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Mar 13th

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    Mar 13, 2015 10:40 am | Ontario, St. Paul's

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-356, an act respecting a national strategy for dementia.

    According to the World Health Organization, there are roughly 35.6 million around the world who are currently living with dementia. This number is expected to double by 2030 and more than triple by 2050.

    In 2011, 14.9% of Canadians aged 65 and older were living with cognitive impairment, including dementia. By 2031, this figure is expected to increase to a shocking 1.4 million people. Today we face the combined costs of dementia totalling $33 billion per year.

    This is not something that Canadians can afford, both economically and socially, to continue to occur. We need to enact change by putting in place a national strategy for dementia.

    The Liberal Party supports the need for a national plan to address Alzheimer's disease and all other forms of dementia. Canada today has almost as many diagnosed dementia patients as the United Kingdom does, at 847,000, despite a difference in population of 30 million. In B.C., more than 70,000 people have this disease, while another 15,000 people are diagnosed each year.

    Canada pledged in 2013 to find a cure or treatment for Alzheimer's by 2025. As one of the only G7 countries still without such a strategy, our time to do so is running out.

    The Alzheimer Society of Canada as well as the Canadian Association of Retired Persons and other related organizations are united in calling for stronger political leadership to battle this debilitating disease. They recognize society's need for our current government to support Canadians in their difficult battle against dementia, and to find a treatment for it.

    Another associated organization, Baycrest Health Sciences and its' Rotman Research Institute (RRI), is also working to accelerate scientific research regarding dementia. This institute recognizes that a person's risk for dementia doubles every 5 years after age 65.

    Their strong focus on the relationship between brain health and aging helps them to understand that as fewer people live to see these older ages, the number of Canadians with dementia could be cut in half if its onset were to be delayed by just five years. With the implementation of Bill C-356, such research could be carried out with promise for viable results.

    Unfortunately, however, federal leadership is required for any such action on a pan-Canadian dementia strategy to occur. Once again, the current government is not doing enough.

    In October 2014, Minister of Health announced she was in the “early stages” of discussions with the provinces to establish a national dementia strategy. The 2014 federal budget also promisingly committed new funding for research into age-related neurodegeneration. Sadly, this only represents a fraction of the resources truly necessary to even begin to focus on approaching this disease.

    Alzheimer's disease puts enormous emotional stress on millions of families in Canada and costs our health care system billions of dollars every year. Delaying the onset of Alzheimer's by 2 years can save our Health Care system $219 billion over a 30 year period. A national strategy for dementia may be able to make an astounding difference in advancing research in order to work toward achieving this goal, which would diminish this enormous economic hardship and subsequently and, most important, improve the lives of affected Canadians.

    As recently published in the Toronto Star, another possible solution has been proposed by the Alzheimer Society. This organization is recommending that an arm's-length not-for-profit organization be funded through the Public Health Agency of Canada at a cost of $30 million over five years. It would be responsible for research coordination, training for health care providers, delivery of health care services and education, including how to recognize early signs of the disease that affects people in their 40s and 50s. Such a program may provide a possible approach to relieving such aforementioned pressures.

    In our last election platform, the Liberal Party of Canada laid out a clear, comprehensive strategy for tackling the issue of dementia. Along with directing attention towards economic issues, we focused on awareness, education and prevention to support families and combat the social stigmas of dementia.

    The social implications of this disease are in equal need of many support services as related economic ramifications. Coping with the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia is exceptionally difficult.

    The Mental Health Commission of Canada recently issued a report of mental health indicators that showed caregivers are facing enormous emotional stress caring for elderly parents and sick children. Many women are leaving the paid workforce in order to care for a loved one, their mother, their mother-in-law, their aunt. There are so many stories that we all know. Some end up having to take a lower-paying job in order to be able to meet the needs of the loved one and family member.

    It is therefore necessary that we disseminate proper knowledge and the best practices possible in order to foster improvements in the quality of treatment and support for patients and families coping with these brain disorders, as we also work to ensure their economic security.

    I commend Mount Sinai Hospital and the Reitman family for funding a unit there that supports the families of those suffering from Alzheimer's in order for them to give the best possible care. It is sometimes so difficult and frustrating for families to have to provide care without really understanding the frustration and how normal it is to feel that way.

    The bill would require the minister to initiate discussions with provincial counterparts within 30 days of its coming into force in order to achieve its objectives of developing a national plan with national objectives.

    I do not believe there is any strategy that can just be a laundry list of things the government is already dabbling in, which seems to be what the government thinks is a strategy. The strategy has to be what, by when, and how, and actually be able to identify the partners necessary to make the strategy work. Such a process would help to establish a method of receiving input from affected Canadians and would continue to support greater research and implementation of related technology.

    Bill C-356 would also work with the international community in improving clinical guidelines in order to produce the best available practices for care, support and prevention of dementia.

    By investing in both research and prevention of Alzheimer's we can delay its onset for as long as possible so all Canadians can live their lives to the fullest potential. We need the research and practice-based evidence in order to determine what is the best possible support we can give to the families of those affected.

    We must work together to support the bill and most importantly, bring necessary aid to those so desperately in need.

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    Mar 13, 2015 9:35 am | Ontario, St. Paul's

    Mr. Speaker, this is again just purely ideologically driven instead of evidence-based, which is the way the government goes in all aspects, choosing ideology and pandering to its base rather than providing measures that save lives, save money and move in the right direction.

    The government does not understand that so many people suffering from addictions are victims of child abuse and the kinds of things that cause people to end up going down this wrong and unhealthy path. They have not been able to trust people in authority, whether that be people in their homes, teachers and so forth. Insite has provided an opportunity for them to see a way through and develop a therapeutic relationship with a health care provider for probably the first time in their lives. It has allowed them to get into addiction treatment and safe housing. That is the way to create safer communities, and that is why the title of this bill is offensive.

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    Mar 13, 2015 9:30 am | Ontario, St. Paul's

    Mr. Speaker, the community consultation has always been part of, and was indeed essential to, the success of the Vancouver downtown east side site. It was done with consulting the community. It was done with the support and the efforts of all three levels of government and the local police.

    What is more than irritating about the bill is that instead of using the five criteria that were listed in the Supreme Court ruling, these 26 new prescriptive criteria that must be met are actually intrusive into provincial and municipal jurisdiction. They interfere with the jurisdiction of the regulatory bodies on health care providers, and interfere with the choices of provincial and municipal police forces and provincial public health officers.

    It is clear the government just does not want these things to happen. Communities want them to happen. The government should get out of the way.

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    Mar 13, 2015 9:15 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    With regard to contracts under $10 000 granted by the Prime Minister's Office since March 27, 2014: what are the (a) vendors' names; (b) contracts' reference numbers; (c) dates of the contracts; (d) descriptions of the services provided; (e) delivery dates; (f) original contracts' values; and (g) final contracts' values if different from the original contracts' values?

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    Mar 13, 2015 9:15 am | Nova Scotia, Cape Breton—Canso

    With regard to contracts under $10 000 granted by Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation since March 31, 2014: what are the (a) vendors' names; (b) contracts' reference numbers; (c) dates of the contracts; (d) descriptions of the services provided; (e) delivery dates; (f) original contracts' values; and (g) final contracts' values if different from the original contracts' values?

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    Mar 13, 2015 9:15 am | Prince Edward Island, Cardigan

    With regard to Employment and Social Development Canada, for fiscal years 2006-2007 to 2013-2014 inclusive: (a) what is the amount and percentage of all lapsed spending, broken down by (i) program, (ii) sub-program, (iii) sub-sub program; and (b) for each answer to (a)(i), (a)(ii) and (a)(iii), how much of the lapsed funding was (i) operating, (ii) capital, (iii) transfer payments?

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    Mar 13, 2015 9:15 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana

    With regard to the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams (INSET), by month and by year, since 2003: (a) how many employees were there in (i) each unit, (ii) each city, (iii) total; (b) of those employees in (a), how many were (i) permanent, (ii) transferred or temporary; (c) how much was spent on salaries; (d) of the amount in (c), how much was overtime; (e) how much funding was allocated to each office; (f) how much funding was lapsed; and (g) were any additional funds granted, and if so, how much?

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    Mar 13, 2015 9:15 am | Ontario, York West

    With regard to contracts under $10 000 granted by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario since March 27, 2014: what are the (a) vendors' names; (b) contracts' reference numbers; (c) dates of the contracts; (d) descriptions of the services provided; (e) delivery dates; (f) original contracts' values; and (g) final contracts' values if different from the original contracts' values?

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    Mar 13, 2015 9:15 am | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque

    With regard to the Correctional Service of Canada: (a) what is the current policy on the use of administrative segregation; (b) what changes to this policy are being considered; (c) who has been consulted with regards to any proposed changes, and when did these consultations take place; (d) has the Correctional Service of Canada received any analysis or advice on the constitutionality of the current administrative segregation policy and, if so, (i) when was it received, (ii) who provided the advice, (iii) what were the results or recommendations; (e) what is the proposed timeline for announcing any such proposed policy change; (f) what is the proposed timeline for implementing any such proposed policy change; (g) how many inmates will be affected by any such proposed policy change, broken down by (i) facility type, (ii) location; (h) what additional public costs are projected to be incurred as a result of any such proposed policy change; and (i) what are the titles, dates, and file numbers of any reports, memoranda, briefing notes, dockets, studies, or other records pertaining to any such proposed policy change?

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    Mar 13, 2015 9:15 am | Ontario, St. Paul's

    Mr. Speaker, today we are debating Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, at third reading.

    I have a couple of other suggestions for the name of this bill. It could be called “the refusal to honour the ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada bill”. How about “the pursuing ideology versus evidence act”, or “the refusal to save the lives of people with addictions act"?

    This bill was introduced in response to the Supreme Court of Canada 2011 ruling that Insite, in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, had been proven to save lives and reduce harm, and that the government's efforts to close Insite would violate section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to life, liberty, and the security of the person. It is clear that the government did not like this ruling, and therefore has tried to go about refusing to honour the ruling by another route.

    It is also clear that this bill will not fulfill the spirit of the court's ruling. Rather, it would make it cumbersome for a group or municipality to apply for a section 56 exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act which allows a facility to operate. However, the likelihood of any future sites opening in Canada would become slim to none. Making matters worse, Vancouver's Insite would have to apply for a renewal based on the same 26 different criteria as new applications, as well as two additional provisions.

    Section 56 of the CDSA gives the Minister of Health discretionary powers to grant exemptions from the act under one of three categories. They are medical purposes, scientific purposes, or in the public interest. Of the exemptions that have been granted for activities with illicit substances, two types are for law enforcement purposes. These are to train sniffer dogs using seized drugs in the public interest and to allow the Vancouver Coastal Health authority to operate Insite. It was initially for scientific purposes, but since the Supreme Court's decision, it is considered a medical exemption.

    The government's intentions have been clear from the beginning. It has always opposed Insite and has been trying to close it down since it formed government. Thankfully, the work of the community of Vancouver and the courts have stopped these attempts.

    I would also like the opportunity to thank the member for Vancouver Centre and the Liberal Party of Canada health critic for her tireless efforts on this file to ensure that public policy is based on evidence and not ideology.

    This is an ideological bill based on crass political motivation from a government that has always opposed evidence-based harm reduction measures such as safe injection sites. Only an hour after the legislation was introduced, Conservative campaign director Jenni Byrne issued a crass and misleading fundraising letter to supporters, stating that the Liberals and the NDP wanted addicts to shoot up heroin in the backyards of communities all across the country.

    Despite this bill being tabled by the Minister of Health, it was given to an enforcement department, the committee of public safety and security. This is further evidence of the government's view of addiction as a criminal act. The public safety and security committee heard witnesses from three meetings, with many expressing concern that this bill would effectively shut down the current safe consumption site in Vancouver and deny the creation of further sites.

    There were amendments suggested by the Province of British Columbia, the chief public health officer of British Columbia, and the City of Vancouver, which were consistent with the Supreme Court of Canada criteria. Even witnesses in favour of the legislation expressed concern that in some parts the legislation is too restrictive. Over 60 amendments were moved by the opposition parties to bring this legislation in line with the Supreme Court ruling. However, the legislation, as usual, was not amended.

    The Liberals proposed amendments to the legislation at committee to amend clause 5, which outlines the criteria that new and existing applicants for exemptions must meet by deleting measures that were not outlined in the Supreme Court ruling. Due to a motion passed by the Conservative majority at the public safety committee, a party can only have five minutes to speak for each clause of the bill while moving amendments. Clause 5, which is the majority of the legislation, required several amendments.

    Due to the time constraints, the Liberal Party was unable to speak to the majority of the amendments, as time had elapsed. This is undemocratic and restricted our right to speak and to explain our amendments at committee.

    Liberals recognize the need for some form of legislation based on the Supreme Court of Canada ruling. However, this legislation does not reflect the spirit nor the intent of the court's decision.

    As stated in the 2011 Supreme Court ruling:

    The factors considered in making the decision on an exemption must include evidence, if any, on the impact of such a facility on crime rates, the local conditions, indicating a need for such a supervised injection site, the regulatory structure in place to support this facility, the resources available to support its maintenance, and expressions of community support or opposition.

    Instead, of the five criteria listed in the Supreme Court of Canada ruling, Bill C-2 lists 26 different prescriptive criteria that must be met, including the areas that are intrusive into provincial and municipal jurisdiction. It also interferes with the jurisdiction of regulatory bodies on health care providers, as well as provincial and municipal police forces and provincial public health officers.

    Liberals support the need for broad community consultation for the establishment of any safe consumption site, which is how the Liberal government established Canada's first safe consumption site in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. When the Liberal government gave the exemption to Vancouver's safe consumption site, we consulted broadly and worked in conjunction with provincial and municipal governments, public health authorities, business associations, and the public.

    Insite was the product of co-operative federalism. Local, provincial, and federal authorities combined their efforts to create it. The Vancouver police support Insite, as well as the City of Vancouver and the British Columbia government.

    It was initially launched as a scientifically based research project based on experience with SCS in Europe and Australia on very high, at-risk and resistant groups, which had proven to be successful. It has saved lives and improved health without increasing the incidence of drug use and crime in the surrounding area.

    lnsite has an average of 700 to 800 visits a day, and over 275,000 visits annually. As of March 2010, there have been over 1.5 million visits, over 12,000 unique individuals registered, and an average of 11 visits per month, per person

    It has been proven to reduce harm. There has been a total of 2,395 overdoses since the facility opened, with zero fatalities. There were 20,000 referrals to health services in 2008-09, and over 50% of those were to detox.

    lnsite users are 30% more likely to engage in addiction treatment than non-lnsite users. It has also dramatically reduced the rate of new HIV infections in the Downtown Eastside. There are three in ten injection drug users in the Downtown Eastside who are HIV positive; 18% of lnsite clients are HIV positive. There were 30 new HIV cases in the Downtown Eastside in 2011, compared to 2,100 new cases in 1996.

    I would like to highlight the four pillars of any effective drug strategy: harm reduction, prevention, treatment, and enforcement. The bill underlines the government's misguided decision to remove harm reduction from the equation and from an effective drug strategy.

    As Liberals, we support evidence-based policies that reduce harm and protect public safety. Liberals established Vancouver's safe consumption site, which has proven to be effective in supporting those suffering with mental illness and addictions, reducing crime and protecting public safety.

    Across Canada, medical officers of health, such as David McKeown, in my home community of Toronto, need this public health approach to get on with creating new life-saving facilities such as this.

    Unfortunately, the bill raises the criteria to establish a safe injection site to such an extraordinary high level that it would be nearly impossible for any future site to be established in Canada.

    Legislation proposed in this House must adhere to the rule of law. The ruling of the Supreme Court of Canada was clear. This legislation would put lives at risk and would likely be challenged in the courts again.

    We cannot support the legislation. To put it bluntly, we cannot help people if they are dead.

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    Mar 13, 2015 9:15 am | British Columbia, Vancouver Quadra

    With regard to military base CFB Petawawa: since 2007, (i) what are the names and ridings of Members of Parliament who have visited the base, (ii) what are the dates when the Members visited, (iii) what were the purposes of the visits, (iv) what were the costs associated with each Members' visit?

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    Mar 13, 2015 8:50 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax West

    Mr. Speaker, today we find out that Canadian veterans injured before 2006 will see their benefits clawed back under the government's new retirement income security benefits plan. When the minister was asked if he would fix this problem, he reportedly said, “we are not looking into that at this time”.

    Will the government reverse this clawback and ensure that no veteran loses a single penny under this new plan?

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    Mar 13, 2015 8:50 am | Ontario, St. Paul's

    Mr. Speaker, the Military Police Complaints Commission found the military's investigation of the death of Corporal Langridge to be incompetent and lacking professionalism. Its handling of this traumatic situation has been mired in secrecy and a seven year ordeal for the family.

    The family has asked to see the entire board of inquiry report, but have been stonewalled. Instead, this week it was provided with a selective partial report, which blames the soldier and his family for this horrible tragedy.

    Will the government denounce these deplorable findings and commit to releasing the full report?

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    Mar 13, 2015 8:40 am | Newfoundland, Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor

    Mr. Speaker, since 2011, 70% of funding under the enabling accessibility fund has been spent in Conservative ridings. Conservatives have been using a program designed to help those with disabilities as a political slush fund to reward their friends.

    If that is not bad enough, now the Prime Minister himself ensured that a failed application was put on top of the pile, fast-tracked, and given over $1 million. It is like Duffy all over again.

    There is one word for this bad behaviour; it is called corruption. How can he defend it?

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    Mar 13, 2015 8:25 am | Nova Scotia, Kings—Hants

    Mr. Speaker, today's job report also shows that there are fewer jobs for young Canadians. In fact, there are 160,000 fewer jobs for young Canadians than in 2008.

    Meanwhile, Canada has just set another new record for high levels of household debt. There is a connection between household debt and a weak job market for youth in Canada. Middle-class parents are taking on extra debt in order to help their adult children make ends meet.

    When will the Conservatives actually understand the real challenges faced by middle-class families? When will they give them a real plan for jobs and growth?

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    Mar 13, 2015 7:50 am | Ontario, St. Paul's

    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member for becoming the new health critic for the New Democratic Party.

    As the health critic, could he explain to me why the bill was sent to the public safety committee instead of to the health committee?

Mar 12th

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    Mar 12, 2015 3:25 pm | Ontario, St. Paul's

    Mr. Speaker, Bill C-641 would require that in consultation and co-operation with indigenous peoples in Canada, the government take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws in Canada would be consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. The declaration is an expression of the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples, and sets out principles of partnership and mutual respect that should guide the relationships between states and indigenous peoples.

    I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the tireless efforts of indigenous leaders from Canada, such as Chief Wilton Littlechild, Grand Chief Edward John and so many others, without whom this groundbreaking document would never have been realized.

    In fact, the principles laid out in the declaration are similar to Canada's existing legal duties to meaningfully consult and, where necessary, accommodate aboriginal communities before adopting or implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect their inherent and/or treaty rights. In fact, it codifies what indigenous peoples across the country know is necessary, expressed as “Nothing about us without us”.

    We need to realize that there is still a lot of work to be done in order to meet the urgent needs of aboriginal peoples in Canada and ensure that aboriginal and treaty rights take on their full meaning and become part of an enforceable framework.

    Unfortunately, since coming to power, the Conservative government has pursued a paternalistic and non-consultative approach with indigenous peoples in Canada, going so far as classifying them as adversaries in terms of resource development.

    The education gap is widening in terms of both funding and outcomes, housing shortages are becoming more acute, water and waste water systems are in crisis, and tragic gaps in first nations health outcomes are continuing unabated.

    The clear frustration of aboriginal peoples is understandable, given the litany of broken promises, the complete lack of progress on issues of vital importance to them, and the refusal of the government to fulfill its legal obligation to consult on matters that may impact their inherent and/or treaty rights.

    There is no doubt that the federal government is responsible for healing relations with the first nations, Inuit and Métis people of Canada, and those relations must be based on the principles set out in the the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, or UNDRIP.

    The Liberal Party of Canada has long expressed support for these principles, and as the parliamentary secretary noted, passed support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at our Liberal policy convention in 2014. We continue also to urge the government to move forward with its implementation. We think implementation requires federal leadership across all government departments and across all jurisdictions. All levels of government must understand the principles in this declaration that Canada signed on to.

    The Liberal caucus will therefore be supporting the bill. The declaration establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity, well-being, and rights of the world's indigenous peoples. It addresses both individual and collective rights, cultural rights, identity, and the right to education, health, employment, language, and others.

    The declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13, 2007, with an overwhelming majority, when 143 states voted in favour and only four voted against, with 11 abstaining. Unfortunately, Canada was one of the four countries that initially rejected the declaration.

    As is the case with many other international issues, the Conservatives' obstructionist approach in this case is further tarnishing Canada's reputation on the world stage.

    Subsequent to that UN vote, all four states that initially rejected the declaration have endorsed it. Australia endorsed the declaration in 2009, the U.S. indicated its endorsement in 2010, and New Zealand joined with its endorsement in that same year.

    In 2010, Canada also seemingly joined the international consensus by issuing a statement of support for its principles. Unfortunately, the Conservative government has done nothing since that statement to implement the principles in the declaration. As we heard from the parliamentary secretary, it does not even believe most of what it signed and has consistently used the excuse that it is merely aspirational in nature.

    Certainly, in an order paper question that I tabled in this House, the response from the government was very clear. When asked what it was doing to implement the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, the answer was pretty well nothing. Nothing, because it is aspirational. Nothing across government departments. Nothing in terms of dealing with the provinces, territories and municipalities, as all levels of government must understand and honour this international declaration.

    While it is true that UN declarations are generally not legally binding, they do represent the evolution of international legal norms and reflect the commitment of states to make progress toward specific shared goals while abiding by certain principles.

    Further, as noted by the Native Law Centre at the University of Saskatchewan:

    The Declaration did not create new rights for Indigenous peoples—but expanded upon existing human rights law and clarifies how those general human rights protections apply to Indigenous peoples.

    Even if the government sees this document as merely aspirational, it is time to move forward with tangible actions to support achieving those aspirations. I am particularly disappointed to hear from the parliamentary secretary that the government will not be supporting this private member's bill.

    Just last year the current government rejected the UN Indigenous Peoples World Conference outcome document because of its call to implement the declaration. The 2014 UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples brought together over 1,000 indigenous and non-indigenous delegates to discuss the realization of indigenous rights. The outcome document calls on member states to take:

    ...appropriate measures at the national level, including legislative, policy and administrative measures, to achieve the ends of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    The outcome document also affirms provisions in the UN declaration that decisions potentially affecting the rights of indigenous peoples should be undertaken only with their free, prior and informed consent. This seems to be the issue the government takes issue with. It is so disappointing that it did not understand that the declaration really insists on people moving forward on that. If it is aspirational, it means it still has to move forward and make some action that demonstrates an understanding of what has been signed.

    The Conservative government refused to even send a minister to the UN World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and then rejected the outcome document. This government seems to take particular issue with the principle that decisions potentially affecting the rights of indigenous peoples should only be undertaken with their free, prior and informed consent.

    As the parliamentary secretary said, article 19 states that countries “shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned...to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them”.

    Article 32(2) states that countries “shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned...to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development...”.

    The practical implications of the concept of free, prior and informed consent are not dissimilar to the legal duties already imposed on governments by treaties and now enshrined in our Constitution.

    My message to Canadians is that true reconciliation can only be achieved if we understand the history, the culture and the rights of first nations, Inuit and Métis people in Canada. It is a process that we called “Idle? Know more!” It is something that colleagues here need to be part of, in terms of how we can go forward with as my colleague from Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou has said, in order to achieve true reconciliation.

    I encourage all of us here in this House to take special time with the users guide and parliamentary handbook that has been developed on DRIP, and I hope we will move forward together in spite of the present government.

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    Mar 12, 2015 12:00 pm | Ontario, St. Paul's

    Mr. Speaker, the C. D. Howe Institute made it clear: low immunization rates in parts of Canada are a major health concern.

    Only one province, Newfoundland and Labrador, has achieved the 95% vaccination coverage needed for herd immunity. Quebec is in the midst of a serious measles outbreak: 119 people, with another 700 at risk.

    The report recommends better public education and real-time information on who is and who is not immunized.

    Will the government implement, on an urgent basis, the C.D. Howe recommendations?

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    Mar 12, 2015 11:50 am | Nova Scotia, Kings—Hants

    Mr. Speaker, I remember when finance ministers used to answer budget questions. I also remember when finance ministers actually introduced budgets in this House.

    Alberta's economic and fiscal framework is far more dependent on oil prices than that of Canada. Yet, Alberta's finance minister is set to deliver a budget on March 26.

    Therefore, if Alberta's finance minister can introduce a budget before the next fiscal year starts, why can Canada's finance minister not do the same thing?

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    Mar 12, 2015 11:40 am | Quebec, Westmount—Ville-Marie

    Mr. Speaker, let us not forget that the Mike Duffy cover-up began only after Nigel Wright allegedly stated, “We are good to go from the PM”.

    Funding of $1 million for a project that helped the Conservative Party but failed miserably when compared to the others was granted only after the Prime Minister allegedly asked Nigel Wright to deal with this file.

    How can the Prime Minister defend this corruption?

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    Mar 12, 2015 11:40 am | Newfoundland, Random—Burin—St. George's

    Mr. Speaker, this Prime Minister is the most controlling in Canada's history. Nothing happens in the government without his approval.

    RCMP documents show the PM's direct involvement in the Mike Duffy cover-up. The ethic commissioner's report shows his direct involvement in funding a failed project that benefited only the Conservative Party.

    This is corruption at its highest level. How can the Prime Minister defend this?

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    Mar 12, 2015 11:35 am | Newfoundland, Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor

    Mr. Speaker, I think she is missing the point. A failed funding application was fast-tracked and approved for over $1 million only after the Prime Minister had told chief of staff Nigel Wright to “sort it out”. Why? We know, because it benefited the Conservative Party.

    Just a reminder that out of 167 applications, this project came in 163rd. The common thread, just like with Duffy, is the involvement of the Prime Minister's closest adviser acting on the explicit instructions of the Prime Minister.

    How can the Prime Minister defend this corruption?

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    Mar 12, 2015 11:25 am | Ontario, Markham—Unionville

    Mr. Speaker, recently we heard three things from the Conservatives: first, the Prime Minister appears to condone racist language; second, as is clear from their own document, Conservatives see their base as anti-immigrant; third, the Prime Minister keeps attacking Muslims.

    Is the Prime Minister so deeply mired in his Reform Party roots that he is totally unable to promote an inclusive Canada, or will he expel that member from his caucus?

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    Mar 12, 2015 11:20 am | Ontario, Markham—Unionville

    Mr. Speaker, the leader of Liberal Party said nothing about the Holocaust, and he gave a great speech in Toronto.

    Two of the Prime Minister's Conservative colleagues from Calgary have used strong words to denounce their colleague's language, labelling it racist and damaging to all of us. Yet the Prime Minister has remained silent. Does this mean the Prime Minister tacitly condones these racist remarks, or will he finally act and remove the member from his caucus?

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    Mar 12, 2015 11:10 am | Newfoundland, Random—Burin—St. George's

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today in remembrance of the tragedy that unfolded off the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador six years ago on March 12, 2009.

    On that fateful day, 17 of 18 passengers and crew lost their lives when a Cougar helicopter, Flight 491, crashed into the frigid North Atlantic Ocean while en route to the SeaRose FPSO and the Hibernia platform.

    Among the 17 who died were my constituents Wade Drake and Burch Nash, both from the Burin Peninsula in my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.

    Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have long looked to the sea to make a living, whether by fishing or working in the oil industry. Unfortunately, all too often the sea has claimed the lives of many men and women who bravely risked their lives to provide for their families. The sadness that continues to be felt by the spouses, children, and members of the extended family of the 17 victims who died so tragically is shared by all who remember the tragedy.

    I ask all members of the House to join me in remembering this solemn occasion and again offer our sympathies to those who lost loved ones.

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    Mar 12, 2015 7:40 am | Ontario, Markham—Unionville

    Mr. Speaker, in terms of Bill S-7, the Liberals will be proposing an amendment that, instead of the bill's short title referring to “barbaric cultural practices”, the word “cultural” be eliminated and it simply be “barbaric practices”.

    The reason for this is that such practices are not limited to any one community. There is Bountiful in British Columbia, which is Christian. There was a Jewish group in Quebec.

    The word “cultural” is taken to be demeaning to the Muslim community, among others perhaps. I know the minister is highly aware of insults to the Muslim community in which he has indulged, not appearing to know the difference between a hijab and a niqab.

    However, the general point is that I do not think the word “cultural” is necessary. It can be taken away. I wonder if the minister would agree to that amendment.

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    Mar 12, 2015 7:15 am | Ontario, Markham—Unionville

    With regard to frozen allotments: (a) which departments or agencies were directed by the Treasury Board to withhold spending on one or more specific initiatives in fiscal year (i) 2011-2012, (ii) 2012-2013, (iii) 2013-2014; (b) what is the official name for each frozen allotment in fiscal year (i) 2011-2012, (ii) 2012-2013, (iii) 2013-2014; (c) what are the details of each initiative subject to a permanent frozen allotment in fiscal year (i) 2011-2012, (ii) 2012-2013, (iii) 2013-2014; and (d) how much money was frozen for each identified initiative in fiscal year (i) 2011-2012, (ii) 2012-2013, (iii) 2013-2014?

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    Mar 12, 2015 7:15 am | Ontario, York West

    With regard to contracts under $10 000 granted by Industry Canada since May 30, 2014: what are the (a) vendors' names; (b) contracts' reference numbers; (c) dates of the contracts; (d) descriptions of the services provided; (e) delivery dates; (f) original contracts' values; and (g) final contracts' values if different from the original contracts' values?

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    Mar 12, 2015 7:10 am | Ontario, Markham—Unionville

    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to present a petition signed by many constituents who expressed strong concern regarding the remarks by the member for Willowdale on the subject of Iranian Canadians. This petition is itself backed by an online petition, which is signed by more than 2,400 Canadians.

Mar 11th

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    Mar 11, 2015 3:35 pm | Quebec, Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel

    Mr. Speaker, I have no problem proceeding in this fashion. I will be voting in favour.

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    Mar 11, 2015 3:35 pm | Newfoundland, Random—Burin—St. George's

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals agree to apply the vote and will be voting yes.

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    Mar 11, 2015 3:35 pm | Newfoundland, Avalon

    Mr. Speaker, I agree to apply and will be voting in favour.

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    Mar 11, 2015 2:20 pm | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, my question for the member is an important one in this sense.

    One of the stumbling blocks going forward over the last several decades in Canada with respect to aboriginal participation in large resource development projects has been the notion of equity participation. Aboriginal peoples, in my view, have a right to have a share of the equity in projects, not simply be the recipients of specific outcomes, be it income benefits or socio-economic benefits, but have full equity participation.

    What precisely would the bill do to facilitate, encourage, make as an outcome for our aboriginal peoples in all the resource projects that are contemplated for that region full equity partners?

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    Mar 11, 2015 1:00 pm | Nova Scotia, Cape Breton—Canso

    Mr. Speaker, we are just sitting in the corner here sort of amazed at what is being said about the hearings that took place in the Senate. Those same senators made amendments to Bill C-377, a bill that attacked organized labour. They did not pay any attention to them. Why the difference now?

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    Mar 11, 2015 12:00 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana

    Mr. Speaker, this is a threadbare government in abject denial. It has increased taxes in each of its last five budgets. It has the worst growth record in eight decades. Job creation is only half of what the previous government achieved. Job quality is the worst in 25 years. One third of those soon retiring have no savings. Consumer debt is the highest ever. Federal debt has grown by nearly $5,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.

    Does the minister not understand that a big majority of Canadians want something new, different, and better than this?

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    Mar 11, 2015 11:55 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana

    Mr. Speaker, the previous government always ran a trade surplus while the current government has 49 months of a trade deficit. It is also weak on jobs, both in quantity and quality.

    When CIBC reported that reality, the finance minister simply trashed it. CIBC is a sham, he said. However, it is not just CIBC. The same jobs analysis came from TD Bank, the Bank of Canada, the OECD, Morgan Stanley, York University, the PBO and many others.

    Are they all lying? Are all of them a sham?

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    Mar 11, 2015 11:45 am | Ontario, Markham—Unionville

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister remains silent and refuses to take a stand against the racist comments made by the member for New Brunswick Southwest about a week ago. This is a matter of leadership. The Prime Minister needs to clearly state that those comments were unacceptable and apologize on behalf of his caucus. When will he do that?

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    Mar 11, 2015 11:40 am | Newfoundland, Random—Burin—St. George's

    Mr. Speaker, when arranging to cover up for Mike Duffy, Nigel Wright said, “We are good to go from the PM”. Soon after, $90,000 was paid from Wright to Duffy.

    When the then human resources minister spoke to that same Nigel Wright about a project that had failed badly against all others, but was good for the Conservative Party, Nigel Wright said the PM told him to “sort it out”.

    Soon after, this project was approved for more than $1 million. Just like Duffy, this leads right to the Prime Minister. How can he defend this corruption?

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    Mar 11, 2015 11:30 am | Quebec, Papineau

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister also said yesterday that religious freedoms should be overruled because almost all Canadians do not support the wearing of a niqab.

    We have seen this before. He was the Reform Party's policy chief when it voted to prevent Sikh RCMP officers from wearing turbans, saying it was a needless concession to a Canadian minority.

    Twenty-five years later, why does the Prime Minister still insist that the majority should dictate the religious rights of minorities?

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    Mar 11, 2015 11:25 am | Quebec, Papineau

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister made more alarming statements yesterday on the rights and freedoms of Canadians. Could he please explain to Canada's half a million Muslim women why he said their chosen faith was anti-women?

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    Mar 11, 2015 11:20 am | Quebec, Papineau

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, my son Xavier was very proud to tell me that his school, which is part of the francophone public school board of eastern Ontario, was celebrating Francophonie month. This is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate the millions of francophones living across Canada.

    Today, francophones around the world are coming to Canada to benefit from and contribute to our rich cultural and linguistic diversity. Canadian francophones have been a part of our vibrant country for centuries and continue to be vital to our successes.

    This year, we can also celebrate the fact that the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean was elected Secretary-General of la Francophonie.

    Francophonie month is an opportunity to promote the French language here in Canada and around the world. Let us celebrate loudly and proudly.

Mar 10th

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    Mar 10, 2015 3:40 pm | Quebec, Westmount—Ville-Marie

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.

    Recommendation 8 calls on Canada to provide international assistance, which can help fund organizations working on the ground.

    It is not just a matter of s ending government officials or workers. We also need to send experts to work with the Congolese people on the ground to help victims and educate people. That is the kind of role that Canada can play, and that was in recommendation 8 in the report.

    Canada simply needs to be willing to send the resources needed for this type of work.

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    Mar 10, 2015 3:35 pm | Quebec, Westmount—Ville-Marie

    Mr. Speaker, once again, I would like to thank my colleague for her question.

    When I listed the recommendations, the seventh one that I mentioned spoke about the justice system in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It asked Canada to encourage the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to undertake a review of its national law with a view to repealing or abolishing, in certain cases, any legislation, regulation or other law that continues to discriminate against women or girls. That is a big job, but it has to be done.

    In the past, Canada has certainly contributed to implementing changes and establishing institutions that brought about changes in a number of countries. It is a long-term undertaking.

    However, Canada can send public servants or people who work in the justice system to those countries, for example. They can work with their counterparts in the Democratic Republic of Congo to try to implement a system that will not discriminate against women and that clearly recognizes that sexual violence and rape are crimes in times of war as in times of peace.

    In time, this type of change can be made. However, Canada must play an active role and must put in the effort over the long term.

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    Mar 10, 2015 3:30 pm | Quebec, Westmount—Ville-Marie

    Mr. Speaker, to be very blunt, I would have to consult the situation at the moment to be able to properly answer the member's question.

    One would assume, obviously, that the United Nations workers, of whatever stripe, would know and fully respect a code when they are working in places like the DRC. It is very troubling to find out that they themselves may have also been involved in acts of sexual violence.

    I will have to inform myself to find out whether the changes that have been brought up at the United Nations have had the desired effect.

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    Mar 10, 2015 3:20 pm | Quebec, Westmount—Ville-Marie

    Mr. Speaker, as members know, the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development held a number of hearings on the issue of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict and other crises. The report we are debating today is the fruit of that study. This report aims to cast light on the causes and consequences of this troubling phenomenon through a case study of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Although we would not know it from the amount of media coverage and international attention it receives, the barbaric civil war of the DRC is the most lethal conflict since World War II. It has claimed an estimated 2.7 million to 5.4 million deaths. Though the war was formally ended in July 2003, the carnage has continued, including the Kivu and Ituri conflicts, which were driven by, among other things, the trade in conflict minerals.

    In addition to the lives claimed by violence, many more are lost to easily preventable cases of malnutrition and disease.

    As I mentioned, though, the object of this study was one specific aspect of this violence, namely rape and sexual violence. In recent years there has been an increasing emphasis at the national and international levels around the need to prevent and address widespread sexual violence in situations of conflict and crisis. However, despite these efforts, acts of sexual violence in situations of conflict and crisis continue to be perpetrated on a significant scale around the world, shattering lives, fracturing communities, and aggravating the destruction wrought by war, disaster, and civil strife.

    Over the course of its hearings, the subcommittee was told that misconceptions of conflict-related sexual violence have led to gaps in policy responses, contributing to the persistent and pervasive nature of the problem. Witnesses stressed that rather than being an actual collateral effect of armed conflict, sexual violence may be used deliberately in armed conflict to destroy communities and achieve political, economic, and military objectives.

    The subcommittee also heard testimony regarding sexual violence perpetrated in post-conflict situations following natural disasters and in other situations of crisis and political repression. Witnesses noted that several underlying factors contribute to shaping an environment in which sexual violence can occur, including entrenched discriminatory practices and attitudes, weak rule of law, poverty and lack of economic opportunity, and a climate of impunity for perpetrators.

    As part of its broader study of these issues, the subcommittee focused a considerable number of its hearings on the DRC, the eastern regions of which have been labelled the “rape capital of the world”. Indeed, the DRC has become a focal point of international concern because of the extremely high incidence of acts of sexual violence that have been committed against women and girls, especially in the eastern part of the country, where armed conflict has been a constant feature of life for decades.

    The subcommittee's report highlights the magnitude of the crimes being committed in the DRC and the extremely negative effect they are having on the human rights of women and girls as well as those of men and boys.

    The evidence received by the subcommittee identified a number of key factors contributing to the prevalence of sexual violence in the DRC, particularly in the eastern provinces. These factors include widespread discrimination against women in Congolese law and society; weak rule of law and a critically under-resourced justice sector that lacks capacity, independence, and impartiality, leading to pervasive impunity; an ineffective, ill-disciplined security sector that is not subject to effective civilian control; and competition between armed groups and individuals for control of natural resource revenues in a region affected by widespread poverty and a lack of economic opportunity.

    In light of the breadth of factors that contribute to the prevalence of sexual violence in the DRC and in other situations of conflict and crisis, witnesses argued that international efforts to address the problem must take a holistic, multi-sectoral approach and commit to implementation over the long term.

    Based on the evidence it heard, the subcommittee put forward the following recommendations to the Government of Canada:

    Recommendation 1: That the Government of Canada continue to make the promotion and protection of women’s human rights a foreign policy priority, and that it work to strengthen women’s participation in securing, maintaining and consolidating international peace and security.

    Recommendation 2: That the Government of Canada continue to take a leadership role in international efforts to foster the effective implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions on Women, Peace and Security in the context of United Nations operations and in United Nations Member States.

    Recommendation 3: That the Government of Canada continue to speak out clearly and strongly, on a consistent basis, in support of survivors of sexual violence and against their stigmatization and marginalization in society.

    Recommendation 4: That the Government of Canada continue its important efforts to combat forced and early marriage around the world, and that, in connection with this work, Canada consider ways to generate international action to improve the situation of conflict-affected girls forced into marriage or sexual slavery by armed groups.

    Recommendation 5: That the Government of Canada continue to express its expectation to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that the latter take concrete action to halt the systematic use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.

    Recommendation 6: That the Government of Canada convey to the parties to the armed conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, through appropriate channels, the important role that survivors of sexual violence play in ensuring long-term security and justice; and that the Government of Canada continue to call for all parties to the conflict to ensure the active and equal participation of women in the resolution of the conflict.

    Recommendation 7: That the Government of Canada encourage the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to undertake a review of national law with a view to repealing or abolishing any legislation, regulation or other law that continues to discriminate against women or girls.

    Recommendation 8: That, in its international assistance programming in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Government of Canada consider continuing to support initiatives aimed at providing medical and other forms of assistance to survivors of sexual violence; that the apportionment of Canadian assistance be reviewed with a view to considering the possibility of funding smaller, grass-roots programs — potentially in partnership with larger non-governmental organizations; and that the Government of Canada also consider continuing its support for security and justice sector reform initiatives, prosecutions of alleged perpetrators of sexual violence, and extractive resources governance and tracing regimes.

    Recommendation 9: That, in its international assistance programming in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Government of Canada consider the possibility of supporting initiatives that provide training in fundraising, governance and accounting techniques to local non-governmental organizations in order to properly equip them to effectively lead local advocacy efforts.

    Recommendation 10: That, in its international assistance programming, the Government of Canada consider ways to work with United Nations agencies and likeminded donor countries to strengthen partnerships with local organizations involved in addressing the problem of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in other situations of conflict and crisis.

    Recommendation 11: That the Government of Canada continue to take appropriate steps to protect and support those who work with survivors of sexual violence in particular, and human rights defenders more generally, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in other situations of conflict and crisis.

    Recommendation 12: That the Government of Canada continue working to ensure that Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security is implemented in all relevant policies and programming; that, in order to provide timely and robust public progress reports, the Government of Canada continue to make efforts to address challenges associated with collecting data and reporting across government departments, which undertake their activities under diverse mandates, policies and processes; and that the Government of Canada consult with civil society organizations during evaluations and reviews of the National Action Plan.

    These are all good recommendations and ones that I and my party are happy to support. I note, as well, that the Subcommittee on International Human Rights has continued to study the issue of rape and sexual violence as a weapon of war in other conflict zones, including in Syria. I thank the members of the subcommittee for their hard work.

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    Mar 10, 2015 2:45 pm | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-637, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to firearms storage and transportation, which is a private member's bill put forward by the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.

    As is typical of the government, it is not part of a public safety package that brings together a number of areas for public safety from the government itself. We constantly believe, on this side of the House, that even though bills are coming forward as private members' bills, they are one-offs, often not well thought out, and often on small issues. In fact the member could not even give us the information whether any charges had ever been laid under this particular bill. They are coming forward as private members' bills and often they really complicate the criminal justice system and do not make for good public safety policies. Many of them come forward just to try to create some political discourse for internal objectives of the Conservative Party of Canada and to try to drive wedges between Canadians on different sides of the issues.

    I am concerned, and we will oppose this legislation because any weakening of the provisions to store and transport these weapons—it is a strong word—is against the interest of public safety. Simply put, the legislation would take away the criminal liability for unsafe storage and transport of these weapons, which can and do inflict injury. This raises serious concerns related to public safety, particularly related mostly to children but to youth as well.

    As others have said in the House, I expect there are many who have used BB guns and pellet guns as kids in their own life experience. I certainly have. They do cause harm. It is possible to lose an eye. I had a neighbour who in fact had that happen many years ago. That was not safe use.

    The member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette mentioned himself that the use of BB guns and pellet guns is good training for later in life in the safe use, transport, and storage of these weapons. Having these restrictions there makes good sense for long-term lifetime use of other guns that may be used in hunting and experiences later in life. Therefore, it is important to keep these restrictions in place to ensure that happens, because it is a training ground for young people. They recognize then that the law is there.

    The legislation seeks to ensure that BB guns, airguns, and most likely pellet guns are not deemed firearms for the purpose of their transportation and storage. Therefore, the Criminal Code provisions related to the transportation and storage of firearms would not apply to these weapons. That is basically what the bill does. We maintain though that, simply put, the legislation would take away the criminal liability for the unsafe storage and transportation of these weapons, which can and do inflict injuries. This raises serious concerns about public safety, especially as it relates to youth.

    There appears to be no dispute of the fact that BB guns, pellet guns, and air guns are weapons and are fully capable of discharging a projectile, which can cause serious injury, if not death. Therefore, we believe it is against the interest of public safety to weaken provisions on weapons that are often used by children. The Liberal Party of Canada believes in a balanced gun control approach that prioritizes public safety while ensuring that law-abiding firearms owners do not face unfair treatment under the law. We do not believe the current situation is creating that unfair treatment.

    It is important to note that in Justice Rosenberg's Ontario Court of Appeal decision of September 4, 2013, the following was stated, which raises serious public safety concerns:

    If an airgun that otherwise meets the definition of “firearm” in s. 2 because of its dangerous nature and its capability for causing injury, is not found to be a firearm because it does not also meet the use and intended use requirements in the definition of “weapon”, it escapes regulation under s. 86. It would be lawful to leave such a dangerous object in an area where children might have access to it, or to shoot it in a dangerous manner. Liability would attach only if someone actually was injured or killed. Such an interpretation would not be consistent with the public safety objective of the legislation.

    He makes the point that we on this side of the House believe is necessary to be made, and that is that these can cause harm. Transportation and storage is part of the regulatory requirements to ensure that they are done in a safe manner and consistent with the law. As I said earlier, that is good training ground for guns that may be used later.

    An analysis by the Library of Parliament of Bill C-637 indicated the following with respect to the consequences of this legislation:

    Bill C-637 adds s. 84(3.2) to the Criminal Code, which would extend the deeming provision to section 86 and the provisions of the Firearms Act as they relate to the transportation and storage of firearms. This means that air guns or BB guns with low muzzle velocities would not have to be treated like firearms and need not be stored and transported in the way firearms are required to be. Since air guns or BB guns do not fit within any of the other categories of weapons listed in section 86, it follows that these types of weapons would not be required, by this section of the Criminal Code at least, to be transported, stored, etc. with “reasonable precautions for the safety of other persons.”

    That is a very important point.

    The Library of Parliament goes on to say:

    This does not mean, however, that more general provisions concerning criminal negligence could not be applied. Section 219 of the Criminal Code defines “criminal negligence” as showing “wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.”

    If they are used in that fashion, the other charges would apply.

    I have no problem and, in fact, believe the use of BB guns and pellet guns is good training, but I do believe the current law should apply. Therefore, it does not need to be changed as this private member's bill would do.

    I do not have time to quote the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, but it is very concerned about BB guns and pellet guns being used as weapons. They can be replica firearms and, therefore, used in criminal activity.

    There is concern on the part of police associations. Basically, the bottom line for us is we do not believe this bill is necessary.

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    Mar 10, 2015 2:35 pm | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque

    You certainly wouldn't know.

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    Mar 10, 2015 2:30 pm | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque

    Mr. Speaker, I have somewhat the same concerns as raised by my colleague the critic for the NDP. Who has the member talked to with respect to the police? I am getting an entirely different story from the police organizations to which I have talked.

    My question relates to the facts and why this bill is here. Has the member researched how many charges have already been laid against individuals under this section for BB guns and pellet guns? Is the member talking about a huge concern?

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    Mar 10, 2015 1:25 pm | Ontario, York West

    Mr. Speaker, we need to ensure we invest where there are opportunities for businesses to grow. I was recently in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and visited several incubators. In the incubators, there must have been 100 students out of university all working on a variety of projects. Many of them said that their projects had potential, but without investments and encouragement from the government, there was very little space for them to go, other than taking these ideas to the United States, which is much faster to respond. We have always had to deal with these issues.

    When we talk about job creation, the manufacturing sector is important. The auto sector is another where we have always had to find money to invest. Job creation is important.

    If people have a good, solid job, they can buy houses, even though they are expensive. They have stability in their family to move forward so people like Emily know that their moms and dads have good jobs and can afford to put food on the table and a roof over their heads without having to worry about it.

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    Mar 10, 2015 1:15 pm | Ontario, York West

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak to this issue today. It is certainly an issue about which all of us very much care.

    I will read the text of the motion. It is not always easy to follow the tickertape across the bottom of the screen for anybody who may be watching and it is worth listening to the discussion today. The motion states:

    That, in light of sustained high unemployment since the 2008 recession and the long term downward trend in job quality since 1989 under successive Liberal and Conservative governments, as documented by CIBC, the House call on the government to make the first priority of Budget 2015 investment in measures that stimulate the economy by creating and protecting sustainable, full-time, middle-class jobs in high-paying industries in all regions of Canada and abandoning its costly and unfair $2 billion income-splitting proposal.

    Let me tell the House a bit about a young woman who lives in my riding of York West. For the sake of the discussion, I will call her Emily. Emily is in elementary school. She recently came to my office because, in her words, she was concerned about how her family was doing financially. Like thousands of young people in every region of Canada, Emily lives in a home with a middle-class family that is struggling to survive. Despite being headed up by two working parents, they are still having difficulty.

    What Emily understands easily from her everyday life has again been quantified in the CIBC report that we are discussing today. That report, along with dozens before it, paints a picture of an economy in trouble at its root, around the kitchen tables of the middle-class homes like Emily's, but this crisis did not happen overnight and it did not happen by accident. In fact, it has been made much worse by an out-of-touch Prime Minister with the worst economic growth record since the dismal days of R.B. Bennett.

    In 2006, the Prime Minister was handed a steadily growing economy from the Liberals, which had generated 3.5 million net new jobs, real jobs, declining debt and taxes, a decade of balanced budgets—clearly Liberals know how to do it—annual surpluses at about $13 billion and fiscal flexibility projected ahead for the following five years totalling $100 billion. It was all blown away in less than three years.

    To be fair, it is true that the Canadian economy has continued to create jobs, but this report raises serious questions about the quality of those jobs. In fact, there have been several reports, including this one, warning that Canada's job market is not as sure-footed as it seems. This is over and above York University, the IMF, and now the CIBC, and I am sure there are countless other ones that we will hear about in the next short while.

    Rather than accepting this warning, the Prime Minister blindly plunged forward. The government has only one prescription for everything. It does not matter what it is. It is austerity, austerity, and more austerity. To fix or at least camouflage his structural deficit, the Prime Minister hacked away at future federal funding for health care and old age pensions, and left nothing for quality job creation.

    As a result, this report verifies that job quality has fallen to its lowest level in more than two decades. Worse yet, a CIBC index, which measures 25 years worth of data on part-time versus full-time work, paid versus self-employment and compensation trends, shows that it has fallen to its lowest level on record. The Bank of Canada's new labour market indicators call this slack, but Emily and her family understand that this is why moms and dads in middle-class households in the neighbourhood now work two jobs just to pay the bills. She also understands the serious social cost of latchkey kids, which she and her brother are.

    The problem highlighted by this report is not just a labour market challenge, such as a low participation rate among core-aged Canadians. The problems with the economy run far deeper, as we heard from my colleague. In fact, this trend has serious implications for each and every one of us. A lack of hours, the loss of benefits and stagnating or declining wages emphasize why many middle-class households are already struggling to shore up savings and why consumer spending is on the cusp of crashing.

    In it report, the bank said that this was partially caused by the fact that low-paying, full-time job creation had risen faster than the creation of mid-paying jobs over the last 20 years. The report calls this a widening job creation gap between low and high-paying jobs, with low-wage, full-time paid jobs rising at twice the pace of higher-paying jobs. This may sound very cynical, but at the most basic level, it means that good jobs are much harder to find than ever before, and when jobs are scarce, clearly, so is money.

    As household finances get squeezed, the risk is that personal debt, already at record levels, will grow. As middle-class household debt goes up, the ability of those families, like Emily's, to cope with current and future economic turmoil goes down and that puts the households and the entire economy at risk.

    Experts agree that middle-class families have not had a raise in more than a generation and that imbalance is putting the Canadian economy at risk. Why will the government not help with a solution? When presented with data outlining that Canadian job quality has fallen to its lowest level in more than two decades, the Prime Minister proposed measures to increase the TFSA limit. He is clearly out of touch, clearly not understanding the world in which Emily lives. He also foolishly promised an income splitting regime that would give the wealthiest people the largest tax break. Imagine a prime minister who is so out of touch that he thinks families struggling to buy groceries, pay the mortgage and hold down two jobs could benefit from the ability to save more. They do not have the money to keep putting milk and bread on the table.

    In my 30 years of public service, I have never seen someone so out of touch with the working families of our country, and it is a very sad thing to see. However, the Prime Minister says that Canada is doing better than Spain. He forgets that Canada is not doing better than Australia, New Zealand, Norway or even our partner, the United States. Even if we were, Canadians are rightly tired of the grinding mediocrity that characterizes the government. Since when did Canada just strive to be in the middle?

    We are constantly told to lower our expectations, to settle for less and to tighten our belts. The big part of that burden falls on Canada's middle class, on Emily and to her family. The Prime Minister may see an economic downturn as a great buying opportunity, but seniors, students and working-class families across the country know better. The Prime Minister can demand that Canadians tighten their belts, but for so many families there are simply no more notches in their belts. Middle-class incomes have been flat for years, but living costs and household debt have ballooned. On a weekly basis we hear about the amount of debt Canadians are carrying.

    Seventy per cent of private sector employees cannot even count on a company pension. Sixty per cent of middle-class parents, like Emily and her brother's parents, worry about how they are going to afford education for their children. More than 40% of the empty nester parents have had their adult children move back into the house because they cannot afford to live on their own. They cannot afford to buy a house or a condominium so they move back with their parents and work at part-time jobs. Most discouraging of all, for the first time ever, over 50% of middle-class Canadians fear that their children will not do as well as they did.

    All of this has happened under the Prime Minister's watch. The Conservatives are oblivious to these realities, but middle-class Canadians live them everyday. I know the government cannot do everything for everyone, and we all understand that, but surely the Prime Minister's cronies have their pockets full by now. It is time for the government to step up and get serious about helping families like Emily's.

    We cannot blindly hack and slash our way to prosperity. We cannot ignore the foundation of our house either. We have to make the Canadian economy grow at a strong, sustained pace. We need smart policies that promote the growth and development of sound jobs with good wages and reliable benefits for Canada's middle class.

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