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Feb 24th

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    MPlib
    Feb 24, 2015 10:15 am | Quebec, Lac-Saint-Louis

    Mr. Speaker, a couple of things stand out in the arguments being presented by the government.

    The government's logic in its first argument seems to be that we cannot finish by July, so we should not even get started. That does not seem to be a good argument to my way of thinking. We know, for example, that government members will be in a majority on this committee, so if they decide that July is too soon, they can use their majority to extend the deadline to mid-August or whatever they want, since they will be the majority party on the committee.

    Second, the member is right in saying that there will probably not be legislation before the next election. We understand that. However, would the hearings that would be taking place around this issue not help inform any debate that might occur on this issue during an election campaign? Do we not want informed election campaigns in this country?

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    MPlib
    Feb 24, 2015 9:20 am | British Columbia, Vancouver Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague across the way. I know that she is a nurse and understands this issue very well.

    The member talked about structure and said that the structure of the suggested committee is not right. She said that she learned from the special committee on missing and murdered aboriginal women that there could have been more people at the table. However, when our leader brought forward the motion today, he said that he was very open to amendments. In that case, did I hear the hon. member suggest that we can add the Canadian Medical Association to the structure of that table? I think the leader said he was open to anything that would make it a better process, so I am asking the member if this is what she is suggesting.

    Also, the member talked about a timeframe. The Supreme Court gave 12 months; the current government has done absolutely nothing to deal with the Supreme Court's ruling, and we are now moving into the third month of the year.

    The bottom line is that there was time, and I think we can do it in that time. As well, I am glad to hear the hon. member suggesting an amendment to the motion. Does that mean she is supporting it?

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    MPlib
    Feb 24, 2015 9:10 am | Ontario, St. Paul's

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to answer the member's question in a slightly different way, which would be to say that the former Liberal government had to tackle some tough stuff.

    I remember the assisted reproduction issue. After the task force reported, it was very important that Minister Rock come forward with something. What he chose to do was come forward with a white paper, immediately, that we then discussed at the parliamentary committee.

    He then came forward with a draft bill that we discussed. There was also the opportunity, both, I believe, in that bill, but certainly in the Young Offenders Act, for Parliament to discuss it after first reading. We, as a Liberal government, were always able to understand that we had to have Parliament's input. We had to listen to experts with the lived experience.

    I also think the timeline as the member lays out is not really possible unless we get on with this now.

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    MPlib
    Feb 24, 2015 8:55 am | British Columbia, Vancouver Centre

    Mr. Speaker, obviously if the Supreme Court of Canada does not grant an extension, provincial jurisdictions will craft different pieces of legislation across the country and we will have a situation similar to the one we had in regard to abortion, where some provinces did and some did not. We will see a lot of issues. Regardless of where they live, Canadians will not be able to access what the Supreme Court ruled is a constitutional right under section 7 of the charter.

    This ruling came in December. The House has been meeting for quite a while. There needs to be a sense of compassion. We talk about dying with dignity and a lot of people are waiting. They have been waiting a year and we would be asking them to wait longer than a year in pain and suffering.

    There are two downsides to asking the Supreme Court to grant an extension: it may not, and we have to think of the compassionate nature of this work.

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    MPlib
    Feb 24, 2015 8:55 am | Ontario, St. Paul's

    Mr. Speaker, it is with some sadness that I rise today in response to what we have heard so far from government members. This issue should have been an opportunity for Parliament to show itself at its best. It is about the relevance of Parliament and Parliament doing what the Supreme Court of Canada has asked it to do.

    We on this side had hoped that this motion would nudge the government to do the right thing, as it did two years ago when we asked for a special committee on missing and murdered indigenous women. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice at the time had no objections to the establishment of a special committee. Now we have a reference, literally, from the Supreme Court and somehow, all of a sudden, government members are objecting. What is also extraordinary is that if their strategy is to get an extension, there is absolutely no reason that I can see for the Supreme Court to grant one if there seems to be no work under way on what it has asked Parliament to do.

    I come from an institution whose Latin motto was non quo sed quomodo: it is not only what we do, but how we do it. This is the time for Parliament and parliamentarians to demonstrate to Canadians that the way we will go about making decisions will be in an open way, by tackling the tough things, hearing all points of view, and not in a closed-minded way where it will appear to Canadians as if the government has already made up its mind and Parliament will not have a say and, therefore, that citizens and Canadians will not have a say.

    There is no question that this debate evokes strong feelings. Therefore, it is really important that Canadians see that we are prepared to tackle this very difficult decision and important challenge that the Supreme Court has given us to get this right and put in place the safeguards that it and all Canadians know need to exist. As physicians, the member for Vancouver Centre and I both know when it is not time to prescribe. It is not time for us to prescribe what to do; it is a time for us to listen. It is the only way that we will get it right.

    It is a very serious piece of work that we have been asked to do, but it is very serious that Canadians understand that it is Parliament that has been asked to do this work and to consult Canadians. It is not okay for Parliament to abdicate from this challenge that it has been given by the Supreme Court of Canada and to abdicate it to a government that has a terrible track record in consulting Canadians, asking civil servants to attend information sessions but then not listening to what was heard. We have a responsibility to develop a very transparent and accountable process so that Canadians will know what we heard and that we listened to them.

    It is about listening to people with expertise and those with lived experience. It is about an opportunity for a democracy between elections to show Canadians that they were listened to and allowed to shape public policy. It is what Jane Jacobs said, that good public policy comes when the decision-makers can see in their mind's eye that people are affected. We need to listen to the people who will be affected by this legislation and get it right.

    The words in paragraph 127 of the judgment, even as my colleague said, are clear, but Canadians may have very different interpretations of what constitutes a “competent adult person”, what “clearly consents” means, what “grievous and irremediable” are, what is “enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition”, and how we can ensure that Canadians are not intimidated and the vulnerable are not put at risk.

    I can only interpret this as the government's refusal to govern, its refusal to tackle the tough stuff. It is hiding from it and I hope that it still has time today to take the little offering that Liberals have given on how we can show that Parliament will do its job, and that the government is not merely an administration in campaign mode that refuses to deal with the tough decisions.

    It is very clear that there are many ways the government could go about this, such as a white paper for consultation or a draft bill. The online consultation that it talks about just will not work unless there is an understanding of what the questions are and whether they actually will be listened to. Some of the members are already suggesting that they need an extension or that they need to use the notwithstanding clause.

    There is no question that the Supreme Court of Canada did its job unanimously. It is time for us, as parliamentarians, to do ours.

    I attended probably over 2,000 births in my career as a family doctor, and I felt that my job was to ensure they were safe, elegant and what the family wanted. I attended far fewer deaths, but it was also my job to see they were serene, pain-free, and that people were able to die in dignity. All of us in the House have our stories, and we know that we have to do better.

    Initiating this debate will be imperative for us to get on with the other undone business in the country in terms of the serious approach to palliative care and end-of-life care, and a serious approach to a pain strategy.

    Doctor Chochinov's article from The Star, on Wednesday, February 18, really spoke to the fact that doctors were not well trained to engage in the end of life conversations. Many of the goals of care are unclear. In view of the Supreme Court's decision, these issues have never been more important and they have to be dealt with, not only by Canadians but by medical schools and associations. We have to know that real choice in end of life does not happen if people do not have optimal palliative care and optimal dignity in their lives.

    I was lucky enough that my mom, at the end of her life, was able to die in dignity with a pain pump that she controlled. With my dad, on the other hand, it was not to be the end of his life. He broke his hip. He was in unbearable pain and had unacceptable pain relief, and he died 72 hours later. We did not want him to die then. Again, without a decent pain strategy and without decent palliative care, we will be unable to give people real choices.

    As members know, the Canadian Medical Association has said that it wants clarity on how the courts actually distinguish between the definition of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. Canadians expect us to do differently.

    We know the safeguards have to be there. The Council of Canadians with Disabilities has been eloquent in terms of the need to protect the vulnerable. We know from our history with HIV-AIDS, when it was a death sentence, that people whose physicians chose to help them take their lives woke up and realized that they were merely depressed.

    We know there are power differentials. Families descend on a vulnerable senior who they say has had enough. Mainly, there is a financial reward, or they are just tired of providing care.

    As the member for Mount Royal has said so often, our society is judged by how we look after the most vulnerable in our society. We cannot let them down.

    There are need objectives that we could use. Ontario has an objective where 70% of people over 70 would have an advanced directive as they go forward.

    We need everybody to read Willie Molloy's Let Me Decide. We need to get on with the kind of efforts that the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians has mentioned.

    Dame Cicely Saunders said:

    You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die.

    There is no question that too many are suffering at the end. Too few die peacefully and with dignity. We need a process that uses the research, the knowledge translation, the policies, the political will, the practice, and the applied research to ensure we design a truly excellent and exemplary process for the people who expect this of their Parliament.

    We must tackle this as a Parliament. We cannot let the government do this in some sort of backroom way. We cannot deal with what is practically prorogation and padlocking this place any longer, thinking that things will happen elsewhere or will not happen at all until the next government.

    We implore the government members to do the right thing and let Parliament do its work. The Supreme Court and Canadians ask no less of us.

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    MPlib
    Feb 24, 2015 8:40 am | British Columbia, Vancouver Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for St. Paul's.

    This motion is fairly simple. It is asking for a special committee to be set up to seek input from experts and to have a broad consultation with the public and with physicians because we are talking about physician-assisted death. The Supreme Court has actually talked about the very complex and controversial nature of the whole issue of the idea of assisted death. We know that some people are anxious and concerned that vulnerable people would be coerced. The Supreme Court spoke clearly to the idea that people could be coerced and abused and pushed into making decisions to end their life when it is not necessary. The court has balanced that with the idea that some people do feel they need to end their life for various reasons. Because of the very complex nature of this ruling and because of the very controversial nature of how Canadians see this, many groups should be consulted. It is important for us to deal with this controversy within the public realm, and also to speak to physicians who would be the people dealing with the issue of physician-assisted death.

    The Supreme Court was very clear that this legislation has to be balanced. It must balance protection of the vulnerable from coercion, et cetera, and allow for that right to life, liberty, and security of the person, for people who are:

    ...a competent adult person who (1) clearly consents to the termination of life and (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.

    That is particularly clear. What the Supreme Court said is that any law must have “...properly designed and administered safeguards...capable of protecting vulnerable people from abuse and error”. The Court was very clear that we need to balance this. It is something about which we need to talk to the public. We need to hear from all the various groups and experts and from physicians.

    The courts also said something very important. In the context of medical decision making and informed consent, physicians are fully competent and capable of assessing all of the criteria that the court spoke about earlier, which is about the adult person who is competent, et cetera. Physicians are the ones who diagnose a patient's condition, who know the prognosis of a patient, who understand all of the available choices that a patient has in order to relieve suffering and in order to look at the choices in terms of his or her life. Ending his or her life has to be one of those choices. Assessing competency is core when a physician is dealing with a patient.

    Every day as a physician, I spent a lot of time with my patients, giving them the options for treatments and interventions, telling them exactly what their illness is about, what the prognosis is, and what the treatments may or may not be; and giving them every single option, so that at the end of the time patients are the ones who actually choose. It is called informed consent. They are given the information about what to do, where to go, and what decisions to make. This is just one more part of that informed consent, and physicians are the only persons capable of doing that, because they know how to assess competency. Physicians know when a patient is being coerced or abused. They know when a patient is able to understand the nature of his or her illness. Physicians are able to diagnose whether a situation is irremediable. They are able to assess whether the patient is in intolerable pain and whether there is no hope for the patient. In fact, in the context of life and death decisions, physicians are very capable of assessing these criteria.

    In some jurisdictions, such as Oregon and Belgium, in Europe, we see that, in the decisions where there is physician-assisted death, there is always a second opinion. Many physicians, in the course of their discussions with their patient, will suggest getting a second opinion, so that patient hears from another qualified physician whether those options are indeed the only ones, and the patient is able to make the choices.

    I think it is really important that physicians be able to do this, and I think the courts have said that they believe that physicians are capable of doing it.

    One of the things we would have to look at, which is not widely accessible to anyone across the country right now, is an option for many patients who are finding themselves in intolerable pain or who are totally unable to have their condition remedied. That is the idea of palliative care. There is no palliative care accessible. I know that a physician would like to be able to tell a patient that there is a choice, that there is a place to go to for good palliative care, to relieve the pain a person may be experiencing and to do the kinds of things to help them die with dignity. Patients could then have a choice, but this is not a choice that is currently available across the country.

    I want to stress that the Canadian Medical Association and I as a physician believe that palliative care is a key component to create as some kind of parallel program that would assist us when the legislation is being written, thereby offering these kinds of informed consent and real options to patients.

    Suicide prevention programs need to be maintained, because we know that many patients who face a chronic, debilitating disease or an intractable illness become extremely depressed. It is one of the first things that happens to a patient when they are diagnosed with something that is intractable or life threatening. Therefore, they are not really making competent decisions because of depression. Good mental health care for patients who have been diagnosed with these illnesses is another option that is not currently available to patients. If we look at dealing with this issue, we have to give patients real options, so we need to expand these programs where necessary.

    The second piece we need to discuss is to talk with physicians about legislation. The CMA has said clearly that it believes that the medical profession should be given adequate opportunity to comment or to have input into any kind of legislation, because we see clearly that physicians will be playing a great role.

    We also know that physicians themselves are quite split down the middle on this issue. We know that physicians are torn between the two primary ethics. One is to consider first the well-being of the patient, which may very well be to assist that patient in dying with dignity. Second is to do no harm, which many physicians feel is an ethic that conflicts with that.

    Therefore, there need to be clear protections, as currently exist in all jurisdictions globally that have legal physician-assisted suicide. They say that physicians who do not wish to assist a patient dying, for moral, religious, or other reasons, have an ethical and moral duty to refer that patient to a physician who will assist that patient.

    These are some of the reasons that physicians have to be protected if they make a decision, as is currently the case in regard to abortion. If a physician for moral or other reasons will not perform an abortion, that physician has an ethical duty to refer the patient, if the patient wishes that to be done, to a physician who will do so.

    These are very important issues on which we need to hear from physicians as we are crafting legislation. We need to look at best practices in other jurisdictions. That is an important piece.

    However, the procedural component of this is very clear. The House will only sit for another 12 weeks. If we in fact get a committee to go now, to travel, to listen to Canadians and meet with experts and listen to physicians, we would be able, after an election with a new government of whatever political stripe, to meet the Supreme Court's deadline with a committee report.

    Using a special committee is not without precedent. In fact, other special committees, such as the committee on solicitation, the special committee on the non-medical use of drugs, and the special committee on missing and murdered aboriginal women, have been precedents for this. It is because parliamentary committees have other roles to play in the course of their duties in looking at legislation and would not be able to carry out this job as completely and fully as a special committee could, whose only job would be to do that.

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    MPlib
    Feb 24, 2015 8:10 am | Ontario, York West

    Mr. Speaker, what is the government's plan?

    We have put forward a proposal to start consultation. This is a very difficult and complex issue. It is probably one that none of us really want to have to deal with, but the reality is that the Supreme Court has referred it back to Parliament and has told us we have 12 months to come up with something. Therefore, we have put forward a proposal to start the process moving in a non-partisan way.

    What is the government's proposal, other than putting something up on the Internet and talking about already asking for an extension, rather than starting to deal with this difficult issue?

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    MPlib
    Feb 24, 2015 8:00 am | Ontario, St. Paul's

    Mr. Speaker, some of the steps the member outlined, particularly his phrase, “we must all come together”, speaks to the need to get on with this.

    I am concerned that the member for Kitchener Centre and the member for Saskatoon—Wanuskewin have already decided that the “notwithstanding” clause should be implemented, and that the member for Vegreville—Wainwright already thinks there is not enough time and that the Conservatives need an extension.

    Could the member explain to me why it is important for not only for his caucus to have a proper conversation? Why can we not do what Preston Manning has said and let the the people speak in Parliament in a transparent way so we can get this right? What would be the way to all come together and listen to Canadians, rather than a conversation in some backroom with where Conservative members of Parliament are told what to do?

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    MPlib
    Feb 24, 2015 7:25 am | Quebec, Papineau

    Mr. Speaker, we of course are open to all amendments to this process because we want to bring forward a multi-partisan discussion in a responsible way. We are open to any reasonable amendments that would improve the process of discussion. We look forward to hearing any such proposals and amendments and welcome them so that we can have a proper discussion.

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    MPlib
    Feb 24, 2015 7:20 am | Quebec, Papineau

    Mr. Speaker, the motion we have before us is asking for a committee to make consultations and hear from experts on an issue that the Supreme Court has given to Canadians and given to us legislators to deal with, so Canadians expect their legislators to dig into this. I think a special committee in which the Conservatives will have the majority would give an opportunity to actually engage responsibly in a way that will inform the government when it chooses to bring forward legislation. This is what people expect of us.

    There have been many studies on this issue. There were studies in 1995 and in 2010. As well, there was one in the year 2000 that the Senate put forward. Various people have put them forward on such issues. We can draw upon that expertise.

    However, it is time that Canadians saw their legislators leaning in and dealing with this important issue so that when the government sits down and puts forward a piece of legislation, it would be informed by the views of Canadians and experts.

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    MPlib
    Feb 24, 2015 7:10 am | Quebec, Papineau

    moved:

    That (a) the House recognize that (i) the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the prohibition on physician-assisted dying violates Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which states that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice”, (ii) the Supreme Court has suspended the implementation of its ruling for 12 months, (iii) the expected federal election and summer recess limit the remaining sitting days in 2015, (iv) Canadians expect Parliamentarians to take a leadership role on this issue and engage with it in an informed and respectful way, (v) a non-partisan, deliberate and effective discussion took place on this issue in the Quebec National Assembly, (vi) Parliament has a responsibility to respond to the Supreme Court ruling; and (b) a special committee be appointed to consider the ruling of the Supreme Court; that the committee consult with experts and with Canadians, and make recommendations for a legislative framework that will respect the Constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the priorities of Canadians; that the committee consist of 12 members which shall include seven members from the government party, four members from the Official Opposition and one member from the Liberal Party, provided that the Chair is from the government party; that in addition to the Chair, there be one Vice-Chair from each of the recognized opposition parties; that the committee have all of the powers of a standing committee as provided in the Standing Orders, as well as the power to travel, accompanied by the necessary staff, inside and outside of Canada, subject to the usual authorization from the House; that the members to serve on the said committee be appointed by the Whip of each party depositing with the Clerk of the House a list of his or her party’s members of the committee no later than March 11, 2015; that the quorum of the committee be seven members for any proceedings, provided that at least a member of the opposition and of the government party be present; that membership substitutions be permitted to be made from time to time, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2); and that the committee report no later than July 31, 2015, provided that, if the committee has ready its report at any time the House stands adjourned, when that report is deposited with the Clerk of the House, it shall be deemed to have been duly presented to the House.

    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the hon. member for Charlottetown.

    Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a landmark judgment, striking down the ban on physician-assisted death. Its decision was not only unanimous; it was unambiguous. For adults who are mentally competent but suffering grievous and irremediable medical conditions, the court ruled that the current prohibition in the Criminal Code infringes the right to life, liberty, and security of the person in a manner that is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

    The court has ruled, and now it is up to us, as legislators, to act.

    Death, and all the ways it affects our lives, is not an easy topic to discuss. In recent weeks, I have had several sensitive conversations with individuals who applaud the court's decision and with individuals who condemn it. Our responsibility is to create new legislation, even though the process may be difficult and may make some people uncomfortable. We are here to speak for our constituents. We must have the debate, despite how difficult it might be. We must make difficult decisions, and Canadians are aware of this.

    The Supreme Court—perhaps taking into account the contentious nature of this process—judiciously set a deadline and gave us one year to draft legislation on physician-assisted death. Given this is such a deeply personal and controversial issue, one year is hardly enough. We are not talking here about an insignificant amendment to a minor law. When Quebec decided to begin drafting its own legislation on physician-assisted death, there were four and a half years between creating a new multi-party committee and passing the legislation. During those four and a half years, one full year was spent on holding hearings and public consultations, as well as proposing and debating amendments.

    It took four and a half years in the Quebec National Assembly, including one full year of consultations and debate. The Supreme Court has given us 12 months, which is reasonable, but with the summer recess and the fall election, that gives barely more than 12 sitting weeks for us parliamentarians. That gives us enough time to do this, but no time to waste.

    Today, we are putting forward a motion that calls on the House of Commons to take immediate action. We are asking that:

    ...a special committee be appointed to consider the ruling of the Supreme Court; that the committee consult with experts and with Canadians, and make recommendations for a legislative framework that will respect the Constitution, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the priorities of Canadians;

    As the hon. member for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia has noted, the Supreme Court's decision has given us a clear path to move forward quickly but thoughtfully. There is no advantage to delaying debate. Indeed, given the timeline offered by the Supreme Court, if the House has any intention of addressing this issue before the next election, those consultations must begin immediately.

    When I asked the Prime Minister about this last week, he said in the House of Commons that physician-assisted death is a sensitive topic for many Canadians, and there are strong opinions on both sides. That is fair. I have a strong opinion. It is based on my personal experience, when I sat by my father in his final moments of life. I know that we must respect personal freedoms and choice while ensuring as a society that the most vulnerable among us are protected.

    I believe that the Supreme Court made the right decision and that our laws must be consistent with its ruling because that is the right thing to do. That is my opinion, anyway. We have to hear what others have to say about this.

    Last week, the Prime Minister himself indicated that he agreed. He said that we will “hold broad consultations on all aspects of this difficult issue”. Today, we can begin to keep that promise.

    Quebec's experience shows us, reassuringly, that respectful and responsible deliberation is possible. It reminds us that when political parties set aside their differences in service of the public good, co-operation can follow. Consensus can be found, even on an issue as complex and sensitive as end-of-life care.

    If we do nothing, if we do not get this important national debate under way soon, Canada will find itself without any laws governing physician-assisted death. That kind of legislative vacuum serves no one: not people who are suffering, not their anxious family members, and not the compassionate physicians who offer them care.

    In the legal challenges leading up to the Supreme Court decision, one thing was constant: no one wanted to break the law. What they were asking for, and what the Supreme Court has now compelled us to provide, is a law that spells out the limitations on physician assistance to Canadians who wish to die with dignity.

    The Supreme Court ruling applies to competent adults whose enduring suffering is intolerable and who clearly consent to physician-assisted death. Even within the scope of these provisions, Canadians have diverging opinions, as the Prime Minister remarked. Canadians have firmly held values. Whether those values are based on religious convictions, personal experience or professional experience, these voices deserve to be heard. In order for us to have a respectful and responsible discussion on this important issue, we need to have enough time to hear from Canadians and listen to people who are concerned by this legislative measure, their families and medical and legal experts. Part of this ruling calls for an honest look at the quality of care already being provided. Do Canadians who are suffering feel adequately supported by their community? Do they have equitable access to quality palliative care?

    We need to have a national conversation on dying with dignity. That conversation needs to include how we care with empathy and respect for those who are suffering at the end of their lives.

    The court provided a deadline. It is our job to take it seriously, to act quickly but thoughtfully, and to live up to our shared responsibilities as legislators. I ask every member to reflect on that responsibility today and to support this motion, this process. The court has spoken; Canada and Canadians await our response.

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    MPlib
    Feb 24, 2015 7:05 am | British Columbia, Vancouver Quadra

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to table a petition today demanding respect for the right of small-scale family farmers to preserve, exchange, and use seeds. This is signed by hundreds of petitioners from across the Vancouver area. They are asking that the Government of Canada and the House of Commons commit to adopting international aid policies that support small family farmers, especially women. This will ensure that Canadian policies and programs are developed in consultation with small family farmers and that they protect the rights of small family farmers in the global south to preserve, use, and freely exchange seeds.

Feb 23rd

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    MPlib
    Feb 23, 2015 2:10 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver Quadra

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party believes that it is important to update the law to increase Canadians' security, because times have changed. We are concerned about overly broad powers, and that is why we are going to bring forward a number of amendments. We invite the Conservative Party and the minister to understand how our amendments would make this a much more effective bill. It would bring in protections against overuse of security measures. Right now, there are some unclearly undefined edges that need to be fixed.

    Why would the government want to go forward with a poor bill when, with some reasonable and focused amendments, it could go forward with a good bill?

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    MPlib
    Feb 23, 2015 1:55 pm | British Columbia, Vancouver Quadra

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-51 today.

    Canadians are well aware of the harm that terrorism can cause and the fear that it can bring. The overarching aim of terrorist activity is to instill fear and to divide us from one another and weaken our society. An important duty of Canadians, therefore, is to be vigilant against this divisiveness, as we will always be stronger when we are working together and united against acts of intimidation.

    In recent decades, particularly since the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, the global security landscape has undergone massive changes, in part due to the evolution of the Internet and electronic technologies. An important responsibility that falls on the government and parliamentarians is to improve our security system and framework so as to meet the challenges of our times in a manner that upholds our most cherished democratic values and principles. The Liberal Party and most Canadians recognize that our laws must adapt to reflect the changing global security landscape, and Bill C-51, the government's anti-terrorism act, takes some productive steps to meet our collective security needs.

    One measure that this bill would put in place is to lower the evidentiary threshold for detaining a suspected terrorist. In fact, had it been in place six months ago, this measure might have prevented the tragic death of Quebec CAF member Patrice Vincent. His murderer was under surveillance and that person's passport had been revoked in June of last year, but due to the lack of concrete evidence, he remained free.

    The bill also would serve to put certain important programs, such as Canada's no-fly list, on a firmer legal foundation. Better coordination of information sharing among Canada's many security departments and agencies is also a positive aspect.

    However, there are deficiencies in this bill, many of which have been pointed out to me by constituents of Vancouver Quadra, and the Liberals have written amendments to address those weaknesses.

    The bill does not include the critical accountability that is provided by review and oversight mechanisms to ensure proper checks and balances on information sharing. This is in fact one of the overarching areas for improvement to this legislation that should be articulated through debate and expert testimony at committee, and there should be fair consideration of amendments. A bill of this importance deserves a proper, thorough, and non-partisan process.

    Bill C-51 is inadequate in other areas, particularly with regard to the far-reaching and vaguely articulated definition of “national security” in terms of the lack of a sunset clause to provide Parliament with an opportunity to quickly review and correct any negative consequences of the bill.

    Finally, there should be a much more robust commitment to preventing the radicalization of Canadian young people in the first place by funding and working with their families and communities to that end and by strengthening our social safety net regarding mental illness.

    I would like to talk more about the need for greater oversight and review.

    As many members know, last year I put forward my private member's bill, Bill C-622, the CSEC accountability and transparency act. This bill proposed to modernize the framework for accountability and transparency for Canada's signals intelligence agency, the Communications Security Establishment Canada. It would have brought the 14-year-old laws governing this agency up to date to account for advances in Internet and communications technologies and it would have strengthened the mandate of the CSE commissioner. Furthermore, Bill C-622 would have assigned a committee of parliamentarians with security clearance the responsibility to review and report on all of the intelligence and national security activities of our government, the very oversight that is being called for right across Canada by experts and non-experts alike.

    Despite widespread support from security, defence, and privacy experts and from opposition MPs, my bill unfortunately did not receive support from the government and was therefore defeated.

    To put a need for this kind of parliamentary oversight and review mechanism into perspective, Ottawa-based journalist John Ivison has correctly pointed out that “Canada is the only country among our close allies that lacks a dedicated parliamentary committee with substantial powers of review over matters of national security and intelligence.”

    He is right, and we should have one. Just as our security laws must be improved to meet the challenges of today, so too must Canada's framework for transparency and privacy protection evolve in order to cope with fast-paced, changing technology.

    As journalist Glenn Greenwald noted in the Oscar-winning—as of last night—documentary, “When the decisions that rule us are taken in secret, we lose the power to control and govern ourselves.”

    That is not what Canadians want. The federal Privacy Commissioner and all our provincial privacy commissioners stated in a recent communique:

    Canadians both expect and are entitled to equal protection for their privacy and access rights and for their security. We must uphold these fundamental rights that lie at the heart of Canada's democracy.

    What do our partners south of the border think about these things? One example is the United States Department of Homeland Security, in which this understanding of that balance is explicit. The department “embeds and enforces privacy protections and transparency” in all of its systems, programs, and activities, according to its privacy commissioner, who oversees a staff of 40 people in that department alone. In a recent speech, Homeland Security's deputy secretary Mayorkas confirmed that not only is this integral to the DHS mission and crucial to maintaining public trust, but it has also resulted in Homeland Security becoming a stronger and more effective department.

    If the government adopts the Liberal Party's reasonable amendments to create this balance, we can move beyond the dichotomized debate that pits security against Canadians' freedom and liberty.

    As it stands, Bill C-51 would give CSIS broad powers to disrupt not only real or perceived terrorist threats but also threats that might undermine the economic or financial stability of Canada. This is too broad. It is just not necessary for guarding against any legitimate risks and threats from terrorists. It could also be very harmful in further chilling important rights for citizens to have a voice and for the rights for civil society groups that disagree with government policies in a peaceful way. The Liberal Party will be proposing amendments to rein in and better define the vague and far-reaching new powers that would be granted to CSIS in the bill.

    To assess Bill C-51's effectiveness in keeping Canadians safe and ensuring our freedoms and values are respected, a future Liberal government will require a review of the entire bill in three years to ensure any aspects that are unaccountable or harmful are quickly identified and fixed.

    In addition to granting CSIS greater powers, let us acknowledge that preventing individuals from becoming radicalized and falling into violent extremism in the first place is important and is an effective second track toward reducing these incidences and the terrible harm they create. Let us not forget that several of the recent actual and planned terrorist attacks involved young men who were suffering from mental illness and addiction and turned to violence. Canadians experienced a deep sorrow on behalf of the victims and their families.

    This situation is the reason the government must allocate more resources and be a partner. The government must consult with a variety of stakeholders from police to social agencies and from families to religious leaders and collaborate in developing community-based strategies to prevent radicalization at the outset and to improve support for those suffering from mental illness and addiction. That is a commitment that the Liberal Party has made and will bring into our platform.

    Currently, through the work of local and provincial governments, community and religious leaders, and friends and family members of the disaffected youth, there are a number of innovative models for supporting youth at risk and lending them support and guidance. However, more funding and more focus on this aspect are needed. A Liberal government would provide them.

    As an aside, I want to mention that supporting mental illness would have a great deal of benefit to society, aside from reducing terrorist risks. Let us not forget that over 3,000 men commit suicide every year. Many of them are in their 20s, and most of them are under the age of 45. The grief and sorrow caused to their families and to our society could be significantly reduced with a greater emphasis on the second track, the track of prevention and support for those with mental illness challenges.

    In 2001, in response to the September 11 attacks, the Liberal government introduced a number of anti-terrorism measures. We understood then, as we do today, that sometimes quick action is needed. We did, however, make sure there were full hearings. Amendments were made. We heard from the public. We heard from Parliament in committees. We also built in a sunset clause so that the bill could be corrected and be great legislation.

    We believe that is possible. The Conservative government has the choice to take that path rather than the path of unilaterally charging ahead. We invite the Conservatives to take our amendments seriously. If not, we will be campaigning on them. If elected, we will be sure that they are put into effect in order to respect our most deeply prized democratic values.

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    MPlib
    Feb 23, 2015 12:00 pm | Ontario, Etobicoke North

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is sitting on its hands instead of bringing Mohamed Fahmy home. Fahmy is free on bail while he waits retrial. The Liberal Party has repeatedly called on the Prime Minister to step in, but so far there has been no response from the PMO. Why is the Prime Minister sitting on the sidelines? Why will he not pick up the phone, call the president, and secure Canadian Mohamed Fahmy's freedom?

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    MPlib
    Feb 23, 2015 11:50 am | Ontario, St. Paul's

    Mr. Speaker, it is clear that this week's national round table on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls will not replace a national public inquiry. It could, however, be a step in the right direction. There is a cry for federal leadership and genuine collaboration to address this national tragedy that is ongoing.

    Why would the Prime Minister refuse to attend this week's round table on what is clearly an urgent national crisis? Is it because it is not very high on his radar?

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    MPlib
    Feb 23, 2015 11:40 am | Nova Scotia, Kings—Hants

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are ignoring the challenges faced by middle-class families. They have cut funding for veterans. They have cut public health funding to educate Canadians about the importance of vaccinations. Meanwhile, the Conservatives are shovelling more money into economic action plan ads.

    When will the Conservatives lay off the action plan ads and start focusing on the things that really matter to Canadians, like supporting veterans or protecting children?

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    MPlib
    Feb 23, 2015 11:25 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana

    Mr. Speaker, the government's own former employment minister said “wage rates have barely kept pace with inflation...”.

    Economic growth is also crucial to balancing the government's books. Conservatives have failed to generate growth, so they have to concoct a balance: 70% of infrastructure funds get punted into 2019, $1 billion gets clawed back from veterans, $10 billion is gone from DND, and the Mounties cannot keep up with child porn. Why? It is so that those earning $233,000 can get the biggest tax break. How smart is that?

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    MPlib
    Feb 23, 2015 11:20 am | New Brunswick, Beauséjour

    Mr. Speaker, since the Conservatives were elected to power, job creation has been half of what it used to be, and economic growth has been anaemic.

    In response to that, the Conservatives are eliminating programs that help veterans and cutting funding to security agencies and the RCMP. Why? They are doing that in order to provide tax cuts to which 86% of Canadians are not entitled.

    Why are the Conservatives refusing to come up with a real plan for job creation and economic growth, one that will help all Canadians, not just the richest ones?

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    MPlib
    Feb 23, 2015 11:00 am | Newfoundland, Random—Burin—St. George's

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize three young men from Marystown, in my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.

    The heroic actions of 18-year-old TJ Fitzpatrick and Justin Saunders and 17-year-old James Stapleton saved the lives of three people from almost certain death in a blaze that destroyed a hotel in the early morning of February 16.

    When TJ noticed smoke coming from the hotel, he alerted the local fire department. While waiting for the fire department to arrive, he and his two friends forced their way into the building. Once inside the smoke-filled hotel, the trio made their way into rooms, looking for sleeping guests.

    It was because of their efforts that two guests staying at the hotel and the receptionist were safely led from the building. Just 20 minutes after TJ came upon the scene, the hotel was completely engulfed in flames.

    When asked about their actions, they said they just did what anyone else would do in the same situation: “You don't think about yourself. You just think about who might be inside.”

    I ask all members to join me in recognizing the bravery shown by TJ Fitzpatrick, Justin Saunders, and James Stapleton.

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    MPlib
    Feb 23, 2015 9:55 am | Newfoundland, Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor

    Mr. Speaker, in the past year, I have had many debates about democratic reform regarding the Senate and the judiciary, about how many of the members of the government, primarily the backbench, talk about being less keen on seeing people appointed as opposed to people who are elected as serving as some sort of oversight.

    The member talked about judicial review and how he has completely satisfied that. Although I appreciated many parts of his speech, the part of the package I am concerned about is this oversight that gives power to Parliament. Very specifically, why is parliamentary oversight not a good idea for this legislation?

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    MPlib
    Feb 23, 2015 8:40 am | Quebec, Saint-Laurent—Cartierville

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today and, as the Canadian heritage critic for the Liberal party, express my support for Bill C-624, An Act to amend the National Anthem Act (gender), sponsored by our indomitable colleague, the member for Ottawa—Vanier.

    It is a seemingly simple bill, perhaps one of the simplest bills we have ever debated in this House. It simply changes two little words in the English version of our national anthem. However, since that change will have immense symbolic significance, we would not expect it to receive unanimous support right away.

    I therefore want to examine the arguments made against this bill with an open mind, and demonstrate that they do not outweigh those in its favour.

    The bill proposes making the English version of the national anthem gender neutral by changing two little words in one of the verses. Thus, the verse “True patriot love in all thy sons command” would become “True patriot love in all of us command”. They are two small words, “thy sons” to “of us”, but they are an important symbol.

    Why change it? It is because the new gender-neutral wording would make Canada's anthem gender inclusive, thus catching up with the evolution of Canadian society and confirming one of the most important values espoused by Canadians, which is the equality of women and men.

    This is the only, but important, purpose of the bill.

    Who, then, would want to oppose such a change and why? Do all of us here in the House not support gender equality? Of course we may not always agree on how to promote equality, but I am quite certain that we all agree with the objective.

    Moreover, it would be completely unfair to accuse everyone who opposes the bill of also opposing gender equality.

    My understanding is that those who disagree with the proposed change argue that O Canada is a historical artifact that must be preserved in its current form for purposes of heritage and historical integrity. They argue that the past has contributed to the Canada of today and serves as an indicator of how far we have come as a society and a nation.

    We have to recognize that that is a valid argument. Take the French version of O Canada, for example.

    Some might say, and rightly so, that it is not inclusive enough for today's Canadian society. The French version of the anthem begins with making reference to the land of our ancestors, when the ancestors of many Canadians were not born on this land. It urges us to wear the cross, when many of us are not adherents of the Christian faith.

    Nevertheless, in response to those arguments, I think we might say that the beautiful poem written by Adolphe-Basile Routhier in 1880 is part of our heritage and must be respected. It reminds us where we came from and helps us determine together where we want to go.

    Let us call it the heritage argument. Today's Canada was born of yesterday's Canada and did not come out of nowhere. Our national anthem serves to remind us of that. That argument has merit. By the same token, it is not an absolute. There are other arguments to consider.

    When we weigh all sides of the issue, it seems that the small change proposed in Bill C-624 is quite justified. Better still, it is desirable and I have two arguments to back that up.

    Firstly, the heritage argument in this specific case supports changing the two words as proposed by Bill C-624. If we look at the heritage side of this matter, then it would be more accurate to say that we are reverting back to the original version rather than making a change.

    The original version, written in 1908 by Judge R. Stanley Weir, had “True patriot love thou dost in us command”. The bill proposes returning to this original historical form, though using contemporary English, so it would be “in all of us”.

    The English lyrics for O Canada have been amended a number of times since 1908. They were amended in 1913, 1914, 1916, 1927, and 1980. That does not mean they changed these lyrics without very valid justification, but it shows that they are not untouchable, particularly when the proposed amendment would, in one fell swoop, bring our national anthem closer to its original 1908 form.

    It also shows that while the words have been amended on various dates, what has stood the test of time is the spirit of patriotism that continues to be embodied by Canada's anthem and Canadians who rise to sing it.

    Secondly, the two-word change proposed in Bill C-624 is not only true to our heritage but it is also likely inevitable. If we do not make that change now, it will be made another time.

    It would be better for us to get on the right side of history by making this change ourselves right away rather than leaving it for the legislators of tomorrow to do.

    If “thy sons” does not become “of us” today, it will tomorrow.

    A similar evolution happened in Austria, where, in December 2011, legislators voted to add three little words to the first verse of their national anthem. Thus “homeland of great sons” became “homeland of great daughters and sons”.

    The English lyrics of Canada's anthem were adopted in 1980. They have been criticized ever since for excluding women, so if we do not fix the problem, the debate can only grow with time. Between 1984 and 2011, no fewer than nine bills have been introduced in Parliament to make these lyrics gender neutral.

    Even the current Conservative government, in the 2010 Speech from the Throne, proposed to amend the anthem to make the lyrics gender neutral. It stated, “Our Government will also ask Parliament to examine the original gender-neutral English wording of the national anthem”. The government supported reverting to the original 1908 poem, replacing the current “in all thy sons command” with “thou dost in us command”. Although the government changed its mind 48 hours later, general support for such a change has only increased since.

    In 2013, an online campaign entitled “Restore Our Anthem” was launched to make the English version of the national anthem gender neutral. Prominent Canadians such as Margaret Atwood, Kim Campbell, Vivienne Poy, Nancy Ruth, and Belinda Stronach have lent their support to the campaign.

    An increasing number of Canadians are willing to embrace this change because it is so simple and consistent with today's values of equality.

    Choirs and musical groups across the country, such as the Toronto Welsh Male Voice Choir, the Vancouver Children's Choir, and the Elektra Women's Choir, have already taken up the new language. It is inevitable that the words “thy sons” will be replaced with “of us”, if not today, tomorrow.

    Therefore, let us support Bill C-624 for all of us. Let us support the small but important change our colleague, the member for Ottawa—Vanier, rightly proposes. Our anthem will thus remain true to its original lyrics and most importantly, true to our daughters and sons both, who equally stand on guard for thee, the true north strong and free.

Feb 20th

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    MPlib
    Feb 20, 2015 10:50 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, it is only the parliamentary secretary who does not understand the connection between the transportation of fossil fuels and passenger rail in Canada. What is he talking about? This is exactly the problem we are facing in Canada, a denial by Conservatives that we have a problem on the ground in the competition for the use of rail between passenger rail and other forms of rail use. What does he not understand about that?

    The problem is that by 2024 we are going to be producing one million barrels a day of excess capacity of oil, and it is going to be shoved onto the railway system. The problem is that the government does not want to have an adult conversation about that and the fact that it is having a spillover effect. The parliamentary secretary hoots and hollers and continues to yell from his side because he does not want to have a real conversation about what is really happening on the ground.

    We have a logjam. Our farmers in the Canadian prairies lost $3 billion in revenue as ships were sitting off the coast of B.C., because the Conservative government could not get that grain to market.

    This bill is important. An adult discussion about passenger rail is very important in the context of the choices we are going to make as a country.

    As I said earlier, some of the measures in the bill are highly prescriptive. For example, it mentions only the Canadian Tourism Commission and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities as sources of directors for the corporate board. I do not think that is comprehensive or perhaps realistic. I think the member might have his own views in that regard as well.

    As for stipulating that track use by VIA Rail should take precedence over all other forms of rail use, I would like to hear more about that from our private sector operators and urban transit systems to see what the distributive effects of such a measure, if implemented, would have on an already bottlenecked system.

    I think the bill is a good contribution to a much larger question about where we are going in this country for the next century, and not for the next six months, which is what the Conservatives would have us do. They are fixated on October 19, not on solving longer-term problems. Their fixation on this election is actually leading to poor public policy outcomes.

    We need to have a discussion here on where we are going with rail for the next century, and the bill would help us have it. This is an important conversation for us to have. It is our responsibility as legislators, on behalf of all Canadians, to treat this issue responsibly over a longer term. Again, I think the bill goes some distance in raising questions.

    The member has done a good job as well with the idea of having specific legislation that would govern VIA Rail. Let us begin by beginning, and it is a good beginning to have a legislative framework that actually embraces VIA Rail. There is the question of whether VIA should be coming back to this House in terms of its internal management systems, such as winding up with a route here or cutting back in staff there or changing the frequency of train service, and that is a discussion I think we should have at committee.

    We will be supporting sending the bill to committee to have a more extensive discussion.

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    MPlib
    Feb 20, 2015 10:40 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by commending my colleague from the NDP for bringing forward this bill. It is a welcome contribution to the very large and comprehensive problem of our rail system in its fullest context, that is to say, the passenger, freight, and commuter rail service systems. I believe the whole question of our rail system in Canada is very much at play.

    I am pleased to follow up on the remarks of my colleague, the parliamentary secretary to the minister. Indeed, after watching the government for nine years, and many of its front-line ministers for a decade previously while they served in another right-wing government, when it comes to the question of VIA Rail and its future, I have concluded that it is the government's intention to attempt to privatize VIA Rail in due course.

    When I began speaking this way several years ago with respect to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, the Conservative members scoffed. They dismissed it. They said that I was an alarmist and that it was an attempt to frighten people. However, we know that the government followed the regular pattern it does when it wants to divest itself of a crown asset. That is how it goes about it, and that is what it did with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. As far as I am concerned, that is what the government is now beginning to do with VIA Rail.

    In the context of atomic energy, the Prime Minister dispatched his then director of communications to make a series of public remarks about the state of that crown corporation. It was very disturbing to the thousands and thousands of Canadians who had helped build AECL and had, after 58 years, made it into one of the world's leading global nuclear research, nuclear power plant, and medical isotope-producing companies. The Conservatives began their pattern of running down an asset, called it a sinkhole and, of course, then sold it at a fireside price. That was 58 years of global tradition and Canadian leadership they sold for $100 million to SNC-Lavalin. That is what they do.

    Therefore, I am having this conversation today and making these remarks in the context of my conclusion that if re-elected, the government fully intends to divest itself of VIA Rail and to move in the same direction with respect to Canada Post. We see the same techniques and actions being taken and have just heard similar remarks by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport. It is unfortunate because Canadians have come to depend on passenger rail as part of their tradition, as part of what they need, as part of their economy. Whether it is the use of passenger trains for hunting and other ecotourism opportunities in northern Quebec, or for passenger use in and around Sarnia or, as my colleague mentioned, for use on Vancouver Island, there is a present demand for passenger rail in this country.

    My colleague has gone a certain distance in his bill to make some recommendations for change. I commend him for stepping up to the plate and recommending anything that might improve VIA Rail. I do not agree with all of the measures. I think there is an element of it that is perhaps too prescriptive, which may or may not fit more readily in the tradition of the NDP's view of how to manage a crown corporation. I commend him for making some positive recommendations for change. However, there are larger questions looming that I want to come back to, such as what I mentioned just a minute ago.

    Right now the Canadian rail system is basically bottle-necked. This bill was deposited here on the floor today in the context of a major problem. We have too many demands on the rail system as it is presently constructed.

    Given the existing rail capacity and the existing status of our railways—that is, the rail itself—and given the fact that we built our cities around the railways, which we never contemplated when we tried to unite this country a century or more ago by using rail, what we have is a bottleneck situation. It is being made worse by a massive 1,500% increase in the transportation of oil and fossil fuels by rail just over the last two or three years.

    As I like to remind my colleagues regularly, even if we build every pipeline that the government has been contemplating now for a decade—a pipeline south, a pipeline west, and a pipeline east—and those three pipelines all carried fossil fuel, we would still be having—

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    MPlib
    Feb 20, 2015 9:10 am | Newfoundland, Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor

    Mr. Speaker, in question period, I spoke of Fogo Island, and now I want to speak of Change Islands, just next door.

    The people there are in dire need of a wharf for commercial reasons. They have a commercial opportunity presented to the island in the fisheries sector. Unfortunately, they cannot exercise this because of the dilapidated wharf they have. Therefore, petitioners are calling on the government to invest in this wharf to make sure that their island is sustainable. I have several hundred signatures here from the Change Islands and surrounding communities off-island on the mainland of Newfoundland.

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    MPlib
    Feb 20, 2015 9:05 am | Ontario, Etobicoke North

    Mr. Speaker, eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are serious mental illnesses that incapacitate more than 600,000 Canadians and can be fatal.

    Petitioners call upon the government to work with the provinces, territories, and stakeholders to develop a comprehensive pan-Canadian strategy for eating disorders, including better prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and support.

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    MPlib
    Feb 20, 2015 8:55 am | Newfoundland, Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor

    Mr. Speaker, over the coming weeks, there are about to be severe cuts to the shrimp fishery in northeastern Newfoundland and Labrador for the entire province. This coming Monday, there is a large protest scheduled by citizens on Fogo Island. Specifically, they are going after the last-in, first-out policy. Recently the provincial government, their fellow Conservatives, said that if this policy exists, the inshore fishery will be devastated.

    Therefore, my question for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is this: Finally, will she eliminate the last-in, first-out policy and save our inshore fishery?

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    MPlib
    Feb 20, 2015 8:50 am | Ontario, Etobicoke North

    Mr. Speaker, as the fourth anniversary of the Syria crisis approaches, 5.6 million children are in need of assistance. Will the Minister of International Development personally attend the donor conference in Kuwait on March 31, and will he make a meaningful contribution on behalf of all Canadians to champion the children of Syria?

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    MPlib
    Feb 20, 2015 8:40 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Except that is not true, Mr. Speaker.

    The facts do not back up the Conservatives' claims that they take crime seriously. They cut the RCMP's funding to combat child pornography by $10 million. On the other hand, since coming to power, they have spent $750 million on partisan advertising. Their ministers spent more than $2.3 million on photos of themselves. It is obscene.

    When will this government make it a priority to protect our children?

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    MPlib
    Feb 20, 2015 8:40 am | Nova Scotia, Cape Breton—Canso

    Mr. Speaker, American basketball fans are getting excited about another annual March madness, while in Canada taxpayers ready themselves for another round of March sadness. This is the sad practice of Conservative ministers shovelling money to their party pals for little or no work, like the March 2013 contract the finance minister dished to Guy Giorno. The party's legal adviser was paid $5,000 for a 2,000 word speech that was never read. The department said that the speech broke the rules. Why are taxpayers on the hook for this blatant Conservative patronage?

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    MPlib
    Feb 20, 2015 8:35 am | Ontario, York West

    Mr. Speaker, nothing is more important than protecting our children. I believe we all agree with that. However, the Conservatives have chosen to use $10 million from the fund the RCMP uses to fight child pornography. This is the same government that just spent $2.7 million on glamour photos for its cabinet ministers. Just yesterday, it had the nerve to ask Parliament for an additional $11 million for partisan TV ads, and we have all seen enough of those.

    When it comes to stomping out child pornography, it is all about budget cuts. How can the government continue to make these kinds of talks, saying what is important and what is not when its priorities surely are not the priorities of—

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    MPlib
    Feb 20, 2015 8:25 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana

    Mr. Speaker, the New York Times story said that the situation was that the U.S. economy had fallen back, not that the Canadian economy had moved forward.

    The late Jim Flaherty said that income splitting was too expensive and would cost $12 billion over the planning cycle. He also said that it would be unfair, because 86% of Canadians would never qualify.

    It worsens inequality; it does nothing for growth. Will the government at least use this budget hiatus to do two things: recycle that $12 billion into the pockets of real middle-class families, not those earning $233,000; and invest in municipal infrastructure to drive jobs and growth?

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    MPlib
    Feb 20, 2015 8:20 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, experts' forecasts regarding GDP growth are dropping every month. Job creation is stagnating, and we have two provinces that are headed towards a recession.

    The Conservatives respond by cutting the infrastructure program by 90%, even though that program guarantees job creation and future prosperity. Worse still, the minister is postponing the budget until May and says that no immediate action is needed.

    Why are the Conservatives being so irresponsible with our economy?

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    MPlib
    Feb 20, 2015 8:20 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana

    Mr. Speaker, the government just drives by all the worries of Canada's middle class and all those who are working so hard just to get there. Their earnings are stagnant, but their debt has ballooned to 164% of disposable income. Three-quarters do not have a pension, and in 40% of empty nester households their adult children have moved back home. Their expectations of progress, of upward mobility from one generation to the next, are frustrated.

    Why is the government's only priority an income splitting tax break that would pay the most to those earning $233,000?

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    MPlib
    Feb 20, 2015 8:10 am | Ontario, Etobicoke North

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to celebrate the extraordinary Mary Harker, who was tireless in her commitment to helping others, making the world a better place, and welcoming everyone with open arms.

    Mary was legendary in Etobicoke, having worked with mayors, MPPs, and MPs. She started the Nightgown Brigade and would rush to help women escaping violent situations no matter what time of night. She served on Albion Neighbourhood Services and with Youth Without Shelter, helped found Ernestine's Women's Shelter, gave four decades to the Rexdale legal clinic, and served for decades on the Community Police Liaison Committee.

    The community loved Mary and recognized her thousands of hours of volunteer services with numerous awards.

    Mary is now with her beloved husband Ron, and leaves behind daughters Kathy and Wendy, their partners Scott and Peter, and her grandchildren Matthew, Cameron, and Madeline. We thank them for sharing her with us. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

Feb 19th

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    MPlib
    Feb 19, 2015 3:30 pm | Ontario, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the parliamentary secretary's recitation of his talking points. I think I have heard them about a dozen times before. They are in some respects reflective of why there has been no progress made on this file in the last nine or ten years and the reason for the hon. member for Beaches—East York's presentation of what I consider to be a very able bill.

    The NDP is a party that takes climate change and carbon pricing seriously. The Green Party is a party that takes climate change and carbon pricing seriously, as does the Liberal Party. The only party in the House that does not take either climate change or carbon pricing seriously is the Conservative Party, and the parliamentary secretary has just given a classic demonstration of why we have not made any progress on this file over the last nine years.

    As the temperatures of the earth rise, Rome burns while Nero fiddles.

    I found all of the things that the parliamentary secretary said they have done to be ironic. What he neglected to say is that there is absolutely no chance whatsoever that the government will achieve its own Copenhagen targets, which were watered down from those the previous government had set. We are in a situation where three out of the four parties in the House take the issue seriously but, regrettably, the governing party does not.

    In the last few weeks, the leader of the Liberal Party gave a demonstration of how we would go about achieving these targets. The first thing he did was to meet with the premiers. That is a novel concept for the Prime Minister. He has had nine years to meet with the premiers, but unfortunately has not been able to clear up his schedule, except from time to time before hockey games, where he can fit in 15 or 20 minutes to meet with the premiers. On the other hand, the Liberal leader has met with many of the premiers, sometimes on multiple occasions. In the case of Premier Wynne, he has talked with her about the issue of pricing carbon.

    B.C., Alberta, Quebec, and probably Ontario very shortly will all price carbon one way or another. That makes for about 85% of the overall economy. The junior levels of government have all moved on from the federal government, because the people of Canada and the premiers of Canada take the issue of pricing carbon seriously. The leader of the Liberal Party has met with those premiers who are taking this issue seriously.

    The second thing he did was fly to Calgary. Not only did he fly to Calgary, but he also went to the Calgary Petroleum Club. He went there, a place not exactly friendly to a person of his last name, and reminded them of his last name. He told the people there that we in Canada have to price carbon. He said, “You know Canada needs to have a price on carbon. The good news is that we’re already on our way.” It was a mature and honest conversation with the area of the country that has the most difficulty with carbon emissions.

    If the environmental argument does not persuade members, perhaps the economic argument will. If we are to get our resources to tidewater, we need to be serious about the environment. What is good for the environment is actually good for the whole economy.

    The Keystone XL pipeline has been a colossal mess both economically and politically. It has been an economic and political disaster. In fact, it is a classic case of political mismanagement. Alienating the most powerful individual in the world about something that we need and want is wondrous to behold.

    Not only does the Prime Minister not talk to the premiers, but he also does not talk to the leader of the free world and our largest trading partner. It seems a bizarre way to go about trying to get an international / North American price on carbon.

    The leader of the Liberal Party proposed a model for Canadians that they understand and with which they have some experience—namely, a health care model. Canada is a confederation, and we succeed in this confederation when we collaborate. He suggested a health care model for how we will price carbon.

    He then said we have to set the goals. That is consistent with what the hon. member for Beaches—East York indicated, that targets have to be set. The national government has to be engaged, whether it is cap and trade as it is with Quebec and California, possibly Ontario as well, or whether it is a tax as it is in British Columbia, whether it is revenue neutral or revenue generating. The leader of the Liberal Party is agnostic as to how a province or a territory will meet its goals. Do whatever it takes, but these will be the national goals and these will be the breakouts of the goals.

    Fifth, acknowledge that some of the provinces will need more assistance than others, just as in the health care model. Some provinces are more successful at achieving health outcomes than are others. If we understand the health model that way, then we will also understand the model that is being suggested by the leader of the Liberal Party. If the parties were serious, we could get this done. The provinces and territories have not had a serious partner in nine years.

    Sixth, he made a commitment to go to Paris in October or November of this year to negotiate Canada's final goals. Could someone please tell me the last time the Prime Minister of Canada attended a COP conference since 2006? The Prime Minster avoids those conferences like the plague because he is not serious. He is not serious about pricing carbon, and he is not serious about COP. If the leader of the Liberal Party has the good fortune of being elected as the prime minister of Canada, he has committed himself to go to Paris.

    The seventh point is that the leader of the Liberal Party would call a conference of the confederation within 150 days of the commencement of government. He would go to the conference, get the targets, aggregate the targets among the various provinces and territories, and commit to what needs to be done to achieve the targets.

    The nonsense that the parliamentary secretary spouted about destroying the economy in order to achieve the targets is just that. The federal government is nowhere to be found in the whole development of the clean energy sector. The sector has pretty well done it on its own, and it is responsible for an equal number of jobs to oil and gas, which is around 27,000 direct and 275,000 indirect jobs.

    Finally, just to show that the government is not serious, there is a paragraph in the Lima conference that says that each nation will submit a target by the end of March, an intended nationally determined contribution, due at the end of March. I dare say that neither the minister nor the parliamentary secretary will be able to shed any light on whether that target has been set.

    We will support this bill. It is a step in the right direction. It is a little overly prescriptive, but nevertheless it is a useful contribution to a debate. It shows a seriousness on the part of some parliamentarians to actually deal with what many say is the existential threat of our time.

    I thank the hon. member for his efforts in putting together a very useful bill for the House to consider.

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    MPlib
    Feb 19, 2015 3:15 pm | Ontario, Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot

    Mr. Speaker, our party will be supporting this. I thought the member's speech was thoughtful and quite reflective of the reality we are facing as a species, so to speak.

    Unfortunately, the parliamentary secretary gave a demonstration of why we have made no progress in the last nine years, with rather juvenile questions about what we are actually facing as a nation.

    I notice in the various provisions of the bill that there is no reference to carbon tax. The member knows, as do I, that his party and my party get continually criticized by the government for putting a tax on everything, and other nonsense that continues to be perpetrated. I wonder whether the omission of a carbon tax in the member's legislation was intentional.

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    MPlib
    Feb 19, 2015 2:40 pm | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque

    Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely correct. There are certain areas, and I cannot think of the section, in the original Combating Terrorism Act extended in 2007, that have not been utilized. One should note that some of the current arrests were made under the old legislation.

    Be that as it may, the point she has raised comes back to my original point. What is really needed is a lot of oversight, and we have expressed this at committee. Questions can be raised of the national security agencies. Why are they not using current laws? Is there a reason? Is there a problem on the prosecution side? Is the law not strenuous enough? Is the threshold too high?

    It comes back to the whole substance around my remarks in which we would put members of both Houses on an oversight committee with expertise in the field, who could see classified information, who could ask the hard questions on a day-to-day basis of those security agencies to ensure that they were using the laws available, that they were doing their job and that they were not overextending their powers and getting into civil liberties and undermining our freedoms and values.

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    MPlib
    Feb 19, 2015 2:35 pm | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque

    Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of areas of concern in the legislation that we think go too far.

    The member for York West mentioned the fact that it says in the bill:

    For greater certainty, it does not include lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression.

    The word “lawful” really changes the ability of certain activist groups to show their dissent in many ways. We are going to ask the experts. We may put forward an amendment to remove that word.

    In fairness to the House, I think we have between 26 and 30 amendments at the moment on technicalities in the bill. Therein lies the reason we need sound, robust parliamentary hearings with legal experts and people who work in the security field. It is to make sure that we get the bill right in all areas.

    I would again emphasize the three key areas we are asking for: sunset clauses to allow certain laws to cease to exist; a statutory mandatory review, so we can look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in the bill down the road; and parliamentary oversight, as our Five Eyes partners have in their democracies around the world.

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    MPlib
    Feb 19, 2015 2:30 pm | Ontario, York West

    Mr. Speaker, I realize that this issue is a critically important issue, not only for all of us in Parliament but for all Canadians. Sometimes we have to put water in our wine, as the saying goes. We are saying that the most important thing is to make sure that we are reinforcing the security of Canadians.

    If we can get some amendments that will protect people's privacy and allow people to have open discussion and debate without having to be fearful of being put in jail and so on and we can get those amendments through, I think we are doing a good thing on behalf of all Canadians.

    Would the hon. member like to elaborate a little more on the lawfulness issue and what that would mean to people who would like to be able to go out on a Sunday to join a protest in their neighbourhood? What could actually end up happening if we cannot get our amendments through?

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    MPlib
    Feb 19, 2015 2:30 pm | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque

    Mr. Speaker, I respect the member immensely. I actually quite enjoy being on a number of panels with him.

    I think all we really have to do in response to that question is go to the article with the extensive number of signatures in today's Globe and Mail, entitled: “A close eye on security makes Canadians safer”.

    Four former prime ministers signed that paper. I did myself, as well as a number of others who have been justice ministers and solicitors general. It is actually calling for more oversight.

    The difference between the Liberals and the NDP is that we have been in government. We have made the hard decisions on public safety. We know that there are hard decisions, when the terrorist threat is higher, on public safety issues.

    However, when we were in government, we also balanced that legislation. We believe this legislation can be balanced yet again. It can be amended to improve it. It can be balanced with sunset clauses, mandatory reviews, and oversight to make it better legislation to ensure that the security agencies really do what they ought to do.

    If that does not happen, if the government does not accept our amendments, then we will put those three key amendments in our election platform, and Canadians will have the opportunity to decide on the balance of national security and civil liberties.

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    MPlib
    Feb 19, 2015 2:10 pm | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque

    I am serious, Mr. Speaker, and the member knows that is what happens. It happens at my committee. Members follow that direction. They are members in their own right; they can stand on their own two feet. What I am saying is that the process has to change if we are going to make this legislation good legislation. I ask members to really look at this issue seriously and not to take direction in that fashion. There is concern about the civil liberties of Canadians and freedom of expression. We have to listen to those witnesses.

    I want to give an example of what a couple of people I have talked to have to said, people whom we will put forward as witnesses. First, there is quite a series of articles in the press these days by two individuals, Craig Forcese and Kent Roach. They have a paper they sent us that is close to 40 pages long. They are doing a summary of the key concerns with the bill. This is what they say at the beginning of the summary:

    If Bill C-51 passes, CSIS will be expressly authorized to “take measures, within or outside Canada, to reduce” very broadly defined “threats to the security of Canada”. Where authorized by Federal Court warrant, these “measures” may “contravene a right or freedom guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms” or may be “contrary to other Canadian law”.

    It does not matter whether I agree or disagree with that statement. There is a concern expressed there that we should look at seriously. These two individuals admit it themselves. They add an additional word relevant to this in a document dealing with CSIS. They say:

    We are legal academics who have been researching and writing on issues of national security law (Canadian, international and comparative) for a sum total of 26 person years (between the two of us).... We are, in other words, an occasional and minor part of the national security “accountability sector”, to the extent that such a thing exists in Canada.

    These people have a point of view. They have an expression of interest that we ought to listen to.

    I also met with the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association, which also has concerns. That association was founded in 1998 by a small group of Toronto based Canadian Muslim lawyers. It has over 300 members across Canada and active chapters in Ontario and Quebec. The association states:

    Bill C-51 is deeply flawed legislation that should not become law. Before we begin to integrate and concentrate power in government agencies on national security matters, we should first implement the remedial findings of many commissions of inquiry into the matter, most notably the Arar Inquiry.

    As national security functions become more integrated it makes sense that there is a concomitant and effective counterbalance in terms of independent review and oversight. Such a body would have jurisdiction over all national security agencies and functions, including CSIS, CSEC, the RCMP and a host of other agencies (some of them currently have no oversight).

    That is their opinion. They are suggesting that there needs to be much broader oversight.

    These are just two examples of witnesses that we need to listen to. However, in order to make the proper amendments, accept them, and bring in those ideas, the government has to be willing to make some amendments.

    To turn specifically to the issue of oversight itself, sadly, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Public Safety, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and, today, the Minister of Justice have been misinforming Canadians. Let me repeat that. Some of the highest officers and political ministers in this land have been misinforming Canadians on what exists, and what is and is not in this bill. It really is troublesome that the top political office in the land either does not know the limits of the Security Intelligence Review Committee or has not been totally forthright. I do not know which it is.

    Let me turn to what the Security Intelligence Review Committee itself has said. It said that it is not an oversight body. Let me turn to its annual report for 2013-14. On page 12 of that report, in section 2, it says:

    An oversight body looks on a continual basis at what is taking place inside an intelligence service and has the mandate to evaluate and guide current actions in “real time.” SIRC is a review body, so unlike an oversight agency....

    SIRC itself admits that it is not an oversight agency, but even if it were an oversight agency, which it is not, it is not broad enough to really review national security. If we look at schedule 3 of Bill C-51, another seven agencies have been included there. I think some of them were here before. We are adding the likes of the departments of health, national defence, and transport to SIRC, CSIS, CSEC, the RCMP, and police forces of local jurisdictions, all of which are involved in these security matters, and transferring information across departments. There needs to be a much broader oversight that even a slightly improved SIRC could handle.

    I mentioned earlier the protections that we as a Liberal government put in place on the extended powers in the anti-terrorism act of 2001. There were sunset clauses in which laws would cease to exist. There was a mandatory review. In 2004, we recognized that there was still a greater need, which was for the oversight of all security agencies. As a result, an all-party committee was proposed and put in place. It held hearings and made some recommendations, and Bill C-81 was introduced. However, it died on the order paper. I will come back to that in a moment.

    Simply put, a previous Liberal government introduced legislation to provide for oversight by parliamentarians similar to that of our Five Eyes partners, the U.K., the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Today, in The Globe and Mail, four former prime ministers put an article in the paper, signed by a number of justices and former attorneys general, et cetera, entitled: “A close eye on security makes Canadians safer”.

    It starts by saying:

    The four of us most certainly know the enormity of the responsibility of keeping Canada safe, something always front of mind for a prime minister.

    They went on to say:

    Yet we all also share the view that the lack of a robust and integrated accountability regime for Canada's national security agencies makes it difficult to meaningfully assess the efficacy and legality of Canada's national security activities. This poses serious problems for public safety and for human rights.

    They went to say said:

    Canada needs independent oversight and effective review mechanisms more than ever, as national security agencies continue to become increasingly integrated, international information sharing remains commonplace and as the powers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies continue to expand with this new legislation.

    People who have been in the same position as the Prime Minister are calling on the need for oversight. Such a security oversight agency was called for by a former public safety committee while the current Prime Minister was in office. In a report dated June 2009, tabled in the House of Commons, it called for that, in recommendation 5:

    The Committee recommends, once again, that Bill C-81, introduced in the 38th Parliament [by a Liberal government], An Act to Establish the National Security Committee of Parliamentarians, or a variation of it, be introduced in Parliament at the earliest opportunity.

    That recommendation was supported by six members who currently sit in the House: the member for Yorkton—Melville, who chaired that committee; the member for Oxford; the member for Brant; the member for Northumberland—Quinte West; the member for Edmonton—St. Albert; and the member for Wild Rose.

    The previous recommendation for Bill C-81 was supported by the current Minister of Justice and the current Minister of State for Finance. What has happened to those members since the leadership changed and we have the current Prime Minister? How come they are not still calling for oversight? They know that SIRC is not oversight. SIRC has claimed that it is not oversight. Did they lose their voice? Do they not stand by what they previously believed in, what they held hearings on? Oversight is important, and that is what we must implement in this bill, as well as a number of other amendments we will be putting forward.

    As a final point, I will report on what the British Intelligence and Security Committee does. The members of the committee are subject to the Official Secrets Act. In their annual report, they say this:

    The Committee sets its own agenda and work programme. It takes evidence from Government Ministers, the Heads of the intelligence and security Agencies, officials from the intelligence community, and other witnesses as required.

    They monitor on a day-to-day basis. They keep intelligence agencies honest. They protect on two sides, as Bill C-81 would have done. It would have ensured that security agencies are doing what they are supposed to do and second, that they are not going too far in terms of infringing on civil rights and freedoms.

    Let me close with a quote from my leader in yesterday's speech:

    We are hopeful that the government is serious about reaching across the aisle to keep Canadians safe, while protecting our rights and our values.

    It can be done. We need sunset clauses. We need a mandatory statutory review, and we definitely need oversight. I am sure both the NDP and Liberal Party will have many amendments to improve the bill in other ways, but the government has to reach across the aisle and allow Parliament to work.

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    MPlib
    Feb 19, 2015 2:05 pm | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque

    Mr. Speaker, I am most pleased to speak today to Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism act, 2015. It is an important bill and all sides have expressed strong views about it. We saw that in the lead-off speeches yesterday and have seen it in some of the discussions here today.

    The bill should not, and I underline this, become a wildly partisan debate. Let us show Canadians that in the House, the 300-plus of us who are here, we can make this a better bill. The government does not have all the answers, but collectively we can produce a better bill. I ask the government to allow amendments to improve the bill.

    This is an extremely serious matter. It does indeed affect all Canadians. We have a responsibility as parliamentarians to find the proper balance between national security and civil liberties and freedom of expression.

    In my remarks today I do not want to get into all the technicalities of the bill, the unlawful versus the lawful distinction, et cetera, but to focus on two key areas: one, process; and two, oversight, which is extremely important. The last speaker said there is oversight. There is not oversight in this bill and the Conservatives should know that.

    I will start with a statement by the leader of the Liberal Party yesterday:

    ...keeping Canadians safe in a manner that is consistent with Canadian values is our most sombre responsibility as legislators and community leaders. To ensure that we never lose sight of our Canadian values and never forget who we are, we should always aim to have both the security of Canadians and the protection of their rights and freedoms in mind when we set out to combat those threats.

    The question is, how do we do that? How do we find that balance? We can do that, certainly by allowing witnesses from a strong cross-section of Canadian society to be heard, and when they speak at committee, we all have to listen.

    The government must be prepared to accept amendments based on legal expertise, based on human concerns, and based on evidence-based testimony. I will in a moment outline some of those concerns, just to touch base with the concerns expressed in that area by individuals and groups and to make the point why they must be heard.

    May I also say in fairness to the cabinet that I and a number of colleagues in this corner in the Liberal caucus understand the pressures that one is subject to when looking at an intelligence briefing in the morning about a terrorist threat. We understand the pressure that pushes government to give security and police agencies greater power and authority to challenge those threats.

    I hope those threat assessments coming to the government are brutally honest, telling the facts as they are and are not exaggerated. I was not impressed, to be quite honest, by the Prime Minister's speech in Richmond Hill, where I do think he went over the top in terms of the threat to Canadian society. However, only those who have those assessments would really know what that threat is.

    I can remember in my own caucus, as my colleagues here with me can recall, and certainly the member for Mount Royal, the strenuous debate we had and how fortunate we were to have that both there and within Canadian society and in committee when we brought in the Anti-terrorism Act of 2001 and expanded on it later.

    However, because of that debate we put in sunset clauses to ensure that certain authorities granted to the police and CSIS would cease to exist at a certain point in time. We put in place a mandatory statutory review so that this chamber and the committee could review the good, the bad, and the ugly of that legislation at a certain period in time.

    We do not see any of that in Bill C-51. Hopefully, amendments can be made that will draw in those points. However, in order to have amendments, the process has to change. Let us not fool anyone here. We all know what happens at committees. I talked about it earlier today. The parliamentary secretary sits fairly near to the chair of the committee on the government side. Government members are lined up in a row. Over against the back wall is the staff for the government side. Sitting among them is the staff for the whip's office. In there too is the staff for the PMO. Mike Duffy called them “The boys in short pants”. Well, they are both boys and girls because I have seen them, women and men. It is as if that guy or gal against the back wall is pulling the string of the parliamentary secretary.

  • retweet
    MPlib
    Feb 19, 2015 1:50 pm | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque

    Mr. Speaker, where did the member get the information from about my time as solicitor general? I was the solicitor general who named Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist entities. I know a lot of members over there like to think otherwise. I can table a document in the House tomorrow to prove that point, if the member desires.

    This is not the first time. Over a year ago, the member for Winnipeg South Centre, in a Standing Order 31, made the same comments. Two weeks ago, the member for Wetaskiwin made a personal attack against me, saying the same thing again.

    The member's information is incorrect. This is an important debate. We are talking about national security in our country. Some of us are trying to balance that against civil liberties. Some of us have been in the position of some of those people in the front row on the other side.

    Why do you lower your honour by using those talking points that are—

  • retweet
    MPlib
    Feb 19, 2015 1:45 pm | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. As solicitor general, I named Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist entities. This kind of misinformation cannot continue. Call the member to order for that misinformation. That is absolute—

  • retweet
    MPlib
    Feb 19, 2015 1:35 pm | Ontario, York West

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague spoke extremely well and certainly enunciated an area that I am very concerned about when it comes to the issue of lawful demonstrations.

    I have been part of and have viewed hundreds, if not thousands, of demonstrations on a variety of issues. Did they have permits? No, they did not, meaning that they were unlawful under the current understanding, which is why we very much, in our amendments, want the word “lawful” restricted and taken out of there.

    However, does the member not recognize that there are some good things in the bill? There are the changes to the no-fly list and improvements on the powers of preventative arrests.

    There are issues, and we continue to have some significant issues with the bill. We are hoping to change that with our amendments, but does the member not see any of the positives that are in the bill when it comes to protecting Canadians?

  • retweet
    MPlib
    Feb 19, 2015 1:20 pm | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Churchill for her remarks. I do not know what exactly was said on the other side, but it was something along the line that she has a great imagination. These are serious concerns of serious people that need to be addressed. I agree with the member for Churchill in that respect. I know she made a great effort to get here to make this speech. I ran into her at the door when she was coming in, huffing and puffing, but she still made her remarks to the House.

    I come from of an organization that has been involved in many demonstrations, the National Farmers Union. To make a political point, it dissented, it demonstrated, it put tractors on the road, and maybe stretched the line in terms of whether or not it was sometimes lawful. That word worries me in the bill, where the latter states, “For greater certainty, it does not include lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression”. Liberals will be asking that this word be taken out.

    From the perspective of the member for Churchill, if that word were removed from the bill, would it make a difference or would she still have a lot of concern? I know there have to be a lot of amendments, but I would like her to answer on that particular point.

  • retweet
    MPlib
    Feb 19, 2015 1:05 pm | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque

    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member for York Centre talk about how the powers in this are similar to those in the U.K., and that is true. In fact, in some instances, they do not go as far. However, in the U.K., as in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, there is strong parliamentary oversight. I could quote from the British document all the areas that are surveilled, but I will leave that for a later time. If we are going to compare this bill to the U.K., then let us compare it in all of its aspects. The U.K. has strong parliamentary oversight. I ask the member if he would agree that we need that strong parliamentary oversight.

    Second, he talked about sunset clauses in the bill and that they would continue. That is true. Some would, but the new sections of the bill would not sunset. Proposed sections 83.221, 83.222, and 83.223 would not be sunsetted, and they ought to be.

    If the member is talking about how he agrees with the sunset clauses continuing, will he agree to amendments to sunset those other clauses that are new and would not be covered?

  • retweet
    MPlib
    Feb 19, 2015 12:45 pm | Prince Edward Island, Malpeque

    Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary should know that we are supporting the bill, but we are very hopeful that Parliament will be allowed to work. There are a lot of clauses in the bill around which there are questions, on which we need expert testimony, and on which we need legal advice.

    Could the parliamentary secretary assure us that the amendments will indeed be allowed?

    She went on at length about judicial oversight. However, anybody who is watching this debate knows that judicial oversight is not enough.

    Judicial oversight is between the judge and CSIS, and there might be a special advocate at times protecting the public interest, which might be different every time, but CSIS is arguing why it needs the warrant. Too many mistakes have happened in the past, and Judge Mosely, on December 20, 2013, came down with a decision. He said that CSIS breached its duty of candour to the court by not disclosing information that was relevant to the exercise to the jurisdiction by the court:

    ...the Court...determined that the execution of the type of warrants at issue in Canada has been accompanied by requests made by CSEC, on behalf of CSIS, to foreign agencies...for the interception of the telecommunications of Canadian persons abroad.

    The court concluded that this is “not authorized under any warrant issued by CSIS...”.

    The point is that there is pressure on the judges. What we need in addition to that is parliamentary oversight. Will the parliament secretary support that?

  • retweet
    MPlib
    Feb 19, 2015 12:00 pm | Newfoundland, Avalon

    Mr. Speaker, Marine Atlantic is without a doubt the most important single lifeline to the island of Newfoundland. However, in recent years it has come under much scrutiny, as travellers are finding it more and more difficult to travel to and from the island using the ferry system. Delays, cancellation, and high cost of travel have begun to deter people from using this service, and the cost of transporting goods has risen substantially in the past number of years.

    The people of Newfoundland and Labrador deserve a reliable ferry service, as per our terms of union. Will the government commit to an independent audit of Marine Atlantic to ensure that the ferry service is operating at its full potential and at maximum operational efficiency?


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