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View Chungsen Leung Profile
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2015-06-19 13:14 [p.15365]
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—
View Chungsen Leung Profile
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2015-06-19 13:19 [p.15365]
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—
View Chungsen Leung Profile
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2015-06-16 16:41 [p.15174]
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to stand in the House today to support Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act.
The measures in the bill reflect our Conservative government's unwavering commitment to the protection of vulnerable women and children, whether they are newcomers to Canada or born in this country.
I know that many of my colleagues here today share our government's strong conviction that we must do everything in our power to ensure that barbaric cultural practices such as polygamy, forced and underage marriage, and so-called honour killings do not occur on Canadian soil. These are practices that discriminate against and perpetrate violence against women and girls, and they have no place in Canadian society.
Now that the bill has been public for several months, Canadians have had the chance to understand and react to its provisions. I have been heartened by the support that Bill S-7 has received. I will provide several examples.
Daphne Bramham of The Vancouver Sun, who has covered these issues more than most Canadian journalists, wrote the following in her column on December 9, 2014:
Forced marriages, child marriages and polygamy are barbaric practices and anathema to the equality rights of children and women.
After more than a century of ignoring them, the government's bill takes Canada a step closer toward eliminating them.
In an op-ed in the National Post last November 13, Aruna Papp wrote movingly about Bill S-7, relating it to her own personal experiences with abuse. Here is a short excerpt:
Forced into an abusive marriage at 17 and unable to leave it for 18 years, I can attest to the fact that a forced marriage is effectively a life of slavery. I congratulate the Canadian government for taking a bold step on behalf of women who have nowhere to turn for help.
Over the past 30 years, I have founded agencies in Toronto that assist immigrant women; I have met hundreds of women who are victims of forced marriages and domestic violence. The government's “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act” recognizes the plight of these women. In presenting this bill, the government of Canada has said, in effect, “As a Canadian citizen, you, too, deserve to live a life free of violence and coercion.” For this, I am grateful.
On December 12, Tahir Gora, CEO of the Canadian Thinkers' Forum, wrote a blog post for The Huffington Post in support of the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act. He wrote:
Minister Alexander is right. Violence against women is an absolutely barbaric act. It must be addressed strongly. Forced marriages, polygamy and honour killings happen every day around the globe under the guise of cultural practices. Should those cultural practices not be condemned? Calling a spade a spade should not be a political issue in a country like Canada where human rights guarantee equal rights to women.
I had the opportunity to sit on the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration of the House as we studied Bill S-7. On April 23, immigration lawyer Chantal Desloges told committee members:
I believe the immigration provisions of Bill S-7 send a very strong statement that polygamy is not and will not be tolerated in Canada. The negative effects of polygamy on women and children are very well documented in sociological studies.
She added that the bill sends:
...a concrete statement about Canadian values. I think this is important in a context where our society is increasingly relativist and, in a rush to respect other cultures, we often overlook the fact that there is a reason why our own Canadian culture has developed in the way that it has.
At that same session, Vancouver lawyer and columnist Kathryn Marshall said:
At the heart of this bill is gender equality and the right of women and girls to be equal in Canada. As a woman, I feel very fortunate that I was born in a country in which the rights of women and girls are protected and in which we are equal to men. I feel fortunate that my daughter was born in a country where her gender does not sentence her to a lifetime of second-class citizenship.
At the core is the fact that equality is a fundamental human right in Canada. It is a core of who we are as people, a core value. It's something that cannot be taken for granted. We have to protect it and preserve it.
She added:
Gender equality should never be taken for granted, even in a place like Canada, where it is a core value of who we are as people. Critics of this bill have said that such horrendous acts as honour killings, polygamy, and child marriage should not be a priority of this government because they don't happen with enough frequency in this country. To those critics I would say that one occurrence of these brutal and un-Canadian acts is one enough: there should never be any of these acts. We should always take action. The reality is that we're not talking about a few isolated incidents. This is something that's becoming increasingly more common. The trend seems to be that's it's occurring with more frequency each year.
With the passage of this bill, Canada will be joining other nations that have taken a strong stance against forced and child marriage by making it illegal.
To critics who have objected to the name of the bill, Ms. Marshall countered, stating:
The horrifying reality is that culture is an essential part of honour violence. In parts of the world it is condoned and is legal. We must not be afraid to label barbaric practices as what they are.
I think that calling the bill what it currently is called shows a strong stance. History has shown us that language is an important tool, and we should use it. We should call these acts what they are, which is barbaric.
Finally, I would like to share the words of Salma Siddiqui, the president of the Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations, who told committee members:
The Government of Canada's decision to table a bill for zero tolerance of barbaric cultural practices is the right move and should be welcomed. For too long women have been oppressed through polygamy and forced marriages....
The bill is really about protecting women and should be seen as a welcome step. People coming to Canada must conform to our values. They have to put aside their past understanding of women. In this country, men and women are equal before the law and in society.
I am glad to have had the opportunity to share these words of praise for Bill S-7 from a number of notable Canadians. I hope that my fellow members of the House will take these words to heart and support the bill's important provisions.
View Chungsen Leung Profile
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2015-06-16 16:49 [p.15175]
Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of these provisions for polygamy and sexual assault and so on in law, but they are scattered over a lot of pieces of legislation. This legislation brings them together in one place and in very clear and absolute terms of what this country is and what our shared values are.
With respect to barbaric practices, there are practices that, historically, in many societies, have been considered barbaric. However, as we have evolved into a modern civilized society, some of these have been put aside. In those cultures that do not share our values, those practices, in our eyes, are barbaric, and they are not permitted in our country.
View Chungsen Leung Profile
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2015-06-16 16:52 [p.15175]
Yes, Mr. Speaker, it was indeed a pleasure serving with the hon. member on the immigration committee, and we certainly discussed a broad range of issues.
The issue of visitor visas belongs in a separate discussion. However, with respect to cultural practices, polygamy, and so on, the issue came about because as we were doing broad consultations across Canada, we recognized that this was an issue we needed to address. Therefore, we continued our study and addressed this specifically. The end result is Bill S-7.
View Chungsen Leung Profile
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2015-06-01 11:49 [p.14373]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak on the subject of government advertising. I am proud to say that I am quite pleased with our government's accountability, responsibility, and transparency.
Let me just say that one of the main issues before us today is whether Bill C-544 would bring more accountability to our system of government. Making government more accountable and responsible to Canadians is a goal that we can all get behind, but it is not clear whether this bill would lead us in that direction. It includes new financial resources and administrative requirements that would not provide value for money for the taxpayer. As such, the government cannot support this legislation, and I urge all members to vote against it.
What is clear is that we already have a number of safeguards in place to ensure the integrity of advertising, which include robust planning and reporting mechanisms. Through the “Annual Report on Government of Canada Advertising Activities”, for example, we provide a summary of major campaigns, expenditures, and general information on the advertising and management process. This important accountability report is posted publicly for all Canadians to see. In addition, all allocations from the central advertising fund are reported quarterly on the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's website.
We also ensure the integrity of advertising by ensuring that it is well coordinated and transparent. For example, a federal department must co-ordinate its advertising with the Privy Council Office and Public Works and Government Services Canada. As required by the procedures for the management of advertising, departments must align their advertising activities with government priorities, themes, and messages.
The government takes this duty to account for its activities and expenditures very seriously. We are intent on ensuring that every taxpayer dollar that we spend is spent wisely and openly.
I firmly believe that our actions speak for themselves. Indeed, over the past few years, the government has undertaken a number of measures to help strengthen accountability, transparency, and oversight in government operations. These measures include the development of a robust regime of a proactive disclosure of information on government operations by departments and agencies, which allows government and public sector officials to be held to account.
Another very important milestone was the implementation of the Federal Accountability Act of 2006 and its companion action plan. Through the Federal Accountability Act and action plan, we implemented numerous measures to make our public institutions more transparent and accountable. Together, these two documents provide assurance that the powers entrusted to the government are being exercised in the public interest.
The Federal Accountability Act includes a number of measures, but let me just focus on a few today.
Through the act, for example, we created a new standard of accountability for the financing of political activities. We did that by reducing the maximum annual contribution by individuals to political entities and by prohibiting unions and corporations from making political contributions. We also banned secret donations to political candidates by prohibiting electoral district associations and parties from transferring money to their candidates from a trust account.
We also strengthened the Access to Information Act by extending its reach and scope. As a result, more government institutions than ever before are subject to the act, including departments and agencies, crown corporations, and wholly owned subsidiaries.
We also strengthened the role of the Auditor General of Canada. Thanks to the Federal Accountability Act, the Auditor General now has the authority to follow the money by inquiring into the use of funds that individuals, institutions, and companies receive under a funding agreement with any federal department, agency, or crown corporation. This change has strengthened the role of the Auditor General as an independent and reliable source of information. It also helped to reassure Canadians that their government is using their tax dollars wisely.
In addition, under the act we strengthened auditing and accountability within departments by clarifying the managerial responsibilities of deputy heads within the framework of ministerial responsibility and by bolstering the internal audit function within departments and crown corporations.
In short, we have strengthened accountability in every corner of government and for all Canadians and businesses that receive government funding.
Canadians work hard, pay their taxes, and play by the rules, and they expect accountability and transparency from their government. This is why we continue to pursue opportunities and support efforts that promise to make our public institutions more transparent and accountable. This includes ensuring that Parliament and Canadians are better informed about public spending.
We have achieved this by improving financial reporting, which has admittedly changed significantly in recent years.
For example, each department and agency now publishes its own annual financial statement on the full nature and extent of its activities. This innovation has been in place since 2006, and it is one of the key ways the government demonstrates accountability for its use of public funds.
It has also contributed to Canada's leadership in financial reporting. Indeed, very few jurisdictions publish annual financial statements at the departmental level.
The government is committed to meeting the high expectations of Canadians, and we will continue to explore and implement new ways of providing accountability for Canadians. After all, accountability is the foundation of Canada's system of responsible government. It is key to assuring Parliament and Canadians that public resources are used effectively and efficiently.
The good news is that we have achieved a great deal. As the Prime Minister has said, “Canada now has one of the most accountable systems of government in the entire world and this is something Canadians are rightly proud of.”
This is indeed a proud record of achievement, and I can assure my hon. colleagues that supporting the bill before us today will not contribute to that record.
It is not clear whether its new administrative and financial resources requirements would provide value for money to taxpayers, as promised. I urge all members to join me in voting against the bill.
View Chungsen Leung Profile
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2015-06-01 16:51 [p.14418]
Mr. Speaker, it is—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Chungsen Leung: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the member opposite would conserve his comment until I have finished my remarks.
View Chungsen Leung Profile
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2015-06-01 16:51 [p.14419]
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to discuss how our government continues to lower costs for businesses and consumers, and in the process update this House on all that this government has done on the subject in recent years.
Our government understands that Canadians are tired of hidden fees, and that is why we introduced a code of conduct for the credit and debit card industry in Canada. The code was launched in 2010 to promote fair business practices and ensure that merchants and consumers understand the costs and benefits associated with credit and debit cards.
At the same time, Canadian banks understand that they operate in a highly competitive environment and that they must be prepared to respond to the specific and often changing needs of Canadian consumers. Accordingly, the government believes that a strong consumer protection framework is one in which there is vibrant competition, fees are disclosed, and consumers can exercise choice.
On this front, we have introduced regulations relating to credit agreements, which came into force in 2010. These regulations accomplish a number of pro-consumer goals, including the following: strengthening consumer protection and limiting business practices that are not beneficial to consumers; requiring the provision of clear and timely information to Canadians about credit products, with a particular emphasis on credit cards; mandating a minimum 21-day, interest-free grace period on all new credit card purchases when a customer pays the outstanding balance in full; and requiring express consent for credit limit increases.
We continue to make progress in this regard. Last November, in fact, the government welcomed individual commitments by Visa and MasterCard to reduce their credit card fees for merchants, which should ultimately result in lower prices for consumers.
Specifically, Visa and MasterCard are voluntarily reducing their respective credit card fees for consumers to an average effective rate of 1.5% for a period of five years. These proposals include specific commitments that all merchants receive a reduction in credit card fees, while providing a greater reduction for small and medium-sized enterprises and charities, which have the least amount of bargaining power.
Canadians work hard for their money, and our government believes Canadians deserve to keep more of that money in their pockets. That is why we have taken action to improve low-cost accounts and expand access to no-cost banking services to protect consumers and save even more money for Canadians. In this spirit, in May 2014, the government secured voluntary commitments from Canada's eight largest banks to enhance low-cost bank accounts, and to offer no-cost accounts with the same features as low-cost accounts, to a wider range of eligible consumers. As a result, no-cost accounts are available to youth, students, seniors qualifying for the guaranteed income supplement, and registered disability savings plan beneficiaries.
This action fulfills a 2013 Speech from the Throne commitment to expand no-cost basic banking services, as well as an economic action plan 2014 commitment to enhance access to basic banking services. Moreover, just this past April, the government released an update to the code of conduct for the credit and debit card industry in Canada, delivering on a commitment made in 2014 to help make life more affordable for Canadians and entrepreneurs.
These new changes will make the code even stronger, by addressing unfair business practices and improving transparency for merchants and consumers, including new provisions that apply specifically to mobile payments.
Consumers will also benefit from a new requirement that credit card issuers disclose to consumers who apply for premium credit cards that the use of these cards results in higher merchant fees. This will help to empower consumers in selecting their payment method by disclosing the actual cost to merchants of accepting payments with a premium card.
When it comes to helping businesses with their payment costs, members should not just take my word for it. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has said that the code of conduct for the credit and debit card industry in Canada, “...has served merchants extremely well... [It] has done an excellent job in ensuring some fair ground rules and maintaining Canada's low-cost debit system”. They have also said that “...the Code played a big role in saving low-cost debit in Canada and it gave merchants some degree of power in dealing with the payments industry”.
Therefore, despite the opposition's call for more support to empower consumers, we can see that our government has already taken considerable action in this regard.
We are supporting consumers and merchants by working collaboratively with financial institutions. We will not change course. I urge my opposition colleagues to support our efforts in this regard by voting in favour of our budget bill, which is a bill that contains many low-tax and pro-consumer measures.
Our initiatives go beyond law-making and regulation. They also include public outreach and education.
In April 2014, we announced the appointment of Jane Rooney as Canada's first-ever Financial Literacy Leader. Her mandate is to collaborate and coordinate activities with stakeholders to contribute to and support initiatives that strengthen the financial literacy of Canadians. This initiative will allow the government to broaden its efforts and help Canadians make more informed choices for themselves and their families.
This is nothing new. Throughout our time in office, our government has been focused on helping Canadian consumers identify and take advantage of the best possible financial products and services for their needs. We are not done yet.
In economic action plan 2015, we proposed to amend the Bank Act to strengthen and modernize Canada's financial consumer protection framework to respond to the diverse needs of Canadians. For example, the financial consumer protection framework will provide improved access to basic banking services by allowing a broader range of personal identification, cooling-off periods for a greater range of products, and a new requirement that advertising be clear and accurate.
Unfortunately, the opposition, the NDP and Liberals, have committed to voting against our budget.
I should note that we have already accepted promises from the banks to end pay-to-pay practices as well. Hopefully, the next time the opposition will do their research before putting forward a motion like the one we are debating today.
As our actions have clearly demonstrated, the Government of Canada understands the importance of these costs that affect all Canadians, but we will continue to allow Canadians to keep more of their own money with lower taxes and increased benefits. The measures I have described today will benefit all Canadians, including the most vulnerable consumers. Moreover, they will help to provide all Canadians with the protections and tools necessary to make informed decisions on their financial futures.
View Chungsen Leung Profile
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2015-06-01 17:00 [p.14420]
Mr. Speaker, it appears that the member opposite does not have a lot of experience with financial institutions.
Prior to entering this House, I spent five years in public accounting, and one of my tasks was to audit some of the big banks. The member should know that banks, as profit institutions, are very concerned about how they govern themselves and how they win consumers. One of their tasks in doing that is to ensure they are competitive in this unregulated environment. It is regulated in the sense that we protect consumers, but unregulated in the sense that they do not have to comply with a day-to-day regulatory regime as to exactly how they should manage accounting, their fees, and so forth.
Government is not in a position to run the banking business. That is not our task. Let us leave that to the professionals in financial institutions.
View Chungsen Leung Profile
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2015-06-01 17:02 [p.14420]
Mr. Speaker, in response to the question of advertising, it is absolutely the responsibility of the government to communicate with Canadians on important programs and services that are available to them.
From time to time, government changes policy or fiscal strategies to meet the economic needs of the country, to move the country forward in terms of how we address the challenges of the 21st century and the challenges of the world economic system.
On this side of the House, we make no apologies for ensuring that middle-class Canadians are aware of the measures that would put more money back in their pockets, including an enhanced universal child care benefit, the family tax cut, and encouraging more Canadians to join the 11 million Canadians who benefit from tax-free savings accounts. Liberals would take these measures away from middle-class families if they had the choice.
View Chungsen Leung Profile
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2015-04-23 14:03 [p.12940]
Mr. Speaker, this week our government delivered a balanced budget to Canadians, made possible through prudent leadership and a commitment to provide what matters most to Canadians.
Canadians know that budgets do not balance themselves and they know that sponsorship scandals and satellite offices around the country do not allow for balanced budgets.
Canadians do know that sensible and careful decisions provide room for tax cuts and a plan for the future that will benefit families, seniors, veterans and all Canadians.
The constituents of Willowdale know that lowering the amount of money that seniors over the age of 71 have to take out of their registered retirement income fund annually is important. They know that putting more money back into the pockets of families with children under the age of 18 allows them to provide what is best. They also know that reducing gridlock in Willowdale with the public transit fund will benefit the entire community.
Our economic action plan is working.
View Chungsen Leung Profile
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2015-03-23 17:56 [p.12199]
Mr. Speaker, I heard the comments of my colleague. The member opposite does not quite understand that we are not targeting one culture or one cultural community, but those who use their culture as an excuse when practising these barbaric acts. People come to Canada to participate in a shared value, and these barbaric practices are certainly not our shared value.
Let me quote a human rights lawyer, Taima Al-Jayoush, who had this to say about the bill:
When we describe a crime as “barbaric” we are simply calling it what it is. No one should identify with it except the ones who have committed such a crime. It is not directed at any certain community.
Why will the opposition not stand up for these victims and take action? Since this is an important piece of legislation, it should not be playing a political game at this time. It should stand up for people's lives.
View Chungsen Leung Profile
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2015-03-12 17:52 [p.12079]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to speak to this bill. I am pleased to have an opportunity today to speak in support of Bill S-7, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act.
In the Speech from the Throne in October 2013, our government promised that it would ensure that early and forced marriage and other harmful cultural practices, such as polygamous marriages and so-called honour-based violence, do not occur on Canadian soil.
I might add that it is within my living memory that in our east Asian cultural tradition there were polygamous marriages. I can still remember my grandparents having a polygamous marriage, because that was the society of that time. However, over time, over the last two generations, that has changed. We can change it.
Bill S-7 delivers on that promise. The zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act demonstrates that Canada's openness and generosity does not extend to early and forced marriage, polygamy, or other types of barbaric cultural practices.
Canada will not tolerate any type of violence against women or girls, including spousal abuse, violence in the name of so-called honour, or other mostly gender-based violence. Those found guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada's criminal laws.
This bill would establish a national minimum age of 16 for marriage to protect our most vulnerable in society, our children, from early marriages. The minimum age of 16 for marriage currently only exists in federal legislation pertaining to Quebec. As a result, the common law applies to the rest of Canada, which is usually interpreted as a minimum age of 14 for boys and 12 for girls, but could be as low as 7. This bill would now set 16 as the minimum age for marriage across Canada.
The Civil Marriage Act would also be amended to codify two existing legal requirements for a valid marriage. Currently, these requirements are legislated only in Quebec: the legal requirement for free and enlightened consent to marriage, and the requirement for ending an existing marriage prior to entering another. Consent is truly the most critical aspect of a lawful marriage.
This amendment would make it clear that no Canadians should ever be forced to marry against their will and complements certain amendments to the Criminal Code, which I will discuss.
The requirement for ending an existing marriage prior to entering another is consistent with section 2 of the Civil Marriage Act and the longstanding Criminal Code prohibition against bigamous and polygamous marriages.
Also in relation to polygamy, this bill proposes amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to specify that a permanent resident or foreign national is inadmissible on the grounds of practising polygamy in Canada. Under the current immigration law, non-citizens can only be removed in cases where there is a criminal conviction for practising polygamy or where there is a finding of misrepresentation.
To eradicate this practice on Canadian soil, this bill would prohibit both temporary and permanent residents from practising polygamy in Canada and provide for the removal of non-citizens who practise polygamy in Canada without the need for a Criminal Code conviction or a finding of misrepresentation.
Coming back to the issues of early and forced marriage, this bill proposes several amendments to the Criminal Code to better prevent Canadians from being victimized in these ways. The proposed amendments in this bill fill a gap in the existing legislative scheme by creating offences that focus on the active participation in the forced or underage marriage ceremony itself.
The bill proposes two new offences that would extend criminal liability to anyone who knowingly celebrates, aids, or participates in a marriage ceremony where one or both of the spouses is either under the age of 16 or is marrying against his or her will. This would cover both those who conduct the marriage ceremony and those, such as family members, who have full knowledge that a marriage is forced or involves a child under 16 and actively participate in the marriage ceremony. However, to be prosecuted for this offence, a person would need to have engaged in some conduct specifically directed toward helping an early or forced marriage to occur.
The proposed offences address the social harm caused by the public sanctioning of these harmful practices. Studies have indicated that the vast majority of victims of a forced marriage are subjected to violence within that marriage. Similarly, girls who marry early are at far greater risk of experiencing complications in pregnancy and childbirth, including higher maternal mortality rates, experiencing violence in the home, and having their education disrupted.
Underage marriage violates girls' basic human rights and prevents them from fully participating in society.
These two new offences would be punishable by a maximum of five years' imprisonment. The bill also proposes to make it an offence to remove a child from Canada for the purpose of a forced or underage marriage outside of Canada. This government is aware of disturbing cases of Canadian children being taken abroad for forced or early marriage.
Child protection officials who believe that the child would be removed from Canada for a forced or underage marriage currently lack the requisite legal tools to intervene and prevent the child's removal from Canada. The bill would change that by adding the new offences related to an underage or forced marriage ceremony to the list of offences in the provisions that makes it a crime to remove a child from Canada.
I am confident that these proposed amendments would help prevent and deter the removal of children for such harmful practices and effectively punish those perpetrators who violate the law.
Moreover, the bill has prevention measures to protect vulnerable Canadians and residents from early or forced marriage.
The bill also proposes to introduce specific forced or underage marriage peace bonds to allow potential victims to seek protection against a pending forced or underage marriage. An order under the new peace bond provision could specifically prohibit people subject to the order from making arrangements or agreements for the forced or underage marriage of victims; require people subject to the order to surrender passports in their possession; prohibit them from leaving the country or taking a child out of the country; and require them to participate in a family violence counselling program.
Finally, in the area of violence motivated by so-called honour, it bears repeating that all forms of violence, whatever the motive, are fully prohibited by the criminal law. There is no need to create specific offences for honour-based violence.
The defence of provocation has been raised in several so-called honour killing cases in Canada on the basis that the victim's behaviour such as choosing one's own marriage partner or making other such personal decisions for oneself without a family or a husband's approval amounted to a wrongful act or insult that, when considered in the context of the cultural community to which they belonged, provoked the accused to kill due to a sense of damaged honour or reputation. To date, the defence has not been successful in so-called honour killings in Canada, however, the defence remains available to be raised in similar cases in the future.
Canada will not tolerate early and forced marriage and other harmful practices taking place in our country.
View Chungsen Leung Profile
Mr. Chair, I am so appreciative of all my hon. colleagues being awake at this late hour to listen to the last speaker. Not that I wish it for myself, but as the last speaker, I have the pleasure of leaving the last thought this evening on this important debate.
As my colleagues have described, the troubling growth in anti-Semitism around the world is an urgent and pressing issue that we must face internationally and also here at home.
I would therefore like to focus my remarks on what we have done and what we must continue to do in Canada to prevent the spread of anti-Semitism in our own country.
Our nationally standardized hate crime data initiative indicates that Jews are the most likely religious group to be targeted for hate crimes, even though Jews constitute less than 1% of the Canadian population. Therefore, the government has rightly taken a firm approach to organizations that promote hatred of Jews, that publicly deny the historical reality and the extent of the extermination of the Jews during the Holocaust, or that apologize for terrorism.
Canada also realizes that too often not enough is done to ensure that our societies, and especially younger generations, remember the lessons of the Holocaust, and so the Government of Canada has undertaken nationally a series of important actions to educate Canadians and to protect at-risk communities.
Among the actions at the national level, in 2011 Canada created the communities at risk: security infrastructure program, which allows not-for-profit organizations to apply for funding to improve security infrastructures and systems in places of worship and community centres that are vulnerable to hate-motivated crime. This program has been leveraged by at-risk communities, including Canada's Jewish community, to ensure a greater sense of safety in places of worship and community gatherings.
Right in my own riding of Willowdale, a Jewish synagogue and Jewish schools were the subject of some racist remarks and graffiti. They have benefited from this program by strengthening their security on their perimeter and on their premises.
The Canadian government also continues to develop its systems for collecting data on hate crimes. Combined with law enforcement training, these systems allow the authorities to better address violence against groups at risk, including the Jewish community.
In addition to these measures, the government has examined Canada's own troubled history with anti-Semitism. In particular, it is important that Canada openly examine its role in implementing the so-called “none is too many” policy that blocked Jewish refugees from finding safe haven in Canada as they fled Nazi Germany in the face of state-driven anti-Semitism. This shameful Canadian policy was represented by the turning away of the MS St. Louis, whose passengers were Jewish refugees, many of whom ended up being returned to Nazi-occupied Europe to their deaths in the Holocaust.
The Holocaust is a key lesson in the history of anti-Semitism, a lesson we cannot forget. Canada's national Holocaust monument will be inaugurated in Ottawa this fall to remember the victims of the Holocaust and pay tribute to the survivors.
The monument will encourage Canadians to reflect on the responsibilities we each have to protect human rights and dignity. Moreover, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, which was opened in September 2014, houses a permanent exhibit devoted to the Holocaust.
I say to my honourable colleagues that people should not be singled out just because of their faith or ethnicity, and we cannot ignore the fact that unimpeded anti-Semitism leads down a very dangerous path, as demonstrated recently in Europe. As the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness said two weeks ago at the United Nations in New York, those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a grave threat to all of us.
Let me end by saying that I also had the pleasure of accompanying the Prime Minister to Israel and walking through the Holocaust Museum. One of the most poignant messages that I saw said, “The Righteous Among the Nations”. In Hebrew it is “khassidey umot ha-olam”. It refers to non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from Nazi extermination. Let me just say that it did not include people from western Europe at the time.
China had two diplomats, Pan-Jun Shun and Dr. Feng-Shan Ho, who issued over 3,000 visas for Viennese to use as they transited to a third country.
In addition, Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara did the same for the Viennese at the time.
As Canadians and as non-Jews, let us take that as our example and guiding light. We need to stop anti-Semitism. We need to lead the way to save what we all cherish and to live in harmony in the world.
View Chungsen Leung Profile
View Chungsen Leung Profile
2015-02-23 17:15 [p.11549]
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to join the debate on Bill C-51, anti-terrorism act, 2015.
Today's world is a dark and dangerous place. We find existential threats to western civilization all around us. We saw the manifestation of these threats in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and in Ottawa this past October.
However, Canada is not in isolation. Terrorists have struck the hearts of Paris, Sydney, Copenhagen, and Brussels. This past weekend, jihadi terrorists called for attacks on shopping centres around the world, including the iconic West Edmonton Mall.
It is clear that jihadi terrorists have declared war on Canada and her allies. This war is not only against our physical existence and our people, but also our values. These terrorists hate us for the very reason that Canada is the greatest country in which to live, work, and raise a family. They dislike our equality; they dislike our modernity; and they dislike our prosperity.
However, Canada will not be intimidated by threats from any terrorist organization, which is why we are not sitting on the sidelines. Instead, we are joining our allies in supporting the international coalition in a fight against ISIL.
Our national security and law enforcement agencies are continually monitoring for threats against Canada and its citizens and will take the appropriate actions to ensure the safety of all Canadians. Terrorist threats such as these demonstrate why our Conservative government is committed to passing the anti-terrorist act, 2015, to further protect Canadians against jihadi terrorists who seek to destroy Canada.
In line with measures taken by our allies, we are taking additional action to ensure that our law enforcement and national security agencies can counter those who advocate terrorism, prevent terrorist travel and the efforts of those who seek to use Canada as a recruiting ground, and disrupt planned attacks on Canadian soil. The bill would also make it easier for law enforcement agencies to detain suspected terrorists before they can harm Canadians, and toughen penalties for violating court-ordered conditions on terrorist suspects.
Recent events in Canada and around the world remind us that we live in a dangerous world where terrorists target anyone who does not think like them. That is why our Conservative government is intent on giving law enforcement agencies the tools they need in order to counter these threats.
Much has been said by the NDP about the new Criminal Code offence in the legislation of promoting terrorism. It has suggested simultaneously that this power would be overly broad and would not accomplish anything. How it performs these verbal gymnastics is a matter for another day.
However, allow me to say that on this side of the House we believe that jihadi terrorism is an act of war and not a human right.
Allow me to give an example of how this power would work in practice.
Let us say that a terrorist entity puts on YouTube a terrorist propaganda video that concludes with the words “Attack Canada” on the screen, and, through investigation, an individual in Toronto has been identified as the person posting the video. There is no description of the kinds of attacks to be carried out.
Under the current law, counselling the commission of a terrorist offence is criminal, whether the attack is carried out or not. However, the counselling must relate to committing a specific terrorism offence, for example, counselling someone to kill someone for a political, religious, or ideological purpose. That would be the terrorist offence of committing an indictable offence that constitutes a terrorist activity.
In this scenario, there is insufficient detail in the video to allow one to conclude that the person is counselling a specific terrorist offence under the Criminal Code to kill someone, as opposed to disrupting an essential service. Under the new powers in the anti-terrorism act, 2015, posting such a video with its call to carry out attacks in Canada in general, which is a form of active encouragement, would now be caught by the criminal law.
Further, the NDP has also alleged that there are insufficient grounds to justify broadening the powers of law enforcement agencies to lower the threshold for terrorism peace bonds.
Allow me to give another example of why this power is urgently needed.
Let us say that the RCMP is conducting an ongoing investigation of an individual, after being alerted by a family member that he is planning to travel to Syria to participate in terrorist training. After an initial investigation, he explains that his wish is only to visit a dying relative. The RCMP discovers social media web postings to the effect that he is planning to leave very soon for Syria, but no other information is available. He has not made any travel plans. There is not enough evidence to support a criminal charge. However, the RCMP wishes to obtain a terrorist peace bond to stop him from travelling.
Under the current law, the RCMP can seek a peace bond if there are reasonable grounds to fear that an individual will commit a terrorism offence. While the act of leaving Canada for the purpose of receiving terrorism training is a terrorism offence, he has not yet attempted to leave for Syria. The current requirement of “will” may be too high of a threshold to meet with the available evidence in this case.
With the proposed changes, the RCMP would need to satisfy the court that it has reasonable grounds to fear that the individual in question may commit a terrorism offence. Under this new lower threshold, the court would more likely find that the oral testimony of the family member and the public social media posting to be sufficient to order the terrorism peace bond. In this case, if the peace bond were granted, it is likely that the court would consider imposing conditions that the individual report to the police and not leave the jurisdiction without permission, surrender his passport, and, if available in the jurisdiction, provide for electronic monitoring and/or counselling.
These are concrete examples of what the legislation would do. It is absolutely necessary that these measures be put in place to keep Canadians safe.
While the Liberals have a checkered history, full of opposition to common-sense national security policies, like voting against combatting the so-called Islamic State, I am pleased to see that they have indicated their support for this legislation. Conversely, I would note that the NDP has stayed consistent with its soft-on-terror approach and will vote against this legislation. This is similar to its previous votes to allow convicted terrorists to keep their citizenship, and to stop travelling abroad for terrorist purposes from becoming a criminal offence.
I certainly hope that my remarks, as well as those of my colleague, will have changed a few minds on the other side of the House. All Canadians are watching in anticipation to see whether members on the other side of the House will join our Conservative government in taking responsible action to protect our national security.
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