- MPconOct 08, 2014 11:15 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, Canadians from coast to coast have much to be thankful for: a strong Canadian economy; a government committed to lowering taxes; increasing trade with our global partners; and much more. Last but not least, is the fact that the NHL is back.
After a long summer of watching our professional baseball team tease Canadian sports fans with hopes of making the playoffs, the Canadian Football League playoffs are just around the corner.
As Canadian hockey fans, we are ready to eat, sleep and breathe hockey, as we embark on the emotional roller coaster of following our favourite teams through every puck drop, penalty shot, goal scored, overtime and shootouts.
For all those who are supporting our Canadian teams, the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, here is hoping our teams have a great season.
- MPconOct 07, 2014 11:10 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, Canadians from coast to coast are being invited to celebrate and share their Pan Am spirit by taking part in the Toronto 2015 Pan Am torch relay.
This national event will be fuelled by hometown pride, with stops planned in five Canadian cities that have previously hosted major games. They include Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal, Halifax, and Vancouver as well as 130 communities across Ontario, including my hometown of Burlington. Three thousand torch bearers will proudly carry the flame and share the Pan Am spirit of the games during the 41-day journey toward lighting the caldron at our opening ceremony in Toronto.
I know this event will be an opportunity to showcase our diverse culture, accomplishments, vast geography, and proud history. Our government is proud to support the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games torch relay, and we encourage all Canadians to take part in this celebration.
I encourage those wishing to become torch bearers to check out the toronto2015.org website for all the details. Mr. Speaker, I have registered to be a torch bearer, and I hope you have too.
- MPconOct 01, 2014 2:40 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I will start with the second question first. If there are witnesses that any of the parties wanted to see but did not invite, it is their fault that they did not hear from them. If the Conservative Party did not desire to hear from telephone companies and did not put them on the list, they would not be invited. I do not recall any telephone companies being on the list to be invited. My recommendation to the committee is that if there are people or organizations that members want to see, get them on the list. If they are a priority, make them a priority. As a group, we will decide how many meetings to have, and it is usually based on how many witnesses we have. If there are only a few witnesses, there are fewer meetings.
With regard to Carol Todd, she did not want privacy rights trampled on, and I do not believe the bill tramples on any privacy rights.
- MPconOct 01, 2014 2:35 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague across the way. She does an excellent job on behalf of her party at committee.
It would not be wise for this committee or any committee to wait until the Supreme Court decides on the issue. I am not a lawyer, but if we look at the decision that was brought down, it defined activities of the police, but it did not change what was in the bill.
The wheels of justice move relatively slowly in this country. Getting legislation through the House moves slowly. Cyberbullying is one of those areas that is not moving slowly. It is progressing every single day. We needed to act, and we acted appropriately.
If in the future, after this is reviewed, if changes to legislation need to be made based on rulings from the Supreme Court, that can happen, but we should not have to wait until the Supreme Court has decided on everything. As elected officials, we decide here in the House.
- MPconOct 01, 2014 2:25 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak to Bill C-13.
I will put my speech aside, because I want to respond to the accusations just made by the member opposite. I am actually the chair of the justice committee, and as chair, part of my responsibility is to make sure that everyone gets a fair opportunity to be heard. I think members of the committee work very well together, to be perfectly honest.
The way it has worked and will continue to work at committee is that each party is able to submit the names of witnesses they would like to hear from. Based on the numbers we get, we ask members to prioritize who they would like to hear from, because time may run out.
If I recall correctly, there was no set time for this particular bill. If the committee did not hear from certain segments, it was because those witnesses were not recommended or brought forward. The committee did not call those witnesses not because the government was trying to do something inappropriate but because the witnesses were not asked for. The government cannot be blamed for not calling witnesses who were not asked for.
Conservatives had an opportunity to ask for witnesses. New Democrats asked for witnesses and the Liberals asked for witnesses. I take some offence that the member said this was not done appropriately. It was absolutely done appropriately. It was done in this committee in dealing with Bill C-13 and is done for all other legislation that comes to the committee.
I think the committee is operating well, and everyone has an opportunity to have their say. If parties, including my own, want to hear from witnesses, they can put them on the list. There will be a discussion as to how many meetings there will be on it, and then we will hear from those witnesses. That is how it has worked and will continue to work as long as I am in the chair. We will see if that continues.
I also want to respond to the issue of splitting this omnibus bill. I have the bill in front of me. It is in French and English, as all bills are. It is 53 pages long, plus 12 pages of explanatory notes. It is not a very big bill. If members can read it in both languages, that is great, but let us assume that most read in one language or the other. That would make it about 25 or 26 pages long. It did not need to be split, in my view. I think there is lots of opportunity to talk about all the issues. It is not a very difficult bill to grasp. I think someone could read it in a few hours.
There are a number of issues in the bill, but the process at committee did not limit members to talking about just certain parts of the bill. Members could have brought forward witnesses and we could have had a discussion, which we did, on all parts of that bill. I have to take some offence on the issue of what happened.
As we know, as the minister and the previous speaker on this side have pointed out, the bill would do a number of things, but in general, it would create a new offence for the distribution of non-consensual pictures on the Internet.
I did not know how big a problem it was, to be perfectly honest. I had not really experienced it in my office or had anyone come to see me. I took the opportunity to ask my daughters, who just graduated and are in university now. They were able to illustrate to me a number of actual cases, in their own high school, of young women who had had photos taken of them that were then posted on different people's sites as revenge or cyberbullying. This was a surprise to me.
That does not make the news. What makes the news is when it goes too far and the bullying is so egregious that someone, unfortunately, takes his or her life. Then it makes big news. This is a problem that is happening every day in every community across this country, so we needed to act.
There was mention of the previous legislation that was brought forward in Bill C-30, and appropriately so. The government recognized that there were some issues that needed to be dealt with, so we brought it back, took it off the table, and redid the bill.
We made changes based on the public and the response in this House in terms of the changes that needed to be made. I believe that those were made. Do we get credit as a government for making those changes? No, and the previous speaker criticized us, saying that we did not do it right in the first place.
I am sure that opposition members believe that they are perfect, and maybe even some of us think we are perfect on this side, but let us be honest. We had a bill in front of us, we recognized that there were some issues, we took it back, and we made changes and improvements. We addressed those problems and brought something back that we could all pass.
I am not sure what the NDP are doing. I heard from the last speaker that the Liberals are supporting the bill going forward, and I appreciate that.
I do not think as a government that we should be criticized for hearing the concerns and then making changes. I will agree that there were a number of amendments put forward, 30-some amendments, and one, on a review period, did pass, which I personally supported. I do not vote on the committee as the chair, but I do support that.
As we all know, it takes some time for legislation, especially with the Criminal Code, to get through the system, get in place, and get tested in practice. I think it will take some time before this piece of legislation is tested, and that length of time for the review is appropriate.
The other issue we heard a lot about was that the bill would give the police a lot more power than they already have. I think the issue on Bill C-30 was that it looked like the police could do things without a warrant. Well, this bill would clearly resolve that issue, in my view.
Bill C-13 clearly indicates that for preservation orders and for the police to be able to do their jobs in terms of attacking the problem of cyberbullying in particular cases, they need judicial support to move forward.
I think it is important to give the police those tools. In this electronic environment of the Internet, things move so fast, on or off, we need to be able to do that.
We experience that around here all the time. If a member of Parliament makes a mistake or does something on the Internet, and somebody catches it, a few hours later, if not less, it is gone. We have all experienced that in this House with members of Parliament doing things on electronic systems.
When it is a criminal activity, we need to have the police able to go after it quickly. We need to give them those tools to make that happen. I am very supportive of the opportunity for the police to be able to do their work.
We have been asked as a government to do something about the cyberbullying problem. This is not an easy area to legislate. We cannot legislate cyberbullying to stop. It is not that easy. I appreciate that we have looked at opportunities and issues in terms of addressing cyberbullying through our legal system, which is what this bill would do.
Bill C-13 would give the police better tools to track and trace telecommunications. It would streamline the process of obtaining multiple warrants so that the police could execute their jobs.
The witnesses we saw whose families were affected by cyberbullying were fully supportive of what we were doing. I want every member of this House to think about that. If it was their son or daughter whose photo was online and who was being bullied, would they want the police to be able to act to resolve the issue and have a penalty for cyberbullying? I believe the answer is yes, and it is yes for the vast majority of Canadians. That is why we need to support Bill C-13.
- MPconSep 30, 2014 12:45 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, absolutely, it does not take an M.B.A. to know that being there first in the marketplace, companies are going to be better off. They can get established with customers, and establish their products. They will be able to develop business relationships. That is what CETA will do for us. In my community, the vast majority of employers are at the 50- to 100-person level. I have done numerous plant tours and discussions. Almost all of them sell to Europe. This will help them to be more competitive and able to grow hopefully bigger than 100 employees.
- MPconSep 30, 2014 12:40 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, it is clear through this agreement, and others that we will be signing, about our relationship with the provinces. It is a mistake to consider that the federal government has a parental role with the provinces. They are well-established, independent governments and duly elected. This agreement and other agreements we have treat provinces as partners. As the agreement says in the section mentioned, we would work with our partners at the provincial level for them to enact the environmental protections that the member brought forward.
- MPconSep 30, 2014 12:30 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak this afternoon to the trade agreement that we have been able to establish with our friends from South Korea.
First of all, let me give my congratulations to the Minister of International Trade for making this happen. The minister has been very busy on the international trade files and meeting with a number of countries, including Korea and our recent announcement of CETA. He is working very hard on other issues in the Asian market, such as a bilateral agreement with Japan. There is also the TPP, the trans-Pacific partnership, which is a larger trade pact where countries from Asia and in the Pacific are working very hard to put together an appropriate free trade zone so that countries like Canada can take advantage of those large markets for our goods and services. Right now, due to trade barriers, we have an issue accessing them.
We have to remember that Canada only has about 33 million people. The trade partners that we are after are much larger than Canada. Their markets are much larger than Canada's. It only makes sense that Canada would be a trading country. It started as a trading country, and it should continue that.
I would like to congratulate, under the leadership of our Prime Minister, our foreign affairs advocates, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Industry and the Minister of International Trade, who all work together to try to promote opportunities for Canadian business in other areas of the world. We simply cannot survive on the Canadian market alone.
I have two stories that I would like to share. I am from Burlington, which is an urban riding. There is no one large employer. The largest employer in Burlington is a pork production facility. That is right. It is food processing. There are hogs that come in every day by the truckload and they are processed there. Its number one client in the past was South Korea, until South Korea signed a deal with the United States.
The deal had a significant impact on the ability of our Canadian companies, such as this one. It is owned by Canadians who own a number of food processing facilities across the country. They are the largest employer in Burlington, with about 800 or 600 people who work there now.
As a member of Parliament, the owners called me in. This was a number of years ago. They said that they were losing market share to their competitors because Canada was not at the table with a trade agreement with South Korea. This was not a secondary customer or a tertiary customer. South Korea was one of their primary customers. Some 90% of the product leaving this plant was for export, either to the United States or to Korea. The Korean deal with the United States had a major impact, not only on their bottom line but on our ability to maintain good-quality, high-paying jobs in Burlington.
With that information, I came back here and there was a discussion. I did what all of us on this side of the House would do. We are all free traders here on this side of the House. Being a Conservative means that we support free trade, and we make no apologies for that. We do not make excuses for that. We believe that free trade will create opportunities and employment for Canadians here at home for their products and services abroad, so I was very happy to find out that we were working hard on a South Korean deal and that things were progressing.
The largest employer within the boundaries of Burlington is this food production facility for pork production. However, in the riding next to me in Oakville is the head office for Ford Canada. I had a number of meetings with Ford Canada, which is an automotive producer with an excellent production facility here in Canada. The workers, bar none, are the best automotive workers available to Ford in North America.
Ford had some concerns about the South Korean deal. There was a tariff on the import of Korean vehicles of 6.1% or 6.2%. Ford was concerned that would give Korea somewhat of a market advantage. I was very clear with our friends at Ford, including the president for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect. I told the company that a Conservative government will continue to work on free trade agreements with key partners around the world because it is good for the overall economic business of this country. In my view, it is also good for Ford.
The automotive sector south of the border signed on to the deal. Things are a bit different south of the border. The tariff in the United States on Korean-made cars was slightly over 2%, which on a $30,000 car is not as significant as 6%. Ford felt the protective tariff that was there was not nearly as severe. However, tariffs on automobiles going into South Korea were around 8%. This deal will provide us with the opportunity to reduce tariffs on both sides. I have heard many times from previous questioners that there are non-tariff barriers to getting into those markets.
I have never been to South Korea but I have been to Japan numerous times. Based on the products that I have seen in Japan, we need to make vehicles that are designed for that marketplace to be successful and have access to that marketplace. North American manufacturers are getting there. They might be there already. It would be fair to say that before the recession, trucks and SUVs were not that popular in some Asian markets, including what I know of Japan.
That is why I wanted to talk about this today. We need to understand that our free trade agreement with South Korea is comprehensive. It will affect all marketplaces across this country. It will even affect small Burlington. It will have a huge impact on employment and our ability to trade.
Burlington has a close relationship with South Korea. A number of Canadians who fought for the freedom of South Korea live in Burlington. This past summer we unveiled a new naval monument on the lakefront to commemorate the activity of Canadian soldiers in the Korean War, particularly those in the navy. The HMCS Haida, which participated in that conflict, is in Hamilton. A lot of my constituents in Burlington served bravely for Canada in that conflict.
I am happy that we have been able to develop not only a diplomatic relationship with South Korea but a much closer economic relationship. I look forward to this trade agreement coming into force in the new year. It will benefit all communities across this country.
- MPconSep 29, 2014 9:30 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I want to follow-up.
As chair of a committee, we have orders of the day. We know exactly what is going to be discussed. In the House of Commons, we have orders of the day. It is in writing, what is going to be discussed.
It makes sense that the Speaker, or the chair, is able to rule someone out of order if they are not relevant to what is listed. Is the member advocating, based on that logic, that all questions to the cabinet and the Prime Minister would be in writing, 24 hours in advance, so that answers can be prepared?
People need to know that there is about 30 seconds to ask a question and about 35 seconds to respond. I think this place would operate better if everything was in writing. Speakers could then, in my view, rule whether an answer was relevant or not, if the questions were given in advance.
Is the NDP advocating for questions to be given in advance?
- MPconSep 29, 2014 8:40 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to stand here today and talk about why I support Bill S-211.
I want to challenge my colleague across the way. On the same weekend that he will be running the half marathon, I will be running a full marathon in Moncton. It will be my eighth marathon, and I am trying to do one in every province. I will have Newfoundland and Manitoba left to do after this. I have done the Bluenose already, so I know the member can do it, and I want to congratulate him on his effort.
In the few minutes I have here, I would like to talk about the 10 top reasons that I support Bill S-211, an act to establish a national day to promote health and fitness for all Canadians. It is a coincidence that I am borrowing the top 10 list from talk show host David Letterman, who went to Ball State University in Indiana. My daughter went there on an athletic scholarship, so there is a bit of a connection with respect to health and fitness and stealing his top 10 list.
I am excited that this legislation seems to have the full support of all members in the House and that in the near future the first Saturday of every June will be a national day to promote health and fitness for all Canadians.
Let me mention all 10 of the reasons that I support this legislation in case I do not have time to mention them all.
First of all, this bill is universal. It affects everyone.
Second, the bill aligns with a motion I put forward in the House on obesity, a motion that was unanimously passed.
Third, it brings awareness to the problem. Nobody can fix a problem if they do not know that there is one. A day promoting health and fitness would let people know about the problem. It would coordinate efforts to promote health and fitness across municipalities, provinces, and the whole country. It would help to provide opportunities to promote health and fitness.
A national day would provide an opportunity to celebrate the success of those who have made a difference and are making a difference in their own lives and the lives of their families, communities, provinces, and country.
As the mover of the motion has said, this is not all about elite or pro athletes, and I will come back to that.
As a practical point, health and fitness reduce health care costs, and those costs affect every taxpayer across this country.
A national day to promote health and fitness would be a national statement. It would be about our country and where we are going in this particular policy area.
I would like to say a few nice words about the supporters of the motion, both in the other place and in the House, but first I would like to talk about the universality of a national day to promote health and fitness.
Health and fitness affects everyone from eight to 80. In my own family, a number of my immediate relatives have lived past 90. Health and fitness play a significant role in the quality of their life, as well as in the quality of life for young people, middle-aged people, and seniors. significant role in the lives of our youth and seniors.
Quality of life has several aspects. Having the financial support to look after oneself is also important, but one area that is absolutely under the control of individuals is their own physical health. They can take advantage of all opportunities available to them to make sure they do what they can to stay as healthy and fit as possible.
As I mentioned, I had a motion in the House on obesity that passed a number of months ago. I used myself as an example. I was elected to the House of Commons eight and a half years ago, and it did not take long for me to gain 40 pounds. On the Hill there are a lot of receptions and other things that go on, and I became a little heavier than I should have.
As a result, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. There is no diabetes in my family, except for maybe my 95-year-old grandmother, and that onset came with age. There is no history of it in my family. It was obvious that physical fitness was one of the aspects that was missing, and proper and healthy eating was another part.
I have lost that 40 pounds. I have made a commitment to physical fitness, as I mentioned before. For me, it is running. I do not run because I love it, but because it helps me stay physically fit. I have a commitment to my family to stay physically fit, so I can be here when I am 96 to see my great-grandchildren. I have a grandmother who had great-great-grandchildren. I am hoping I am going to be one of those.
This motion brings awareness to the problem. I had not given it any thought prior to my own personal issues. I had very athletic, very active children. They went to volleyball, track and field, gymnastics, swimming. They were high performers. They worked out, sometimes for two different sports for three or four hours a day.
It was not that physical fitness was not around me, but I never considered it for myself. I did not think about it being a problem until it hit me at home.
A national day to promote health and fitness will bring that issue forward, at least on that first Saturday in June. It is an opportunity to make sure that we understand there is a problem, which was very well articulated by the mover of the motion. It would coordinate efforts and allow municipalities, provinces, and the country to have a focus. We can coordinate promotion and have the opportunity to talk about physical fitness and health on a particular day in the calendar year.
It has already happened in a lot of municipalities across this country. I hope it will continue, and that coordinated efforts will help bring that message to a higher level. Hopefully, that message gets through.
It does give opportunities to promote what is available to Canadians. It is not all about elite sports. There are lots of activities: walking, hiking, whatever the activity, as long as it is healthy.
In my area of Burlington, there are a tremendous amount of opportunities for a variety of different ways to get involved, to get active. This day will give organizations and individuals an opportunity to promote those opportunities.
We should be celebrating success. When communities, individuals, or organizations are doing a great thing on the physical fitness file, that day could be a day where we celebrate their success.
I have mentioned that I am one of those who watches pro sports on television. It is not all about being an elite athlete. I cannot outrun my daughter. I cannot outvolleyball them. I cannot outdo a lot of things they do. I may be a little smarter than them, but do not tell them that.
It is not about just sitting on the couch and watching; it is about participation. That is what is important. Being healthy simply reduces health care costs. If people can avoid going to the doctor and to the hospital, it reduces costs. It is not a hard message to understand; it is national in scope.
Finally, I want to thank the two key movers behind this motion: first, the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country—and I hope they change the name of that riding—for that member's efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle here on the Hill and throughout this country, and our national hero, Senator Nancy Greene Raine. She is a role model, and not just for physical fitness, but also for many women across the country. She has brought this bill to the forefront to have this day acclaimed in this country.
- MPconSep 29, 2014 8:20 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, my question is simple. This bill has had a bit of history. Often bills do not start in the Senate and come here.
Why is the history of this bill and how it got here important to its development and today's events?
- MPconSep 16, 2014 11:05 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, on August 4, parts of the city of Burlington received 191 millimetres of rain in just a few hours. This is almost double the amount of rain Hurricane Hazel dumped on the city many decades ago. Over 3,000 homes were flooded with either rainwater or sewage, including my own basement. Many of the victims of the flood had little or no insurance to cover this type of disaster.
The outreach by neighbours to those affected by the flood has been overwhelming. Their generous support has come in all forms, from food and clothing to toys for children; from financial donations at public events to opening homes for the use of laundry facilities.
We do live in a caring community, but there is more to do. The Burlington Community Foundation has set a goal of raising $2 million dollars to help flood victims in the most need. This fund may be matched by the Ontario disaster relief fund. I ask the residents of Burlington to continue to come together to support the BCF flood relief program.
I thank the residents of Burlington for the caring and compassion they have shown for their neighbours.
- MPconSep 16, 2014 7:55 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I believe if you seek it, you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, during the debate tonight pursuant to Standing Order 52, no quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair.
- MPconSep 15, 2014 12:30 pm | Ontario, Burlington
With regard to questions on the Order Paper numbers Q-1 through Q-253, what is the estimated cost of the government's response for each question?
- MPconSep 15, 2014 12:15 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in relation to Bill C-36, an act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts. The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report it back to the House with amendments presented by all parties of this House.
- MPconJun 18, 2014 11:15 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, summer is officially set to begin this weekend and Canadian athletes and communities cannot wait. This summer we will be looking forward to the great job Canadians will be doing hosting major national and international sporting events. I for one look forward to seeing the pride and excitement on the faces of our special Olympians who will be competing in Vancouver this August. I am sure the increase in funding from Special Olympics Canada announced in this year's budget will go a long way to help the 36,000 athletes and the 16,000 volunteers have the time of their lives.
The world's eyes are already focused on the World Cup. It will be Canada's turn this August as Toronto, Edmonton, Moncton, and Montreal host the under 20 Women's World Cup as a precursor to the Women's World Cup to be held across six Canadian cities in 2015. Speaking of 2015, members should not forget to celebrate the one year countdown for the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games across the GTA and the Golden Horseshoe.
For more information on how to volunteer, make sure to check out our website at Toronto2015.org.
- MPconJun 17, 2014 3:35 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, the premise of the question is that because an injection site, where people who take illegal drugs can get them legally, is in a defined location that this is safe and healthy. Since I am giving my personal opinion, I am not convinced that just because a spot has registered nurses or whomever to provide the clean needles, that the government of the day, whether it is municipal, provincial, or federal, should provide that site. Nobody disagrees that these are harmful substances for those who take them.
Personally I am not sure whether this is the right approach for any government to take.
- MPconJun 17, 2014 3:30 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, the important message is that with the legislation we are respecting what the Supreme Court has indicated. We believe that if these sites are to continue in different locations across the country, those communities in which the sites wish to operate have a responsibility to discuss their locations, debate them and understand what the needs of the community and those injection sites are. Where they are to be located should be accepted by the local communities in which they will exist, if they exist in the future.
- MPconJun 16, 2014 12:20 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Delegation of the Canada-Japan Inter-parliamentary Group, respecting its participation at the co-chair's annual visit to Japan held in Tokyo, Japan, April 7-12, 2013.
Also, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canada-China Legislative Association and the Canada-Japan Inter-parliamentary Group, respecting its participation at the 34th annual assembly of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, held in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, September 23, 2013.
- MPconJun 04, 2014 8:50 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I have been very honoured to be part of a juvenile diabetes caucus on the Hill. Part of that was to convince the minister and the government to provide money for research, which they did, for an artificial pancreas. We are getting very close in Canada to being able to develop that. We will be the first ones in the world to develop an artificial pancreas with help from research funding from the government to make that happen.
I am very proud of the government's support of juvenile diabetes and the research that needs to be done to make better lives for those who are suffering from that disease.
- MPconJun 04, 2014 8:45 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I have been very proactive with the veterans groups in my riding. For example, prior to Christmas, I met with the legion management and the legionnaires to talk about the changes that were needed in the new veterans charter. They gave me some feedback, and I provided it to the committee.
First of all, I would like to congratulate all members of that committee on all sides of the House for bringing a unanimous report forward on recommendations for changes to the new veterans charter.
Recently I had a meeting with veterans in my riding with almost 100 veterans. It was not last weekend, when I ran a marathon in Calgary, but the weekend before that. Some of them were from the United States. We have some U.S. veterans in a legion in my riding. Not one veteran came to see me and said that the federal government is not doing the right thing by veterans. We got support for everything we were doing to continue to work on that.
I rely on my constituents to tell me what we are doing right and wrong, and that is the feedback I got from the veterans in my riding.
- MPconJun 04, 2014 8:35 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, it is nice to have some levity at 11:45 p.m.
There are a number of things in it that are important to me. The basic fact that with the budget implementation bill is that we have made a commitment to Canadians that we will have a balanced budget and balanced books. There is not a lot of new spending in the bill. There are some changes to HST.
An example that is close to my heart is this. I have Type II diabetes, but fortunately I can manage it through diet and exercise. That is not the case for many Canadians and diabetes has a tremendous effect on the health and well-being of many Canadians. We have recognized that issue and I have a motion on obesity that was unanimously supported by the House. We recognize there are some medical needs in terms of guide dogs and assistance dogs for those with diabetes. There are a number of small items in the bill.
The core piece to the bill is that we want to get back to balanced books. I am asked all the time what I am hearing the most about. I do not hear a whole lot about trademark. I do not hear a lot about a number of very specific issues. I go to at least five events a weekend in my riding. I am fortunate to live in an urban area where it is relatively simple to get from one event to another. I am asked over and over again, why do we have a deficit? What is causing the deficit?
We talked about the recession and the work we have done in terms of investing to make sure Canada gets back to work so we have growth and employment in this country. I cannot run my business by spending more than I take in. In a business, it can be done for a short term, but eventually it has to make more money than is being spent. People cannot continue to borrow and borrow and never pay it back. They would be bankrupt. This country cannot afford to be bankrupt. We have an opportunity to get people back to work, which we have done. We have an opportunity through these budget processes to get back to balanced budgets and balanced books so that we can invest in other infrastructure projects and social services.
When I look at the pages in the legislative summary of the bill and the small changes in the HST, these are small changes. I am not running out on the street saying we are going to make big changes in the budget implementation bill. The big change we are making is that we have made a commitment to Canadians to get back to a balance so that we can afford the services that Canadians are asking the federal government to provide.
I know there are a number of issues that people may ask me about. I am happy to answer, but it is time to get on with the work of this place, to finish this debate, to vote on it, and to move on to other issues. We have a number of legislative items the House needs to deal with that have very significant importance including the new prostitution laws that were introduced today by the Minister of Justice. There are a number of things to deal with. Let us get this budget implementation bill passed and move on to the next item.
- MPconJun 04, 2014 12:05 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, today our government was proud to welcome our Olympic and Paralympic heroes into the House of Commons to acknowledge their efforts and to thank them for a job well done during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
After both Olympic and Paralympic teams placed third in the medal standings, can the Minister of State for Sport please tell the House how our investments helped Canadian athletes own the podium?
- MPconJun 02, 2014 8:20 pm | Ontario, Burlington
If you don't respect yourself, at least respect this place.
- MPconJun 02, 2014 8:15 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I found the member's speech very interesting as he is a member of the Liberal Party, which is the party that put almost all of the minimum sentences in the Criminal Code to begin with. Year after year, the Liberals would put minimum sentences. All of a sudden, they are holier than thou, and the whole Liberal Party is against mandatory minimums.
This bill would actually increase some mandatory minimums and maximums on sexual crimes against children. Is the member telling me tonight that the Liberal Party is against minimum sentences for criminals who have sexual intercourse with children, either live or through child pornography? I would like to know the answer from the Liberal Party.
- MPconJun 02, 2014 7:10 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, it is my honour, as the chair of the justice committee, to ask a question of the minister, who has been an excellent Minister of Justice. He has been very available to our committee to discuss a number of issues.
Regarding Bill C-26, if I understand from the discussion and reading the bill, its main focus is to ensure that sexual offences against children receive sentences that are appropriate, that we are increasing the mandatory minimum penalties and the maximum penalties for sexual offences against children. The bill would also impose, for the first time, consecutive sentences for consecutive crimes against children. It also includes child pornography and those who commit offences against children by using child pornography as their vehicle.
Could the minister tell the House why it is important to the general public that we have sentences that match the crime, particularly against children?
- MPconMay 29, 2014 11:05 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, today I would like to congratulate Burlington's 2013 Citizen of the Year, Ms. Jean Longfield.
Jean has positively impacted the lives of thousands of people through her Gift of Giving Back program.
Beginning in 2007, the annual food drive program has collected more than 770,000 pounds of food with a collective value of more than $1.9 million to help the less fortunate in Burlington. Through Jean's leadership, the Salvation Army, the Carpenter Hospice, Partnership West Food Bank, and Halton Women's Place have all benefited from her food drive.
Jean has inspired and engaged thousands of Burlington minor hockey players, students, and parents. Jean and her minor hockey food drive program were even featured this year on Hockey Night in Canada.
Congratulations to Jean Longfield, a great leader in our community and a great Canadian.
- MPconMay 27, 2014 2:00 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his question and the work he is doing as foreign affairs minister. He is doing a fantastic job.
The point the minister is making happened today, and I want to use today as the example. In my speech, I talked about Vanessa's law. During the question and answer period, even my friends in the Liberal Party asked the New Democratic speakers why they were not letting this go to a vote. They asked, if the New Democrats were supporting it going to committee, why were they not voting on it. They debated it until question period, and that stopped debate. We could have had that done hours before question period.
The next bill to be called was going to be Bill C-32, the victims bill of rights act, one that requires, in my view, a lot of discussion in the House, because we would be making a fundamentally different change in the Criminal Code and in the protection of victims in the criminal justice system. It requires a lot of discussion, and I believe there are a lot of members of Parliament who would like to speak to different parts of that bill. It is a significant bill and deserves that kind of attention, but no, we spent hours and hours on the bill for Vanessa's law, which is very important but agreed to by all sides. That is what is wrong with the system. That is why we are forced to have extended hours: to give members an opportunity to debate.
If we did things more efficiently and effectively around here, we would not need the types of motion we are seeing in front of us today.
- MPconMay 27, 2014 1:55 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I spoke to time allocation a number of weeks ago. I completely disagree with the member opposite from the Liberal Party.
Time allocation, even by definition, sets aside the amount of time. It does not limit debate. If we look at the number of hours, the number of speaking slots that have been provided through time allocation at second reading before bills go to committee and at third reading, we would find that there are hours and hours of discussion.
I would then challenge the members to look at the blues, to look at the transcripts of what is actually said. I think members would find that in many cases there is a repetitive message, over and over again, which is fair.
However, how many times do we have to hear the same thing before we move on and say, okay, we agree to disagree; or we agree, we understand the message, we understand the position? We do not need to hear it 308 times.
If we gave every single person in this place a speaking slot on every issue, we would get one bill done every four years. That would not be a good use of government time.
- MPconMay 27, 2014 1:40 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the time.
I want to speak about why it is important we do this. I have been here eight years. Every year we get a calendar printed in the fall that indicates with little stars the days we can have extended hours. Extended hours are not new. This year, I will admit, that we are doing extended hours about a week prior to when it normally would have happened. It is a normal process, a normal way of doing business in this House that I have experienced eight times.
My understanding is it was the process prior to that. In fact, there were years in the past when extended hours took place in the evenings throughout the year, not just at the end of the session. However, things have changed and this is a normal way of proceeding so we can get some of the work done we need to do.
We have added approximately 20 hours of opportunity for debate per week. That is 20 hours, so 40 members of Parliament could make 20-minute speeches with 10 minutes of questions and comments. Often people split their time. Technically we could get as many as 40 people of the 308, or whatever there is, of us at this particular time. There are byelections going. That would be 40 more opportunities to get up and say what the constituents we represent feel about a particular issue or about a particular bill.
We often get complaints that there is not enough time and that more members from whatever party in the opposition want to speak. This motion provides that opportunity for them to speak.
I would be the first to agree that likely at 11:30 p.m. there would not be a lot of people in the House. Some people would have said their piece and are not interested in talking about whatever issue is before the House, but there is opportunity for other members of Parliament to say their piece. That is what extended hours do. They provide opportunity for as many as 40 members a week. If we do it for three weeks, that is 120 more spots, so almost half the House would be able to speak in those extended hours.
That does not mean we are not meeting during the day, that we are still not opening at 10 and having debate all day long with a break for question period, routine proceedings, and private members' hour. All that opportunity is still there.
We are not limiting debate. We are increasing debate. It is important, in my view. We need to do this. When I go back to my constituency and tell the folks at the local riding association that we passed nine bills, people say to me, “That's it? What did you do the rest of the time?”
I did research on how many hours we spend on this. I think there is a better way of doing it more efficiently and effectively, and I may speak to that. We need to use our time efficiently and effectively to get changes made. Of the 18 bills that we have standing, a lot of them have not even got to committee yet, so all we need to do is move them on to committee.
Our committee right now is dealing with Bill C-13. We have had excellent panels come before us to talk about that bill. We have two more weeks of analyzing that bill, and I think it is an excellent demonstration of why it is important to get things out of the House. Each party has its say, a number of members put on the record their position and what they would like to see changed or why they support the bill, and then it goes to committee for a real discussion with debate. I think we should be doing that much faster, and maybe even providing more time for that at committee, but that does not work with the process we have here.
We are going to debate a private member's bill later tonight that talks about some changes in how we operate. It was brought forward by the member for Wellington—Halton Hills. There is some real opportunity for further change. Many of us spend hours and hours having staff members change our schedules because we have to get coverage for this and we are here and we have to give a speech at committee meetings, so we have to have someone cover us here. I do not know what it is like on the opposition benches, but I know what it is like on our side of the House.
There should be a review of how we operate here. Maybe we should have all our committee meetings in the morning with the House not sitting in the morning. Members would not be missing coverage or House duty because House duty would not start. Maybe we should do that. Maybe we should start debate on different items after question period. Maybe we should have all the votes after question period. I know this motion does that, but if we were a corporation we would not be operating this way. It is not efficient. It is not effective and it does not produce results as the smart people in the chamber could do.
My suggestion is that the House leaders from all sides look at why we need to bring the system of how we operate into the 20th century, maybe even the 21st century. It has been a traditional way of doing things. I think it is time to look at all those issues.
People will ask why we need to extend. As chair of the justice committee I will give one perfect example of why we need this time. The Minister of Justice introduced the victims bill of rights, a very important bill to the House. Tonight we will start debating that issue even further. In this case, there are many members of Parliament who would like to speak to the bill because it would make some fundamental changes to how we treat victims of crime in this country. It is appropriate that it is on the agenda for this evening and it gives us an opportunity for many more members to speak to it because we have extended the hours.
I would like to see the bill go to committee. It is still at second reading. I fully understand why so many members would like to speak to it. Extended hours provide that opportunity to do. Then I hope it will come to a vote before we rise for the summer. That would provide the justice committee with an opportunity to get ready over the summer for this very important bill, to make sure we invite the right number of witnesses. A relatively large list of people would like to come and talk on what could be improved, what they like about the bill. I do not know if people understand there are only nine weeks in the fall session between September until we leave at Christmastime. Nine weeks is not a lot of time. It does not provide much opportunity for members to speak to this fundamental bill.
We also will deal with Bill C-24 this week. Many members in the House would like to speak to strengthening the Citizenship Act. There are some fundamental changes in it. If we do not get it done and sent to committee before we leave, we basically will have to start over again in September. People now are engaged in the topic and understand what is going on. There is debate in the House and then the summer comes. Members go back and work in their ridings all summer and they have to get geared up again when they come back here.
I think it is important that we get that bill through, and there are a number of other bills. The opposition finance critic is at committee tonight dealing with the implementation bill, which is a significant bill. There is a lot of discussion about what is happening with that.
We need to be able to move forward, and there is nothing wrong with working late. I heard from the leader of the Green Party and the previous speaker. I do not think there is a lot of opposition to working late on these particular items because it does provide opportunity.
We have heard a little on who can bring forward certain motions, and the opposition is not happy about that. However, the whole concept of adding hours is to make the place a little more efficient and not bogged down with procedural motions, because that is what slows us down here.
There is a place for procedure. As chair of the justice committee, I understand that there needs to be procedure and it can move efficiently and effectively. Those rules are in place for a purpose, and I believe they have a role to play here, but we need to move forward.
There are nine bills, and to be frank about it, there are 18 bills still on the order paper from the government now. We have nine weeks in the fall and then we come to the last session before we break in 2015, and we know we will not be coming back before an election. We do not have a lot of time left from the government's perspective to get the legislation through the House, through the Senate, to royal assent, and into law. Once it becomes law, it then takes time to implement.
In Ontario, I talk to a grade 5 civics class and a grade 10 civics class. They ask how long it takes to get a law through. I am honest with them. I tell them that the reality is it takes at least a year. Some bills are a little faster than others, but in a normal process, from the start when a minister introduces it in the House to royal assent, it is approximately a year. Then, it depends on what kind of law it is, but let us say it is on the Criminal Code, it takes a while for it to get implemented. Also, there are often regulations in other areas that have to be added before it actually comes into force. It is a slow process to begin with.
With the process we have here, in my view, as a city councillor who advocated for the council to go from 17 to 7 for improved efficiency and effectiveness of the councillors, I think we can do a much better job here in the House of Commons for efficiency and effectiveness. We need to look at that in the future, but in the meantime, extended hours help us get our legislation through this House.
- MPconMay 27, 2014 1:35 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to Motion No. 10.
Part of the presentation that I was going to make was toward the end of my speech. However, based on the comment that was just made, I would like to bring it forward first. The comments were made by the critic for finance, the former opposition House leader, about how when we all agreed, we could not seem to get anything done.
I would like to use today as a perfect example of why we are doing this. Vanessa's law was being debated in the House. Every person in the House agrees with it, in all the speeches we have heard from the Liberals, from the official opposition and from our side. We wanted to bring it to a vote today. We wanted the debate to collapse so we could have the opportunity to vote on it after question period tomorrow, based on the rules we have.
What happened today is exactly the problem with this place. The New Democratic Party put up speaker after speaker saying the same thing. They all agreed that they were supportive of the bill. This bill is not at third reading. We are not yet making it law in the House and sending it to the Senate for it to review the bill and give it royal assent. This was just to send it to committee.
We have spent hours and hours on a bill that absolutely everyone in the House agrees with. The NDP members said that they were interested in going to committee because they may have some amendments, which is fair and we should have done that.
I was prepared, when the debate collapsed, to move that the vote would happen tomorrow. I sat ready to go in front of the Speaker at the time to make that happen, but there was speaker after speaker. Then they complain that we do not put enough people up. It is because we have said what we had to say on the Conservative side. We know where we stand and we want things to move along.
I checked my notes to see how far we had gone on government bills since we had taken office and since our last throne speech. We have passed, all the way through all stages and received royal assent on, nine bills. We are praising that we got nine through, but do members think the general public thinks that is a good use of our time and their taxpayer dollars, paying us to be here every day, saying the same thing over and over again? No.
There are items like Vanessa's law today that we could have passed quickly, got to committee and got back from committee. Even if there were amendments, we have report stage to deal with those. They come back for report stage. We deal with them. There is a debate and a discussion.
Let us face it. We call it debate, but it is mostly speeches and a short question and answer period after. That is really where there is some debate on our positions on the different issues.
Members cannot come to the House and claim that we are not doing enough and that we are delaying. In the same sentence, in the same presentation, those members complain about us using time allocation. They complain when we say that this is enough time on a particular item. Then they complain when we add more time for items to be discussed. They cannot have it both ways.
I know the New Democrats think they can have both ways. They think the taxpayer pays for everything and that everything is glorious. However, that is not the reality of the situation.
We have only passed nine bills into legislation. We have 18 government bills still on the order paper. We have 18 government bills that we want—
- MPconMay 26, 2014 12:05 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in relation to the study of the main estimates for 2014-15 and all of the votes that were assigned to our committee.
- MPconMay 26, 2014 9:40 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I am fortunate enough to be the chair of the justice committee. As members know, our government has a fairly extensive justice agenda. We are dealing with Bill C-13 at present. We have a number of other issues coming forward.
Could the House leader tell the House the effect that the extended hours would have in helping us proceed with our very important justice agenda?
- MPconMay 12, 2014 1:05 pm | Ontario, Burlington
The amendments or the member?
- MPconMay 05, 2014 12:55 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I do get it, contrary to the hon. member's question. If the police came to me and asked me who I called and what I said to them, I would be happy to provide it for them voluntarily because I have nothing to hide. I am not sure whether that would happen with my colleague from the other side.
On the voluntary piece, I have no issue with that. However, I do understand that once we get into that, it is important that people have the right to privacy, to say, “No. If you want to see who I've talked to and what we've talked about, if you want to see what websites I'm looking at and the information that I'm passing back and forth using the Internet, yes, you do need, if that's your decision, a warrant to get that information”. That is what is still and continues to be protected under the law.
- MPconMay 05, 2014 12:40 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I want to first of all thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for sharing her time today. She gave an excellent speech on this topic and it is an honour for me to speak to this issue. I appreciate the New Democratic Party using its supply day that provides opposition parties an opportunity in every session a number of days to put forward any items they would like for discussion.
Frankly, in the past some of the topics that have been brought forward on supply days I thought were very much a waste of important time that the opposition is allotted. However, in this case it is important. It is in the news. It is something that has been happening in terms of information that is out there and it is important for us to have a debate on this and discuss what the facts are in this case and going forward.
There is an important balance required between privacy and the ability of law enforcement, in particular, to be able to do their jobs. The Conservatives have has put in around 30 measures since we have taken office to improve issues with privacy and access to information regarding this and it is always important to have a balance.
There have been a few misconceptions propagated in the press or in the House and connections with what was in the newspaper and Bill S-4 in the Senate that talks about PIPEDA and a number of other areas, but I want to focus on what is in front of us today. The main question is what type of information our law enforcement and intelligence agencies are requesting from telecommunications service providers.
The vast majority of those investigations were agencies requesting voluntary co-operation. Before we go any further, it is voluntary co-operation. They ask and the service providers provide. They are not providing all the content of what an individual may be using or looking at through their IPS or service provider, whether it is a cellphone or the Internet, but they are providing basic address information such as name and address.
A simple example would be this. The police could look in the phone book. They know where I live. I know who is on my street. I have lived there for 16 years. Police might come to my door and ask if so-and-so lives next door. I have to say “yes”. I voluntarily provide that information and that is basically what has been asked for. I do not give the police permission to go into my neighbour's mailbox, open their mail, and read their mail. That is not the permission we are providing and that is being accessed here.
I would not expect the police or anyone else to be able to go into my mailbox in my house. I am happy for them to come to my door to find me. I think that is information that has been out there for many moons, but they are not entitled to go into my mailbox and read my mail. They can if they get a warrant through the judicial system that allows that to happen. That is exactly what is happening here.
The world is changing. In the late eighties, early nineties, I worked for a company and I had what was called a car phone. It was on a post attached to the floor of my car. At that time, there were few of us who had them, but times have changed. Now 21 million Canadians have access to a cellphone, they are texting and it is a different type of communication. There is no reason why we, as the government or the police force or intelligence agency, should not be able to keep up with the times. How are we going to do our jobs if we do not keep up with the times?
Many of my constituents think that government is always behind the times, and some days here I actually agree with them.
However, it is not about the content of this information that is voluntarily being provided. If a company decides that it does not wish to provide it on a voluntary basis, then the police force, intelligence agency, or whoever is asking for it, is required to go and get a warrant or whatever legal document they need through the legal system to be able to have access to that information. I have no particular issue with this. Does any of this information require a warrant? Not if it is voluntarily provided.
I would say that if there is any further detail about exactly what somebody is accessing through their email, who they are emailing and all of that larger data, even as it is grouped, is not allowed. One needs a warrant for that particular information. Megadata is not covered in the voluntary aspect of those requests and they would still need a warrant.
I think members will find that the information that has been asked for and voluntarily provided is very simple address information. The parliamentary secretary indicated a number of uses for that information, and I think that is appropriate.
I can say that if I had a loved one who was missing or recently found and officials were able to contact me because they were able to find, through who they were dealing with, my phone number so they could let me know that they had found this individual, I would be very happy for the police to do that.
I had my home broken into a number of years ago and we had some property stolen. We voluntarily provided the police information to contact us if they were able to find some of our stolen goods. In fact, the police did. They found it at a pawn shop and they contacted us. They were also able to track down the individual who was in our home and prosecute the individual for the crime against us.
This is the kind of information that is now available and required. It is address information that happens to be in an electronic format. It is not on paper any more. It is not a phone book on paper, but in an electronic format, and officials are able to use that.
The justice committee that I chair is presently looking at a cyberbullying bill, Bill C-13. We are just embarking on that study and as of tomorrow we will hear from victims of cyberbullying. We will also hear from police forces and agencies that protect children. I will be interested to find out how they feel about basic address information being provided to law enforcement organizations to help prevent this kind of abuse and tragedy that happens to our young people throughout the country.
I have great faith and trust in our law enforcement agencies, as I think all of us do in this House. I am confident that our law enforcement agencies are following the law that is on the books presently. They are gathering information that they are entitled to, which is given voluntarily to help them solve crimes. For information that is deeper and more informative that they need, they will get the proper legal documentation, whether that is a warrant or other devices available to them. I have confidence in our system.
I have confidence in our law enforcement agencies. I believe it is important to balance the issues of privacy and protection of the public. I believe our law enforcement and intelligence agencies do an excellent job for Canadians.
- MPconApr 29, 2014 5:00 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Chair, that is one of the issues we will be facing in the near future. The issue of a famine is real in South Sudan. It will not be just us, but all partners will have to look at it if the food security issue does worsen over the next number of months due to the crisis.
Let us hope the crisis comes to an end and we are able to provide other opportunities for self-sufficiency. However, if not, it is a fair question to ask the House and the agency whether we need to do more in South Sudan based on the circumstances of the day. The circumstances at present are that Canada is doing at least its share, if not more, of assistance to South Sudan in terms of food security. However, as we know in other parts of the world, as circumstances change due diligence has to be done by this government and governments around the world to make good decisions on what is right for that community, that country and the development of the world.
- MPconApr 29, 2014 4:55 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Chair, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development does a fantastic job in her responsibilities in that area and has a true understanding of some of the issues that face other countries around the world in her position.
I believe the point that the parliamentary secretary was making is this. For Canada and other NGOs, it is not all about sending money or sending food that is developed here or in other parts of the world and hoping it gets to the right people. As we know, there are difficulties in ensuring aid gets directly to those who actually need it.
The point is that we in this country, as do other countries, have tremendous expertise in making individuals, organizations, families and communities more self-sufficient, so they are able to provide for themselves. On the food security side, there is no better agriculture knowledge than what we have in Canada and we need to take that knowledge and expertise and apply it to those who really need it in other countries so they can become self-sufficient, rely on themselves, and reduce their dependency on the generosity of other nations to help them develop their own democracy and self-worth as a country.
- MPconApr 29, 2014 4:50 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Chair, before I answer the question, as a member of Parliament from a relatively affluent community of Burlington, I have been told, in terms of grocery sales, that we are one of the top per capita in the country. We have a tremendous amount of food and it is hard for me and people from my riding to understand the actual needs of other countries, including South Sudan.
I use what is happening in Africa, in South Sudan, as an example when I am asked by constituents why we send aid around the world when we have our own issues here. My point to them is that they have no idea what life is really like in other parts of the world and Canada has a responsibility to be there, in this case, as I indicated in my speech, with humanitarian aid and food security.
To the point of my colleague, Canada cannot do it alone. We need our partners from around the world, whether they are NGOs or other countries, to understand and deliver what is really needed on the ground so people have food security and other basic needs, so they can progress, make a difference and develop a new country. The other issues take a back seat to famine and health when there is no help. That is why we are helping and why we as a government have been encouraging others, and are going to continue to encourage others, to help the people from South Sudan.
- MPconApr 29, 2014 4:40 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Chairman, I am honoured to have this opportunity to address food security in South Sudan and what Canada is doing to help get food to those who need it most. I want to speak to both the immediate humanitarian need for food and why food security and agriculture are the most viable long-term solutions to poverty and poor nutrition and a potential linchpin for the economy of South Sudan.
As some members may recall, South Sudan first gained independence on July 9, 2011, six months after the South Sudanese overwhelmingly voted in favour of seceding from Sudan through a peaceful referendum. However, this forced an uneasy peace in a country whose people were more familiar with responding to violence than with building stable futures for themselves and their children.
Improving food security is an important key to building a better and more peaceful future in the wake of the damage and destruction inflicted by 22 years of civil war, which claimed an estimated two million lives and left four million people without homes.
In December 2013, South Sudan was plunged into crisis yet again, this time as the result of ethnic and political tension within the new country. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that since December 2013, the conflict has forced more than one million people from their homes, including more than 800,000 people within South Sudan. An estimated 250,000 people have fled to the neighbouring countries of Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
At the time South Sudan separated from Sudan, its oil potential offered the prospect of a prosperous economic future that would benefit all, including the poor. However, too much dependence on oil for government revenues has proven to be a problem and the source of many tensions with neighbouring Sudan. For over a year, South Sudan ceased oil production, with severe consequences for the economy, including inflation.
Let me say what the people of South Sudan are up against. First, South Sudan is a new country, where the majority are young people. More than 70% of the population is under the age of 30. Their lives are a constant battle for survival in the face of impossible odds. The country has some of the worst development and humanitarian indicators in the world, with 90% of the country, nearly 11 million people, living below the national poverty line. Almost half of South Sudanese do not have enough to eat, and nearly a quarter of the population relies on food aid. This year, up to seven million people are likely to experience some form of food insecurity because of this crisis. Half the population does not have access to clean drinking water.
A majority of the country's people live in rural areas, and most households depend on small-scale crop farming or animal husbandry as their main sources of income. South Sudan's small-scale farmers lack access to credit and land because of the absence of laws on property rights and land tenure, which keeps them from expanding their production. Women, who provide most of the labour in agricultural production, are doubly disadvantaged because of gender inequality.
Although a remarkable 90% of the land in the country is suitable for farming, less than 5% of it is cultivated. In fact, South Sudan imports half of its food from neighbouring countries, chiefly Kenya and Uganda. Nevertheless, South Sudan has made significant development advances since the civil war between Sudan and South Sudan ended.
Over the last five years, food production has increased by 22%. Just before the conflict broke out in December 2013, national food security was the best it had been in over five years. These are some of the reasons the government of South Sudan is looking to agriculture to help it turn things around. The agriculture sector is still South Sudan's best option for economic growth and diversification. In the meantime, humanitarian assistance will continue to be needed and may increase because of the armed conflict, which has affected the normal planting season.
While Canada is concerned with the worsening humanitarian situation in South Sudan, we remain committed to South Sudan's development as a new country. Most of our development initiatives in South Sudan are ongoing, even though we certainly have had to adopt some of these because of the current conflict. In our programs in South Sudan, Canada's approach tries to balance humanitarian assistance for the immediate situation with the long-term development programs that focus primarily on food security and agriculture.
For maternal, newborn and child health, as well as advancing democracy, Canada is among the top bilateral donors to that country. In 2012-13, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development provided a total of $84.9 million to South Sudan for development and humanitarian assistance.
Our main focus in food security includes building smallholder farms to meet immediate food security needs as well as initiating market access to improve livelihoods. Canada has particular expertise to offer in year-round farming of fruits, vegetables, as well as in the fisheries. All of these could help to bridge the current gap between growing seasons and feed the farmers as well as the rest of the population throughout the year.
At present, we are working through UN agencies such as the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as well as Canadian NGOs like the Canadian Red Cross.
Through these organizations, Canada is supporting farmer training and providing agricultural supplies such as seeds and tools to communities so they can plant basic crops to boost food production, a dire need in the current crisis.
We are achieving good results. For example, support to the Canadian Red Cross has increased food production for 14,000 individuals in the eastern part of the state. One woman the project helped was recently awarded the title of “best farmer” in her state. We are really changing individual lives through Canadian assistance.
Despite these gains, food shortages and the displacement of more than one million people have placed South Sudan at risk of famine this year. To address this situation, on April 1, Canada announced funding of nearly $25 million to address humanitarian needs arising from the current conflict. This funding is being used to help meet food, shelter, emergency medical care, safe drinking water and sanitation facilities and the protection of the most vulnerable people, especially refugees and displaced people.
In addition, Canada announced new funding of $51.5 million to support food production and develop livelihoods, so South Sudanese could continue to produce food and work toward self-sufficiency. This will also make farmers more resilient in times of crisis. This funding includes support to both displaced populations and their host communities to help avert a potential famine as a result of the crisis.
It is hard for Canadians with all our highways to imagine, but South Sudan has only 300 kilometres of paved roads in the entire country. Through the World Food Programme's efforts, Canada is helping to build 140 kilometres of roads that will ease delivery of humanitarian assistance and help bring agricultural goods from farms to markets.
The WFP's activities will also build irrigation networks and food storage facilities, as well as meet the immediate food needs of up to 450,000 people through a food for work program. Already, Canadian support has helped WFP to reach 56,940 people through this program.
Our support will improve fisheries through the United Nations Industrial Development Organization's five-year program, which will help fish folk living along the Nile River, especially women, to increase their harvest and improve their livelihood.
Overall, Canada's food security projects are helping to diversify and increase the production of nutritious foods and expand agricultural opportunities in one of the poorest countries on earth. Although there are risks, the risk of doing nothing is even greater.
Through these investments, we are helping South Sudan to make the transition from aid dependence to self-sufficiency in the long term, while meeting the urgent food needs of the people of South Sudan.
- MPconApr 29, 2014 7:05 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls for the creation of an ombudsman for the mining industry in Canada.
- MPconApr 28, 2014 2:55 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I had to read about what transmission data is. It is the information that the Internet provider has. The police can go and say it is not allowed to delete the information. We have that in Ontario legislation, but I think the Liberals did it anyway. The information has to be put on hold. The police do not have access to it. They have to go and get a warrant to get access to it, but it prevents the Internet provider from actually deleting it.
As we know, bits and bytes are pretty easy to delete. We want to keep them for the police to do their proper and proactive investigations.
- MPconApr 28, 2014 2:45 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, it is my honour and pleasure to speak in the House to Bill C-13, from a couple of perspectives.
As the chair of the justice committee, I am looking forward to the discussion and debate we will have with the many witnesses who come forward on this important bill. Because of the issue of cyberbullying, the Government of Canada, and all of us, recognize the importance of Bill C-13 and taking a proactive approach on this.
However, before I get into that, I will admit that I did not know much about the aspects of cyberbullying. Therefore, over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to talk to my daughters, who are 23 and 24, one of whom has just graduated from university. The other one is still in university, which is not that far away from high school.
We live in a relatively affluent community. There is no denying that Burlington is relatively affluent. I asked them what they knew about cyberbullying in their high school or this community. To my surprise, both of my daughters indicated there were two incidents within their own high school. Young women were photographed without their consent, in what I will describe as compromising situations, and those images were distributed throughout the high school. It did not result in the kind of tragedy that we have had elsewhere in Canada; however, it was an absolute form of bullying that I was not even aware of.
This issue, which we all agree is an issue, does affect all areas of Canada. There is no economic disparity in terms of lower-income people being more apt to experience higher aspects of cyberbullying than higher-income communities. It affects everyone. That is why this bill is important and needs to be comprehensive.
I know we have heard a few discussions from the other side about there being a motion to deal with a strategy. Strategies are great for collecting dust. From our perspective, we need action. This bill takes action.
We heard that there was a private member's bill from the opposition on a specific portion of cyberbullying, which is accurate. However, I think we have, in a more appropriate way, taken a more comprehensive approach to attacking this issue and applying the laws of the land to it.
I have not heard anyone say that this is not a complicated issue. Once in a while it has been said that there is a simple answer. There is no simple answer. What we are doing today will not end cyberbullying. I do not think that anyone is declaring a victory over cyberbullying.
However, these are the tools we need to attack this problem. We need to make it a criminal offence. We need to give police and the judiciary the tools to enforce this law. We need it so that when we do catch these individuals who are spreading inappropriate, non-consensual photos of youth, which is the example I will use because we are familiar with it—although it can happen at all ages, and the bill does not apply just to youth but to everyone—the country will have the tools to say that it is a criminal offence, something that we will not tolerate, and they will face a consequence for doing it. In addition, we will provide the police with the ability to do investigations, to collect evidence to sustain a criminal offence in terms of prosecution through the court system.
My hope is that as we attack this problem through the police, the judicial system, and our criminal court system, and that as those who are committing these crimes are found guilty, it will be a wake-up call to end cyberbullying. It is a process that will not happen overnight, but it is one that we need to start.
I want to talk for a few minutes about some of the myths we have heard regarding this bill. In one of the earlier speeches, someone said we are making the stealing of cable signals illegal. Guess what? Stealing cable is already illegal. People are not allowed to take cable without paying for it. That is already in the Criminal Code. All the bill does is to improve the wording, to capture that activity and the new ways of telecommunications and cable providing Internet services. That is what the bill would do. Stealing cable signals is illegal. Everyone in the House should know that and should not be questioning why it is in the bill.
A big myth about the bill is that it incorporates the controversial elements of Bill C-30, which rightfully was withdrawn by our government, in response to two things. One was regarding some activity that could take place that would not require a warrant. It was clearly in the bill, and it is not in Bill C-13. Every activity requires a warrant. That was the reaction we had, and we went through the bill and changed the process to reflect what we heard from the public and the opposition parties.
We should be congratulated on that, but that is not what happens around here. That is part of the problem with the House. When a government listens to the opposition and the public and makes a change, it should be congratulated and not criticized for making that change. That is not what happens around here. The government was told that it was not competent to know that in the first place, so it was criticized for making a change. Why bother making a change? In this case, making the change was the right thing to do, and that is why we did it.
There was another piece in Bill C-30 that dealt with the framework by which a provider of Internet services would have to have something so that we could monitor the traffic, basically. We got rid of that piece. It is not in the current bill, and that was part of what we heard in terms of a response to Bill C-13.
I have heard from the opposition members not to be reactive, to be proactive. This is exactly what Bill C-13 does. It is proactive activity that the police are able to undertake so they can do their job, so we can bring criminals who are attacking our young people to justice. Being proactive is exactly what Bill C-13 does.
The third issue we heard about is that this is an omnibus bill. We agree with making it a criminal offence, which is excellent, and everyone should agree with that. However, there are other parts in the bill that actually implement the criminal offence, that allow the police and the judicial system to charge folks, investigate, bring them to court, and bring them to justice, to end this horrific crime that is mostly done against young people.
We need Bill C-13. I am looking forward to the committee stage. It is my understanding that we have a tremendous number of witnesses to talk about the different issues. That is where the debate will really happen, in terms of witnesses telling us what could be better. We will have a discussion among the members of Parliament, ask good questions, and we will get the best bill we can to help protect the young people of this country.
- MPconApr 28, 2014 2:40 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his excellent speech on Bill C-13. We have heard a few times today from opposition members about splitting the bill, and it was part of a previous question.
We seem to have agreement among the parties that first, the bill is going to go to committee, which is excellent; and that second, making cyberbullying a criminal offence is important. However, there seems to be a discussion about whether we give the police and the legal system the tools to actually enforce that criminal offence.
Can the member talk about why it is important that the bill have both? Not just identify and create a criminal offence for cyberbullying but also give police and other law enforcement and judicial systems the ability to enforce the new criminal law.
- MPconApr 28, 2014 1:50 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I agree that prevention is an issue we need to continue to look at in all aspects of our justice legislation. It is easier to prevent something from happening than waiting until it happens. I have no qualms with that approach.
I do not understand why the New Democrats want to split the bill. They are okay with making cyberbullying a criminal offence. It seems fair to them and something they can support. However, they do not seem to want to support the aspects to enforce a criminal offence. We cannot have a criminal offence and attack the issue that makes it an offence, that allows that criminal activity to occur.
I do not understand why the New Democrats want to split up that part. Do they just want cyberbullying to be an offence on paper with no real effect?
- MPconApr 28, 2014 1:40 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his speech on Bill C-13. I would remind my colleague that the New Democratic justice critic, the member for Gatineau, in her opening speech, wanted the bill to get to committee for a complete examination. I would like to quote from that member's speech:
I think the minister wants as many members as possible to support his bill. I therefore hope that he will be open to allowing us to study this aspect carefully. We will have some serious arguments to make in committee about these aspects of the bill.
My point is this. I think this is our third or fourth day of debate and I think there may be one more day of debate on this item. Then we need to get it to committee, because my understanding is that a tremendous number of people want to come to speak to it.
Would the member tell us why it is important for us to get the bill to committee to be studied as soon as possible?
- MPconApr 28, 2014 1:25 pm | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I have heard discussion, a few times, about splitting the bill. I am the chair of the justice committee, and it has done a very good job, in my view, of listening to witnesses, and suggestions and amendments by the opposition, on a number of items. There were amendments accepted from the opposition. A Liberal member sat in the last time the committee did a review and accepted amendments from the other side and was in a bit of shock that this was the kind of co-operation that happens at committee.
What I do not understand is why opposition members would want to split the bill up. Do you not have confidence in the committee system and your own members being able to bring forward amendments at the time they are discussed and debated at committee? Based on those who have requested to appear at committee, I think there is going to be a fairly long and extensive review of this bill.
- MPconApr 10, 2014 10:50 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that the process is simple. Amendments do not happen on the floor of the House. They happen at committee. The committee is active right now on this bill. There is opportunity for both the official opposition and the third party to bring amendments at committee. It is not a study. It is legislation. They can bring amendments when they go clause by clause. The committee is hearing, from my understanding, a tremendous number of witnesses who have been invited by all sides to talk about what is good and what needs to be improved. The minister would never, in this House, stand up in the middle of the debate happening at committee and move amendments or make any changes. That is what committees are for. That is why they are there. That is why they should be doing their job and working at committee.
- MPconApr 10, 2014 10:45 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that the motion is about procedure. I know the members are highlighting two areas of procedure they would like to change.
However, on the fair elections act, since the members asked, I want to point out that there have been more than 40 speakers to second reading; 40 speakers from all sides have had an opportunity to speak to it. As we have seen every night in the news and on television, a very proactive committee has met numerous times, inviting numerous guests and witnesses to the committee. We are hearing about it every day. The Senate, for example, is pre-studying the item.
The process is working. The Liberal members may not like the legislation, or parts of it, but through the process at committee they can move amendments. They can do whatever they wish. The process works.
That piece of legislation that is being highlighted here today will also come back to this House for more discussion and more debate. I think that is the appropriate way. We have allocated the right amount of time for it. There has been a lot of discussion on it, and that will continue. That is the appropriate way to deal with legislation.
- MPconApr 10, 2014 10:20 am | Ontario, Burlington
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak today. Just so my colleague across the way understands, when we get back to this fine institution in a couple of weeks, as a backbench member of the government I will be voting against the motion that is in front of us.
I have done a bit of research and have thought about the motion here in front of us. I basically broke down my presentation into two or three different areas, and hopefully I can get to them all.
First, so the public understands, let me talk about what is happening today.
Today is a supply day. Supply days were a creation of the Liberal government in 1968. They have been around for a long time. Previous to that time, the estimates, the actual allocating of money, was all dealt with in the House. It took up a tremendous amount of time. There was no time, or very little time, for creating legislation. The Liberal government of the day, in conjunction with the opposition members, came to the conclusion that things could be done more efficiently and effectively by allocating 25 days of the year to supply.
This means that the opposition parties can bring forward any motion that they would like on any topic that they would like. I am just guessing, but I think the vision of the day was that opposition parties would be able to bring a non-confidence motion forward and either criticize the government's policies or programs or maybe even present an alternative. That was the fundamental reason for supply days to begin with, and that is what we are doing here today.
I find it a bit strange that the Liberals are using this valuable time in this way. Because the Liberal Party is now in third place, it gets fewer days. Because the days are allocated by the size of the opposition, obviously the official opposition would get more days than the Liberal Party, and today the Liberals are using one of their two spring supply days to talk about process. I thought that was very strange, but I am happy to talk about process if that is what they want to talk about.
I thought maybe they wanted to define “middle class”. In part of my research, I was looking up “middle class”. The leader of the third party has been talking about the middle class quite a bit, so he must know a lot about it. His father was the prime minister of Canada and his upbringing was not really in the middle class, but I thought maybe it was his grandfather who instilled the middle class piece in him.
I looked in The Canadian Encyclopedia. I know my family and the vast majority of Canadian families are not mentioned in the The Canadian Encyclopedia, but the Trudeau family is. I found out that the former prime minister's father, the grandfather of the present leader of the Liberal Party, was listed there as being a wealthy businessman from Quebec and part of the elite even back in that generation.
I find it very strange that the Liberals are using today to talk about process. Maybe it is because they would have a difficult time talking about what they would like to accomplish, because they really have not indicated a whole lot to Canadians about what they want to do.
This brings to me to the actual motion, which is about time allocation.
The Liberals have chosen two specific areas to talk about in relation to time allocation. I want to make clear that what they are talking about is time allocation. Let me go through the three ways that it can happen.
There is a difference between closure and time allocation. Time allocation is allocating the amount of time in this House to deal with whatever the item happens to be. It makes it much easier and more convenient for us to determine how many speakers we have, when we will do it, and what days we will allocate to speaking on whatever item. It is purely organizational.
There are three ways that I know of that time allocation can happen.
First of all, the public should know that the House leaders from each party meet. They discuss the agenda, or the orders of the day as we call it here, such as, what is going to happen in the House, when things are coming forward, and how much time will be put to them.
It is my understanding that in the past the number one way of allocating time was by agreement between House leaders. For example, a House leader would agree to put up 20 speakers and another House leader would agree to 5 speakers. There would be an agreement on how much time is spent on a particular item. That is how it has happened in the past and it can happen in the future.
Then, when there is agreement, members would come back to the House. The House leaders go back to their whips and organizations, in our case the parliamentary secretary in charge of that area, and they would organize the speakers from our side who would speak to a particular item. The same thing happens with other parties and their critics.
A second way of allocating time is to have an agreement with the majority of the parties in the House. There are three recognized parties in the House, and two of the three can come together to figure out what we want to do. Technically they can allocate the time for whatever the discussion will be on a particular area.
The third way to allocate time is unfortunately what we have had to come to, but it is completely legal and fair. It is that the government of the day can allocate the time. That is not closure; it is not saying that we are not debating something.
I spoke earlier this week when we were debating our budget implementation bill. I was the 69th speaker, and there was going to be a speaker after me. There were 70 speakers at second reading, and five days were allocated to the debate in second reading.
The bill then goes to committee. If there are amendments at committee, it comes back here to report stage, which I did not know about until I got here. That was not mentioned much in the political science books that I read in university. However, there is a report stage. Again, there is an allocation, which may be done through the House leader on the government side or through a negotiation and discussion at the House leaders meeting. However, there is an allocation of time to debate the item, based on the amendments.
As members know, there could be a lot of amendments. The Speaker could group amendments together and we could then have debate on single sets of amendments. It is not just amendments in total, but on single sets. That could go on for a lengthy period of time. The bill then comes back for third reading. Third reading in this House has another time allocation piece to it.
Unfortunately, what is happening is that we are not able to get agreement from the other side on allocations, so the House leader on our side has to tell the House how much time will be allocated. There is always a 30-minute discussion on the government's allocation of time.
On the budget implementation bill, for example, we allocated five days to it. People can say that five days is not a lot. However, I did a little research on this, and I want people to understand the agenda in terms of the length of time that we are here.
In this calendar year, we will be sitting for 27 weeks in Ottawa, doing Canada's work. We all do plenty of work in our ridings, of course, but this is work on legislation that comes to the House. I then took all of the days that we have in a week and broke it down.
I do not know if people understand this, but there are 20-minute time slots for the speech and 10 minutes for questions and answer. Technically, one could split one's time. Today we have 20-minute slots, but to maximize the amount, it could be 10-minute speeches with a 5-minute question and answer period.
For example, on Monday, we are in the House from 11:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. We have to remove an hour for private members' business and an hour for question period. There are a lot of other things that eat into the time, but I am being judicious in saying that those two things automatically happen. There is also routine procedures and so on, which is another 15 minutes or so. In actual fact, we have about five hours and fifteen minutes on Monday, which is about 21 slots, if we split the time slots.
On Tuesdays there are six hours and fifteen minutes for discussion. That is 25 slots. On Wednesdays it is only a couple of hours, at two hours and fifteen minutes of actual time, which is nine slots. That time gets eaten up with trading over. On Thursdays we are back to the same as Tuesday, with 25 slots. On Fridays we have two hours and fifteen minutes, the same as Wednesday, with another nine slots.
If everything went absolutely smoothly and there were no interruptions or points of order and we went right to the minute and moved along, that is maybe 89 or 87 spots in a week.
I heard a few minutes ago that members of Parliament get elected here to talk about the items. Can members imagine if all members, all 308 of us, were required to speak to every item? We have about 88 spots a week. We are here about 27 weeks of the year. We then have supply days thrown in. We have other items. We have voting. If everything was as smooth as glass, based on my math, we would get maybe two pieces of legislation through every year.
That is not including the budget and the budget implementation bills, because in a sense those are automatics. We have a budget presented by the finance minister. There is debate and discussion on it. Then there are also two budget implementation bills, one in the fall and one in the spring, and time is allocated for debating those bills as well.
My estimate is that if we followed the rule or the expectation that all 308 of us would get a chance to speak to every item, we would get through a maximum of two pieces of legislation in the House.
That is not including committees. The public should know that. As I was saying this week, I was the 69th speaker at second reading. The bill then goes to committee. At committee, members of Parliament hear witnesses and get involved in debate and discussion about the legislation in front of us. The bill then comes back here for the report stage and third reading.
In my view, if there was no such thing as time allocation, as members of Parliament we would get virtually nothing done. I am not sure that the public of Canada is sending us to Ottawa to do absolutely nothing. The public expects some legislation to be passed.
The public expects discussion to take place, and there is discussion. There are speeches from both sides, from one side or the other, and there are often areas of concern or interest. On our side, normally we promoting. On the opposition side, members are often taking exception. Those discussions will happen.
People will notice that comments are often repeated over and over again. We do the same thing on our side. I am not saying that it is a one-sided thing. We repeat the same thing, or something very close to it. I know that the rules of this place are that we cannot say the exact same thing as somebody else. I do not really use speeches, as members can tell by my standing here. I have some notes, but I do not have actual speeches.
What I am saying is that time allocation does not stop debate. It assists debate. It allows fair discussion on the issues, and the limited time that the House has to deal with legislation requires time allocation.
We are being criticized, partially in this motion, over time allocation as if it had never existed before and as if it were something new that we had come up with. As far as I know, time allocation has been part of the process here forever, because it would not make sense to do otherwise.
Stanley Knowles, a New Democrat member of Parliament many decades ago, has been quoted as saying that it is important to have time allocation, that it is important that we have an understanding of how much time we are going to spend on a particular item and move forward to make decisions on whether we are going to support or oppose something.
The Liberal motion today tries to focus on two specific types of bills. In my view, they have done that because they know very well that time allocation is an important process around here, and they are using these two items for political reasons, not for practical reasons of improving how this place operates. We have a reform bill by one of my colleagues here before us. But in my view, if we really want reform of this place, and we know how little time we have to debate different issues, and given the scheduling that we have to arrange between committees, and so on, I think there are better ways to operate the House of Commons. I have made some suggestions on the number of committees, the timing of committees, and how much time we allocate for House time. We could be much more efficient than we are, strictly from a business perspective.
My concern is that when we hear the opposition say they did not have time to debate it, if we look at the actual speeches they make, they are repetitive and clearly not supporting the actual legislation in front of the House. That is fair. That is their job, to be in opposition. However, they should be able to make their points and then move on. That is not what is happening.
Time allocation and closure are two different things. Closure is a motion invoked when a piece of legislation is required by a certain time, whether it is in other statutes, or a Supreme Court decision has been granted on a certain item and the House has to report back by a certain date. If we check the records, closure is rarely used.
Another item I have heard about recently, aside from the debate on the fair elections act, is omnibus bills. The opposition are concerned about the size of bills, and they will quote big numbers. This week they were quoting it as 489 pages long. I agree that the particular piece we were dealing with this week is 489 pages long, but it is in both English and French, so it is actually about 250 pages. The fair elections act is not even that long, but it is in two languages.
If, say, we have to read a couple hundred pages, I am pretty sure that most Canadians believe that members of Parliament can read a couple of hundred pages. Additionally, what is also great about the way the system works here is that despite the fact legislation arrives before us in legalese, there are summary pages at the front of every piece of legislation highlighting what is important and what each section does.
What happens is that I, as a member of Parliament, read through the summaries and look through the parts of the legislation that are of concern or interest. If there is something I do not understand, I read it in more detail. Then I have an opportunity to talk to the minister. That opportunity is open to every member of Parliament. They normally have a session with a briefing that anyone can attend, including staff. They are briefed at the bureaucratic level on what is in a bill so they will have an understanding of it.
With the amount of time we have, which I am running out of now, I do not think we should support the motion. Time allocation is getting a bad name because people do not understand what it is used for and how it works. It is something that makes the House operate. If we were to ask people on my street, they would believe we are way too slow in getting legislation through the House.
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