Mr. Speaker, I just want to reply to the comments from my friend and colleague, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. If anything, he has served to reinforce the point of order that I made this morning.
I reiterate that he has not at any point contradicted that the rule book says that in committee, motions for the previous question are inadmissible. The member has not contradicted that in any way. That reinforces the principal argument that we made this morning, which is that committees cannot just write their own rule book and that they indeed do have to follow House of Commons Procedure and Practice.
The government House leader made essentially political arguments, and I want to take a few minutes to reply to the political arguments he made before I come back to the technicality. Political arguments are basically the only thing that the government is hanging its hat on.
First is the issue of speed and the importance of the legislation. We have no doubt that this is important legislation that needs to be considered. However, as the 100 law professors across the country noted this morning in their open letter to the government and all members of Parliament, saying that this dangerous legislation needs to be amended or killed:
...Bill C-51 does not include “the type of concrete, effective measures that have been proven to work [against radicalization], such as working with communities on measures to counter radicalization of youth — [and the bill] may even undermine outreach.”
On the issue of speed, we have 100 of Canada's leading law professors across the country, most of whom are in Conservative ridings, saying they have read and scrutinized the bill and that what it would actually do is maybe even hinder the types of measures that the government should be putting into place.
We have seen the Conservatives claw back money from the RCMP. That was an issue in this House last week, as you know, Mr. Speaker. It is a program that was supposed to counter radicalization, and instead the government clawed back money.
We have seen the government gut the Canada Border Services Agency, eliminating hundreds of front-line investigative officers in the Canada Border Services Agency. All the measures that the Conservatives should be taking if there is real concern from the government side about taking effective measures, they are not taking. In fact, the Conservatives have done measures that are counterproductive.
Therefore, the issue that the government House leader raises about speed contradicts every action the Conservatives have carried out over the last few months, except putting in place Bill C-51, which the most learned law professors in the country, the experts that the government members refuse to hear from, say does not include the concrete, effective measures that are needed and that bill may even undermine that outreach and those measures.
Second is the issue of the New Democrats speaking in committee. What the government House leader forgot to mention, or omitted mentioning, is that over the course of this week New Democrats have called for hearings that would include hearing expert testimony and hearing from Canadians. The hearings would take place during both day and evening, including the break weeks. It is Conservatives who refuse to sit during break weeks. It is Conservatives who have refused to sit in the evening. Hard-working NDP members of Parliament, such as the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca and the member for Alfred-Pellan, are saying we should sit next week. It is a break week, but let us be in Ottawa and let us hear from experts.
The Conservatives say they do not want to work on this bill next week. We had New Democrats saying they want to sit in the evening and Conservatives saying they do not want to sit, that they want to go to their socials or to the bar and do not want to sit during an evening session.
Quite frankly, it is appalling to hear Conservatives who refused those extra hearings now saying that somehow the New Democrats did not want to work. We always want to work. We are the worker bees in this House. We do not mind being the worker bees. We do not mind scrutinizing legislation. However, it is simply false to pretend that Conservatives wanted to work and New Democrats did not. We want to work night and day on this bill. We believe it requires close scrutiny. It is Conservatives who have systematically blocked that tight scrutiny.
The question has to be asked: what are they afraid of? What are they hiding? Why do they not want full scrutiny of the bill? Who are the Conservatives cutting out by slashing the witness list? How many former prime ministers have expressed concerns about this bill? How many former chief justices or justices of the Supreme Court are they cutting out? How many people who have actually been involved in security issues are they cutting out? How many of those law professors who are some of the leading minds on security issues in the country are the Conservatives refusing to hear from?
They want a short list with only pro-government witnesses, except for a handful of people who may have opposing concerns or real concerns about this bill.
The Conservatives say that they want to hear from the public, but everything they have done this week demonstrates exactly the opposite. They want to shut down debate. They do not want to sit during break weeks. They do not want to sit during the evenings. They want to get through this bill with the minimum amount of public scrutiny.
Finally, we get to the one procedural argument that was raised. I will say this to conclude. You have been very patient, Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate that. The argument is what the government House leader admits is a technicality. He said that we had not had a report from the committee, and he was going to hang his hat on that technicality. That is the one procedural argument that the Conservatives have to offer— as if a Conservative majority that has just ripped up the rule book and run roughshod over the procedures, precedents, and practice that we have had in the House of Commons for 150 years, as if the Conservatives are going to send the evidence to the House of Commons.
I am simply going to ask members of the House. We can solve this very simply. If that little technicality is the only thing that the government can point to to avoid the important guidance and wisdom that we have asked for from the Speaker, which we hope to get in the coming days, I am going to ask unanimous consent for the following motion: that the official transcript of the 51st meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security of Thursday, February 26, 2015, be deemed to be the 10th report of said committee and that it be deemed reported to the House.
That way, the evidence is delivered. Conservatives cannot hide it. The government cannot hang its hat on a technicality. What that means, of course, is that the truth will out.
moved that Bill C-638, An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (wreck), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl for seconding this piece of legislation, and I also want to acknowledge the work that has been done by the member for Victoria and the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.
What exactly is it that Bill C-638 does? It designates the Coast Guard as the receiver of wrecks for the purposes of the Canada Shipping Act, allowing them to take action without being directed to by a ministry. It would also compel the government to create regulations for the removal, disposition, or destruction of derelict vessels or wrecks.
I have had a number of emails asking me exactly what we mean by a wreck. I will go to part 7 of the Canada Shipping Act, section 153. It says that a wreck is defined as:
jetsam, flotsam, lagan and derelict and any other thing that was part of or was on a vessel wrecked, stranded or in distress
Part of the reason I brought this bill forward is that what we have out there is a jurisdictional quagmire. We have three separate federal government departments that end up dealing with wrecks, whether it is Transport Canada, whether it is Environment Canada, or whether it is the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Then we have provincial and municipal levels of government as well. I want to quote from a report called “Dealing with Problem Vessels and Structures in B.C. Waters”. This report says:
Dealing with problem vessels and structures can be highly complex due to the mix of provincial ownership of land, federal jurisdiction over navigation and shipping and sometimes conflicting federal and provincial laws.... Determining what laws apply can be complicated by the fact that Provincial laws or local government bylaws that would be applicable to a structure or vehicle on dry land may not apply to vessels because they either conflict with federal laws such as the Canada Shipping Act, or infringe on the core of the federal government's responsibility for navigation and shipping.
What ends up happening, actually, and I will give an example a little later on, is that departments end up pointing their fingers at each other, or levels of government end up pointing their fingers at each other, and nobody takes responsibility.
We might ask, what is the scope of this problem? Unfortunately, part of the problem is that we do not have a really good inventory of this. However, there was some attempt in British Columbia to deal with the problem of derelict vessels. There was a report called “Vessels of Concern Inventory” produced by Transport Canada in March 2014. In this report, and it only focused on British Columbia, it said that a total of 245 vessels of concern have been identified in this inventory.
In my riding, for example, the town of Ladysmith has 45 vessels. South of me, the city of Victoria has 22 vessels, and so on, but there is a caveat in this report. It said, “The reader is cautioned that this inventory consolidates only the municipalities responding”.
Most people feel that the problem is seriously understated in British Columbia, and we know that this is a problem from coast to coast to coast. We are hopeful that all members of this House will be seized of this issue and will support what is really a first step. This is just a very preliminary first step.
“Vessels of Concern Inventory” also indicated that “Many problem vessels of concern to local governments and the public are not obstructions to navigation and therefore [Transport Canada] is unable to take direct action”.
I want to point out that this report was done by Transport Canada, and it highlights part of the jurisdictional problem.
Before I get into some examples, I want to mention a couple of people who have worked on this issue for a number of years. The first person is Lori Iannidinardo, who is a regional director for the Cowichan Valley Regional District and is responsible for Cowichan Bay. Unfortunately, Cowichan Bay, which is a lovely part of my riding, has had a number of problems with derelict vessels.
I have to acknowledge the former fisheries minister from the east coast. One of the vessels broke loose and was floating around in high winds, and when I went to the fisheries minister, he immediately had the Coast Guard get the vessel secured and tied up. They did not deal with the fact that the vessel was still in Cowichan Bay, but at least it was secured so that it was not running amok in the bay, where there are many other vessels, including commercial vessels.
I also want to acknowledge Sheila Malcolmson, the former chair of Islands Trust. Both Sheila and Lori have been working on raising awareness and seeking solutions.
Recently, Sheila Malcolmson sought and gained support from the Town of Ladysmith and the Regional District of Nanaimo for my bill, Bill C-638. In a 2013 letter to the transport minister, Sheila, as the former Islands Trust chair, highlighted the challenges facing our communities. The Islands Trust has been concerned about derelict and abandoned vessels for decades and has been asking since 2010 for the Province of British Columbia and the federal government to develop a coordinated approach to the timely removal of all types of derelict and abandoned vessels, barges, and docks.
Although we are grateful for the leadership shown by Transport Canada staff with some specific derelict vessel removals last year, no permanent solutions have been adopted. Derelict and abandoned vessels, barges, and docks pose environmental contamination and safety risks. They also create visual pollution in communities, which negatively impacts tourism and commercial activities.
The age of vessels in Canadian waters is increasing and so the number of incidents of abandoned and derelict vessels is expected to increase and become unmanageable. I will give a very recent example of how difficult this is for our communities to deal with.
Just the other day, I wrote a letter to the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Minister of the Environment, highlighting a current situation. In the letter I indicated that on August 31, 2012—we are talking two-and-a-half years later, and we have still not dealt with the problem—a survey was commissioned for the Canadian Coast Guard. It said that the Viki Lyne II, also known as the Aberdeen, posed a significant, imminent, and ever-increasing threat to the environment due to her deteriorated condition and the significant amount of oil aboard. The survey recommended that the only certain way of removing the threat was to disassemble and scrap the vessel. More than two years later the vessel remains a threat.
In the fall of 2014, 20,000 litres of oil was pumped from the Viki Lyne II by the Coast Guard. However, 13,000 litres of oil and solvent remain on board. Unfortunately, the resources to remove the remainder of the material are limited.
This is part of the problem. If it is a hazard to navigation, Transport Canada will step in and secure the vessel. If the vessel is actually leaking oil into the water, Environment Canada will step in and do something. However, the problem in this particular vessel's case is that they pumped out the oil and left all of this sludge in the bottom of the vessel, and the vessel is listing and threatening to sink. In the Coast Guard's own assessment, the vessel is said to be deteriorating, yet the vessel still sits there. The community is waiting for it to sink and then maybe someone will step in and deal with the cleanup, which would probably cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more than if the vessel were removed from the bay.
We have been working on this issue for months now. In an email on February 6, we wrote to the Minister of Transport and said that the vessel appeared to be listing and, given a forecast of lots of rain and possible high winds in the coming week, there was concern that the vessel could sink. The transport minister wrote back to us saying that it had been determined that the vessel was not now, nor would it likely ever become, an obstruction to navigation in its current position and, therefore, that the navigation protection program had no mandate to intervene in this matter.
I do not know if Transport Canada staff have actually been out to the west coast where we get big winds and big seas. We know it is not a question of if the vessel will sink, but when it will. The transport minister has known for years that this vessel is a problem, yet there is no action.
It is not just about the environmental pollution, or just about it being a hazard to navigation. I want to read a letter from the Stz'uminus First Nation. They have also written a letter to the Minister of Transport about the Viki Lyne II, or Aberdeen as it is known. They wrote that it would be an environmental disaster, affecting the traditional waters of the Stz'uminus First Nation, where there is a vibrant and established shellfish industry, a growing marine tourism industry, and B.C.'s most successful west purple martin colony, thereby threatening the very lifestyle of a region known for its connection to the sea
Therefore, not only is it an environmental hazard and a hazard to navigation, but it also affects the very livelihood of the people who live in the area. It is quite shocking to me that we cannot get any movement to deal with this longstanding problem.
There are many examples, and I wish I had time to go over all of them. However, as I said, there are 245 vessels that have been identified, and that does not even come close to representing the scope of the problem. I do not have time to go over every vessel and the state it is in, but we have concerns from the provincial government as well. The provincial government and municipalities are urging the federal government to come to the table and show leadership in tackling this problem.
I want to mention one other vessel, the Trojan, which was adrift in Maple Bay. This vessel was inadequately anchored. It did not have enough rode, and the mooring attachment was not sufficient for the size of the vessel. We contacted Transport Canada, and because the vessel was temporarily secured and not in the navigation channel at the time, Transport Canada said it could not touch it.
I understand Transport Canada's perspective. Transport Canada's mandate is that it cannot step in until it becomes a hazard to navigation. However, in this case, because there was no environmental concern, Environment Canada could not step in either.
We get some extreme tides on the west coast. For a while, at low tide, the Trojan was not drifting around the bay. However, as soon as some extremely high tides came in, the vessel was drifting around the bay.
One of the constituents who had been involved in this said that the last word they had from Transport Canada under the navigation protection program was that it is considering its options. The constituent followed up and inquired about who had responsibility for removal and cleanup when, not if, the Trojan ran aground, but received no reply.
The constituent goes on to say:
Of course, the problem with Transport Canada's response...is that when the vessel becomes an obstruction to navigation (again) or a danger to property (again), it may be too late for remedial action.
In this case, it had actually damaged some private property when it had broken loose at some point.
We had a tremendous amount of support for this bill, but I want to remind people that this bill is only a first step. We are constrained in private members' business about what we can ask for in a private member's bill.
I have to acknowledge that the Minister of Transport has been convening meetings discussing the Washington State model, which is probably a good model for for Canada to look at.
The Minister of Transport has also been responding and acknowledging the depth of the problem, but in the meantime, municipalities and first nations are rallying to support my bill because they recognize that it represents at least some movement. Again, it would designate the Coast Guard as a receiver of wrecks and require the government to set some regulations.
The Town of Ladysmith has written a letter to the minister indicating support for this bill. The letter says:
The problem continues to grow and poses an ever-grave threat to our communities. Derelict and abandoned vessels leach many different environmental toxins into our waters, pose serious navigational hazards, and adversely affect both aesthetics and local economies. Local governments like ours are virtually powerless to address this issue which has such serious consequences for our communities.
Just the other day, the Regional District of Nanaimo also supported Bill C-638. The regional district directors voted unanimously at their regular meeting to write a letter in support of private member's Bill C-638, which would see the Canadian Coast Guard take on full responsibility for derelict vessels littering the coastline.
Bowen Island Municipality has also indicated its support because of the issues around environmental, economic, and navigational hazards posed by derelict and abandoned vessels.
I am hopeful that there will be support from all members in this House for this legislation as a good first step. I think it is important not only in terms of environmental hazards and hazards to navigation but also in terms of the impact on economic opportunities when derelict vessels run aground or sink.
Again, I am looking forward to further debate on this bill. I am expecting to see it pass on to committee for further review.
Mr. Speaker, let me start by saying how proud I am of our leader and our party for taking a principled stand against this flawed piece of legislation.
As I move closer to retirement, I have been reflecting on my past nine years here in Ottawa. I often think about all those individuals, not only in my riding but right across this country, who are deeply committed to the cause of social justice. As a member of Parliament, it has been an honour for me to work with them in our common struggle for a better world. The issues have been many: world peace, food sovereignty, climate change, the environment, poverty, violence against women, and many others.
As a party, we have taken principled stands against the ideologically driven policies of the current Conservative government, such as its so-called tough-on-crime agenda, the abandonment of environmental protection, and anti-labour legislation. Today our position on Bill C-51 is consistent with this proud NDP tradition.
I should say that with all this anti-terrorism and anti-Muslim hype generated by the Conservatives, it would have been easy to come out in support of this draconian piece of legislation. After all, it appears, as the polls are saying, that Canadians are afraid, and they want tougher laws to protect them against terrorists. However, as the official opposition, that would not be in the best interests of Canadians.
I believe that my party has taken the responsible approach, and I am very proud of it. After carefully listening to experts and studying Bill C-51 in detail, we have determined that the bill would be a direct threat to the rights and freedoms we currently enjoy in this country. Here I would like to offer my sincere thanks to my colleagues from Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca and Alfred-Pellan and the research team for their due diligence on Bill C-51.
The following points summarize our concerns.
This bill threatens our way of life by asking Canadians to choose between their security and their freedoms. The bill was not developed in consultation with the other parties, all of whom recognize the real threat of terrorism and support effective, concrete measures to keep Canadians safe.
What is more, the bill irresponsibly provides CSIS with a sweeping new mandate without equally increasing oversight. It contains definitions that are broad, vague and threaten to lump together legitimate dissent with terrorism. It does not include the type of concrete, effective measures that have been proven to work, such as working with communities on measures to counter radicalization of youth.
We agree that terrorism is a real threat and everyone agrees that public safety should be a top priority for any government, but Canadians should not have to choose between their security and their rights. The Prime Minister is offering them a false choice.
We need concrete measures that protect Canadians without eroding our freedoms and undermining our way of life. However, time and time again, the Prime Minister goes too far and puts politics before principles.
As I endeavoured to study this bill, I read through various articles that appeared in our mainstream media. A number of them, such as the National Post editorial of February 19, dealt with the efforts of university professors and national security specialists Craig Forcese and Kent Roach, who have produced three exhaustive analyses of Bill C-51. They are concerned about the new powers granted to CSIS to engage in disruptive activities.
We have also recently learned from an internal RCMP document that the environmental movement is already being targeted as a national security threat. According to the National Post, “that does not require a particularly paranoid mind to be interpreted as evidence that the environmental movement is already being targeted as a national security threat”.
Prior to CSIS being created in 1984, the RCMP had engaged in disruptive activities that were illegal. That is why the McDonald Commission was created and why CSIS was given a mandate to collect and analyze information and produce intelligence about potential national security threats to Canada. Now, under Bill C-51, they would be able to do legally what the RCMP was doing illegally in the 1960s and 1970s. This is a direct threat to the rights and freedoms we currently enjoy.
As our leader stated:
Bill C-51 would expand CSIS’s mandate to spying on ‘interference with infrastructure and interference with economic or financial stability.
The language is so broad that it would allow CSIS to investigate anyone who challenges the government’s social, economic or environmental policies. What is to stop this bill from being used to spy on the government’s political enemy?
We have also learned that former CSIS officer Francois Lavigne is alarmed by this bill. According to an article that appeared in The Windsor Star:
He believes the measures proposed in C-51 are unnecessary, a threat to the rights of Canadians and that the prime minister is using fascist techniques to push the bill.
Mr. Lavigne was part of the barn burning, off-the-leash Mounties group whose law-breaking ways led to the McDonald Commission and the eventual establishment of CSIS in 1984. He spent years tracking dangerous radicals without the powers the government wants to give CSIS. He said:
I find it a little convenient that in the past few years that these radicalized people are the biggest threat to ever hit us. There are more people dying because of drunk drivers or because of gang violence.
It would also appear that the Conservative government is using terror to deflect us from real problems facing Canadians, such as the loss of jobs, the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, and climate change, to name a few. History is full of examples of irresponsible leaders rallying their citizens by exaggerating threats to their security. As Mr. Lavigne goes on to say:
Some of these tactics are taken right out of the fascist playbook. Create an enemy that is hard to identify. Make it an enemy that is nebulous and seems to be able to do things that nobody else can. Don't define the enemy. Just identify. Generate fear around that enemy. Then send out the message that the only people who can deal with this enemy are us.
This is totally irresponsible and, I would say, immoral on the part of the Conservative government.
As our leader said, the NDP believes that current laws, at this time, allow the police and intelligence officers to do a good job. Providing new legislative tools is not the only solution. We must first ensure that our officers have the financial resources they need to better enforce laws.
In the end, any legislative measure to fight security threats must satisfy the following principle: the legislative measure must protect both Canadians and their civil liberties. The protection of civil liberties and public safety are both fundamental Canadian values. What is needed is a more rigorous legislative approach to fight terrorism based on evidence and facts, an approach that provides for strict monitoring of security agencies.
There is a lot of concern that this bill has been rammed through with the typical time allocation, not giving enough time for experts and the public to consult with the government, as happened in 2001 after what happened in New York City, when it took time, and committee meetings and hearings were held. This is being rammed through under the guise of fear.
I would like to quote from a disturbing article I read this morning in The Globe and Mail by Campbell Clark, which said:
Two things are clear: First, the Conservatives think this bill will help them win an election, and second, they don't want people to understand it. That's a bad combination for a bill that will change things in secret, in ways we won't know for years.
The electoral district of Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca (British Columbia) has a population of 120,669 with 91,003 registered voters and 229 polling divisions.
This action requires you to be logged into Politwitter. No regisrtation is required, just authenticate using your Twitter account.