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March

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    MPndp
    Mar 11, 2015 2:20 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, we have heard loud and clear from the parliamentary secretary the perspective of the government on who should be making decisions about Yukon.

    I had the privilege of being the first ever assistant deputy of natural resources in Yukon and I know the way Yukoners like to work. They like to work together with first nations and with other Yukoners.

    There was a process going on, a five-year review of this statute, which was cut off unilaterally by the federal government. It threw out the issues and preferences of the first nations and brought in three amendments to which the first nations were totally opposed.

    I have a simple question for the parliamentary secretary. Who should decide on resource development, environmental protection and socio-economic development in Yukon, Yukoners and Yukon first nations, as per the First Nation Final Agreements, or the southern-based Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development?

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    MPndp
    Mar 11, 2015 1:20 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, the minister has opened the discussion on this. What is so apparent here is that the government, in wanting to bring limitation on the debate, will give us a remaining five minutes to try to be a voice for the people of the north. Instead of spending the time actually hearing from representatives of this place on behalf of the electorate, it is going to limit our time to five minutes.

    Why is that serious? It is because the process for the bill is exactly the same failed process the government followed in similar legislation for the Northwest Territories. As a result, the Tlicho and the Sahtu, whom the minister mentioned, have the government in court for exactly the failed unilateral process it followed, which is unconstitutional.

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    MPndp
    Mar 11, 2015 1:05 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, we just got the truth about why this bill is being rushed through. It was rushed through the Senate, and it is being rushed through the House. It is because the only voice that is being heard by the government is the mining associations'.

    What is absolutely outrageous is that the government would limit debate on this bill when, in fact, the very issues we wish to raise are the ones expressed by Yukoners and the Yukon first nations themselves. Ruth Massie, the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations, is vociferously opposed to this legislation. Why? It is for two reasons. First, it is substantively eroding their constitutionally entrenched umbrella final agreement and all first nation final agreements that were negotiated between the territories, the federal government, and the first nations. Second, the government is obligated by the Supreme Court of Canada and the Constitution to consult, consider, and accommodate, and it has absolutely refused to hear the concerns of the Council of Yukon First Nations.

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    MPndp
    Mar 11, 2015 11:55 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, the public accounts are clear. The Conservatives are failing to spend millions budgeted for economic diversification. It is bad enough that the government has, since 2010, reduced by half the dollars committed to diversifying western Canada's economy. Over the past four years it also underspent its diversification budget by almost $70 million, this in the face of rejections of applications by our promising renewable energy sector.

    Why is the minister passing up the opportunity to create real economic diversification and jobs for western Canadians?

February

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    MPndp
    Feb 26, 2015 9:15 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to that commentary. It is regrettable, given the seriousness of this bill, that the hon. member gave little attention to talking about the significant measures in this bill or to cogent recommendations on how we can further strengthen it.

    I am a little bit troubled that the minister is saying that when we are talking about compensation for spills from pipelines, we should be balanced and take a pragmatic approach in regulation. That is deeply troubling.

    This specific bill is supposed to be about pipeline safety and about putting in place significant measures to genuinely offer a way in which people can be compensated. This bill is not about the mumbo-jumbo that we are hearing about what our energy policy should be. I hope that when we get to committee, we will have a discussion about the specific measures under the bill.

    I did find what the minister talked about very interesting. I do follow up with these projects that Western Economic Diversification Canada supports. If the minister is genuinely concerned about acting on climate change, I would be happy if her agency gave greater attention, or at least equal attention, to supporting the renewable energy sector. She has continuously rejected it when it applies to invest in jobs in Alberta and in exporting clean technology to the rest of the world.

    I look forward to her response about when the government is going to move from further research and dialogue about addressing climate change and the regulation of the fossil fuel sector and actually take action to address the impacts of the oil and gas sector.

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    MPndp
    Feb 26, 2015 8:55 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I did note in my speech that there was some growing concern about the factoring in of bankruptcy. That of course would particularly arise where there were abandoned pipelines, as is the case in my province where there are tens of thousands of abandoned well sites. In some cases in residential development of suburbs we discover, after the fact, that there are abandoned well sites and someone has to move in to clean that up. It may be companies have disappeared or may have been bought by another company, and there is the issue of who is liable.

    What the relationship would be in the case of bankruptcy and the powers under this legislation to recover the costs are matters that need serious discussion at committee. Particularly what it does is send a wake-up call that time may lapse and the company may be bankrupt. This follows on the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development 's report on the failure of the National Energy Board to move quickly enough to ensure compliance or action to address what it has issued in its orders.

    We need measures in both ways. We need to look to the resources and the intention of the NEB and where its priorities lie. We also need to ensure we have dealt with this in the bill.

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    MPndp
    Feb 26, 2015 8:50 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for the terrific role he plays as the critic for natural resources. It is a pleasure to work with him in that role.

    I can not answer why the government has chosen $1 billion. Canadians will be pleased that we have gone from, I think, $50 million before to $1 billion. Simply doing it as a one-off for offshore activity, shipping and so forth is inadequate. We are glad the government is coming forward with a larger sum to potentially recover after a pipeline spill.

    There is a measure in the bill wherein the discretion of the cabinet could opt to increase that amount, but again there is no criteria given for when it might opt to increase that amount. Again, that topic merits discussion at committee. There is potential for an amendment to the bill to provide criteria either by regulation or within the context of the legislation in those incidents where we would require more than $1 billion, not only to clean up the spill but to provide compensation.

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    MPndp
    Feb 26, 2015 8:30 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to speak to C-46, An Act to amend the National Energy Board Act and the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act. The government has chosen to name the bill as the pipeline safety act.

    The measures to increase liability for pipelines are long overdue and very much welcome. However, there are some concerns that the measures may be inadequate, which I will speak to.

    Crude oil petroleum products, natural gas liquids, and natural gas move through 71,000 kilometres of existing interprovincial and international pipelines. That does not include the three proposed pipelines to be regulated by the National Energy Board.

    This bill purports to reinforce the polluter pays principle. It purports to confirm that the liability of companies operating pipelines would, first, be unlimited if an unintended or uncontrolled release of oil, gas, or other commodity is a result of their fault or negligence; and, second, be a limited liability to a maximum of $1 billion for pipelines with capacity to transport a minimum of 250,000 barrels of oil per day if there is no proof of fault or negligence.

    The bill purports to obligate pipeline operators to maintain the financial resources necessary to cover potential liability. It also purports to authorize the National Energy Board to reimburse government entities for any costs incurred in a spill response.

    It purports to improve responses to abandoned pipelines. That is a new measure, as the National Energy Board previously was not regulating abandoned pipelines. It also expands that responsibility to inquire into accidents involving abandoned pipelines. It purports to grant discretion to the National Energy Board to require companies to maintain funds for abandoned pipelines.

    It also purports to empower cabinet to establish a pipeline claims tribunal in certain circumstances. The tribunal would examine and adjudicate compensation claims. It also authorizes spending to respond to spills, to establish the tribunals, and to pay for compensation awards that are issued by the tribunal. Furthermore, it authorizes the National Energy Board to recover funds paid out by the government as opposed to the company.

    It expands on the polluter pays principle by imposing liability on operators for losses to non-use value of public resources. However, it limits the power of the federal Crown to pursue those, and there is some concern expressed at how seriously the National Energy Board will pursue that.

    Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could interrupt. The minister is having a conversation with another member and I am having a very hard time hearing myself talk. I wonder if they could be asked to move it outside.

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    MPndp
    Feb 23, 2015 1:25 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I noted that at the outset of her remarks on the bill, my colleague raised concerns that have been raised by a number of people, including the Commissioner of the RCMP. They are concerned about the shortage of resources and the RCMP's having to second additional people in just to deal with the mandate they have currently.

    It would be of interest to the House that I had a constituent come to me deeply disturbed because the RCMP, which was about to file charges with the prosecutors in a serious securities fraud case, suddenly wrote to my constituent to say it was not undertaking that case because it was not going to be continuing its commercial crime sections. There is now this new division called “federal serious and organized crime”. That raises the concern that the RCMP, our main national investigation authority, is already facing serious problems.

    Is the current government now turning to CSIS to fill some of that vacuum, or are we going to have a problem that the main body that we have appointed and have appropriate controls on is now no longer able to deliver its mandate because it is under-resourced?

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    MPndp
    Feb 23, 2015 1:10 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, the more I go through the bill, the more I have to wonder if this omnibus legislation should not be called the national information sharing and intervention against ordinary Canadians act.

    What is most concerning to Canadians and experts, particularly legal experts, privacy experts, and anti-terrorism experts, as they go through the bill is the fact that the government has put together a lot of measures that go far beyond the measures to be expected in responding to terrorism threats. One such person is the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, who has warned that the act may allow departments and agencies to share the personal information of all individuals, including ordinary Canadians, who may be suspected of terrorist activities. He is deeply concerned. He says that the bill is not clear about whose information would be shared with national security agencies, for what specific purpose, and under what conditions, including applicable safeguards.

    I need only point out to the hon. member that the first part of the bill, the security of Canada information sharing act, lists nine instances when activities arise when information can be shared between agencies. Only one of those nine is terrorism. The other eight situations have nothing to do with terrorism. The government is going to allow all of these agencies to share information, and there are no clear criteria, as pointed out by the Privacy Commissioner.

    Could the member advise if the Privacy Commissioner was questioned, was met with, was consulted in drafting this legislation? If so, what was his advice?

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    MPndp
    Feb 23, 2015 12:10 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to table a petition from Canadians in support of the New Democrats' climate change accountability bill.

    The petitioners state concerns that the government has failed to address climate change and its impacts on the day-to-day lives of Canadians, and the fact that the Government of Canada has cancelled the eco-energy retrofit program, which saves taxpayer dollars.

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    MPndp
    Feb 23, 2015 10:20 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. member's speech on this bill, but I remain very puzzled by the member's comments.

    The Minister of National Defence has been quoted as saying that none of the new powers in Bill C-51 accord new powers to CSIS, that the new powers are only accorded to the courts.

    I am wondering if the hon. member can elaborate for us. Would the member agree with the minister that in all cases where CSIS officials take down material that is is explained publicly or posted on a website, or intervenes directly in an activity where they fear that there are “terrorism activities” taking place, those are not new powers for CSIS? Does the member agree with the Minister of National Defence, or is he taking another position that the bill in fact accords specific new powers to CSIS?

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    MPndp
    Feb 23, 2015 9:10 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his address on this bill, which I am sure he could speak to for several hours with his concerns about it, but which he put very succinctly in the brief time he had.

    What the hon. member from Newfoundland and Labrador has raised is one of the most significant aspects of the bill, the misleading, uninformative statements by the Minister of National Defence on it. In fact, as the member pointed out, the bill would add very strong additional powers to the intelligence body. As the member said, the minister has said that the new powers would be only for the judges.

    Could he elaborate on my understanding? It would only be in the discretion of CSIS to choose to think that if it were maybe acting beyond the bounds of the law, then it could go to a judge.

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    MPndp
    Feb 23, 2015 8:20 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for bringing this forward again. I know a number of members in this place previously brought this proposal forward, including the member for Vancouver East. I look forward to her comments on this bill.

    It is important for us to keep in mind, when we consider the bill and eventually vote on it, that many women society serve in our armed forces, many women are in senior positions in our armed forces, and they put their lives at risk.

    I am proud that I am from Alberta where the famous five were from. If they were here today, I think they would be cheering on the member and those who support the bill.

    What is really important, as the member has done, is going back to the original version but putting it into plain language, which we have undertaken to do in our law-making.

    Could the member speak to any conceivable reasons why on Earth we would only honour half of our population when we give honour to our country?

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    MPndp
    Feb 19, 2015 11:05 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, February 20, Ukraine will mark the anniversary of Black Thursday, the bloodiest and darkest day in Maidan history. For the first time since independence, more than 100 people were shot or beaten to death during peace time.

    Ukrainians were hopeful that in electing a new president and parliament, they would finally achieve closure on a Soviet presence. Sadly, the war on their eastern borders, fronted by Russian arms, has brought strife and a rising death toll of both soldiers and civilians.

    In the midst of the strife, I feel it is important to recognize that many in Ukrainian civil society, including young Ukrainians, have stepped away from their careers, determined to forge better governance. I am in communication with one young Ukrainian, Maria Korolenko, who was inspired by her participation in the Maidan and then in an internship in Canada's Parliament. Now back in Ukraine, she is engaged in strengthening regional governance, building a strategy for energy independence, and assisting refugees from eastern Ukraine.

    Increased foreign aid and sanctions against Russia are critical, but let us also respond more generously to the calls for our support to Ukraine's civil society in its struggle for strengthened democratic governance.

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    MPndp
    Feb 19, 2015 8:45 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to echo the comments of my colleague from Toronto—Danforth. What I find incredulous is that the government would invoke a limitation on the debate of this bill that it has said is a critical bill for the safety of Canadians.

    This is the point in time where we debate the fairness of the process in this place to represent our constituents across the country, yet when we raise our concerns about the time allocated to debate the very bill, the government House leader uses the opportunity to start talking about the substance of the bill. If he believes so strongly that we should have the opportunity to debate the substance of the bill, why is he putting time limitation on the debate and limiting our opportunity to debate the bill?

    I have to share that it is important for Canadians to understand the ambit and extent of these measures that the government has proposed in the bill, and why it is so important that we have the time to debate and discuss the ramifications of the bill in this place and at committee. Frankly, it is my personal opinion that this bill should go across the country so people in every small community understand what they are about to face.

    I am saying this because of a situation that occurred in my province of Alberta, when there was a proposal before a utility board to build an electrical transmission line. I was working with farmers who were deeply concerned because they had already put up with a lot of impacts on their farm land, and there was going to be yet another major transmission line to export electricity. During our telephone calls, it was discovered that the utility board had spied on those calls. The end result of that revelation was that the whole agency was shut down.

    We are not just talking about extreme terrorists. We are talking about intrusions on the right of ordinary Canadians in their community, protecting their property rights, which is supposed to be a concern of the government, to have the right to come forward and state their objections.

    I am very deeply troubled that the government is trying to reduce debate on this significant bill.

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    MPndp
    Feb 17, 2015 10:35 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I am grateful that the parliamentary secretary has asked a question, because I want to put a question to him.

    I mentioned the testimony that was presented in the other place, and hopefully the committee will hear similar testimony if the bill goes to committee. We heard from rape crisis centres, organizations dealing with the trafficking of women and girls, Indo-Canadian organizations, and the Muslim association for women. These organizations are telling us, based on their experience, that in the case of forced marriages, merely relying on criminal law would make it highly unlikely that any of these women would lay a complaint.

    I would put to the member a situation in which a young, vulnerable woman is up against her parents, aunts and uncles, grandmother and grandfather, the head of the community, and so forth. She may well be a woman located in another country, so she will not be able to bring the charge here anyway.

    There is good intent here. There are a lot of good provisions in the law, but what we are being told is a reality fix.

    What I would ask the government is why it did not adopt the British law that allows for the laying of charges either criminally or civilly. Apparently in the United Kingdom the majority of women are choosing the civil proceeding route.

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    MPndp
    Feb 17, 2015 10:30 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, if I understand my colleague's question, I think she is asking if we can look at how we have addressed and reduced abusive marriages in the history of Canada and apply that to situations we are running into now. I can only attest to the fact that many women's organizations deal with the trafficking of women and girls or with women in forced marriages, as opposed to arranged marriages, and they are deeply concerned that there may be a misunderstanding between the two.

    There certainly seems to be strong, profound evidence across Canada from the very organizations that are working with vulnerable women in these situations that what they need are more resources, both to prevent these kinds of activities and to help remove women from that kind of situation. They are deeply concerned that criminalizing is only going to ostracize these women from the very communities and families they need to turn to for support.

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    MPndp
    Feb 17, 2015 10:20 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I prefer throughout my speech to refer to this as Bill S-7, and it will become apparent why that is the case when I speak. It is an act that would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act, the Criminal Code, and a number of other ancillary criminal-related bills.

    I would like to make the comment right at the outset that what has coloured this legislation, based on the testimony given in the Senate, is that it is the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration who has chosen to speak to the bill. Normally it would be the Minister of Justice tabling a government bill to amend the Criminal Code. That probably explains why, in the public, people are reacting and why they are concerned about targeting certain cultures and certainly targeting immigrants.

    I feel obliged to make reference to the offensive title of the bill, which I choose not to repeat, and which others have expressed as grossly offensive and an unnecessary descriptor. As pointed out by many others, it harkens back to the reprehensible historic descriptions of aboriginal Canadians.

    As the bill is by and large focused on immigrants, many view it as discriminatory. It is as if the government has alleged the bill does not target immigrant communities and yet it is tabled by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. This is clearly a confused message.

    As testified by the Canadian Council of Muslim Women:

    The title is racist, discriminatory and further exacerbates the racism and stereotyping of some of us in Canadian society.... We should all remind ourselves of the treatment meted out to our First Nations, who were seen as barbaric, primitive and uncivilized....

    The overt message of this act is that these barbaric practices will be brought into a pristine Canada where there is no violence, where women and girls are not subjected to these horrible practices of forced or early marriages, where polygamy is abhorred, and where there is no femicide — that is, no killings of women and girls. Our organization objects...to the label of honour-based violence....

    I remind the government that is coming from the Canadian Council of Muslim Women. This association and a number of others testified before the Senate and referenced the instance of polygamy in British Columbia since the 1950s, yet to be effectively addressed by Canadian authorities.

    In speaking to the bill before the Senate committee, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration shared that, in his view, the intent of the bill is to:

    ...help to ensure that no young girl or woman in Canada becomes a victim of early or forced marriage, polygamy, so-called honour-based violence or any other form of barbaric cultural practice.

    Those are the very words of the minister.

    He further went on to claim the measures “would improve protection and support for vulnerable individuals, especially women and girls”. The question then before us is this. Would Bill S-7 actually deliver on that intent? I wish to make it clear that in my opinion no woman, or frankly any man, girl, or boy regardless of their race, citizenship, or religion, should be made a victim of gender-based violence, including forced or underage marriage.

    As a co-founder of a sexual assault centre in Edmonton, I am well apprised of the dangers and risks far too many girls and women face. I am also aware of the many factors that prevent girls or women from revealing the abuse to authorities. This is a significant factor raised by many who have concerns with the effectiveness of the bill to genuinely address or prevent abuses, particularly by criminalizing the actions.

    It should also be kept in mind that polygamy is already prohibited in Canada.

    My comments will by and large reflect the views of the bill and the issues involved held by a number of communities of women, as well as legal experts and associations that address trafficking and abuse, as to whether Bill S-7 would actually deliver the remedies and protections alleged to be contained in the bill by the minister.

    A common concern has been raised about the inadequate consultation with the potentially impacted communities and the many organizations and experts involved in the matter of forced or underage marriage. I have spoken with the Canadian Council of Muslim Women and the Edmonton-based Indo-Canadian Women's Association and many of its members, as well as organizations addressing trafficking.

    Some time ago, I met with a group of Canadian women who were concerned about the failure of the Government of Canada to take enforcement action against the situation in Bountiful. This is despite the direction of the courts that enforcement action is possible under the Criminal Code, reportedly, to protect young girls brought into Canada from the United States for the purpose of polygamous unions.

    According to the Indo-Canadian Women's Association:

    Given the widespread occurrence of this practice and its harmful effects, many countries have undertaken a number of initiatives to counter it....

    In Canada, there are a number of grassroots initiatives launched by community organizations such as the Indo Canadian Women's Association that seek to educate the community and provide links to social and medical resources for those seeking assistance in the community. Through education and continuing efforts of the community, we can begin to leave our mark in ending this harmful practice.

    I would like to add that just a few minutes ago I spoke to a very respected member of the Edmonton Muslim community, Soraya Hafez, who is concerned about the bill, in particular because she is seeing a refocusing away from prevention and support to the community organizations, such as her own, and toward the criminalization of this kind of behaviour.

    That view has also been endorsed by Preet Atwal, a young Sikh woman in Edmonton. She writes:

    The statements presented do not seem to be supported by real statistical or realistic data, spreading myths about arranged marriages. It is making it seem as if violence against women is a cultural issue only taking place in certain communities. Criminalization will only further marginalize radicalized communities and will not do anything to actually prevent forced marriages and violence against women. If we truly wish to combat that issue we should use education, community awareness, and law enforcement....

    Those are profound viewpoints.

    I noticed that the Minister of Status of Women had previously said that she had also spoken to this Edmonton community. They are deeply disturbed that she had suggested that their conference on honouring young women was about honour killings. In fact, it was actually about honouring young women in the Asian community, and I was delighted to participate in that conference.

    I would also like to share briefly the words of Avvy Yao-Yao Go, who is the director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. She also testified before the Senate on Bill S-7. She stated:

    From the very naming of this bill to the various legislative amendments it seeks to amend, Bill S-7 invokes racist stereotypes and fuels xenophobia towards certain racialized communities. It exudes hypocrisy disguised as morality. It mocks the practice of polygamy elsewhere as a sign of cultural inferiority while ignoring the fact that polygamy, both formal and informal, is being practised in Canada by some Canadians and that all too often marriages break down in Canada due to infidelity and/or abuse.

    Alia Hogben, the executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, testified at the Senate that she thinks it is important to consider the views based on the direct experiences working with women who are at risk of forced marriages or abuse in their marriages.

    She said:

    First let me acknowledge how pleased we are that the government is paying attention to the issues within violence against women and girls. There is definitely a kernel of genuine concern being expressed by this act, and we support the intent of addressing the issues of forced or early marriages, polygamy and other forms of gender-based violence.

    She says the council is less convinced that these proposed measures are necessary or appropriate. They are also disappointed they were not accorded the courtesy of being consulted in the initial stages of drafting the bill.

    They identified that the current Criminal Code and Civil Marriage Act already criminalize polygamy and bigamy. In their view, what is sorely missing is the attention to actually enforcing these laws and the assignment of resources to address problems faced by immigrants and other victims. This appears to be a common view of those actually working with trafficked women or women attempting to escape forced or abusive marriages.

    They are equally concerned at the focused attention on certain backgrounds, given the high level of violence against all Canadian women and girls. Some have mentioned, as have some of my colleagues, the fact that there is still a refusal by the government—and, sadly, by the Premier of Alberta—to call an inquiry into the over 1,800 missing aboriginal women and girls.

    They have noted the failure to prosecute polygamy over the past six decades. They remind us that as recently as 2011, the courts have clarified that charges can go forward under existing laws.

    What they recommend instead is to engage and educate the community on the law and their rights and to build the capacity for community-based responses to human trafficking. They also emphasize the need to eliminate the vulnerabilities that lead to trafficking.

    Those I have talked to say that they think there should be more support to settlement services and that we need to consider the particular vulnerability of poor or abused women. We need organizations to be onside with the law, as they are the very mechanisms who help those who are being abused.

    Finally, I would like to add in closing that they are puzzled that the government is not also including civil proceedings, as many of women would be frightened to be engaged in criminal proceedings.

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    MPndp
    Feb 17, 2015 8:55 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for her remarks on the bill. Clearly everyone in Canada is opposed to polygamy and abuse of young people who are being forced to marry against their will. However, I was speaking just last night to a young Muslim woman in Edmonton, who reviewed the bill and gave me her feedback. Her concern is that proposed section 293.1 of the Criminal Code would make anybody guilty of an indictable offence if they celebrate, aid, or participate in a marriage rite knowing one of the persons may be marrying against their will.

    What is not clear from this, as she pointed out, is whether that would apply to a marriage only in Canada. It does not say so. She is deeply concerned, and I notice today that the minister misconstrued what the provisions said. When he testified at the Senate, when the same concern was raised, he said people would have to be active participants and undertaking a substantial role.

    I wonder if the minister can speak to that, whether she can defend section 293.1, and whether she agrees with this young Muslim woman that she may be subject to an indictable offence if she attends a marriage where somebody is unwilling to be married, whether here or in another country.

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    MPndp
    Feb 16, 2015 11:25 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, Canada's allies have issued new sanctions. It is time for Canada to send a stronger message and to do more than just tell Russia to get out of Ukraine.

    Canadian sanctions still omit key members of Russia's business and political elite, despite the fact that our allies have listed them. I have a simple question for the new minister. Why are Igor Sechin, Sergei Chemezov, and Vladimir Yakunin not being sanctioned by the Canadian government?

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    MPndp
    Feb 05, 2015 11:45 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, the minister's bluster cannot hide the basic facts. He committed to get serious about inspecting job sites and investigating abuses of the temporary foreign worker program.

    He now says he sees no need to send any officers to job sites. He is content with the same paper exercise and self-regulation. His department has looked into a mere 7% of complaints received about employer abuse.

    How can the minister justify his repeated failure to actually take enforcement action?

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    MPndp
    Feb 04, 2015 2:20 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I am going through the bill and I am a little puzzled how, in the actual provisions of the bill, the government is professing that this is a new mechanism whereby any victim of a crime can go through a procedure and participate, whether investigation or prosecution, in the course of the trial.

    However, this bill only has a procedure for the federal departments or agencies to establish a complaints system and, as we all know in this place, the Criminal Code is actually investigating and prosecuting by provincial and territorial authorities. Section 26 does say that victims must go to a territorial or provincial entity if they cannot get recourse elsewhere.

    Can the member tell us how exactly this law would actually enable Canadian citizens to file a complaint or participate in that case?

January

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    MPndp
    Jan 29, 2015 9:50 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this motion and debate. I have heard concerns continuously from my constituents about the refusal of the government to work co-operatively with the other levels of government. As my colleague from Victoria previously stated, top of mind for Albertans is the future of medicare, particularly given the forecast cutbacks by the Government of Canada and the refusal to meet with provincial and territorial officials.

    However, there is an order of government that is missing, apart from a very brief mention by my colleague who sits behind me, which is first nation governments.

    The government held out, I believe it was two years ago, that it would move toward a nation-to-nation respectful relationship with Canada's first nations. It has also been very clear from the courts that the federal government has a similar responsibility to the Métis people of Canada.

    I would like to ask the member whether he would like to consider adding the need for a dialogue not just with representatives of the provincial and territorial governments but with first nation governments.

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    MPndp
    Jan 27, 2015 2:50 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member raising this matter in the House, because it is a matter that is extremely critical to my constituents and, frankly, all Albertans.

    The issue of rail safety is top of mind in Edmonton—Strathcona. Our riding is laced with rail lines, crossings, terminals, and loading for petrochemicals and bitumen. Up until about a month ago, tanker cars of bitumen and chemicals sat right in the centre of Edmonton—Strathcona, right in the busiest section of historic Old Strathcona.

    Much to the delight of my constituents and to everybody's surprise in the city of Edmonton, Canadian Pacific has announced that it is now considering selling off some of those properties. I am very pleased. I have been working with city councillors, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and my constituents, trying to get Canadian Pacific to think seriously about improving safety for my constituents, let alone the nuisance of having rush-hour traffic backed up.

    Rail safety is top of mind. However, it is not just the issue of inconvenience or the risk to residents. About a decade ago, the largest spill off a railroad into fresh water in North America occurred in a lake where, for four generations, my family has had property, Wabamun Lake. To this day, a good portion of that Bunker C and pole oil remains in the bottom of that lake. Nobody knows what will happen to it.

    There is, of course, heightened concern in that Wabamun community of residents to monitoring what is going on with train loads, the speeds, the state of the rail lines, and the crossings. I get repeated calls from residents out in that area, very concerned that the inspection is not catching a lot of the concerns.

    I have heard from residents in Slave Lake, Alberta, with concerns that a rail bridge there that was partly burned out is not being maintained. Of course, at Christmastime this past year we witnessed the derailment in Banff National Park and the dumping of hazardous substances into a very important fishery in our national park.

    Rail safety is top of mind to people in Edmonton—Strathcona, all Albertans, and all Canadians. Of course, Lac-Mégantic is one of the most recent incredible tragedies that could have been prevented if we had better measures in place and better enforcement.

    Rail safety is a critical issue. We just heard that from one of the government members, and the government even said in its throne speech that the federal government is going to take action and it will be tabling legislation on rail safety. However, this is coming through a private member's bill, which of course raises the question about why the government is not coming forward with an omnibus bill with many long-awaited measures that the Transportation Safety Board has identified even as recently as in the Lac-Mégantic review.

    It is time for the federal government to act, because railroads are 100% regulated by the federal government. My community, as with communities across Canada, lives with the frustration of being left trying to negotiate with the rail companies to address these kinds of issues, including safety issues at rail crossings, because the federal government has simply not stepped forward.

    We need improved legislation, improved regulations, and more inspectors, but we also need the federal government to embrace this portfolio more deeply and to step forward and work with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which is trying to address these issues.

    In tabling the bill, the member for Winnipeg South Centre suggested that the amendment she has tabled will, if passed, grant additional powers to the minister to intervene to improve safety at all regulated grade crossings. She mentions there are 14,000 public crossings and 9,000 private crossings, which is 23,000 crossings. I guess the obvious question is this. Can Canadians anticipate that, when this legislation comes forward, we are going to immediately have 23,000 crossing addressed? We have heard many members in the House raise concerns. Where is the additional manpower?

    The amendments are puzzling for a number of reason. One of the most apparent ones is that the essence of those amendments appears to already be in the act. Very recently the government came forward and actually amended the law. In section 4(4), it actually clarified that railway operations are safely operated when there is a threat to railway operations that impact property and persons and so forth.

    Later on section (4.1) was added, which specifically says:

    For the purposes of this Act, a threat is a hazard or condition that could reasonably be expected to develop into a situation in which a person could be injured or made to be ill or damage could be caused to the environment or property, and a threat is immediate if such a situation already exists.

    I am left puzzled as to how these proposed amendments are going to fit with the amendments the government only recently made. It would be useful to take a look at those in committee to see if they actually are needed, or if the committee needs to address some of the amendments the government only recently brought forward. The intent is good, but I am puzzled why these measures need to be added when the government seems to have already done so.

    Of more concern is that at a time when communities are desperately begging the government to give them a greater voice in the kind of rail traffic going through communities, such as at what speed, the length of trains, and the types of cargo being carried, this bill would actually diminish the rights of concerned communities and property owners to seek reviews or upgrades where the risks are to health, environment, or property. It would actually give the minister power to ignore the objection and concern. At committee, it would be very important to take a look at the wording, because it does not enable communities to have greater voice. It would diminish that power.

    The powers assigned to the Minister of Transport to issue orders and corrective measures are good. There are a lot of those already in the bill. I would recommend, consistent with what most environmental laws now provide, that those powers be immediately assigned to inspectors, the field inspectors who are in the community and witnessing where there are dangerous situations, so they can immediately be empowered to take action. That is something else I suggest the committee take a look at.

    The act already empowers the cabinet to issue regulations for rail crossing safety. Apparently, the government has not moved it forward. I look forward to being corrected on that. Otherwise, surely the member would not have felt it necessary to come forward with amendments to the statute. That is another thing that could be looked at.

    Finally, I look forward to this matter being brought before this place. I am deeply concerned that one of our major industrial sectors, the rail sector, has increased its shipments of dangerous cargo, including raw bitumen, petrochemicals, and so forth more than a thousandfold in the last couple of years. Yet the government has not seen fit to amend the Canadian Transportation Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. A review of that increased traffic of hazardous substances would allow for an environmental impact assessment.

    The government member who spoke before me pointed out that this is a growing industrial sector. There has been increased traffic, including of hazardous substances, and yet the government has not seen fit to amend its laws to make sure that this kind of activity undergoes at least a proper environmental screening and assessment so that the communities that might be impacted could have a voice in that decision-making.

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    MPndp
    Jan 27, 2015 11:05 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, popular opinion has it that Canadian youth are disengaged from the democratic process, yet from my experience our youth are playing an active role.

    Let us take Nessa Deans as an example. She is an 11-year-old constituent who is enthusiastically participating in the political process at all levels. Nessa was named the youth winner of the 2014 Samara Everyday Political Citizen award for her efforts.

    Claire Edwards, while in high school, successfully advocated for a student trustee position at the Edmonton Public School Board and now chairs the City of Edmonton Youth Council. She has been recognized with the Top 30 Under 30 award.

    In the last federal election, University of Alberta students organized a votemobile service to help students access advanced polls.

    Finally, at the service for Constable David Matthew Wynn, Keenooshayo grade 6 students sang this verse, lauding his support for the value of youth engagement:

    We can make a difference in our world today Together we can make our world a better place When we work together, so much can be done If all the children in the world would sing in unison.

December

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    MPndp
    Dec 10, 2014 3:10 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to speak to this motion. I want to say right off that I appreciate the effort made by the hon. member to bring this matter forward. He is a very amiable member of this chamber, and I appreciate chatting with him from time to time on matters in the House.

    I can fully understand, as I am sure everyone in the House understands, the frustration that would drive him to bring forward this motion. It is very hard for the independent members in this chamber, because they are not accorded the rights the parties are. That is what our system is. Why is the system that way? It is not that there are not a lot of changes that could be brought. New reforms have been proposed by the government side, individual members at least, and by our party.

    Certainly, the way we operate in this place can be improved, but I think it is really important for us to recognize our responsibilities. We are here because we were elected, and we were elected in certain numbers, which resulted in three parties being represented in this place, and in certain numbers. We are between 90 and 100 members. The government has considerably more, another 20 or 30 members, and the Liberal Party has a certain number of members. Then we have some independents, who from time to time like to stand up and say that they are a party, but in fact, they are independent members.

    Everyone here wants to make sure that everyone has a right to participate, because they too were elected by their constituencies. However, as a number have said who have been debating this motion, it is very important that we recognize the system and the way this place operates.

    If I had my druthers, I would prefer that this place operate by consensus, but that is a dream for the far future. It is our dream in the New Democratic Party that this can best be achieved through proportional representation. Some of the members of the third party say they like that idea. Other members of that party say they like first past the post, because perhaps they could be the commanding party in the next election.

    I think we have to recognize that our system is the system it is, and the electorate brings us forward and we are here representing the constituents. In so doing, we can change the system. We can try to improve it in some way.

    One of the things we have tried to do on this side, certainly in our party, is try to be equitable in the way we represent our constituents. If others in this House had the opportunity to join our caucus, they would see a lot of the debate that goes on. One thing we have in common is that we agree that there should be gender balance. We agree that all regions of this country should have a voice in this place. We believe that both official languages should be represented in debates in the House, in question period, and in committee.

    It is not always easy to bring that balance, but we certainly endeavour to do that, and we think it is a really important principle for this place that those basic principles be represented.

    Unfortunately, while we know that the member means well and is trying to reform the place so that everyone has an equal, or at least a fair, voice, the proposals the member is bringing forward will not enable that to occur. Every member having a chance to ask a question per week would make it very difficult to provide any kind of cogent presentation in question period.

    It is very important to recognize that the official opposition has a very important role in this place. It is our duty in the parliamentary system to hold the government of the day accountable, so it is very important that we have the opportunity to be strategic in doing that. To do that, we have to have the freedom to decide who will be raising the questions of the day.

    The second aspect the member has raised is committees. Certainly in our party, we can recognize his frustration. We have our own frustrations as the official opposition. I myself have been very frustrated by the difference between this government and the same party but in a previous Parliament, where there was much more toing and froing on what we would discuss in committee, how we would discuss it, and the witnesses who would come forward. We also discussed amendments when the bill was before us, or even in a report.

    There are enough frustrations. I do not think we need to make it more complicated with lotteries and those kinds of systems.

    We have, from time to time, as some of my colleagues have pointed out, actually supported some of the initiatives of the independents. For example, we defended the rights of the independents when the government moved to constrain the right of independents to table amendments at report stage. We have been very clear. We should be given greater rights in this place.

    We also supported the amendments to Bill C-23 proposed by one of my colleagues from the Edmonton area, the member for Edmonton—St. Albert, that would have allowed independents to form riding associations and engage in fundraising between elections. We are open to good proposals that come forward and to giving everyone in this place who is duly elected greater opportunities to represent, speak to, and engage their constituents and speak for them when they come to this place.

    Again, we have endeavoured to provide the same kind of balance in committees that we have in question period. We endeavour to have both official languages represented through our party, to have a gender balance, and most important of all, to develop expertise, which goes back to the proposals for changing question period. It is very important that the questions we bring forward are based in knowledge, experience, and work at the ground level on the issues of the day that are brought forward either by the government or other members in this place.

    I would close by saying that I commend the efforts of the member in bringing the motion forward. He has taken his one spot to speak to a motion in this place to bring forward parliamentary reform. My hope is that the government will finally listen to our proposals and that we will bring together all the representatives in this place to come forward with procedures and policies to make sure that we actually work better together and co-operatively in the interest of Canadians.

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    MPndp
    Dec 03, 2014 1:15 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, through you, I would like to thank the minister for his comments on this matter. Yes, he has brought forward a number of changes to the electoral system, which Canadians were very upset about and expressed their disdain for. Some of them we are able to beat back, but not others.

    I am disappointed that the minister chose not to discuss whatsoever the motion before the House today. He speaks of responsible government. I would remind him that my ancestor, a Father of Confederation from New Brunswick, reluctantly became a Father of Confederation because he wanted responsible government in this country.

    Doug Bailie, president of Fair Vote Canada, has soundly supported proportional representation. He said that it is not a system, but a principle. He says that it better supports our system of responsible government by better ensuring the majority in this House reflects that majority of voters.

    If I look at the outcome in Alberta, as a member previously mentioned, I see that in the last election, Conservatives won 66.8% of the vote but 96% of the seats. The NDP received 16.8% of the vote and only 4% of the seats. Saskatchewan is even more skewed. The Conservatives won 56% of the vote but 93% of the seats.

    How, then, does the minister think that his system, which he says he is willing to amend, will better represent the views of Canadians? How can he speak against the reforms that we are bringing forward?

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    MPndp
    Dec 02, 2014 11:10 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I think that all members in this place agree that Canadians should be able to raise their families in a clean, healthy environment. Regrettably, what is lacking is the political will in the Conservative government to actually extend that right to Canadians and their communities.

    What is particularly galling is that two decades ago, Canada committed to do exactly that. Under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, Canada must ensure that Canadians are given a voice in all decisions impacting their environment, yet the pattern of behaviour by federal governments since has been to declare those grandiose commitments in international arenas but fail to act on them back home.

    To make matters worse, the government rescinded even the meagre environmental rights and duties once accorded under federal law and did so without public consultation or consent. To remedy this, I once again tabled the Canadian environmental bill of rights. My bill would impose clear duties on the government to protect our environment, empower Canadians to hold the government accountable, and allow the public to participate in all decisions impacting their environment.

    In the public interest, I implore the Conservative government to comply with its commitments, restore the rescinded environmental measures, and make Canadians' right to a clean and healthy environment a reality.

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    MPndp
    Dec 01, 2014 11:10 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I hear there actually is a lot going on in Dog River, Canada's favourite fictional small town.

    Tonight marks the Ottawa premiere of Corner Gas: The Movie, after a super fan-based kickstarter-funded debut in Saskatoon.

    I am delighted to share that the entire cast of Corner Gas is returning after their six amazing seasons of the show. It all began with Brent's first words, “Want me to fill it up?”

    People from all walks of life have connected with the characters, which is what makes Corner Gas so popular, including fans in more than 20 countries.

    Canadian star, Lorne Cardinal, or as fans know him, Davis Quinton, said in Saskatoon, “The audience loved it. They laughed where they were supposed to, teared up where they were supposed to, and gave a standing ovation at the end”.

    I invite all of my colleagues in this place to join me tonight at the showing to find out what is going on for Brent, Lacey, Hank, Davis, Karen, Wanda, Emma and, of course, Oscar.

November

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    MPndp
    Nov 26, 2014 4:35 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I would have to say right off the bat that I am surprised that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health is responding to my question. However, this gives me the opportunity to speak of other failings of the government.

    I have risen in the House countless times, making a plea on behalf of the first nations in northern Alberta for the Minister of Health to finally deliver the long awaited health impact study of the oil sands. To this very date, the government has refused to do any health analysis of the impacts of the oil sands.

    When I look at the amount of money that the hon. member has said is committed, and if we divide that by the number of projects and the number of first nations, it is about $15,000 per project. That is laughable. If we look at the amount of money that is spent by the proponent for appraising a vast array of highly technical information, it is shameful.

    I hear no response and no recognition of the serious concerns raised by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

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    MPndp
    Nov 26, 2014 4:30 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, a question that I put to the government back in October I felt was very important and merited another go.

    The question arose from a concern identified by the federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. In her report, she said she had heard testimony from first nations that the federal government is ignoring its duties. First, it is failing to engage first nation and Métis peoples in environmental impact assessment and monitoring of their oil sands; second, it is ignoring its duty to collect important traditional ecological knowledge; third, it is failing to consult first nations, thereby making it harder for first nations to participate in decision-making on projects that potentially impact their rights and interests.

    It is important at the outset, in reviewing this matter, to give the government the opportunity to again consider the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that it has endorsed.

    Article 27 of that UNDRIP says:

    States shall establish and implement, in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned, a fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process, giving due recognition to indigenous peoples’ laws, traditions, customs and land tenure systems, to recognize and adjudicate the rights of indigenous peoples pertaining to their lands, territories and resources, including those which were traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used. Indigenous peoples shall have the right to participate in this process.

    Article 29 says:

    Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources.

    We noted the announcement of the government, particularly by the Minister of Natural Resources, of the new MPMO office to be based in Vancouver, supposedly to engage aboriginal peoples in major projects, more specifically major projects for energy development proposed by external parties, but what about the duty to consult and engage first nation and Métis peoples on their own plans and priorities for their peoples and for their lands and resources, including traditional harvest, medicines, knowledge of wildlife, and land use?

    Frankly, it is unclear how an office in Vancouver will facilitate improved consultation with Alberta first nations and Métis in consideration of their traditional knowledge and customs, despite the fact that the government has claimed this office will enable better engagement of first nations in both provinces.

    It may be noted that the Federal Court, some years back, held that the former federal minister of the environment, Jim Prentice, erred in law in determining he had no duty to consider the rights and title of first nations in making decisions on critical habitat for species at risk. This case particularly had to do with the right of the first nation peoples in northern Alberta to the protection of the habitat of the caribou and bison, which is part of the traditional harvest.

    Sadly, it appears the court directive is not being observed or respected, and the Alberta and B.C. first nations continue to be forced into the courts to uphold their constitutional and treaty rights, or, in the case of the current National Energy Board review on Kinder Morgan, being forced to resort to protest and ultimate arrest.

    I am looking forward to hearing a more extensive and detailed response from the government in how it is going to respond to this concern that was raised by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

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    MPndp
    Nov 25, 2014 11:45 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, 25 years after the House pledged to eliminate child poverty, and despite the oil boom, more than 140,000 Alberta children are still living in poverty. Almost half of the food bank users in my city alone are children. Many come from low-income working families, who struggle to pay rent, utilities, and child care on their meagre wages.

    Why is the government refusing a request for deeper investments in child care and housing to ensure a better quality of life for all of our children?

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    MPndp
    Nov 24, 2014 1:10 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I have listened with great interest to the position of the government on this particular piece of legislation and remain puzzled by its obstinacy against the amendments that my colleagues have brought forward.

    What puzzles me is that when we are talking about other issues, for example, child care or support for the family, the line from the Conservatives is always, “We do not want big entities to decide the fate of our families”, yet here they want big government to decide whether or not farmers should or should not have the right to keep their own seeds and share them.

    I can remember back in the 1970s when I was working on dialogues on the preservation of agricultural land and of the agricultural economy in Alberta, it was the time of a big scare in India. There was a single strain of rice and the harvest was a disaster.

    Therefore, I am wondering about this one-sided mindset of protecting the big corporations that want to sell just one seed, instead of encouraging our farmers to keep their heritage seeds and share those. Why is the government not listening to the farmers on the importance of having diversity in crops?

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    MPndp
    Nov 21, 2014 11:00 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, there is a lot more to be said on this motion.

    I certainly commend my colleague for bringing forward the motion and for being a strong force in his Innu community in this place. I appreciate his expertise in criminal law from his practice in that area representing his people very well. I appreciate that he has brought that knowledge to this place and has shared a lot of that knowledge in this motion he has brought forward, which is based on his personal experience and the frustration of his community members regarding having a voice in major energy projects.

    The member's motion is essentially calling for the Conservative government to step up to the plate and finally support a genuine process for the engagement of Canadian communities, including first nation and Métis communities, in decision-making on major energy projects. This includes the potential impact on human health, the ecosystem, employment, and economic development.

    The member has three key messages that I think are important and that surely everyone in this place would support: that citizens should have a central place in the decision-making process, particularly when projects might impact their health and environment; that there should be respect for the historic commitments made by the federal government to first nation peoples; and that we should ensure that economic development is in tune with citizens' perception of their territory and that they, and not people who live far from the site of those projects, genuinely benefit from that development.

    It is very important to note that the call for greater action by the government is not something that just my colleague has raised. It has actually been voiced by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. In his report just this fall, he slammed the government. He determined that the federal government has been clearly ignoring its duties to ensure that first nations and Métis are engaged in environmental assessment and monitoring in major energy projects, in particular oil sands projects. The commissioner determined that, first, the government has failed to collect and consider important traditional ecological information. Second, it has ignored its duty to consult. Third, it has made it harder for aboriginals to participate in decision-making on major energy projects impacting first nation and Métis lands, water, and people.

    My colleague has raised some skepticism about the concept of social licence, and I think that is a fair comment. Each time we reach some kind of consensus that we need to move forward with, the terms “participation”, “consultation”, “social impact assessment”, and “social licence” often become perverted because those principles are not really applied in good faith. The member's call to the House is that we need to agree that we are genuinely committed to enabling a constructive voice for Canadians in decision-making on major energy projects. We should go beyond the brief mention of a concept and give some reality to it so that it actually includes genuine environmental impacts, social impacts, and local impacts. That consultation should be a precondition in deciding if a project is in the public interest.

    We hear members on the other side talk about how we have a perfect review process. They say that all they need to do is consider what is in the public interest. However, what is the public interest? If we are not genuinely considering the issues and concerns of the locally impacted people, how genuinely can we really say we are considering the public interest in making decisions to accept or reject a major energy project?

    I look forward to continuing to speak on this at a later date, and I appreciate the time to at least rise briefly in support of my colleague's very important motion in this place.

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    MPndp
    Nov 21, 2014 10:20 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, the member has brought forward an incredibly important motion at this point in history on how we are addressing energy projects in this country.

    The member, I am sure, has noted that the Minister of Natural Resources just this week committed to engaging communities in environmental stewardship in reserve decisions, and yet it is a year almost to the day that the government commissioned a report by Douglas Eyford looking at how the government failed to consult first nations on the gateway project. Mr. Eyford delivered four or five pages of recommendations on how the government could improve and yet we have seen no progress. We are going backward with respect to constructive consultation.

    I wonder if the member would speak to that and the lack of the government's credibility in claiming to be committed to more constructive engagement.

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    MPndp
    Nov 21, 2014 9:05 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, the other three petitions relate to Canada's approach to Gaza.

    The first petition, from Albertans, calls on the Government of Canada to reinstate the development aid to Palestinians by once again contributing to UNRWA.

    The second petition calls on the Government of Canada to publicly revoke its one-sided, unequivocal support for Israel and to condemn the killings of civilians on both sides of the 2014 war.

    The third and final petition, from Albertans, calls on the Government of Canada to speak out to end Israel's blockade of Gaza.

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    MPndp
    Nov 21, 2014 8:00 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, Ukraine has marked today, the first anniversary of the commencement of the historic gatherings of Ukrainians in the Euromaidan, as Freedom and Dignity Day. It began with protesting university students and evolved into an outpouring of Ukrainians of all ages and from all walks of life, following savage beatings and later shooting of peaceful protestors.

    Tens of thousands flooded the public square calling for an end to corruption and abuse of power. Many attributed this monumental event as a protest of the government's refusal to sign an association agreement with the EU, yet the major impetus for taking to the streets was far more profound. It was a revolution of dignity.

    Frustrated by decades of corruption and injustice, they took a public stand for a better future. The more violent the response, the larger the demonstrations grew. These were followed by elections of a new president and a new parliament, and the end of the Soviet presence.

    Many now proudly flourish Ukrainian symbols in a more public way. Many young Ukrainians have been inspired to play a more active role in government.

    At this critical juncture, it is important Canadians support their efforts to forge a strong democracy.

    Slava Ukraini.

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    MPndp
    Nov 21, 2014 7:45 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his very heart-rending speech. Obviously, personal experience is what this bill is attempting to address.

    The member clearly supported the need for criminal provisions where we can deal with those who are detected. However, as I understand it, he and other colleagues mentioned the fact that we sadly have a rising rate of sexual offences against children.

    I wonder if the member could expand a bit more on whether or not there is a need for the government to also bring forward a compliance strategy when we have reforms to the Criminal Code so that we can also talk about resources and new programs to prevent these kinds of offences. He seems to feel that it is equally as important as punishment after the fact.

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    MPndp
    Nov 21, 2014 7:10 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, one of the things we need to keep front of mind when dealing with matters of a criminal nature and the rehabilitation of criminals and the protection of children is the unilateral federal responsibility for the protection of Canada's indigenous peoples.

    As the member has pointed out, the government has made many cuts to programs intended to support aboriginal communities in developing social services, housing, and protection for their children. We have seen the commission on residential schools begging the government to continue funding to support the people who suffered through the abuse in the residential schools.

    The member speaks of the cuts and speaks of this loss. I am wondering if she thinks the bill and the government's programs reflect its responsibilities in dealing with those important matters for the protection of indigenous Canadians.

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    MPndp
    Nov 20, 2014 7:10 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from Albertans calling on the House of Commons to take action to recognize animals as beings that feel pain, to move animal cruelty crimes from the property section of the Criminal Code, to strengthen the language of animal cruelty laws, and to support the passing of Bill C-592, which would amend the Criminal Code to protect animals.

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    MPndp
    Nov 20, 2014 7:05 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions.

    The first petition has more than 100 signatures from Canadians calling on Parliament to take action to oppose the systemic murdering of Falun Gong practitioners in China for forced organ harvesting. They are calling on the government to speak out to end the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China.

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    MPndp
    Nov 19, 2014 2:05 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I listened attentively to the speech, and the question I would have for the member is this.

    I have also heard from a lot of farmers in Saskatchewan and Alberta. What they are deeply concerned about is the government's lack of commitment to agricultural research. The government, in its wisdom, got rid of the community pastures and shut down all the agricultural research stations.

    Could the member speak to the commitment of the Conservatives to developing better seeds and crops? Why on earth would they have moved to shut down the very enterprises that support the medium-income farmers and where a lot of our very valuable research has been conducted over many decades?

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    MPndp
    Nov 19, 2014 12:15 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to table.

    The first petition is from Albertans in support of the climate change accountability act. It is an act which calls on basing government policy on science and holding the government accountable for the actions it takes on reducing greenhouse gases.

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    MPndp
    Nov 17, 2014 4:20 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I am left very puzzled. My questions were clearly about providing safe drinking water to first nations.

    Over the last couple of years, a good number of first nations in Alberta have suffered deeply because of flooding. It is also the responsibility of the government to step in and provide them with an emergency response, and to assist them in building new housing, which was destroyed during the flooding.

    The government has absolutely failed to respond to my question. When will it step up and provide the funding needed to meet the millions of dollars deficit for safe drinking water? This is a completely separate issue and is occurring in tandem. I do not know if we call the lack of safe drinking water going on for decades an emergency, but it certainly is an emergency for first nations families that are trying to provide safe drinking water for their children or to bathe their babies. I remain puzzled.

    Perhaps the government would like to respond to my initial question about when it will deliver the promised $162 million to deliver safe drinking water to Alberta first nations.

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    MPndp
    Nov 17, 2014 4:10 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I want to make sure that my colleague across the way also has an opportunity to hear what my issues are and what my eventual question will be.

    The government is moving forward. The legislation was simply framework legislation. Essentially, it simply passed liability from the federal government to the first nations to begin delivering wastewater services and safe drinking water. Regrettably, it still does not have the regulations in place that will clearly say what the standards are that first nations have to live up to and deliver on. Second, there is still no new money.

    First nations across the country, including Treaty 6, Treaty 7, and Treaty 8 first nations had agreed to support this law, but on condition that they received $162 million for water infrastructure to cover the deficit faced by Alberta first nations as identified by the independent national engineering assessment. They agreed that they would accept this legislation being imposed on them, even though constitutionally and under the UN declaration they are supposed to have responsibility for self-government in determining their own regime for regulation. They agreed to consent to that legislation on that condition.

    The second condition was that Canada develop a satisfactory and adequately funded process for collaborative development of the implementing regulations. Thus far, I am told by the Treaty 6, 7 and 8 first nations in Alberta that they have come to the conclusion that they must withdraw from the process because the money has not been forthcoming and they have not been supported in the consultation on the regulations.

    My question for the government is this. When can the first nations expect this money? The government has committed only $323 million for the whole country, and yet half of that is needed to meet the needs of the first nations in Alberta in order to enter the 21st century of basic minimum standards for their community.

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    MPndp
    Nov 04, 2014 3:45 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, it is with great regret that I must ask yet again exactly the same questions I have asked continually in this place.

    First, again, how many full-time inspectors are there, and how many are dedicated to enforcing the temporary foreign worker program in the oil sands?

    Second, why is there public disclosure of only a small subset of the enforcement responses? It does not apply to the warning letters, the suspension or revocation of the LMIA, or the work permits. Why is that information not being disclosed to the public?

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    MPndp
    Nov 04, 2014 3:35 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, I am rising today in follow-up to a question that I put to the Minister of Employment and Social Development on September 25.

    I commend the government for finally responding to my repeated requests for the minister, through his department, to develop an enforcement and compliance strategy to govern the temporary foreign worker program.

    In my four decades of involvement in environmental enforcement and compliance, both domestically and internationally, a clear consensus has developed across the country and around the world that it is important to the credibility of a regulatory regime that there be a publicly available and endorsed enforcement and compliance strategy. It is important that policy also be opened up to the public, to impacted persons, to employers, and to employees to ensure that the government is delivering a credible policy.

    I would again like to commend the minister for not only finally responding and producing an enforcement and compliance strategy but also making that available to various parties to provide feedback.

    The questions I wish to raise tonight relate to the apparent final strategy that has been released by the government.

    In that strategy, which I understand is the final enforcement compliance strategy for now, the government sets forth, to its credit, some clear, publicly known criteria for how it is deciding what the appropriate enforcement responses are to violations under that legislation. To my surprise, the criteria seem to have a few problems. I would like to reiterate one of the issues from the ironworkers, who were impacted by the temporary foreign worker program.

    As I have previously raised in the House, there have been a number of occasions in the oil sands sector where in some cases more than 100 Canadian ironworkers have been surreptitiously laid off and replaced by foreign workers. I reached out to the ironworkers to ask what their thoughts were on the proposed enforcement compliance strategy. Here are some of their concerns. I noticed that despite their input, the draft strategy remains exactly the same. As the ironworkers have pointed out, and I agree with them, the fact that an employer has violated the temporary foreign worker program—for example, by replacing Canadian workers with temporary foreign workers—for an economic or competitive advantage, is given a very low rating.

    In the system, the government has laid out the kind of offences that may occur under this regulation. Here is what we think the criteria are. There has been a lot of concern expressed by a number of parties with the way the criteria have been assigned. One of those is that an economic advantage is a major factor, and I agree.

    I have asked these questions that I would like to put to the parliamentary secretary tonight repeated times in the House. The minister has said that he has quadrupled the number of inspectors. Exactly how many inspectors are now employed? What are their credentials? Are they employed full time? What is their training? How many of those officers are deployed to the oil sands sector?

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    MPndp
    Nov 04, 2014 2:35 pm | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's remarks were very thoughtful.

    The question I would like to put for the member is this. The motion that has been put forward, as amended twice over, simply says that we have a situation where a member of the chamber has been convicted of violating a federal law, a very significant federal law, one that establishes the electoral rules to place us in the chamber and that determine whether the member, who has now been convicted, can take his place in the chamber.

    It appears to me, and I will ask the member, that it is a reasonable proposition before the House that the member be suspended until such time as the appeal period lapses or the outcome of the appeal. We have to uphold the reputation of this place, and I think Canadians expect us to assume our responsibilities to do that.

    The member has made some very cogent remarks. I would agree with her that it is appropriate to refer this matter to the standing committee, which may determine the appropriate measures to take at the appropriate time and look at the alternative measures available, depending on what occurs in the judicial process.

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    MPndp
    Nov 04, 2014 11:10 am | Alberta, Edmonton—Strathcona

    Mr. Speaker, last week, respected Cree elder, Gary Moostoos, was physically evicted and banned from an Edmonton mall. The apparent offence? He was suspected of associating with the homeless. However, like others, he was simply enjoying a bowl of soup.

    Elder Moostoos raised himself out of a life of despair on the streets to bring solace to Cree elders in health care, to victims of residential school abuse and to the homeless, yet he was still subjected to public humiliation and is emotionally wounded.

    The mall offered an apology, but apologies simply are not enough. Was this elder targeted because he looked aboriginal? What direction was security given? Is the intention to keep the homeless and traumatized out on the street?

    Tina Fontaine was not the first aboriginal child to be treated with abandon. Elder Moostoos was not the first aboriginal man to be humiliated.

    As parliamentarians, we can and must use our powers to advance from mere apologies to ensuring comparable child and family services, restitution and support to the healing centres, and to meet our commitments under the UNDRIP, including respecting the rights of indigenous peoples to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and their aspirations.


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