- MPndp19 hours ago | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, at Blue Water Bridge Canada, former managers were paid over $650,000 in severance and the CEO who approved this move was reappointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Integrity Commissioner found this affair to be “...misuse of public funds and...breach of the code of conduct”. Now we learn the people who blew the whistle have been fired.
Why is the minister allowing this abuse of public funds? And will he give these brave whistle-blowers their jobs back?
- MPndpMon 10:10 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, that is a great question from my friend and colleague.
The reality is that if we look at the omnibus budget bills that have had legislation in them, they have not had proper study. I would point to the Investment Canada Act, which for the third time is being changed in a budget bill, because it has been botched so many times because it has not gone to the committee properly. It has not gone through the due diligence process.
There is common ground we could work on. That is the whole point of bringing in experts and bringing in people to help work on legislation. Even on my own private member's bills I have done that. When we brought in people on my right to repair bill, it made it better.
- MPndpMon 10:05 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, the reality is that with this piece of legislation, the minister and the Governor in Council would still have far too much power compared to us, who at least have the Chief Electoral Officer who can bring some public accountability to cases.
We have had a number of situations that have taken place that need to be pointed out. We had the robocalls in the last election. We had a member in the House who overspent prior to his election. He had to go back to the people, and he lost his seat. Now we have other Conservative members, in the same situation, who are in a fight with the Chief Electoral Officer.
At least there is that process we can appeal to, and at least there is that process Canadians have, under law, that will be taken up.
- MPndpMon 9:55 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to contribute to the debate about this issue. It is a very important one for our aboriginal and first nations peoples.
One of the first things I thought about is my good friend who passed away, Earl Scofield, who was a senator. He flew 17 missions in a turret during the Second World War and later on came back to Canada, where he contributed not only socially but politically. He was involved as a founding New Democrat and also contributed many volunteer hours across the community, as a veteran and also as a citizen in our community. I could not help but think about some of the lessons he taught me about inclusion, the importance of listening at times and at times making sure to take the advice of others. Sadly, the government has not done that.
I thought about my own community and its relationship with the aboriginal communities in actually founding this country. There was Chief Tecumseh, who assisted Sir Isaac Brock of the British forces in defeating General Hull in Michigan to ensure our country would be born. There was co-operation. At that time it led to quite a significant quote by Sir Isaac Brock. Talking about Chief Tecumseh, he said, “A more sagacious or a more gallant warrior does not, I believe, exist”. That showed the level of developed maturity and relationship of trust that was created there.
It is important to talk a bit about process and then get into the bill. It is interesting that we have the unelected, unaccountable Senate as the kick-start to the bill, none of whose members has the same type of accountability as those in the House do and as others who are elected in the country do. That is unfortunate because often when bills come through the House it allows the elected body to move the bill through the proper process and channels.
In the past in this Parliament, closure has been moved many times and committees have been moved shorter than would allow for what could be done in terms of analysis. Bill S-6 is now going through this process. That is rather unfortunate.
It was interesting as well that one of the members on the government side said the government has introduced Bill S-6 for this, and meanwhile other bills that have been passed in this chamber, such as Bill C-290, the sports betting bill, languish in the Senate. It was passed with unanimous consent in this House, as no members decided to rise during any of the process to oppose it, to force a vote. It went unanimously to the Senate and it still sits there today. It seems we have our processes backed up and backwards. It is important if the House ever wants to get back on track that we look at those issues and a more balanced approach to processing legislation.
Bill S-6 would create an election cycle longer than two years. That is something important. One of the things we heard was that, when there is a controversy or contestation of an election, a two-year turnaround time is not enough because it could take that amount of time to actually do a full-out investigation. As my colleague pointed out, with the limited resources of the RCMP and the technical nature of these types of investigations, they could take a long time and be very burdensome.
Therefore, moving to the four-year element is something we could support. It has also been something consistent with other types of democracies. For example, in recent years city councils in Ontario moved from a three-year cycle to a four-year cycle, giving extra time for governance. That is important because with the turnover that can take place and the types and intensities of campaigns, they can be quite a distraction from actually getting some of the work done that needs to be done.
I point south of the border, where some of the U.S. elections are held every two years. I know from congress and senate that some of those that are on a two-year cycle for governance are literally fundraising constantly for their campaigns. Therefore, moving to the four-year cycle is something that could provide some greater stability and some improvements, and it is something we do support.
There would also be the ability to have a common election date, giving the minister of aboriginal affairs the power to order the first nations with community-designed elections to adhere to new regimes. It would also provide for election appeals through courts rather than through the department of aboriginal affairs. There would also be penalties for breaking election rules, and penalties are important.
First nations initially supported the bill, but here is the catching point. They asked for some amendments related specifically to the opt-in and other amendments as well. They have decided they cannot universally support the bill now.
The bill is just the beginning of what needs to be changed in the Indian Act.
I want to touch on the three election methods. The first is an election according to the provisions of the Indian Act. I will get into the problems later. The second is a community-designed or custom election whereby a first nation is allowed to adopt its own rules for an election rather than follow the Indian Act provisions if it has always been recognized by the federal government as selecting leaders by custom or if it submits written codes, approved by the majority of band members, for the approval of the department. Last is according to the provisions of a self-government agreement. Therefore, three different styles of elections that can take place.
The first, which was enacted under the original Indian Act, has caused several problems over the years on a wide range of social and justice issues that I cannot even get into, given their degree. They have gone on for many years.
The Indian Act displaces first nations' traditional political cultures and political systems. It actually intervenes in some of the existing cultural systems that have been in place, thus undermining them.
The Indian Act created the two-year election cycle. As I noted, and I think it is important, a two-year election cycle is not a lot of time for members and their councils to work together to create good governing environments. Having four years would be a benefit to all.
As well, right now, the minister and the Governor in Council have a significant degree of power over a first nation's elections and governance structures, including being able to determine the size of the council. It is critical that band councils have more flexibility with regard to the size of the governance structure they want. This is done in other governing systems, whether it be the House of Commons or in municipalities in Ontario. Again, the size can be worked on by the government.
The appeals process is lengthy and lacks rigour. As well, there are a number of other issues for which the Indian Act has not been a proficient and effective way of having these types of relationships.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is opposed to this and have asked for the opt-in process to be changed. Here I would quote Aimée Craft, chair of the national aboriginal law section of the Canadian Bar Association:
[D]ealing with the level of ministerial discretion to include First Nations in the schedule of participating First Nations, this changes the opt-in nature of the legislation. It continues minister discretion to exercise control over First Nations governance and it would result in some First Nations being subjects of the act rather than participants. In addition, the bill lacks clarity as to the standard that the minister will apply in making determinations about what constitutes a protracted leadership dispute that has significantly compromised the governance of a First Nation.
To conclude, it is important to go back to the fact that the Conservative government has not done its due diligence on the inclusion of the aboriginal organizations and first nations that are affected by this act. We have heard from my colleague on the lack of outreach and the fact that it is very difficult to pull people out to meetings, because the trust is not there, the confidence that something will get done is not there, and the actions taken that would affect members of first nations and their families will not be in their best interests. We cannot blame that situation for the evolution that has taken place over a number of years and different circumstances.
I want to thank our critic on this issue for the very important work that has been done. The Indian Act needs extensive work. This type of half-effort is not sufficient for our partners out there who feel that they would like to have some changes. I hope the amendments called for can take place so that we can have more support and buy-in from those affected.
- MPndpJun 05, 2013 5:55 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a question with regard to Bill C-290, the single sports betting bill, which was passed in the House of Commons, without objection and without speeches against it, to the Senate. It has been languishing there for a year.
In Toronto, during this past Super Bowl, there was a bust of illegal game betting of $2 million. What does the hon. member think about this bill, because it works against organized crime and it works against some of the offshore betting that is taking place? It makes sure that those funds go back to the public institutions we support.
- MPndpJun 05, 2013 5:35 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Wellington—Halton Hills, who decided not to speak on Bill C-290 and did not want to vote on it. The bill was actually passed on a voice vote in the House of Commons because there were not five Conservatives who wanted to stand in this place to force a vote. The vote never took place because five Conservatives did not want to be here. I would like to ask my hon. colleague about that.
The bill was unanimously sent from the House to the Senate, and now it languishes there. The bill would fight against organized crime and offshore betting establishments, and would provide a revenue stream and jobs for provinces. It would help places like Windsor, Fort Erie, Niagara Falls and Nova Scotia.
Why should he support the Senate when a bill from the democratically elected people, who actually chose this bill—
- MPndpJun 05, 2013 5:20 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question regarding Bill C-290, which is a bill he supported and voted for in the House of Commons.
The Conservatives supported Bill C-290, but it has been stalled in the Senate for more than a year and a half. The democratic will of the House of Commons passed this bill with no dissension. No Conservative spoke or voted against the bill. However, it was moved to the Senate and it has not gone forward in a year plus.
The bill was in regard to the nefarious operations of organized crime overseas and would have ensured that we had legalized single-sport betting under the rule of government.
Where does the member stand on that with regard to the Senate that has not passed this bill in one and a half years?
- MPndpJun 05, 2013 5:10 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice is recording commentary into his iPhone or BlackBerry, and it is very distracting in the House of Commons. I do not think we are supposed to be using those devices to record audible messages.
- MPndpJun 05, 2013 4:50 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member voted in favour of Bill C-290, the sports betting bill, which has been languishing in the Senate for more than one and a half years.
Why has the bill not been passed by the Senate when the House of Commons passed it unanimously with no dissent, no objections, and no one speaking from the opposition? Why has the bill not been passed?
- MPndpJun 05, 2013 4:25 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, my colleague has mentioned a couple of bills that have been in the Senate that were not passed but were passed in the House of Commons.
Bill C-290, a single sports betting bill, was passed in the House of Commons unanimously on Friday. A number of members on the Conservative side chose not to speak to the bill or stand up against it, but when the bill went to the Senate, they actually tried to undermine it. Now we have a situation where organized crime and offshore betting sources will have support against a bill that would balance the system.
I would like my hon. member's opinion on the fact that we have a bill that was passed in the House of Commons, with no objection, because no member stood up and voted against it, but it still has not passed the Senate.
- MPndpJun 05, 2013 4:10 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, on the same point of order—
- MPndpJun 03, 2013 3:15 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, I understand the immigration committee only heard from the department and not from any witnesses.
This budget bill has a number of serious tax increases and fees on immigration, as well temporary foreign worker issues. This affects our overall economy. Immigration is very important in this country. I come from an area of the country that is the fourth most diverse in terms of population. We have a city of only 200,000 people. We are not the size of Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver, but we still are the fourth most diverse.
It is important that we actually have those witnesses come forward so that we can see the consequences. If we do not do that, we are not going to have good legislation.
- MPndpJun 03, 2013 3:05 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-60. I know you have been in the House a number of times when I had a chance to talk about the border and you will hear more about that. The previous member did mention what was taking place with the Windsor-Detroit corridor, with a new public border crossing being created.
There have been some positive steps that have taken place, which have been supported by all parties in the House for the most part. However, some decisions need to be made for the future. Unfortunately, the Conservative government is exposing the new border crossing to some potential issues.
We all know that there has been a challenge with Matty Moroun, who is the owner of the Ambassador Bridge. He has private American ownership. Basically, there are around 25 international bridges and tunnels between Canada and the United States and only two are held in the private sector, the Ambassador Bridge and the AbitibiBowater Bridge in Fort Francis and International Falls.
Why is this important for the Windsor-Detroit corridor?
For those who do not know, in the riding that I represent there are four crossings that span around two miles which represent approximately 40% of the daily trade to the Untied States. However, with 34 states having Canada as their number one trading partner, this key system of infrastructure has yet to be addressed with the border authority. A border authority would help with the efficiency of our trade. It would allow goods and services to travel more freely and in a better organized fashion.
From the far west, we have the Hazmat Truck Ferry. There is the Ambassador bridge, which takes just over 30% of the daily trade. There is the Detroit-Windsor rail tunnel, which is an aging piece of infrastructure, but hopefully a new one will be coming. However, I am not sure we will have support for that right now from the government. We are waiting to see the decision on that and if the application process will still go forward. Last, we have the Windsor-Detroit tunnel which has mostly vehicles that go through it and some trucks make use of it as well.
The reason I mention this is because the Conservative government is embarking on a public-private partnership for the border. However, the government is not going with the agreement that is normally uses for infrastructure improvements on other bridges and crossings, which is needed to exercise leveraged borrowing through public bonds, such as they do in the U.S. This is one of the ways in which the Americans have gone about their process for twinning infrastructure pieces in the past and look to that for future developments. The Peace Bridge and the Blue Water Bridge are two examples of that. Those areas also have a border authority.
However, we have yet to see the details of the management of our new border crossing, but the public-private partnership the Conservatives are proposing could be fraught with issues, which I have raised. We will have to use a carrot-stick approach and see whether someone from the private sector will bid on it.
It will be a very ambitious project because the bridge will have to span across the Detroit River, yet it has to have enough carriage space underneath to allow transport freighters go through. This is one of the busiest waterways in the world for freighters and private boats. It is very important that the proposal does not touch the Detroit water, that it is a different type of bridge from one that has footings in the water, otherwise the IJC is triggered and it will take much longer.
The reason I bring all that up is, again, the public-private partnership, which is a challenge with regard to our process because it is not vetted. We have gone through this before for our border crossing and I am really concerned that we will need major incentives which would raise the tolls, and the tolls are an additional tax on citizens. There is no doubt about that.
There is a difference between a public and private partnership. Recently, the city of Windsor successfully sued for its portion of the tunnel. We were in a relationship there, but the operator and owner of the tunnel kept it past the 50-year date line that they were supposed to and kept the proceeds as well. When I was on city council, the mayor, Mike Hurst, successfully sued. We found a document showing that the owner had to return the tunnel to the public. However, we found the state of the tunnel in such disrepair that we had to put millions of dollars into it right away just for it to be safe. The private sector had a different model, which was basically to sponge every nickel out of the thing. The result was it did not put the maintenance money into it.
Now successfully operating under the city of Windsor, it provides a revenue stream to the city for infrastructure and other projects and it has been fixed up and repaired.
Interestingly, the private sector on the other side of the border, which owns the lease agreements from the city of Detroit, actually charges more money for crossing than what we charge on the Canadian side. Again, it is going to squeeze everything it can. In fact, it does not even have parity in terms of money, despite the dollar being close to parity with the United States over a number of years. That is one of the issues I want to touch on a bit later.
I will leave it at that for the border, but we are a far way from being done and the public–private partnership that we have is a big exposure because the finances are not allocated right at this time.
As New Democrats, we have been raising questions about the process that has taken place for this budget bill and what has happened. It is important that I lay out a bit about why we believe the process is so broken and it is one of the reasons the Conservatives are going back to fix things that they tried to fix in the last budget bills.
A number of years ago, it was the Paul Martin administration under the Liberals that started to add components of legislation in the budget bill. “Omnibus bills” is what they are specifically known as and they have a number of different things that are travelling with the bill that would normally have an independent process. That is important because this is similar to what the Americans call “riders”, where they attach all kinds of unusual things as they cut deals to try to get the budget passed, so all kinds of pet projects and things will go through.
The issues we are dealing with in this budget bill are very serious. We have the Immigration Act, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Act, the Investment Canada Act, to say a few, that in the budget bill as opposed to having a full vetting at committees.
The committee systems are important. At a committee we have a number of different individuals who will be invited to come forward, provide their testimony and then from there we get experts and we really hash it out. Sometimes there is actually support for legislation and for changes or we find mistakes in bills that were put forth accidentally. Not all legislation is drafted in a pristine manner and will pass the test of metal, so it requires amendments. Amendments will be made, voted on and then returned here to this chamber. That is the normal process and usually it takes a bit longer, but at the same time it makes for better legislation. Unfortunately, all these different things have been put in front of us.
The committees that the budget bill has gone to have been the finance committee, the industry committee, the citizenship and immigration committee, the human resources and skills development committee, the veterans affairs committee and the foreign affairs and international development committee. Through that process, despite looking at spending billions of dollars, there were 33 amendments by the New Democrats, 8 by the Liberals and zero from the Conservatives. Therefore, what we see is a budget bill that will go through with very little debate and expert review.
I would just make one other point with regard to the finances in the budget. The budget continues on a reckless path of cutting revenues without increasing the access to supports that we need to pay for some of them. This is what I am referring to with regard to corporate tax cuts that continue. We are borrowing money and we will be paying interest on those corporate tax cuts because we do not have a surplus right now. Therefore, we are taking resources out of our system and paying a premium for them at a time when we should not be doing that.
That is how the HST was brought in. I commissioned an independent paper that looked at the HST when we had to borrow $6 billion to do so and if we got back to a surplus and paid it off in 10 years, as an independent paper estimated, we would spend around $8 billion to bring it in. Therefore, when we are going to pay a premium for something, we had better get something of value out of it and I do not think we are.
This budget continues subsidies for the oil and gas industry. It supports tax reductions for banks, insurance companies and others that certainly are making a profit right now.
We need to make better decisions.
- MPndpJun 03, 2013 12:20 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, the second petition is in regard to pet coke, which is now being stored on the Detroit River. The petitioners call for the Minister of the Environment to invoke the International Joint Commission.
This pet coke is a by-product of manufactured bitumen at a Marathon plant, and now it is stored right on the riverfront with very little regulation and oversight. There are actually other locations that are now starting to get these, including the one in Essex County that has also emerged.
- MPndpMay 30, 2013 11:55 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government jumps on every opportunity it has to shut down debate. If it is not closure motions, it is letting bills die in the Senate.
Over a year ago, a private member's bill, Bill C-290, that would sustain and grow the largest sector of the entertainment industry in Canada was passed by the House of Commons and sent to the Senate.
As of now, the Senate has not passed the bill.
Why is this bill, which passed the House of Commons with no opposition from any member, languishing in the Senate?
- MPndpMay 28, 2013 7:35 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
With regard to the automotive and manufacturing industry in Canada, what has the government done to attract new automotive and manufacturing investments since 2006?
- MPndpMay 21, 2013 10:50 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, my colleague pointed out, actually, a really interesting aspect. When one is in trouble, what does one do? One runs for the border and goes south, just like the Prime Minister has done.
I want to go to a specific element he pointed out that is important, which is that legislation that is tied up in the budget bill does not go to committee. We are dealing with the Investment Canada Act. This is the third time it has been in a budget bill, because it has been done wrong every single time. There is legislation related to CIDA. There is all kinds of legislation in this budget bill. It not only locks out the committee process, it locks out the public, businesses, not-for-profit organizations, researchers and the experts. All those that have provided value-added input are now disappearing. That is why we are losing in the courts.
I would like my hon. colleague to expand on that.
- MPndpMay 07, 2013 11:05 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, for months now, an important bill that passed through the House unopposed has sat in the Senate penalty box waiting for a final vote at third reading.
Bill C-290 would legalize single events sports betting in Canada and is a game changer for the largest segment of the entertainment industry in Canada. With hundreds and thousands of jobs, massive public investment and billions of dollars of public revenue at stake, the government is a healthy scratch on Bill C-290, while the unaccountable Senate fumbles the ball.
In addition to all-party support in the elected House, both business and labour groups across Canada are fans of C-290. The government is blowing this call, turning a blind eye to a major interference penalty from a small group of unaccountable senators clogging up the progress on this critical bill.
Worse, by sitting this one out, bookies, gangsters and illegal online gaming sites rake in another season of windfall profits.
We know that in the past the government has pushed legislation through the Senate. Why is its approach so weak now on Bill C-290, just inches from the goal line?
- MPndpApr 30, 2013 9:30 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely right that it is one of the improvements in the bill and a significant step forward. However, there are just so many other issues that it leaves me with a certain amount of duress with regard to what we could be doing.
As this bill has been around the House and chamber for so long yet is only moving forward modestly, it gives me a great deal of duress to think about how long it will take to get the job done.
- MPndpApr 30, 2013 9:20 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that advice and will stick to that when I get to my questions and comments period. I appreciate the opportunity to rise and talk about this important issue.
Bill C-15, an act to amend the National Defence Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts is very underwhelming. It has been around since 2003 in several different forms. It has re-emerged with some improvements, but it has been kicked around this place for some time.
We are seeing it come to a conclusion. The mere fact that it does not have one of these targeted names that the government often gives bills is indicative of its mediocrity. It is named “an act to amend the National Defence Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts”. My experience in this place in the last number of years is that the government has introduced bills with very tempting names to try to promote them. In this situation, we do not have that. I think that is an indicator of where we are right now.
As New Democrats, we will support this bill. We will move it forward. The member for Beaches—East York has done a good job on this file, the best he can. The committee has as well, making amendments to the bill.
It is important, because it is about judicial systems and about judgment to our military families. I come from an area where military families are a tradition and an honour. The Windsor and Essex County area has been, since the birth of this nation, participating in the military on a regular basis. The first time was in 1749, a French militia, and subsequently in the War of 1812, the South African War, the First World War, the Second World War, Korea, peacekeepers, Afghanistan. We have been a regular recruitment zone for military service.
We have some of the strongest veterans' organizations out there. It is important. I have seen what happens to some of our officers and some of our regiment, and those who are supporting them, and their families when they have come home. I have had a chance to sit in on some sessions at the Legion, involving everyone from Afghan vets to World War II vets still talking about how difficult it is to get to the next day. It is very difficult, but at the same time they are very proud of those traditions.
I have a little personal experience with this as well. My grandfather, John Clifford Addison, was an ordinary code man who went down on the HMS Scorpion in the fall of Burma. I did not know my grandfather. I never met him. I do not know much about him. I have his medals. I have his soccer medals, as well.
I was very fortunate. Like so many others, my grandmother, Irene Attwood, was in England at the time. She married Fred Attwood. When he came to Canada, he treated me as his own grandson. I was at the house all the time, listening to my grandfather telling his stories, talking about experiences and his mates at the kitchen table. I can still smell the flavourful scones my grandmother would cook and the tea, with big band music in the background, as we sat and discussed what took place.
The reservation I have for this bill is that if justice is not served properly to those in the military, then we are going to have consequences outside when they finish their service. I have seen that. What worries me about this bill is that we have not done enough with regard to the amendments that needed to take place in order for this bill to be improved, whether it be giving the Chief of the Defence Staff the financial authority or whether it be making sure that the processing is done properly so that they can actually have justice at the end of the day.
There have been a number of witnesses who have come forward suggesting that this is not complete. We had a number of amendments made at committee that were not done. That concerns me, because this bill has been around this place for so long.
I am going to go through some of the changes we wanted to take place and that perhaps can get done at another date. I do not know if the current government is interested in doing that. It is a risk we have to take. The bill is going forward anyway, with some modest improvements, but I hope there is some sincere attempt to go further on the recommendations that came through a lot of work, thought, discussion and debate. As I noted, this bill has been kicked around this place for a number of years, and it is time to finally get something done, but it is disappointing that we have not had some of the other elements we wanted.
One of those was to conduct an independent wall-to-wall review of the military justice system and provide a legislative response to the LeSage report within a year. Neither the report in 2003 by the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Right Hon. Antonio Lamer, nor the report from the former chief justice of the Superior Court, the Hon. Patrick LeSage, provided a complete independent review of the entire military justice system. We think it is time to do that. We think it is time to move that point forward, and I think there is enough support to do that.
Another thing we wanted to have is reform of the summary trial system. The Hon. Patrick LeSage said:
Suffice it to say I have very real concerns about obtaining a criminal record from a summary trial conviction. The issue of criminal records flowing from convictions at summary trial must be reviewed. The very damage that flows from a criminal record and the potential effect on a person's life is far too severe a consequence for most offences tried by summary trial.
This is where I get into my background of working with youth at risk and other persons who have disabilities, where stigmas are evolved or are created on a person and there are consequential effects. For example, if individuals have that on their record, it affects them in going for a job, in education, in their neighbourhood, with applications for credit or for any type of assistance, if it has to be disclosed. Those individuals are living with this cloud over top of them.
I see it on a regular basis, even in my home riding, where I have a good example with regard to a stigma staying left over. I have a Ford truck driver who smoked marijuana, got caught and has a federal conviction, so every time he goes into the United States, he is rightly pulled over because he has a record, but sometimes he is made to sit there for four or five hours. We have to intervene and say the authorities should pull him over and go through the vehicle and do all the inspections and enforcement they want to do, but the just-in-time delivery that the person is doing right there is important for both of our economies. He has to live with that type of stigma and that type of potential every single time he crosses the border. It is his own fault and he has to pay for it, but the reality is that there is a consequence.
Therefore, as an employment specialist on behalf of persons with disabilities and youth at risk, what I worry about is that even some of the minor convictions can make a difference in terms of a person being able to get a job or employment. It is critical that this issue is addressed in here, because if our military personnel have that, even if it is not something that is openly known in the community, they are still living with that bubble above them.
I have one last point. We want to expand on the service offences exempt from criminal records as well and, last, to reform the grievance system so that there are more appropriate opportunities for someone to grieve a situation.
With that, I appreciate the opportunity to speak in this chamber to this issue, and I welcome comments and questions and will be prompt in terms of my response.
- MPndpApr 25, 2013 1:25 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, that is a great question from the member, as it is a serious issue not just for her area with regard to tourism but also for the freighting system, one of the busiest in the world, which on a regular basis has been reducing its loads going through the system because the lake levels have been so low.
The problem is that fixing it will require some dredging. When we are dredging, we are stirring up a lot of pollutants at the bottom of the water, which is going to create other environmental concerns. That is why I often focus on the bitumen or petcoke that is stored on the waterfront. I recently received a letter from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality stating that a permit is not actually required to do this. Anybody can buy this stuff and do whatever they want with it. They have to follow some process for a dust plan and also for leaching, but it is not very strong.
Therefore, again I would call upon the Minister of the Environment. If that department is saying that there is some potential, then there obviously is potential, because otherwise it would not ask for these plans. I would call upon the minister to get the IJC involved. I do not think the government has been supportive enough of the IJC or the work that it does.
Our Great Lakes system is like an H20 highway. It is very important to our industries and very important to our water intake. It needs to be taken more seriously.
- MPndpApr 25, 2013 1:20 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, we have a climate change plan that looks at greenhouse gas emission reductions. There are also issues that we need to deal with, such as the health effects on human populations, as the member mentioned.
I would use the Great Lakes as an example, and I thank the member for the question. In the last federal budget, the fake lake that was built in Toronto received more money per capita than the other Great Lakes did. That is ridiculous.
We need to be focusing on cleaning up our environment. Putting resources toward that would create jobs, would create the sustainability necessary and would create good population bases that we can actually sustain. If we have clean water, we are going to be able to have good, clean communities.
That is one of the priorities I would see, especially as someone living beside the Great Lakes.
- MPndpApr 25, 2013 1:10 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and share my time today with the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île. I appreciate this opportunity to speak to this issue.
I will start with a couple of points. The first is to commend the member for Halifax. She is known in this place as someone who is a reasoned, responsible member of Parliament who is very balanced in her approach to politics and also to her file. This is not being partisan in terms of this motion, as has been charged by the Liberals.
I will not spend much time on this, but it is important to acknowledge. When I arrived here in 2002 there was a lot of talk about Kyoto and the actual legislation and moving forward in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, and nothing got done. Very little happened, and I understand why the Liberals are sensitive to this. I can appreciate that, but it cannot erase what took place in this chamber, in this House, in this country and what happened to our reputation across the world. That is just what took place.
The motion by the member for Halifax is very reasoned, responsible and key to the future of this country.
I will start with an environmental success story, just to show some of the challenges we have. I had a meeting today with Lafarge, one of the largest construction cement consortiums in this country. It has international standards on pushing back greenhouse gas emissions across the globe. It is looking at 33% per tonne of cement compared to 1990 levels, 50% moving to non-fossil fuels in cement plants by 2020, including biomass, and also 20% of concrete containing reused or recycled materials. Those are just some examples of the direction in which Lafarge is moving. That is one of the reasons why, when we look at industrial strategies, we need incentives and rewards for those companies that actually perform that way and also have employment that is socially responsible.
Whereas, when we have the current government providing continued corporate tax cuts for the oil and petroleum industry, continued allowances for them to tap into the capital reduction loss account and continued ability to actually get subsidies at a time when we are in a deficit, it is irresponsible. We are borrowing money right now for corporate tax cuts, on the backs of our kids, for an industry that is wildly successful and also damaging to other industries and also is a polluter. It is a result. We have this industry, and we need to wrestle with the consequences of what has taken place. We need to decide where we are going at this point in time and whether corporate tax cuts rewarding this type of activity are appropriate. There should be penalties, and at the same time we should be ensuring we are going to be sustainable.
I can bring up a case. People may not realize that the oil sands industry can be closer to home than they think. I can talk from experience on that. Currently in Windsor and Essex County bitumen that is processed in a Marathon plant in Detroit, from the oil sands, is now petroleum coke that is being stored on the Detroit River. There has not been enough investigation with regard to this material, and the research is still out there, but it was enough that in the port of Los Angeles a $7.5 million barn was built after years of political wrangling and environmental challenges and also reassuring the public, because this material is highly toxic if it gets into the air or the water. Unfortunately, Canadians have rented property from the Ambassador Bridge, a private institution on the American river, and we have petroleum coke at a number of different locations. One of the most significant is about four stories high and about two and a half blocks long. It is so significant that it has become a landmark, and it is right next to the Detroit River. Thankfully for the residents of Windsor, we have to worry about only the air particulate at the moment, because our intake for our municipal water system is upstream. It is not so lucky for people from Amherstburg or farther down the Great Lakes system. It is not so lucky there.
However, the reality is that we now have to deal with a haphazard approach to using this material. The interesting thing about the bitumen that is processed into petroleum coke is that it is later used in coal-burning facilities for energy. It has been described as the dirtiest of the dirtiest of fuels, but this byproduct is not often calculated in greenhouse gas emissions because it is a byproduct.
As well, this will be an interesting factor in the pipeline development. I have been to Washington and heard from American politicians on different sides, and some of them do not want the pipeline built. One person in particular told me that he is concerned about getting this byproduct into Texas and having it shipped to China where it could be used as a cheap energy source to undercut American manufacturing. I do not know how successful he will be, but he is going to try to prevent this project from going forward and is raising this issue in the halls of Washington. This is one of the things that could result from the Keystone project.
The other scenario is that this petcoke could go to many Michigan or other coal-power plants across the United States to be used. Right now it is produced in the Marathon plant in Michigan, but it could be used in others as well. In fact, they tried to bring in a ship to move some of the petcoke off the shores because it is stored temporarily, or maybe it was for another customer, but they had problems doing so.
According to the Detroit Marathon refinery material safety data sheets for petroleum coke, the appropriate storage and handling procedures are as follows:
Store in properly closed containers that are appropriately labeled and in a cool well-ventilated area. Do not expose to heat, open flames, strong oxidizers or other sources of ignition.
We have this material piled on the water.
This is important to the debate here because I have asked the Minister of the Environment to invoke the IJC. I commissioned an independent paper from the Library of Parliament on Canadian and American laws that relate to runoff and airborne substances that could potentially harm human health, and the report showed that our laws are not very strong at all in protecting Canadians, particularly from this substance because it is a newer substance. However, the risk is potentially there because we see this product dumped on the shore. Obviously, when the wind blows, it could result, and is likely resulting, in that product getting into the water system.
The minister has yet to respond to the IJC, and I am perplexed by that. The Great Lakes system is one of the most important things for our environment and economy for the future. Everywhere else in the world, they would be pleased to have this type of treasure, especially as we approach climate change and we have issues related to water systems and supply management. The fact is that this has already been debated in terms of the diversion of water from the Great Lakes system even when the water levels are the lowest in many years, which the Conservative government denied at first despite the Michigan army of engineers showing the evidence.
I want to conclude by noting that this issue and the minister's lack of attention toward this file shows a disregard. At the very least, we should be erring on the side of caution.
We have fought hard in this region, and for many years we have had a blog on the Great Lakes system. We have had invasive species and serious industrialization effects on plants in that area. However, we could actually have improvements, and we have been working for improvements.
Therefore, let us err on the side of caution. Let us get the IJC involved. We have to remember that what is happening in Alberta is affecting every single community across this country.
- MPndpApr 25, 2013 12:40 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, in the Windsor-Detroit area, bitumen pet coke, which is a byproduct of bitumen, is now being stored next to the Detroit River on our tributary system. This is a direct product of the oil sands, and I have concerns about this.
We have asked the Minister of the Environment to engage the IJC, because the leaching of it into the Detroit River could cause significant effects. I would like my colleague's opinion on that.
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 9:50 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, I remember the days of Alexa McDonough. God bless her, she stood out on her own in defending Maher Arar. She called for the proper process when it was very unpopular to do so. One was seen as being weak on terror and soft on crime. Those were the catcalls. She was determined and did not falter in making sure that he had his say and he had his day and justice was well served. However, the family is still paying for that. They have lost time and are still suffering the consequences of what took place. They have to move on as best they can, but unfortunately the damage has been done.
When Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal building in Oklahoma, we did not assume that every white Christian male was a terrorist and stop them from coming into Canada. We just assumed that he was a very evil person who did the wrong thing.
There are good people out there, and they cannot get caught in this net as well because there is too much at stake. The consequences for families are too much.
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 9:40 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to this important bill. It is not much of a debate, as there has been silence from the other parties for the most part. However, as a New Democrat and someone who lives on the border, I believe it is important to talk about some of the issues with respect to Bill S-7, because the bill would indeed affect our lives.
I will start by recognizing the families and victims of Boston, which was a horrible crime perpetrated against not only those individuals but also against free people across the planet. It is sad to see things turn that way. Our thoughts and prayers are with those people as they try to move on with their lives the best they can at this moment.
I always remember when 9/11 took place. I was working as a youth coordinator at the multicultural council. In that program we had eight youth from Canada who were making bad decisions about their lives, and their lives were not on track. Then we had about nine to ten youths who were new to Canada within the last couple of months or the previous year who were having a hard time adapting to Canadian culture and society, so we were doing a program together. We had anti-racism, volleyball and basketball programs. There was a lot of integration into the schools and a series of different things for people who had been identified as youth at risk. We had a good program, because it had a 90% success rate of youth either going to school or returning to a job somewhere once they completed the program.
I mention that because I was in my office and saw the second plane go into the tower on 9/11. I will always remember that moment when I had to go and talk to the students right after that, knowing that this atrocious act of terrorism was forever going to change the future quite significantly for all of us, not only in the way we perceive the world but also in the way we go about our business in the world, such as in the consequences we faced at the border, which was lined up with trucks. The border was virtually shut down. There were lineups on the 401 all the way back to London, Ontario. It got to the point where diapers were being handed out and porta-potties were being placed along the route because there were so many people stuck in their vehicles.
The trucks could not go anywhere. At that time, around 10,000 trucks crossed via the Ambassador Bridge and the Windsor-Detroit tunnel and the haz-mat ferry per day.
We still have consequences of that remaining with subsequent policies. A lot of the focus has been on militarization. In some respects there has also been a focus, to the point of obsession, regarding civil liberties, and it has altered our lives.
Bill S-7 is one of those issues. We saw it come through the House originally. The U.S. had what is called the Patriot Act, which infringed civil liberties there, and it was fought diligently by the civil liberties associations and others in the U.S.
We eventually had the original security certificate before Bill S-7, which is now amending it more strongly, despite the fact that we know it was not needed to solve some of the issues we have had to deal with because it contained a sunset clause.
I want to congratulate and thank the men and women who were responsible for making sure the VIA incident did not take place. They are to be commended for their hard work. It is an example showing that we do have laws in this country that can be very useful in combatting terrorism and crimes of that nature.
It is important that we talk a bit about militarization of the border and a change in attitude that is affecting our economy and the way that we interact in this world. I have seen this at the border.
I will go back to the Oklahoma City bombing. Two Muslim men in a car were the original suspects. Later on it turned out that it was Timothy McVeigh, a white Christian male who was part of the Michigan militia, who was the primary person responsible for that bombing.
I mention that because we have seen racial and ethnic profiling occur at the border, and it has affected a lot of people. I often remind Americans, especially when I am in Detroit, that thousands of doctors and nurses cross the border every single day to save the lives of American citizens in their hospitals and in other services.
It has been challenging. At times when there have been other acts of terror, profiling was targeted at communities. Sometimes it was the Pakistani community or the Somali community, and other times they were thrown in with the lot. That was unfair.
In fact, one of the biggest changes that I saw take place was when the US-VISIT program was implemented. The government, similar to previous governments, has not opposed the U.S. on the tiering of Canadian citizenships. It first happened when I was in Washington. I was at the embassy, and we became aware that they were going to put five nations on a list. If a person was born there, he or she was going to be fingerprinted and photographed, despite becoming a Canadian citizen.
The first list came out, which basically had a tiering of Canadian citizens. It did not matter if a person had only been in a country for a brief time as a child, or had come to Canada later on in life, that person was seen as a lesser Canadian. I asked the ambassador at that time if we were going to challenge it, and he said no. It was subsequently never challenged by any prime minister. To this day, we have a tiering of Canadian citizenship, which is not the right way to go.
It is also important to note that when we have these issues over privacy and identity, there have been times when it has been used against individuals, and later on they have been found to be innocent. The case in particular that I would like to raise, which has been raised often in the House, is the one of Maher Arar.
Maher Arar is a Canadian citizen who was detained not by one but by two significant law enforcement agencies in North America, the RCMP and the FBI. He was exported outside of the country and he was terrorized. It was a terrible experience, affecting him, his life and his family, whom I have met, and it was sad to see. Basically, a lot of people at this odd time did not even think to stand by him. We had to stand by him. We found out later on that the evidence was not right. We found through the inquiry that it was not right, to the point where he has actually received reparations for it, but his life can never be made the same.
What concerns me with regard to Bill S-7 and some of the clauses that are in it is that the detention elements are for up to 12 months. If one has a detention of up to 12 months, that is a significant departure from a person's family, friends, relatives and the life that they are building in the country. Let us imagine being taken out of the workforce for 12 months and then see how one can actually get it all back later on.
Even if the person is cleared, the people around them in their life, whether they be friends and family, or just acquaintances or neighbours, will continue to harbour potential fears or different myths about the situation. They will not be as intimate with why the person was detained or what the reasons were, and if the person is later released, whether or not the person is still a threat.
I worry about the special process and stigma that are placed on those individuals, because it is inevitably going to lead to their having a different experience in Canada than other people, and why? Because we were creating a special law—a super law, so to speak—that is supposed to combat terrorism. We are going to see individual repercussions on that person and his or her family, which are heightened and very significant, and which will lead to long-term issues.
It is ironic that we are discussing this legislation, which very much does infringe on some personal rights, and we do want to act on terrorism, yet at the same time, through the budget and process, the government is cutting the things that can actually combat terrorism. I would like to talk about a couple of those things on the border.
I know I only have a minute, but I would highlight that we have over 100 CBSA investigative officers and other officers who are going to be or have been cut from their jobs. They have also been told to stand down if they find exporting guns, drugs, or criminal activity if they do not have an investigator when things are going to the United States. Those things come back as guns, money, and other weapons.
I cannot agree with Bill S-7. It goes far too far. We have the provisions in place right now to actually have a safer society.
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 8:25 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, I want to ensure I understand from the comments by the member for Mount Royal that the Liberals are hoping to support this bill and are hoping that the Conservatives are going to then have some parliamentary reviews and oversight, as just mentioned. How likely does the member really believe that is, given the government has used closure on debate a record number of times? Currently, right now, the Conservatives are attacking their own leader.
It is a very naive approach to assume that the Conservatives will later on review this bill. How can the member believe that is going to be possible?
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 7:10 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, last, I have a petition in which hundreds of petitioners are calling for the age of eligibility for old age security to remain at 65 years of age. The petitioners are opposed to the eligible age being increased to age 67.
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 7:05 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, I have hundreds of signed petitions in which the petitioners are asking that the Olde Sandwich Towne post office be saved. Unfortunately, Canada Post has closed it. However, we are working with it to see if we can find another usage, and I know that the petitioners would support that.
Unfortunately, it is too late to save the post office, but at the same time, we are trying to work out a process to go forward that would benefit all of the community, including Canada Post.
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 11:30 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
The problem, Mr. Speaker, is Conservatives are preoccupied and obsessed with shipping 40,000 jobs to the U.S. down the Keystone pipeline at the expense of everything else in Washington. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce president said that making the borders thicker is exactly the wrong way to go and the Conservative government already set the example by cutting the CBSA, setting the stage for cuts from the U.S.
Why are the Conservatives once again failing to protect our interests in the U.S.? What are they doing to put a stop to this new tax on trade on Canadians?
- MPndpMar 27, 2013 11:55 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, crown corporations under the government are in a stranglehold. They are not at arm's-length from the government.
After serving the community for 100 years, Canada Post announced the closing of the Sandwich Towne post office, a disrespectful move, considering the community has offered to work with Canada Post to find a solution, but to the tin ear of the Ottawa Conservatives, the community's concerns simply go unnoticed.
Why is the government so callous about these service cuts? Why is it ignoring students, seniors and persons with disabilities being hurt by these reckless Conservative cuts?
- MPndpMar 18, 2013 12:30 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
With regard to the Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System on the Canadian Pacific Railway line in the City of Windsor, Ontario: (a) how much money has this unit cost Canadian taxpayers to date; (b) how many inspections have taken place annually since it began operating; and (c) how many inspections have led to detainment, charges and convictions in each of those years?
- MPndpMar 06, 2013 11:55 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the delays are up.
First, the Conservatives were asleep at the wheel when Florida tried to impose new fees on Canadian drivers. Now with spring break around the corner, the U.S. sequestration spending cuts could mean the loss of 5,000 border patrol agents and almost 3,000 inspectors.
That is on top of the massive cuts the Conservatives have done to our Canada Border Services Agency. It is a reality. We cut first. Where is the government's plan to mitigate the economic and travel impacts of these cuts?
- MPndpFeb 11, 2013 12:10 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, I have a second petition signed by thousands of people with regard to the age of eligibility for the OAS being changed from 65 to 67. The petitioners are objecting to this practice and want the government to rescind this as an issue.
- MPndpFeb 11, 2013 12:05 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions here.
The first petition calls for the new border crossing in the Windsor-Detroit corridor to have a bike lane. Hundreds of people are signing petitions and are supported by the cyclists in Michigan as well and by Michigan elected officials at all levels.
- MPndpFeb 11, 2013 11:10 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, a recent report indicates that my community of Windsor lost over 20,000 jobs between 2006 and 2010.
Despite the Conservatives' claims to create jobs, they have again decided to slash more services and jobs. In fact, their action plan is failing Canadian families.
They moved our CBSA headquarters from the busiest border in Canada, laying off dozens, and slashed 40-plus Service Canada positions. Sixteen more jobs disappeared at the Canadian consulate in Detroit, and now they have even decided to close our Veterans Affairs office, reaching a new low.
Sadly, these actions take place with little to no consultation. Now Canada Post has announced the sacking of 80 positions in its decision to close the Walker sorting plant and historic Olde Sandwich Towne post office. Ironically, we just celebrated the War of 1812 and this post office is ground zero to some of the greatest moments in Canadian history.
All of these cuts without community consultation create even more job losses as individuals and businesses lose valuable and efficient services.
The next time the Conservatives want to spend millions on advertising their failures, why not can the commercials and keep services Canadian families want?
- MPndpFeb 05, 2013 1:00 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, my riding has had some of the highest unemployment over the last number of years and the lack of consultation has been tragic, as the member noted, because it is one of the key factors. In Essex, just outside my area, the lack of consultations on the beyond the border agreement is potentially going to lead to the closure of three canning facilities, and hundreds of farms will go as well because of that situation.
I would like the member to talk more about the agricultural element. We have been to Washington together a number of times to argue for improved services and improved programs. These cuts are going to significantly hurt those people. I would like the member to expand upon that, please.
- MPndpJan 28, 2013 12:15 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
With regard to the Automotive Innovation Fund expiring in 2013, have the Minister of Industry and Minister of Finance considered: (a) extending the Automotive Innovation Fund past the current 2013 deadline; and (b) renewing the program for another five-year period?
- MPndpDec 12, 2012 11:10 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, it is with mixed emotions that I rise today to thank one of the cornerstone members of my team, Karen Boyce, in her last day of work before she moves on to a well-deserved retirement.
Karen began working in my constituency office shortly after I was first elected in 2002. She retires today undoubtedly as one of Canada's best constituency assistants.
Over the years, Karen has helped thousands of people in my community access the services and benefits they were entitled to, sorted through complicated cases reaching every corner of the globe and even sent faxes in the middle of the night to ensure she reached embassies across the world.
Karen worked every day with the simple goal of improving the lives of the people in our community. The hallmarks of her work include competence, knowledge, patience and compassion. She has always been a steadying influence, whose counsel has been invaluable to me and her colleagues alike.
I thank Karen from the bottom of my heart, as do the constituents of Windsor West, the staff and her colleagues. We will miss her dearly and wish her a well-deserved retirement.
- MPndpDec 10, 2012 12:15 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to table.
In the first one the petitioners call for the government to have a bike lane on the new border crossing between Windsor and Detroit.
- MPndpNov 27, 2012 3:45 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, that is unbelievable. First, I will clear up something that shows just how misinformed the member is on this subject and probably many others.
The member said that I voted against arming the border guards. In fact, it was a campaign that I worked on with Stockwell Day in voting for that. I was awarded a CBSA jacket along with Stockwell Day and the member for Windsor—Tecumseh. There is actually a public record of that. It was the NDP that approached the Conservatives to get that done. If the member does not even know that, what else does he not know?
I am amazed. A memorandum was issued about this action from the department. The evidence is there and it is clear.
I hope the member gets up and apologizes and stops making things up in this chamber. What else are you making up?
- MPndpNov 27, 2012 3:40 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise again on border issues, as I have many times.
I first want to thank a constituent of mine, Richard Ruston, from the People First movement, who gave me this nice lapel pin for those working on behalf of and advocating for persons with intellectual disabilities.
To move to the subject matter at hand, I rose in the chamber in September to talk about the issues at the Canada Border Services Agency and a memorandum that was issued to CBSA border officials to stand down when they find drugs outbound to the U.S. at the border.
It is a very serious issue because as we have seen over a period of time, there have been budget cuts to border services. In fact, there have been 325 positions identified for cuts where the government has asked the union for 325 volunteers to abandon their posts and retire or leave. What is going to happen is that there will not be the people or the capacity to actually replace those jobs. Those jobs are now gone, so there will be fewer people serving at the border, the men and women who do an able job in the circumstances. Most recently we had a tragic shooting of an officer, who was actually from the London area. We are saddened to see that situation. It is a very serious job.
The government has removed the detector dog program, which was very effective in catching criminals who were trying to bring in drugs, guns and other types of contraband.
This memorandum is a slap in the face of our officers. It comes about because of cuts to the number of agents and intel, which is not properly gathered any more. The government now wants to allow this to just go to the United States.
The problem with this strategy is that a couple of major issues are involved, which the government needs to account for. Often, these drugs go into the United States and become cash, other hard drugs, or guns or other contraband that criminals then attempt to return to Canada. Therefore, our prevention strategy of working to find drugs exiting the country has actually lowered crime in Canada because it prevents criminal organizations and others from getting resources they use for other criminal activity.
I have talked to a number of my American counterparts, be they elected officials or business or social interests, who are very concerned about Canadian officials removing this preventive strategy. They are very concerned about their people being exposed to additional Canadian manufactured drugs, or drugs that have come into Canada and then gone elsewhere into the United States, affecting their livelihood and wellbeing. It creates addiction problems, social problems, workplace problems and increases in organized crime as well.
It is a black eye for our country to abandon our number one trading partner by no longer attempting to find that type of contraband and preventing it from going over the border. We can do better.
- MPndpNov 26, 2012 12:20 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
With regard to the Department of Finance's recent changes to mortgage rules in Canada, and in anticipating future changes to the mortgage rules for homeowners in Canada, has the government considered: (a) allowing Canadian homeowners to consolidate their credit debts outside of their mortgages, but at the same prime interest rate that mortgages are at; and (b) allowing secured lines of credit to remain at 80% of the value of the home, rather than the current 65%, instead of making Canadians borrow an unsecured line of credit at 7% or more, or a credit card at 18%?
- MPndpNov 21, 2012 3:50 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the bill that my colleague has brought forth. I rise with a sense of regret and shame for a country that has failed to deliver on a promise that it made nearly 10 years ago. As a result of that failure and that promise that was never kept, we have witnessed children, men and women suffer and die because we did not get a chance to provide medications.
We built the system. This is important to recognize when we go back and look at the past. Bill C-56 was the original bill. It was nicknamed Jean Chrétien's aid to Africa act. We said at that time that we would put a system in place that would be the envy of the world. It would allow generic drugs to get to those who were suffering, whether it be from HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria. We promised.
When Parliament recessed Bill C-56 came back to the House as Bill C-9 in 2004. We made another promise. Experts appeared at committee a couple of times. We brought in witnesses. We had expert testimony from many people from around the world. People testified to make sure that we were WTO and TRIPS compliant, that we were within the mandate with regard to allowing the patented drugs to be generically created and distributed, and that we would follow certain rules. Basically, we wanted to create an open and accountable process. Instead we built a monster that really has only been exercised once in all of these years. It really is a monster, because it is preventing us from stopping death and suffering.
Why is it important? Lots of numbers get thrown out and there have been some improvements over the years. The reality is that many people are still suffering. I cannot understand it when I look at the problems being faced in sub-Saharan Africa. What are we doing when children are becoming the heads of households because their parents are dying? We are taking out the capacity for the family unit to be effective. These children are losing the knowledge of how to raise themselves, how to become successful, how to get an education and work co-operatively with others. We are undermining people because we are not providing the resources that are there.
There is a will out there. I want to read some comments from organizations that are in favour of the legislation, because it needs to be noted that they did their part. They did their part for many years on the Hill as we have moved this issue forward.
When we moved Bill C-393, the previous legislation, it ended up dying in the Senate. Unfortunately, we are back here today. It is important to move this legislation again to committee because it does have a few changes, some improvements and some compromise. It is not like we did not compromise along the way. At one point I submitted over 100 amendments to the original bill at industry committee because we knew the legislation was so badly constructed. The Canadian access to medicines regime was built to defeat itself.
The organizations that did their part include the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Grandmothers Advocacy Network, Results Canada, the Federation of Medical Women of Canada, the Canadian Federation of University Women, the Ontario Nurses' Association, UNICEF, Bracelet of Hope, World Vision, the United Church of Canada. A whole coalition, a rainbow of organizations have come together and worked together.
There have been some important changes and there is some hope. We were fighting with the brand name drug companies along the way. We have gone through a whole range of issues about certain countries being listed and certain drugs being listed, and fought back and forth on all of those things.
However, now there has been a shift in their position. In a letter dated November 19 from research-based pharmaceutical companies to my leader, the hon. member for Outremont, it says they are open to looking at a more constructive approach. They list a series of concerns. Some I do not think are as valid as others, but there are important ones to note. They talk about transparency, amount and term, anti-diversion, eligible countries, eligible medicines and safety appeal mechanisms.
The good news is that there is no reason for any member now to vote against the bill. If a member is voting against the bill, he or she is voting directly against the pharmaceutical companies, the generics, and all the organizations I mentioned, that want to see this move forward. I thank them for coming to the table this time. In the past, we have witnessed a relationship that has been rocky at best. However, at this moment in time there has been a change in position. We are going to hopefully see this legislation move to committee so we can start to deal with some of the issues they raised to improve the legislation.
It is important. We have set an example internationally with this legislation. If we can get the changes here, other countries can also get some changes. We have a situation where some of the global funds are diminishing, so we have an issue with supply and management right now, and the costs.
I will conclude that I have come here today speaking out of frustration and disappointment, but there is a glimmer of hope this time. I am hoping all the members understand that there is nobody else out there against moving forward, so let us do it together with all members' support.
- MPndpNov 07, 2012 11:05 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, sadly, Windsor lost a truly inspirational man in Ralph “Earl” Scofield who passed away peacefully this past Friday.
Earl was a senator with the Métis Nation of Ontario, a well-respected community leader and a lifetime member of the CanAm Indian Friendship Centre. He was a member of the CCF and a founding member of the NDP. He was also a World War II RCAF veteran who enrolled in the reserve army in 1943 at the age of just 16. He then served as an air gunner pilot, completing 17 missions in Germany and achieving the rank of flight sergeant air gunner.
This past August, Earl was recognized by the Métis Nation of Ontario with the Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions of Métis service in the defence of Canada. He was invited to lay a wreath during the 2012 National Remembrance Day ceremony on behalf of the Métis.
He will be deeply missed at our local Remembrance Day service this year, as he was always seated in the front row.
On behalf of the member for Windsor—Tecumseh and I, our thoughts and prayers are with Earl's wife, Mary Rose, and his family.
Earl was a great inspiration to all and a personal hero of mine. His legacy will no doubt inspire future generations.
We thank Earl for his contributions to our country and community. He is already missed but will never be forgotten.
- MPndpOct 30, 2012 7:05 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek unanimous consent to move the following motion: That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, clauses 179 to 184 of schedule I, related to the construction of a bridge spanning the Detroit River between Windsor and Detroit, be removed from C-45, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, and do compose Bill C-47; that Bill C-47 be entitled “an act respecting a bridge spanning the Detroit River between Windsor and Detroit and other works”; that Bill C-47 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities; that Bill C-45 retain the status on the order paper that it had prior to the adoption of this order; that Bill C-45 be reprinted as amended; and that the law clerk and the parliamentary counsel be authorized to make any technical changes or corrections as may be necessary to give effect to this motion.
We are proposing this because the new bridge between Windsor and Detroit has been a long process in evolution and included new legislation that was passed under the International Bridges and Tunnels Act. That process has been defined and developed, and we want to make sure that it is consistent.
- MPndpOct 15, 2012 11:10 am | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, on November 2 the Windsor Express tips off its inaugural season in the National Basketball League. In its second season, the NBL is the next chapter in Canada's connection to one of the world's most popular sports, the game of basketball, invented by Dr. James Naismith and another gift from Canada to the world.
The NBL's focus on core principles, including Canadian content, the passion for play, ethical excellence and a focus on the fans, will facilitate the continued evolution of the game.
Under the leadership of President Dartis Willis Sr., the Express is applying these principles in my community by featuring two Windsor athletes, Gregg Surmacz and Issac Kuon, on their opening day roster, and is further nurturing that community connection by supporting educational initiatives, community events and small business.
In choosing the name the Windsor Express, the franchise tells Windsor's story by acknowledging our community as an underground railroad destination and paying homage to the railmen of Windsor, connecting heritage and history through sport.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome the Windsor Express to my community. I am confident that the organization will be a tremendous ambassador for our city. All aboard the Windsor Express.
- MPndpOct 04, 2012 12:55 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, one of my really big concerns about the bill is how it is going to affect youth as well as its consequences on other family members. What happens sometimes with refugees who come here is that if the youth are not busy and active they can often find themselves in cultural shock. Part of the program that I ran was to help mend the fences around the cultural shock.
Alternatively, these youth fall in with other groups and gang activity because they have nothing else. If they are not at school or if they are out of work, they are in a percentage that is highly vulnerable to being influenced by other people, especially when they do not know a new country.
I would like my colleague to examine the issues of vulnerability in the bill related to youth and families, especially when concentrating so much power in the minister's office.
- MPndpOct 04, 2012 12:45 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, it is terrible. We listen to the cases every day of people coming in. We are talking about families that are being broken apart. Sometimes there are children involved. If somebody has children in this country, they are Canadian citizens. It is not the children's fault that somebody else made decisions that have repercussions on them. Does that mean that we throw them out? The answer is, yes, we do because if they do not go with their parents they become wards of the state by themselves here. It is horrible to see these cases because often it is just processing time.
With this bill, we are focusing our time and the government is focusing its energy on the wrong types of things. We should get the processing times in place so we can make right and fair decisions for people.
- MPndpOct 04, 2012 12:40 pm | Ontario, Option Nationale
Mr. Speaker, the reality is that not everybody is perfect and sometimes people do make mistakes but what do we do as a society about that? What do we do about the consequences on the other people who are affected?
I will read something from my staff, “One case that came in the office today is a twenty nine year old gentleman from Serbia that is being deported. All of his family live here in Canada now mother, sisters and brother. He has been here 6 years and works at two jobs a restaurant and as a home renovator for a local contractor. He has an H&C [a humanitarian and compassionate ground appeal case] in but again that will not be seen for at least another 3 years. He has no family in Serbia.
He is being deported. We have had more and more of these cases.
What possible benefit would that have? We should let the due process happen first before we send this man out of the country. He has family here and we know there have been problems in Serbia before. They are well documented in that region. What benefit will that be for our country to throw this young man out?
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