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Results: 1 - 15 of 90
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Mr. Speaker, more and more people are finding themselves on edge as they struggle to feed their families during this Liberal-made cost of living crisis. Grocery prices are up by 11%, rising at the fastest pace in 40 years, and are expected to rise another 5% to 7%. One in five families are skipping meals, with 1.5 million people using food banks in a single month. In Ontario, first-time food bank usage is up a whopping 64%.
Nine in 10 are tightening household budgets as consumer debt rises 8.2%. The average credit card balance for Canadians is at a record high of $2,100. RBC estimates households will have to allocate 15% of their incomes to just debt servicing alone. As well, earlier this week the Auditor General confirmed what Conservatives have been saying all along, which is that this cost of living crisis has been made worse by the Liberal government’s wasteful spending and absolute refusal to put any controls in place. Canadians are out of money, the Liberals are out of touch and the Prime Minister and his costly coalition have broken Canada.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Madam Chair, my question is on the conversation we have been having regarding a number of unlevel playing fields when it comes to indigenous communities. Specifically, what I would like to talk about now is policing.
From testimony and studies in committees, there are indigenous police services operating in their communities, but they do not have the same power as the regular police services we have out there. In some circumstances, there is a crime that takes place that indigenous police services should or could have the ability to handle, but under law they are not able to. Therefore, another jurisdiction is called in, like the RCMP, to make that arrest.
Would it not be better to have a level playing field with indigenous police services whose members often live in those communities? They live on the nation and know the situation probably better than an outside service. They are able to adapt better to the situation and understand the real problems going on with a particular individual in a particular situation.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Mr. Speaker, we can tell the words from the minister were straight from the heart, and I respect the work he and his department do on a daily basis.
It is definitely a very tragic situation we are dealing with. I know it is not specifically the minister's department, but he referenced in his speech the 231 calls for justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. I am looking at a few headlines and, unfortunately, there are advocacy groups that are calling the government's progress on those 231 calls for justice a national shame. Specifically, the Native Women's Association of Canada stated, “Today, we are seeing the sad results of the government’s weak response to the crimes being committed against Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people.” That was the organization's CEO. She went on to say, “The National Action Plan, as it was drafted, was actually a recipe for inaction, and the people represented by our organization are paying the price.”
I would like the minister to comment on those very disturbing remarks based on the continued situation we are dealing with.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Mr. Speaker, I will ask the leader of the NDP a question similar to the one I asked the minister a few moments ago. It is with regard to the 231 calls for justice that the inquiry has recommended and laid out.
Specifically, I am referring to a quote made a few months ago by the CEO of the Native Women's Association of Canada, who stated:
Today, we are seeing the sad results of the government’s weak response to the crimes being committed against Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people.... The National Action Plan, as it was drafted, was actually a recipe for inaction, and the people represented by our organization are paying the price.
The quote goes on to explain how slow the government has been to respond to a number of these calls to action.
Now that we are having yet another emergency debate on this very tragic issue, I would like to know what specific calls to action, or as the leader of the NDP put it, what action, he would like to see done immediately.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is a fierce advocate in her home community for mental health and talking about real supports for people who are facing a number of challenges.
I wonder if the member could comment on some of her own experiences. I know one came to light through her last election campaign. Perhaps she could comment as well on some of the challenges that she has seen in her community.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Madam Chair, I appreciated hearing what the member had to say. I also appreciate working with her on the indigenous and northern affairs committee. I have learned a lot from her and appreciate her valuable input each and every day.
I know that often in this place, our time is short but our thoughts are many, and I was just wondering if the member had anything else she would like to touch on that she did not have enough time to complete in her speech.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the words from the member. I think we were all enlightened and enthralled by what he had to say. It is certainly a topic that has captured the interest of many Canadians. Hopefully, given that magnitude, I can take some lessons from him and one day live up to that bar.
He spoke about rural crime. That is something my communities have been facing for quite some time now. A number of pieces of legislation passed by the government have created problems, and police and prosecutors in my area are raising a flag about them. I am wondering if the member can expand a bit more on that topic.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill S-4, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Identification of Criminals Act and to make other related amendments. While I have much to say on this bill, I want to briefly talk about some the failures of the Liberal government on crime in general and crime specifically.
Rural crime is a serious issue, and one that has been ignored by the Liberal government for far too long. In my area, in Haliburton County for example, incidents increased from 526 back in 2017 to 758 in 2021. Police are now trying to keep up with more people charged than in any of the previous four years.
The crime severity index, or CSI, is a measure of police-reported crime in which more serious crimes are given a higher weight in the overall measurement of all crimes. The index provides a picture of regional crime trends. In the case of Kawartha Lakes, specifically in Lindsay, the picture is not as good. Like Haliburton County, the CSI numbers for Lindsay in 2021 showed a significant increase compared to previous years. Lindsay's overall CSI was 93.1 last year, which is a jump of more than 20% over 2020, and is significantly higher than the country's CSI of 73.7 and nearly double the province's CSI of 56.21 for the same period.
Kawartha Lakes Police Service Chief Mark Mitchell described the increase as “death by 1,000 cuts”, referring to the lack of murders but an overall increase in other non-violent crimes. He further added, “Our calls for service were up 20% in 2021, our criminal charges were up 25%, break and enters, frauds were all significantly higher, and our theft charges were up 80% compared to the year before and the current year.”
I have spoken with residents who are afraid to walk in their community. They are afraid to basically be inside their own homes. They are frustrated and angry. These concerns came to a boiling point about a year ago at a community meeting I attended that was hosted by the Kawartha Lakes Police Service.
At the meeting, residents learned that the Ross Memorial Hospital's mental health program had already received roughly 1,700 referrals just this year. Concerns were raised about the impact the Central East Correctional Centre is having on the community. The John Howard Society noted the challenge given the number of those who have come to the area to support the incarcerated and those who are released into the community on their own recognizance, bail or after completing their sentence.
The Kawartha Lakes Police Service is doing everything it can, but the government is sadly making its job harder. While it was distressing to hear the first-hand stories shared by many in attendance, it was evident to me that Canada's justice system has failed those law-abiding citizens. Lindsay resident Al Hussey raised concerns about the victims of crime, asking, “When does the support start flowing to us?” He was speaking of the victims of crime such as the residents living next to known drug houses, the business and property owners who are being robbed and the people who are afraid to walk near certain areas of town.
It is true a small number of people are creating a disproportionate amount of work for our law enforcement agencies, the court system, social services and not-for-profit organizations. However, those who continually refuse help and continue to reoffend should not be repeatedly returned to the streets in a revolving door justice system.
A big part of this is linked to the passage of Bill C-75. In 2017, the Liberal government's legislation watered down penalties for over 100 serious crimes, including the use of date rape drugs, human trafficking and impaired driving causing bodily harm. Sadly, the government severely underestimated the heartbreaking impact this decision would have on individuals, communities and families. It is unacceptable that taxpayers are once again being forced to pay more while at the same time receiving a lower quality of life.
Police officers I speak with say that Bill C-75 is the root of much of the issue regarding the catch and release bail concepts through the ladder principle, a principle that instructs justice system actors to release the accused at the earliest opportunity under the least restrictive conditions.
I firmly believe that serious crimes deserve serious penalties. Most importantly, the law should always put the rights of victims and law-abiding citizens above dangerous or reoffending criminals.
It is clear that Bill C-75 has hurt our community. To that end, I recognize that federal lawmakers must make bold changes to our criminal justice system. New methods, such as restorative justice, should be expanded, especially for those who show a desire to be rehabilitated and released as productive members of our society.
This brings me to Bill S-4. It may come as no surprise to anyone listening that the first thing I looked at was how much this bill would impact crime in the communities I represent and how it would impact those victims of crimes. The impetus for this bill is born from the increasing backlog facing the court system here in Canada. I believe we all have stories about that.
The judicial system has been facing a series of delays in cases proceeding to trial, which has been exacerbated by COVID. This is not lost on us here in the official opposition. We have continuously raised concerns about the delays and the potential for criminals to walk free due to the Supreme Court's Jordan decision, which said that no more than 18 months can pass between laying a charge and the end of the trial case in provincial courts or 30 months for cases in superior courts. We have raised our concerns in the House and in the media.
It was the Conservatives who called for a study into the impacts of COVID–19 on the judicial system at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Now Bill S-4 hopes to alleviate this backlog through several initiatives. It will amend the process for peace officers to obtain warrants without appearing in person, will expand the provisions to fingerprint the accused later should fingerprints not previously have been taken at the time of arrest, and will allow the courts to deal with administrative matters for accused persons not represented by lawyers.
Of these provisions I have no issue. Anything to move the process along that does not diminish the rights of the accused persons or victims or brings the justice system into disrepute is a good thing. I expect that these initiatives will be thoroughly examined at committee and perhaps even acted on.
However, I do have concerns, perhaps cautions is a better word, with the remaining provisions in the legislation, particularly around the expansion of the accused's ability to appear remotely by audio or video conference and to allow the participation of prospective jurors in the jury selection process by video conference. I would caution the members at committee to pay particular attention to the rights of victims and those citizens who are doing their duty as jurors.
We must ensure that the anonymity of jurors is protected. Technology has come a long way and the risk that recognition software might compromise jurors and risk the integrity of the trial is a real concern.
We must also take into consideration the impact of the expansion of telecommunication options, particularly when allowing accused persons to call in using a phone, which may impact the healing process for victims and their families. The bill will permit an offender to appear remotely for sentencing purposes. This measure would require the consent of the criminal prosecutor. The court would also weigh the rights of the offender to have a fair public hearing.
Nowhere is the victim asked or required to consent to the offender being allowed to call in for his or her sentence. The balance of rights in the court process is already heavily weighted in favour of the accused and I am afraid that Bill S-4 tips the scale even further.
That reminds me of another failure of the Liberal government, which is the delay in the filling of long vacancies, such as the federal ombudsman for victims of crime. Without that person in place, Bill S-4 will not be critically analyzed by a key advocate for victims to advise on how the bill will impact victims of crime.
Conservatives remain steadfast in our commitment to victims of crime and will ensure that legislation like Bill S-4 helps victims and their families in their pursuit of justice. We will stand up for law-abiding Canadians to ensure communities remain safe places to live and that delays in the court process do not allow criminals to walk free.
With that, I look forward to questions from my colleagues.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Madam Speaker, I accept the fact that there are a number of contributing factors. I also agree with the member that in most cases, especially in the cases I laid out in my speech in my community, it is definitely a small number of people doing a disproportionate number of these crimes. At the end of the day, whether a person is a victim of crime or just a law-abiding citizen who likes to feel safe in their community, we like to see that repeat offenders, especially violent repeat offenders, are not continually rotated back into our community causing this kind of frustration, as I said in my speech about the community meeting where people said they were sick and tired of being revictimized over and over again.
I think there are ways that organizations can work together, and the member opposite laid out a few. I have a few instances in my community where not-for-profits come together and work together to try to help people and rehabilitate those who want the help. We need to look at all facets of this, and I urge the committee that is going to study Bill S-4 to do that.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Madam Speaker, I know that my Bloc colleague was a lawyer in a previous life, and I appreciate her input in the discussion today.
I think that looking at as many ways as possible to speed up the judicial system for victims, for those awaiting trial, to either be convicted or cleared, and a whole bunch of other cases in between, is something that should be examined. We have seen massive backlogs, as I mentioned in my speech. COVID was a major contributor, but even before COVID, the backlog in the court system was quite significant. Issues have been raised about that.
I think that there is an opportunity here to have that conversation about what can be done to speed it up, and I look forward to that discussion in the weeks ahead.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Madam Speaker, rural communities have a number of challenges. I live in one. I represent a rural community, and I know the challenges. There are challenges related to connectivity, but as I mentioned in my speech, there needs to be protection for those applying to be a juror. There are concerns around hacking or facial recognition software, which could be used to identify, so all those considerations need to be taken into account.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Mr. Speaker, last week the Auditor General released a damning report on the complete failure at Indigenous Services Canada to provide the support first nations communities need to manage emergencies such as floods and wildfires.
This follows a warning from the Parliamentary Budget Officer just last May about the declining competency of ISC to manage budgets and actually meet goals. The report found that ISC provided money for coordinators without knowing what effect, if any, it would have. It spent three and a half times more responding and recovering from emergencies rather than approving some of the 112 indigenous-led projects that would help with mitigation and adaptation.
The department spent three years and $790,000 with not one emergency management agreement in place, which means there is a risk some communities might not receive the help they need during a crisis.
The department is utterly failing indigenous communities and putting lives at risk. Conservatives are focused on ending this “Ottawa knows best” approach and bringing forward policies that help make real and measurable improvements to the lives of indigenous people.
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Madam Speaker, this week, the Auditor General released a scathing report on the complete failure of Indigenous Services Canada to provide support for first nations disaster management. After three years and $790,000, the auditor found that not one emergency management agreement was completed.
More and more parents are now waking up, trying to figure out how to heat their homes, pay their bills and even feed their families. When will the government actually start getting results for indigenous people and stop their wasteful inflationary spending?
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Madam Speaker, the Auditor General and the Parliamentary Budget Office did not say that the Indigenous Services department is doing a great job. In fact, they called it a money pit.
If the minister was truly going to fund projects, why not fund the 112 infrastructure projects that would build dikes, culverts and ditches to help mitigate the effects of climate change instead of spending three and a half times more relocating people, housing them and rebuilding the communities after the disaster hits? The minister needs to mitigate this.
When will the government start getting results for indigenous people and stop wasting money?
View Jamie Schmale Profile
Madam Speaker, I rise in the House to speak to yet another attempt by the Liberal government to curtail the rights of Parliament.
Government Business No. 22 includes a proposal to give the Liberals new powers to extend sitting hours in the House through to June 2023, to temporarily remove certain procedural tools from the opposition and for the Prime Minister to adjourn the House early at Christmas and in June without notice or all-party agreement, among other changes.
A few years ago, I stood in this chamber and spoke to the government’s attempt, then through Government Business No. 18, to reduce the opportunity for members to hold the government to account by eliminating Friday sittings and automatically time-allocating bills, and to eliminate the effectiveness of committees by preventing opposition parties from triggering debates on reports and implementing closure changes to committees. That was back in the spring of 2017 when the Liberals were awarded a majority Parliament on the promise of sunnier ways. After five years of failed Liberal leadership, they are back at it, this time under a minority government and with the help of their NDP partner.
Make no mistake: Even after Canadians punished the Liberals with a minority mandate, they still want to rule like they have a majority, completely disregarding the role of the opposition and punishing this side of the House when we dare question their record. Committees play an important role in our democracy. They invest parliamentarians with the responsibility to examine legislation, to undertake studies on departmental spending and to hold the government to account for its actions.
This is really where the real problem lies. Whether it is SNC-Lavalin, the WE scandal, trips to the Aga Khan’s villa in the tropics, the $54-million ArriveCAN scandal or the use of the Emergencies Act, the Liberals just do not want Canadians digging into their business.
Canadians might be wondering what my words here have to do with Government Business No. 22. It is simple. Every time the House sits longer, which the Liberals have the power to do unobstructed by parliamentary tradition and rules, committees get cancelled. Just this morning, the Auditor General released a damning report outlining the complete failure at Indigenous Services Canada to “provide the support First Nations communities needed to manage emergencies such as floods and wildfires, which are happening more often and with greater intensity.”
The Auditor General found, “the department’s actions were more reactive than preventative, despite First Nations communities identifying many infrastructure projects to mitigate the impact of emergencies. The department had a backlog of 112 of these infrastructure projects that it had determined were eligible but that it had not funded.” The Auditor General also found the department is spending 3.5 times more money on responding to and recovering from emergencies, such as floods, than it would if it actually funded those communities to prepare and mitigate those effects. It is spending three and a half times more. It is unbelievable.
The revelations of the Auditor General uncovered exactly the kinds of things committees need to dig into, and it is exactly those kinds of things that the government is trying to avoid answering questions on. They are questions like why it provided funding for approximately 190 full-time or part-time emergency management coordinators without any clue whether that was enough capacity to manage those emergencies; why high-risk first nations communities were ignored and not prioritized for resources; or why Indigenous Services Canada failed to address issues identified after evacuations like “improving access to essential services like mental health supports and health care. The department also did not integrate the impact on marginalized groups, including Indigenous elders, women, and youth, into how emergency services were planned and delivered in First Nations communities.” It is bad enough, but perhaps most damning is how Indigenous Services Canada officials simply passed the buck and blamed first nations for their problems in the name of self-governance.
The Auditor General found that Indigenous Services Canada did not use information about the risks faced by first nations and the capacity of first nations to respond to emergencies, reporting:
The department provides funding for First Nations communities to develop community vulnerability assessments and emergency management plans. These assessments and plans are important because they help First Nations prepare for and mitigate emergencies by identifying risks and outlining how they will be managed. Department officials told [the Auditor General] that, in the spirit of supporting First Nations self-governance, they did not require First Nations to provide this information to the department.
How the heck can the minister find that acceptable? According to the government’s own 2019 emergency management strategy for Canada, for every $1 invested in preparedness and mitigation, $6 can be saved in emergency response and recovery costs, yet Indigenous Services Canada’s total spending on response and recovery activities, at $646 million, was 3.5 times more than its spending on preparedness and mitigation activities, which was $182 million. This is yet another example of the Liberal government’s complete disregard for indigenous people and its complete disregard for managing taxpayers' money.
In budget 2019, Indigenous Services Canada was allocated approximately $1.4 million over three years to support first nations–led management and engagement on multilateral emergency management service agreements between Indigenous Services Canada, first nations communities and provinces or other service providers. Unsurprisingly, the Auditor General found that, as of April 2022, although the department had spent almost $790,000, no multilateral agreements were established. Half the money is gone, and there is nothing to show for it. It really is unbelievable.
It was exactly six months ago when another parliamentary officer released a report on the mismanagement at Indigenous Services Canada. This time, it was the Parliamentary Budget Officer. That was in May. The Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report detailed the Liberals’ continued approach of pumping more money into a broken Ottawa-knows-best system that failed indigenous peoples. Rather than working with indigenous leaders to eliminate the inequalities inherent in the bureaucracy, barriers that are holding indigenous people back from achieving prosperity, the government just keeps on pushing its failed policies over and over again. The Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report found that, instead of fixing the problem, the Liberals blew through their budget by $863 million, a 48% increase, which only resulted in a significant decline in Indigenous Services Canada’s ability to actually get the job done. They spend more and achieve less.
That is yet another example of a report that may never see the inside of a committee room if Motion No. 22 passes. The Liberals will promise the world. Then they will completely fail to deliver. Again, it is unbelievable.
Even more unbelievable is that Motion No. 22 will pass with the support, probably, of their NDP buddies. The New Democrats have said many times that they are committed to undertaking the work of reconciliation in good faith and in true and equal partnership with indigenous communities across the country. They say they are ready to make investments in indigenous communities to support infrastructure that improves basic emergency services and are against the broken promises and inaction of the Liberal government on those issues. If that sounds familiar to some of my colleagues, it should. It is on the front page of their website, yet they stand prepared to support this government to eliminate the right of parliamentarians to question and hold the government to account on life-threatening issues, such as the ones identified today by the Auditor General.
By supporting the Liberals, the NDP will be condoning their continued “spend more, achieve less” results for Canadian taxpayers and indigenous peoples. In an interview during the last election, when asked if he would support the Liberals in Parliament, the leader of the NDP said, “I think it’s clear with the evidence, another four years of [this Prime Minister] will make things worse. He has made things bad, and it is going to get worse. So people can’t afford another four years of [this Prime Minister].” During that same election campaign, the NDP put out an ad that claimed that the Prime Minister talks and the leader of the NDP delivers. That said, I would like to know exactly exactly what my NDP colleagues are delivering on by supporting Motion No. 22.
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