Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Chair. I was going to retire yesterday, but I decided that I have this opportunity here.
Thank you, Minister Qualtrough, and to those who are with you, thank you for your attendance here today.
As you're probably aware, there's quite a bit of discussion about this article, this matter, that my colleague Mr. McCauley raised with you:
A journalist’s question about a potential problem with the Royal Canadian Navy’s new Arctic...ships prompted federal bureaucrats to generate more than 200 pages of documents as they warned Irving Shipbuilding about the news outlet’s interest in the multibillion dollar program.
Is that a standard thing? I mean, if somebody asks a question, you sort of tip off...or does somebody get a hold of...? In fact, the journalist has put in an access to information request, and it's been more than 30 days since, which is outside the limit, and he can't seem to get any information. He's been directed around and is not getting anything. Do you find this concerning?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Okay, so we'll see that in the next couple of days here, but in terms of releasing information, the same article I quoted points out:
Last week, the office of Innovation Minister...alerted Irving that Globe and Mail journalists had asked that department whether an investment in an Alberta french fry plant counted toward the industrial benefits.... As a result the newspaper received a letter from an Irving lawyer threatening legal action if the article contained any allegations of improper conduct.
I take it that this must bother you as well. I mean, this is another example of a company being tipped off to do this. I think the media has a right to ask these questions.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Congratulations, Minister, on your new appointment here. It's not easy because of all the different aspects of it. It's huge, and certainly it's a large responsibility.
I want to get back to one of the questions raised by my colleague Mr. McCauley.
The background to this is that, during the Victoria Day week, I met with a man, a public servant. He told me that he was a veteran. He had been in the armed forces for about nine or 10 years, I think he said, and he's now been in the public service for a couple of years.
He told me that he now doesn't get credit for the nine or 10 years he was in the military, and it makes a difference. Your responsibility, or the responsibility of the government, is everything from pay equity to making sure we know where the money is getting spent.
He said he's not given credit for that, and it makes a difference to him. If he has seniority in the public service, let's say 10 years or 15 years, he might get an extra week's vacation. There are benefits.
I wasn't quite aware of this decision. Apparently, as I've been told since, Treasury Board approved it. You've probably approved a lot of things, and this is just one component of it, but we want to do what we can. Everybody talks about doing what we can to support the people in our military and our veterans. We can get into criticisms as to who did what, when, and all of that kind of thing, but it seems to me that this is something important and that we should do what we can to support those members of our military who have retired and go into the public service.
I'm hoping that you will have a look at this. Again, I think you would probably get unanimous consent among all political parties if this were reversed and we said, “Yes, okay, if you've served in Canada's military, yes, that should be credited towards your public service”. We could spend all our time criticizing each other, but I think you would agree. I bet if I canvassed people around the table, they would say, “Yes, if you've served in the military, you should be credited, and you should get this benefit”.
I think, Mr. Purves, you said you were going to be looking into this, or maybe you've gotten some notes on it. Again, this kind of stuck in my head when I met with somebody about this. First of all, when he said this, I said, “No, no, we want to accommodate our military people. We want to give them credit for that”, but there is a challenge here, and so I'd like to hear your thoughts on that.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
I appreciate that. As I say, I don't see any downside to this. If it's the union that's negotiating this, and the government and the Canadian people want to support these things, it's not contentious in that sense.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you for your comments and your input here today.
I want to get back to a subject that we raised with your counterpart, Minister Qualtrough, with respect to the Privacy Act. I'm sure you are aware that, and I quote:
Personal information under the control of a government institution shall not, without the consent of the individual to whom it relates, be disclosed by the institution except in accordance with this section.
I'm quite concerned about a number of incidents that have taken place over the last number of months. Some of them have gotten a lot of publicity—the trial of Admiral Norman—with the information that has been released. I was concerned, for instance, having been a member of a group that gave advice to the government with respect to the appointment of a Supreme Court of Canada justice. The leakage of information about different individuals, I think, was a concern to everyone.
It's hard to pick up the paper and not see something else. I mentioned this to your colleague. It says last week that the office of innovation minister Navdeep Bains alerted Irving that Globe and Mail journalists had asked the department whether an investment in an Alberta french fry plant was counted as an industrial benefit requirement.
In a sense this continuous leakage undermines people's confidence in our system, and there is legislation that makes it an offence to release any information. I'm just wondering how concerned you are about this and what is being done.
I asked Minister Qualtrough about it, and she said they had sent out a message that they can't be doing this kind of stuff, releasing all this information, but I think it perhaps goes beyond that. It's a greater concern.
What are your thoughts?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
I just want to make it clear that when this bill comes into effect and then there is a birth afterwards, that wouldn't be caught up in this bill. There would be no offence or anything. I think that's all it is. It's just saying that if the cetacean was pregnant at the time it was kept in captivity. We wouldn't want this bill to come into effect and then six months later a cetacean is born. To me it seems it would run afoul of the wording of the bill.
Do you agree?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Can I ask for some clarification on that, Mr. Fraser? You said that there are no pregnant cetaceans at the present time. Is that what the fisheries department said? That's not my understanding. There are a number in captivity that are, in fact, pregnant now, and this is just clarification.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Well, all this is saying is that if they are, in fact, born, they are not caught up in this. I agree with Ms. Klineberg here that this would actually provide some clarification. I don't think this is controversial.
(Amendment negatived)
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
I think that's a pretty reasonable amendment. You want to make sure that anybody who might get charged under this is somebody who really is participating in this for the exact wrong reason. The amendment proposed by my colleague is saying that if somebody has to knowingly get involved with something like this, then somebody who's just being part of an entertainment package, or just wanders into something, shouldn't be convicted of a criminal offence on that.
This will help clarify that. This is good.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much.
Colleagues, obviously both language versions have to be completely in line with each other. It's not easy to draw up legislation. As our official from the Department of Justice knows, you have two systems of law, civil law and common law, and you have French and English. Getting it right is always a bit of a challenge.
In fact, there are some legal words such as the word “mortgage” in English, in the common law or something, that are not quite the same thing en français. At the same time, this bill has two different versions here, and the amendment is just to try to align them.
I'm not sure if you got this, but there's a letter here from a former justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Major, who had a look at this and said we should make sure we align it.
As it stands now, the version in one language refers to a specific section of the bill and the other one doesn't. Therefore, all we have done here, in collaboration with Mr. Doherty and our colleagues, is come up with a way they will mean the same in both official languages.
It is straightforward, and certainly I hope there is support for it. As I say, it is agreed to by the Honourable Justice Major, formerly of the Supreme Court of Canada. He's the one who was saying, yes, we have to do this.
It sometimes happens. We've all encountered this, but a simple amendment here to make it coordinate is all we're asking for at this point in time and it's an important thing to do. We can't have a bill that's different in each of the official languages.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
The amendment is that Bill S-203, in clause 4, be amended by replacing, in the French version, line 8 on page 3 with the following:
7.1 Il est interdit, sans licence délivrée en vertu du paragraphe 10(1.1) ou contrairement à celle—
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
I just want to read you one paragraph for the record, and I'd like to hear the opinion of Ms. Klineberg.
The letter from Justice Major says:
Section 7.1 of Bill S-203 is an enforcement provision under the Act. Given the conflict in the English and French versions of the proposed legislation its passage without a clarification amendment would, in the event of an illegal violation and subsequent prosecution, present a dilemma to the court. An obvious example being that an application under the English version would be required to meet the conditions set out in s. 10(1.1) whereas an application adhering to the French version would not. In the result the same law would be different depending on the site of the application. Should a charge be laid under the proposed Section 7.1 the difficulty described would be left to the court then to attempt a reconciliation of the conflict in the language and if not possible to strike down the section and order an acquittal.
I think that's very clear.
Ms. Klineberg, I don't know whether you have had a chance to compare both versions here, but Justice Major is saying that we should do what we have to do to make them coincide with each other and not just take a chance and have this dilemma presented to the courts.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Don't you think, though, it's a bit unusual that in the English version it specifically references a particular section in an act, yet there is no reference in the French? Whether we're drafting things through the Criminal Code or policy and everything else, wouldn't it make sense that, if the English refers to a specific section that has to be adhered to, the French be amended to say the same thing?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Well, you heard what Justice Major says, and he—
An hon. member: What does he know?
Hon. Rob Nicholson: Well, when you've been on the Supreme Court for quite a time, you do develop some expertise or you bring your expertise to the role here. It seems to me a fairly straightforward thing just to make sure they both coincide with the exact wording. I don't know.
(Amendment negatived)
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Again, the differences between the French and English are referring to subsection 10(1.1), All we would be doing is removing that from the English version so that it would be identical to the French version here. I'm not quite sure why that would be controversial for anyone, but there you have it. It would bring them both into line.
That's all we were trying to do with the previous one, but this is the English version of it. Okay, remove subsection 10(1.1) from there so it will be identical. This is, I think, our job. That's what we have to do.
(Amendment negatived)
(Clause 4 agreed to)
(On clause 5)
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Chair, if you don't mind, I'd like to propose a subamendment to that and I'm sure this will be well received by the committee, “That this act come into force on January 1, 2021.”
The reason for that is if this bill comes into effect in the next month or so, the pregnancy period of these cetaceans is, many times, about 18 months. If you're going to ask them to start splitting up, as they do in a place such as Marineland, where you have to start separating them all so none of them gets pregnant, that will be the law and that's fine. However, for those times that the whale or dolphin is pregnant already, they need 18 months, so we don't want to have a situation where charges are being laid because a cetacean is born 14 or 15 months from now.
That would be helpful. It wouldn't be inconsistent with the intent of the bill, but it would come into effect on January 1, 2021.
That is my subamendment.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Let's go with three fives, Mr. Chair.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Chair, thank you very much.
Thank you all for your testimony here. What you had to say, Dr. Graham, was very significant with respect to the extinction of a particular species here because more effort wasn't made to do what we can to help them repopulate.
Mr. Burns, you said that if a beluga whale is pregnant and gives birth after the implementation of this bill, those who are there at Marineland and other places immediately face criminal charges.
If they postponed the enactment of this, how would that change? Don't these whales get pregnant on a regular basis?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
The treatment of these animals is always foremost in everybody's mind. What you're saying is that if this bill gets passed, Marineland and others would have no choice but to start separating these families. How many years have some of these families been together?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
You're saying that this bill here means that they'll have to be broken up and separated to make sure that—
A voice: It will cause stress.
Hon. Rob Nicholson: Yes, that's right.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
In your previous testimony, you said, “Marineland continues to evolve. It's committed to evolving.” Could you please elaborate on that for us?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
When you testified about this bill here, you said what a disaster it would be. You elaborated in a number of different ways on that.
The bill has been changed in some ways over the last couple of years or so. Does this alleviate any of your concerns?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Not only unconstitutional, but the implications of the Criminal Code and the possibility of charges that—
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Well, I would hope, Mr. Chairman, that we could have that individual, that former prosecutor, testify. We've just started the testimony on this bill here, so that's—
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
—one of the suggestions I'd like to make, because I don't think we're in any hurry to—
This is it? We only have one day?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much, and thank you, Minister and all those with you here today.
Minister, you have a very busy portfolio, I have to say. You've been in this portfolio for, I think, about a year and a half now, and there is lots going on.
You did talk in your opening statement—and I wanted to go to that first—about the Phoenix pay backlog. It seemed to me that you have, I think you said, about $25 million as part of these estimates to work on this.
I'll tell you what concerns me. It's an article I saw just a couple of days ago. It was reported on CBC that there was a document “prepared in August 2018 for a deputy minister in Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) ahead of a meeting with the Treasury Board official in charge of helping find a system to replace Phoenix.” It says, “As the federal government forges ahead to replace the Phoenix payroll system, internal documents obtained by CBC News through access to information suggest clearing the backlog could take another three to five years,” and then it goes on to say that it actually “could take 10 or more years for the system to achieve 'overall stability'.”
It's one thing to be waiting 10 years for the rehabilitation of one of our Parliament Buildings, but this Phoenix estimate seems way out of line. Don't you agree? I mean, three to five years.... Many of these employees have suffered enough, and I'm sure you've heard from them, just as I have. It has to be very discouraging to see that report. What are your thoughts on that?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
That is somewhat reassuring.
People have approached me about problems with either getting paid or having been overpaid and then having problems with their taxes. Do you have people within the department who can look at one of these issues, see how to fix it and send out a cheque?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Now, is the $25 million...? If you had more, could you do this more quickly? Is that the issue? Is it that you don't have enough money, enough resources, to get this solved more quickly?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you.
Let me change the subject here and raise one of the issues that you raised, and this is the integrity regime that you have been developing.
One of the things you said in your opening remarks is that you have been getting pressure from industry. I imagine SNC-Lavalin would be one of those companies that would be putting pressure on this area. Is that correct?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
You said that you're getting pressure from industry. I'm just asking.... I'm assuming that they have as big a stake in this as anybody, I would guess.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
But you have a copy of it, and I think the committee would appreciate getting a copy of that.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
All right. Thank you very much.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much.
I'd like to thank our witnesses. Your testimony here is very helpful.
Ms. Hayes, one of the things that impressed me about your testimony today was the chart which showed that your members are overwhelmingly motivated by their own views of protecting the environment as opposed to any other issues here. I think that means you're certainly moving in the right direction—or your members are—in terms of the awareness of this.
Towards the end of your testimony, you said that there are going to be barriers. One of them was the increased cost. You mentioned CPP, minimum wage and the carbon tax. Are all of these measures adding up to discourage businesses from becoming more energy efficient? Is that the point you want to make?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
This has been very helpful to us, quite frankly, with respect to the carbon tax. As you know, there's been quite a bit of discussion in Parliament concerning that. That was very helpful, as well.
One of the things I noticed on the chart is what drives businesses. One of them was not financial incentives. If I remember correctly, it was about 13%. It was near the bottom.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
That's good. That came through.
With respect to landlords.... That was one of the challenges you had. There are landlord associations and groups across Canada.
Does your group ever sit down and meet with them or do you want your members to do this on an individual basis? Is there anything organized in terms of letting them know that's one of the ways in which we can help the environment?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much.
Those are my questions, Mr. Chair.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, witnesses, for your testimony.
This question is for Empower Me.
One thing you talked about, which my colleague from the NDP raised as well, is the whole question of energy poverty. You said there are programs involved with, I think, nine out of the 10 provinces. Are they working? Are they inadequate? Tell me what the results are.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
It would be interesting to hear whatever analysis you have.
To complicate this, as recently as this morning it was predicted that Canadians will be paying between $300 and $400 more for their groceries next year. Again, anything that can be saved with respect to energy costs obviously will allow for more disposable income, much of which, I'm sure, goes to food.
That being said, you said there was no federal funding. Did you or others make applications to the federal government and just not get it, or is there just an absence of some particular program?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
It would seem to me that you'd probably be aware of it, because you're in that business.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
We'll make sure we take note of that here.
Thank you very much for your comments.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much.
Ms. Burns, let me start with you. You read off some statistics earlier that showed that most of the settlements in property cases or divorce cases don't involve violence. Don't you think that those numbers underestimate how much violence there is? I know that many times lawyers will file for divorce for a one-year separation rather than have the woman testify about how disgustingly she's been treated. Don't you think those statistics are underestimating the level of violence?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
That leads to my next question, which is for you, Mr. Cheriton.
You said that violence gets reduced when they don't give sole custody, but isn't that why sole custody is generally given in the first place? Isn't it to protect the child against violence, usually promoted by addictions to alcohol and drugs or other issues? Isn't that why many times somebody is given sole custody, because of the danger to the child?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Do you support the comments that were made earlier? When you were in the audience, you probably heard Professor Irvine saying that, in fact, when you have representation for the child, one way or the other, this in and of itself helps collapse this and bring about an agreement on this, because the child is now represented and gets to have his or her voice heard.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
The responsibility of any lawyer is to represent the interests of his or her client, which in this case would be a child.
That being said, I know my time is running out.
Ms. Christianson-Wood, I agree with you about changing the wording to “parenting orders” and “parenting time”, as opposed to “custody” and “access”, but then you tossed in a line saying that it might take a generation to sink in. Would you elaborate on that?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Very good. Thank you very much.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
I think it is an excellent suggestion here to do this. I think it remedies any of the issues that arose when this was initially proposed. We're completely supportive of it.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you for your testimony and your illumination of of this, but....
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I want to thank all the witnesses here today for their testimony. I'm pleased to be here as recently appointed shadow minister for public services and procurement.
I'd like to address the motion that's been put forward by my colleague Kelly McCauley. The motion requests that this committee undertake a study of the federal government's defence procurement process.
I think, Mr. Chair, that this is simply a good idea. I think it would present an opportunity for the committee to address what I think—and I think most Canadians would agree with me—is an urgent need in the Canadian Armed Forces.
I appreciate the study that you're doing on greening and I certainly appreciated the witness testimony here. That said, it has been studied quite a bit over the last number of years. Conversely, a non-partisan study on cleaning up the extremely cumbersome procurement process gives an opportunity to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates to work in tandem to address the needs of the Canadian Armed Forces and the security of all Canadians at the same time.
Mr. Chair, the burdensome procurement process, as you know, is not something new; it has been around for years. I have been told by a number of officials, for instance in the Department of National Defence, that this can and should be a top priority. As procurement ombudsman Alexander Jeglic noted, the present process is complicated, time-consuming, and bureaucratic, with far too many overlapping procurement rules.
One suggestion was to implement training for every bureaucrat. I unreservedly agree with that recommendation, as they are in the best position to simplify the process and make it accessible.
Getting feedback from those who bid on contracts, I think, is also of key importance for this improvement. I've heard time and again, particularly from small businesses, that the administrative process is too burdensome. I'm sure all my colleagues have heard this from small businesses that have wanted to be part of this process.
Colleagues, I think we have the opportunity to make a real difference with this study, to streamline the process. Naming a decision-maker for timeline approval alone would make a tremendous difference. It shouldn't take years to see the construction of a single Arctic patrol ship and select a preferred designer. Our allies are able to deliver these projects in less than two years. I think we should certainly look at the processes of our allies, such as Belgium and Australia, within this study.
It should be noted that the scope of the study would not encompass decisions made; it would rather focus on restructuring the process for maximum efficiency. We need to do better, and if we commit to working together, we can do better.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for your time. I look forward to further discussion on this matter. I hope it is something that will have the support of everyone here. I think it is very timely.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much. Thank you to all our witnesses today for your presentations. They were all very insightful and very helpful to this committee.
Ms. Lemay, you talked about the disposal of assets. One thing you said in your opening remarks was that we always strive to obtain the best value for the crown. I think maybe you heard Monsieur Berthelette's comments that very often these things are sold at less than two-thirds of their value. What do you think the reason is for that? Can you give us any insight on that? Do people expect that if they're buying it off the government, they're going to get a bargain, perhaps, or are there just not enough people aware of the site to go on it and check things out?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Monsieur Berthelette, perhaps you could comment on that, or Monsieur Dompierre. Is it that they're just getting two-thirds of the book value of it? I can appreciate that goods depreciate in value. Are they getting the market value, do you think?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
I guess that's one point my colleague Mr. Christopherson was making—the lack of information. Indeed one recommendation with respect to donations, some of the background material, said that 84% of federal organizations rarely or never donate assets. I'm surprised that this is a new idea now, the idea of donating these things, or recycling them, as you heard CRA was doing at the time. What's been the problem? What do you think has been the holdup?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Is it possible that there might be a liability if there is some problem with the product? Do you think that is part of the hesitation that's taken place over the years?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
The idea of recycling or reusing office equipment or other assets is something else that makes a lot of sense. It would be pretty straightforward to—
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
I have just one question here, Mr. Chair.
The more people go on these websites to bid on these things, the better off we all are in the sense that it would perhaps drive prices.
What is being done to advertise that? I appreciate you have 100,000 people, but in a country of well over 30 million people.... We see quite a few government ads for different things. Do any of them ever mention that people might be interested in purchasing equipment from the government and might go on one of these websites?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
I received a postcard a few weeks ago about cannabis in this country, and that came from the Government of Canada. Revenue Canada sends out things on a regular basis. There are advertisements. It seems to me that even just a small advertisement to people might dramatically increase the number of people who go onto that site.
That's just a thought.
Thank you.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Ms. Pentz, you were talking about preliminary inquiries, and you gave the example of a case where it was a sexual assault and the preliminary inquiry actually speeded up its resolution.
I have spoken with people who have gone through this process. Sometimes these victims of sexual assault and abuse find that having to go through the preliminary inquiry and then the trial makes them feel that they themselves are, in a sense, put on trial twice. This increases their suffering.
Have those people approached you as to how difficult it is?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Just one subquestion, with respect to getting rid of the peremptory challenges, you think this will hurt, ultimately, indigenous and racialized people. Is that your stand?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
What do you mean? I can't understand why you say it sends the wrong message. The message of the reverse onus is to try to protect the victim. I think that's the message of the legislation we're sending out, that we want to better protect this victim of domestic violence.
You say it sends the wrong message out. What is that?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Minister, and thank you to those who are joining you here.
Let me talk just a bit about the procedure and get your thoughts on this. This is a huge bill with a lot of changes to the criminal justice system. It's over 300 pages long and, as you say, it goes into so many different areas. I was somewhat surprised that when we finally started second reading debate, Mr. Cooper, another of our colleagues, and I all got up to speak, and then I was informed I think the next day that time allocation was coming in to shut down the debate.
I'm not going to start arguing about that, but wouldn't you agree, or could we have your support, that this is not something that should take place when it's at third reading? It's important that Parliament debate these different issues and debate not be quickly shut down, because there was no suggestion on, I'm sure, my or Mr. Cooper's part that we were going to somehow keep talking about this ad infinitum.
Your thoughts...?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you for that, but again, I'm hoping that when the time comes and we do debate it at third reading that the importance of this bill will justify having a considerable debate without cutting it off initially.
With respect to the hybridization of the offences, we're talking about over a hundred proposals to make indictable offences also eligible for summary conviction. I've heard from some people at the provincial level that this may fill up and jam the provincial courts, as opposed to the superior courts, if they opt for the summary conviction, but you say that the provinces were overwhelmingly in support of this. Did they say that formally or was it the result of an informal discussion? Who exactly at the provincial level been pushing for these?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
I'd be very interested to hear from some of them, because, as I say, I've heard that some of them are quite concerned that the provincial courts will be jammed.
With respect to the clogging up of our courts, if we give this opportunity to somebody participating in a terrorist group, for instance, and if that person has the opportunity to have that reduced to a summary conviction and to have the possibility, I suppose, of even a fine, in one sense I suppose that would speed up the process here. If you're a member of a terrorist group and you get the option of getting a summary conviction, or if somebody says you're going to have to pay $1,000 fine, I could see that, yes, you wouldn't be taking up much time in the court system. You'd say, “Jeepers, give me that one and I'm out of here.”
On the other hand, there are people who would seriously question whether the whole list of these offences are of the type that they should never have the possibility of receiving a summary conviction or a very low penalty, because these offences, in and of themselves, are very serious. Have you been getting any feedback on this, or are are there people talking to you who are supportive of reducing the possibility of these penalties being imposed?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much, and thank you, Minister.
Your last comment was one of the first things I was going to ask about, with respect to the unified family court. Have you had any uptake or feedback from the provinces with respect to this? Generally this would have to be a consolidation of the courts in a particular area. What have you heard from them so far?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
I'm sure it will be well received.
You talked about Bill C-75. You were quoted as saying that hybridizing these offences will not make them less serious or subject to lower sentences.
You may have heard your colleague Ralph Goodale today in question period. He said that with respect to impaired driving, your government, and indeed our government, has the toughest laws in the world, I think he said, in terms of that.
If this is hybridized, and somebody is convicted of impaired driving causing bodily harm, there will now be the option under Bill C-75 of having that as a summary conviction offence, with a penalty of 18 months, or even a fine, I believe. Do you not think that is actually lessening the penalties with respect to impaired driving causing bodily harm?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
That being said, you said that with the passage of Bill C-46, we'll have the toughest sentencing regime with respect to impaired driving. Do you not think there's anything inconsistent with the possibility that part of the penalty could be a summary conviction? In terms of the toughest sentences in the world, I'll be very interested and we'll have a lot of witnesses who come forward. I'd be fascinated to hear if this is the case in any other jurisdiction.
Do you know of any other jurisdiction, particularly in the common law, where you could be convicted of impaired driving causing bodily harm and you might be subject to a penalty as low as a fine?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
We're going into the summer break, as you know, and I remember that at the last summer break, one of the sections in the bill that was introduced into Parliament was removing section 176, the section that protects religious services and members of the clergy. While there was some discussion just before the break, one of the things that I heard from colleagues and others is that a huge number of emails were sent and contacts were made with members of the government and with the Department of Justice.
Are you starting to hear any push-back already on the impaired driving section and the hybridization of that particular offence? Are you starting to hear that, or is that something we might hear over the course of the summer?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Senator Jaffer, for those comments.
Thank you to all of you for your testimony here today.
Mr. Fortin, this is a very interesting point that you've brought up, and I think you're the first one who has focused on this with respect to the consecutive sentences. I do remember that this was passed by Parliament, and it was on the basis that if you traffic one person, or you traffic 20 people, it's actually a more serious offence if you traffic 20 people. The idea of consecutive sentence was a reflection of that. Now you know, of course, what we're dealing with here in Bill C-75, that this is not going forward, but thank you for making that point.
I don't have much time, but, Senator Jaffer, again, thank you to you and your colleague, Senator McPhedran, for all the work that you are doing on this. You're making a difference on this.
One of the things that you did say was that Canada should prosecute these Canadian men who are going overseas to sexually exploit women and children in these countries, and of course, Canada should. Part of the challenge, you may know, is trying to get evidence on these people when the victims are in southeast Asia, in the Caribbean, or somewhere else. One of the things that we have spoken about over the years is getting the countries themselves involved with these prosecutions. Again, that's not very easy.
Don't you think that is another way to perhaps expedite these things, rather than the more complicated way of getting this person out of there and trying to put together a case here in Canada?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
I think your point about getting law enforcement on the ground looking into this is absolutely vital. We have investigations with respect to fraud, with respect to trade, and with respect to all different issues here.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
That's right, but there's nothing more important than things like this, trafficking in human beings.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
They do go hand in hand; I mean, those people who are involved with it.
Senator, did you have a comment on that?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
That's right. However, it was the result of the co-operation with other countries around the world on that, which is necessary.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you.
I think those are my five minutes, Mr. Chair.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much.
Thank you to our witnesses here today. This is much appreciated by the committee in the work we are doing.
I'd like to start with Peter Warrack.
First of all, welcome to the committee. Thank you for your testimony, and congratulations on all the work you are doing in this area.
You started at the beginning of your testimony saying when you got involved with this and the whole question of human trafficking, the financial institutions were unaware of the transactions that were taking place to facilitate and fund human trafficking.
Toward the end of your testimony you made a very interesting comment, which was that many times police themselves are unaware of the financial aspect of human trafficking. One of the suggestions you made—I like that and hope we can pursue this—was that banks would be invited to the schools to help train our police officers.
Have you made any outreach, or do you know of any outreach that has been made? Has anybody accepted this or thought about this, or is this another brand new idea we have to pursue?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, but you said it has been welcomed in the Ontario Police College, and is now a part of the program.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
I hope you keep on with your efforts in that particular area because it makes sense to all of us in this industry that we have to have everybody be a part of this.
Thank you again for your testimony.
Ms. Mahon, thank you for your testimony as well. A lot of your testimony was directed at criticism of our police services, and one of the instances you talked about was particularly concerning to me. I'm a lawyer myself. You said that one of these victims was detained for two weeks and not allowed to call her solicitor, or call anybody for that matter. I wonder if you could give us the name or the time for that because it seems to me our committee would be very interested in that.
If somebody in this country is being detained without charges, and is not allowed to call a lawyer, that is a very serious accusation, and so I would very much appreciate getting that information. Our committee would look into this to see how and where and why this took place.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
We'd very much appreciate that, because that's a huge violation of someone's rights.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. Those are my comments and questions.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you to all of you who have come here today. It is, in some sense, very emotional to hear your stories, and I want to thank you for that.
Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson, generally, in our system of law, torture almost by definition is state torture. That's what it is. With respect to the Criminal Code, it's generally defined as assault, aggravated assault, those sorts of things.
In your experience with this whole question of non-state torture, do you think this is why governments have resisted getting involved with this? Is it because they think they may be changing the definition or is it possible that if you started to call it torture, that it might be more difficult to prove? We heard from Ms. Thomas about some of the challenges of prosecuting some of these areas. Do you think that's part of the reason why the law hasn't been changed in that area?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Fair enough.
Ms. Gillies, you said that sometimes people who find themselves assaulted find it is sometimes sadly condoned by the law enforcement agents, if they come forward.
Could you elaborate on that a bit?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Are police forces not charging that individual? Do they just shrug their shoulders at the woman—usually the woman—who's been assaulted?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Ms. Falle, one of the issues we have talked about at this committee, or one of the suggestions that's been made to us is that, if we go out of our way to try to identify the people, the institutions, or whoever are involved with trafficking of human beings, we'd be better off.
You indicated that the individual who was trafficking you is still around or he's in his business here. How would you feel about naming him?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much.
Did we get that for the record here?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
I think that's important for these people who commit these types of crimes, and I know Ms. Perrin, you indicated somebody, and Ms. Perrier, if you want to give us the names of those people, we'd be glad to have them.
I truly believe that when publicity and focus is on these people who commit these disgusting crimes, we're all better off for it, so people know what they're getting involved with.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you.
Ms. Perrin, did you want to name anyone?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
That's what your colleague said, that sometimes when they are physically abused, it doesn't get reported.
Ms. Thomas, you heard the suggestion that the word “torture” be used in non-state violence against a person. You'd be completely familiar with the Criminal Code, the different provisions. What are your thoughts on that?
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
Can we have a report on that, please?
Voices: Oh, oh!
(On clause 1)
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
The other thing is, if you do a mental report on somebody, it may have information in there that is actually irrelevant to this. If it were relevant that the individual had some kind of mental problem, and that would factor into the kind of sentence or into whether this person is convicted, yes, I can understand that. It would be in the best interest of this individual to have that public.
Since this bill requires the pre-sentence mental report, I'd be more concerned that it may have all kinds of material going back to the individual's whole life.
I'd go along with Mr. Rankin on this one. If these things do become public, it could be prejudicial toward the offenders, and it would be irrelevant to whether they are going to be convicted, or what their sentence would be.
View Rob Nicholson Profile
CPC (ON)
I'm worried that the individuals who do these reports are going to think that they have to get it all in, and that it's up to the court to decide whether something is relevant.
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