- MPndpMar 13, 2015 9:10 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, some constituents asked me if I would table this petition in the House of Commons, and I have to say that I am very impressed by the number of people who have signed it. It shows that people in Halifax really care about the rights of small-scale farmers to preserve and exchange and use seeds.
The petitioners are asking the government to adopt international aid policies that support small-scale farmers; to ensure that Canadian policies and programs are developed in consultation with small family farmers; and that they protect the rights of farmers in the global south to preserve, use, and freely exchange seeds.
The petitioners and I look forward to the minister's response.
- MPndpMar 13, 2015 8:20 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, Ronald Atkey, a former Conservative minister and chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, stated very clearly that allowing CSIS to ask a judge to violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms will turn into a constitutional nightmare.
Why does the government want to rush a bill that is ill-conceived?
- MPndpMar 13, 2015 8:15 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, it is now being reported in Turkish media that the individual who was detained for allegedly helping three British schoolgirls join ISIS was working for the Canadian embassy in Jordan, where Bruno Saccomani, the former head of the Prime Minister's security detail, is the ambassador.
Can the government confirm that someone linked to Canadian intelligence, an employee, an agent or an asset, is being detained in Turkey?
- MPndpMar 12, 2015 2:25 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. The Denmark example is a very good one, because in six years, we have not seen a charge.
We have a Criminal Code here in Canada. We have sections under the Criminal Code under which we have seen charges for uttering threats, assault causing bodily harm, and sexual assault. We have seen charges laid under those provisions. These provisions exist already. They work already.
If we actually want to stop these kinds of acts, like forced marriage, which 100% the NDP would like to stop, then let us look at what works. What works is making sure that women can come forward, making sure that they are safe, and making sure that they are not criminalized, revictimized, or deported because they came forward. I mean, a person would have to have no heart to think that this is actually going to solve the problem of forced marriages in Canada.
- MPndpMar 12, 2015 2:20 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, there is a difference between voting for a park and trying to get amendments at committee and human rights. There is a difference between Sable Island and the fundamental rights and revictimization of women.
I am not going to stand here in this House and support a bill that is about revictimizing women. We need to stand up for these women. We need to provide support for these women. We do not need to vote for this at second reading and hope that we get an amendment later.
The bill is fundamentally flawed, and there is no way we can compare it to the other pieces of legislation we have supported to get them to committee.
- MPndpMar 12, 2015 2:10 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak today about unintended consequences. As we look at the bill, we think about the intended consequences, but I want to talk about the unintended consequences.
Intention is important. If we look at the intention of the bill, we look at the short title of the bill, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act. That is offensive. I am not going to get into how offensive it is. There is the fact that it is xenophobic, that it is politicizing the issue of gender-based violence, and that it is reinforcing prejudices and stereotypes we have about certain cultural groups.
However, if we look at the intention of the bill, I would think the intention is to prohibit certain acts, such as forced marriage and polygamy. Maybe some of those are laudable goals, but then we have to open the legislation and read it and figure out if the intention would be met. It may be or may not be, but what are some of the unintended consequences, because that is equally important. We do not want to do things that we did not intend to do. There are many unintentional consequences in the bill that would actually victimize or re-victimize women, in particular, and children.
Some of the unintentional consequences are that we could criminalize the victims of polygamy. We could criminalize them, and that could lead to the deportation of children. Is that our intention? Is it our intention to criminalize victims? The bill could lead to the separation of families. It would further victimize women. I do not think those are intended consequences, but that is what the consequences of the bill would be.
Imagine being in the position of being forced into marriage. This is a woman who does not have control over her life, a woman who is a victim of family pressure, who is the victim of family control and community pressure and control. If we intend to end that practice, if we intend to help that woman, what would we do? We would think about sensible, reasonable policy responses. What is the policy response to end a practice like that? We would want to make it as easy as possible for women to come forward. We would get rid of all those barriers to prevent them from keeping it secret and to prevent these practices from going underground. We would want to make it as easy as possible for women to come forward and as easy as possible for friends or family members of that woman to come forward and go to the authorities.
If we are looking at a reasonable and sensible policy response, we would also want to reach out to certain communities to raise awareness of forced marriages, to reach out to service providers and government officials who might actually be called upon to assist in the prevention of forced marriages. That is a reasonable policy response. Let us make it easy for those government officials or those community leaders to come forward. A reasonable policy response would be to make it obvious that there are supports in place for these women if they do come forward and that we will help them. We do not want to make things worse, but we would with the bill, because it has so many unintended consequences.
The bill makes no provision to allow women who are conditional permanent residents to remain in Canada if their polygamist partner is deported, so why would they come forward? Why would they come forward, knowing they that they will be deported? UNICEF has talked about the fact that the bill would impose criminal sanctions against minors who attend or celebrate or help organize a forced marriage. It is incredible to think that they would be impacted with that kind of criminal record.
Because some of these penalties include criminalization, some women and children are not going to want to come forward. Why would they come forward when they would be at risk of seeing their parents end up with a criminal record, or their spouse, or other family members, people from their community? How do they come forward knowing that someone is going to be charged? They should be able to come forward to get out of a situation if that is what they need to do. However, this bill does not have any of those supports we are talking about. All it would do is drive these practices underground.
Imagine a women in a forced marriage. She is under the control of her family or her husband, and she is without a voice. She wants to leave, but if she does, she may be deported. I cannot imagine having to make that choice. Would I live with the violence and continue to live in that situation?
The parliamentary secretary spoke earlier about having travelled around the world and seeing terrible conditions in other countries, terrible situations for women. Is that what we are doing here, risking these women being sent back to those conditions? That is the risk they are going to take if they come forward. They could see their parents end up with a criminal record. What woman is going to come forward?
If we are looking at sensible, reasonable policy responses to this problem, I think it makes sense to look at what other countries are doing. Denmark, as members have probably heard, actually tried something along these lines. We should learn from their record and learn about what is happening.
In 2008, Denmark actually made it a criminal offence to force anyone to marry, but six years later, no one has been charged under this law. That is relevant.
Even more relevant, we have heard from the head of the National Organization for Women's Shelters. She thinks that not only has the law not had any impact on protecting young women from being forced into marriage but that it may have backfired and is actually driving the problem underground.
A reasonable policy response is to make it clear to women that we will be there to help them and we will support them, not that there will be criminal charges, not that there will be deportation.
We can look at other countries as well. I know that some of my colleagues have talked about the situation in the United Kingdom. If we are making legal changes, if we are looking to enact legal changes, we have to have those supports in place as well.
We have had testimony. We have had experts come forward to say that any legal challenge has to go hand in hand with more funding for women's organizations, which are really on the front lines providing services to isolated and stigmatized victims to help them navigate the criminal justice system and the civil justice system and to help them access safe housing and welfare support. All of those things are needed if we are going to enact legal changes.
Unfortunately, this bill is another example of a pattern of the Conservatives. They want desperately to have their tough-on-crime buttons they can wear: “We are tough on crime and we stand up for victims”. They love this narrative. They love the narrative so much that they do not actually care if they make it tougher for victims.
What is the pattern I am talking about? In 2012, we had new measures introduced to crack down on marriage fraud, including the requirement for a sponsored spouse to live with the sponsor for two years or face deportation and possible criminal charges. I remember that debate. I remember the fact that the NDP talked about this leaving women vulnerable to abuse. Why would women come forward when the law says that they have to stay with that person for two years or lose permanent residency? Why would they come forward?
We have seen private member's bills that talk about fact sponsorship or proxy sponsorship for marriages, but that is not about forced marriages. The people using that form of transmission are really refugees, by and large. By cutting off that access, we are limiting family reunification. That is an unintended consequence. We need to think long and hard about what these kinds of bills will do and the fact that they re-victimize victims.
I will finish up with the fact that I heard our Minister of National Defence, the former minister of citizenship, and multiculturalism, saying that sometimes we need to act with legislation.
Maybe during the question and answer period I will have the opportunity to list some of the legislation, because we have the legislation in place we need. The Criminal Code is fulsome. It does not have the unintended consequences we are talking about here. It gets to the root of the problem.
There is no way I can support this bill in good conscience.
- MPndpMar 12, 2015 11:20 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, private sector economists say that there is no excuse for delaying the budget. The Minister of Finance refuses to face the facts, but Canadian families do not have the luxury of avoiding reality, because they are facing record household debt and deteriorating job quality. They want their government to act, but the Conservatives voted against an NDP proposal to make good jobs a focus of the next budget.
When will the minister end his delay and when will he table a budget?
- MPndpMar 12, 2015 11:15 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, the foreign minister of Turkey stated that someone working for a foreign intelligence agency has been detained for attempting to assist three British schoolgirls in joining ISIS in Iraq.
Reports allege that the person being detained was working with Canada. We have heard the minister is aware of these reports. Is Canadian intelligence involved, and why are there persistent reports from the Turkish media on this?
- MPndpMar 12, 2015 7:15 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
With regard to the government’s efforts from January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2014, to promote Canadian energy exports: (a) what is the estimated dollar value of the government’s efforts and initiatives to support or expand Canadian energy exports (i) in Canada, (ii) in individual government diplomatic offices outside Canada, (iii) in other locations visited by government officials, designated contractors, consultants, or other individuals involved in supporting or expanding Canadian energy exports; (b) for the amounts mentioned in (a), what is the estimated dollar value, broken down by the type of energy directly concerned, namely, (i) direct exports of coal, (ii) oil (including, but not limited to, bitumen, condensate, and other petroleum products), (iii) natural gas, (iv) export or construction of infrastructure associated with fossil fuels or the export of energy generated from fossil fuels (e.g., pipelines or export terminals for liquefied natural gas), (v) export of technologies or services associated with fossil fuels or the energy generated from fossil fuels, (vi) export of energy generated from renewable sources (including, but not limited to, hydropower, solar power, wind power, biomass, and geothermal power), (vii) export or construction of infrastructure associated with energy generated from renewable sources (e.g., transmission lines to carry hydroelectric power), (viii) export of technologies or services associated with energy generated from renewable sources (e.g., solar module manufacturing technologies), (ix) export of infrastructure, technologies and services associated with energy conservation and energy efficiency (e.g., smart grids or more efficient industrial process design engineering), (x) other types of energy export support that do not correspond to the categories above (e.g., general energy export advice or activities to support the construction of a transmission line expected to carry electricity generated from multiple sources); (c) for the amounts mentioned in (a), what is the estimated dollar value, broken down by (i) location where costs were incurred, (ii) department or agency that incurred those costs; (d) what is the estimated dollar value of all government employee time used to support or expand Canadian energy exports, broken down by the following activities, (i) planning meetings and briefings, (ii) monitoring issues, (iii) preparing materials, (iv) offering logistical coordination, (v) planning visits by delegations, (vi) providing training, (vii) undertaking research, (viii) engaging with representatives, (ix) engaging in communications activities and preparing communications materials, (x) engaging with members of the public, (xi) meeting with stakeholders, (xii) any other uses of government employee or contractor time; (e) how much money has the government spent on the purchase of advertisements to support or expand energy exports, and how much government staff time was required to develop such advertisements, broken down by the types of energy export support enumerated in (b); (f) what contractor services, including advertising firms, government relations firms, legal firms, or other professional service providers, has the government retained to support or expand energy exports, broken down by the types of energy export support enumerated in (b); (g) what is the cost of all hospitality (including, but not limited to, food, catering, beverages, and location rentals) to support or expand Canadian energy exports, broken down by the types of energy export support enumerated in (b); (h) how much has been spent reimbursing travel and accommodation expenditures for (i) non-government employees, (ii) government employees, to support or expand Canada’s energy exports broken down by the types of energy export support enumerated in (b); and (i) what is the total estimated value of any other government efforts to promote Canadian energy exports, broken down by the types of energy export support enumerated in (b)?
- MPndpMar 10, 2015 11:55 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, it has been two weeks since the storm, yet CN Rail is still blaming weather for delays at the port of Halifax.
On Tuesday, the shipper Autoport suspended normal operations. Not only do hundreds of longshoremen rely on Autoport for their livelihoods, but millions worth of new vehicles are stranded, possibly for as long as three weeks.
This is not an isolated incident. An earlier delay by CN caused a huge backlog of cargo at Halifax's two main container terminals.
What is the government doing to fix these problems at the port of Halifax?
- MPndpMar 09, 2015 11:20 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the Conservatives have not been transparent about this mission from the start. Women and men of our armed forces, their families and all Canadians deserve to know the truth.
The mandate for this current mission is ending in just a few weeks. The decision about deploying our service people overseas is among the most important decisions that we make as parliamentarians. Therefore, could the government tell us when a debate and a vote on a mission extension will occur?
- MPndpMar 09, 2015 11:15 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, since the start of this mission in Iraq, the government has been hiding the truth from Canadians.
In the beginning, it talked about an air mission and training. Now we have discovered that our troops are on the front lines and being targeted by the enemy and that there have been Canadian casualties.
The Prime Minister must tell us the truth. How many Canadian soldiers are presently in a combat situation in Iraq?
- MPndpFeb 27, 2015 9:10 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
With regard to the operations of the Halifax Port Authority (HPA): (a) for each of the last five years, what amount of money was paid by the HPA in rebates to shipping lines or their agents, (i) in total, (ii) by shipping line or their agents, (iii) in each case, where these expenditures authorized by the HPA Board of directors; (b) for each of the last five years, (i) what amount of money was paid or received by the HPA in rebates to or from contractors or those holding leases with the HPA, (ii) in each case, were these expenditures authorized by the HPA Board of directors; (c) for each of the last ten years, what amount of money was paid by the HPA for legal services, (i) in total, (ii) by law firm; (d) during each of the last five years, has the chairman's law firm represented companies or individuals holding leases with the HPA or otherwise doing business with the HPA and, if so, which companies or individuals; (e) concerning the trip to the Far East by HPA representatives in November 2014, (i) which HPA representatives made this trip, (ii) what was the total cost for the trip for each HPA representative, (iii) how many days was each representative away on this trip, (iv) what was the purpose of this trip, (v) which cities did each representative visit on this trip, (vi) which company and government offices did each HPA representative visit on this trip, (vii) did any Nova Scotia companies or organizations travel with the HPA representatives and, if so, which ones; and (f) regarding the recent management takeover of the Provincial Port of Sheet Harbour by the HPA, (i) why are Posh Management Inc. and Sheet Harbour Management Group incorporated to do the management of the Port of Sheet Harbour, (ii) are the officers, directors and lawyers paid in addition to and separate from the HPA and, if so, how much in each case, (iii) who are the officers and directors of the Port of Sheet Harbour Management Group, (iv) how much in per diems and expenses are they paid in the case of each of the two companies?
- MPndpFeb 27, 2015 9:05 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, not too long ago my colleague from Beaches—East York introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-619, the climate change accountability act. Here I am holding in my hand a petition that many people have signed saying that they want to see this bill turned into law, that we need a climate change accountability act.
They also point out the fact that the government has done things like cancelled the eco-energy home retrofit program and that it continues to give subsidies to the oil and gas industry.
The petitioners are asking that we take action and pass this bill into law so we can start reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.
- MPndpFeb 27, 2015 8:20 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, a month ago when the Prime Minister launched Bill C-51 at a splashy event, he was asked about the lack of oversight in the bill. His response was that the legislative process is the “first and foremost critical aspect of parliamentary oversight” of these new powers. That is funny because the Conservatives have spent the past month trying to get around just that.
Why did the Prime Minister tell Canadians that he wanted a thorough review when the Conservative plan, all along, was to shut down debate?
- MPndpFeb 27, 2015 8:15 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, the government is trying to blame this crisis solely on indigenous men. That is shameful. Many of these women and girls met their fate in major cities. Some of the worst perpetrators were not aboriginal, including Robert Pickton.
From mayors, premiers, indigenous leaders, and concerned Canadians around the country from coast to coast to coast, we have heard the call for an inquiry into this heartbreaking tragedy. Instead of blaming indigenous communities, will the government finally commit to a national public inquiry?
- MPndpFeb 27, 2015 8:05 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, this Saturday, the Moncton Lumbersmacks take on the Rock Coast Rollers from Maine. This is a really big deal. Not only is roller derby the fastest growing women's sport in the world and not only are the Lumbersmacks the number one derby team in the Atlantic provinces, but this bout will make history as the first ever WFTDA sanctioned bout in Atlantic Canada.
Roller derby is about competition, strength and athletics, but it is also about community. I am a proud member of the Anchor City Rollers in Halifax, and ACR is thrilled to cheer on the success of our Lumbersmacks sisters. In the true spirit of community, the Smacks have players from New Brunswick, P.E.I., and Nova Scotia, including Anchor City's own star jammer and blocker, Smashy and Box Blocker.
As usual in derby, this is a community effort, bringing together multiple leagues, their tireless volunteers and their amazing fans. With big derby love from Halifax, from Anchor City and from the House of Commons, Lumbersmacks, vous l'avez. “You got this”.
- MPndpFeb 26, 2015 11:20 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, 1,200 indigenous women and girls are missing or have been murdered in Canada. Families of the victims are coming together today in Ottawa to prepare for tomorrow's national round table. They are looking for answers and they are looking for concrete coordinated action. So far, all they have heard are the same empty lines from the government.
Will the Prime Minister take the opportunity that is offered to him today? Will he listen to the families? Will he change his rhetoric and finally recognize the need for a national public inquiry?
- MPndpFeb 26, 2015 11:15 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, in 2010, the Conservatives committed to improving oversight of our national security agencies. They also promised a mechanism to ensure that the RCMP and CSIS are accountable and obey the law. That was over four years ago and the Conservatives have still done nothing.
How can they be trusted on Bill C-51 when they do not even keep their own promises?
- MPndpFeb 25, 2015 11:35 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, speaking of main estimates, Environment Canada's funding for climate change and clean air has been slashed by 20%. That is $32 million less for clean air.
To make things worse, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency was cut by a whopping 44%, scrapping support for aboriginal consultation on resource projects.
The environmental assessment process was bad enough and Canadians do not trust the government on the environment as it is, so why is it pursuing these cuts?
- MPndpFeb 20, 2015 8:15 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, the minister should listen to the advice of these former prime ministers and Supreme Court justices, because they warn that “...experience has shown that serious human rights abuses can occur in the name of maintaining national security”. They recognize that our current oversight regime is wholly inadequate. In fact, our oversight is so lacking that it is uniting former Liberal and Conservative prime ministers.
Why are Conservatives turning a deaf ear to such reasonable concerns?
- MPndpFeb 19, 2015 3:40 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood for his comments about some parliamentarians wanting to take this issue seriously. I would hope that more of us in this House would want to take this issue seriously, but I am pleased to hear that Liberals will be supporting the bill.
In 2011, a historic election for the NDP, we won a number of seats and became the official opposition for the first time in history. We were here for caucus meetings right after that election. My phone rang, and I knew it was Jack Layton calling me. He was calling around to people, asking them to serve in his shadow cabinet. He was asking us to shadow the Prime Minister's cabinet in different roles.
When my phone rang, he asked me if I would serve as the environment critic, and I was thrilled. I was thrilled because all I have ever wanted to work on are issues of justice. For me, justice is social justice, economic justice, and environmental justice.
I was really excited to work on this portfolio. When I was on the phone with him, I told Jack I wanted to meet with him and talk about my mandate. If I am working on the environment portfolio, what mandate should I serve under? He said we would have a lot of time to talk about that, but that I needed to understand that the most important issue facing us today is climate change, because climate change affects poverty, it affects security, it affects agriculture. It can create famine. It has the potential to affect everything, so everything one does has to be seen through that lens of climate change.
Jack and I never got to have that follow-up talk, but I took that mandate of applying the lens of climate change to everything I work on.
After his death, we had a leadership race. The member for Outremont is now the Leader of the Opposition. He asked me if I would keep this portfolio, and I said that I would, gladly, but under one condition: that I carry out that mandate of using the lens of climate change for everything I do. My leader, the member for Outremont said, “Of course, because that is all that matters here.”
So here we have the climate change accountability act, initially tabled by Jack Layton in the 39th Parliament, but unfortunately it did not make it through the Senate because we had an election, and that kills all legislation.
We reintroduced it in the 40th Parliament, because we in the NDP are plucky like that. We keep going at it. The bill passed all the stages in the House of Commons and then was voted down by an unelected and unaccountable Senate.
I was with Jack that evening, and I have never seen him angry like that. I have never seen him yell like that. He was very angry, and rightly so, because we were democratically elected members of the House and we had said that yes, we need to take action on climate change, we need to legislate these targets, we are working with the international community, we are working with environment organizations, and this is what we have to do—and the Senate voted it down.
It is now the 41st Parliament, and we have brought it back. I really want to thank and applaud my colleague, the member for Beaches—East York, for his commitment to climate change, his commitment to his constituents, and his commitment to our future. We all owe him for bringing this bill back after his election.
We are bringing it back, and if it fails, we will bring it back again. If it fails again, we will keep bringing it back, and if we have to form government to get the bill to pass, we will form government to get the bill to pass, because we are committed to legislating our targets.
How will we achieve these reductions? First, of course, we are going to legislate the targets, just as the bill says, and then we are going to act.
We are the only recognized party in the House of Commons that has committed to putting a price on carbon. Our preferred mechanism is cap and trade, as it was in the last election, but it is not just about a price on carbon. It is not about cap and trade or carbon tax or fee and dividend. These are little economic models, these mechanisms, and they work. We have seen them work around the world, but it is not just about a price on carbon.
I am really proud to be a member of the NDP, a social democratic party. Social democratic parties have a history of leading economic transformations. If we look to jurisdictions where there have been social democratic governments, they are frequently at the top when it comes to innovation. They are at the top of the list, and we can draw lessons from our history as social democrats to create the green transformation that we need here in Canada.
The key difference with the NDP's approach, a social democratic approach to environmental justice, is that the principles of equality and fairness, and the provision of social security are fundamental conditions for this type of transformation that I am talking about. That is the transformation we need in order to deal with climate change. These things are must-haves; they are not things that would be nice to have.
We have to build solidarity if we are to tackle climate change, and so we need to focus on capturing the benefits of a green energy economy. We need to make sure that people receive the benefits of energy efficiency services. We need to ensure that cities and our local communities can grab hold of the green technology sectors. It is that solidarity that I am talking about.
I heard the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment ask, what kind of wacky technology are we going to use to bring down these emissions. Well, how about the wacky technology of energy efficiency? The cheapest source of energy is the energy that we do not use.
I know it sounds wacky, but it is these energy efficiency programs. If we look at the old home energy retrofit program, it created jobs in every single community, from Nanaimo to Ecum Secum to Brantford, in every community. There would be two energy auditors and four home retrofitters. Those jobs were in all of our communities. That was our local economy. It also brought down our emissions. We saw the results from Environment Canada showing good reductions in emissions. It also put money in our pockets. We were well on our way to figuring out how to offer this to low-income Canadians as well, and we see those kinds of low-income programs at the provincial level.
This is what I am talking about when I say that building solidarity is key to fighting climate change. This is what I am talking about when I say that we need to look at the social, environmental, and economic aspects of justice.
The NDP is committed to investing in green technology and renewables. We are committed to things like loan guarantees to provinces and first nations who want to capture that exciting transition to the green energy economy. This is what we are all about.
As proof of that commitment, my colleague, the MP for Drummond, brought forward an energy efficiency motion. My colleague, the MP for Edmonton—Strathcona, understands the need for transformational change and developed a Canadian environmental bill of rights in which we would enshrine the right to live in a healthy environment. Can members imagine if we had that right as Canadians?
This is about real ideas that will work. This is about drawing on that social democratic history to lead that economic transformation to the green energy economy. This is about justice: environmental justice, social justice, and economic justice.
- MPndpFeb 19, 2015 1:35 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question, and it is a fair question. However, my answer is no. I do not actually see any benefits in the bill, because it is not actually a choice between our security and our rights. I think that is a false choice. The two are married hand in hand.
I look at the fact that CSIS was created out of problems with the RCMP's engagement in intelligence gathering. That intelligence gathering function was pulled out specifically so that the RCMP could do law enforcement and CSIS could do intelligence gathering.
Now we have the crossover effect happening backward. CSIS is actually getting powers that really do liken it to a law enforcement body. I do not think that is appropriate in the least.
- MPndpFeb 19, 2015 1:20 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to have shared my time with the member for Churchill. I was so pleased to be in the House of Commons when she brought forth the voices of aboriginal leaders speaking out against this bill. As she pointed out, we are the only recognized party in the House that is opposing this bill, and we should oppose it with everything we have, because it is a terrible bill.
I will pick up on the discussion around “unlawful”. That will be the crux of my remarks today, and very much through the lens of how this applies to aboriginal and environmental groups.
A lot hinges on that word “unlawful” in looking at activity that may undermine the security of Canada if there is an exclusion for unlawful activity. “Unlawful” does not just mean the Criminal Code of Canada; it could mean municipal permits or a wildcat strike. Therefore, this is dangerous legislation, because if there is a wildcat strike or an occupy movement—an occupation of town property, such as the camps that we saw set up—that activity, under the eyes of CSIS or the current government, could potentially undermine the security of Canada without the right municipal permit, and it could all of a sudden be scooped up into this anti-terrorism legislation. That is really the crux of my argument here today.
This is a big bill. It does require thoughtful analysis, and I have been reading through some of the analysis that has been done. These are not just words on the back of a napkin, or so we hope. Every single word here matters, so we really do need to look at the word “unlawful” and the implications it has for environmental and aboriginal groups.
There is one particular piece of writing by Craig Forcese, an associate professor of law at the University of Ottawa. He has written a book on national security law and maintains a blog where he posts updates because, as members know, our security laws are ever-changing, especially with the current government. Therefore, he posts responses as the law is evolving and has posted a very thorough analysis of Bill C-51 and the “unlawful” issue.
The particular post I was reading is called “Bill C-51: Does it Reach Protest and Civil Disobedience?” In it he looks specifically at whether the bill would allow the government to target protest and advocacy groups, and he points out that there is nothing in the bill that brands democratic protest movements as terrorists. He says we cannot reasonably make that assertion.
However, there is a lot in this bill that could wrap up democratic protest movements into the orbit of security concerns. He writes:
...under C-51, the government will be able to share internally (and potentially externally) a lot more information about things that “undermine the security of Canada”. That concept is defined extremely broadly -- more broadly than any other national security concept in Canadian law. Yes, it can reach the subject matter of many democratic protest movements.
That is the end of the quote by Professor Forcese.
He talks about this exclusion stipulating that the concept of undermining the security of Canada does not apply to “lawful” advocacy, protest, or artistic expression. As I said, this exclusion for lawful activity is really important. We can understand this exclusion a bit better when we look at our legislative history on anti-terrorism legislation and look at previous anti-terrorism pieces of legislation, because “lawful” means to be fully compliant with the law. We are not talking simply about compliance with criminal law; we are talking about full compliance with municipal and regulatory rules and labour laws, including those relating to strikes and protests.
Professor Forcese continues:
I am not making this up. This is exactly the same debate we had in 2001, with the original Antiterrorism Act. That Act introduced a definition of “terrorist activity”. For one aspect of that definition (serious interference with an essential service), there was an exclusion for “lawful” protest. Concern was expressed (widely) that this reference to “lawful” meant that wildcat strikes or protests without permits that implicated “essential services” might be branded “terrorist activity”.
And so the government dropped “lawful” as the precondition to protests.
That is the end of the quote.
That is important. The government actually took out the word “lawful” because of this concern. It might sound strange on its face, because one would think things should be lawful, but we go back to labour laws and municipal laws. It does not have to be criminal law.
In the old Anti-Terrorism Act in 2001, the word “lawful” was dropped because there is no real prospect that democratic protest movements would be terrorist activity and we could argue that the lawfulness distinction is not useful when looking at terrorist activity. However, what about when looking at actions that potentially undermine the security of Canada?
I am going to continue with something that Professor Forcese wrote:
Violating regulatory or municipal rules is bad. People should be fined, and possibly prosecuted. That's why we have police, and open, transparent courts, with due process and appeal rights.
But the question before Parliament now is whether peaceful democratic protest movements should be a security issue, handled covertly, when, e.g., they don't have the right municipal permits for their protests. And specifically, should such a movement fall within the ambit of the new “undermine” definition, or the expanded CSIS powers under the existing “threat” definition.
Given the experience in 2001 and the legal views expressed by the government of the day, we have to conclude that if the government continues to include the qualifier “lawful” in its exceptions, it does so with its eyes wide open. It really does mean to include, e.g., “illegal strike[s] that take as part of its form a demonstration on the streets—and this is an example that has been used by some in the trade union movement” within its “undermine the security of Canada” concept in the information sharing rules.
And it is comfortable with the idea that, if other elements of the “threat” definition are met...democratic protest movements with tactics that do not square in every way with even municipal law may properly be the subject of CSIS investigation and possibly even disruption.
I take no view on whether CSIS would ever have the resources or the complete lack of internal governance checks and balances to actually proceed in this manner. That is not my point. My point is this: when we craft national security law, we craft it to deter bad judgment. We do not craft it to be so sweeping and ambiguous that it must depend for its proper exercise in a democracy on perfect government judgment. Very few governments are perfect. And even if you think this one is, what about the next one?
What about the next government? More importantly, what about this one?
I read an article by journalist Shawn McCarthy in The Globe and Mail, who talked about the potential for this law to be used against legitimate peaceful dissenters, such as aboriginal groups and environmental groups. He quoted a public safety spokeswoman who said that Bill C-51 doesn't change the definition of what constitutes a threat to Canadian security and added that CSIS does not investigate lawful dissent.
Why is it, then, that we know through access to information requests obtained by Greenpeace that the RCMP has characterized environmental groups as the “anti-petroleum movement” and that the RCMP has labelled this movement as “a growing and violent threat to Canada's security”? It identifies a “highly organized and well-financed anti-Canada petroleum movement that consists of peaceful activists, militants and violent extremists who are opposed to society's reliance on fossil fuels”.
We go back to the overarching purpose of the bill, which is to turn our security intelligence agency essentially into a law enforcement body. We are taking the powers of the RCMP and giving them to our intelligence security agency. That is not why it was created, and if we think that the government of this day has the good judgment not to exercise or abuse this power, then we are very sorely mistaken.
- MPndpFeb 19, 2015 11:55 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, after years of drastic cuts to Parks Canada, now we need volunteers to keep the parks open. The Conservative government funds hand-picked trails and private clubs. Canada's national parks are forced to scale back or shut their gates for the winter, but a study by Canadian Parks Council shows that an $800-million investment in parks can create $5 billion in economic activity in our local communities. Those are local jobs.
Why is the government abandoning Canada's parks and squandering both the environmental and economic benefits?
- MPndpFeb 02, 2015 12:15 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and I thank him for his excellent work in bringing this motion forward. The fact that we are having this debate today, taking control of the House and dedicating it to fairness to Newfoundland and Labrador, speaks volumes.
Some people might say that Newfoundland and Labrador is small. It has seven MPs. The Conservatives have done their political calculations and they have figured out that they do not need Newfoundland and Labrador in order to win the election. Some people are cynical in that way.
However, I do not think that this is the case. I think that the Prime Minister takes delight in stuff like this, in breaking promises. I really do. We have seen broken promises, whether they were about child care or the Atlantic accord, over and over again. It is the Conservatives' modus operandi. It is really just about breaking promises and wanting to feel like the big man on campus. It is a bully mentality, and it is unfair. We expect more from the government.
- MPndpFeb 02, 2015 12:10 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, the member's question was about reneging on a deal. The Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador is saying it is very clear to him that we cannot trust this Prime Minister. That is what happens with the bait and switch we were talking about earlier: there can be no trust.
My colleague from Winnipeg North talked about how important it is that provinces and the federal government work together. He rightly brings up the first ministers meeting; I would bring up the Council of the Federation.
In 2010 premiers from every single province got together and had a news conference to announce that they wanted to engage in the bulk purchase of prescription drugs. With bulk purchasing they could save money, up to $1 billion a year. It was historic. They were all around the table.
What has happened on that issue? Nothing, because there is no leadership. Who is going to lead? Is it going to be Newfoundland or Ontario or Quebec? It should be the federal government, but the federal government is not there at the table. This is a perfect role that a federal government could and should play.
- MPndpFeb 02, 2015 11:40 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, a federal report reveals huge gaps in the handling of oil sands bitumen spills. Nobody, not the National Energy Board, Environment Canada, or Fisheries and Oceans, knows how to deal with a bitumen spill properly. In the Arctic, the problem is even worse. Yet, the Conservatives continue to pretend that nothing is wrong.
The Prime Minister has gutted environmental laws and cut funding to that very research. When will they stop cutting the research that would help us to deal with these spills?
- MPndpFeb 02, 2015 10:45 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, before I launch into the substance of the motion, I would like to take a moment to talk about the sponsor of the motion, the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl.
We met in 2010, before the last election. I was with the member for St. John's East, another strong and passionate advocate for Newfoundland and Labrador. We were in St. John's together attending round tables about different issues in the community. He was not yet the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl, but he was there as a member of the community attending these round tables. I was really impressed by how engaged he was with the community and the issues it was facing and how committed he was to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
As we all know, he was elected in 2011. I have had the pleasure of serving in the NDP caucus with him since then. He has also been the chair of the Atlantic caucus for the NDP, so I have got to know him quite well here on the Hill and know him to be a strong voice for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I have had a chance to visit both Newfoundland and Labrador with this member and am still impressed with his work in community and the way he works alongside the member for St. John's East, the way the two of them work together, to bring these important issues from the community to this place, to the House of Commons, because that is the point.
There are 308 of us across this country and we are supposed to bring these issues that our communities are facing to the House of Commons for Parliament to work on, no matter how uncomfortable the issues are.
Today, I am standing and debating another example of this member's work. It is a great motion that stands up for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I am proud to debate it as a Nova Scotian, because we do pay attention to what goes on around Atlantic Canada. We have been following this issue quite closely, because Nova Scotians are quite familiar with the levels of betrayal by the federal government as well. We do have experience with that.
Newfoundland and Labrador was promised a $400 million fishery fund by our federal government. That is not chump change but a a substantial amount of money for a transition, and now we see the Conservative government reneging on that deal, to the point where the Conservative Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Paul Davis, has said:
It really solidifies that you can't trust the federal government, you can't trust [the current Conservative] government.... We bargained in good faith. We believed we had an agreement in place, that we had a deal set.
Those are pretty strong words for a premier to come out and say against a government, against the federal government and against the Prime Minister. What is the solution? It is exactly in this motion. This is what the NDP is asking for: We want the federal government to live up to the commitments it has made, plain and simple. It is pretty simple, but pretty elegant, and I think only fair. We want the federal government to commit its share of the $400 million fisheries fund that would allow the development and renewal of the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is pretty straightforward.
In Atlantic Canada we do follow what is going on in different provinces. I read in the news in mid-January that Newfoundland and Labrador had suspended its support for CETA, the trade agreement, and all trade agreements currently being negotiated with the federal government. I wondered what these headlines meant. What was going on? I read the articles, and I saw that Newfoundland and Labrador's business minister, Darin King, had said:
The Federal Government's failure to honour the terms of this fund is jeopardizing CETA for all industries, economic sectors, and indeed all Canadian and European Union citizens.
There was another quote by him where he also talked about the failure to honour a deal. Those are strong words to say that a government is failing to honour a deal.
We go back to the premier's quote. He talked about how Newfoundland and Labrador had bargained in good faith with the federal government. Now we see that bargain is not being lived up to, that the federal government was not bargaining in good faith after all, because the terms of the agreement have been switched right before our very eyes.
The member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley talked about how, after the deal had been struck, the Conservative government started to crab walk. Perhaps that is a good metaphor for the issue of minimum processing requirements. Another one is the bait and switch, to say one thing and switch it out for something else. There are some good fisheries metaphors. Unfortunately, they are not very funny. It is not hard to believe that there has been a bait and switch or a crab walk because I find the Conservatives to be masters of the bait and switch.
There are other policies where we have seen this too. For example, they promised child care spaces. They ran on a platform where they would create child care spaces. How many have they created? They have created zero. It is not just the Conservatives. It is the Liberals too. They promised child care year after year they were in government. They had majorities, they had minorities, they had it all. How many child care spaces did they create? They did not live up to that promise either, did they?
Tom Walkom, a reporter for the Toronto Star, did a piece about child care, including the NDP's proposal for $15-a-day child care. The title of his article is “National child care—the promise that's never kept”. It is time for the government to start keeping its promises, like the promise of a cap and trade system to bring down our greenhouse gas emissions. Now Conservatives sit on the other side of the House and demonize a price on carbon. It is like this big, scary bogey monster that is under the bed, that is going to take everyone's money and eat their children, when it was actually part of their platform to have a cap and trade system.
They promised oil and gas regulations. New Democrats have been asking questions in the House about those, including where the regulations are. I have gotten answers from various ministers over the years that, “Hold your horses, we are trying to get it right. We are perfecting it”. Then this fall, the Prime Minister said it would be crazy to regulate the oil and gas sector. If that is not a crab walk or a bait and switch, I do not know what is.
Speaking of bait and switch, how about the change in the age of retirement from 65 to 67? I do not remember any discussion of that during the last election campaign. Usually if a party has a major policy announcement, it lays it out in a campaign document. It has a platform that it runs on and says to voters, “This is my offer to you and I ask you to accept that these are the things the party will do”. I do not remember that offer or the Conservatives saying, “And we're going to raise the age of retirement”. They did not campaign on that, and yet those years have been taken away.
As I said, people in Nova Scotia pay close attention to what is going on in Atlantic Canada. They share in each other's successes and in each other's struggles. This is just the latest struggle.
The member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl, who introduced this motion, set up a briefing for NDP members so we could better understand the issue, have our questions answered, and know exactly what was going on. He did a good job of spelling things out really clearly for us. I am proud to be able to stand here and say what the NDP is asking for.
We believe that a deal is a deal. We believe that the Conservatives made a promise to Newfoundland and Labrador and need to keep their word. New Democrats have been clear that we support signing a trade agreement with the European Union if it is a good deal for Canada. I do not know if that question has been answered yet. It is a huge document. I think there are 40 chapters to this trade deal. New Democrats are going over it and taking the time to get it right, but we know this one aspect, this broken deal with Newfoundland and Labrador, is unfair. It is not the deal that was struck. As the premier said, the province bargained in good faith and that is now being taken away.
We all know that the fishery supports good, middle-class jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador and that the government needs to protect those jobs and build a fishery of the future, not just leave it to chance. It is too important to be left to chance. Time and time again, the Liberals and Conservatives have gone to Newfoundland and Labrador, cap in hand, only to turn around and betray it once they got what they wanted from Newfoundland and Labrador. All Canadians deserve a government that respects ordinary Canadians. We deserve a government that will work with provinces to create jobs and get things done.
In the NDP briefing to try to understand this issue, it was unbelievable reading the headlines and thinking this was happening, but it really is. What went on is laid out.
We know the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has a long-standing system of minimum processing requirements. This is specifically designed to protect its fish processing industry. This system requires that a portion of the fish landed in Newfoundland and Labrador must be processed in this province. This makes good sense. It is creating and protecting jobs, good middle-class jobs, at home. However, it is potentially under threat when we are looking at trade agreements. We have seen some of the unexpected consequences of NAFTA. We want to ensure that does not happen when it comes to CETA as well, the European Union agreement.
The deal was that the EU asked for Newfoundland to lift its minimum processing requirements, the fund about which I talked. The federal government came forward and said that it would set a 70/30 federal-provincial cost formula to help with the transition of these fisheries workers, that this was only fair. It was actually called a “transition fund”.
Now the government is reneging on that, saying that damages have to be shown, which is unfair. This is not the deal that was struck. That is not a transition; that is damages. There is a big difference between laying out the money for a just transition for workers to transition versus having damages and coming in after the fact. That is more like a court system.
As my time is up, I am eager to answer questions.
- MPndpJan 28, 2015 11:55 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, last week a federal panel ruled that for tax purposes the Halifax Citadel was worth $41.2 million. Well, that is $37 million more than what the Minister of Public Works and Government Services proposed, and get this: she also argued that the Citadel site itself was worth $10.
This whole situation is absurd. Halifax has been waiting for decades. The Conservatives have stalled and delayed and made incredible claims and started expensive court battles.
Will the Minister of Public Works and Government Services finally give up the games and pay Halifax a fair price, the price it deserves?
- MPndpJan 26, 2015 12:15 pm | Nova Scotia, Halifax
With respect to the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) Conference of the Parties in March of 2013: (a) why has the government placed reservations on all species added to Appendix I or II of the Wild Animal and Plant Trade regulations from the meeting of the Conference of the Parties rather than adding them to Schedule I of Canada’s Wild Animal and Plant Trade Regulations; and (b) does the government intend to lift these reservations and fulfil its commitment to CITES and, if so, what is the timeline in which the government intends on lifting the reservations on all species given increased protection?
- MPndpJan 26, 2015 11:30 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives remain in denial, but job losses are mounting and the inequality gap between the privileged few and the middle class keeps on growing.
It is time to make the economy work for all Canadians. Instead, the government is taking billions away from hard-working families and giving it away to the wealthy few who do not need it.
Will the Conservatives finally admit their backward economic policies are failing the middle class?
- MPndpJan 26, 2015 11:25 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives can bury their heads in the sand, but they cannot hide from the fact that they have done such damage to our economy.
There have been 375,000 manufacturing jobs lost since 2006. There is a 13% youth unemployment rate. Family incomes are shrinking, and household debts have skyrocketed to 163% of disposable income.
Canadian families need help now, so why are the Conservatives making corporate giveaways a priority?
- MPndpDec 11, 2014 11:30 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, with regard to the sector-by-sector approach, oil and gas is the sector with the biggest GHG emissions, and there is no way for Canada to meet its obligations without regulating that sector.
The Prime Minister says he wants to align Canada's oil and gas rights with the U.S., but neither the minister nor the parliamentary secretary could say if he has proposed continent-wide regulations to the Americans. Therefore, I will ask again: what regulations has the government proposed to the United States?
- MPndpDec 10, 2014 11:25 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, he says on a continental basis, so this is a simple question.
Could the Prime Minister, or anyone over there on the government side, tell us the last time he spoke with President Barack Obama about creating harmonized oil and gas regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
- MPndpDec 10, 2014 11:20 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, it was the policy of the government until it was not and it was the policy of the government on Monday, until the Prime Minister said it was crazy.
In February 2013, the then minister of the environment said, “We are now well into, and very close to finalizing, regulations for the oil and gas sector”.
Could the Conservatives tell us if that was true, or were they deliberately misleading Canadians when they said that?
- MPndpDec 09, 2014 11:55 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, back in 2007, the Prime Minister promised in the House to “...bring in a national system of regulations for the control of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution”.
Now, as countries from around the world act, including the largest emitters act, such as China and the U.S., this Prime Minister and government are letting Canadians down.
Will the Prime Minister live up to his promise?
- MPndpDec 09, 2014 11:50 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, earlier in question period, the Prime Minister said that he would not regulate GHG emissions from the oil and gas sector.
Will the Prime Minister confirm that he is in fact breaking his promise to regulate the oil and gas sector?
- MPndpDec 09, 2014 11:30 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, the report shows that per capita our emissions are actually rising.
The UN Secretary-General, Environment Canada, in fact the whole planet knows that Canada is failing. yet the Minister of the Environment arrives in Lima with empty promises and more talking points. However, nobody is actually fooled here.
Ban Ki-moon has begged Canada to show more ambition and vision on the climate file. It is about global responsibility, not about domestic politics.
When will the government finally take climate change seriously?
- MPndpDec 08, 2014 11:20 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, today we learned that over 30 positions in the dangerous goods and rail safety divisions at Transport Canada have been vacant since 2009—just another thing that is down. This includes the manager of dangerous goods in the Quebec region.
With damning rail safety report following the tragedy in Lac-Mégantic, why did the minister not fill these vacancies as she promised?
- MPndpDec 08, 2014 11:15 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, contrary to what we were told by the Prime Minister last week, the Conservatives have cut front-line services for our veterans. Public servants who manage benefits, pensions and health care have been affected the most.
Why did the Prime Minister try to mislead this chamber?
- MPndpDec 03, 2014 11:35 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, just as the conference in Lima got under way, the minister made an 11th hour funding announcement for green climate finance. However, the problem is that the money was not in the budget or the estimates. Key important details like where the money would come from, how it would be spent, how it would be paid out and over how long a period of time were left out.
Could the minister confirm that this is new money, and that it will be paid out this year?
- MPndpDec 03, 2014 11:30 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, maybe the minister noticed, while reading the headlines in question period the other day, that our trading partners are moving on climate change and Canadians want action.
Her department, Environment Canada, says that the government is going to miss its targets, that the oil and gas sector has the largest emissions and it is going to continue to grow the fastest.
The world is watching. Will the minister announce, finally, oil and gas regulations?
- MPndpDec 02, 2014 11:35 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives promised oil and gas regulations, they promised to act if the U.S. acted, and they promised to reduce our emissions. The only thing that they are any good at is breaking promises. Now we are not even on side with the Obama administration and what it is doing.
The minister's own department admits that her 2020 targets will not be met by a long shot, so what exactly are the Conservatives going to offer in Lima?
- MPndpDec 02, 2014 11:30 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, in the real world the Conservatives have failed Canadians just when they needed help the most.
The Minister of the Environment and her Conservative government have failed to rise to the urgent challenge of fighting climate change. The world is gathering in Lima right now to move forward and set the stage for a global agreement on climate change that will be finalized next year in Paris.
Will the minister finally deliver on the government's long-promised oil and gas regulations, or is it happy to make Canada an international pariah?
- MPndpNov 27, 2014 11:45 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, domestic violence is not just an issue for workplaces. Half of the women and girls in Canada will face physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes. More needs to be done to support women who are trying to escape this violence—especially, first nation, Inuit, and Metis women, who face violence at catastrophic rates.
Will the government work with the NDP to create an action plan to end violence against women?
- MPndpNov 25, 2014 11:20 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives failed to act and they have failed our nation's veterans.
Now the Auditor General is reporting that:
....Veterans Affairs Canada is not adequately facilitating timely access to mental health services.
The Conservatives even failed to assess whether their mental health strategy was helping veterans at all.
Last year, the Leader of the Opposition asked the Prime Minister if he would make this a personal priority. Why has the Prime Minister failed to do so? Why have the Conservatives failed our veterans?
- MPndpNov 25, 2014 11:15 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's report is definitive. The Conservatives have failed to provide our veterans with speedy access to mental health care. In some cases, veterans wait up to eight months. The auditor says that is way too long, especially considering the number of veterans who have committed suicide.
How can the minister justify sending $1 billion back to the treasury and firing staff when there are such desperate needs?
- MPndpNov 25, 2014 9:10 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague's speech. We listen to the speeches and then write down ideas for questions, and the last sentence of his speech answered my question, so I guess this is more of a comment.
In the last sentence of the member's speech, he said that we could have found a solution, that we could have come up with something, that we could have found a solution. That is the thing that is most important to me: that we actually did try to find solutions.
First I need to say the legislation should not and does not speak to a change of land use. The legislation does not talk about tearing up farms.
However, if we go back to the international standard required for a park, to the definition of a “protected area” according to international standards, we find that conservation is to be identified as the first priority. What are we creating here? By the international standard, we are actually not creating a park.
We have had similar situations. This is not the first park. Yes, it is unique because it is urban, but it is not the only national park to compete with urbanization or infrastructure needs. Let us look at Banff National Park. There is a highway running through Banff. The CP railway runs through Banff. We figured it out.
I was going to ask the member whether he thinks we can find solutions to this as legislators, as drafters. I assume his answer is “yes”. That was a great speech.
- MPndpNov 25, 2014 8:50 am | Nova Scotia, Halifax
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. She did drill down to the issue of the existing protections that are stronger than what would happen with this national park if the lands are transferred. The proposed legislation would not meet or exceed the existing protections that are in place.
What else could we have done?
I think we did everything we could, but we have to think about what comes next. Therefore, I am excited about our solution, to bring forward a private member's bill that would spell out what the NDP would do for the park when we form government, how we would bring it up to a standard that is acceptable and protect ecological integrity while also protecting the other activities in the park.
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