of offenders. Studies have clearly shown that a gradual, supervised and monitored release is the best way to keep the public safe.
I am wondering what my colleague opposite thinks about that.
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View Jim Hillyer Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Hillyer Profile
2015-06-17 18:45 [p.15246]
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Mr. Speaker, I am not surprised that the NDP is opposed to this reform.
This does not address the release of prisoners through parole. It addresses a clear shortcoming in our Criminal Code where someone can violate parole and that violation is not a criminal offence. It is a criminal offence to violate probation and it is a criminal offence to violate bail. In fact, it is a criminal offence to violate any court ordered release from jail.
This is a clear problem. Police have said it is a problem. It allows a small number of offenders to repeat that offence over and over again. It is not going to stop anyone's rehabilitation if the person truly is rehabilitated because the person will keep his or her parole conditions.
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View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-17 18:46 [p.15246]
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Mr. Speaker, I certainly have to agree with what the member for Alfred-Pellan said. Her position is the same.
The member talked about this as more just. It is not more just and it is not punishment to fit the crime.
As the member for Alfred-Pellan said, the parole board already has the authority to deal with these situations. It has the expertise and authority to deal with them. The bill takes the authority out of its hands. Under the bill, if someone failed within a 24-hour period to state their change of address, they would have a new criminal record. They would go back into prison. What is the cost to the system? This is blanket treatment for anything a person does that is outside the conditions of his or her parole, and some of them can be terribly minor.
I would like the member to tell me how this in any way is going to help with rehabilitation to put these people back out onto the streets so they can be productive in society. Also, what would be the added costs to the system for this one-off bill that we are seeing again from the Conservative Party?
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View Jim Hillyer Profile
CPC (AB)
View Jim Hillyer Profile
2015-06-17 18:48 [p.15246]
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Mr. Speaker, the bill certainly would not force every parolee to go back to jail. It actually has a maximum sentence of two years. It does not mean that every single violation would send someone back to jail for two years.
It also is important because it requires that all parole violations be reported. When future parole boards considered situations, they would have the facts about prior parole violations. It is something the police have requested and it is something which they applaud. It certainly is the right balance between rehabilitation and making sure we have punishments that fit the crime and that crimes are called crimes.
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View Rosane Doré Lefebvre Profile
NDP (QC)
View Rosane Doré Lefebvre Profile
2015-06-17 18:49 [p.15246]
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Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour for me to rise in the House and speak on behalf of the people I represent in Alfred-Pellan, in the eastern part of Laval.
I took the time to carefully study Bill C-644, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (failure to comply with a condition). After what was presented to us and what was included in the bill, and after discussing it with various experts in a number of fields—and I will talk more about that later in my speech—I unfortunately must oppose such a bill, for a number of reasons that I will go over here today.
First of all, by introducing this bill, the Conservatives have proven once again that they are more interested in scoring political points than they are in bringing forward really effective measures to improve public safety. The current system, as we know it, already allows for a return to custody when offenders violate parole.
What is more, the courts are already clogged up and can barely keep up with the cases submitted in a reasonable timeframe, which is hurting victims and undermining the entire justice system. Not only does Bill C-644 exacerbate that problem, but it could also prove to be extremely costly for Canadian taxpayers.
As I mentioned, the current system already allows for a return to custody of offenders who violate parole. Such violations include breaking a curfew, associating with a criminalized group, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and so on. It is based on an individual risk assessment done for every offender by either the Correctional Service of Canada or the Parole Board of Canada.
I would remind the House and especially the member introducing this bill that conditional release is an integral part of the rehabilitation process and contributes to enhancing public safety. I am not the only one to say so. A number of experts in various fields, including people who work with victims groups, people who work with Correctional Service Canada, or other people who work along the way in the conditional release process all agree.
By disrupting the Parole Board of Canada's operations in this way and interfering with offenders' reintegration into society, this bill does absolutely nothing to improve public safety in Canada.
As I said, we on this side of the House took the time to consult a number of experts to ensure that we had good advice on this bill. A number of stakeholders support the NDP's position. I received an opinion from the Office of the Correctional Investigator, among others, expressing concerns about this bill. Furthermore, much like us, Steve Sullivan, a former federal ombudsman for victims of crime, the John Howard Society of Canada, the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers and the Association des services de réhabilitation sociale du Québec have serious concerns about Bill C-644.
I would like to talk about what some stakeholders who oppose this bill had to say. I spoke with the Association québécoise Plaidoyer-Victimes, which said that this bill will only complicate the system and burden everyone involved, especially the victims and their loved ones, who go through incredibly stressful and disappointing situations as a result of the slow process and the lack of consideration they face. The association is wondering how this bill will benefit victims and their loved ones. Unfortunately we cannot get a straight answer to that question.
I also took the time to meet with the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers. Although this is not being considered, this bill, as it is now, will have a direct impact on the officers' work. They have no idea how these new conditions will apply to their work. It seems that there will be a very significant impact on the procedures within Canada's correctional system and on the work of these corrections officers. They have some serious concerns and they also oppose this bill.
I also found it extremely interesting that the former federal ombudsman for victims called for better parole provisions and wanted the government to work on that. When he appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, he said a number of things, including this:
I would encourage all members to understand, and I'm sure you all know this, that parole is actually an integral part of public safety.
We absolutely must not forget—for public safety and for the safety of the many victims all across Canada—that we need good laws.
The bill before us conflicts with everything we know about the parole system. We have to make sure that people reintegrate successfully. Unfortunately, what this bill proposes will just make things worse.
If I may refer to my notes, there are several other things I would like to mention. For example, various provisions of this bill suggest that it also conflicts with several UN conventions we have signed. What is more, it conflicts with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. All in all, what we have before us today is very serious.
In summary, I would have liked to see a more useful bill. If the members on the other side of the House really want to protect victims as much as they say they do, then could they propose concrete measures to truly ensure that victims are protected? Could they ensure that we have an effective conditional release system? It already is, as there are some extremely competent people working in that area. However, there is currently a very heavy burden in terms of timeframes. The system is often too slow and if the government really wanted to improve things, it should have invested its energy on improving conditional release measures.
I think that was all I wanted to say about this bill. As I will say again to the House, I will oppose this piece of legislation. I think that as the official opposition, the NDP did a very good job and held meaningful consultations on this bill. We consulted people from various sectors, including Correctional Service Canada officers who will be directly affected on the ground.
What is more, the people who represent victims across the country or who have done so in the past have some serious concerns about Bill C-644.
That is why I am with them, I am standing up for them, and I will oppose Bill C-644.
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View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-17 18:57 [p.15247]
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Mr. Speaker, I would not say I am pleased to speak to Bill C-644 because it is just another one-off bill by a government that is continuing, by a private member in a governing party, to complicate the criminal justice system at the end of the day in order to make the system work.
The purpose of the bill is yet another in a long line of punishment rather than any effort of rehabilitation legislation from Conservative backbenchers. It is designed to achieve the following or claim to achieve the following.
It would amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to create a new offence for the breach of conditions of conditional release and to require the reporting of those breaches to the appropriate authority. It would do absolutely nothing to enhance justice.
We cannot support the legislation because it is only based upon punishment and misses the point on making Canadians safer.
There are no costs attached to it and there will be substantial costs, both in real financial terms and in human terms as a result of the bill.
Reports by Correctional Services Canada and Public Safety Canada state that the rate of reoffending while on conditional release has been steadily declining. We should be making evidence-based decisions here. If the Conservatives were concerned with reoffenders, they should consider proven ways to limit reoffending, such as rehabilitation and other ways, in terms of which the Parole Board, which has the expertise, can deal with these issues.
Further, we question that the repercussions of the bill have been properly accounted for. There are no provisions for adequate resources for the enforcement of this policy, both within Correctional Services Canada and the Parole Board of Canada.
According to the definition from the Parole Board of Canada:
Conditional release includes those federal offenders conditionally released on day parole, full parole and statutory release...It contributes to the protection of society by allowing some offenders to serve part of their sentence in the community under the supervision of a Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) parole officer, and subject to conditions.
On average, for the past 10 years, approximately 8,500 offenders are participating in conditional release programs. Of these, approximately 5,500 are released under statutory release provisions. The remainder fall almost entirely under the day and full-time parole category.
According to the Parole Board of Canada, “All federal offenders serving determinate sentences are entitled to statutory release after serving two-thirds of their sentences”.
This provision does not apply where it is determined an offender is likely to commit an offence causing death or serious harm to another person, a sexual offence including a child, or a serious drug offence.
According to the Parole Board of Canada's 2013-14 performance monitoring report on successful completion rates for federal conditional release, the following is stated: full parole, 90% successful completion; day parole, 85% successful completion; and statutory release, lower, at 62% successful completion.
It shows the importance of gradual entry into society under the Parole Board system.
The Parole Board has examined the issue of low successful completion rate for those on statutory release and provided the following remedy.
This is from a Parole Board document. It states:
Over the last ten years the successful completion rate on statutory release for offenders who had a day and/or full parole supervision period prior to a statutory release supervision period on the same sentence was on average 11% higher than the rate for offenders who had no prior supervision period. Two possible explanations for this are:
1. Offenders that had a day or full parole supervision period prior to statutory release are less likely to reoffend and this is part of the reason they had the prior supervision periods.
2. Offenders that had a day or full parole supervision period prior to statutory release have learned from their time in the community and are thus more likely to successfully complete statutory release.
The whole point is the importance of parole: gradual entry into the community, the Parole Board, officials with the Parole Board and supervisors on the ground working with these inmates as they re-enter society.
The report confirmed:
In the last ten years, violent reoffending on statutory release was considerably lower for offenders who had a prior day and/or full parole supervision period...
While there are a number of conditions, it is important to consider what conditions, if breached, would be criminalized if Bill C-644 were passed: if an offender leaves the residence and forgets the release certificate; failure to report any change, regardless of significance, in the domestic or financial situation of the offender; and any change to the offender's normal occupation, including employment, vocational or educational training and volunteer work. Those are minor, and the bill gives the Parole Board and others no option but to throw away the key and lock them up for a little longer. Will that do anything for society? I do not think so.
Breach of any of these conditions could, with Bill C-644, result in a criminal charge being laid, which could result in the offender being liable for a term not exceeding two years in prison. Yes, serious breaches need to be dealt with, and dealt with harshly, but the ability to do that right now is already there with the Parole Board.
Bill C-644 would also require a parole supervisor to report a breach of condition, not only to the Parole Board of Canada but to Correctional Service, the Attorney General and the police force which has jurisdiction.
If one takes note of the Parole Board's decision-making policy manual, it is clearly evident that the relationship between the Parole Board and local police authority is already well established.
Under the provisions of the Correctional and Conditional Release Act, section 161, the police are very much involved in the process involving parole and statutory release offenders, and a critical component of the supervision of those offenders, if required.
It is my opinion that members of this party cannot support the legislation because the measures are excessively punitive and do not address the real issue, which is how to ensure high profile offenders do not offend again. The Liberal Party of Canada believes in relying on facts and evidence, particularly when changing laws that alter our criminal justice system and affect the public safety of Canadians.
Evidence provided by Public Safety Canada itself confirms that the vast majority of inmates on conditional release, which includes full and day parole, and statutory release, do not breach the conditions of their release, and this success rate is steadily increasing over the past decade.
Clearly this legislation is unnecessary, whether it is one-off for political gain in the member's riding, I do not know, and it will actually jeopardize the Criminal Code of our country.
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View Roxanne James Profile
CPC (ON)
View Roxanne James Profile
2015-06-17 19:07 [p.15249]
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Mr. Speaker, it is indeed my privilege to rise today to lend my voice in support of private member's Bill C-644, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (failure to comply with a condition).
I would like to begin by first thanking the hard-working member of Parliament for Lethbridge for his initiative in bringing this bill forward. In considering the elements that he has proposed in this bill, it becomes apparent that he is also concerned with improving offender accountability and improving public safety, improvements which our Conservative government has long advocated.
Indeed, since 2006, we have made it a top priority to help ensure that Canadians can live, work and raise a family in communities that are safe and also secure. This has meant investing in crime prevention programs and strengthening our laws to give police the proper tools to fight crime; tackle crime by holding violent offenders more accountable for their crimes; give victims of crime a stronger voice in the criminal justice system; and increase the efficiency of the justice system. Holding offenders to account, which is a critical goal of the bill before us, is an important part of our efforts to reduce crime and to improve the chances for offenders to reintegrate into the community as law-abiding citizens.
For example, we passed the Truth in Sentencing Act, which provides the courts with clear guidance and limits for granting credit for time served in custody prior to conviction and sentencing.
We also passed the Safe Streets and Communities Act, which made a number of important changes, including restricting the use of conditional sentences, including house arrest; providing better support for victims of crime; increasing offender accountability; and preventing individuals convicted of sexual offences against minors from applying for a record suspension.
We also passed the Drug-Free Prisons Act to improve opportunities for drug testing in our federal penitentiaries and thereby give offenders more chances to succeed in rehabilitation and reintegration. We also passed the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act, which will better protect children from a range of sexual offences and exploitation at home and even abroad.
These measures are working in tandem to help us keep our pledge to Canadians that we will support victims and keep dangerous offenders off of our streets. Bill C-644 is one more step in the right direction.
Allow me to begin with a brief overview of how the conditional release system works today.
Offenders may be released on a number of forms of supervised conditional release, including day parole, full parole, or statutory release. This type of release is granted based on an assessment of the risk of reoffending, with a view to gradually returning offenders to the community under supervision. When an assessment indicates that it is safe to release an offender into the community, the Parole Board of Canada, in its capacity as releasing authority, imposes conditions on offenders in an effort to guide their behaviour. It must be said that public safety is always the paramount consideration in how these decisions are made. It is absolutely critical.
All offenders who receive conditional releases are subject to a number of standard conditions. For example, they are required to report to police as instructed, report to their parole officer any changes in address or their financial or domestic situation, and at all times must carry an identity card and release certificate. In addition, special conditions of release that are specific to their risk and needs may also be imposed on offenders. For example, some offenders may be ordered to abstain from alcohol, or be required to observe geographical restrictions. Still others may be ordered to refrain from initiating any contact with their past victims.
As it stands, authorities have a range of potential responses to address any breaches in these conditions, depending on the severity of the breach that has occurred. It is quite possible, however, and sometimes very likely that individuals who do not abide by their parole conditions simply receive a slap on the wrist and sometimes they do not receive any sanctions whatsoever. I think most Canadians would be alarmed by that. In fact, I have stood in this place many times and said that it is important to ensure that the correctional system actually corrects criminal behaviour. Teaching offenders that there are consequences for their actions will help achieve that goal. A slap on the wrist or no recourse at all has the opposite effect.
Let us discuss the two main elements of the bill. The first is to create a new Criminal Code offence for offenders who breach the conditions of conditional release. The second is to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to require that breaches be reported to the appropriate authorities.
The member's stated intention is to ensure that the justice system has the most complete information possible on an offender. I think this is absolutely critical. This includes accurate records on previous breaches of release conditions. In this way, authorities would be able to make the best public safety decisions by taking all available information into account.
Given that the intent of the bill is to increase the accountability of offenders who violate the conditions attached to their conditional release, I am pleased to note that it is a proposal that our government believes has strong merit.
There are further refinements that could be made when this bill is referred to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. I look forward to continued debate and discussion on this bill, and I certainly hope that all parties will support this important legislation.
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View Joe Comartin Profile
NDP (ON)
View Joe Comartin Profile
2015-06-17 19:13 [p.15250]
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Is the House ready for the question?
Some hon. members: Question.
The Deputy Speaker: The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
And five or more members having risen:
The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, September 23, 2015, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.
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View LaVar Payne Profile
CPC (AB)
View LaVar Payne Profile
2015-06-16 10:09 [p.15115]
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moved for leave to introduce Bill C-693, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (authorized absences and work releases).
He said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to introduce my first private member's bill in this 41st Parliament. The bill is an important piece of the puzzle to ensure we have fairness with respect to temporary escorted absences for those in the care of Correctional Service Canada. It is past time that we had a discussion on what precisely is good reason to grant those serving prison sentences temporary escorted absences.
My bill would amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act in a way that would modify the list of reasons why temporary escorted absences from prison are justified and granted.
Several years ago, our community was victimized by a convicted criminal who escaped from custody. The heartbreak that resulted should never happen again.
The bill applies specifically to high-risk offenders, as they are obviously most at risk of causing problems while away from prison. It would focus specifically on offenders classified in section 17 of the act.
I trust this will gain the support of members of the House.
I would like to thank my colleague, my brother, the member for Calgary Northeast.
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View Jean Crowder Profile
NDP (BC)
View Jean Crowder Profile
2015-06-16 10:11 [p.15116]
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moved for leave to introduce Bill C-694, An Act to amend the Navigation Protection Act (Nanaimo River and Koksilah River).
She said: Mr. Speaker, I am introducing this private member's bill today to add the Koksilah and Nanaimo rivers to the Navigation Protection Act, because rivers on Vancouver Island are in trouble. Like most rivers on the west coast of North America, our rivers are suffering from drought conditions. A smaller than normal snowpack this winter meant very little spring freshets that feed these rivers.
The Koksilah River was once known for its run of steelhead, but overfishing in the 1980s nearly extirpated them from the river. Now impacts from logging, agriculture, and low summer flows continue to endanger its recovery. Along with the Cowichan River, the Koksilah drains into the Cowichan estuary, an important intertidal area that hosts migratory waterfowl, abundant eel grass beds, and the occasional otter. If summer flows are too low, the spawning salmon must be captured in Cowichan Bay and transported upriver to their spawning beds.
The Nanaimo River flows 78 km from its headwater on Mount Hooper to the Strait of Georgia. While it is celebrated as a great recreational river, it also provides drinking water to 86,000 residents. However, the surface water is only part of the story. The Cassidy aquifers are near the terminal end of the river. While the river recharges the aquifers during the high spring flows, the opposite happens in the late fall when the cool groundwater from the aquifers helps recharge the river, providing ideal conditions for salmon runs.
Sadly, there is no federal protection for either of these rivers, even though they both provide fish habitat for the west coast's iconic salmon. That is why I propose that these two rivers should be added to the list of those protected by federal legislation under the Navigation Protection Act.
I want to thank my seconder, the member for New Westminster—Coquitlam. I also want to thank the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca for his very strong support of the bill.
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View John McCallum Profile
Lib. (ON)
View John McCallum Profile
2015-06-11 10:05 [p.14925]
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moved for leave to introduce Bill C-690, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (live-in caregiver).
He said: Mr. Speaker, this bill would set up a system of regulated entities whose job it would be to recruit caregivers on behalf of families.
This would benefit the families who would be spared the bureaucracy and financial risk they currently endure, and it would benefit caregivers because, in the case of a misfit or abuse, the employer would be able to find an alternative family for the caregiver.
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View Emmanuel Dubourg Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Emmanuel Dubourg Profile
2015-06-11 10:06 [p.14925]
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moved for leave to introduce Bill C-691, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (business transfer).
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to introduce this bill in the House of Commons. It amends the Income Tax Act in order to correct an injustice in the Canadian tax system that affects owners of family businesses.
In these times of economic contraction and high youth unemployment, I am proud of this initiative that will foster the continuity of family businesses, help them create good jobs and enable thousands of families to transfer the fruits of their labour to the next generation.
I thank my hon. colleague John McCallum for his always precious advice, and the vast number of organizations pledging official support, including the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise, who will voice their support at my announcement later today.
I urge my colleagues to support this important bill.
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View John Weston Profile
CPC (BC)
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-692, An Act respecting a federal framework on the proper use of prescription drugs and establishing National Prescription Drug Drop-off Day.
He said: Mr. Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to present to the House a bill that would create a federal framework that responds to the need for the proper use of prescription drugs and would create a national prescription drug drop-off day.
This responds to rising trends such as the fact that Canadians are the second largest per capita users of opioids in the world, and that we have rising rates of fatalities and hospital visits relating to improper prescription drug use. This is supported by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and by the national association of pharmacists, and I am pleased to be working very closely with the health minister, the member for Oakville, and the member for Kootenay—Columbia, who all together represent many Canadians who share this concern. I invite all my colleagues to help me get the bill passed.
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View Barry Devolin Profile
CPC (ON)
View Barry Devolin Profile
2015-06-11 15:59 [p.14977]
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Before we resume debate, I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate, informing this House that the Senate has passed the following bill, to which the concurrence of the House is desired:
Bill S-224, An Act respecting National Seal Products Day.
It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North, Post-Secondary Education; the hon. member for Ahuntsic, Public Safety.
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.
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View Andrew Scheer Profile
CPC (SK)
View Andrew Scheer Profile
2015-06-10 19:24 [p.14911]
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I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.
The Speaker: I wish to inform the House that because of the delay, there will be no private members' business hour today. Accordingly, the order will be rescheduled for another sitting.
Pursuant to an order made on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, the House shall now resolve itself into committee of the whole to consider Motion No. 21 under government business.
I do now leave the chair for the House to go into committee of the whole.
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View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Don Davies Profile
2015-06-09 10:06 [p.14782]
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moved for leave to introduce Bill C-687, An Act respecting the development of a national employment strategy for persons with disabilities.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to introduce a private member's bill, seconded by the hon. member for Newton—North Delta. The bill is a product of the Create Your Canada contest in my riding. It owes its genesis to the imagination and hard work of a young high school student in Vancouver Kingsway, Harriet Crossfield from Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School.
Harriet's idea, enshrined in this bill, calls for the development of a national employment strategy for persons with disabilities. This legislation would require the Minister of Employment and Social Development to draft a plan to improve the economic participation of persons with disabilities throughout Canada. Included in this plan would be measures to educate private-sector employers about the great potential of persons with disabilities to contribute to the workforce, encourage more inclusive hiring practices, and reduce stigma. Harriet's idea would tackle the unfair social exclusion faced by too many persons with disabilities in Canada, and create new potential for a more dynamic and inclusive labour force.
I would like to congratulate Harriet on her contribution to Parliament and our country, and thank her teachers and all who entered this contest from Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School.
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View Don Davies Profile
NDP (BC)
View Don Davies Profile
2015-06-09 10:08 [p.14782]
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moved for leave to introduce Bill C-688, an act respecting the development of a national strategy on student loan debt.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to introduce a private member's bill today, with thanks to my seconder, the hon. member for Newton—North Delta.
This bill is particularly special because it owes its existence to the imaginations and hard work of two young people in my riding of Vancouver Kingsway, Triana Segovia and Kira Bennett from Windermere Secondary School. Both students are winners of my Create Your Canada contest, which invites high school students to develop and submit their ideas on how we can make Canada and the world a better place.
Triana and Kira's idea is captured by this bill, which proposes a national strategy on student loan debt reduction. This idea is timely and speaks to the growing sense of intergenerational unfairness expressed by many young Canadians. Average student loan debt for a university graduate in Canada today stands at over $25,000 and this debt burden is felt more heavily by students from lower- and middle-income families. More can be done to make Canada a fairer place for young Canadians, help with their education, and this bill would help accomplish these goals.
I would like to congratulate Kira and Triana on their contributions to Parliament and their country, and thank their teachers and all who entered this contest from Windermere Secondary School in Vancouver.
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View Irwin Cotler Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Irwin Cotler Profile
2015-06-09 10:10 [p.14782]
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moved for leave to introduce Bill C-689, Act to enact the Global Human Rights Accountability Act and to make related amendments to the Special Economic Measures Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the global Magnitsky human rights accountability act, seconded by the member for Winnipeg North, which would allow for the sanctioning of human rights violators through the imposition of travel bans and asset freezes. The House unanimously endorsed such measures in March. It is deeply disappointing, therefore, that the government still has not moved forward with the necessary corresponding legislation.
Magnitsky sanctions, which have been recommended by legislatures across Europe and implemented by the United States, are named for Moscow lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered the largest corporate tax fraud in Russian history before being detained, tortured, and murdered in prison in 2009. Not only have the Russian officials complicit in that criminality escaped punishment, but many of them have, in fact, been rewarded by Vladimir Putin's regime.
It is therefore up to Canada and other members of the international community to impose tangible consequences on the perpetrators and on human rights violators generally by blocking their ability to travel and trade and launder their assets around the world. I would urge the government to either take over my bill or pass similar legislation on its own, both out of respect for the will of the House and out of solidarity with the victims of human rights violations and those who struggle valiantly on their behalf in Russia and around the world.
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View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
View Geoff Regan Profile
2015-06-09 17:30 [p.14836]
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Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to stand to speak in favour of Bill C-588 regarding the Sambro Island lighthouse.
I had the pleasure of serving the community of Sambro between 2000 and 2004. In fact, the boundaries of the Halifax West riding were changed in 1997, and that was not a great year for me in other respects because I began what I call my involuntary sabbatical. I was defeated that year, but I was re-elected in 2000 under those same boundaries, so I had the pleasure and honour of serving the Sambro area from 2000 to 2004 when the boundaries were changed again and it was put back into the Halifax riding and taken out of Halifax West.
The Sambro lighthouse is a very iconic structure. It has a great history. It was established as a result of the very first act of the Nova Scotia legislature. That is remarkable, when we think about it. In fact, it was built in 1758. It is hard to believe that we have any lighthouses in North America that were built that long ago, which is why it should not be surprising, perhaps, that it is in fact the oldest operating lighthouse in North America.
I had the pleasure of going there, back in 2013, when I was no longer the MP for that area but still interested in attending public meetings in the Sambro area, along with the current Premier of Nova Scotia, Stephen McNeil, who was then the leader of the Liberal Party. He still is, of course, but he was not premier then. We were there to discuss community support for protecting lighthouses and in particular the Sambro light.
I want to begin by thanking my hon. friend, the member for Halifax, for bringing the bill forward. I think it is a very positive idea, and I am very supportive of any measures that may result in this light being maintained and preserved for the long term because of that incredible history it has and the fact that it is North America's oldest light, a beautiful structure.
I also want to congratulate Brendan Maguire, who is the provincial member, the MLA for Halifax Atlantic. He has done a lot of work on this and had many meetings and made lots of efforts with both levels of government to try to get support for the maintenance and the protection of this lighthouse.
I also want to congratulate Rena Maguire and Susan Paul from the Sambro Island Lighthouse Heritage Society, who have done so much to gather support for the protection of the lighthouse.
In 2013, I tabled a number of petitions signed by more than 5,000 people, calling on the Government of Canada to preserve the lighthouse at Sambro Island, and I was very pleased that the Government of Canada decided to provide $1.5 million for repairs and upgrades to the lighthouse.
I hope we all recognize that this is an important part of Nova Scotia's heritage and really of Canada's heritage. I think that contribution of $1.5 million to upgrade it and maintain it is an indication of that importance. That is an important step, and we would like to ensure that it is preserved on a permanent, ongoing basis.
I had the pleasure of visiting the lighthouse. I think it was in September 2013 that I was there. Paddy Gray is a fisherman who fishes out of Sambro, and he was kind enough to take me out on his boat. We actually caught a few fish along the way, but then we visited the island itself and went up to the light. I had my camera and took quite a few pictures. As a matter of fact, I have one of my photographs as the wallpaper on my computer, so I see the lighthouse and the island every day when I look at my computer.
Not long ago I was asked to do a painting, just a little one, a five-by-seven canvas, for a fundraising auction. I do not claim to be a Renoir or Monet, but I enjoyed doing this from one of my photographs.
Mr. David Sweet: I am certain he must be.
Hon. Geoff Regan: Mr. Speaker, I am glad my hon. friend thinks I must be. That is very generous of him. I did enjoy doing that painting from the photograph I had taken, and that is why I chose to paint that picture of the Sambro Island light. I put it on my Facebook page. I do not know how hard it is to find it, but if any member wanted to find it they could probably look there and discover it.
The lighthouse is very much symbolic, as all lighthouses are, of our seafaring heritage. For those of us from Nova Scotia, lighthouses mean a great deal.
However, I learned, certainly when I was minister of fisheries and oceans, how much they meant to people all across the country, in places like Collingwood, Ontario, on Georgian Bay, and throughout the Great Lakes and many of the larger lakes in this country. In places where there is navigation, like the Great Lakes, lighthouses have been an important part of our transportation system. They certainly form an important part of our heritage. They are iconic structures, often beautiful structures, that mean a lot to people in the communities where they are.
Not that long ago, 120 lighthouses in Nova Scotia had been declared surplus by the Conservative government. So far, community groups have only offered to take over 29. It is a big responsibility and a big cost for a community group to take on the ownership and, therefore, the ongoing maintenance of a lighthouse. These are often quite large and old structures. For example, the one in Collingwood had stone on the outside and was kind of rotting on the inside. The nature of the construction meant that it was very challenging to maintain. I suspect that the lighthouse in Sambro is of a similar kind of construction and might also be very challenging.
However, I am proud of the cases where communities have decided to take the plunge and take over a lighthouse. For example, the Terence Bay lighthouse society in my riding of Halifax West was among those groups that submitted a business plan to protect the lighthouse in their community. In fact, $80,000 was spent to paint the lighthouse in 2008, and that was a very difficult—excuse me; this is actually in relation to Sambro Island, not Terence Bay. On the Sambro Island light, $80,000 was spent to paint the lighthouse in 2008. The process was extremely difficult because it is on an island and the substantial amount of materials that were needed had to be actually flown in by helicopter.
The Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society has what it calls a “doomsday list” of lighthouses that are in danger of being lost through neglect. That is of great concern to many people in my province. Sambro has been on that list. The Sambro Island lighthouse has already been designated as a federal heritage building and national historic site. I think what the act is proposing to do would follow well along with that designation.
Of all the provinces, Nova Scotia—not surprisingly, considering it is a peninsula and all the coastline it has—has the most lighthouses under petition to become heritage lighthouses. I think it shows the pride that Nova Scotia has for its lighthouses and their history.
In fact, I gather we have 92 lighthouses under petition, of the 348 total lighthouses under petition in all of Canada. That is, nearly one-third of all the lighthouses in Canada that are under petition are in fact in Nova Scotia.
It seems to me that the burden of maintaining these lighthouses should not be placed upon the community, especially when we are talking about heritage lighthouses of national importance, like the Sambro Island light, the oldest operating light in North America. This is an important asset for the broader community, in fact, certainly for my province and for our country. I am pleased that there has been money set aside to maintain it, but let us find ways to ensure that it is kept going, that it is protected for the long term, because it is a beautiful iconic structure. I urge any of my colleagues, if they have a chance to go to Nova Scotia, to go out to Sambro. If they could call me, I am sure I or my colleague and friend from Halifax could arrange for them to take a boat tour out to the island and have a look at that beautiful structure.
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View Robert Chisholm Profile
NDP (NS)
View Robert Chisholm Profile
2015-06-09 17:40 [p.14838]
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Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak in support of Bill C-588, an act to amend the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, with regard to the Sambro Island lighthouse.
I want to commend my colleague the member for Halifax for her tenacity in supporting this community and this iconic structure that means so much to not only the people of Sambro and the people of Halifax but also the people across this country if not internationally. As has been said, the structure was built in 1758 by the first act of the oldest legislature, in the province of Nova Scotia.
There have been a lot of people coming and going from Halifax Harbour, whether as part of the Royal Canadian Navy, war brides, or immigrants coming to this great country. It has been suggested by veterans that, when they left the harbour, the Sambro lighthouse was the last thing they saw, and when they returned to Halifax Harbour it was the first thing they saw. As one veteran expressed, it was like lifting a huge load off of their shoulders in making that crossing, seeing the lighthouse and recognizing that Nova Scotia and Canada were a few short hours away.
It is a huge structure made of stone and concrete, standing 24 metres tall, and located on a granite island off the entrance to Halifax Harbour just slightly beyond the community of Sambro. It is a stately structure and has been referred to as Canada's Statue of Liberty.
The other day I was thinking about how my wife's grandfather came to this country in 1928 through Pier 21 and would have seen this structure as the ship he was on approached this wonderful country, which he then made his home and where he raised his family, as did so many.
Why is this important? This bill would place the Sambro Island lighthouse within the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. Therefore, it would become a responsibility of Parks Canada to maintain it and save a piece of our natural heritage.
The Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act came into force in 2008. However, for some reason many heritage buildings were missed, this one included. As a result, there was a requirement for the communities to put together a petition to nominate them as historic structures and put together a business plan. It was quite an onerous process. Needless to say it was a difficult one, given the lack of resources. However, there was a lot of work done.
I think an indication of why it is so important for Parks Canada to take over this important structure for the Government of Canada is in recognition of the costs. No community is able to manage the costs of maintaining this important structure. It is on an island; it is 24 metres tall. We received an indication of what it would cost to maintain it when, in 2008, the Coast Guard repainted the lighthouse. It used a helicopter to ferry supplies, including a large web of scaffolding. The total cost was about $80,000, which is a huge expense for a small community and so a very difficult process.
However, I give credit to the Sambro Island Lighthouse Preservation Society for being diligent and tenacious on this issue, along with Barry MacDonald of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society. I do not know how many hundreds of petitions I tabled in the House, along with my colleagues from Nova Scotia, but they ensured it was in the minds of Nova Scotians and Canadians that something needed to be done about this. I commend all of those volunteers for their efforts in this regard. That is why we are now at this point.
I was happy to congratulate the government when I heard in early May that it had indicated that it would invest $1.5 million to restore the Sambro Island lighthouse. The minister at the time indicated that it was one of the most iconic structures in the country. It was great news, which would allow long overdue and needed concrete renovations, rehabilitation of the original lantern and gallery, and repainting to take place.
However, this was recognized as a stop-gap measure. Therefore, it was important that the legislation be introduced in the House. My understanding is that government members have indicated their support, and for that I am happy to commend them.
Part of the Parks Canada mandate is to protect the health and wholeness of the commemorative integrity of the national sites it operates. This means preserving the site's cultural resources, communicating its heritage values and national significance and kindling the respect of people whose decisions and actions affect the site. This is why it is so important for this important heritage structure in the history of Nova Scotia and Canada to be properly protected by the federal government.
It is not as if the federal government has not already recognized the heritage value of this structure. In 1937, the Sambro lighthouse was designated a national historic site, and a plaque was placed in the village of Sambro. Then in 1996, the lighthouse received Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office classified status, which is the highest ranking status for Canadian government heritage buildings. In the case of classified federal heritage buildings for which the minister has assigned the highest level of protection, departments are required to consult with the heritage protection legislation before undertaking any action that would affect their heritage structure
I did not indicate when I began that this is important to me for another reason. I was a member of the legislative assembly for the constituency of Halifax Atlantic between the years 1991 and 2003, and Sambro was part of my constituency. It was a constant reminder of the history that the community had shared with North America. The fact is that Sambro has been an active and productive fishing village for over 500 years, and it continues to thrive to this day based on the collaborative manner in which the people in that community, the fishermen and others, go about harvesting the resource of the ocean in a sustainable fashion.
I am very proud to be here with my colleague, the member for Halifax, who sponsored this bill, to speak for a few moments in support of what she has been able to do for this iconic heritage structure, and also as somebody who has had some attachment and has attended many public meetings in the community about what we would do with the Sambro lighthouse.
It is a good day, and I am pleased to support the bill. Again, I commend my colleague, the member for Halifax.
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View Colin Carrie Profile
CPC (ON)
View Colin Carrie Profile
2015-06-09 17:51 [p.14839]
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Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity today to speak to private member's bill, Bill C-588.
Our government is prepared to support Bill C-588 subject to certain amendments. When we last spoke about the bill in the House on May 25, our government expressed our support for the designation of the Sambro Island lighthouse under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. The Sambro Island lighthouse is an iconic Canadian structure. It speaks to so much of our history, whether it be immigration, commerce, politics or war.
On May 25, we also spoke about the need to find a long-term plan that would ensure the lighthouse could be enjoyed and appreciated for many more generations to come. This objective is foremost in our thoughts and is the subject of the amendments we proposed to Bill C-588.
We know that local support for the lighthouse is very strong. A preliminary business plan has been worked up by the local lighthouse heritage society and this plan could be further developed in the future. Support for the lighthouse is also strong at the regional and provincial levels. The prospects are good that the local society will be able to draw upon that wider support to further develop its business plan proposal.
As the members of the House know, our government recently announced upward of $1.5 million to do some needed work on the lighthouse, which will ensure this iconic structure is in good condition for years to come. Fisheries and Oceans Canada also has funding in place to assist third parties that are acquiring heritage lighthouses.
I draw attention to these facts to make the point that the Sambro Island lighthouse is on a promising path that will ensure the protection of its heritage character for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.
Support for the lighthouse exists in the community and at all levels of government. Planned investments in the lighthouse will ensure that it is in good condition for a new owner. Funding is available to facilitate the transfer of the lighthouse. These benefits should be given every opportunity to reach their full potential for the Sambro Island lighthouse. The act has proven to be working for other iconic surplus lighthouses.
For example, the Panmure Head and Point Prim lighthouses in Prince Edward Island are two examples of truly iconic historic lighthouses that are being acquired by local community organizations.
The Point Prim lighthouse is the first lighthouse in the province, and it was built in 1845. This lighthouse marks the entrance to Hillsborough Bay and Charlottetown harbour and is one of only a few brick lighthouses in Canada.
The Panmure Head lighthouse was built in 1853 and is the second lighthouse in the province. It marks the entrance to Georgetown harbour.
Our government's experience with these two lighthouses shows that it is possible for community-based organizations to assume ownership of our older, iconic lighthouses when the right conditions are in place.
In New Brunswick, the Cape Jourimain Lighthouse is another example of one of our older, iconic lighthouses being acquired by a local organization. Built in 1869, this lighthouse is the one that can be seen when crossing the Confederation Bridge from Prince Edward Island.
The Île du Pot à l'Eau-de-Vie and Pilier de Pierre lighthouses in Quebec, built in 1862 and 1843 respectively, are other examples of local groups taking over two of our older lighthouses.
Another example is the Sheringham Point Lighthouse, which has stood on the west coast of Vancouver Island since 1912. Although younger than some of the other examples already mentioned, this lighthouse is an example of a uniquely Canadian design and its designation resulted from carefully developed local partnerships. This white concrete tower guides vessels as they enter the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
At the provincial level, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador has acquired the Point Amour Lighthouse, completed in 1857, and is operated and protected as a provincial historic site.
These are some examples of truly iconic historic lighthouses that have been designated under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, to be managed by new owners in the future.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is working with third parties on other lighthouses that will no doubt be designated in the future. The dedication demonstrated by community-based organizations and other levels of government to identify and implement long-term visions for historic lighthouses that are important to them should inspire all of us who care about the Sambro Island lighthouse.
Our position is that the Sambro Island lighthouse deserves the same opportunity as the other iconic surplus lighthouses being designated and protected under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act. The ultimate goal is to identify a viable, long-term plan for the lighthouse, one that will secure its future for generations to come.
We should keep in mind that the Sambro Island lighthouse currently enjoys the highest level of protection afforded to federal heritage buildings under Treasury Board policy, and the care of a diligent custodian in Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as the recent funding announcement amply demonstrates.
Under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, 74 lighthouses have been designated, Among them are some of our country's most iconic lighthouses, including eight national historic sites that will continue to be managed by the federal government. So far, 32 heritage lighthouses that will be managed by new owners have been designated. I have highlighted some of them here today and we know that others will follow when their future owners conclude their agreements to acquire the lighthouses from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
The Sambro Island lighthouse merits inclusion in the family of heritage lighthouses. However, we need to do more than just designate the lighthouse. We need to continue in our quest to develop and implement a viable plan that would ensure the lighthouse can be enjoyed and appreciated for many more generations to come. This objective is critically important for the future of the lighthouse.
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