I appreciate the question by the hon. member for Winnipeg North. Although he made a reference to small business, he will know that adjournment proceedings is the time when members have the opportunity to address questions that have arisen during question period and perhaps get into a more thorough response.
I see the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke standing, so perhaps she would like to entertain the question, even though I know she did not really touch on infrastructure per se in her remarks.
The hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
I have heard both submissions. We probably have enough to get going along the same vein.
I thank both hon. members for their interventions. True enough, the issue of relevance is indeed a limit on speech in this place. However, as the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley referenced, there is a great degree of latitude on the part of members.
I am cognizant of the fact that the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke is not quite at the halfway point of her remarks in her 10-minute speech. I am fairly certain she will be incorporating some of these ideas into addressing the question before the House, as she has customarily done in the past.
The hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification).
It gives me great pleasure to rise to speak on behalf of the people of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. The people in my riding of eastern Ontario, like all Canadians, have benefited from the careful, balanced approach our national Conservative government has taken when it comes to running an economy in a modern first-world nation.
Canada is recognized as a world leader in the way we prudently manage our economy for the benefit of all our citizens. There is no on-the-job training for such an important task as managing a G7 economy. Now is not the time to be experimenting with extremist policies derived from some discredited ideology that has proven to be a failure.
There is some question who will end up being the official opposition after the next election, the Socialist International or the socialist light, which sits as the third party in this place. For the benefit of Canadians following this debate, the terms are interchangeable, as are their policies.
Bob Rae was as comfortable piling on the debt in Ontario as NDP premier as he was as the leader of today's third party in this place. Today's supply day motion, as put forth by the opposition, uses a number of terms and phrases that in the mind of a socialist means something very different from what the average middle-income Canadian family understands these terms to mean.
For example, the way this motion uses the term “productivity” ignores the role of human capital and more specifically wages. The fact that the opposition continually calls for an increase in the minimum wage, as if an increase would have no effect on productivity or small business viability, demonstrates the disconnect between the whole approach of our Conservative government, which has taken to managing our economy, as opposed to the ideological left-wing approach we see from the opposition when it had been given the chance to bankrupt an economy the way it has in Ontario.
The same can be said about taxes. Members should make no doubt about it. There is no difference between the opposition in Ottawa and the Ontario Liberal Party in Toronto, which has turned my province of Ontario into a have-not province.
It was a short easy stroll for Glenn Thibeault, the NDP MP for Sudbury, to walk into the embracing arms of the Toronto Liberal Party, the party of the gas plants, eHealth, Ornge and electricity rates, to name a few scandals, the same walk Bob Rae took in reverse. Ottawa has become a refuge for individuals who can copy the same policies that turned Ontario from being the economic engine of Canada into a have-not province. These individuals have attached themselves to the green leader of the third party.
The leader of the third party counts as his principal adviser the unseen author of this spectacular failure average Canadians are stuck with paying, known as the greed energy and greed economy act. This is the showpiece of economic policy of the left in Canada, as it features a carbon tax.
In Ontario, the other name for that carbon tax is the global adjustment and it is on every consumer's electricity bill. Canadians need look no further than the economic mess in Ontario to know where Canada will end up if opposition gets—
Mr. Speaker, certainly it is the case that proper names of members of Parliament are not to be used. I have to say that I did not hear, but the Table advises me that in fact the member for Parkdale—High Park was guilty of the transgression. I was having a side conversation with the Deputy Clerk. However, properly admonished, hopefully the member will not repeat that error.
Questions and comments, the hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for the great eastern Ontario riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to the citizen voting act.
When it comes to elections, I am pleased to confirm that I have successfully earned the confidence of the people for the last five general elections. It is with gratitude and humility that I thank the electors of my riding for the honour and the privilege of serving them in this place. As members know, the people are always right. I look forward to being given the privilege of continuing to represent the people of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke after the next general election.
Our government has a long list of important accomplishments, including the bill before us today. I congratulate the Minister of State for Democratic Reform for the excellent job he is doing on behalf of all Canadians. I look forward to working with him for many years to come.
This important bill would ensure that everyone who votes in federal elections is a Canadian citizen, and would require Canadians living abroad to follow the same ID rules as those voting from home. It would also fill a void created in the aftermath of the Ontario Superior Court decision in Frank v. Attorney General of Canada, which struck down the long-standing rules on voting while living abroad.
The citizen voting act would build upon our government's ongoing commitment to strengthen the fairness and integrity of our electoral laws. The commitment started from the time we were first elected to government when we brought into law a series of reforms to clean up the stench of corruption, which Canadians refer to as the “sponsorship scandal”.
Unfortunately, Canadians may never find out what happened to the millions of dollars that were stuffed into envelopes, to be secretly passed to Liberal candidates to subvert the democratic process.
Since 2006, we have brought forward common-sense changes that protect Canadian democracy. One does not have to look too far back to recall the Fair Elections Act, which introduced important reforms that require proof of identity and residence to cast a ballot in federal elections.
Our government is committed to treating both resident and non-resident voters fairly and equally. That is why the citizen voting act would make important reforms to the voting-by-mail procedures and would make the process fairer and more consistent. The bill would also address unfair inconsistencies in the special ballot voting system.
I would first like to take a few moments to explain the relationship between the citizen voting act and the ongoing litigation regarding non-resident voting in Ontario.
In May 2014, the Ontario Superior Court, in Frank v. Attorney General of Canada, struck down the legal requirement that, in order to vote in federal elections, citizens residing outside Canada must have done so for less than five consecutive years and have the intention to return to Canada.
For the benefit of those constituents of mine who are currently serving their country abroad as members of the Canadian Armed Forces, I am pleased to confirm that the ruling did not apply to their unique situation and will continue not to apply their service out of country. In the last federal election, my riding received the highest number of non-resident votes in the country, in no small part due to the significant number of women and men from Base Petawawa that is located in my riding. I thank them for their support. I will always watch their backs to ensure that they have the necessary equipment to do whatever their country calls upon them to do.
As a result of the Ontario court ruling, Canadians residing abroad are now able to vote in federal elections, regardless how long they have resided outside Canada, so long as they have lived in Canada at some point.
For over two decades, Canadian law limited, to five years, the length of time someone can be abroad and still vote.
For over two decades, Canadian law limited to five years the length of time someone can be abroad and still vote. We continue to believe that this is fair and reasonable and that non-residents should have a direct and meaningful connection to Canada and to their ridings to vote in federal elections. That is why our government has appealed the Ontario court ruling. Here it is important to make clear that the citizen voting act does not make any substantive changes to the provisions at issue in the Frank litigation. Our government will leave the resolution of the constitutionality of those sections to the courts.
I will now turn to the substance of the citizen voting act. The bill proposes important reforms to the vote-by-mail process that would strengthen its integrity and fairness. Specifically, it would ensure that only Canadian citizens vote in federal elections by requiring all voters applying for a mail-in ballot from outside Canada to provide proof of their Canadian citizenship.
Further, it would authorize the Chief Electoral Officer to obtain information from Citizenship and Immigration Canada that would allow Elections Canada to remove the names of non-citizens from the voters list, or to ensure that non-citizens are not added in the first place. It would put an end to the possibility of riding shopping by stipulating that non-residents can only receive a ballot for the last address at which they resided in Canada, and that they must present proof of that prior residence.
We must apply the same voter identification rules to all Canadians by requiring that everyone voting by mail include in their application proof of identity and residence consistent with the Fair Elections Act. It would create one set of rules for voting from outside the country.
Finally, it would require the Chief Electoral Officer to carry out an audit of special ballot voting after every election.
I will begin by focusing on what I think are the most important measures of the citizen voting act, the proposals that would ensure that only Canadian citizens vote in federal elections.
The National Register of Electors, or the NRE, is Canada's permanent database of qualified electors. It is intended to include only those who are eligible to vote in federal elections, those being Canadian citizens aged 18 and over.
I think we can all agree that the accuracy of the NRE is what is vital to the integrity and the fairness of Canadian elections. That is important to our Conservative government. However, its accuracy is only as good as the data that supports it. Elections Canada estimates that there are approximately 40,000 non-citizens currently on the National Register of Electors. That means that 40,000 non-citizens could receive voter information cards telling them to vote, even though they are not qualified to do so.
To deal with this unsettling issue, the citizens voting act authorizes my colleague, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, to provide the Chief Electoral Officer with information of persons who are not Canadian citizens, including their name, gender, date of birth, and addresses. This would allow Elections Canada to cross-reference the names on the NRE and delete names that are not Canadian citizens.
Let me be clear. This would not be a one-time clean-up of the voters list. The new authority would allow Elections Canada to periodically request information from the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to make sure that the list remains up to date. The purpose is clear, to not to allow 40,000 non-citizens to end up back on the National Register of Electors in the years to come.
The bill also makes an important change to require anyone applying to vote by mail from outside Canada to prove Canadian citizenship. Since proof of citizenship is required when travelling abroad, Canadians temporarily outside the country during an election would not be adversely affected by this change. I think we can all agree that this is reasonable practice and should be a part of Canada's election laws.
Collectively, these are important changes that would help prevent non-citizens from voting and should be supported.
Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
I am very pleased to rise in the House today to speak to the citizen voting act, which was introduced by my colleague, the Minister of State for Democratic Reform.
Our government has a strong record of democratic reform. We ended the per-vote subsidy. We made the House of Commons more representative with the Fair Representation Act. Most recently, we closed loopholes for big money, ensured that everyday citizens are in charge of democracy, and made it harder to break election laws with the Fair Elections Act. All of these initiatives have strengthened Canada's democracy and reinforced confidence in our electoral system.
Today I am very pleased to discuss our government's latest democratic reform initiative, the citizen voting act. The bill would ensure that everyone who votes is a Canadian citizen, and it would require voters living abroad to follow the ID rules set out in the Fair Elections Act.
Specifically, the citizen voting act would ensure that only Canadians vote in federal elections by requiring proof of citizenship from everyone voting in federal elections while abroad. This would not apply to Canadian Forces members.
Second, the bill would allow the Chief Electoral Officer to cross-reference the National Register of Electors with Citizenship and Immigration data to remove non-citizens from the voters list.
Third, the bill would put an end to the possibility of riding shopping by ensuring that non-residents receive a ballot only for the Canadian address at which they last resided.
Fourth, the bill would apply the same voter identification rules to all Canadians. Under the Fair Elections Act, Canadians living inside the country must prove who they are and where they live. Canadians support this requirement, and that is why the citizen voting act would expand it further to residents living abroad.
Finally, the bill would create one set of rules for voting from outside the country. Anyone voting while abroad, whether temporarily, on vacation, or permanently, will need to apply for a ballot in the same way and follow the same rules.
Given the limited time that I have today to discuss the citizen voting act, I am going to focus on a couple of items. First, I will focus on riding shopping.
Currently the Canada Elections Act permits non-resident voters to choose the riding that they vote in. They can select from one of four options. First, they can choose their last place of ordinary residence. Second, they can choose the address of a spouse, a relative, or a relative of a spouse. Third, they can choose the address of a dependent. Fourth, they can choose the address of someone with whom they would live if not residing outside of Canada.
Voters living in Canada do not have such flexibility. They must vote where they live at the time of an election. They cannot choose the riding in which they want their vote to be counted, and justly so.
Geographic representation is an essential characteristic of our electoral process. Canadians in each electoral district elect the candidate who they feel will best represent their interests and those of the community. Particularly in this vast country of ours, territorial-based representation ensures that diverse communities are represented in the House of Commons.
I am sure members may think that when an expatriate voter chooses his or her riding, proof of past residence is required. However, they would be wrong: Canadians living abroad are not required to provide proof to Elections Canada of their last Canadian residence. By stipulating that a non-resident voter's last place of residence in Canada would be their residence for voting purposes, the citizen voting act would end the unfair option of riding shopping and standardize the rules for resident and non-resident voters. This would ensure that each voter has a direct and meaningful connection to the riding in which he or she is voting.
I would now like to turn to the issue of voter identification.
The citizen voting act would ensure that Canadians living abroad would follow the same rules as those living in Canada. The bill would build on the Fair Elections Act by requiring Canadians voting by mail—both residents and non-residents—to include proof of identity and residence in their application for a special ballot. This requirement is similar to the rules set out in the Fair Elections Act.
The Fair Elections Act, adopted last June, contained important measures to reinforce the integrity of the vote by strengthening ID rules. According to Ipsos Reid, in April 2014, when debate about the Fair Elections Act was at its height, 87% of those polled agreed that it is reasonable to require someone to provide proof of identity and address before being allowed to vote. The citizen voting act would make this requirement consistent for all Canadians, both resident and non-resident.
The same three ID options for voting at the polls would apply to those applying to vote by mail: either a government-issued photo identification with the name or address; or two pieces of identification authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer, one with address and both with name; or two pieces of authorized identification with name and an oath or declaration of residence that is attested to by another properly identified elector.
In the case of non-residents, the attestation process would enable them to provide proof of their last residence in Canada by an oath or declaration. The person providing an attestation would be a fully proven resident or non-resident qualified to vote in the same electoral district as the person applying for the special ballot.
To account for the potential difficulty that non-residents might face in obtaining an attestation as to their former residence in Canada, the citizen voting act would allow the attestor for the previous residence of a non-resident to be qualified to vote in the same electoral district not to be of the same polling division. This is a slight variation to the attestation process for Canadians voting at the poll that was introduced by the Fair Elections Act.
A non-resident Canadian applying for a special ballot must also provide, in addition to his or her own identification proving his or her identity, copies of identification providing the identity and residence of the person providing the attestation.
Standardizing the voter identification requirements for resident and non-resident Canadians removes preferential treatment for one group of voters over another and obviously just makes sense.
Our government recognizes the unique circumstances of members of the Canadian Forces. A completely separate set of rules found in division 2 of part 11 of the Canada Elections Act governs their voting procedures. Canadian Forces members serving abroad can vote at the location they are stationed, and the citizen voting act would not affect those rules.
In conclusion, our government remains committed to ensuring that our electoral system meets the needs of voters, both in Canada and abroad. The amendments being made by the citizen voting act are necessary to ensure the fairness of the electoral process and to ensure that one set of rules applies to all Canadians.
To summarize, the bill would strengthen Canada's election laws by, first, ensuring only Canadian citizens vote in federal elections; second, putting an end to the possibility of riding shopping; third, applying the same identification rules to all Canadians; and fourth, creating one set of rules for voting from outside the country.
These important advancements will bring greater accountability, integrity, and accessibility to Canada's fundamental democratic process. These are common sense legislative changes, so I would encourage all members to support the citizen voting act.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke for all her hard work on behalf of the Canadian Armed Forces.
The Minister of National Defence is in Ukraine today, meeting with his counterpart, Defence Minister Colonel General Stepan Poltorak. Canada signed a declaration of intent to conduct joint military training in response to Russia's aggression toward Ukraine.
I can also confirm that yesterday, two CF-18 Hornets, based in Lithuania, intercepted three Russian Federation Air Force aircraft inside the Lithuanian and Estonian identification region. Our Hornets shadowed two Russian transport crafts and one bomber training aircraft for over an hour.
This is further proof that we are standing with Ukraine against Russian aggression.
Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I am pleased to inform Canadians about how our Conservative government is successfully implementing the initiatives in our economic action plan to promote jobs and growth and support families and communities. Our initiatives, which are part of Canada's economic action plan, greatly benefit families in rural regions, such as my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke.
One of the important requirements of municipalities that is being met by our federal Conservative government is the provision of long-term predictable funding for infrastructure. I am very proud of our government, as it has delivered a new building Canada plan to help finance the construction, rehabilitation, and enhancement of infrastructure across my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke. As the people in my riding know, they have been abandoned by the Liberal Party of Ontario. Unlike the Province of Ontario, which discriminates against rural Ontario by withholding provincial gas tax revenues, our federal government returns gas tax revenues to the municipalities to do the needed infrastructure upgrades and take the pressure off the property tax base, which, along with the high electricity energy prices, is forcing people on fixed incomes, like seniors, out of their homes.
Through the now-permanent and indexed federal gas tax fund, last year communities in my riding made needed infrastructure repairs. Communities like the Township of McNab/Braeside received almost $221,000 for road reconstruction. Madawaska Valley received approximately $134,000 to reconstruct Tamarack Road; and the Township of Laurentian Valley received almost $600,000 in federal gas taxes to resurface or reconstruct five roads in 2013: Ema Street, Spruce Street West, Whispering Pines Crescent, Vaudry Drive, and B-Line Road. North Algona Wilberforce received over $98,000 to begin work on Marsh Road, to resurface Snodrifters Road, and to construct a dry storage shed for salt.
The Township of Admaston/Bromley received $83,000 to resurface South McNaughton Road. The City of Pembroke received almost $860,000 to reconstruct the Pembroke Street Bridge, as part of an ongoing federal contribution since 2011 to fix various streets and replace water and sewer lines, amounting to over $1.7 million. The County of Renfrew received $2.5 million for road resurfacing and rehabilitation. The Town of Renfrew received $250,000 in federal gas tax dollars to rehabilitate Queen Street. In 2013, Petawawa received almost $0.5 million for Herman Street, with a cumulative federal gas tax fund total for that project amounting to almost $1 million.
The Township of Whitewater Region received $378,000 to resurface Pleasant Valley Road and Rapid Road and Bromley Line Road to the end. The Town of Arnprior received $360,000 for roadwork; and the Township of Bonnechere Valley received over $93,000 to reconstruct and put a new surface on Crimson Maple Road.
The Town of Deep River received $96,000 for work at the W.B. Lewis Public Library parking lot and sidewalk. The Township of Killaloe-Hagarty-Richards received over $24,000 for sidewalks, and $150,000 for roads and culverts. Horton Township received $40,000 for roads. The United Townships of Head, Clara, and Maria received $23,000 for HVAC improvements.
Greater Madawaska received over $84,000 to pay down debt on a waste management project started in 2005, for a cumulative total of over $400,000, and other federal funding of $225,000 for a total project cost of $1.2 million. The Township of Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan received over $180,000 to resurface a 2-kilometre section of the Jewellville Road and a 3.5-kilometre section of the Addington Road. The Township of South Algonquin received $226,000 to do Hay Lake Road repairs, and to repair Maple Drive, Galeairy Lake, and Algonquin Street.
In total, in 2013, $6.9 million flowed to my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, generating over $20 million in municipal construction activity.
I remind municipalities, particularly municipalities in Ontario, that the backroom advisors in Toronto who devised the policy to discriminate against rural municipalities and only pay out the provincial gas tax revenues to urban communities have surrounded the inexperienced leader of the Liberal Party here in Ottawa. They want federal gas tax dollars to pay for failed social experiments, like the industrial wind turbines that no community wants, and have cancelled the gas plants.
They refer to the industrial wind turbine white elephants as a green initiative to save the environment. In fact, the Liberal Party in Ontario is being sued for $653 million for manipulating the so-called Green Energy Act by using “political favouritism, cronyism and local preference”, according to the court filing. Compare and contrast that with the long-term predictable funding associated with the way our federal Conservative government manages federal gas tax funds to municipalities.
Just ask the president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, AMO, what he thinks of federal municipal partnerships. He said we are open, honest, and transparent.
Moreover, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has acknowledged that our tax relief has successfully targeted low and middle-income families. He said, “Cumulative tax changes since 2005”, which is when our government took office, “have been progressive overall and most greatly impact low-middle income earners (households earning between $12,200 and $23,300), effectively resulting in a 4.0 per cent increase in after-tax income”.
The federal tax burden is at its lowest rate in 50 years. We have removed more than one million low-income Canadians from the tax rolls entirely. The average family of four will save nearly $3,400 this year, and a small business with revenues of around $0.5 million now saves over $28,000 in taxes, thanks to our low-tax plan.
It is clear that Canada has become an international success story, but Canada is not immune from economic challenges beyond our borders. Those challenges include foreign dirty money funnelled to special interest groups to implement policies that would kill jobs in our forestry and energy sectors. Our government is clear that as long as Canadians are looking for jobs, we will not pursue policies, particularly ones based on junk science, that will put ordinary working Canadians out of their homes and out of work.
With that, I will now turn to the measures in today's legislation that would build on our success and ensure that we would continue to keep Canada on track for job creation and balanced budgets. First, Bill C-43 reaffirms the government's commitment to making our tax system simpler and fairer. It closes tax loopholes and strengthens tax enforcement to ensure that taxes are low for all taxpayers, not only a select few. Allow me to highlight some of the measures we have taken to improve the fairness and integrity of the tax system.
I would like to close my initial comments by saying that for the first time, according to The New York Times, middle-income Canadians are better off than Americans. That is something Canadians can be very proud of. I urge my parliamentary colleagues to support their country by voting in favour of all the good measures contained in Bill C-43.
Mr. Speaker, jobs, growth and long-term economic prosperity continue to be our government's priority.
Could the Minister of State for Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario please update the House on an important announcement he made in my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke this morning?
Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to speak in support of Bill S-4, the digital privacy act. Bill S-4 is an essential part of Digital Canada 150, our Conservative government's plan to confirm our leadership in Canada in the digital age.
Bill S-4 proposes a number of important changes to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, PIPEDA, that will strengthen the protection of Canadians' privacy. The digital privacy act would also set new rules on how personal information is collected, used, and disclosed. Most importantly, this legislation requires organizations to tell Canadians if their personal information has been compromised. Companies who fail to inform Canadians about privacy breaches would be subject to severe fines for breaking the rules.
The digital privacy act is a balanced approach that protects Canadians' personal information. It allows for information sharing when the law has been broken. This balanced approach confirms our Conservative government's respect for personal privacy.
Let us now address any misunderstanding by individuals who have not read our legislation, particularly when things are read into this bill that clearly do not exist, such as claims that this bill expands warrantless disclosure
When all parties in this House agreed to enact PIPEDA over a decade ago, we recognized that there were certain limited circumstances where an individual's right to privacy should be balanced to assist the public interest. For example, PIPEDA ensures that the right to freedom of expression is respected by allowing for information to be collected and used for journalistic or artistic purposes. Another example is that PIPEDA allows people to freely share information with their lawyer, even if it includes the personal information of another individual, to ensure the proper administration of justice.
PIPEDA allows private sector organizations to disclose individuals' personal information in order to conduct investigations that help protect Canadians from wrongdoing. This provision has always existed within PIPEDA. Bill S-4 does not expand this practice. Rather, our legislation would place tight rules and strict limits on when and how private organizations could share Canadians' personal information.
I would like to emphasize to the House the role of private organizations and how they can play an important role in creating a safe and secure society for Canadians. Consider, for example, self-regulating professional associations, like the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, the Law Society of Alberta, or the Association of Professional Engineers of Nova Scotia. These bodies have the legal authority to investigate their members and take disciplinary action where required. This may be because a physician is performing procedures that he or she is not qualified to perform; it may be because a lawyer is charging inappropriate fees to clients; or, it may be because an engineer is approving the drawings for a new building without actually reviewing them.
It is not difficult to see there is a real public interest in making sure that these professional associations have the ability to investigate complaints against their members and to ensure they are meeting high professional standards that benefit Canadian society. In order to do so, investigators must be able to obtain personal information that is protected under PIPEDA. For example, when investigating a complaint against a lawyer, the law society may request that the lawyer's firm provides access to his or her client lists, financial records, or calendar. All of these records could include personal information which normally could not be disclosed to investigators without the individual's consent.
Under PIPEDA as it now stands, investigators who want to access personal information without consent must be listed as an investigative body by Industry Canada. This involves coming forward to the department and justifying the need to access the information. This is an onerous process for organizations and for the government. For example, a simple name change by an investigative organization may lead to a year-long regulatory process before the change is reflected in the law.
During the first statutory review of PIPEDA, the House of Commons committee recommended that PIPEDA be amended to change the rules for private investigations and adopt a system that is consistent with both Alberta and British Columbia. Under these regimes, there is a general exception to consent for information sharing purposes of private sector investigations.
In essence, these provincial laws regulate the activity of private investigations rather than the organizations who conduct them. Bill S-4 would introduce similar rules to those that already exist in Alberta and British Columbia. By placing tight rules and stricter limits on when and how private organizations can share a Canadian's personal information, our government is complying with the recommendations made by the all-party committee.
Upon Bill S-4 being enacted, private organizations would be required to abide by four strict rules when sharing a Canadian's private information for the purposes of an investigation. It is important for Canadians to appreciate that despite these rules, private organization information sharing is voluntary. These rules only apply in the event that an organization agrees to disclose information for the purposes of an investigation. These rules are as follows:
First, the information can only be provided to another private organization, not the government and not law enforcement. Second, the information that is requested must be relevant to the investigation. For example, there is little reason that a social insurance number would be released for the purposes of investigating professional misconduct. Third, the investigation must pertain to a contravention of the law or breach of a contract. Finally, it must be reasonable to believe that seeking the consent of the individual to disclose the information would compromise the investigation.
To be clear, organizations that share information would continue to be subject to all other requirements of PIPEDA. The Privacy Commissioner and the Federal Court will continue to have oversight on this matter, and if an organization is found to be using the exemption provisions where it is not necessary, action would be taken by the commissioner or by the court.
The Conservative government always takes the privacy of all Canadians very seriously. Our fundamental beliefs, such as democracy, the right to own private property, and the right of freedom of association, are complementary. They are why we introduced the digital privacy act, to protect Canadians' private information in the digital age.
I look forward to the remainder of the debate and working with the opposition for all Canadians on how we can best protect individuals in the digital world.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, for her excellent presentation and for all the hard work she does on the Standing Committee on National Defence and her strong support for the Canadian Armed Forces and the brave men and women who serve.
I appreciate the comments she made about the Canadian special operations forces and the expertise that they bring to the field and also her comments highlighting the risks that Canadians are facing because of ISIL. I would ask if she could go into a little more detail, talking about how ISIL is more than just a brutal terrorist regime that is terrorizing ethnic and religious minorities within Iraq and what type of regional and global security threat they represent.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the member for Mississauga—Streetsville. It is an honour to rise in the House today to speak on the troubling situation in Iraq. I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for granting the request for an emergency debate on this serious situation and to discuss the government's ongoing response.
The spread of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, has been accompanied by heinous acts of brutality against Iraq's religious minority communities. In August, we witnessed the harrowing scenes of tens of thousands of Yazidis stranded in the Sinjar mountains, men, women and children who fled en masse under the threat of torture, enslavement and death at the hands of ISIL.
The persecution of Iraq's Christian communities has been no less brutal. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians have now fled their homes, having been faced with the stark choice of the advancing Islamist militants: submit to Islam, flee, or be killed.
By some estimates, we are now witnessing the near total disappearance of Christians from the region. Whereas the population included more than one million Christians prior to 2003, including over 600,000 in Baghdad and tens of thousands more in Mosul and in Kirkuk as of late July, these numbers are estimated to have dwindled to less than 400,000 with many more having now fled Iraq as the violence has accelerated over the past six weeks. The incredible loss that this represents for Iraq, for the region and for the world cannot be overstated.
The 2,000-year-old Iraqi Christian community was founded by the immediate successors to the Apostles. It has made substantial contributions to the economic, intellectual and cultural heritage of the Middle East. However, most crucially, the pluralism fostered by the existence of these communities alongside their Muslim neighbours is a crucial ingredient in fostering the tolerance, respect and pluralism that Iraq must embrace for it to achieve everlasting stability. Without a stable presence of Christians and religious minorities in Iraq, the chances of building a democratic country grounded in respect for the rule of law is greatly diminished.
We recognize that the perpetrators of these acts of violence are adherents to a twisted religious ideology motivated by a belief in a divine call to war against the enemies of Islam. This is a spreading cancer. The hateful ideology that motivates ISIL is also fuelling violence in East Africa, in Nigeria, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and throughout the Middle East. While the government has rightly directed the Canadian military to support our friends and allies in stopping ISIL's advance on the ground, military force alone cannot root out the long-term threat posed by Islamic extremism.
For this reason, the government is also focused on advancing the cause of religious freedom in Iraq as part of our overarching response to the crisis. This means that beyond our short-term efforts to protect religious communities that have fled the violence, we recognize that a stable Iraqi government, grounded first in religious tolerance and ultimately in religious freedom, is the only reliable way out of this spiral of violence, persecution and death being fostered by the extremist views of the Islamists.
The majority of Muslims in Iraq and throughout the world deplore the false interpretation of Islam in whose name the violence is being perpetrated. However, they must also recognize that the extremism flourishes in an environment without respect and tolerance for religious diversity and religious difference. Legal and social restrictions on religious freedom, including the prohibitions against blasphemy and apostasy that we have seen elsewhere in Muslim majority countries, cannot be allowed to take hold in Iraq; not just because they infringe on the rights of Christians and other minorities to practise their faiths, but because they discourage the liberalizing voices within Islam that are crucial to countering the influences of the extremists in the long term.
This is precisely why the government has committed to advancing freedom of religion as a central component of our response to the situation in Iraq.
Through the Office of Religious Freedom, we will be working over the medium- and long-term to promote interfaith dialogue, to encourage understanding and respect between Iraq's religious communities, and to help build a political and social framework that allows all Iraqis to express their faith freely and without fear. To that end, over the next two to three months, the Office of Religious Freedom is working to identify, in collaboration with implementing partner organizations, a number of initiatives to assist in these efforts. We will also be reaching out to friends and allies to build recognition of the important role religious freedom will play in ensuring long-term, sustainable peace in Iraq and the ultimate defeat of Islamist-fuelled violence.
Our ambassador for religious freedom, Dr. Andrew Bennett, is also conducting outreach with the Canadian-Iraqi religious community, including members of the Syriac and Chaldo-Assyrian churches, the Yazidis, representatives from the Jewish community, and Shia and Sunni Muslim community leaders, to identify how best to help Iraq's threatened religious communities and support longer term tolerance and freedom. Ambassador Bennett has also held a fruitful discussion with a number of faith-based aid organizations, such as the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and Aid to the Church in Need, to explore opportunities for a partnership with Canada on the ground. As a multicultural and multi-faith society, Canada is uniquely called to promote the peaceful coexistence of Iraq's various religious and ethnic communities. We have a rich and proud tradition of diversity, respect and tolerance, a tradition that has yielded peace and prosperity for our people. Through our engagement in Iraq, we will honour this tradition by acting against hate and persecution, by championing the values of pluralism and religious freedom, and supporting Iraqis as they work to build a more stable future.
As the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, which includes CFB Petawawa, I am proud to acknowledge the Canadian Special Operations Regiment, CSOR, which is headquartered in Petawawa. CSOR was established in 2006 and is the first new Canadian regiment to be stood up since 1968 when the Canadian Airborne Regiment was created. On that note, the politically motivated decision to disband the airborne regiment was wrong. In today's troubled world, I know that Canadians would benefit from those skills.
As Canadians are aware, CSOR members have been deployed to Iraq to advise and provide intelligence first-hand to the Canadian government about the situation in Iraq and the threat posed by ISIL. On behalf of the Canadian government, I wish to thank the Petawawa families of serving soldiers for the important role they play in keeping the home fires burning.
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-618, An Act to amend the Lobbying Act (reporting obligations).
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure on behalf of the people of my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke and the people of Canada to introduce this bill, an act to amend the Lobbying Act, to read as the foreign lobbying transparency act.
This legislation is all about following the dollar, in this case to foreign capitals with very un-Canadian agendas.
I am proud to be Canadian. All Canadians have built something very special in this country. Any time there is a national discussion, Canadians have a right to know whose voice is being heard and why.
Canadians have been made very aware that foreigners have been secretly funding single or special interest groups whose lobbying efforts do not enjoy the support of regular hard-working Canadians. Many of these groups could not exist without foreign funding.
In my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, thousands of hard-working Canadians depend on their livelihood from the working forest. Misinformation jeopardizes those jobs. Canadians have a right to know the sources of funding for those groups that seek to take away jobs from Canadians.
The foreign lobbyist transparency act would achieve financial transparency and improved accountability through the public reporting of payments made by foreigners to lobbyists.
I welcome the member for Scarborough—Guildwood to refer to this legislation as a sunshine bill.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)
Mr. Speaker, the residents of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke who pay their taxes, who are not hiding money, do not have to worry. They are in touch with my office and we are helping them through this.
However, let me tell some more facts. AECL is a key player in the global non-proliferation and de-proliferation efforts by doing the following:
—increasing the need for alternatives to highly-enriched uranium. As part of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative’s goal to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological material located at civilian sites worldwide, AECL leads the development of a uranium molybdenum dispersion fuel....U-Mo is a high density fuel which allows the use of low enriched uranium to achieve the same fuel equivalent as some highly enriched fuels. And the spent fuel is much cleaner as well.
Therefore, not only are we doing great things in medicine and producing economical, sustainable, clean energy for electricity, but we are helping to keep the world a safer place.
The electoral district of Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke (Ontario) has a population of 98,803 with 75,223 registered voters and 208 polling divisions.
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