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View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
Yes. Merci.
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I must echo what others have said about Mr. Leef’s comments.
As you know, I have been a member of Parliament for a number of years. You yourself know, Mr. Chair, just how important issues like fishing are for us in the Atlantic region. We make our living from that resource. I have never heard Mr. MacAulay ask a question because he owns a plant that is losing money at the moment. It was not a personal question; he asked a question on behalf of the people in his riding who elected him.
When a bill is introduced and amendments are made, it is important for Canadians. In our democracy, we have a responsibility to ask questions. That is why we have committees and Parliament. So, I think that accusing someone by saying that the questions are personal is anti-democratic, although others may not feel the same way. Parliament’s role is not to allow a single political party to ask questions, take action or even introduce bills. Canada’s democracy gives us the right to ask these questions.
We have the right, Mr. Chair, to raise those questions. Every time someone comes in and attacks a question by another member, saying it's personal, it stops the action of democracy. We are here to debate those questions, debate those bills. The officials, when they are here, have a job to do, to clear up those questions that we have, to make sure that Canadians who have those same concerns have the answers too. I mean, we had to live, down home in the Atlantic area, the loss of codfish.
She used the example of tuna. I remember in Acadie—Bathurst that we had that fishery at one point in time. Those were probably some of the biggest fish we had. They're not really fish, tuna; they're like the other ones there, mammifères. But we had good fishing down home. I mean, when you're looking at tuna of over 1,200 pounds, that's big. And we lost all of that.
In terms of raising questions here, it's important to take the time. If we don't have time to debate, maybe we should just go home. But we still have democracy in our country, and we still have the right to debate bills and to be able to present them. At the end of the day, the government has the majority and they will make their decision, but Canadians have the right to be able to debate bills.
So on this, I have no choice: Mr. Leef's comments, to me, were not proper. To attack a member and say that it's personal.... It's not personal. It's our job.
I know that maybe the Conservative Party wants to take away our democracy, but they haven't succeeded yet. We're going to argue when it comes time to argue, and raise the right questions when it's time to raise those right questions. We will not take it, and we will not accept it, when people come in and do things as he's done.
I want to state my concern here, because it is important. Every bill we put in is the law in our country after that. We have to discuss it. We have to take everything apart, be able to discuss it together, and come in with a good law. We're here to support our Canadians. We're here to support our fishermen. We are here to support our communities.
A guy like my colleague, who comes from P.E.I., knows about the fishery. Ryan Cleary, a guy who comes from Newfoundland, knows the fishery. Lapointe, coming right from the Saint-Laurent, knows the fishery. Myself, I think I know the fishery too. I've been living it, with good lobster and all that good fish. We want to continue to do that fishing. It's good for our communities.
Thank you.
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
No. What I was looking at was whether there was something before Bill S-3. Or has it just come in Bill S-3 and it's now just to follow Bill S-3?
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
What were the words before in the history? Was there something there? It looked like it's all new starting from Bill S-3.
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
That's what my question was. Thank you.
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
It wouldn't take much to get me all mixed up there.
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
In a sense, doesn’t this provision replace section 18.04? We now have a maximum fine. If the amount had been $100,000 or more, it would have been open-ended.
We are talking about “an additional fine in an amount equal to the court’s estimation of those benefits”.
It could have been $200,000, but we can say that the estimation is $300,000. This means that the court can impose a fine of over $100,000 or $200,000.
Paragraph 18.03(1)(a) reads as follows: “on conviction on indictment, to a fine of not more than $500,000”. I think we are tying our hands completely. This provision will take precedence over the other paragraph, because it sets a maximum fine. There was no such thing before; it just didn’t exist.
We are now using the words “of not more than”. We are not talking about an additional fine in an amount equal to the court’s estimation of those benefits that would be higher than the amount in the provision you are proposing. The fine is now set at a maximum amount. You cannot exceed the maximum amount. An additional fine could go from $200,000 to $300,000 or from $300,000 to $400,000, but now there is a limit of $500,000. If I were the defence lawyer, I would say that the judge is not allowed to impose a fine higher than the maximum fine.
To determine the additional fine, the judge could have some fun and impose a fine between $100,000 and $500,000, but the maximum fine is $500,000.
Before we make a decision on that, I suggest that you take a really close look at this to see if what is being said makes sense, because once the amendment is passed, there is no turning back.
My colleague François Lapointe said this earlier. Imagine that a person has been suspected of committing offences for two or three years, but that they have not been caught yet. Finally, they are caught. However, $500,000 is not a lot for a fisherman. One catch of fish products may be worth more than that. If you are familiar with fishing, you know that tuna, for instance, can bring in between $500 and $600 per fish. For those fishermen, $500,000 is not a big deal.
In a word, this section concerns me. Do you have a legal opinion saying that $500,000 does not mean anything? If, in special cases, $500,000 does not mean anything, section 18.04 should say so and should specify that it takes precedence over the other provision, because this is not the case right now and no reference is made to that.
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
Given the importance of this bill, would it be possible to set it aside and bring in people who can assure of us that? As soon as we set a maximum, actually…In this case, one thing is really piling on top of another. You might well say that it really is not related and there is no certainty about it.
Once the wording of a bill is set, it is set. When it is voted on, it is voted on. It would be more certain if someone were to come and explain this to us and to tell us that we really are protected. The amendment could have referred back to the other provision and specified that it does not prevent clause 18.04 from being enforced, but that is not the case and it looks like some protection is missing.
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
I will be brief, Mr. Chair. There are two questions that need to be answered.
Angela is a nice first name, Ms. Bexten.
You say that the situation is covered in similar laws.
I will wait for the experts to consult with each other.
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
In my opinion, they know there is a problem.
View Yvon Godin Profile
NDP (NB)
That is okay; I will wait. I think it's important.
If similar cases are covered in legislation, has it ever been challenged before the courts? If it has been but was found to be solid and without issues, that is good, but perhaps it never has been. For the time being we do not have an answer.
If the department states that it has been challenged that means that there is case law which would solve certain problems. If it has not been, I do not remember foreign fishers getting caught in Canada. Perhaps if we took a closer look this might not be the case.
Has the law been challenged and did it prove solid? I think that simply to solve the problem we could link this provision to clause 18.04 to ensure that the government has been given the power to go beyond the $500,000 limit.
Mr. Kamp, you say that this exists elsewhere, but if the law was never challenged before the courts, we cannot know if it is adequate and sufficiently robust. Our study of the bill is almost over. Today is Tuesday and everything could be said and done on Wednesday if experts appear, or if you, as a government, say that you have studied the matter, concluded that this is a good point and that this provision should be amended since that would be highly sensible.
There is nothing clearer than something spelled out in black and white. As my colleague Mr. Lapointe said, we are not lawyers but legislators. Our responsibility is to legislate. Lawyers like nothing better than provisions that are not specifically spelled out, in black and white. The two parties can then put forward their own interpretation and in those cases the lawyers make a lot of money.
I think that sometimes some people want the law not to be clear. We have the opportunity of making sure that these issues are clearly explained, in black and white. I'm happy I'm not a lawyer because in my opinion we have to consider the logical aspect of a situation and the profits that may be made. There is nothing worse than ambiguous cases. We asked questions, but these people cannot answer them. We devoted at least 15 minutes to this. We would like a reply, a clear reply as to wether this law exists, and whether it was challenged before the courts, and that it is solid and there is no problem at this time. However we heard nothing about this until now.
Imagine the situation when a similar case is submitted to a judge and the two lawyers have their own interpretation, and millions or hundreds of millions of dollars are at issue. The proceedings will last two, three, four or five years. The ship has time to rust and start to rot. Today, however, we have the opportunity to do something about this.
Since this is the last clause that is left, I would respectfully ask that we wait till Thursday to meet our experts. They will be able to enlighten us on the matter. I think that is also the wish of the government. I hope we don't have to remind you in four years that we warned you.
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