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March

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    MPlib
    Mar 09, 2015 2:50 pm | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague for his speech. In as gracious a form as I can, I would say that I am a little disappointed in the tone. I do not think that is the kind of negativity I am accustomed to hearing from him.

    This is a bill that is fairly important, and I understand the NDP will be supporting it. It is not perfect. It is as imperfect as any bill I have seen here in ten and a half years. It is capable of being improved, strengthened, and amended. For a moment, I thought maybe the member was debating Bill C-51.

    I know the NDP is raising some important concerns about the liability limit of $1 billion. Lac-Mégantic has hurtled to a cost of $600 million, the Gulf of Mexico spill has pushed $40 billion, and Exxon Valdez is in the tens of billions and still has not been completely cleaned up. There are some important points there. However, perhaps the member could cut to the chase and instead of being overtly political or partisan, he could tell us what two points he would specifically like to see improved in the bill.

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    MPlib
    Mar 09, 2015 10:40 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague.

    She is probably already aware that there was another explosion last weekend in northern Ontario, as another train exploded. Over the past three years, the transportation of petroleum products on our railways has increased by 1,600%. This size of increase is completely overwhelming. By 2024, even if we build the three oil and gas pipelines that have been planned, there will be an additional 1 million barrels of oil that cannot be transported through the pipeline system and that ultimately will be carried by rail, by train.

    Perhaps she could tell us how she views this increase and the fact that there is only $1 billion in freight liability? We have seen that the cost for Lake Mégantic has now reached $600 million.

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    MPlib
    Mar 09, 2015 8:30 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by commending my colleague from Sherbrooke for bringing this motion. It is a very important motion. It speaks to the legitimate aspirations of many of Canada's smaller centres that want to join the ranks of centres that have proper backstopping, when it comes to their airport systems, to enable more trade, more travel, more tourism, more investment, more growth, and more jobs.

    It is unfortunate that this motion had to be brought by the member, because this is something the government has been seized with for many years. It is important to remind members of the House, and Canadians who are watching or reading, that this is the fifth minister of transport in perhaps eight years the government has cycled through the department. That might explain why there has not been serious action on this file for many years.

    There are at least 10 airports waiting for an answer, including Puvirnituq, Trois-Rivières, Schefferville, Bromont, and Sherbrooke, in Quebec; St. Catharines, Ontario; Cold Lake, Alberta; Dawson City, Yukon; Edson, Alberta; and Fort Nelson, B.C. All of these airports have repeatedly approached the government for a decision. On the strength of their overtures, the Liberal Party of Canada, through me, then the transport critic, wrote to the minister in June 2013 asking the minister to make a decision with respect to using CATSA security screening services and finding a mechanism whereby these 10 airports, which have been waiting and waiting, could do so at their own expense.

    I wrote to the minister in June 2013, on behalf of the Sherbrooke airport, pleading for the minister of transport to make a decision. I received a reply from the minister, but the reply was received on August 28, 2014, over a year later, to respond to that basic letter. I go back to my original comment that it is unfortunate that the member had to bring this motion today to compel the government to do its job.

    Everyone in the House recognizes that airports have to be safe and secure. They recognize that airports are becoming very popular economic generators for smaller and larger urban centres. They understand that they are job creators, that they bring in retail investment, and that they facilitate trade, tourism, travel, and the shipping of goods. What we do not understand is why it is taking so long for the government to do its job.

    This is not a big file. It is an extremely important file for all the airports involved. It is extremely important to them, but is not a big file for the government, with its thousands of employees at Transport Canada. This decision, and a mechanism to arrive at a decision, should have been made years ago in anticipation of the kind of growth we are seeing in Canada. Why are we seeing this growth? It is because we are seeing rapid urbanization.

    For example, Sherbrooke is becoming a regional city in Quebec. More and more people are going there and Sherbrooke is doing more and more trade. It is no different than the situation of the Halifax-Dartmouth region or the greater Vancouver regional district.

    We are seeing urbanization. The government knows this. We all know this. We all live it. For the life of us here in the Liberal Party, we cannot understand why this decision was not taken years ago.

    Be that as it may, it is encouraging to hear the government say, through its parliamentary secretary, that it will support an amended motion. Frankly, it is about time.

    All MPs in the House I am sure transit through Ottawa's beautiful international airport from time to time, and I am fortunate to represent the airport. It is a massive economic generator for the city of Ottawa. It employs at least 5,000 people day in and day out. It is very important to the success of the national capital region and the Ottawa-Gatineau census metropolitan area. Without it, we would have great difficulty competing, and our citizens would not be able to move as freely as they do.

    If I recollect correctly, it was the Liberal government that created CATSA. It was the Liberal government that facilitated, in the Open Skies agreement, the movement of Canadians to the United States and back with much greater ease, thereby facilitating the movement of goods and services and professional expertise and generating economic activity and jobs. Therefore, we are pleased that this motion is being brought to the floor of the House. We are also pleased to support it.

    We are scratching our heads trying to figure out why it has taken so long for the government to bring forward this kind of mechanism to facilitate this. It seems to have no problem whatsoever procuring, for example, advertising and running it during NHL hockey games or CFL games or you name it. It has spent $765 million and counting on advertising since its arrival. Not a single MP on the benches of the government can justify this or look their constituents in the eye and say that this was a good investment when we have so many needs, like this need for screening services in our airports, leaving aside other needs in society like insulin pumps for our kids. How about additional nurses? How about home care for our seniors? How about our veterans offices? It is an interesting juxtaposition that the government has found all this time and money for obscene partisan advertising, but it cannot find the time to solve this basic problem to make sure that Sherbrooke and nine other airports in Canada can get the security screening they need to compete. That is all people want. They want a fair shot at competing in their own cluster areas. That is a reasonable thing to be trying to do. We are supportive. It is about time.

    The government is going to have to explain to these different citizens and ridings why it took this motion. The minister is going to have to explain why it took her 15 months to respond to a basic piece of correspondence. The answer given says basically that they are still studying it.

    I implore the government to not just support the motion but to do what the Liberal Party of Canada has been asking of it for several years: fix the problem. Stop bobbing and weaving, hiding and ducking, and fix the problem for the 10 airports in our country that deserve a solution so that they can get the screening services they need to do what they do best, what Canadians do best, which is compete, create jobs, and grow their local economies.

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    MPlib
    Mar 09, 2015 8:20 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the motion he moved this morning. In my riding, we have the Ottawa International Airport, which provides at least 5,000 jobs. Every day, 5,000 people come and go at the airport.

    As we say in English, it is an economic generator of major significance.

    I would like my colleague to talk about the fact that he personally approached the minister. I wrote to the minister almost two years ago to ask him about the status of this issue. In Canada, 10 airports are waiting for an answer. It has been two years and they have yet to hear anything.

    Can my colleague help us understand why the government still has not made a decision that is important to these airports when it comes to security and their future role as economic generators in their regions?

February

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    MPlib
    Feb 26, 2015 10:10 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. We worked together previously in the Standing Committee on Natural Resources.

    I have a question that relates to this bill and the whole question of pipeline safety, because it is impossible to distinguish pipeline safety from the transportation of oil by rail. As the member knows, as chair of the natural resources committee, on present courses, if all of the pipelines that we are contemplating building are built—one to the west, one to the south, which appears to be on permanent hold, and one to the east—in nine years from now, based on the plans to continue exploiting fossil fuels from our oil sands, we will have 1 million barrels a day in excess oil capacity that will not be transported by pipeline.

    Can the member help us understand how the government sees this question of pipeline safety and this incredible risk of longer trains carrying many more cars with oil? We saw what happened at Lac-Mégantic. We saw another explosion last week in the United States.

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    MPlib
    Feb 25, 2015 1:55 pm | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague for his speech, once again. He shows the distinction in his background as a career lawyer. However, I want to go back to the notion of mandatory minimum sentences.

    My colleague now knows this. In the United States, there is a bipartisan effort among Republicans and Democrats to do away with mandatory minimum sentences, because the Americans have decided in Congress that they are not working. Whether it is in Texas, California, or New Jersey, there is a movement to do away with them, because they are extremely expensive. As the Americans like to say now, mandatory minimum sentences are all about being dumb on crime and tough on taxpayers.

    I would like to ask my colleague to comment a bit more on the fact that these mandatory minimums the government is shoving down the throats of judges are not working. Also, could he just help us understand why it is that the director of criminal law policy at Justice Canada, Mr. David Daubney, who was a Conservative member of Parliament before moving on to that distinguished career, held a press conference just before his retirement two years ago and slammed the Conservatives for not listening to the evidence or the good work being provided by the criminal law policy unit at Justice Canada?

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    MPlib
    Feb 24, 2015 10:30 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, if there is any rationale for actually passing the motion today and moving on this important study, it is the speech that was just given by the member. What we just heard from the member was some important insight as to what was happening comparatively on this subject in both the United States and Europe. That is exactly and precisely the kind of information, front-line experience that should be brought to bear in a special committee.

    A special committee, by the way, which O'Brien and Bosc contemplates especially this kind of study, is:

    Every special committee is established by an order of reference of the House. The motion usually defines its mandate and may include other provisions covering its powers...

    It goes on to say:

    Unlike legislative committees...they are not usually charged with the study of a bill...but rather with inquiring into a matter to which the House attaches particular importance.

    That is why the motion has been brought here.

    For the life of me and for the hundreds of thousands of Canadians right now who are touched with this issue, I think people are asking why the government cannot come to its senses and see that we need to get started on this, particularly, because we have a 12-month window within which to bring forward a proper legislative response, which would build upon our own personal and professional experiences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Except that is not true, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

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

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

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

    Why are the Conservatives being so irresponsible with our economy?

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    MPlib
    Feb 18, 2015 11:45 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, Treasury Board rules were broken in order to give an after-the-fact contract to the Prime Minister's former chief of staff.

    The office of the then minister of natural resources even insisted that the payment be made in the fiscal year-end panic. Even worse, the department cannot find a copy of the discussion and does not even know what it is about.

    How can the minister find this to be acceptable?

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    MPlib
    Feb 18, 2015 11:40 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, Treasury Board contracting rules are in place to prevent corruption and political favouritism. Yet documents show that in March 2013, the office of the then minister of natural resources, now the Minister of Finance, ordered his department to approve a $9,200 payment that, according to his own department, “contravenes...Treasury Board...Contracting Policies”.

    This was an after-the-fact speech-writing contract for the minister. Who was the money for? It was for none other than Guy Giorno, the Prime Minister's former chief of staff.

    Why were proper contracting rules violated?

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    MPlib
    Feb 17, 2015 2:45 pm | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to follow up with a question for my colleague from Tobique—Mactaquac and perhaps remind him and the House that this is one of the reasons why the member's bill is so important because we actually need accurate statistics.

    In 2012, the youth unemployment rate of those 18 to 25 year old was 12%. In April 2014, it was 14%, and rising. So I am not sure where the member for Tobique—Mactaquac got his numbers in saying it has been on the decline. In fact, it has not. It has been on the increase over the last several years.

    I would like to congratulate the member as well for the thoroughness she has brought to the bill, because not only does it show the need for statistics and perhaps the reintroduction of the long form census so we can rely on accurate statistics, but it also calls for the implementation and the need for standards—the need for standardization, for that matter.

    In my own riding of Ottawa South right here in the city in the national capital, I have a very high youth unemployment rate, particularly because I have such a multicultural Canadian population in the riding, where there are 82 languages spoken and people from 146 countries.

    Would she perhaps help us understand how her bill would help deal with the new normal in Canadian society, which is the diversity I was referring to in my own riding of Ottawa South?

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    MPlib
    Feb 16, 2015 10:20 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is absolutely right.

    I respect the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. Our party does not have a history of attacking the Supreme Court of Canada or its Chief Justice. We will leave that to the current Prime Minister of Canada.

    The hon. member is absolutely right in saying that employees on the front lines of our rail system have a lot to contribute and want to improve the safety, the efficiency and even the profitability of the railway they work for. The Conservatives' outdated belief that the unions are just there to get as much as they can from the employer is false.

    The employees of an organization are essential to that organization's success and are thus deserving of a much more respectful approach. I therefore agree with my colleague that this type of negotiation can enhance safety.

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    MPlib
    Feb 16, 2015 10:10 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to follow my colleague and some of the very important and profound comments he made about where we are with respect to this back-to-work legislation and why the Liberal Party of Canada cannot support it.

    It is important to step back for a second so that Canadians can see the repeat pattern of crisis and back-to-work legislation.

    Let us remind Canadians, from the perspective of the Liberal Party of Canada, that the federal government has an obligation to get the very big things right. One of the things a federal government has to get right is rail safety.

    Rail safety in this country today is in a state of flux. We have had a 1,500% increase in the transportation of oil by rail in the last three years. Even if every single contemplated pipeline is built in Canada to transport fossil fuels south, east, and west and is used at maximum capacity, present projections suggest that by the year 2024, there will be one million barrels of excess oil capacity per day that will have to be transported by rail.

    When a government minister stands up and says that this is exclusively about the economy, our international reputation, and the movement of our citizens, she is only partly telling the truth. Much more is below the surface.

    Of course, this is in large part about collective bargaining and the right to collectively bargain. We all know that. However, as the vice-chair of the standing committee on transport, who has been active now for over two years in all of the details around rail safety post-Lac Mégantic, I believe that the government is trying to project a different series of concerns to mask a fundamental and lingering problem in Canadian society today, and that is rail safety. The government would have us look over here as the minister distracts from the government's failure to take serious action on safety and security.

    Canadians are not going to be surprised to learn that at committee, we have had the heads of CN, CP, the Teamsters, Unifor, and other unions and stakeholders all come forward and say the same thing. They want more safety and security in the rail system. They have all agreed on this. They have all called for enhanced safety. In fact, they have been unanimous about it.

    Part of the challenge we face as a country is that we have had five ministers of transport in eight years. That is not serious. How is the minister of the crown seized with one of the most important and foundational responsibilities in Canada, which is transport, supposed to do the job if he or she is being shipped out, shipped down, or shipped up through the department of transport in 16 to 18 months?

    This is one of the challenges we face. We have had a succession of ministers transiting through the department of transport on their way elsewhere. The safety and security they are supposed to uphold are undermined.

    By failing to address the serious issue of adequate rest for railway operators, the government has failed to prevent this CP Rail strike. It is not management. It is not labour. That simplistic, sometimes antiquated notion, often put forward by my colleagues in the NDP, is, in my view, dépassé.

    All parties want to see the requisite investments in safety and security, and they know that they are not getting it from the government. That is why the government is rushing through this back-to-work legislation. It is an attempt to masquerade and to cover the fact that it has not addressed the foundations of some of the challenges we have going forward. This puts our railway employees, Canadians, and our communities at risk.

    It is the government's responsibility—not the railway company's responsibility, not the union's responsibility—to establish rest periods for railway workers to ensure that railway employees, Canadians, and communities are safe. It cannot be fobbed off or sloughed off. We cannot simply pretend this is a dispute.

    “Irreconcilable differences”, says the minister. “We have been there, trying to help broker a deal”, says the minister. Really?

    The Minister of Labour should talk to the Minister of Transport and find out why it is that for over six years, the government has been meeting with union representatives, the railways, and advisory groups in backroom meetings. They have been seized with these foundational security concerns for all that time.

    The Conservatives knew this was coming. It was no surprise. Now the minister comes out and says that it is merely a negotiation of differences between two parties.

    She is right that several unions have settled. Unifor and 1,800 employees have settled. The Teamsters and its 3,000 members on strike have not, but this is not reducible to mere union-management or labour-management differences.

    Do not take my word for it; take the report of the Auditor General. It is a scathing indictment of the government's failure to address the foundational issues around rail safety for almost nine years.

    The government does not like to hear it, but I like to remind Canadians that Conservatives have spent more money each and every year for the past five years on economic action plan advertising during the NFL or hockey games. These spots cost $37,000, $67,000, and even $300,000 for 30-second advertisements.

    It is interesting that not one of those Conservative MPs can look their constituents in the eye and say that they can defend that spending, because they know they cannot, not with the real needs out there in Canadian society and certainly not with the real needs of rail safety.

    The Auditor General pointed out many times and in many places that there are huge problems. Here is one to remember. In the three fiscal years that the Auditor General audited, the government's Department of Transport audited only 25% of the safety management systems it said had to be audited to keep the railways safe. In the same three-year period, VIA Rail, carrying four million passengers a year, was not audited once. Those facts are indisputable.

    In conclusion, we cannot support this back-to-work knee-jerk legislative response. It is a masquerade. It is hiding the foundational issues around safety and security that Conservatives have refused to address. That takes money. It takes inspectors. It takes investment. The government has an obligation to get the big things right; rail safety is one of those things, and it is not doing it.

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    MPlib
    Feb 16, 2015 10:05 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague to expand on a couple of points he made in his speech.

    One was the question of lingering safety concerns with respect to rail safety as a whole in Canada. He is aware, as members of the House should be aware, that the Minister of Transport, and each one who has come before her, has had detailed meetings, briefings, and exchanges with labour groups, safety groups, and the railways themselves. Each in their turn has raised profound and important security and safety concerns with the minister directly.

    To what extent has the government been negligent in not taking the action required, which has now led to strike action?

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    MPlib
    Feb 16, 2015 9:45 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague. I really appreciated his comments.

    He just said that this is about employees exerting pressure on their employer. However, is the real issue that we are debating in the House today not the role that the federal government plays as the regulatory authority in Canada, with responsibility for the safety of our rail industry?

    Is this really about pressure between two parties? Is that not exactly what the Conservative government would have us believe? Does it not want us to see these differences as just disputes between two parties? The government is trying to distract us so that it does not have to justify the fact that for nearly five years now, it has not invested as it should have in the inspectors, inspections, controls and staff required by the Department of Transport.

    That is the major challenge we are facing today.

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    MPlib
    Feb 16, 2015 9:15 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, the minister is missing a large element here: this is about security and safety. For two years the government has been warned repeatedly by the Auditor General, the Transportation Safety Board, and other voices, including the Teamsters and other union groups, that there are problems with the safety and security of rail in Canada.

    We know on this side of the House that the government has spent more money on advertising its economic action plan than on rail safety for the past five years. We know that. The government cannot deny it because the numbers do not lie. It is the government's responsibility to address the serious safety issue of adequate rest for railway operators. That would have prevented this CP Rail strike. It is its responsibility to establish rest periods for railway workers to ensure the safety of Canada's railways and the communities that our railways travel through.

    Railway employees have been asking the Minister of Labour, the government, as well as the transport minister, for safe working conditions. It is the government's obligation. It has been warned, forewarned, and warned again, and the result of the failure to take serious action on rail safety is the two parties with seemingly irreconcilable differences.

    Can the minister explain to Canadians who are watching and following this debate why her government has not taken measures to prevent this draconian legislation being brought forward?

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    MPlib
    Feb 03, 2015 11:00 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise in the House today to recognize an outstanding achievement by my constituent Raphaël Guévin-Nicoloff. He has recently completed a 2,000 km bike ride from Buenos Aries to Tierra del Fuego in memory of his brother Simon, who suffered from depression and tragically took his own life 10 years ago. Through this impressive feat, Raphaël has raised over $4,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

    Twenty per cent of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. We all know that mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians through a family member, a friend, a neighbour, or a colleague.

    I ask the House to join me in applauding Raphaël's incredible determination in the face of such tragedy and encourage all Canadians to work together to continue to raise awareness about mental illness.

    Congratulations, Raphaël.

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    MPlib
    Feb 02, 2015 8:45 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, this debate is the furthest from hypothetical debates we could find.

    I want commend my colleague, the member for Sydney—Victoria, for bringing forward his motion, which is extremely important. He is a very active advocate for agricultural producers and for agribusiness. He viscerally understands the role and the purpose of Canada's agricultural sector in a larger economic context, a theme I will come back to in a few moments.

    I want to go back to first principles for listeners, readers or people watching this debate. Let us collectively recall that Canada's railroads were built chiefly with the leadership of government and that they had a unique foundational role to play in helping to kick start our economy and underpin this post-modern economy in which we now live. In fact, rail is indispensable to Canada's economic success. That is woven into the fabric of the specifics that my colleague from Sydney—Victoria wants to see examined in his important motion; what we see with respect to the government and how it interfaces with the transportation sector and its responsibility for transportation.

    First, governments have an obligation always to get the big things right, the things on which Canadians count. One of the chief responsibilities of a federal government is transportation, which includes transportation policy, regulation, enforcement and so on.

    We have seen an increase in agricultural production, in natural resource exploitation, the transportation of oil by rail and stability, if not a slight increase, in passenger rail transportation across Canada. The government knows this. In fact, for almost a decade now it has watched this growth. However, as my colleague from Sydney—Victoria pointed out, we have seen the government reacting in knee-jerk fashion. It is almost as if it is jumping from one ice floe crisis to another ice floe crisis, depending on the crisis of the week, month or year. It is so much so that now our rail system is in flux.

    Our rail system is in crisis. We have ships waiting off the west coast of Canada for our grain, our agricultural products and sometimes for other natural resources. We have seen a massive 1,200% increase in the transportation of oil by rail. The government has known this for almost a decade. We have seen a crisis emerge in passenger rail services in the country. There have been complaints from all over northern Quebec, from Sarnia, Sault Ste. Marie and so many other smaller parts of Canada that are witnessing a decline in service, frequency and availability. On all fronts, we have a problem.

    What has the government's reaction been to this problem in almost a decade? Its first reaction was to appoint five transportation ministers in less than nine years. No minister can take on a portfolio like Transport Canada seriously and commit the time and effort that is required to improve the transportation system by flitting in and out, either heading up, down or out of cabinet. This is what we have seen with a succession of cabinet ministers.

    One of the things I have noticed in my time as the transportation critic for the Liberal Party of Canada is a proximity relationship between the regulated railways sector and the regulator at Transport Canada. This has deeply concerned me. This relationship, in my view, and I do not say this lightly, between Transport Canada, its minister, its staff, its good officials and the regulated sector of the railway is too close. It is too cosy. It is almost too integrated, and we have seen this as we have studied the safety management systems that apply as much to the transportation of grain as they do to the transportation of oil.

    The facts are, as I mentioned, there have been five ministers in nine years. There has been an Auditor General's report, which can only be described as scathing. Over a four-year period, the Auditor General ferreted through what was happening at Transport Canada and came back with some incredibly problematic and troubling findings, thing likes in a four-year period, the government had not had Via Rail, with its millions and millions of rail passengers a year, audited by a qualified inspector for its safety management system.

    In the entire rail sector, only 25% of all the audits that were supposed to have been done, planned by the government, were in fact done. It does not increase our confidence in rail safety, particularly in response to and after the terrible tragedy of Lac-Mégantic in Quebec.

    As my colleague pointed out on penalty provisions, the minister was buttonholed last week by media. On camera, the minister said that the government would have to see whether it would impose a fine and how much it would be. Agriculture producers and shippers have to know. The government has said that it will be $100,000 a day in fines. Now it has said that it will not be $100,000 a day, but $100,000 a week. It actually is not $100,000 a week either. It is full of discretion. The minister will decide, when she feels like it, or whoever the next minister is, whether the railway company should be fined. I do not know on what grounds or on what basis, because the criteria is not clear.

    The fines do not go to the shippers. They do not go to those who have been affected by the choices made by the railways or the constraints imposed on the railways. The fines are paid to the government, not to the shippers who have liquidated damages, with crops and yields and grain sitting in storage waiting to get on to ships that are moored off the coast of B.C. It makes no sense, but these are the kinds of changes and actions the government has brought in, again in a very ad hoc way, dealing with a bottlenecked railway system.

    Prairie provinces are the world's top canola producing region. It is incredible what our agricultural producers have done, the efficiency, the environmental sensitivity, the quality of the grain. We are the second largest exporter of wheat, up 14% to record 81 million metric tonne levels in a short number of years.

    The Liberal Party of Canada thinks that with the relationship between the regulator and the regulated, the railways companies being regulated, it appears is if the railways are now picking and choosing, based on profit margins, what they will or will not essentially ship. Some volume standards have been brought to bear, but even these do not deal with the crisis that is in play.

    To recap, our are shippers captive. They have no competitive commercial alternatives, no legal recourse when the system fails. The threatened fines have no real impact. They are no substitutes for liquidated damages for the affected shippers. The government has brought in an order to move certain minimum volumes of grain, which expired in November 2014, and is making it up again as it goes along.

    We need this motion. We need a comprehensive examination of the rail transportation system to get it right and get it better. We owe it to Canadians, to our future, to our economy and we really owe it to the future success of Canada.

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    MPlib
    Feb 02, 2015 8:20 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my colleague from Sydney—Victoria for his remarks. This is an extremely important motion. The member has really touched on some fundamental points.

    I want to ask him about a few things.

    It is important for Canadians to remember, first of all, that the government has had five ministers of transportation in nine years. I think that speaks volumes to the level of commitment and follow-through by a single minister during this time and during this government.

    The second thing I would like to say is that there really is a crisis in transportation. We are seeing it in the transportation of grain. We are seeing it in the transportation of passengers. We are seeing it in the transportation of oil. There has not been a serious adult conversation led by the federal government.

    As my colleague rightly points out, it has been sort of ice floe to ice floe, crisis by crisis. Can the member help us understand why our counterparts in the United States and Mexico, for example, are not facing the same government-made crisis?

January

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    MPlib
    Jan 29, 2015 10:45 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for that speech. Rarely in my 10 years in the House have I heard someone speak extemporaneously without notes so passionately and comprehensively about what we can do together as a country. I implore my colleagues in the Conservative caucus to wait for the blues, print that speech and read it again. I think it would be particularly instructive for them about the nation-building opportunities we have.

    The member alluded to many challenges, but I want to return one specific challenge. This is something we are all dealing with on all sides of the House, the increasing challenge Canadians are having with their retirement and pensions. It is a profoundly important issue. I see in my own riding of Ottawa South those who have public sector pensions and those who do not, those who have RRSPs, those who rely on CPP and OAS, those who are now waiting for a longer period of time, those who have OAS clawed back, and those who do not. However, when is the last time the current government, in nine years, sat down to address this pension crisis for Canadians together? We have the Province of Ontario now moving alone as opposed to our taking a national approach.

    Can my colleague speak to that specific issue, given that it is so fundamentally important to our seniors?

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    MPlib
    Jan 29, 2015 10:25 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, it is really remarkable to hear the government say it does not believe in sitting down together with its provincial counterparts once a year or more. I cannot for the life of me understand how a governing party could believe that we are not stronger and more competitive together and that they would reject out of hand the notion that we would sit down and talk to each other, arrive at some priorities as a federation, and address those priorities one by one. It is what Canadians expect us to do, not just between the federal and provincial governments, but with municipalities, first nations, the private sector, and civil society. That is how we are strongest.

    Let me give the member one example that brings it right home to him in his riding of Saint John. The Government of Alberta and the federation of premiers have been calling for an adult conversation about Canada's energy future for several years now. They have been asking the Prime Minister to meet with them about this. They have been asking for a new national approach to our energy future.

    In a decade or less, we are going to have a million barrels a day of excess oil, which cannot be transported by pipeline, likely going by rail, if present production trends continue. The member's city is going to be deeply affected by this question, through refineries and transportation. Why would he not want an adult conversation as a major point of discussion with the premiers once a year to address, for example, a national energy strategy?

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    MPlib
    Jan 29, 2015 9:55 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to pick up on a theme raised by my colleague, which is very important. Most Canadians would expect that their federal, provincial, and municipal governments, first nations, civil society actors, and economic trade associations work together. We are in a competitive world, and coming together is not a form of weakness. It is actually a form of strength. That is what they are doing in the United States, the European Union, and China.

    I want to raise with the member a couple of issues that are languishing in the Canadian context. Successive Alberta premiers have raised the need, for example, for an adult conversation about Canada's energy future, a national energy strategy. They are not Liberal premiers, not Liberal governments. They are Conservative governments. That has fallen on deaf ears.

    In the United States, the American governors meet at least once, if not twice, a year, and usually the Oval Office is represented by the vice-president of the United States. They have an adult conversation about American challenges.

    Third, I would like him to address perhaps the most egregious example of a failure to work together, and that is internationally. Internationally, Canada lost a prized seat on the Security Council. We lost out to Portugal. It is a great country. Do not get me wrong. I could understand if we lost out to Portugal in soccer, but it is another thing to lose out to Portugal on the Security Council. Just months before the Russian-Ukrainian crisis broke, when we were trying to exert and exercise influence, we had no seat. Why is that? It is because we were not playing nice. We were not co-operating with or talking to fellow countries, and we did not earn that vote.

    I would ask my colleague to draw on those examples and help explain why it is so important for us to come together, meet, and compete.

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    MPlib
    Jan 29, 2015 8:10 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties, and I believe if you seek it you will find unanimous consent for the motion. I move:

    That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, at the conclusion of today's debate on the opposition motion in the name of the Member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred to Monday, February 2, 2015, at the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders.

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    MPlib
    Jan 29, 2015 7:40 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to respond, if I could, to the point of order raised by the member for Ottawa—Orléans and apologize without equivocation to the House, to the Chair, and to my colleagues.

    I did receive a call yesterday during the votes. It is something I should not have done. I can assure the House it is something that will not happen again in the future.

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    MPlib
    Jan 26, 2015 12:20 pm | Ontario, Ottawa South

    With regard to government communications since September 18, 2014: (a) for each press release containing the phrase “Harper government” issued by any government department, agency, office, Crown corporation, or other government body, what is the (i) headline or subject line, (ii) date, (iii) file or code-number, (iv) subject matter; (b) for each such press release, was it distributed on (i) the web site of the issuing department, agency, office, Crown corporation, or other government body, (ii) Marketwire, (iii) Canada Newswire, (iv) any other commercial wire or distribution service, specifying which service; and (c) for each press release distributed by a commercial wire or distribution service mentioned in (b)(ii) through (b)(iv), what was the cost of using the service?

December

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    MPlib
    Dec 12, 2014 9:05 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I rise today to table a petition regarding the rights of small-scale family farmers to preserve, exchange, and use seeds. The signatures were collected by Development and Peace, an organization that continues the important mission of promoting social justice. I am very pleased and honoured to present this petition on behalf of concerned Canadians, and I look forward to the government's response.

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    MPlib
    Dec 10, 2014 1:15 pm | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I rise today to table a petition regarding VIA Rail service in Canada. I am pleased to table this petition on behalf of concerned Canadians. I look forward to the government's response.

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    MPlib
    Dec 01, 2014 3:25 pm | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, the more I hear the Conservatives speak about this, the more I know they are hoisted on their own petard.

    The parliamentary secretary got up earlier and said she had had the courage to visit InSite. I am very happy to hear that. I wonder if she took a picture and disseminated it to her constituents to explain just how positive InSite's work is. It has dramatically lowered HIV infection rates. It has dramatically lowered hepatitis C infection rates.

    The Conservatives are trying to hide behind this notion of consultation, but they really are hoisted on their petard, because there were over 60 amendments moved by opposition parties. None passed. There were amendments by the Province of B.C., the chief public health officer of B.C., and the City of Vancouver. None passed. The Vancouver Police Department supports InSite. It goes on and on.

    The only marginalized, completely ostracized group left that does not support moving forward on the safe injection sites is the federal Conservative caucus.

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    MPlib
    Dec 01, 2014 3:05 pm | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the member's speech as he read it. I want to come back to something that he repeated several times. He said that the government was open to co-operating.

    If the government is so open to co-operating, then here are a couple of questions. Why, despite the bill being tabled by the Minister of Health, was it given to an enforcement department and committee, namely public safety and security? Is this not evidence that the government's view of addiction is that it is a criminal act?

    Second, at committee, many witnesses came forward for three meetings. Many expressed concern that the bill would effectively shut down the current site in Vancouver and make it impossible to create future sites. Amendments were provided by the Province of British Columbia, the chief public health officer of B.C., and the City of Vancouver. All were denied. There were 60 amendments moved by opposition parties. All were denied by the government.

    Finally, he talks about addiction. Many years ago, someone taught me that addiction is the antithesis of being free. When people are addicted to something they are actually addicted, so their freedom to choose is severely compromised because they are addicted. Could he help us understand why the government would not be facilitating or helping, particularly in the case, as he mentioned, of hepatitis C or HIV infections? For every HIV infection in our country, it costs half a million dollars in health care costs.

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    MPlib
    Dec 01, 2014 2:55 pm | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, when the Liberal government gave the exemption to Vancouver's safe consumption site, InSite, we consulted very broadly. We worked in conjunction with the provincial and municipal governments, public health authorities, business associations, and the public widely, and we managed to achieve what I would describe as a form of co-operative federalism wherein local, provincial, and federal authorities came together to create this organization.

    Now we learn that in Vancouver, with all of the success that has accrued to InSite and all of the help that it has provided, that despite all the former police officers in that caucus on the other side, the Vancouver police strongly support InSite. The City of Vancouver supports it. The Province of British Columbia supports. It goes on and on. The only voice that is in denial is the federal Conservative caucus. Even members of Conservative parties around the country at the provincial level are supportive.

    Could the member help us understand what could possess the current federal regime to act so contrary to science and experience?

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    MPlib
    Dec 01, 2014 2:10 pm | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, it is really hard to know where to begin because of the very unfortunate approach taken by the government on this extremely important public health issue.

    The hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia is a former peace officer. He knows all too well that we have so many connections between crime and substance abuse in this country that it is not funny.

    Here are some facts around InSite usage in Vancouver in the Downtown Eastside. We know that there were 20,000 referrals to health services in 2008-09, over 50% of which were for detox; that InSite users are 30% more likely to engage in addiction treatment than non-InSite users; and that 3 out of 10 injection drug users in Downtown Eastside are HIV positive and that there were 30 new HIV cases in the Downtown Eastside compared to 2,100 in 1996. We know, for an apparently fiscally responsible government on the other side, that every time we prevent one new case of HIV infection we save $500,000 in health care costs and treatment.

    This bill flies in the face of a Supreme Court of Canada decision. It is a bill that, unfortunately, is being torqued and spun by political handlers in the Conservative Party because they want to fundraise and frighten people. I think it is very unfortunate that in 2014 Canadians are subjected to this kind of nonsense.

November

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    MPlib
    Nov 27, 2014 10:45 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his remarks, and I thank the NDP for putting forward such a thoughtful motion today. It is deserving of the House's attention and is extremely important, because it speaks to our notion of what a civilized society is. We look out for each other. I am always reminded of my parents' maxim to their 10 children, that if we pulled apart, we would feel like 5, but if we pulled together, we would feel like 20. I think today we are pulling together and feeling like 20.

    Maybe the member could expand a bit on some of the remarks he made about why we have this special responsibility to the 95 Canadians who are living today with severe disabilities due to exposure to a drug, thalidomide, taken by their mothers during pregnancy, which at the time was endorsed by Canada's government.

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    MPlib
    Nov 25, 2014 10:15 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague. I want to talk about the same thing she did, namely partnership.

    More and more in the House, we are seeing that this federal government is refusing to work closely with the provinces, particularly Ontario. At a dinner yesterday evening here in Ottawa, Premier Wynne gave a speech in which she clearly indicated that she was still waiting for an answer from the Prime Minister of Canada so that they can begin working together on a number of files, including the Rouge national urban park.

    Can the member help us understand how a federal government can continue to act this way? The two levels of government should have finished the work and should be ready to sign an agreement, yet there is no consensus or partnership. The federal government is not co-operating when it comes to the mines in northern Ontario.

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    MPlib
    Nov 21, 2014 8:20 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, according to Ontario's Lieutenant Governor, the Ring of Fire is the most promising mining opportunity in Canada in a century. Here is what the Conservatives are putting at risk: 5,500 full-time jobs, $60 billion of mineral reserves, $25 billion in economic activity, and $6.7 billion in government revenues.

    When will the Prime Minister meet with Ontario's Premier to help secure this enormous opportunity for Canada?

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    MPlib
    Nov 20, 2014 2:15 pm | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to come back to my colleague's remarks.

    The U.S. has a great deal of experience with mandatory minimum sentences. This concept was invented and perfected in the U.S., particularly in Texas and California.

    However, in the past four or five years, a senator and a congressman have finally concluded that there is no proof or analysis to justify this shift towards harsher and harsher minimum prison sentences.

    Can my colleague help us understand why the government continues to push for a concept that even the Republican Party in the United States has given up on?

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    MPlib
    Nov 20, 2014 12:55 pm | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, the challenge we are having on this side of the House is not that there is no substantiation for the government's position on mandatory minimums, but it knows that this is not going to work. The government's own officials have told it in writing that this is not going to work.

    It is not just Liberals who oppose mandatory minimums for their own sake. Here is perhaps one of the most compelling voices. Former Progressive Conservative MP for Ottawa West David Daubney, who retired only recently as director of criminal law policy in the Department of Justice after a distinguished career there, was quoted as saying this about the government as he was on the way out the door, “The policy is based on fear – fear of criminals and fear of people who are different. I do not think these harsh views are deeply held”. He went on to say at the same time, because he was the subject of so much pressure inside the department, that “somebody has to take the risk of talking”.

    Could my colleague tell me what would possess a government or a minister of justice, who swears to uphold the law when he is sworn in as the minister and who has to bring opinions to the floor of the House from his own lawyers to show that the legislation is constitutional and in conformity with the charter, to take action with the deliberate knowledge that it will not work?

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    MPlib
    Nov 20, 2014 12:25 pm | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, it is good to be here to debate this extremely important bill.

    The crux of the differences here in the House relates to mandatory minimum sentences. I want to ask if the member could help all parliamentarians understand where the government actually sits on mandatory minimums.

    Under the Department of Justice Act that created the department, there is a statutory obligation, which the Minister of Justice is sworn to uphold when sworn in as minister. He must table on the floor of the House of Commons, for any bill that he brings to this House, the legal opinion prepared by his expert 2,500 lawyers on his full-time staff. He must table an opinion showing that the bill he is bringing to the floor is charter proof, in other words that it is compliant with Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    Has the government tabled that opinion? If it has not done so, when will it do so?

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    MPlib
    Nov 19, 2014 12:20 pm | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I rise to table two petitions. The first is yet another petition regarding the devastating cuts to service and huge price increases at Canada Post.

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    MPlib
    Nov 19, 2014 11:45 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, here is what is at stake for Canada in the Ring of Fire: 5,500 jobs; $25 billion in economic activity for our financial services, wholesale, retail, utilities, infrastructure, and manufacturing sectors; full participation of first nation communities. Ontario has brought $1 billion to the table. An independent development corporation has been set up. Corporate investors are on stand-by.

    Time is of the essence. Will the Prime Minister meet with Ontario's premier by the end of this year, do his job, and support this project of national significance?

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    MPlib
    Nov 18, 2014 3:00 pm | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by congratulating our leader for the courageous decisions he has already taken and for the courage of his convictions in putting forth this private member's bill.

    I want to go back to something he alluded to at the very beginning of his remarks. He talked about expanding on two important measures: first, opening up a secretive Board of Internal Economy; and, second, opening up and making more transparent all government information when we live in a time of incredible modern technology. Access to information is critical.

    However, he alluded to something very important, which I think is foundational to his intention here today. Could he help us understand how this would drive up confidence, confidence in government generally in the 21st century, and trust and confidence in our democratic institutions in Canada?

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    MPlib
    Nov 18, 2014 10:55 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, that is a series of questions that should be put directly to expert witnesses at committee. That is why the government should not just speed ahead and should ensure that the committee has the time it needs to hear all of the viewpoints from all of the necessary experts.

    This is a very important issue for Canadian society. We are talking about a balance between protecting human rights and granting surveillance powers to our police forces and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. We need to move slowly, pianissimo, as they say in Italian, so that we are sure to strike that balance.

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    MPlib
    Nov 18, 2014 10:50 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I think this is one of the most glaring gaps in the bill. If the government were honest in its examination of best international practices today, it would say that the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, the four foundational partners in the so-called Five Eyes partnership, have all moved forward, particularly the United States, which has made a lot of mistakes. The congressional leadership in the U.S. will tell us that they made a lot of mistakes because they over-reacted after 9/11. Since then they have tried to move the balance back to the centre.

    Part of that involves, as my colleague for Vancouver Quadra has put forward in her bill, Bill C-622, the idea that we would create an all-party committee to oversee the important work of CSIS. That would be foundational to improving the status quo, which is something for the life of us on this side of the House cannot understand why the government would not be embracing.

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    MPlib
    Nov 18, 2014 10:45 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    The member said there are 14 of them over there. Unfortunately, as former peace officers, none of them have the courage of their convictions to stand up and tell the truth in this matter, which is that front-line enforcement officers are telling us that they need more resources.

    In closing, and to remind Canadians that governments do make choices, $600 million has been spent on advertising in the last eight years, and $600 million more on hiring outside lawyers by the Department of Justice when there are 2,500 lawyers on staff already. That amounts to $1 billion that could be directed more properly to the enforcement of our existing powers.

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    MPlib
    Nov 18, 2014 10:40 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I have a question that goes back to the beginning of my colleague's comments.

    He made a rather incredible assertion, one I have not heard before from anyone in any party, and certainly not from the government. I want to read back his words. He said that the events last month, which occurred here in my home city of Ottawa, “occurred because of the lack of legislative tools available.” That is the first time this House, I believe, has heard that kind of assertion.

    He then went on to say in his closing remarks that he was looking forward to learning from what transpired here with these unfortunate events last month, and improving the situation, which we all agree is the objective of Bill C-44.

    Can the member explain to Canadians precisely how he has concluded that it was a lack of legislative tools that led to the tragedies that took place in this city a month ago?

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    MPlib
    Nov 18, 2014 10:20 am | Ontario, Ottawa South

    Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my colleague for a very sincere and thoughtful speech. He has raised a number of important, probative questions around the bill, which seemingly the government does not want to answer. The government has had a series of questions put to it here again today. The minister, several parliamentary secretaries, and countless MPs have refused to answer.

    I want to ask how risky the member thinks that is. I am reminded, very much, of what happened in the United States post 9-11, in terms of the American response to a lot of the security challenges that, at that time, Congress and Capitol Hill were facing.

    There has been a lot of backtracking in the United States. There has been a lot of concern about the amount of power and authority vested in its intelligence and security agencies and collection services, for example.

    Maybe the member could take a moment to explain to Canadians why it is so important for us to take the time we need to improve. Everybody in this House wants to improve what we are trying to improve today. Collectively, everyone wants to make it better.

    What are some of the inherent risks in going too quickly and not hearing from some of the best minds available in the country?


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MP
David McGuinty

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