moved for leave to introduce Bill C-625, An Act to amend the Statistics Act (removal of imprisonment).
Mr. Speaker, this private member's bill would amend the Statistics Act to remove the possibility of imprisonment for the failure to fill out mandatory Statistics Canada surveys and to allow the release of data from the 2011 National Household Survey in the future.
The constituents of Elgin—Middlesex—London have told me that they are happy to volunteer information to Statistics Canada and that no one should ever go to jail for refusing to do so. I hope members of the House would also agree.
I thank the member for Dufferin—Caledon for his help today.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
Mr. Speaker, it is with pride and honour that I rise today to commend two students from Centre Dufferin District High School in Shelburne, in my riding of Dufferin—Caledon.
Rebecca Janke and Jeff Allen have been chosen to be Canada's youth ambassadors at the upcoming ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day. They will recite the commitment to remember in front of tens of thousands, who will gather in France on June 6 to pay tribute to the Canadians and our allies who took part in the Normandy landings.
Centre Dufferin has a long history with the Juno Beach Centre, being for many years the most active school in the country in terms of fundraising and commitment to our history there. It is a great credit to their teacher, Mr. Neil Orford, who is the inspiration behind these students' commitment. Earlier this year, Mr. Orford was awarded the Governor General's History Award for Excellence in Teaching in recognition of his outstanding efforts.
Congratulations to Rebecca and Jeff and all the students at Centre Dufferin. I know they will make Canada proud.
Mr. Speaker, today I have the honour of recognizing the 65th anniversary of the Orangeville Lions Club.
We can thank the Lions for initiating school crossing guards in Orangeville in 1950; selling light bulbs, with the proceeds going to children's books at our public library; the infamous Lions TV Bingo; supporting the construction of the Tony Rose Arena; donating over $600,000 to Headwaters Hospital; constructing the Lions BMX park; hosting the annual Home and Garden Show as well as Lobsterfest; and the building of Murray's Mountain.
This is just a small overview of the many outstanding contributions this exceptional club has given to our most appreciative community.
On behalf of the residents of Dufferin—Caledon, I would like to sincerely congratulate the Orangeville Lions Club on this milestone and thank all of the members for the excellent work they perform to make our community a better place.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in today's debate on Bill C-442, An Act respecting a National Lyme Disease Strategy. I would like to start by stating my own personal support for Bill C-442. I am pleased to see that most, if not all, government members will be showing such support as well.
I am also pleased with how the federal government is working with the provinces, territories, and stakeholders to address Lyme disease. The bill would be a sound complement to these efforts.
As members of the House are aware, Lyme disease is a rapidly emerging infectious disease in North America and in Europe. It is transmitted to humans from the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Over the past few years, I have met with a number of constituents from my riding of Dufferin—Caledon who suffer from Lyme disease and with the family members and friends of sufferers. They have related to me the symptoms they live with and the difficulties they have faced within the medical system.
In October 2012, I met with a constituent of my riding, whose name I will not use for privacy reasons, who has been suffering with Lyme disease for seven years. She informed me of the difficulty in diagnosing the disease, which is similar to multiple sclerosis. She also informed me of the type of treatment she has been receiving and gave me some detail about what it was like to live with this disease.
This constituent is quite passionate about raising awareness of this issue. She organized signatures for a petition, which I had the honour of tabling in the House. The petition called for the government to increase its efforts on behalf of those suffering with Lyme disease.
That brings me to the bill before us today. Numerous residents of Dufferin—Caledon have written to me regarding Bill C-442. I am honoured to speak to the bill.
The number of reported cases of Lyme disease in Canada increased ninefold between 2003 to 2012 to over 300 cases annually. One of our problems is that the actual number of cases of Lyme disease is estimated to be three times higher than the number of cases that are actually reported. Even more troubling, based on current trends, the Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that these numbers will continue to rise.
In the majority of cases, Lyme disease symptoms may include fever, headache, and fatigue. Fortunately, if diagnosed early, Lyme disease can be treated quickly and effectively with antibiotics. In cases of late diagnosis, where the disease has spread through the body, the burden of illness and the cost to the health system increase exponentially. Suffice it to say, if left undiagnosed, the impacts can be devastating.
Let me put in perspective why we need to make progress in raising awareness of the challenges Lyme disease poses and the importance of early diagnosis and treatment. This applies as much to the public at large as it does to health professionals.
If Canada were to indeed be managing the increased rate of Lyme disease, the difference in the costs associated with early versus late diagnosis would be startling. The Public Health Agency estimates that the potential cost of early diagnosis in 2020 would be just over $8 million annually. However, for late diagnosis, that figure could rise to over $338 million.
Fortunately, our government has made significant research investments in areas related to Lyme disease. Indeed, since 2006, we have invested over $4.5 million. We have established improved surveillance specifically aimed at Lyme disease so that action can be taken quickly and effectively. We are also providing federal leadership, building consensus, mobilizing partnerships, and promoting education and awareness.
Research has shown that climate change is bringing Lyme-disease-carrying ticks further into Canada. Understanding and tracking their movement is an important part of any future strategy for combating Lyme disease.
Supporting research to generate new insights into how Lyme disease is evolving, why its impacts vary so widely, and how it can be treated is central to our efforts. That is why we are committed to supporting research on the range of strains of tick-borne pathogens and their geographic locations and on the epidemiology and intervention of the disease in Canada. This will help us better forecast how Lyme disease is spreading and how its impacts can be contained.
However, the federal government cannot and should not act alone. With Lyme disease now a national reportable disease, it should also come as no surprise that we have been working closely with the provinces and territories. Early measures include exploring how we can work together in communicating the risks of Lyme disease to the public and the medical professions.
We are also reviewing current Lyme disease guidelines to ensure that they are based on the best evidence available. This will help us educate Canadians in identifying and protecting themselves from Lyme disease.
These collaborative efforts do not occur in a vacuum. This is an integral part of the Public Health Agency of Canada's approach to managing infectious diseases. The agency's key areas of action are surveillance, prevention and control, research and diagnosis, and engagement, education and awareness.
Let me summarize just a few of the ways that work in these areas is providing real results for Canadians struggling with Lyme disease and their families.
The Public Health Agency is conducting surveillance of Lyme disease in Canada and is developing strategies to encourage preventive behaviour. It is investing in new laboratory methods to improve our surveillance of the tick that causes Lyme disease. It is undertaking research on new strains and pathogens of tick-borne diseases, and it is updating public health guidelines on Lyme disease. The agency is also working to develop new approaches to better educate both health care providers and the general public, especially those at risk of infection, about Lyme disease. Together these efforts will equip all stakeholders to better respond to Lyme disease.
Our government's current leadership in this area, coupled with the positive principle of the bill before us today, will serve to focus on protecting the health and safety of Canadians. It will recognize the need for action and leadership to mitigate the impact of Lyme disease. It will drive the imperative for evidence-based decision-making and the sharing of best practices. It will acknowledge the importance of collaboration to raise awareness of the disease, how to avoid it, and how to diagnose and treat it. It will also disseminate data on the real impact Lyme disease has already had on too many Canadian families.
That is why, as I said at the outset, I am supportive of the principle of the bill and look forward to reviewing the work undertaken by the health committee. I encourage all members of the House to support the bill.
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to congratulate Bolton resident, William J. Coyle, on his appointment as honorary colonel of 16 Wing Headquarters Borden and on receiving an honorary doctorate from the Royal Military College of Canada.
Bill has dedicated himself to serving his country, and we appreciate the countless contributions he has made during his long and distinguished career. These recent honours underscore his lifelong pursuit of personal excellence and outstanding service. We as a community celebrate his many achievements with him.
The 16 Wing headquarters will significantly benefit from Bill's considerable knowledge, immense experience and exceptional enthusiasm for the Canadian Forces.
This Honorary Doctorate is an incredible achievement and an enormous distinction, from one of Canada's most prestigious educational institutions.
Caledon is very proud of Bill's success. On behalf of the Government of Canada and the residents of Dufferin—Caledon, I would like to express my sincerest congratulations on these very special honours.
Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from a number of constituents in my riding of Dufferin—Caledon who are concerned about the issue of genetically modified alfalfa. Among a number of things, they are concerned that organic farming prohibits the use of genetic modification and that the organic sector in Canada depends on alfalfa as a high-protein feed for dairy cattle and other livestock, and as an important soil builder. The petitioners ask that the government impose a moratorium on the release of genetically modified alfalfa in order to allow a proper review of the impact on farmers in Canada.
Mr. Speaker, June is ALS month in Canada. In November, it was my distinct privilege to posthumously present the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal to retired fire captain Al Pettit, who lived in my riding of Dufferin—Caledon .
Al succumbed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis after a long fight with this deadly disease, a disease that also claimed my own father. It affects approximately 3,000 Canadians.
Al never quit fighting, whether serving as an ambassador for an ALS online forum or participating in ALS fundraising in Orangeville and Brampton. In death, Al donated his spinal cord and a portion of his brain to assist researchers. The Diamond Jubilee Medal for Al was accepted by his wife, Lee.
Al was recently recognized by the ALS Society of Canada with its lifetime achievement award for his tireless efforts on behalf of those who suffer with ALS.
I encourage all members to wear a cornflower today to show their support for the fight against ALS. Together, we will find a cure.
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be recognizing an important milestone today. Headwaters Health Care Centre, located in my riding of Dufferin—Caledon, is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
During its long history in our community, the hospital has continued to provide high-quality, safe, and exceptional patient-centred care close to home. In 1999, it became the first fully digital diagnostics department in North America. The hospital has many other considerable achievements to celebrate in its centennial year, including having the lowest emergency department wait times, having high patient satisfaction scores, being a leader in numerous best practices, and being accredited with an exemplary standing in 2012.
I encourage my colleagues, and the residents of Dufferin—Caledon, to join me in sincerely congratulating the Headwaters Health Care Centre on this very special occasion and in wishing the hospital another 100 years of community service excellence.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to be recognizing an outstanding program that is saving lives in my riding of Dufferin—Caledon. Home James, launched last fall by the Community Designated Drivers Association, is a free designated driver program to reduce impaired driving in the community.
During the 2012 holiday season, Home James recruited an impressive 145 volunteers who provided 360 rides to 822 passengers, which resulted in $9,105.78 in donations that were later presented to local youth groups on January 17.
I congratulate this exceptional organization on a job well done. I include Stan Janes and Diane Tolstoy, as well as the many service clubs and sponsors who supported the program, such as Bolton Rotary, Palgrave Rotary, Bolton Lions Club, Bolton Kinsmen, True Blue Lodge, Knights of Columbus Holy Father Catholic Church, Baffo's and Tim Hortons.
Mr. Speaker, the Highland Companies have withdrawn their application for the proposed megaquarry in Melancthon Township in my riding of Dufferin—Caledon.
I want to thank the members of the North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce, and in particular Carl Cosack, Dale Rutledge and Fred von Veh.
I want to thank Robert and Donna Wells for their photographic and fundraising contributions.
I want to thank chef Michael Stadtlander and the organizers of Foodstock and Soupstock, which spread the message about the megaquarry well beyond the borders of Dufferin—Caledon and into the GTA.
Finally, I want to thank the tens of thousands of Canadians from all across the country who signed the petitions which I presented in this place virtually every week over the past year and a half.
Thanks to the efforts of these and countless others, prime Ontario farmland has been saved and our valuable water sources protected.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to recognize a very special milestone for Caledon's senior statesman, Alex Raeburn, who will celebrate his 100th birthday on November 26, 2012.
This long-time resident in my riding of Dufferin—Caledon has made countless contributions to our community through his many years of public service to various municipal and provincial bodies and organizations. He has dedicated his life to educating his fellow citizens on the natural beauty and rich heritage of Caledon.
Alex's countless contributions have made our community a better place to live, work and play. In appreciation for his exceptional efforts, he was honoured with a spot on the Caledon Walk of Fame in 2008.
I encourage everyone to join me in wishing Alex Raeburn a very happy 100th birthday.
Mr. Speaker, our Canadian war memorials should be treated with the utmost respect. That is why yesterday our government's members supported Bill C-217, an act to protect war memorials and cenotaphs in Canada, rightly brought forward by the member for Dufferin—Caledon.
I would have liked the New Democrat members to set aside their ideology out of respect for our fallen soldiers.
Unfortunately, the NDP voted against the bill. They voted against penalties for those who intentionally defile permanent tributes to Canada's fallen heroes.
Veterans and the fallen deserve better from elected members.
Mr. Speaker, all members should thank the member for Dufferin—Caledon for bringing this important legislation forward.
Our nation's war memorials are sacred ground and those who would dishonour the memory of our veterans should face serious consequences.
This legislation would create a new offence related to protecting war memorials and would establish tough new penalties for anyone who intentionally damages or defiles these permanent tributes to Canada's fallen heroes.
There will be a vote in a few minutes. I encourage all members to support the bill. Our fallen soldiers deserve nothing less.
Mr. Speaker, it is my honour and privilege to recognize a local hero, Deputy Chief Paul Agar, who recently retired after 45 years of loyal and dedicated service to our community.
During his time with the Grand Valley and District Fire Department, Deputy Chief Agar proudly served his time as a volunteer, chief and deputy chief, while also becoming a mentor to fellow firefighters. He always gave his time unconditionally to protect the community wherever there was a fire call. His outstanding leadership and commitment to volunteer firefighting has set a wonderful example for everyone to follow. This is underscored by the fact that his family is also involved in firefighting, including his wife Carol, his son Mike and his daughter Deborah.
On behalf of the residents of Dufferin—Caledon, I sincerely congratulate Deputy Chief Paul Agar on 45 years of exemplary community service and I wish him all the very best in his retirement.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise on behalf of my constituents in Dufferin—Caledon to conclude debate on Bill C-217, which is my bill to protect war memorials and cenotaphs.
First, I would like to thank all members who participated in the debate in the various stages of the bill, which recognizes the importance of honouring and respecting the memory of those who have given their lives in service to Canada. I would especially like to thank again the members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, who gave this bill thorough scrutiny.
As members know, Bill C-217 seeks to amend the Criminal Code by adding significant penalties for any person convicted of mischief against a war memorial, cenotaph or other structure honouring or remembering those who have died as a consequence of war. The bill seeks to impose minimum penalties of a fine of not less than $1,000 for a first offence, prison of not less than 14 days for a second offence and prison of not less than 30 days for all subsequent offences.
The government moved an amendment at committee, which was accepted, to adjust the maximum penalty under indictment from five years to ten years. This is a technical amendment to keep the bill in line with the rest of the Criminal Code section on mischief. It was suggested by officials of the Minister of Justice and I am grateful for his intervention and support.
It must be pointed out that both opposition parties voted against the government's amendment and against the bill itself at committee. That says to me that they are not interested in seeking to deter individuals from damaging our most honoured places.
When I first addressed the House on the bill on November 3, 2011 and again in a subsequent debate, I cited many examples of desecrated war memorials and cenotaphs that underscore the seriousness of the problem and the need for concrete action by the House. Just a couple of months ago, an inukshuk dedicated to our soldiers in Afghanistan that stood outside Legion headquarters here in Ottawa was toppled and damaged. That was shameful.
Remembrance Day is fast approaching. It is a time when Canadians reflect on the proud heritage and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. That heritage was brought to the floor at committee, where I was joined by two proud veterans who made it clear to members how emotional this is for them. Their moving and passionate testimony was a clear example of why Bill C-217 is necessary.
It is of the utmost importance that Bill C-217 be enacted to protect the dignity of those structures and places in our communities where we honour our war dead and pay tribute to the service of men and women in uniform. Bill C-217 would help remind Canadians that soldiers' sacrifices will never be forgotten or unappreciated. Canada will continue to honour her fallen through the protection of such important structures and will punish those who disrespect them.
The opposition has suggested in the past and even tonight that rehabilitation or restorative justice is the appropriate response to those who have committed these horrific acts. Bill C-217 is not opposed to such a response but seeks punishment first for those who displayed such profound disrespect for war memorials and cenotaphs. I would remind members that a judge is free to order whatever restorative justice he or she wishes after the perpetrator has been ordered to pay at least a $1,000 fine.
The truth is that had these vandals been forced to think about the gravity of their actions prior to the damage committed, they would not likely have proceeded with such acts. Bill C-217 would make sure that potential vandals know the punishment for their crimes and therefore would think twice before proceeding with such acts due to the knowledge of the much stronger criminal sanctions to come.
Bill C-217 sends a clear message that vandalism and desecration of any Canadian cenotaph or war memorial will not be tolerated. We owe it all to the men and women who have fought and continue to fight in the Canadian Forces for our great country.
I thank all hon. members for their consideration of Bill C-217 and I urge them to support it when it comes time for a vote.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak at third reading on the private member's bill brought forward by the member for Dufferin—Caledon, whose intentions were very good in seeking to amend the Criminal Code to treat offences against war memorials more seriously.
We listened with great interest to his presentation, to the witnesses who came to the hearing, and to submissions that were made to the committee during the deliberations on this bill.
Of course, we abhor, as all citizens do, the desecration of monuments to our dead, particularly our war dead. We see this type of behaviour occurring. I would not say it is rampant, because the people speaking about it had to go back a number of years to come up with examples that were known nationally to the public, but it is something that we all abhor. I think there has been no other time in our recent history where the sacrifices of our soldiers and men and women in uniform have been more honoured, more recognized and more appreciated by citizens.
However, we are talking about an amendment to the Criminal Code here. When doing that, I think that as legislators we have to do our job, which is to pay attention to what the Criminal Code is all about, what it is trying to do, what it is seeking to achieve and to look at other aspects of the Criminal Code, the other offences that are included, and to ensure that any amendments to the Criminal Code fit in with the scheme of the code and the types of penalties given for other offences.
In doing so, we also have to keep in mind the principles of justice and sentencing, which provide that the punishment must fit the crime. The crime is broader than the particular action, but includes the state of mind of the person who commits the crime, the circumstances surrounding the crime and the damage that may be done, including the extent of the damage, the intent, the seriousness, et cetera.
When we start applying those principles to this legislation, well-intentioned though it might be, we find that it falls down. It falls down because it imposes a mandatory minimum sentence for the desecration or damaging of a war memorial, which does not exist for damaging a church property, a synagogue or, as my colleague from Scarborough—Guildwood said, a Holocaust memorial. We are treating these differently, with a sentence that could in fact be for up to 10 years in jail. The mandatory minimum would be there regardless of the circumstances of the offence, as cultural property invites a larger sentence when necessary. However, that is already there. We already have a mischief provision in the Criminal Code covering the kind of offence we are talking about. It is one that could easily be, and is, prosecuted under existing legislation.
There may have been complaints to our committee by people who said that the courts let off certain people lightly. The people who were let off lightly in these cases probably deserved stronger sentences than they got. However, I do not even think the mandatory minimums in this particular legislation would have satisfied the seriousness of the offences committed in those cases. We have a very simple provision in our Criminal Code and our criminal justice system for inadequate sentences. If someone is inadequately sentenced by the court, there is an appeal process. If there is not sufficient motivation to appeal to ensure that a proper sentence is passed, that is unfortunate, but that happens in our society.
The mandatory minimums here would not have satisfied the concerns of witnesses who came forward.
On the other hand, we did have a number of other witnesses and submissions holding the view that where serious matters of damage to war memorials where significant intent was involved, where criminal behaviour was clearly contemplated, where stealing metals or whatever off a memorial was done with an intent to destroy a monument, they would, should and could attract significant sentences.
We had a letter presented to the committee from no greater authority in terms of respect for our veterans and war dead than the Royal Canadian Legion. The president of the Dominion Command provided a letter saying that the Legion was supportive of the intent of Bill C-217 to include incidents of mischief against a war memorial as a part of our Criminal Code, but indicated that it felt that the provision of appropriate penalties suitable to the individual particulars of an incident should reflect the nature of these acts and that there should be latitude in assessing the gravity of the situation. Patricia Varga said:
The punishment should fit the crime and although no incident of this nature can be condoned, there should be provision for restorative justice measures with a mandated dialogue between veterans groups and the offenders. There should be provision where offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, to repair the harm they have done, by apologizing to a group of Veterans, or with community services. It provides help for the offender to avoid future offences and provides a greater understanding of the consequences of their actions.
We agree completely with that approach. One of the most publicized incidents in the Canadian context happened a number of years ago when a couple of individuals were caught urinating on the National War Memorial not two blocks from here. There was, as anticipated and expected, great outrage across the country with respect to that. The individuals were taken in by the Royal Canadian Legion and essentially made to understand the seriousness of what they had done because they did not appreciate the seriousness of what they had done. They were extremely apologetic and ashamed of what they had done and then assisted the Royal Canadian Legion in its work on a volunteer basis after that.
That is an example. I am not saying that every example is like that, but we do have a Criminal Code where serious offences can be treated seriously and the courts are mandated to do that in terms of how they approach sentencing.
In addition to that approach, we heard from Terrence Whitty, the national leader of the Air Cadet League of Canada, who talked about incidents in which he had been involved in with working with cadets. The Air Cadet League puts on camps and there was an incident where a particular memorial was being vandalized annually as part of a prank. Officials took the approach of ensuring that every child who went to that camp understood how important it was and that it was a memorial to Japanese veterans. Underscoring the seriousness and importance of it led to the fact that this place has now became an object of veneration by the young people and not something that was pranked against.
Those are some examples but obviously not the serious ones that my colleague opposite is talking about. However, I would say to him and to all members that serious matters should be taken seriously by the court and the law is adequate to do it right now.
I will just summarize what a professor of law said said in his presentation. He said that the bill was not necessary, that other offences already prohibit the conduct, that there was no need for a minimum punishment, that damaging war memorials already attracts a higher sentence than other forms of mischief and that higher sentences would not deter the typical offender.
I thank the member for bringing the bill forward but we will not be able to support it because of the nature of the bill, that the mandatory minimums there, that it is not proportional and that the Criminal Code already deals with the problem.
Mr. Speaker, I want to praise the hard work of the member for Dufferin—Caledon for bringing a private member's bill in this House so that every member can support a bill that will support and protect war memorials and the memory of our brave Canadians.
Regarding what happened in Belgium, acts of heartless vandalism against the graves of our fallen heroes are truly unacceptable. That is why I have instructed my officials to make sure that repairs are and will be made.
We will remember them.
Mr. Speaker, there are Conservative MPs who have actually read Bill C-38 and understand its implications. The hon. members for Wellington—Halton Hills and Dufferin—Caledon have demanded full environmental assessments for the Dufferin County megaquarry. They say that their constituents deserve no less than full environmental assessments.
We agree. In fact, we say that all Canadians have the right to full environmental assessments for these projects, all of them. However, these Conservative MPs will be forced tonight to vote for a bill that guts assessments.
Why are they increasing environmental risks? Why are they being so irresponsible to Canadians?
The electoral district of Dufferin--Caledon (Ontario) has a population of 111,486 with 77,607 registered voters and 194 polling divisions.
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