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View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-06-19 14:10 [p.29382]
Mr. Speaker, as we close out this session and go into another election, we often celebrate the contributions of MPs who have decided to retire from this place.
It is also important to take some time to acknowledge the incredible work done by people who serve around the parliamentary precinct. That is why I would like to recognize Marguerite Charlebois.
Marguerite has worked in the parliamentary restaurant since January 21, 1981, close to four decades. She will be retiring at the end of this week. Imagine trying to manage all of the different political parties, people and personalities and making sure they end up in the right place and at the right table so their conversations are kept private as much as possible.
Since my first days in Ottawa in 2004, Marguerite has been exceptionally pleasant, welcoming and friendly. I am not sure people realize how difficult it is for the parliamentary restaurant staff to manage their personal and professional lives around a challenging parliamentary calendar.
I think I can speak for all members in the House and our Wednesday crew, who have had the pleasure to get to know her, in wishing Marguerite all the best in everything she does in the next chapter of her life.
I thank Marguerite. I hope our paths will cross again. Marguerite is always welcome to my home town of Niagara, where I look forward to serving her.
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-06-17 14:10 [p.29177]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister pretends he has a plan for the environment. He says his carbon tax will achieve the carbon emissions reduction targets under the Paris accord. However, his own government figures confirm that this is simply not true.
Just last week, the Parliamentary Budget Officer released a new report, which found that the Liberal carbon tax would have to increase to $102 per tonne to achieve Canada's Paris accord climate targets. That is five times more expensive than it is today. This means that Canadians would pay more for groceries and home heating, and it would add 23¢ per litre to the cost of gas.
Saying things louder about carbon tax does not make them true, despite what the Minister of Environment says. The fact is that the Liberal carbon tax is simply not a plan to lower emissions; it is just another cash grab that is hurting already overtaxed Canadians. Let us make no mistake: A Conservative government will scrap the carbon tax, leave more money in the pockets of Canadians and help all Canadians get ahead.
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-06-13 12:02 [p.29043]
Mr. Speaker, the Liberals said they would do things differently, that they would not bring in closure and that they would not rush debate, yet here they are, breaking a promise they made in the last election campaign.
The Liberals indicated to us that they did not want to move too far ahead of the U.S. in terms of ratification, but how are they going to move in tandem with the U.S.? They want to make sure we are lockstep with the Americans, but we have heard on numerous occasions that the Democrats are not really prepared to move this forward.
Do the Liberals plan on bringing the House back this summer in order to ratify this agreement before the next election?
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-06-11 11:34 [p.28891]
Madam Speaker, the minister is talking about ratification. I would ask her to talk in a little more detail about what that may look like here in Canada, given what is going on in the U.S. right now. The Democrats do not seem that eager to move forward with ratification. What is the thought process of the government when it comes to ratification? Is this something we are looking at doing before we leave here for the summer? Given the fact that we are here for only two more weeks, it does not sound like we are in lockstep with the U.S. Is it something the government would consider calling Parliament back in the summertime to ratify?
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-06-11 11:44 [p.28892]
Madam Speaker, as has been mentioned before by my colleague from the NDP, I would caution the government to move prudently on this. We have already seen the Democrats not wanting to give Mr. Trump any kind of victory. Therefore, we have not seen a lot of co-operation from the U.S. If we get too far ahead of ourselves regarding ratification, that could be an issue. Therefore, I would echo the comments of my colleague from the NDP that as a result of the uncertainty we see in the U.S., we need to be cautious as we move forward with ratification.
The government's legislation aims to implement the Canada-United States agreement. The government is calling it by its acronym CUSMA. The bill would reaffirm key NAFTA provisions, but it would also introduce new conditions on Canadian trade and economic strategy.
Mexico and especially the United States are Canada's natural trading partners. A framework agreement that governs trade and other commercial issues between all three countries is essential.
I would like to state from the beginning that the Conservatives will support the speedy ratification of CUSMA's implementing legislation. However, having said that, it is also important to say that the deal and how it came to be is not without significant flaws.
In the beginning of negotiations, the Prime Minister pushed an agenda, including issues that were not on the radar of the Americans whatsoever. This nearly derailed the whole deal. It was very similar to what the Prime Minister did just months before negotiations of the trans-Pacific partnership with his erratic behaviour. The government pushed non-trade-related matters, which seemed to irritate the Americans, instead of seeking to find common ground on priorities and mutual interests.
As a result of taking that type of tactic to negotiations, the Americans negotiated most of the steel provisions with the Mexicans and then brought Canada in at the eleventh hour to deal with some of the remaining issues that had not been dealt with. We had an opportunity to be at the table with our most important and significant trading partner, but we were talking about issues the Americans did not want to talk about. As a result, they decided that since we did not want to talk about trade and NAFTA, they would talk to Mexico. We should think about the implications of that. We were not even at the table at the time the agreement came into effect. That speaks volumes to how the government handled this process.
As I said before, of course the Conservatives are going to support the bill. We reached out to stakeholders. I had a chance, like some of my colleagues, to talk to stakeholders across the country. They said that they needed certainty, that they needed a deal. There was no question about that. However, the concern is that the Liberal government talks about what a great deal it is, but that is definitely not the case as we move forward. What stakeholders and people have told us is that a deal is better than no deal. That is why Conservatives will be supporting the bill.
The government did not fight for our own interests. Let us think about that. It talked about the interests that were important to the Liberal Party and its political brand. The Liberals were focused on non-trade issues instead of worrying about the national interests of Canadians.
Let us consider auto manufacturing, agriculture and lumber. After four years, we still do not have a softwood lumber deal. I do not even know if the conversation has been brought up. Despite our many interests, which include auto manufacturing, agriculture, lumber and prescription drugs, the Prime Minister represents his own political interests. That should be very concerning for Canadians.
In addition, during the negotiations, the Americans decided to impose devastating steel and aluminum tariffs for close to a year. This was after months of them asking the Liberals to fix the loopholes that allowed steel dumping into the United States via Canada.
Now we have a bill before us that does not put safeguards in place. The Americans asked us to do this four years ago, but because the Liberals decided it was not important, we ended up with steel and aluminum tariffs. For years our manufacturing sector was under a bunch of uncertainty. We saw our jobs move to the states and a number of other things. Only now are the Liberals reacting. It it almost as though they created the crisis so they could point out they fixed it. That is what Canadians should really understand.
Canadian businesses and producers are still reeling after this very difficult period. The imposition of these very avoidable tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum have served to erode our competitiveness and have impacted thousands across the supply chain. The Liberals announced a $2-billion assistance package for the steel and aluminum sector, but almost none of this money has gone to the workers.
I talked to a number of businesses the other day. They said that before steel and aluminum tariffs were lifted, there was a big push from the government to get their applications in and it wanted to work with them. Then, all of a sudden, there was radio silence.
Are all those companies left holding the bag with respect to not having money and not having access or is the government going to follow through? It is easy to announce and reannounce programs. It is more difficult to ensure the money gets out the door. This is a huge issue. The reality is that these tariffs were avoidable. There was no reason for those steel and aluminum tariffs and the pain that our manufacturing sector has had to endure over the last couple of years.
Once again, the Liberals talk about all the money that has been collected, which I believe almost $2 billion. My point is that very few businesses have received any money. We studied this at committee for quite some time. Company after company said that the application process was difficult and that was hard to figure out how to make this thing work. They also said that they were not getting money. Once again, the announcement talked about the money, but the proof was whether the companies had the kind of help they required, and that was not the case.
This was all avoidable if the government had acted when the Americans asked it to close the loophole that allowed cheap and dumped steel to flood the American market, using Canada as a transit country.
The Liberals have lurched from crisis to crisis on trade and tariffs. They have been constantly out of step with Canadian workers and manufacturers. The government's negotiations of CUSMA also delivered no progress on buy American provisions with respect to government procurement.
Another issue we have not talked about is buy American. It is concerning for our Canadian manufacturers. Are they going to have the ability to access some of those things? It is a major blow to Canadian businesses and jobs across the country.
The Liberals also made concessions on the Canadian supply-managed agriculture sector, which the foreign affairs minister deemed to be key to our national interests. The Americans did not budge when it came to their use of agriculture subsidies. As a matter of fact, we have seen the subsidies grow over the last number of months.
The government and the Prime Minister also made key concessions on intellectual property, which will see provinces burdened with higher costs for biological drugs.
The government also restricted future trade deals, with unparalleled provisions granting Americans an indirect veto over Canadian trade partners. Think about this for one second. This is an issue of sovereignty. While the U.S. negotiates trade deals with China, basically it has told us that we need to get its permission if we want to move forward on any deal with China. This is huge. This was not discussed a whole lot in the general public, but has long-term consequences for our ability to do our job as Canadians and get our products to market.
I will give credit where credit is due. One of the major achievements was to preserve chapter 19, the dispute resolution provisions. The minister mentioned that. It is fair to say that it was a concern if we did not have an independent third party to look at some of our challenges. Therefore, I will give credit to the Liberals on that one, but that will probably be it right now. However, that was definitely important.
A trade deal is judged by what one has gained from the negotiations. In this deal, compared to previous versions, Canada lost a number of key sectors and gained absolutely nothing. However, the Liberals go on tour around the country like they are some kind of heroes and it makes no sense. They have lost ground from previous governments. We do not talk about it as a save, but it could have been a lot worse. However, to travel around the country and say somehow this is an amazing deal for Canadians is just not true.
It has been very clear from the beginning that the Liberal government was unprepared to renegotiate the NAFTA deal. When the negotiations started, the Liberals kept stumbling and in the end, they were forced to take a deal where they lost on many fronts.
As I mentioned earlier, we will support the bill because it is essential to provide our businesses and producers with certainty. We have heard that on the ground. They have also suffered enough under the government. The Liberals have mismanaged the economy and trade. They have created a lot of uncertainty as we move forward.
Another thing we need to point out is that last year the U.S. grew its economy by 3.2%. That was after a government shutdown for the first quarter. In 2018, when the government was shut down for a large part of the first quarter in which it only had 2% growth, it still was able to notch up growth of over 3.2%.
We need to compare our record with that. In the last quarter of 2018, we saw growth at 0.3%. This quarter it was 0.4%, which is not quite a third of that of the U.S. The U.S. economy is on fire right now and the best we can muster is a growth of 0.4%, with all the money we are spending and all the deficits we are creating. The comparative is important to understand.
In order to compete with the United States and Mexico, our business environment needs to be more competitive or else we are setting up our businesses to fail in the face of strong competition from our counterparts to the south.
How is Canada doing with respect to competitiveness? The government has managed to make things worse on this front as well.
Let us start with the most important mistake first, and that is the carbon tax. First, let us just get this out of the way in the beginning. The carbon tax is not an environmental plan; it is a tax plan. It will do nothing for the environment. The Liberals are fully aware of this and Canadians know it as well.
The Liberal carbon tax is not a plan to lower emissions. It is just another cash grab, which is hurting already overtaxed Canadians. Small businesses and their employers are already being overtaxed. The Liberals have increased CPP and EI premiums. They have increased personal income tax rates for entrepreneurs. They have made changes to the small business tax rate that will disqualify thousands of local businesses.
Dan Kelly, president of Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said:
Many small businesses want to take action on climate change, but the carbon tax is putting them further behind. In fact, 71 per cent have told us that the carbon tax makes it harder for them to make further investments to reduce their emissions.
Seventy-one per cent of small businesses have said that the carbon tax makes it harder for them to make further investments to reduce their emissions. What more proof does the government need, when the ill-advised carbon tax makes no impact on the environment and makes our businesses uncompetitive.
Last Friday, the Canadian Press reported that the average carbon tax rebate Canadians received in 2018 was significantly lower than the amount the Liberals had claimed they would receive. When announcing the carbon tax rebate program, the Liberals established the average payment would be $248 in New Brunswick, $307 in Ontario, $336 in Manitoba, and $598 in Saskatchewan. However, the actual average rebates have been much lower: $171 in New Brunswick, $203 in Ontario, $231 in Manitoba and $422 in Saskatchewan.
Like the Prime Minister himself, these carbon tax rebates are simply not as advertised. The Liberals continue to cover up the true costs of the carbon tax. They still have not told Canadians how much more it will cost them for everyday essentials, like groceries, gasoline and home heating.
With less money being returned to Canadians, they will have even less money in their pockets, thanks to the Prime Minister and his Liberal carbon tax. The Liberal carbon tax will go up, if he is re-elected in October. Environment Canada is already planning for $300 per tonne, which is 15 times more expensive than it is today.
Make no mistake, a Conservative government will scrap the carbon tax, leave more money in the pockets of Canadians, let them get ahead and allow our businesses to stay competitive.
How else is the government making Canada's business environment uncompetitive? It is a good question, because Canada recently fell to the lowest spot ever in competitiveness. Canada has fallen out of the top 10 in a ranking of the world's most competitive economies. We are now 13th. Let us think about that. In an age where we are competing with one of the largest and most successful economies in the world, the U.S., which is ranked at number three, not only are we not in the top 10 anymore, we have dropped to 13th.
Competitiveness drives our economy. It helps us to compete when we have deals and when we try to move our goods and services across the border. This will only continue to make it tougher for Canadians to succeed financially in the coming years.
As I mentioned, the United States is number three. We are trying to compete with the world's biggest economy and it is tough when we see it use tax reform and regulation reform. What we a doing is making it more difficult for Canada to compete as a country.
If we look at the other things that are going on right now, and some of the things we talk about when it comes to competitiveness, there is the whole issue of pipelines. We have tanker moratoriums and things like that.
Let us think about that. In a day and age when the U.S. is building more pipelines, we have bills like Bill C-69. I noticed in the paper this morning that six premiers have come together to say that if something is not done, this is going to create a potential national unity crisis. In terms of the investment that we have chased from this country, it is almost $100 billion in energy investment.
Let us look at the things we are doing. We have a country south of the border that is looking for ways to reduce regulation and red tape. We have a government here that is barely chugging along in terms of its GDP. As I said, it is 0.3% in the last quarter and 0.4% in this quarter. That is without the new rules in this legislation that is before the House right now.
If we look at bills like Bill C-69, which is to increase the regulatory reform when it comes to pipelines, and Bill C-48, where we are trying to get our goods to market around the world, this is one more thing that makes us uncompetitive as we move forward. One of the things we need to be on guard against is that as the U.S. and countries around the world are reducing and streamlining regulation, we are making these things more difficult.
We need to look at what we are doing as a country. Trade deals are important. The U.S. is extremely important as a partner. As I said before, stakeholders have told us that it is more important to have a bad deal in place, for certainty, than it is to have no deal at all. Therefore, as we move forward on these issues, one of the things we need to be talking about is not just the trade deals we have right now, but how we are going to become more competitive in the future.
Looking at the kind of money we are spending on deficits, the current government has racked up almost $80 billion in deficit spending, and yet we have very little to show for it when we start talking about GDP growth and some of these things. There was the tax on small businesses that we experienced two or three summers ago. How are these things helpful in terms of making us more competitive?
As I look at what is going on around the world, I believe we are heading in the wrong direction. I believe we should be doing much better, given the fact that the U.S. economy is on fire south of the border. Yes, we need to do other things, like work on how we can get our goods and services across interprovincial borders and a number of these things. However, one of the things we need to constantly work on is how we streamline to reduce the burdens that business owners have to deal with.
In looking at this bill before us today, we realize that it would create some certainty for some businesses. In the long term, the challenge will be how we deal with this issue in terms of competitiveness. How do we deal with the issue that we need to do a better job of getting our goods and services to market? How do we deal with the issues of trade infrastructure in this country?
When we were in government, we spent a number of dollars on trade infrastructure, as it was very important to us. We have not seen a whole lot of money go out the door in terms of infrastructure. There has been some talk about an infrastructure bank, and yet in the three or four years, there has been very little money flowing out the door. We have somewhere in the neighbourhood of almost $80 billion in deficit spending and we do not have a lot to show for it.
Sure, we have more programs, but at the end of the day, what do Canadians feel about that? I would say that Canadians are not feeling that they are any better off. As a matter of fact, we have seen it reported in the press that Canadians are feeling the pressure, in terms of what they have to take home at the end of every month.
As we move forward, these trade deals are important, but we have to continually focus on competitiveness here at home. We have to figure out ways that we can reduce taxes, reduce regulations and streamline the process, and then we can move in a direction that helps us to compete around the world. We have a great opportunity, with what is going on around the world right now, to attract the best and the brightest. I would encourage the government to continue to move in that direction. I can assure members that when we have the opportunity to form government in October, some of the things we are going to be looking at are how we become more competitive as a country and how we compete with the U.S. and other countries around the world.
In closing, the Conservatives will be supporting this deal. However, we have some concerns with how it was handled. We have concerns with some of the crises that were created that we believe did not need to happen. We will do our best to try to fix these things when we are elected with a strong, stable Conservative government in October of this year.
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-06-11 12:05 [p.28896]
Mr. Speaker, as my colleague mentioned before, I already mentioned my favourite one, which is chapter 19. I am going to leave it at that.
As I said, there was an opportunity right from the start for the government not to insert itself in the process. I really believe that at the end of the day, when Mr. Trump was concerned with tariffs, what he was really concerned about was China. If we look at what has happened recently with his involvement with China, when he was talking about unfair practices, I do not believe that was ever directed at us.
It was mentioned by the minister, when she spoke earlier, that they welcomed the opportunity to jump into this thing. As a government, Conservatives would have done things differently. We would have been down there right away. We would have said that in terms of some of the issues around China, the issue is not one that they were targeting us on, but they were targeting other people around the world for their unfair practices. We would have been in there and had a conversation. We would have dealt with this in a way that it would not have formed a crisis manufactured by ourselves that then had to be fixed.
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-06-11 12:08 [p.28896]
Mr. Speaker, we have worked on a number of files as they relate to trade and all these things. As I mentioned before in my remarks, there has been a lot of discussion back and forth in the Conservative caucus regarding their support and non-support. I had a chance to talk to stakeholders last summer. I spoke to over 150 myself, and I had a number of other colleagues who were on the road speaking to individuals as well. By and large, all those people said to me that we needed to make sure we had a deal done. The context in which they said that was in eliminating the steel and aluminum tariffs.
When we signed the deal, which the Prime Minister said he would not sign unless steel and aluminum tariffs were done, and that he went ahead and signed anyway, the reality is that businesses needed certainty. Therefore, we were challenged, as the member mentioned. There are a number of issues that we have concerns with. Supply management is certainly one of those issues, in terms of the fact that we have given up the right to export some of the proteins, etc. However, there is also the fact that they have put provisions on what we are able to do in dealing with a non-market economy, or in this case, China.
That will be a bigger issue in terms of sovereignty as we get down the road. The U.S. has said that if it does not like the deal we create that it can deal with this new deal itself, and that will cause problems.
At the end of the day, we are challenged. We realize that this deal is not a good deal. However, it is what stakeholders, businesses and people have told us they need in order to have certainty so they can move forward with their relationships with the U.S.
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-06-11 12:11 [p.28896]
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from New Brunswick Southwest. She is correct that we sit on the trade committee. We have had a number of discussions about how we can help our SMEs do a better job and to access these things. We can never forget that it was the Conservative government that was the government of trade. It was the Conservative government that worked to get CETA down the road and implemented. I realize that the Liberals came along and helped with the ratification, which we appreciate. I think that is important.
If we look at the TPP, we had a bow on it and it was gift-wrapped. All the Liberals needed to do was to take it across the finish line. However, for a couple of years, they were unsure whether they wanted to do anything. At the end of the day, we got a new deal. The new deal had a new name. Therefore, the only new thing we got was that it is now the CPTPP instead of the TPP.
To answer the member for New Brunswick Southwest, one of the things we did as a government was to promote the trade agenda. We moved it forward to create and access more markets so that our SMEs and other businesses had more opportunities to sell around the world.
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-06-11 12:13 [p.28897]
Mr. Speaker, as we look at the number of trade irritants we have with the United States, certainly softwood lumber is one that comes to mind. It was one of the things our former prime minister, Mr. Harper, dealt with. We had a deal in place that expired just after the current government came in. I have heard nothing from the government about its plan or what it would like to do with respect to softwood lumber. It has been languishing for these last three or four years on the issue.
Let us look at some of the things that have been going on. Let us talk about pipelines for a second. The current government likes to talk about all the pipelines we did not build, which is categorically false. We twinned, and did a number of things with at least four pipelines. However, I have not seen anything go in the ground over the last three and a half years.
When we talk about our forestry sector, our major concern is that there has been no action on softwood lumber. We thought that with the renegotiation of NAFTA, this would have been front and centre. The government would have recognized that it had to deal with that kind of thing. However, when I look at the way that these things have been handled—the fact that we had tariffs on steel and aluminum that we did not need to have, because if we had dealt with the issue of safeguards right from the start that would not have been the case—we have gone through pain and suffering.
There has been no mention of what is going to happen with softwood lumber. We see a history of what has happened with this party. As I mentioned in my speech, we see a party that is not prepared to begin the conversation around the renegotiation of NAFTA.
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-06-11 12:37 [p.28900]
Mr. Speaker, I take exception to some of my colleague's comments on wine. We are going to have to talk about that later. NAFTA caused the Canadian industry to step up its game in a big way and, with the help of the government, to pull out some of the stuff they called wine before and plant some newer vinifera varieties.
I asked the minister about the ratification process and the timing. I agree with the member in terms of the confusion or the lack of direction in the U.S. around ratification, as it relates to the Democrats and Mr. Trump. I asked the minister whether something about ratification would happen now or later. My thoughts are that the Liberals should hold off until the U.S. is actually in a position to move forward so we do not play all our cards and box ourselves into a position.
Does the member believe that the Liberals are looking to ratify this as a way to show in the window for the next election “Look at us; we've ratified it”, even though that is disingenuous, given the fact that there is so much uncertainty in the U.S. right now?
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-06-04 22:54 [p.28562]
Madam Speaker, I would like to start by saying that Conservatives will be supporting the bill.
Bill C-93 would make changes to the pardon process and waive the fee for Canadians with a past conviction of simple cannabis possession. It would allow people convicted of possession of less than 30 grams of cannabis to apply for free to have their record suspended. It typically costs $631 for someone to apply for a record suspension. In light of the legalization of cannabis in October of last year, the bill seeks to assist Canadians who were criminally charged for something that has now been rendered legal.
Having said that, it is important to discuss some concerns we have had with the bill along the way.
The government has received significant criticism as to how it has handled matters relating to cannabis in the aftermath of legalizing it. For example, last year, the government confirmed there is no conclusive way to determine if someone is driving high. This left our law enforcement officials in limbo, with several police forces across the country refusing to use government-approved testers.
In addition, the safety concerns of employers, workers and indigenous communities have not been addressed. To add to that, the Prime Minister has failed to explain how his plan would keep marijuana out of the hands of children and profits out of the hands of criminals. Also, the lack of public education has left many Canadians unsure of the new rules and how this would impact border crossings between Canada and the United States.
The uneven rules by the government for every province, territory, and municipality have created uncertainty and confusion from coast to coast. The bill is an attempt to address the record suspension issue that was left outstanding since the legalization of cannabis, but there are still many other aspects of the legalization of cannabis that need the government's attention. However, I am glad to see it is finally starting somewhere.
With respect to these issues, the end result the government has come up with is a new category of record suspensions that cannot be easily revoked and can be granted automatically without much insight into an individual's history. To be more specific, if an individual were to reoffend, the record suspension received for the charge of simple possession is difficult to reverse.
On this side of the House, we support the idea of expedited pardons, but we want to ensure that the process is fair and accountable.
We are also happy the government accepted two Conservative amendments, which help to improve the bill's procedural fairness and require the Parole Board to include a review of this program in its annual report. This review process would allow the legislation to be improved upon if necessary.
I would like to note a specific concern expressed by law enforcement agencies about the bill that I find to have a lot of merit. Although they generally support the bill and what it aims to achieve, law enforcement agencies have expressed concerns that an individual could have been charged with a more serious infraction but pleaded it down to simple possession. This makes the individual still eligible for record suspension, making the process very problematic.
The President of the Canadian Police Association has expressed his opinion on this, saying:
In those circumstances, it is possible that both the Crown and the court may have accepted the plea agreement based on the assumption that the conviction would be a permanent record of the offence and would not have accepted the lesser charge if they knew this would be cleared without any possibility of review at a future date.
Committee members are aware of this. At their appearance, officials said they could not discern between plea deals to lesser charges and people convicted of the genuine offence. This is one of several issues the government has encountered in its rush to meet the Prime Minister's own self-imposed political deadline. It is also strange that the Liberals have left this consequential legislation to the final weeks of our Parliament and have failed to consult key stakeholders.
The concerns are still very real and need to be dealt with. I would like to highlight some of them here.
At the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, Conservative members asked officials about how unpaid fines would be dealt with at the provincial level when a record suspension can be granted under this law at the federal level, while those fines are still outstanding. They could not answer. This needs to be dealt with since the provinces could lose money if they cannot enforce the payment of fines once these records have been deleted. It is an important detail of this legislation that needs the government's attention.
I am also concerned as to why the government changed this law so that a record suspension could not be revoked on the grounds of bad conduct. Does it want record suspensions or expungement? It is very unclear.
The bill lacks the public safety considerations that come with a proper record suspension and the accessibility of an expungement. It is almost as if the Liberals got lost somewhere along the way in the creation of this legislation and did not think of several important details.
There is also a cost to this legislation that needs to be considered, which officials have estimated would be around $2.5 million. The calculation is based on the idea that over 250,000 people are eligible for record suspensions but only 10,000 would make use of it. What if all 250,000 apply; does the government have a plan for that? The cost would then be around $62 million and not the anticipated $2.5 million, which is a big gap that needs to be accounted for. It is an amount that the government does not seem to have a plan for.
In addition, the government has overlooked another important cost, which is the full cost estimate of the process for the Parole Board to to run a query of its database to determine who is eligible for record suspensions while providing it with the necessary information. This is a process, like any other bureaucratic one, that will require significant resources depending on how many people submit a query.
Another area of concern was brought up by witnesses who testified that this law would impact different communities differently. Generally, those less well-off and those with lower education levels are more likely to have convictions for simple possession of cannabis. Legal experts have said that the people who do not have record suspensions today are unlikely to be able to sort through the challenging paperwork needed just to apply.
In addition to the paperwork, to make matters worse, the government calls this a no-cost bill when that is not the case. There would be a $2.5-million price tag for taxpayers and likely between $50 and $200 in fees and complex paperwork for applicants. This process seems designed to ensure as few people as possible apply. It does not look like the government is interested in making it more accessible either. It took out a proposed Conservative amendment that would have made it easier for individuals to access these pardons. As with other types of government applications, this could be complex and time-consuming to fill out.
In these cases, we have also seen the emergence of predatory application experts online, who charge up to $1,600 for their services. There are also no meaningful protections in this bill that would prevent this sort of predatory behaviour in order to protect those who are trying to get a record suspension.
The Liberals have said to Canadians that smoking marijuana should be accepted and accessible, and they have implemented legislation to that effect. That is why it seems odd that they are not interested in making the record suspension process just as accessible.
The last concern I would like to bring up on the topic of cannabis is one that is very relevant to my riding of Niagara West, and that is the smell produced by cannabis cultivation facilities. This is especially an issue in the town of Pelham, where families avoid opening their windows in the summer due to the extremely strong odours coming from two cannabis-producing facilities located more than five kilometres away from their houses.
David Ireland, a resident of Pelham, recently said that on hot, humid days it is worse because the production facilities have to vent more often. Because of this, he cannot open any windows without his whole house smelling like cannabis. The situation has become so bad that the Town of Lincoln in my riding has temporarily halted new cannabis-production facilities and put existing operations on notice.
At a special council meeting earlier this year, councillors approved a staff recommendation to pass an interim control bylaw that will effectively stop any new cannabis facilities until the town can update its zoning bylaws. The bylaws come at the behest of local residents, who have complained about cannabis greenhouses popping up where they should not and causing light and odour concerns in residential communities.
Kristen Dias, a resident from the town of Jordan, was quoted in one of our local papers saying, “Daily, my kids ask about the dead skunks.” Ms. Dias has since moved her children to a different school, saying that the cannabis odour from the production facilities is part of the reason for the move.
My constituents have made dozens of complains about the odour coming from these factories to no avail. Health Canada has not been helpful because it says it is the town's jurisdiction, while the town says it is Health Canada's problem. We have been caught in this constant loop for over a year now with no resolution in sight.
Our community of Niagara West needs to be clear as to who is responsible for regulating the odour because something needs to be done. Cannabis odour issues produced by production facilities are yet another oversight of the government with respect to rushed marijuana legislation.
To get back to the bill in question, we will monitor the implementation of it and commit to reviewing it for its effectiveness and fairness. Now that cannabis is legal, Conservatives understand Canadians should not be unfairly burdened by criminal records for something that is no longer illegal. On this side of the House, we agree that Canadians should have expedited access to record suspensions at no cost. That is why we will be supporting this bill.
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-06-04 23:05 [p.28564]
Madam Speaker, we are going to be rising in the next couple of weeks. We knew this was coming down the pipe, and quite frankly, consultations probably should have started a lot earlier. As I said, in some cases, there has not been a whole lot of consultation at all. I think that is the challenge.
We are grateful that the government accepted a couple of our amendments. It would have been nice if it had accepted a few more. In the rush to get this through before the end of this term, I feel that maybe more consultation could have happened.
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-06-04 23:07 [p.28564]
Madam Speaker, I want to talk about the community aspect he raised. One of the issues we have seen with legalization, first with medical marijuana and then with individual licences cobbled together, and I realize that they are not necessarily illegal grow-ops, is that what ends up happening is that the standard is not set as high as it is for commercially regulated medical marijuana.
The challenge I have in my community is that there are literally dozens of legitimate greenhouses that produce a huge odour. We had a story in one of the local papers. An individual actually had that smell in his car and claimed that he was pulled over when crossing the border, because they thought he had something going on in his car or on his premises. He tried to explain. There were emails to my office and a number of other councillors.
I hope that we are able to see the illicit stuff gone. I am still concerned about whether that will happen, because of the price comparisons and what is going on. However, we are in early stages. I would suggest that as we move forward on this, we need to do something about the odour with regard to additional facilities, outdoor growing and things like that. We have to take care of that to make sure that our residents are not bothered by these smells.
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-05-13 14:41 [p.27683]
Mr. Speaker, our relations with China are at an all-time low, and all the Prime Minister is willing to do is to blame the Americans.
China has banned Canadian pork, banned Canadian canola and detained two Canadians.
While China is bullying Canada, the Prime Minister is giving over a quarter of a billion dollars to China's Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Will the Prime Minister quit blaming others for his failures, pull all funding to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, file a trade challenge at the WTO and immediately appoint a new ambassador?
View Dean Allison Profile
CPC (ON)
View Dean Allison Profile
2019-05-06 14:44 [p.27399]
Mr. Speaker, China has illegally blocked Canadian canola imports, then it suspended permits of two major pork producers for no reason. How does the Prime Minister handle it? He says it is not the right time to go to the WTO. That is a weak and shameful response. When will the Prime Minister show some leadership and launch a trade action against China's illegal attacks?
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