Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by congratulating and thanking my friend and colleague from Brome—Missisquoi. His work on this bill shows that he is an ardent defender of his constituents' interests. As an educator and an MP, he is in regular contact with the members of his community and he understands that the people he represents are concerned about our environment.
The hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi also stands up for the interests of all Canadians. This initiative not only benefits his constituents, but all of us.
I would like to congratulate him on taking this initiative and introducing a well-thought-out and carefully crafted bill in the House of Commons. He began an important debate in the House on the type of government that we want and what we expect from our government.
We must always take into account the impact that our decisions could have on future generations. Bill C-481 serves to remind us that we cannot be shortsighted when it comes to environmental issues. We are responsible for ensuring that any bill introduced in the House meets the needs of today without compromising those of the future.
As my colleague explained, this bill will ensure that we remain committed to the Federal Sustainable Development Act, which was passed unanimously by the House in 2008.
It is a very simple idea and something that all Canadians expect from their government. If we pass a law that says that we support sustainable development, then all of our laws will be in line with those principles.
My colleague from Brome—Missisquoi's idea is beautiful in its simplicity.
Not only would the bill put sustainable development at the forefront of all federal government decision-making, it would integrate sustainable development principles with the policy-making process itself. It would guarantee that all government decisions were in line with the principles of sustainable development that we all seemed so committed to just five years ago.
Bill C-481 does this by reinforcing legislation that already exists. It turns our current strategy for sustainable development into an effective strategy. Unfortunately, the Conservative government does not share my priorities on the environment or, I think, the priorities of a majority of Canadians, for that matter.
The Conservatives have spoken several times about the importance they give to the Federal Sustainable Development Act. Past ministers of the environment, and by now there is quite a roster, have said that the act ensures that the federal decision-making process on matters of the environment is done in a transparent and coherent manner. However, while Conservatives like to mention the Federal Sustainable Development Act, they are all talk and no action.
The government has not been interested in the principles of the act, but it does like to use it as a talking point to distract Canadians from its dismal record in promoting sustainable development and from its failure to act on the environment. Much like Conservatives like to use the word “conservation” without acting or to talk about their missing-in-action oil and gas regulations, it is all about drawing attention away from their failure on these issues. As I have said in the House before, what we need is less rhetoric and more meaningful, forward-looking action.
In the past few years, because of this inaction, we have seen a regression. We are actually moving backward. The Conservative government has been systematically dismantling environmental protection laws and has been using the least transparent methods available. For proof of that, we do not have to go back too far, just to 2012, when the government's infamous omnibus budget bills, Bill C-38 and Bill C-45, were passed, two of the most destructive pieces of legislation I have ever encountered.
The government has consistently disregarded the principles of sustainable development by using omnibus legislation to weaken environmental protections and by passing that legislation without proper examination or debate. Gutting the Fisheries Act, ransacking the Navigable Waters Protection Act, muzzling scientists, completely obliterating the national round table on the environment and the economy, and continuing to subsidize the oil and gas industry with $1.3 billion a year does not sound like sustainable development to me. Neither does denying the science behind climate change, wilfully ignoring the effects of global warming, or failing miserably to meet low emissions targets that we committed to in international climate negotiations.
What else does not sound sustainable? Since coming into power in 2006, the Conservatives have cut Canada's targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 90%. That is not sustainable; it is actually irresponsible. Our actions now mean we are burdening Canadians who will come after us.
The Federal Sustainable Development Act was supposed to signal a change in how the government makes responsible and environmentally conscious decisions on behalf of Canadians. However, it has been five years since this legislation came into effect, and the government has failed to make this crucial transformation.
Implementing an effective sustainable development strategy is an attainable and necessary goal. It is about time that we respect the commitments we made to Canadians in 2008 by passing Bill C-481. We already agreed unanimously to the principles of the bill, so let us give it some teeth.
The bill offers an efficient strategy to achieve this by giving the Department of Justice the responsibility for reviewing bills and ensuring that all proposed legislation responds to the criteria laid out in the Federal Sustainable Development Act, which we all passed. We are not asking for a complete overhaul here. This is not about red tape or another level of bureaucracy; it is a change we can actually implement now.
Bill C-481 should be implemented. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development noted that the integration of sustainable development in decision-making is an incomplete process. Enabling Bill C-481 would help us to bridge that gap. Operationalizing an effective approach to sustainable development has worked well in Canada, and it has already been done at the provincial level in Quebec.
My leader, the leader of the NDP, in his role as Quebec's minister of the environment, sustainable development and parks, wrote North America's first sustainable development law and amended Quebec's human rights charter to create the right to live in a clean environment. That is not a privilege but a right. That is the attitude we should have in this chamber when we talk about legislation and debate ideas and think about how to work together to create a better Canada. It is a right that we need to work toward. It is a right we need to work hard to protect.
In my last few moments, I would like to turn our attention to the people who live in our ridings, whom we as members of Parliament, represent. These are families in every riding across the country in Victoria, Yellowknife, Winnipeg, Toronto, and my own riding of Halifax. As legislators, we have accepted the responsibility to represent the hopes and dreams of our constituents. For many of those people, their hopes and dreams are better lives and brighter futures for their kids and their families.
However, as it stands now, our children and grandchildren are set to inherit the worst environmental, social, and economic debt the country has ever seen. This is not intergenerational equity. It is not a future that is bright or shining with promise; it is a future that I am afraid of. It is an injustice to leave this legacy behind to the generations that follow ours.
The reality of the situation is that if we do not go forward sustainably and we do not legislate for the future instead of just thinking about the short-term gains, then we are not working to defend the hopes and dreams of our constituents or the people they care about most. We are not doing our jobs as legislators.
We owe it to future generations of Canadians to pass this bill. For them, sustainable development should not be an afterthought, window dressing, or a buzzword. An effective sustainable development policy demands that the principles of sustainability be a part of the policy-making process from the start.
Mr. Speaker, I love that movie. I watched it when I was taking French classes in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
I would like to thank my colleague for introducing this worthwhile bill. We were chatting earlier and I joked that I wished I had thought of it.
In all seriousness, this bill is founded on a simple and elegant idea. It ensures that development is always part of our work as legislators.
I would like to know what my colleague's constituents are saying about the environment. Are the people of Brome—Missisquoi concerned about sustainable development and future generations?
The hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi.
Mr. Speaker, I am humbled to rise today to wrap up this debate on Bill C-444, my private member's bill.
It is not often we get to work specifically on behalf of a constituent in such a significant way, by making a change to the Criminal Code of Canada. First and foremost, I want to thank the brave young woman and her mother who inspired me to table this bill. There are also many folks on the Hill I would like to thank for the support and encouragement they have extended to me along the way, as well as for the personal work they have put into our debates on this bill. This also includes my wonderful staff, here in Ottawa as well as back in Red Deer.
As I have said, this bill is about sentencing. It speaks to the need for tougher penalties for personating peace officers and public officers, and it is in line with the fundamental sentencing principle of proportionality, which is stated in section 718 of the Criminal Code. We must preserve the trust and respect that citizens have for police officers. When citizens see a police uniform, they trust the authority that comes with it. We are giving the tools that they need to deliver harsher sentences to criminals who breach this trust to cause harm.
Within the parameters of the maximum sentence for this particular offence, the decision of what sentences are appropriate will still rest with sentencing courts. We know that a number of factors come into play in a sentencing decision, such as the criminal record of the offender or the severity of harm caused to a victim.
Aggravating circumstances are just one more factor that sentencing judges are required to consider when the Crown is successful in a conviction. Sentencing achieves a number of results, and one of them is support for victims. The rights of victims need to be protected. They must know that there are serious consequences for criminals who have hurt them.
I extend my heartfelt condolences to any Canadian who has been a victim of someone maliciously personating a police officer to do further harm. I dedicate this work to those victims.
I thank my colleagues for their support. If I still have a moment, I would like to thank the following members for their contribution to debate: the Minister of Justice; the members of the Standing Committee on Justice for their thoughtful study and debate, and their support; the seconders, the members for Sault Ste. Marie and Oxford; the members who contributed their time in speaking here in the House, the members for Gatineau, Mount Royal, Montcalm, Brome—Missisquoi, Charlottetown, Beauport—Limoilou, British Columbia Southern Interior, Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Louis-Hébert, Nanaimo—Cowichan, Chambly—Borduas, Northumberland—Quinte West, Edmonton—St. Albert, Windsor—Tecumseh, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, as well as the Associate Minister of National Defence.
There is a special symbolism of having every member present in this House stand to show their support, not just for a bill but for victims and police officers throughout this great nation.
However, because of the uncertainty that surrounds the closing days of any session, I would be proud to use this opportunity to stand on behalf of all members and to accept unanimous consent if the House so chooses.
Mr. Speaker, I really liked my colleague from Brome—Missisquoi's speech. He takes a very smart approach to this file, and it is always interesting to hear him speak in the House.
Under the Conservatives, Canadian investments in tax havens have nearly tripled. This is another Conservative failure. Before the Conservatives came to power, very few Canadians parked their money in tax havens. Now, under the Conservatives, these types of investments have soared. The Conservatives seem to want to encourage investments in tax havens.
Does my colleague from Brome—Missisquoi think that this is intentional on the part of the Conservatives or is it simply a result of their incompetence in managing this file?
The hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi.
Mr. Speaker, that is pretty remarkable coming from a member on that side of the House, when every time we try to bring forward legislation that supports law enforcement, as is evident today, members vote against it and do not support it.
The fact is that we have increased front-line officers at the border by 26%. However, it is no surprise that when the NDP members do not have a valid argument for their shallow dismissiveness of a very serious threat, they spew inaccurate talking points. It is this government that has time and time again given more resources to law enforcement, whether it is at the border or it is the RCMP, with Bill C-42. There have been legislative changes, whether we are talking about legislative changes to support victims, or in this case, where we are bringing forward legislation that has been asked for by law enforcement across the country who know terrorism is a real threat. They have asked for this legislation, and the members opposite have voted against it.
If NDP members want to argue against the legislation, go ahead. I would be happy to debate any one of them head-to-head on this legislation. Instead, what are we hearing from them? We are hearing that we do not need to do it right now.
Last October, the NDP member for Brome—Missisquoi expressed his reservations for this legislation by saying, “since 2007, nothing has happened in Canada. The country has not been subject to terrorist attacks”. Frankly, that kind of irresponsible head-in-the-sand attitude is not only disappointing, but it is very troubling. I think Canadians will look at the NDP members and look at their reaction.
When they have a chance to support important legislation, they could do one of two things. They could support the legislation or they could stand up and give an informed and intelligent response. However, what we are hearing so far today is pretty shallow, and I would say intellectually bankrupt.
Mr. Speaker, I am not sure where the 40% came from either.
I would say to the member that the temporary foreign worker program, as we have said time and time again, is not to displace Canadian workers. Where there are egregious examples—and that is what we are really talking about; we should just call a spade a spade and say there have been some egregious abuses of the system—the government has indicated that we are going to review it and we are going to respond.
However, members of the member's caucus have in fact gone to the minister and requested temporary foreign workers be allowed to come into Canada to fill unfilled vacant jobs; for example, the members for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, Halifax, Ottawa Centre, Churchill, British Columbia Southern Interior, Sackville—Eastern Shore, Trois-Rivières, and Brome—Missisquoi. These are members of your own caucus who understand that sometimes it is appropriate to bring in temporary foreign workers.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise today. I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi. I know the member well because I serve on two committees with him.
I am very pleased to speak again in the House on the NDP's views on this piece of legislation, Bill C-55. It would amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court ruling referenced several times here this morning in previous speeches.
The point that has to be reiterated is that this is all coming about with a very few days remaining to meet the deadline that was provided to the House by the Supreme Court. It stayed a decision for a year to give the government the opportunity to bring forward an improvement to legislation that is much needed. We have supported this legislation throughout the process, although we found the process daunting because of the delay that took place in getting it here. We supported the government because it is an important tool for our police services in this country.
However, on the counter side of that, it is very important for the official opposition to look cautiously at any legislation that authorizes people to look into people's lives in the manner that this would. This enactment seeks to amend Canada's Criminal Code, and the Supreme Court ruling talked about the need for safeguards for Canadians, because this allows for authorized, and I want to stress the word “authorized”, interception of private communications, done prior to judicial authorization as foreseen in section 184.4 of the act.
It is worth noting that the enactment states that it:
requires the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Attorney General of each province to report on the interceptions of private communications made under section 184.4;
provides that a person who has been the object of such interception must be notified...within a specified period;...
The assumption is that those persons have not been found to be taking part in any criminal activity, and thus they have every right to be informed; and if they were involved with criminal activity and are part of an ongoing investigation, there could be an extension.
It narrowed the class of individuals who could actually make such interceptions, and those limited interceptions to particular offences are listed.
I was speaking a few moments ago about the fact that we are within three weeks of a deadline supplied to us by the Supreme Court. There was the benefit of a year from the Supreme Court to act on this, and the government has not done so until the very last minute. I have to question what the delay is. Why did it take close to a year for the government to respond to this? This was not a great difficulty, from the standpoint that the Supreme Court identified the areas in which the government had to make changes.
I would go so far as to say that when any government or any party in government looks to put forward legislation, a significant part of the process is debate in this place. Another significant part is the opportunity for all parties to come together, which we did in the instance of Bill C-55 at committee, to look at it, to hear witness testimony, to do those things necessary to offer any piece of legislation the due diligence necessary to make it as good as we possibly could. That is the concern over the timeframe, the concern over the fact that we had a couple of days to try to do things that could have well extended beyond, had we brought in more witnesses. It is troubling because that impedes the due diligence we have to administer on behalf of those people who sent us to this place.
I tend to repeat myself in my remarks, because that troubled me to the degree that I felt it was worth repeating.
There have been other times in this place that the opportunity to debate and to consider various bills has been impeded. I would ask how many times the Conservative government has moved time allocation on bills. It is not the delay just in this particular bill, but in other bills. We must be closing in on 30 times that it has occurred in this Parliament. It has to be close to that by now. I hear other members agreeing.
We have seen budget bills and other legislation affecting services, which Canadians rely on, shut down or extremely limited by the Conservatives, at what appears to be almost every opportunity. It stifles the opportunity for us to make those bills better. It stifles the opportunity we have as members to point out what they have done well and what they have done not up to the standards Canadians expect. We get to do that in this public forum. That has been curtailed too many times.
Once again, that is part of my concern with this bill, Bill C-55, and how it got to committee after such a delay. It has the potential of impacting ordinary Canadians in a very negative way if the protections of which the Supreme Court has spoken to us were not put into place.
Bill C-55 is simply an updated version of wiretapping provisions the Supreme Court previously deemed unconstitutional. That is quite a statement when we think about it. Fortunately again for the House, the Supreme Court set the parameters of what it saw as the need to protect Canadians' rights.
I have to say that Canadians have good reason to be concerned about privacy legislation that comes out of the government. To date the government has not had what I see as a good record in that area. It is not encouraging at all.
There is an obligation on the official opposition to work for the public good in upholding the rule of law, our Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It was in February 2012 that the Conservative government tabled Bill C-30. Members will recall that gave authorities the power to access personal information in a way to which the Supreme Court responded.
It raised very serious concerns across the country, as I recall, about personal privacy and fundamental rights. That was due to the manner in which it was constructed and the powers it was seeking to give out. I will add that it was kind of a compilation of previous bills that have been before this House, Bill C-50, Bill C-51 and Bill C-52 from a previous parliamentary session. The Conservatives were attempting to build on the original legislation from 1999 to provide public safety authorities with extensive surveillance powers over digital information. As I said a moment ago, there was a significant backlash from the people of Canada in regard to this.
Now we have the government with these much-needed changes, I will commend the government. It reached across to us in the committee. We did work better on that bill than we did on some others in the past. If we did not meet the deadline or the provisions required by the Supreme Court, then these emergency powers would be thrown out.
I began my remarks talking about the need for police officials of our country to apply these. In this particular case, these provisions are intended to happen at the worst possible time, when somebody is under physical threat of injury or harm. It was important for us to go a little deeper into it.
I am looking for what really needs to be summarized here, and that is the fact that our role is to ensure that the privacy rights of Canadians are balanced with the police officials' needs to investigate, particularly in a time where someone is under the threat of physical harm. I have to say that, working together, I believe we accomplished that. Thus, we will be supporting this bill.
Questions and comments.
The hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi.
Order, please. The time for questions and comments has expired.
Resuming debate, the member for Brome—Missisquoi.
Mr. Speaker, recent events from around the world confirm that the threat of terrorism is very real. We need to provide law enforcement and national security agencies with the means to anticipate and to respond effectively to terrorism.
This is why our government introduced the combating terrorism act. We are taking action to reinstate two provisions to help law enforcement investigate past terrorism activity and prevent future attacks. We are also creating a new offence that specifically targets those who would leave Canada to participate in terrorist training camps abroad.
While we are taking action to address a very real threat, the NDP has its head in the sand. Throughout debate on our legislation, the members opposite continuously downplayed the terrorist threat. The NDP member for Brome—Missisquoi even said, with regard to terrorism, “Nothing has happened in the past four years. There has been nothing and things have been quiet”.
Unlike the NDP, we will not hesitate to protect Canadians--
Order. The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired, and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper. The hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi will have three minutes to finish his speech next time.
Mr. Speaker, as my hon. colleague is well aware, there are approximately 7,300 uniformed officers who clear over 90 million travellers and process over 13 million commercial releases each year in Canada. I can assure the member that our government is focused on ensuring our border is secure while easing the flow of legitimate travel and trade.
We are doing this through initiatives such as the action plan on perimeter security and economic competitiveness and the action plan on regulatory co-operation. These were both announced by our Prime Minister and President Obama in December of last year. As the Prime Minister said:
We are pursuing an ambitious global trade agenda while at the same time ensuring enhanced access to the United States, our largest and most important trading partner. Together, these agreements represent the most significant step forward in Canada–U.S. cooperation since the North American Free Trade Agreement.
These action plans are a step in the right direction.
Let me assure the member opposite that we have not stopped there. We are also investing in border infrastructure including new lanes at the busiest crossings. We cannot forget that the CBSA must ensure that people and goods are cleared as quickly as possible, without compromising the safety and security of Canadians. I also would like to remind the House that we are accountable to taxpayers. We must ensure that operations are carried out in a cost-effective and responsible manner. That is why it is important for my hon. colleague to understand the actions taken by the CBSA.
With that in mind, I would like to set the record straight about the statement made by the hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi about the reduction of hours at three border crossings in his riding. At East Pinnacle, for example, border operations were reduced by eight hours. This port of entry now closes at 4 p.m. instead of midnight. There is a 24/7 port of entry only 10 kilometres away. With only 58 travellers per day, reducing the hours made good sense. The second port of entry in question is Glen Sutton. This port of entry processed 37 people a day. I am sure even my hon. colleague would have a hard time justifying a 24/7 port of entry for only 37 people per day. Since the port of entry down the road, 11.5 kilometres away, also has 24/7 service, it was clear that reducing the hours to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. was more realistic and operationally sound. The last port of entry that reduced its hours is Morses Line. This port of entry is now open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the 84 travellers who use it daily. After 4 p.m., travellers proceed to Saint Armand–Phillipsburg 13 kilometres away where service is provided 24/7.
The rationale for the decisions to reduce hours at ports of entry is to ensure that operations are not only cost effective but also as efficient as possible. These are difficult decisions, but they make sense. The CBSA was able to do this while keeping its mandate intact and still providing excellent service by dedicated professionals. This is good border management which the government expects and Canadians deserve.
It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Winnipeg North, aboriginal affairs; the hon. member for Montcalm, persons with disabilities; and the hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi, the firearms registry.
Mr. Speaker, I have had the honour of representing the people of Brome—Missisquoi in the House. I am proud of being a sovereignist and proud of being a Quebecker and a member of the Bloc Québécois. On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I have had the honour and pleasure of being responsible for the social housing and homelessness files, as well as natural resources and the environment. I have derived great satisfaction from my debates with all the hon. members, and I thank them for it. I also appreciated your way of presiding over the House, Mr. Speaker.
I leave very content with my time here and with having worked with a leader, the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, who is both so exacting and so nice. I thank him for having made a place for me on his team. I would like as well to thank all my colleagues for their support and solidarity.
I also want to take advantage of this opportunity to thank the voters for their confidence in me. Finally, my greatest thanks go to my wife, Estelle, for her support, her help and her love. I will now have the great pleasure of returning to live by her side.
Thanks to all and sundry, and farewell, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, my other petition calls for the border crossings in Brome—Missisquoi to remain open. Some 900 people living near the border have signed a petition calling for public hearings at the very least.
These petitions are in both of Canada's official languages. Indeed, we have two official languages. A number of Americans speak French when they attend our meetings. It is very important that these crossings remain open. Our life with our American friends is at stake.
The hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi has the floor for a very quick question or comment.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Brome—Missisquoi on his speech.
Certain points stood out for me. For instance, Bill C-12 makes no sense and does not recognize the Quebec nation.
I would like to know what the consequences for Quebec representation in the House of Commons might be if Bill C-12 is passed.
The electoral district of Brome--Missisquoi (Quebec) has a population of 92,591 with 76,636 registered voters and 220 polling divisions.
This action requires you to be logged into Politwitter. No regisrtation is required, just authenticate using your Twitter account.