- MPndp19 hours ago | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, with answers like that, it is like the Conservatives are taking their crisis management courses from Rob Ford. We are talking about abuse of the public trust here.
Today, the Prime Minister blew off the Nigel Wright scandal as a mere distraction, but he failed to tell Canadians whether he thought it was wrong or illegal, wrong to make secret payouts, wrong to obstruct an investigation.
The Prime Minister called in the cops on Helena Guergis and Bruce Carson. Given the seriousness of these allegations, will he call in the cops against Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy?
- MPndp19 hours ago | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, we now learn that the Prime Minister's key legal adviser Benjamin Perrin helped Nigel Wright with this secret deal that included a $90,000 payout and a promise to have Conservative senators “go easy” on Mike Duffy's rip-off of the taxpayer.
The Prime Minister has praised Mike Duffy for leadership, he has praised Wright for being honourable, but he has not come clean with the Canadian people.
Who else was involved in this plan to obstruct the audit? Does the Prime Minister think that it is okay for taxpayer-funded lawyers to obstruct investigations into taxpayer rip-offs? Does the Prime Minister have a problem with that?
- MPndpMay 09, 2013 4:05 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Chair, the question was on the government's own report that these children are being left in a dire situation under this minister's watch.
I would like to carry on, though. Many of our first nations children have to leave their reserves and end up in a provincial system. What standards does the minister have for the children under his watch who are under the provincial system? What methodologies and what accounting do they have to ensure that the provinces are providing the kind of support they need?
- MPndpMay 09, 2013 4:00 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Chair, I am not trying to be rude here, but he did not answer my question. I wanted to know if he knew how many students who were eligible for post-secondary education were unable to receive it. He does not seem to know that either, so I will ask him another question.
Will he confirm that money that should have been used for students to go to post-secondary education under the first nation funding envelope was reallocated for internal use by INAC and Indian Affairs? Will he confirm that?
- MPndpMay 09, 2013 3:55 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Chair, then the minister does not know how many schools need to be replaced. Again, we are talking about children here. This is an issue on which he has a responsibility to understand the importance of protecting the health and safety of children. I am surprised that he does not know the number. I could give him the number 48. Maybe that would help him.
I would ask him how many schools on reserve have been listed as substandard or condemned.
- MPndpMay 08, 2013 11:40 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, we are talking about $2.4 billion in secret contracts that were funnelled out the back door of government ministries. For example, they gave a $600,000 contract to a numbered company with a dead phone on a residential address.
The Conservatives promised ethical accountability, instead they gave us Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and these numbered companies. I think it is like the Conservative government and Conservative senators; they just cannot be trusted to police themselves.
So, will the government promise to turn over tomorrow's internal Senate audit to the police to ensure there will at least be some investigation of the senators who have been ripping off the Canadian taxpayers? At least do that.
- MPndpMay 07, 2013 11:30 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, Liberal Senator Mac Harb and Conservative-appointed Patrick Brazeau are being forced to pay back $130,000 they ripped off from taxpayers. Like Mike Duffy, their laughable excuse is that they could not understand how to fill out a simple housing form.
When an ordinary Canadian makes a false claim and gets money to which he or she is not entitled, the government calls it fraud.
Why is the government supporting the entitlements of their unelected, unaccountable and unethical senators? Why are there no penalties for ripping off the Canadian taxpayer?
- MPndpMay 07, 2013 9:15 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague, who knows this file on the temporary foreign workers so well.
We have this myth with the Conservatives about the market: we will just let the market decide; it is basic economics, the law of supply and demand. That is until it does not quite work for their friends in the big industry. For example, if there is a labour shortage, wages rise and there is competition.
However, what we have seen with the temporary foreign worker program is that the Conservatives have allowed 500,000 temporary foreign workers to be brought in to actually drive down wages and make it more difficult to have a competitive labour market.
It is clearly unfair to Canadians, but it is also clearly unfair to the people who are being brought over and treated as disposable labour. They come over here, they are supposed to do the work and then they are shipped back. Canada is left in a deficit position both in terms of local people who are not being employed and in terms of immigrant families who could actually become part of Canada and buy houses and participate; they are being left out.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague why she thinks it is that the government has allowed this program to actually undermine social development in our country.
- MPndpMay 07, 2013 9:00 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with fascination once again to the revisionist history that comes from the Conservative benches on what caused the global crisis. The Conservatives would purport that it was social programs in Europe that crushed the world economy when in fact it was the deregulation of the banking sector and irresponsible speculation in Ireland, Iceland and Goldman Sachs in the United States. That is the record. The fact that there was not clear regulation in place was what caused it. I find it disturbing that my colleague was attempting to claim that it was social programs in Europe that destroyed it. I see the continual attack on social programs in this country, which the current government is carrying out.
My hon. colleague talks about the fact that the Conservatives are good fiscal managers. We just had the Auditor General's report in which he said that the current government has no ability to account for $3.1 billion in spending. When Jean Chrétien said he lost $1 million and it was no big deal, the Reform backbenchers went crazy on it. They were jumping up and down in their seats. Now they cannot account for $3.1 billion. There is no trust in this government among the Canadian public.
- MPndpMay 06, 2013 11:35 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, while Conservatives are obsessed with finding commies at the CBC, I think Canadians would like them to be a little more focused on finding the $3.1 billion lost by the Treasury Board or why they are blowing taxpayers' dollars on partisan advertising or why losing the personal information of over a million Canadians is just another day in the minister's office. This is not about ideology. This is about incompetence. The minister has a pitiful track record of accountability.
Will he now commit to inform the Privacy Commissioner of every data breach that happens under his watch, no exceptions, no excuses?
- MPndpMay 02, 2013 11:30 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, the fact is, they left over one million Canadians vulnerable to fraud artists, and the minister has no plan. Thanks to Conservative mismanagement, more and more Canadians have been left open to this kind of fraud and lost information. Some departments are seeing breaches every 48 hours. Instead of coming clean with Canadians, they sat on 90% of the breaches.
The minister could not keep track of $3 billion. He cannot keep the private information of seniors safe. Where is a third-party manager to help him do his job?
- MPndpApr 30, 2013 11:40 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, this government seems to think that losing the privacy data of one million Canadian seniors and students is an ideological debate. The New Democrats say it has to do with bad management.
Now, 99.9% of the breaches happened under the government's watch. We are talking about its mismanagement of personal data. It is not good enough that the minister says he is now going to meet with the Privacy Commissioner. He should have been meeting with the Privacy Commissioner when the breaches happened.
Getting caught is not an action plan. Where is his commitment to the million-plus Canadians who had their data lost, stolen or hacked? What happened to the plan?
- MPndpApr 29, 2013 11:30 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, it is pretty clear that the minister does not seem capable of protecting the privacy information of Canadians. The extent of these breaches is staggering. They are losing Canadians' personal data almost every 48 hours.
When Canadian seniors file their taxes online, they should not have to worry that their SIN number, their address and their financial information is going to be lost or hacked. So will he agree to the New Democrats' proposal that he turn over these cases to the Privacy Commissioner and then come clean with the more than one million Canadians who have had their data lost, hacked or stolen?
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 10:30 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague. This is a very important debate because the one thing we all share in the House is an abhorrence of the senseless and cruel violence we saw in Boston and elsewhere. We know where the Conservatives are coming from. Their agenda has always been clear.
The issue I have is that earlier I heard the Liberals compare Bill S-7 to Bill C-55. For the last two days, the Liberals have been saying that if the police ask for tools, we should give them the tools. One of the problems with that is there has to be judicial oversight. When we look at Bill C-30, which the Conservatives brought forward and was a widespread bill to allow all manner of intrusions into people's online private interests without warrant, based on the supposition or desire of a police authority, we see Canadians rejected it because it was an unnecessary tool, yet the government came back with Bill C-55, which narrowly defined wiretap provisions under judicial authority.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague why he thinks the Liberals think it is okay to have judicial authority and review on wiretaps but allow people and their relatives to be held without warrant without any kind of oversight provisions that we consider important.
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 9:50 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague, and he talked about how certain groups are targeted because of violent acts that have happened.
In my family, and I come from a family that is orange and green at a time when there was such division and hatred, the one thing that brought both sides together was their horror at the sectarian killings that were happening in Ireland. I remember my grandmothers talking about what happened to the people in Ireland and England who were caught up in the sweep. At the time, it was popular to just arrest people and suspend the rule of law. It was seen as okay. Our Liberal colleagues talked about it today. It was popular to suspend civil liberties in Quebec, and therefore that made it right.
We look at the cases, and they always say it is to get the bad guys, but the question is, what happens when they get the innocent, as my colleague said about Maher Arar? I would like to point out the story in England, where Annie Maguire and seven members of her family were put away for 15 years on anti-terrorism charges, and they were innocent.
It is incumbent upon parliamentarians to ensure that the rule of law remains the basis while we are protecting citizens from terrorist activity. I would like to ask my hon. colleague what he thinks about the problems of so-called preventive arrest without charge.
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 9:35 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, what is really important to state for Canadians who are concerned, as we all are, about potentially dangerous people, whether they are politicized radicals, have a religious attitude or just want to cause chaotic harm to people, is that under the Criminal Code a person can already be ordered to appear before a judge if there is concern, and the judge can hold the person and deny bail if he or she believes the individual poses a threat. What is different about Bill S-7 is that a judge can detain a person for 24 hours without cause, detain the person just on the perception or the feeling of a police officer that the person may be engaged in terrorism.
New Democrats put forward amendments to try to clarify what would give law enforcement officers that ability. What is a terrorist? Are we talking about violence? What is it? The government refused to work with us on clarifying it because it said it wanted a wide sweep of powers. I find that concerning, because we saw that widespread civil rights abuses happened at the G20 against people who were just exercising their democratic rights, and now we see how people who oppose the pipelines are called eco-terrorists.
The government said it wanted a wide sweep. I would like to ask my hon. colleague why he thinks the Liberal Party, which has wrapped itself in the flag of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has refused to come forward with even a single amendment to at least clarify and basically protect the rights of Canadian citizens. If that party believes in the charter, why is it not standing up for it?
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 9:25 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for the excellent history he provided on what happened to the people in Quebec during the dark days of the FLQ, when Pierre Laporte was brutally murdered and James Cross was kidnapped. I was astounded to hear the Liberals say that it was right because treating the entire francophone population in Quebec as a threat and detaining people without warrant or trial was popular, and since it was popular, it therefore made it right.
This is the same attitude the Liberals took post-9/11, when Maher Arar was dragged off to Syria and tortured. At the time, nobody except New Democrats was saying that this man may be innocent. We did not know all the facts at the time, but we said that this man deserved the rule of law. We were right, just as we were right for opposing the War Measures Act at the time, because it is not about what is popular. Politicians should not give in to the fear of the day. They should stand for the principle of protecting civil liberties while making sure that police have the tools they need to go after criminals.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague why, in light of legislation that strips away basic fundamental freedoms Canadians have fought for, the Liberal Party has done nothing in terms of amendments or attempts to improve this bill to ensure that innocent people are not arrested.
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 9:05 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, like all Canadians and members of the House, regardless of their politics, we have such anger and frustration when we hear of, for example, the VIA Rail plot. Whether it is true or it is not, people would harm innocent people. We want the full weight of the law to be brought against people who would create the kind of chaos that was created in Boston. What we are seeing with Bill S-7 is what the Conservative government called a wide sweep of measures and this is what Canadians need to understand: terrorism is a fundamental assault on the rights of a democratic society, but we do not counter terrorism by engaging in an assault on the basic rights of the rule of law.
New Democrats brought forward numerous amendments to attempt to clarify the provisions. Unfortunately, the Liberals brought zero amendments. I would like to ask my hon. colleague why he thinks it is that the Liberals did not even bother to try to fix the bill, to try and work with us to ensure that basic civil liberties are not undermined in the pursuit of terrorists.
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 8:35 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague. Again, all of us are so offended by senseless violence and the effect it has on our society. One of the most poisonous effects is that it creates an impression that the basic rule of law and basic rights need to be done away with.
We saw this in 2001 with the horrific time after 9/11, when rendition, torture, arrest without a warrant and detention without charge were considered to be what was needed for the 21st century. At that time in Canada, we had a young engineer who was just coming home from work, Maher Arar, and he was arrested and sent through rendition to torture in Syria. That happened under the former Liberal government. At the time, Mr. Arar was considered to be the price to be paid for democratic freedom. The man was being tortured and he was completely innocent. Now, we realize that his rights were completely abused.
At the same time, the Liberal government brought in two very controversial measures. One was the ability to detain someone without charge. The other was to force those individuals before a judge without their being able to protect themselves. The Liberals knew it was so contentious that they agreed to a sunset clause, because it was to be for a limited period of time. Now, we see that the government is bringing it back in the wake of the horrific killings in Boston and that the Liberal Party is supporting it. The Liberals told Canadians they would sunset it, but now we see them hiding on the coattails of the Conservatives, bringing back the same provisions that were proven unnecessary and a major affront to Canadians back in 2001 and 2002. They could still lead to further incidents. We have not seen this party understand the implications of what happened to Mr. Arar.
We need to ensure that innocent people are not caught up in what they are calling, under this bill, the need for the wide sweep.
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 8:20 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague. While I agreed with some of his analysis, I disagreed with other parts. I would like to question him on it.
I really felt that what the member said about terrorism being an assault on the fundamental democratic rights and freedoms of any society was completely accurate. Therefore, it is then equally incumbent upon us to ensure that in our response we do not give up fundamental basic rights.
I note he was concerned about the need for a sunset clause with the two very provocative amendments or positions that were brought forward under the Anti-terrorism Act following 9/11, which was arrest without charge and the special investigative hearings. Canadians were very concerned, and that is why they wanted a sunset clause.
He said that we needed it to be evidence-based, but it was not used. These were extraordinary powers.
We went through these hearings. The Liberal Party put zero amendments forward. My hon. colleague has an extraordinary background in issues of human rights and law. I am surprised, because I have heard members of the Liberal Party say that it is not a perfect bill, but they are willing to accept it.
When legislation is brought forth, it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that all efforts are made to ensure the legal rights that Canadians have enjoyed for this century and more are not undermined.
Does he believe that we should go through an endless round of sunset clauses? If it is evidence-based and it was not used, why is this being brought back now?
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 8:05 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague's speech. I think all of us share the anger and frustration about people who would abuse our country and put people's lives at risk and, in doing so, undermine basic protections and freedoms that all Canadians enjoy. Certainly, we want to ensure that, when people are caught, the full weight of the law is thrown against them.
However, I think what we are looking at here is this undermining of basic rights that make us the democracy we are.
We know that the Liberal Party brought in two very controversial motions in 2001, taking away the basic right of people to protect themselves in court, by forcing them to give testimony against themselves and also by holding people without charge.
The Liberals knew this was so contentious that they brought in a sunset clause. However, now, they are hiding behind the Conservatives and supporting getting rid of that sunset clause and bringing the legislation back.
Bill S-7 would be a law of general application, so it would affect minors as well as adults. There would be no differentiation in the people who could be held: friends, relatives, anybody related to someone who is supposedly suspected but not charged. It would include children. Both the Conservatives and the Liberals refuse to amend the act to clarify that people under the age of 17 or 18 would not be detained in this same measure.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague why, given that Canada has signed specific UN conventions on protecting children, this huge breach of basic rights for children would be allowed in what the Conservatives have called their desire to have the wide sweep of powers to go after anyone they want.
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 7:30 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent analysis. All Canadians are deeply frustrated with the level of incoherent violence we are seeing, especially with what happened in Boston, and we have seen it in other communities.
In terms of the so-called solutions being offered here, two of the key provisions of the bill were brought forward by the Chrétien Liberals in 2001, at a time when they were telling us that basic freedoms could be done away with. It was an era in which they were going to support rendition and torture.
Those two provisions—the ability to hold someone without charge and to force someone before a judge to give evidence against themselves, which would undermine one of the most basic civil rights—were so contentious that even the Liberals agreed to sunset them. In the years they were in place, they were never used once.
I ask my hon. colleague why he thinks it is now, after the Liberals had promised to sunset these very fundamental threats to the legal landscape of Canada, that they are sneaking in behind the Conservatives to once again push through two provisions that undermine basic rights of any Canadian?
- MPndpApr 23, 2013 7:05 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I would like to specifically thank the member for Sherbrooke for his excellent leadership on the social media and privacy study because we know that Canadians are living more and more online. The importance of privacy and maintaining privacy protection in the age of big data is essential. The New Democrats were saddened that both the Conservatives and the Liberals dropped the ball on a number of serious areas, from what we heard at the committee.
We have numerous recommendations. The Privacy Commissioner should be given order-making powers to ensure compliance of companies that are not protecting people's data. We want to make sure that all data breaches are reported to the Privacy Commission as opposed to leaving them subjective because of the potential threat of fraud that people are facing. We want to ensure that Canada moves up with privacy protections in the digital age. We need a comprehensive digital strategy and privacy is at the heart of it. I would like to thank my hon. colleagues for their work on this committee.
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 3:25 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I will not stay very long on this hug-a-thug, talking down the nation business. It is really unfortunate that the member cannot even involve himself in a serious discussion without reverting to some university Conservative Party talking points. We are talking about the rule of law here. He might think he looks smart using some quick notes from the 20-year-old grunts in the PMO, but we are talking about a bill that The Globe and Mail said today is legislation that “smacks of political opportunism” and unfortunately “politicizes the Boston Marathon bombings”. That member needs to stop wrapping himself in the flag because it is affecting his thinking. We need to talk about this issue, which is the right of citizens to be free from arbitrary arrest in this country.
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 3:20 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, there are all kinds of tools one can put in a toolbox. One could get a screwdriver or a big jack hammer. The question is how they are used.
Obviously, I never expect to see the Liberals in government again, because they flip-flop and they misrepresent themselves to Canadians. They promised Canadians in 2001, when they brought in these provisions, that they would sunset them, because they recognized that they were a fundamental threat. Now what we have seen is that as soon as we have a Conservative majority, the Liberals hide behind the Conservatives, run up the road with them and say “We want to suspend these fundamental civil liberties”. They can howl all they want, but that is the historical record.
They come out every few months and wrap themselves in the so-called Charter, but they were the ones who brought in the provisions that had Maher Arar tortured. They did nothing to help him when he was over in Syria being tortured. They left him there, because they thought these provisions were okay.
We have continued to stand up for the basic defence of civil liberties, and we will continue to stand up. If they want to vote with the Conservatives, it makes no difference to us. There is a reason they are the third party. There is a reason the third party will stay a third party.
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 3:15 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague. I would like to let him know that Northern Ontario is bigger than Kenora—Rainy River. I am actually from Timmins—James Bay, but no matter.
What I said was very clear at the G20. Perhaps he does not remember the G20 and the massive abuses of civil rights at the G20, all in the name of going after the black masked anarchists. They missed all of them, but they arbitrarily held people, then let them go. They said they were sorry and that it was a mistake. That happened.
If these provisions are so badly needed, why was it that during the four years after 9/11, when the supposed terrorist threat was at its highest, they were never even used? The police did not need them. Now they are being brought back. They were such onerous provisions that the government agreed to put in a sunset clause to get rid of them, because they represent a fundamental threat.
I would like to remind my hon. colleague, who was not here then, that Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, was dragged out, sent off to Syria and tortured. Everyone in the House on the Liberal and Conservative sides at the time thought that it was what was needed to defend democracy. Meanwhile, this was a completely innocent man whose only crime was the colour of his skin.
Yes, it has happened, and if this bill is brought forward, it will happen again.
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 2:55 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour, as always, to rise in the House and represent the great people of Timmins—James Bay, who put their trust in me to address issues in the House.
Today on the Hill outside Parliament, I was reminded why I love this country so much. I think of Parliament Hill, that great public space where people go to demonstrate, play drums, play Frisbee and, yes, smoke pot to draw attention on 4/20. This is a public space and in that great public space today, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people gathered in support of the people of Boston. It shows that, fundamentally, we are a world community and care for each other in those moments. I watched the crowd go off to the sounds of Sweet Caroline, one of the great songs I used to sing at weddings, but that is another story.
I thought of Fenway Park in Boston, where Neil Diamond showed up and sang Sweet Caroline, showing that Boston has great spirit and that senseless violence will not deter us from being a civil society. Whether it is the horrific killings in Boston or the crazy gun nuts in Newtown or Colorado, a fundamental principle of our society is that we are not going to let them win by growing in fear and undermining the basic principles on which our society has been based. That principle is based on the right of citizens to be protected from terrorists, but also from arbitrary arrest and detainment. That is the principle for which the House of Commons stands.
It is unfortunate that, as we saw the great outpouring of goodwill on the Hill, we see this debate being brought forward again in the House. I refer to The Globe and Mail editorial that stated:
The two-day debate in Parliament on the Harper government’s proposed anti-terrorism legislation smacks of political opportunism, and it is regrettable that it will take place. The debate politicizes the Boston Marathon bombings....
It goes on to say:
More worrying is the fact that there are aspects of the proposed bill that raise questions about balancing civil liberties with the need to protect citizens. A wise course of action would be to postpone the bill’s final reading so that any emotional fallout from the Boston bombings doesn’t colour an important debate about public safety in Canada.
It is incumbent upon us when we see this political opportunism in the face of such tragedy that we do not just bend with the wind when the Conservatives say to bend. Our colleagues in the Liberal Party bent long ago on this issue. We need to raise the fundamental issues that are facing Canadians. We are talking about legislation that takes away basic fundamental rights: that people can be detained without trials and be made to go before special investigative judges without the right to remain silent. Those are fundamental principles.
If Parliament is going to undermine those basic rights on which democratic freedoms are based, there have to be some damn good reasons for it to take place. These original measures were brought forward by the Liberal government in the post-9/11 era. In the horror after 9/11, many people said that our traditional freedoms were outdated, that in the 21st century, torture, rendition and detention without trial were what we needed to do to protect society.
We saw many abuses of citizens' rights in the public realm under this sense of fear and panic, and the Liberal government at the time went along with that George Bush analysis and brought in the provisions that are being brought back. However, even at that time they were so unpalatable to the Canadian public that it had to guarantee there would be a sunset clause, that they would only be in effect for a period of time. Within that period of time, those provisions were never found to be necessary; not once. Yet the Liberals still want to break the promise they made to Canadians when they said they would sunset these clauses because they were such a threat to basic democratic and legal rights.
Now the Liberals are saying, “Let us do it; let us forget that sunset clause; let us forget the debate that happened in 2007 when the House of Commons said that those kinds of provisions would take away from people the fundamental rights of legal protection”. The House of Commons rejected that in 2007 and the Liberals voted with New Democrats. Now they are going back to where they wanted to be.
This is the party that always wraps itself in it. It was them; they represented the charter. However, these are fundamental charter issues.
They used the word "terrorism". It is certainly a very loaded word and a very dangerous issue we are facing. However, the issue with this bill is that, as parliamentarians, we have to make sure due diligence is done so that innocent people will not be drawn up into this net.
It was really telling that we brought forward a number of amendments to try to fix the bill and to work with the government to fix the bill, yet the Liberal members brought zero amendments. They just went along to rubber-stamp it. One of the motions we tried to bring forward was the issue of recognizance with conditions, where a person could be held by preventive arrest based on the word of a peace officer. That person could be held without a warrant and without charges. A person who knew somebody who may be a threat could also be held.
We tried to clarify the language so that we were really clear about what was intended, so that it was terror suspects and not just average citizens who were out there protesting in the streets or would get caught up in a sweep. The government refused that amendment, because it said it wanted a broad sweep. That is something that my hon. colleagues in the Liberal Party are supporting. They are saying that would pass a charter challenge. I certainly do not think so.
What preventive arrest and recognizance with conditions really mean is that we have to look at where it has been done. In the post-9/11 era, Maher Arar was arrested without any real evidence, went through rendition and was tortured. That was done under the nose of the then Liberal government, which thought that was the price we had to pay for freedom. We found out later that Maher Arar was completely innocent.
The Liberals are saying this does not mean that, if individuals serve a meal in a restaurant to a supposed terrorist, they will be arrested without a warrant. That is a ridiculous example. A more telling example would be to look at England during the 1970s and the horrific bombing campaigns that hit London and Birmingham. The Parliament at that time felt it had to get rid of the basic principles of habeas corpus and detention and trial. They arrested numerous innocent people, including Annie Maguire, whose story I have already mentioned today. She was just a housewife.
Not only Annie Maguire but seven members of her family were put in jail for 15 years based on no evidence, because they were thought to somehow be associated with people who were terrorists. The people they were associated with, their cousins, were innocent. We saw that a great miscarriage of justice was done with the Guildford bombings. People's lives were ruined, but it was considered okay at the time because they were all a threat. The crime then, of course, was that they were Irish in England.
However, civil society is based on the rule of law. It is based on ensuring that those situations do not happen.
I want to just talk about the term "terrorist". I was called a terrorist. I was denounced by the government of Mike Harris as an eco-terrorist because I was standing up against a massive garbage dump that many of the frontbenchers supported. As a citizen, when I was speaking up and protesting, I was being called an eco-terrorist. We see that the government uses that word all the time. If a person does not like a pipeline, he or she is an eco-terrorist.
What about all the young aboriginal activists who are on the streets? What about the people at the G20, who came from all over and got off the buses to participate in their demonstrations at the G20, which is their fundamental right? Under this law, a peace officer could believe that these people are possibly thinking of terrorist activity, and they could be held in detention for 24 hours without charges. Then, the peace officers could decide whether to let them go.
We saw what happened at G20 and that is exactly what they were doing. They were detaining people. They were kettling people. Of course, they missed all the bad guys who were running up and down Queen Street with black masks on. I do not know how they missed them, but they managed to run from Queen and Spadina all the way up Yonge Street, and a lot of innocent people were detained.
We have to be careful and we have to define exactly what we mean.
If police officers or people in authority are allowed to decide that they do not like a person and they think he or she poses a threat, then that person could be detained without a trial. In this bill, a person could be held for 12 months without a conviction.
The government says it needs this. However, in the years that these provisions were in effect, they were never used once. Under article 495 in the code, already, an order can be brought to have people appear before a judge, and a judge already has the ability to detain them, without releasing them on bail if he or she feels they are a threat. Those powers already exist.
We are talking about new powers that are much more arbitrary, that are much more subjective, that allow for people to be picked up and held without charges. That is a fundamental threat.
I would like to quote Paul Copeland, a lawyer with the Law Union of Ontario, who said in his opinion the provisions we were examining in committee would unnecessarily change our legal landscape in Canada. He said we must not adopt them. In his opinion they are not necessary. Other provisions of the code provide various mechanisms for dealing with such individuals.
It is unfortunate that within the opposition, the Liberals did not think to even challenge, not even clarify. There are some other amendments that are very much needed but that the government refused. For example, Bill S-7 is a law of general application. It cuts right across. The Young Offenders Act does not supercede Bill S-7. That is very concerning.
What happens to people who are under 18? Can they be detained? Can they be held? That happened in the case of Annie Maguire in Ireland. To say it would not happen is absurd. It has happened. Canada has legal obligations under the international Convention on the Rights of the Child to protect children.
The Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children proposed amendments to the bill to ensure that the implementation for children under 18 would consider the convention on the rights of children, including detention as a last resort. The government did not accept those amendments, and neither did the Liberal Party. That is serious.
What we are told here, and I have been here for a number of years, is that we are soft on this. What I find the government is soft on is the basic principle of the rule of law. If someone says “Hey, let us get rid of the rule of law; it will be more effective”. Certainly it would be more effective. Totalitarian states are always very effective in a certain thing because they do not have the rule of law.
We are different because we have the rule of law. I will point to Bill C-30 in this last Parliament, where the government came in with massive provisions to allow it undefined legal authorities to demand personal information on Internet users and cell phone users without warrants. The government thought that was perfectly okay. It needed this, and if we did not support it, then it said we were soft on child pornography.
What an ugly statement, considering the fact that the one who came forward, who was very soft on child pornography, was the architect of the whole Conservative revolution, Tom Flanagan. Tom Flanagan was soft on child pornography.
However, average Canadians who wanted to protect their privacy rights were attacked by the government. The other provisions within Bill C-30 at that time were forcing telecoms to put in spyware so that they could track people whenever they wanted.
My colleagues in the Liberal Party said nothing about it, because those were actually provisions that were brought forward under the Liberals.
At that time we saw a huge backlash, publicly. It was very impressive. Canadians care about their privacy rights. Canadians are not soft on child pornography. Canadians are not soft on terrorism. However, they were not going to sit back and allow the government to undermine basic rights, including the issue that if individuals are going to wiretap, they need warrants.
Recently we have seen the government come back with Bill C-55, which is on wiretap provisions. The government recognized the need to have warrants.
None of this precludes the issue that already within the court system of this country, if officers believe a life is danger, they can act. They can act without a warrant. That is a reasonable provision. If something is an emergency, if a child's life is at stake, they can act and they can then explain to the judge.
However, we are talking about something different. We are talking about someone who feels that a bunch of young activists from Montreal who come to Toronto for the G20 and get off the bus could be up to no good, and it is perfectly okay to grab them and put them in detention for 24 hours and then decide to maybe let them go. Maybe the demonstration will be over by then.
CSIS has been keeping tabs on young, aboriginal activists. Will they be drawn up in this because CSIS wants a broad sweep? Those were their terms: they wanted a broad sweep.
I tell people back home to really reflect on what the House is being asked to push through. The provisions of law have served us for hundreds of years. They are not arbitrary. We did not just come up with them. They exist because we have seen the abuse of civil rights. We have seen the abuse of individual rights, and we need the clear rule of law.
Even in the case of terrorism, we in the New Democratic Party say that we need the tools. If the government wants tools to go after cyber-terrorists, it should bring in a bill that goes after cyber-terrorists, but it should not bring in a bill that allows it to grab any information on anybody it wants at any time just because. Just because is not good enough.
I find it unfortunate that in the wake of the Boston bombing, that incoherent, horrific act, the government has been widely seen to be trying to force this through. It is wrapping itself in the grief of Boston to push through a bill, with its friends in the Liberal Party, that is undermining the basic rights of Canadians without having ever proven just cause.
In the years these provisions existed under the Liberals, before the Liberals agreed to a sunset clause, they were never used. We see that within the Criminal Code we have numerous provisions to give police the powers they need to go after the bad guys.
We as parliamentarians do not need to be frightened, told by the Conservatives that we all have to jump when they say jump, otherwise we are soft. We are not soft, and we are not soft-headed, unlike our colleagues over in the third party. We stand for the rule of law in this country, and if the government tries to fundamentally alter the political landscape of this country, it needs to prove it.
Second, it needs to stop politicizing it so that when amendments are brought before the committee to ensure, for example, that children are not drawn up in this wide sweep, the Conservatives will say that it is reasonable and that they will protect children.
We asked for amendments to clarify what are terrorists so that a guy in a uniform is not just picking some kid out of a crowd because he looks like he is about to do something. That is not the rule of law. That is what exists in totalitarian countries, and it is the difference between us and them.
Paul Calarco, of the national criminal justice section of the Canadian Bar Association, put it very clearly at committee. He said:
There is no question that the prevention of terrorist action is vital to preserving our society. This requires effective legislation, but also legislation that respects the traditions of our democracy.
Unfortunately, the bill fails to meet either goal.
The issue is the investigative hearings. Someone could be brought before a special judge, and the right to remain silent, which is a fundamental principle, would be taken away without any justification, without a necessary explanation as to why the individual was being stripped of these rights. It would just be on the subjective word of a legal authority.
As well, there is recognizance with conditions and preventative arrest, not just of the people who are suspected but of people who may know them, people who may be their relatives. A peace agent could arrest an individual without a warrant if he or she believed it was necessary and could hold the person for 24 hours. People could then be held for up to a year.
It is incumbent upon us, in the aftermath of this horrific and senseless act in Boston, to say that in civil society, we will not give in to knee-jerk reactions. We will not give in to fear. We will stand with the victims, but we will ensure that they are not used to undermine the very basis of what makes us a civil and progressive and democratic society.
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 2:30 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, one thing we never hear from the Conservatives is that a primary responsibility of Parliament is to respect the rule of law, and the rule of law is based on the rights of citizens. That is something that the Conservatives continually want to do away with.
We brought forward numerous amendments to fix this legislation. The Liberals brought zero. One of our proposed amendments was to clarify what would be defined under “terrorism” because individuals could be detained and held without warrant by authorities who think those individuals might do something. We tried to clarify that and the Conservatives refused to have clarification, because they said they wanted a broad sweep. We see the Liberals and Conservatives support a broad sweep against citizens.
My question for my hon. colleague is this. In light of the recent G20 where there were numerous abuses of civil rights, such that the police were left embarrassed and it has been brought to court, why do both the Liberals and Conservatives support this broad sweep against ordinary Canadian citizens?
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 2:00 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague with respect to the Liberals putting zero amendments forward and then accusing the government of not listening to them. No wonder the government is not listening to them; it is because they are not speaking.
It was the Liberal government, under Jean Chrétien, that brought in the provisions that suspended habeas corpus under the so-called terrorist provisions. They were such onerous provisions that the government agreed to put in a sunset clause so that they would be removed after a time, because they were a fundamental threat to the legal landscape of the country.
In 2007, Parliament voted to ensure that those provisions for taking people without warrants and forcing them before investigative juries or judges would not be brought back. The Liberals, in 2013, are standing up and supporting the same provisions they promised to sunset in 2001.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague why he thinks it is that the Liberal members have offered zero amendments and have been rubber-stamping this from the get-go.
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 12:35 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
With respect to data, information or privacy breaches at government departments, institutions and agencies, for each year from 2002 to 2012: (a) how many breaches have occurred in total, broken down by (i) department, institution or agency, (ii) the number of individuals affected by the breach; (b) of those breaches identified in (a), how many have been reported to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, broken down by (i) department, institution or agency, (ii) the number of individuals affected by the breach; and (c) how many breaches are known to have led to criminal activity such as fraud or identity theft, broken down by department, institution or agency?
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 11:00 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I rise today with profound sadness over the sudden closing of Perram House, a palliative care centre in Toronto. Perram House set a very high standard for care of families dealing with dying loved ones, and the loss of this institution reminds us that palliative care services remain elusive for many people across this country. Less than a quarter of Canadians have access to palliative care. In the rural areas, the north and on first nations, the lack of services is highly problematic.
I commend the all-party committee that did excellent work on the issues of palliative care, but at the federal level we do need to work with the provinces and first nations communities to ensure that all Canadians have access to quality end-of-life care.
I spent a week at Perram House as my dear brother-in-law lay dying, and I realized that palliative care is about restoring the family to the heart of these moments of hard transition. Everyone has to face these moments. Let us ensure that these moments of hard transition are met with dignity and with hope.
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 10:45 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my hon. colleague.
Everyone has heard about the Globe and Mail editorial that said it is very unfortunate that the debate taking place is an attempt on the part of the government to politicize the Boston Marathon bombings, that we need to think this legislation through and we need to look at it it in terms of other historical moments. In England, during the horrific bombings in the 1970s, preventive detention, which the Liberal Party has been promoting all day, was used. We then saw Annie Maguire and her six family members jailed for 15 years on the charge of being Irish in the wrong place. Later on, we realized that was a complete abuse of process.
We saw under the Liberal government, after 2001, that they thought the notion of the right to trial, of the basic freedoms we cherish in the rule of law, was outmoded, and we saw Maher Arar sent off for torture. Given the fact that there are no provisions for children under the bill, they would be treated as adults.
What does the member think of the Liberal Party's continual pushing for the supposed need to have preventive detention without trial, without charges, where people can be put in jail?
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 10:30 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I have been hearing the same arguments put forward for many years in the House: that these are necessary and they will only catch bad guys, so if we strip citizens of basic due process, it will all help. We saw Maher Arar, who was deported and tortured under the Liberals' watch; they did nothing for him.
On this issue of preventive detention, the idea that a Canadian citizen could be thrown in jail on someone's word, without clear cause, is very disturbing. Most Canadians need to know that is part of the bill. As well, there are no provisions to protect children under the age of 18. Why, I ask my hon. colleague, does he think the Liberals would support a bill that does not have clear breakout provisions to ensure that children age 12, 13, 14 or 15 are not going to be subject to unfair detention?
- MPndpApr 22, 2013 10:15 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, on a day when we are still mourning the loss of so many people in Boston, we are debating a bill that could have enormous implications.
I am interested in my colleague's opinion. Bill S-7 is a law of general application, which means that it would affect not only adults but juveniles as well. Canada has certain obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international instruments to protect children from unnecessary detention. The Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children proposed amendments to the bill that would ensure that children under the age of 18 would be taken into special consideration and not be subject to these measures. The government ignored that recommendation. We are concerned about this.
The Liberal Party is supporting this legislation. Last week the Liberal leader said that New Democrats were somehow soft on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, although the first charter of rights and freedoms in this country came in with Tommy Douglas in Saskatchewan. New Democrats, as opposed to the Liberal Party, fought to ensure that first nations were included in the Charter.
The Liberal Party is supporting a bill that would not offer clear protection to those under the age of 18 from these kinds of detention measures. What does my hon. colleague think about that?
- MPndpApr 19, 2013 10:10 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, our fundamental relationship in this country, the relationship that goes back to the original agreement of 1763 to build the relationship together with first nations, has been a broken relationship. It needs to be repaired.
There have been numerous broken promises. Numerous treaties were not implemented or people had their land stolen or, when the Kelowna accord came at the 11th hour and 59th minute of the Liberal government, there was no money on the table to actually bring about change.
Unfortunately, this has left a sour taste in the mouths of people and a suspicion, a rightful suspicion. We see that in Attawapiskat, where the people are still living on a postage-stamp-sized reserve without access to their resources and their young people do not even have a school.
We need to do better, and it is upon us all. It is a historic problem, but this is the time to change it—today. All members of the House of Commons have that ability. We need to come together and do the right thing.
- MPndpApr 19, 2013 10:00 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour, as always, to rise in the House to speak on behalf of the people of Timmins—James Bay, particularly on this important New Democrat motion about restoring the nation-to-nation relationship with first nation people. I will be sharing my time with the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent.
It is very important that the debate comes this week, when we have numerous issues showing us the fundamental failure of Canadians to live up to that relationship, such as at Neskantaga, where we have a horrific suicide crisis. I have seen the suicide crisis in James Bay and the damage that it does psychologically, physically and spiritually to people. I note that Neskantaga in English means Fort Hope. It seems so ironic that a community so devastated is a place called Fort Hope.
This week, nine premiers came forward and asked the Conservative government for an inquiry into the hundreds of murdered and missing women and the government continued to turn a deaf ear. In its eyes, perhaps there is one set of victims it will listen to, but it continues to stonewall the hundreds of missing first nations young women across the country.
This week the government continues its court case against Cindy Blackstock. It spied on a woman who was speaking out on the issue of education and child rights for first nation children. This is at a time when there are now more children being held in foster care and being taken away from their families than at the height of the residential schools. This shows us the broken relationship that we need to restore.
I want to speak today about Treaty 9, because that is the region I represent, the height of land in Northern Ontario. I know in the media, when we had the Attiwapiskat housing crisis, there was the sense of “We won, they lost”. That seems to be the general public view of the treaty, that it was some kind of surrender, or giving up.
However, until we understand the story of the treaty, we do not really understand why the relationship with first nation people has gone so wrong. We would not understand why people like Grand Chief Stan Louttit and Chief Theresa Spence speak so much about Treaty 9. Their grandfathers signed that treaty. This is not ancient history. This is the beginning of what went wrong in the modern 20th century.
If we look at the Indian affairs website on Treaty 9, it is amazing. The very first line on the history of Treaty 9 begins with the opening statement, “We ask you to help us”, as though the first nations were hoping that the Indian affairs bureaucrats were going to come up and make everything right.
What was being spoken about in the late 1800s was the incursion by the white settlers into first nations lands, stripping the lands of their basic resources and the attempt by the people to define some rules on the ground. They were not calling on Indian affairs to come up and take their land and put them on a reserve. They were saying that their fundamental rights, which they never extinguished, were under attack. They were under attack by CP Rail. They were under attack by the white settlers who were trying to flood the communities with alcohol, while taking away the basic hunting rights.
What was interesting also was the issue of resource development. In December 1901, the Hudson Bay Company Osnaburgh House, forwarded a petition saying “For the past two or three years exploration for minerals has been carried on in the country contiguous to Lake St. Joseph”. They asked to meet with His Majesty's officials to discuss what was happening in terms of mineral exploration "as white men are already building upon land which we desire to retain".
In 1903, the Geological Survey of Canada was turned away by the chief of the Crane Band, who said it had no right to come and explore without the express consent of first nations.
Back in 1872, near Jackfish Lake, Chief Blackstone shut down gold development, saying they had no right to be there.
Fast forward to the 21st century when we saw KI, in northwestern Ontario, kick out a junior mining company that refused to consult the Wahgoshig First Nation in my area. The company said that it was not their job to look for Indian arrowheads, that is was a mining exploration company. The refusal to consult today has resulted in the first nations taking the same actions that their ancestors took over a hundred years ago.
When the treaty commissioners came forward, it was never about the surrender of land, it was about ensuring that the land was going to be used in a fair and equitable manner, which was not happening.
It is interesting that Indian Affairs, in its history, blames Ontario. It states:
It was Ontario which had licensed the surveyors and mining exploration parties the Indian people were complaining about to federal officials. And, as the Cree and Ojibwa were later to discover, it was Ontario which had already given out timber licenses to lands they wished to reserve for themselves. If the incursion of whites was the gun pointed at the head of the Indian people, Ontario's finger was on the trigger.
That is the official history from the Indian Affairs point of view.
Certainly we know that across the Prairies, Ontario and Quebec, the provinces treated the first nations people as non-existent. They were a federal responsibility. Hence, they did not exist, and the provinces could do whatever they wanted. However, in the case of Treaty No. 9, the issue was that they were trying to get some certainty with respect to the land. Ontario took the hard line. It said that it would not allow a reserve to have any kind of hydro development potential, period. The first nations were going to get the land that was absolutely worthless. The fact is, it did not tell the people in Treaty No. 9.
When the commissioners came forward in 1905-06 across the upper lakes, they made oral promises to the people, because this was not a written culture. Duncan Scott, the treaty commissioner, knew that no negotiation was going to take place, because Ontario said that if it did not get everything it wanted, it did not care what the first nations did. It was just going to apply. It was going in with a gun to the heads of the first nations.
It is interesting that when the people landed in Fort Hope, where today we have the huge suicide epidemic, Chief Moonias stood up and said to the people that the white guys were not giving them money for nothing. If they were offering money, they were taking something substantial away from them. That is what he was warning the people, and the commissioners had to give the people a story. They said that the people were going to get medical coverage and schools. The issue of schooling was very important to people on the James Bay coast. The Cree communities knew that they needed education as a way to address the fact that their communities were in crisis. They knew that the world was changing.
Daniel MacMartin's diary has only recently come to light. He was with the commissioners as they went across northern Ontario in 1905 and 1906. Daniel MacMartin said that the commissioners had to sweeten the deal verbally, but they did not put any of it in writing. What the people were told they were signing was completely different from what they actually signed onto. Later, of course, government leaders said that they had surrendered the land. It was all there on the page in black and white, but that was not the verbal commitment made.
That was the record of the so-called honour of the Crown for the following 100 years. I have seen it myself. I saw it in Barriere Lake, where the Liberal government signed an agreement with the community, and as soon as the agreement was signed, they walked away. I saw it in Kashechewan First Nation, where we sat down with the then Liberal government. We had an agreement to rebuild the community, and we sat down to look at the paper to have the whole commitment they had made verbally. I remember saying to the chief that none of the promises were on the paper, and we were told that they could trust the honour of the Crown. We know what happened to that. So much for the agreement with Kashechewan, but it took the present Conservative government to rip up that agreement. That was the so-called honour of the Crown.
Daniel MacMartin said that the people were misled. The commissioners had to mislead them to get them to sign off.
It is fascinating, and really deeply disturbing, that it was Duncan Scott who led the Treaty No. 9 negotiations. The people who were coming to him said that they understood that their way of life was under threat. They said that they would make an agreement if he promised that their children would get an education. Duncan Scott had a plan for their education all right; it was the residential schools. Duncan Scott said that the residential schools had to be mandatory, because it was to “get rid of the Indian problem... to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed”. This was about a genocidal policy. However it is said, it was about the destruction of the first nations people. They went into those communities, misrepresented themselves and punished those communities with the residential schools, which nearly broke them.
One hundred years later, history is calling on us. It is knocking on the door of this House of Commons saying that it is time to restore that broken relationship, show that there is honour in the Crown and ensure that the first nations people are treated with the rights and dignities they have as the original first nations people, who never extinguished their rights in this country.
- MPndpApr 19, 2013 9:50 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague about the issue of the nation-to-nation relationship. With Bill C-45, we see the stripping of basic environmental protections on waterways all across first nations territory in order to help the Conservatives' friends in the oil industry, a complete disregard of basic first nations rights that have been affirmed in court decision after court decision about the duty to consult.
Does my hon. colleague feel that the backlash that is rising up right now across the country against the government is because of colonial treatment of people on first nations land? Perhaps that backlash could have been alleviated if the government respected the notion that the original first people of our country are still here. The treaties were signed with them, and that consultation must happen before the government goes ahead with any of its risky and dangerous environmental plans.
- MPndpApr 19, 2013 9:35 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to my hon. colleague. We have seen over the last day that the Conservatives have suddenly tried to portray themselves as interested in the issue of women's rights on reserve and basic human rights. At the same time, they are in court against Cindy Blackstock, who is one of the great civil rights heroes of our time. The government has actually been spying on Cindy Blackstock, a women whose main concern is assuring basic health and welfare and education rights for first nations children and ending the systemic discrimination.
We have seen the government go to court time and time again against first nations to stop the implementation of basic rights, but it is going to court against children, and spying on the people who are speaking out for children's rights. I would like to ask the member what he thinks that says about the so-called honour of the Crown in the 21st century.
- MPndpApr 19, 2013 9:10 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
With respect to privacy breaches at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada: (a) in the matter of the Canada Student Loans Program breach, (i) how many individuals have been directly affected, broken down by province, (ii) how many individuals have been indirectly affected (including, but not limited to, loan co-signers or guarantors), broken down by province, (iii) how many individuals are known to have been affected by criminal activity such as fraud or identity theft; and (b) in the matter of the Canada Pension Plan Disability program breach, (i) how many individuals have been affected, broken down by province, (ii) how many individuals have been indirectly affected (including, but not limited to spouses, co-signers, guardians), broken down by province, (iii) how many individuals are known to have been affected by criminal activity such as fraud or identity theft?
- MPndpApr 19, 2013 9:05 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I have enormous respect for you as Speaker and for the members of the House, and I would like to unreservedly apologize for any additions I made in my comments today. As members, we all have to maintain a certain standard in the House. I think we can all agree that this was a particularly unsavoury question period, with numerous misrepresentations and personal attacks, but it does not make it right, and I would like to apologize to my colleagues.
- MPndpApr 19, 2013 8:30 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, two months ago, Mike Duffy, the Prime Minister's hand-picked senator from Kanata, promised Canadians that he would pay back the money and put an end to his rent-and-address housing scheme, but he has broken that promise. He seems to be taking on the “catch me if you can” attitude of his fellow senators, who continually treat the taxpayers as chumps.
The Prime Minister personally appointed Mike Duffy, just like he appointed Patrick Brazeau. What steps is he going to take to get the taxpayers' money back from Mike Duffy?
- MPndpApr 19, 2013 8:10 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, let us reflect on the magnitude of failure coming from the Conservative benches.
We have Senator Duffy, who has broken his promise and is stiffing the taxpayer. We have the democratic reform minister who promised on Tuesday that he would deliver legislation yesterday on robo fraud and gave us a big goose egg.
Now we learn that the big fundraising machine of the Conservative Party is not just broke, but owes a million dollars in back taxes. How is this for a fundraising pitch, “Hi, Mr. Taxpayer, could you lend me a dime?”
We are not even getting into the big backbencher revolt of 2013, as the members stand up to the little runts in the PMO.
Remember the iPod stunt where the minister went to the mall to tilt at the windmills.
This is not just about stunts. This is not about the Conservatives' ideological failures; it is about the fact that they are bad managers.
In 2015, Canadians will be able to choose a party that stands up for taxpayers, stands up for its word, that being the New Democratic Party of Canada.
- MPndpApr 19, 2013 7:30 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I have such great respect for my hon. colleague. I would like to ask him about the issue of treaty implementation.
I would like to ask the member about Bill C-45 and the anger and the response at the grassroots level to the government's decision to slash environmental protection of the rivers and lakes across their territory. The government treats first nations' lands as though they are some kind of colonial land. It can take it and do what it wants without consulting the people involved, damaging the rights of future generations. What is the response we are seeing across first nations communities in standing up and defending their right to be consulted and heard. It still remains land they have rights to, whether under treaty or not?
- MPndpApr 19, 2013 7:15 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, if we look at the history of the treaties, the idea of the honour of the Crown was central to the treaties in terms of oral commitments and what was written down. Obviously what was written down did not reflect in any way the oral commitments that were made to communities. It was, in fact, an attempt to take land.
We see this notion of the honour of the Crown being abused again and again, and recently with the court case in Attawapiskat on the third-party manager. The government came in and said that their whole defence rested on the fact that it was the honour of the Crown when the judge asked. It was a case where they had no right to intervene, but they imposed a third-party manager. The notion of the honour of the Crown was laughable given the systemic abuse and the breaking of trust with first nations.
I would like to ask my hon. colleague about the importance of restoring honour in the Crown in terms of when we negotiate, when we make commitments, that we do not walk away from them so that communities actually have a chance to start building a future in the 21st century.
- MPndpApr 18, 2013 11:40 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, it is now 1 month and 27 days since Mike Duffy offered to pay back the taxpayer.
However, last night we saw Prince Edward Island's most famous summer tourist once again ducking and weaving from accountability. He gets asked a simple question by a reporter, “Have you paid back the money?” and he runs away.
How long will the government allow this ripoff of the taxpayer? What will it do to get our money back? Will it at least send a collection agency to the red chamber down the hall? What about it?
- MPndpApr 16, 2013 1:20 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, what is really clear to Canadians is that there are major problems with this temporary foreign worker program. There are also major problems for the people who are being brought over to Canada.
I have helped small businesses that have utilized the program. People were brought in from other countries who were trained and ended up taking managerial positions. They were in fast food positions because with the mining boom they could not find local people, yet once they were trained the government deported them. Industry asked me why we are creating a disposable class of workers.
The Conservative government seems to think it is okay to have disposable people, but we need immigration in parts of our country that are growing. We want to bring in families, we want them to invest here, buy houses here, and go to school here. We do not want to treat them as though they are disposable and discard them.
At the same time this program is being used to undermine wages. It is being used so that companies do not need to invest in training. They do not need apprentices when 300,000 people can be brought in and spread around the country. This is a rip and ship attitude to our economy.
My hon. colleague has been watching the Conservatives all day. They have been acting like rubes at a country fair. They seem to be surprised that there are problems. This has been known. Why has the government done nothing to address the growing abuse of the system?
- MPndpApr 16, 2013 12:35 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, I listened with fascination to my colleague. I am not sure that he is even aware of the fundamental issue here, which is that the foreign worker program was used by RBC such that Canadians were having to train temporary foreign workers, and then RBC was going to outsource them.
The government should have seen the writing on the wall. There are 300,000 positions being used across Canada. When we have high unemployment right across the country, the program is not being used temporarily.
We have a situation with HD Mining, where over 300 Canadians applied for work, and every one of them was turned down, because they did not speak Mandarin. It was going to bring in Chinese miners to mine in British Columbia. I come from a mining region. Canadian miners have a reputation as the best experts in the world. They travel all over the world.
If there is a shortage, there should be job training and apprenticeships. This is completely lacking from the Conservative government.
I would ask the member why the government has completely dropped the ball on HD Mining. Why did it not see this coming? Why are the Conservatives giving us such pitiful excuses now?
- MPndpApr 16, 2013 12:20 pm | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, what is really disturbing to Canadians is the fact that the government has known how the temporary foreign worker program was being abused and used to drive down wages and make it simple for companies to not have to invest in training and apprenticeships. They could just bring in wholesale workers.
We saw this example with respect to bringing in workers from China to run a mine in B.C. The Conservatives knew it, but they ignored it, because they are supporting the outsourcing. They are supporting the downgrading of jobs in Canada to fit their rip-and-ship agenda of trying to get at resources as quickly as possible.
I would ask my hon. colleague how he thinks it is even possible to talk about a job plan for the economy when the government is undermining basic job training and apprenticeships.
- MPndpApr 15, 2013 11:40 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, where to begin on the last two weeks of incompetence, corruption and scandal under this Conservative government?
We have the temporary foreign workers program out of control. We have ministers denying climate change. We have criminal charges now against Conservative campaign operatives. The Conservatives even imposed an iPod tax.
Then there is Peter Penashue, who took over $40,000 in illegal donations in unclaimed flights and got the thumbs-up from the Prime Minister.
What happened to the government that promised ethical accountability to Canadians? Where did it go? Where is that promise?
- MPndpMar 27, 2013 11:25 am | Ontario, Timmins—James Bay
Mr. Speaker, it is the Prime Minister who has hit Canadians with higher taxes and his caucus is in revolt.
Speaking of rogue Conservatives, we now have yet another Conservative ethics scandal. We have the ministers of trade, aboriginal affairs and industry who all accepted calls from a former colleague. They received insider information about the joint venture between Progress Energy and the Chinese state-owned Petronas.
There are rules around this kind of behaviour. Why did these ministers not immediately convey this information about these calls to the ethics commissioner?
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