The hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine has about eight minutes for her remarks today.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for that informative speech.
One of the issues that has come up with regard to animal cruelty and this particular piece of legislation is that we had two private member's bills proposed by New Democrats before the House.
One is Bill C-232, which was introduced by my colleague for Parkdale—High Park. This bill would remove animals from the section of the Criminal Code on property and create a new section for animal cruelty offences. In short, animals would be considered people and not property. Part of the reason the bill was introduced is that the current definition of “animal” is inadequate.
The second is Bill C-592, which was introduced by the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. This bill seeks to better define what an animal is under the Criminal Code and what is meant by “intended acts of cruelty”.
I wonder if the member could comment on the fact that although the Conservatives have been in government since 2006, they still failed to introduce good legislation with regard to animal cruelty.
Mr. Speaker, the member for Newton—North Delta clearly outlined why the New Democrats will support the legislation. However, she also outlined some of our concerns.
I want to refer to the speech that was given by the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île, in which she highlighted the fact that the New Democrats had two private members' bills before the House dealing with animal cruelty.
In her speech, she referenced Bill C-232 from the member for Parkdale—High Park. Her bill would remove animals from the section of the Criminal Code on property and create a new section for animal cruelty offences. In short, animals would be considered people and not just property. She went on to say that the definition of animal was inadequate, which Bill C-232 would attempt to address.
The second private member's bill is Bill C-592 from the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. That bill seeks to better define what an animal is under the Criminal Code and what is meant by intents and acts of cruelty.
Since 2006, we have seen a failure on the part of the Conservative government to address some very valid concerns with regard to animal cruelty. Could the member comment on the government's failure to address some of those other issues?
Mr. Speaker, first, I am very happy to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-35. It is ironic and timely that we are dealing with a bill that deals with law enforcement animals, military animals, and service animals.
I want to reflect for a very short moment on what took place in the House yesterday. Members have stood today to offer their personal reflections. It was really wonderful to hear the speeches this morning from the leaders of the various political parties, from the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, and to hear the statements in the House. I think it was one of those days that one does not forget.
I have been here 17 years, and I never believed that I would experience a day like we experienced yesterday. Yes, there was a sense of great anxiety and stress about what was taking place, because of course, we did not know what was going on around us, but I think what I am going to remember is the sense of camaraderie and professionalism and people staying calm and staying together. We all have our own personal experience of where we were, who we were with, and what we heard, but listening to pages, to staff, to the security personnel, and our own staff today, in the lobby, and hearing the perspectives of where people are has been really quite remarkable. I have come away with a feeling that, collectively, everyone kept their cool.
It does not sink in until later how really close we came to a terrible disaster, much worse than what happened, and we are grateful for that.
There are things to remember, but we are back at work. Certainly, that is the hallmark of this institution. It is the people's business. We come back, we get on with our work, and we get on to debating bills, because that is what we are elected to do. We do not do that with a sense of hardship; we do it with a sense of mission and a sense of sincerity about who we are and what we need to do. I am very glad to be back in the House today and to see my colleagues in the House from all sides, and in particular, to be debating the bill.
I heard the debate earlier in the day. I will be making some of the points some of my colleagues have made. I think cruelty to animals, intentional cruelty, is something that just about everybody cannot stomach. It is something that hits us all, and it is something we feel compelled to do something about. Of course, we have the law. We have our criminal justice system to provide protections not just to persons and property but also for animal welfare. That is very important, and I think Canadians support that very strongly.
As we heard in the debate today, the bill comes from a particular incident in 2013, when a police service dog was stabbed to death in the line of duty.
I think that as legislators, it is very important that we examine the bill very carefully, because on its surface, one could say that this is a bill that deserves support. It would specifically introduce a new amendment or create a new offence that would specifically prohibit anyone from killing, wounding, poisoning, or injuring trained animals who work for the police, for persons with disabilities, or for the Canadian Armed Forces.
The principle of the bill is something that is very supportable, and of course, that is what we are debating here today: the bill in principle, at second reading. We, in the NDP, will be supporting the bill to go forward to committee.
Having said that, as the official opposition, our job is to look at the details, go through legislation, get underneath the top layer, and figure out what the bill would really do and maybe, importantly, what the consequences of the bill would be. As we have come to know in the House, and with the current government, it is important to look at the details. How many omnibus bills have we gone through and found terrible surprises in? There have been really awful pieces of legislation that have chucked out other pieces of legislation. The details in a bill become very important.
That is no different for the bill we are debating here today. I would say it is concerning, looking at this bill, because while we have a bill that has good intention, when we look at the details, we can see that it would introduce minimum sentencing and that it does reflect a pattern we have seen from the government over and over again. It is very disturbing.
I have said in the House quite a few times that we should be keeping a list of how the Criminal Code has changed so significantly. We have had all of these bills come through. Some of them have been government bills. Many of them have been private members' bills. They are kind of like these little boutique bills, which one by one pick off this section or that section of the Criminal Code. I guess somebody keeps track of it.
I do recall that one of the terrible things that happened in the House through legislation was that the Law Reform Commission was abolished. I am sure the Speaker will recall this, because he would have debated it in the House when it came forward. It was the Law Reform Commission of Canada's job to go through legislation, evaluate it at a long distance, and give us an overview to give us an oversight. It was abolished.
There is a big question here over who keeps track of what all these changes mean cumulatively and what the consequences are. We certainly try to do that as the opposition. We try to keep track of all of these bills, look at all the little holes and changes they create in the Criminal Code, and see what the total effect is. That is a lot of work.
Here is another example of a bill that, on the surface, may look fairly innocent but, in the detail, does actually have consequences. It is a bill that would bring forward minimum sentencing and provisions around serving consecutively.
Some people may ask what the big deal is about that or whether there is any problem with that. The problem is that our judicial system is based on a history and tradition of prosecution, defence, and the role of the judge in terms of being able to use discretion. The judge is able to look at individual cases as being unique. When we create laws that become, in effect, a one-size-fits-all and that are so hyper-prescriptive, we create problems. This is because when we do it to an extreme, the law does not necessarily fit and cannot meet the circumstances of what a particular case might be about. That is why we have judges who can look at the law, apply provisions, and use this word “discretion”. I sometimes worry that discretion has become a dirty word in this place, yet it is a hallmark of our judicial system.
I am talking about creeping mandatory minimum sentences. I do not know how many bills we have now had in the House that have had those provisions now put in them. It is not just the current government, by the way. There were mandatory minimums with the previous government as well, and there always was the existence of some mandatory minimums. It is not as if there is never a situation where they should not apply, but now they have become so pervasive in the system that they have almost become the lowest common denominator—slap in a mandatory minimum.
I have this little picture in my head of a group of interns or staffers somewhere, who are combing through the Criminal Code section by section and saying, “Hah, mandatory minimum. We could put one there. We could put one here”.
I may be exaggerating a bit, but I sometimes feel that is what is going on, that there is this pattern of seeking out instances where mandatory minimums can be applied, and it is fundamentally changing our judicial system. It is certainly a problem with the bill before us, and I think it is very important that we examine the bill in great detail in committee.
I hope very much that when the bill goes to the justice committee, I presume, government members will not use their majority to then slap on time limits. We are facing that in the public safety committee right now on a bill that has to do with an issue very important to me, which is safe injection sites in this country. It is a complex and important bill, and I find it incredible that at committee there are two meetings for witnesses and that is the end of it—just two meetings. When we get to amendments, I think the motion says that there will be no more than five minutes or something like that. The censorship and limitation that are now placed on the debate and examination of bills is quite ferocious and, in and of itself, very harmful.
We are not here to hold stuff up. I mean, occasionally that does happen. We might have a bill that we just dig in and say that we will hold it up as long as we can, but by and large we are not here to hold things up. We are here to give proper consideration both in the House at second reading and in committee with amendments and then when it comes back to the House for report stage and third reading.
Therefore, when the bill goes to committee, I hope the committee will be fair and consider that there should not be limits placed on it in terms of the timeline for its consideration, so that the committee can look at some of the questions that I and others have identified today in debate.
I am not on the justice committee, but I am sure others will raise this. It is to look at Department of Justice reports that actually tell us that mandatory minimum sentences have not had a demonstrable deterrent effect. This is something to consider. We go to these extraordinary lengths to change legislation and have it go through the House, the Senate, and the whole process, yet there is really no evidence to show us whether or not it is a deterrent. In fact, the opposite may be true in that the misuse of mandatory minimum sentences, as my colleague said earlier, leads to a downloading to provinces, overcrowding, and skyrocketing costs. These are very real consequences. Provincial budgets are tight. Again, the question is who is tracking that.
I have seen some information come out on the impact of mandatory minimum sentences. I think the Canadian Bar Association has been doing some work on tracking what the impact is, and there has been some work done on a bill that dealt with mandatory minimums for drug crimes. In fact, there was a court case in British Columbia in which a judge refused to go along with the mandatory minimum aspect, and that is now under review.
There are some very serious questions that need to be considered in the bill. This needs to be done in the context of a larger impact in terms of the Criminal Code and our justice system. I think it is very important and incumbent upon us not to ignore that fact. If we just look at these as one-offs, we will never understand the full picture.
What bothers me the most is the strong sense I have that the way the government operates is that for every problem the Conservatives identify, they see the solution as a new law that is harsher.
Some of these questions are complex social questions, and there is no evidence to suggest that a tougher law, a law-and-order approach, is going to actually solve anything. In fact, it might very likely make the situation worse. These things really bother me, and I have certainly seen these changes taking place over a number of years.
However, to come back to the bill itself, we think there are some good aspects in it that should warrant our support. I know that my colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine and my colleague from Parkdale—High Park have put forward initiatives that deal with animal cruelty. I myself have a bill that also deals with this issue. I have presented thousands of petitions in the House about cruelty to cats and dogs in terms of the use of their fur from overseas, and how it should be banned as it has been banned in other countries.
There are numerous initiatives that we have within the NDP to protect against animal cruelty, and certainly we have a huge appreciation for the role that law-enforcement animals, military animals, and service animals play in our society. Again, I come back to yesterday when it was very visible. These are highly trained animals. They are well cared for. They are intelligent. We do not want to see them come into harm's way. We do not want to see vicious attacks on these animals, just as we do not want to see attacks on people. It is not as if we do not care; in fact, we care very much, and the bills we have put forward ourselves in private members' business are evidence of that.
Still, we have to worry about this bill. I have a concern that it is just going to flow right through and we will not have that examination, but we should and we want to ensure that the provisions in Bill C-35 are no different from the penalties and fines already set out in section 445 of the Criminal Code for all animals other than cattle. There is a lot to examine here.
I appreciate the fact that my colleagues have spoken today. We do want to say this for the government. Why is it so important that the government wants to take away sentencing discretion from the courts? Are the Conservatives aware of their own justice department's work about mandatory minimums and whether or not they are a deterrent? Are they aware of how mandatory minimums are undermining the entire legal process? I do not know if there is that knowledge on the government side, whether or not the Conservatives are curious to know the answers to those questions. I can only say that we are, and we think it should be followed up.
In closing, I would like to add my voice along with my colleagues in saying that we certainly support this bill going to committee. It does require further examination. It does need to be looked at in the context of other legislation where mandatory minimums have been brought in. We need to look at the impacts on the provincial system, we need to look at the costs, and we need to ask some tough questions. We need to be intelligent and rational about how we proceed on these kinds of measures. We need to look at evidence, not political doctrine. At the end of the day, that is what is most important. We are here to uphold the public interest. We are here to uphold the notion of merit, evidence, and analysis. Let us remember that when we consider this bill further, and let us hope we can make some sensible decisions.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak to this motion. I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Halifax West.
The Cacouna port project is no small potatoes, as the saying goes. According to Le Devoir:
TransCanada has ambitions of building...nothing less than the largest infrastructure in history for transporting and exporting oil from the oil sands.
As an aside, let me say that if this energy project is seeing the light of day today, that is partly because the government has failed with the Keystone XL pipeline. We are still waiting for a positive answer from the U.S. government. We have reached this stage because of the Conservative government's clumsy diplomacy, and now it is talking about building a major port on the St. Lawrence.
I will continue quoting the article from Le Devoir. TransCanada “actually wants to build a port that is unprecedented in the history of Quebec”. That is no small thing. To better understand the scope of this project, the ships that will come to the port to take on cargo, “will carry two to five times more oil than the amount spilled by Exxon Valdez in Alaska in 1989”; this is according to Le Devoir once again.
It must also be noted that navigation in this part of the river will necessarily be complex. If the project gets the green light, and this was mentioned by my colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, we would also be facing the problem of the discharge of enormous quantities of ballast water. As we all know, ballast water is a kind of conduit for invasive species that come from elsewhere and fundamentally and irreversibly alter aquatic ecosystems, in particular the Great Lakes ecosystem.
I will not say more about the potential impact of this gigantic project because the real nub of the question we are debating today, as far as I am concerned, is the process that will be used to either confirm or dispel the concerns about a future port in Cacouna. In other words, we are talking today about the quality and rigour of the environmental assessment process that will be used to reach a decision about this project.
We know that the assessment is coming and I have serious doubts about it. To begin with, I do not have a lot of confidence in the assessment, and that is partly because of one of the mammoth bills the government introduced in the House, a budget bill that, as we know, completely changed the rules for federal environmental assessments in this country. In other words, since 2012, energy projects such as pipelines are assessed not by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, but by the National Energy Board.
We are entitled to wonder whether that board has the expertise needed for properly assessing the impact of projects like these on the environment; we might also wonder whether its priority is to protect the environment or simply to advance the private interests of companies in the oil industry.
We know that because of that bill, in 2012, apart from the fact that responsibility for environmental assessments of these projects has now been handed to the National Energy Board, the number of stakeholders with the right to present their views on the potential environmental effects of an energy project has been reduced. That bill, which is now law, also shortened the time allowed for doing an environmental assessment. And last but not least, under the new law, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will now be acting as a mere consultant to the National Energy Board, and has had all its decision-making powers on this kind of project taken away.
I would like to draw a parallel between the environmental assessment that will be done for the energy east pipeline and the one that has already been done for the northern gateway pipeline project. In British Columbia, there is talk about the impact of a pipeline on whales. In that case, they are not belugas, they are humpback whales, off the coast of British Columbia.
In that environmental assessment, the issue was the risks that the pipeline project posed to the whales. According to a professor at the University of Calgary, the report and recommendations of the assessment committee frankly left a lot to be desired, because they seem to have disregarded the concerns about the fate of the whales in the context of the northern gateway pipeline project.
In recommending the approval of the project, Professor Shaun Fluker said that the National Energy Board panel erred by
...accepting that known threats to the humpback whale will occur from tanker traffic in critical habitat and [yet] by concluding that this will not be a significant adverse effect on the species.
Then he went on to say that:
Enbridge [the project's promoter] submitted that knowledge on whales is sparse, vessel strikes and other impacts on whales are unavoidable....
However, in the end, the panel wholly accepted Enbridge's view that the project would not have a significant adverse impact on the humpback whale. Therefore we see that, yes, the Energy Board does do assessments now, but when it comes to the impacts on wildlife and, in this case, on whales, it just seems to skirt the issue a bit.
Even if we can assume a rigorous environmental assessment process, we have to have good information, and we see that the government is not really forthcoming with good information that is the product of research by scientists. We know that scientists are muzzled; that is pretty clear. We have seen in the court case that imposed an injunction on the exploratory wells at Cacouna that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was not very forthcoming with very important information needed for the decision on whether to allow exploratory wells. I am just saying that I am not very confident that the environmental review will be as rigorous as it should be.
The time provided for government business has expired. Therefore, the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine will have three minutes to conclude questions and comments.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.
I have to say that I am absolutely stunned that thus far, and perhaps it will happen but perhaps not before we recess for the summer, we have not heard any Conservative members speaking to this bill. It is clearly a very important bill. We often hear those on the other side talking about how they are the party that represents agricultural producers. We would welcome hearing from them, and hearing the perspectives of the farmers they allegedly represent.
There is not enough discussion in this place about the contribution made by agricultural producers to this country, particularly to the Canadian economy. I am proud to share that my ancestors were fishers and farmers. My great-grandma Sarah Duncan moved to Alberta from Saskatchewan when her husband died. She ran two homesteads, raised four kids, and got them all university educated.
The Steeves family, who I come from, emigrated from Germany, first to the United States and then to New Brunswick, in the mid-1700s. One of them became a Father of Confederation. They farmed since that date. My ancestors then moved to North Dakota and then, by wagon at the turn of the last century, up to Alberta.
My grandfather Pike, who came from a family of fishers in Newfoundland emigrated to this country in 1898. When he was relocated with the bank to Alberta, he was a person who liked to get his hands dirty in the soil and started a ranch in northern Alberta. Sadly, he lost that ranch in the 1930s. I did not discover that ranch until my uncle wrote a history about that.
I have very proud agricultural roots. I spent many childhood days visiting farmers with my father. I was in tears frequently because I could not have a lamb or a baby pig. I am also proud to share that I am an honorary member of the Preservation of Agricultural Land Association, based on the years that I worked with Alberta farm producers who fought long and hard for stronger protections for our prime agricultural lands.
This is a shout-out to the Prairie producers. I certainly value their contribution to this country. I would like to give particular thanks to Lynn Jacobson, who is with the Alberta Wheat Commission, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, and the Alberta Federation of Agriculture. He has been very generous with his time, in sharing his knowledge with me when I go through proposed legislation.
Bill C-18, as has been shared previously, is yet another omnibus bill. It is a very important bill. As I understand it, it changes nine laws. It is regrettable that the time allocated to us in this House does not give us the time to review the entire bill. My concern is that when this omnibus bill goes to committee, there will not be time to review the changes to all nine laws in detail.
Mr. Jacobson thinks that it would be useful for this bill to be taken out to the fields. Here we are tabling this law in this place, and discussing it, when many farmers are still seeding, weeding, and so forth, and are going to be harvesting right up until late fall. Let us hope that this bill is not rushed through, and that the farmers have an opportunity to genuinely participate.
Mr. Jacobson and others have expressed concerns to me that there has not been sufficient consultation to date. There has certainly not been any consultation on the regulations proposed under this bill.
In the brief time I am allotted, I intend to speak to the plant breeders' rights section. It is an issue where we are hearing the most concerns.
In order for Canada to ratify the convention, Bill C-18 must actually enact legislation. That is precisely what is intended by Bill C-18. The legislation as it sits right now was put in place because Canada intended to ratify the previous convention on the protection of plant varieties. That was in 1978.
In 1991, a new convention, which extended greater protections to plant breeders, was signed by many nations. Since that date, Canada has not brought forward legislation. That was 13 years ago. Finally, the government, in its wisdom after being in power for six or seven years, has decided it will bring forward legislation. Let us hope it does not rush it through, because it is a very complex bill.
The difference between the previous convention and the current legislation of the proposed bill is it expands the rights of those who develop and essentially “copyright” seeds to include the exclusive right to produce, reproduce, condition, sell, export, import, or stock other propagating material. It is much more extensive than the previous rights, which were simply the copyrighted right to produce or sell the seed.
It is really important to recognize that debate has gone on around the world for many decades about whether or not there would be greater rights accorded to plant breeders—who, generally speaking, tend to be large corporations like Monsanto. It is absolutely critical for those extended rights to be balanced off with the rights of farm producers. It is generally recognized that saving, reusing, selecting, exchanging, and selling seeds have been understood to be a traditional practice and an inalienable right of farmers.
The concern with this bill, which extends greater rights to the plant breeders, is that the farmers' rights will be cut back. I am advised by the farmers who have been looking at this proposed legislation that there will be even deeper concerns if the Canada-EU comprehensive economic trade agreement is signed, because that bill could potentially extend the plant breeders' rights even further and thereby limit the farmers' rights.
I want to share what some of the issues are. In the bill are accorded certain of what are called “farmers' privileges”. The only provisions in the bill on plant breeders that are accorded to farmers are the rights of the plant breeder, which are enforceable in civil law. As I understand this new legislation, the government will assume responsibility for enforcing these laws, with additional costs assumed by Canadians, including farm producers.
Privileges only—in other words, not really enforceable rights—are extended to the farmers, but they are very limited rights. They include allowing the farmer to use those seeds for the purpose of propagation, but the farmer then cannot sell the crop or the seeds. Many have suggested this is a very hollow privilege.
In addition, the law allows for even further limiting of this privilege by regulation, but the government has not yet revealed what it intends to do by regulation. There are concerns about that.
As I mentioned, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture submitted a brief on the bill. It is presumed that members of this group will be key witnesses at committee, and we encourage them to do so. They are concerned about claims of infringement. There are scenarios in which, for example, there can be drift of seed onto a farmer's land; if the farmer then collects that seed and replants it, and it happens to include some of the seed that is patented, under this law the plant breeder can go after the farmers and sue them.
Additional concerns have been raised, including some raised by Mr. Jacobson in the case of organic farmers. We have had a number of situations of complaints being brought forward by Canadian producers over GMO seeds drifting into organic farmlands, causing their crops to become contaminated and to diminish in value. It reduces their ability to market, certainly overseas.
There are concerns with the free trade agreement that would potentially allow for the seizure of a farmer's assets upon infringement. There is concern about costs imposed on the government, including farmers, to enforce this new law, and issues about compulsory licensing.
Right now, under law there is a provision for compulsory licensing. The plant breeder must ensure that the seeds are made available at a reasonable price and are widely distributed. There is a provision in this new law that would allow them to apply for exemption. What is the problem there? As with the other regulations under the act, there are no provisions to require consultation with the agricultural producers.
With that, I will close my comments. I look forward to questions on the bill. I look forward to the government opening up this dialogue to producers across our country.
Mr. Speaker, it is fair to say, given the final comments, which were rather frivolous, that the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie really does not have much of a defence.
What happened is very clear. He put an advertisement in local newspapers. He did not invite just the people of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce who live in his riding, he invited all residents of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and the residents of Montreal West, whom he does not represent at all. That was not clear in the ad.
As I mentioned yesterday, in 2004, former Speaker Milliken ruled on the same matter and said that that there was a clear, prima facie breach of parliamentary privilege. Mr. Speaker, as you review all the facts, I hope that you will find that the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine was perfectly correct in raising this matter in the House.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to reply to the question of privilege raised by the MP for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, a riding adjacent to my own riding of Westmount—Ville-Marie.
In essence, the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine argued that I have infringed upon her privileges as an MP by placing an ad in a weekly newspaper that announced that I would be holding a meeting in a coffee house and that I was welcoming citizens from both my riding and her riding to join me for coffee. This would have been on January 25.
More specifically, the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine argued that the ad I prepared for publication was trying to make it sound as though I was actually the MP for her riding.
I should point out a number of things that are relevant here.
First, the ad in question was placed in the NDG Free Press weekly newspaper. This weekly newspaper's distribution straddles both my riding of Westmount—Ville-Marie and the neighbouring riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.
Second, while my riding is called Westmount—Ville-Marie, it actually includes approximately 45% of the population of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. When the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine stated yesterday that she represented the vast majority of NDG, she was wrong. Approximately 30,000 of my constituents live in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. I am perfectly entitled to notify them of an upcoming meeting by placing an ad in a newspaper inviting them to join me.
Third, the MP for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine accuses me of trying to present myself to her constituents as their MP. The ad very clearly identifies me as the member of Parliament for Westmount—Ville-Marie and nothing more. I believe it is a reasonable assumption, on my part, to say that her constituents know very well what riding they live in and that my ad did not confuse them in any way.
Finally, given that our ridings are adjacent, it is also reasonable to assume that we share some common preoccupations. One example is the plan to build a third rail line for the Montreal AMT train service, a public transportation service that crosses both my riding and a good part of the riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. I have been very active on this file and have organized meetings with citizens impacted by this major infrastructure addition to public transportation. As the MP for Westmount—Ville-Marie, I consider it acceptable to invite all those who might be potentially impacted by such a project to join me for a coffee, and I always make it very clear that I am the MP for Westmount—Ville-Marie.
This is no different from my colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine getting up in the House of Commons a little while ago for a member's statement and telling everyone that the NDG Food Depot, which we both support because it is a good cause, was in her riding, when in fact it is in my riding.
Both of us care deeply about the work done by the NDG Food Depot, which serves both our ridings, but the fact remains that she was wrong when she said that it was in her riding.
Am I upset? Are my privileges undermined? No. I made nothing of it at the time, because it was not, in my opinion, worth doing that.
My colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine and I both work with a number of organizations that serve both our ridings. Some of these organizations are based in my riding while some are based in her riding. I do not consider this a cause for partisanship, since in the end, the interests of our constituents should be our common priority.
It did not occur to me for one minute that when she was meeting with organizations based in my riding that serve her riding she might be passing herself off as the member for Westmount—Ville-Marie. That would be very petty on my part.
I do not want to say much more about my colleague's question of privilege other than to state that it is a frivolous question of privilege. It is a frivolous question that has been clearly raised because the NDP is trying to distract from its abuse of mailing privileges in the ridings of Bourassa, Toronto Centre, Brandon—Souris, and Provencher during the recent byelections, ridings where it used taxpayers' money to mail literally hundreds of thousands of NDP documents designed to identify votes and partisan fundraising in ridings, possibly during the writ period. It is no wonder that the Board of Internal Economy has taken the unusual step of referring the matter to the Commissioner of Canada Elections.
Mr. Speaker, I urge you to rule quickly on this frivolous question of privilege and put this matter to rest.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to add to the arguments presented by my colleague.
The advertisement clearly pertains to a neighbouring riding, but nowhere in the ad does it mention that this person, this member, does not represent the communities in question. I am talking, of course, about Montreal West and Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.
Archived rulings include that rendered by Speaker Milliken on November 23, 2004. He had to rule on the same type of situation. At the time, the member for Montmorency-Charlevoix-Haute-Côte-Nord saw a misleading advertisement in his riding. The ad made it seem that a former MP was still a member of the House of Commons, even though he had been defeated in the previous election in June 2004. On November 23, 2004, Speaker Milliken ruled on the issue stating that the ad made it look as though the individual was a member of the House when in fact he no longer was. In that case, an individual was trying to attract people from a riding he no longer represented. The case before us is similar in that it infringes on the privileges of the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.
I hope that you will rule on this matter, Mr. Speaker, and that you will share your ruling with us.
Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to my motion, Motion No. 425, in the last couple of minutes. Hopefully, I will not take all my five minutes.
I would like to thank each and every one of my fellow parliamentarians who spoke on the issue. I heard some comments about how the motion did not go far enough and how it did not have enough teeth in terms of what the solutions were. To be frank, I do not have the solutions.
I appreciate the presentation this evening by the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, who also made the point that there could have been more in this motion. However, the fact is, in a very personal presentation on the issue of what this motion would deal with in obesity, I really appreciate the efforts the member made in being here and speaking to the issue.
I brought forward this issue in because of a personal matter. Coming to Ottawa, I gained 30 or maybe 40 pounds. I was not eating healthily. I was participating in all the receptions that go on around here. I was diagnosed with diabetes, as I said in my first speech.
At the time of my first hour, I had two grandmothers who were 96. One passed away between this speech and the last, but we have long life in my family. I thought I was invincible, but none of us are.
The purpose of the motion was to get into a conversation and continue it on all sides of the House about what we needed to do about the issue of obesity and health. For me, physical activity is only one component. I agree with everyone's comments that physical activity is only one component of solving this issue. It is an area where I happen to be able to run marathons and take up running. I have been able to accomplish and challenge myself and to overcome some of my difficulties with obesity and being overweight using physical fitness and better eating habits.
I am encouraging the government to continue to work on this, make it a priority for public health and continue to work with organizations and other government levels to make it happen at all levels. We cannot provide every program federally. We need support from community groups, from other political levels and from other governments to make things happen.
I would appreciate everyone supporting the motion. I hope we continue this conversation after the motion is hopefully passed. The issue of obesity in our children and our health is not just important for individuals; it is also important for their families and for our health care system. I would appreciate everyone's support.
The electoral district of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce--Lachine (Quebec) has a population of 104,715 with 76,119 registered voters and 200 polling divisions.
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