House of Commons Debates Tuesday, April 21, 2015 VOLUME 147 NUMBER 197

House of Commons Debates Tuesday, April 21, 2015 VOLUME 147 NUMBER 197
House of Commons Debates
VOLUME 147
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NUMBER 197
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2nd SESSION
OFFICIAL REPORT
(HANSARD)
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer
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41st PARLIAMENT
CONTENTS
(Table of Contents appears at back of this issue.)
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HOUSE OF COMMONS
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
The House met at 10 a.m.
Prayers
the Canada Elections Act to ensure voters can cast an equal and
effective vote to be represented fairly in Parliament regardless of
political belief or place of residence, are governed by a fairly elected
Parliament where the share of seats held by each political party
closely reflects the popular vote, and finally live under legitimate
laws approved by a majority of elected parliamentarians representing
the majority of voters.
ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
AGRICULTURE
● (1005)
[English]
GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO PETITIONS
Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of
the Government in the House of Commons, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both
official languages, the government's response to eight petitions.
***
COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
Ms. Jean Crowder (Nanaimo—Cowichan, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
in the final petition, the petitioners call on the Canadian government
to ensure that the right of family farmers to use seeds is respected.
IMPAIRED DRIVING
Mr. Mark Warawa (Langley, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am
honoured to present some petitions here.
CANADIAN HERITAGE
Mr. Gordon Brown (Leeds—Grenville, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I
have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 12th report
of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in relation to the
main estimates, 2015-16.
The first notifies the House that 11-year-old Grace Wynen was
tragically killed by a drunk driver, a person who chose to drive while
impaired.
***
Gracie's family was devastated. Families For Justice is a group of
Canadians who have lost loved ones to an impaired driver. They
believe that Canada's driving laws are much too lenient. They want
the crime called what it is, vehicular homicide.
PETITIONS
THE ENVIRONMENT
Ms. Jean Crowder (Nanaimo—Cowichan, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I have three petitions to present.
The first petition is on Bill C-638, an act to amend the Canada
Shipping Act. The petitioners outline that derelict and abandoned
vessels pose an environmental risk and a navigation hazard, and that
regulations must be made to establish measures to be taken for the
removal, disposition or destruction by the appropriate authority.
The petitioners call upon the House of Commons to support Bill
C-638, an act to amend the Canada Shipping Act.
DEMOCRATIC REFORM
Ms. Jean Crowder (Nanaimo—Cowichan, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
the second petition is on the fair electoral representation act.
The petitioners are calling on the House of Commons to
immediately undertake public consultations across Canada to amend
The petitioners are calling on the government to introduce
legislation that would require mandatory sentencing for those
convicted of impaired driving causing death.
SEX SELECTION
Mr. Mark Warawa (Langley, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the second
petition highlights that over 200 million girls are missing in the
world right now. This gender imbalance is called gendercide.
Ninety-two percent of Canadians believe that sex selection is
wrong. The petitioners are calling on Parliament to condemn this
discrimination against girls.
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PUBLIC TRANSIT
Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan (Scarborough—Rouge River, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of many
people from all around Scarborough. They are calling for the
creation of a Canada public transit strategy. Canada is the only
OECD country that does not have a national public transit strategy. It
is estimated that over the next five years there will be an $18-billion
gap in transit infrastructure needs.
The petitioners are calling upon the government to enact a Canada
public transit strategy that seeks to provide a permanent investment
plan to support public transit; establish federal funding mechanisms
for public transit; work together with all levels of government to
provide sustainable, predictable, long-term and adequate funding;
and establish accountability measures to ensure that all governments
work together to increase access to public transit.
I know in my riding of Scarborough—Rouge River, this is very
much needed.
AGRICULTURE
Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is my
pleasure to present to the House a petition signed by many of my
constituents, respecting the right of small-scale family farmers to
preserve, exchange and use seeds.
This is a petition that has been actively promoted by an
organization called Development and Peace. It calls on the
Government of Canada to adopt international aid policies that
support small family farmers, especially women, and recognize their
vital role in the struggle against hunger and poverty.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Mr. Matthew Kellway (Beaches—East York, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, it is my pleasure to present a petition to the House today
with respect to violence against women.
The signatories to this petition want to draw to the attention of the
Government of Canada that women are 11 times more likely than
men to be victims of sexual offences, that indigenous women in
Canada are seven times more likely to be murdered than nonindigenous women, that nearly 1,200 indigenous women have gone
missing or have been murdered in Canada, and that Canada has clear
domestic and international obligations to address violence against
women, including the United Nations call for all countries to have a
national action plan to end violence against women.
The signatories are calling upon the Government of Canada to
create a coordinated, comprehensive and national action plan to
address violence against women, and launch an independent national
inquiry into the deaths and disappearance of first nations, Métis and
Inuit women.
The first calls for lowering credit card fees, which are too high,
capping ATM user fees at 50 cents, and prohibiting additional fees
that penalize people who receive their bills online.
AGRICULTURE
Mrs. Anne-Marie Day (Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles,
NDP): Mr. Speaker, the second petition is about respect for the rights
of small family farmers to save, exchange and use seeds.
[English]
PROSTITUTION
Mr. Leon Benoit (Vegreville—Wainwright, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
I have three petitions today. The first is regarding prostitution. The
petitioners note that the most recent legislation on prostitution was
declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and they call on the
House therefore to declare such sex with a woman, man or child to
be a criminal offence and that it also be a criminal offence for pimps,
madams and others who profit from the proceeds of prostitution.
● (1010)
GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS
Mr. Leon Benoit (Vegreville—Wainwright, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
the second petition is from petitioners across the country who
request that no genetically modified fish or fish eggs be sold in
Canada.
SEX SELECTION
Mr. Leon Benoit (Vegreville—Wainwright, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
the third petition is regarding gender selection abortion. The
petitioners note that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation aired
a piece that showed that there were ultrasounds being done and if the
fetus was found to be female, the female would be aborted. The
petitioners call on the Parliament of Canada to condemn discrimination against girls occurring through gender selection pregnancy
termination.
***
QUESTIONS ON THE ORDER PAPER
Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of
the Government in the House of Commons, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I
ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
The Speaker: Is that agreed?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
GOVERNMENT ORDERS
[English]
[Translation]
CONSUMER PROTECTION
DRUG-FREE PRISONS ACT
Mrs. Anne-Marie Day (Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles,
NDP): Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me to table two petitions
today.
The House resumed from February 17 consideration of the
motion that Bill C-12, An Act to amend the Corrections and
Conditional Release Act, be read the third time and passed.
April 21, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
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Government Orders
Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims (Newton—North Delta, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, it is my pleasure, today, to rise to speak in support of Bill
C-12, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act,
as it has been labelled, the drug-free prisons act, though I am often
confused how the bill would make our prisons drug free. However,
at the same time, we are supporting it.
substance. That is what we are finding with this bill. The title sounds
great but when we get into the bill, all we have is the government
codifying a current practice of the Parole Board.
At this time, I would like to take a minute to acknowledge the
amazing work being done by the critic in this area; that is, the
member of Parliament for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, who has done
an absolutely thorough and very detailed analysis of this piece of
legislation, and the work done at the committee to try to strengthen
the legislation so that it would actually do what it purports it would.
As we know, our colleagues across the way are not really up to
listening to any experts or advice as to how to improve bills. In any
event, the member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, on this whole file
of public safety, has put in, I would say, a gargantuan amount of
work in order to deal with real issues for Canadians and to ensure
Canadians' safety in a real way.
The Parole Board right now retains its discretion as to what use it
makes of this information, which is actually how it would remain.
It is interesting that we are debating the bill on the day the budget
will be presented. We know that the budget has been delayed. I do
not know if it has been delayed because the minister just did not
know what to put in the budget or whether they were busy
developing their communications or free advertising plan on the tax
dollars, but the budget has been delayed. In any event, we look
forward to seeing it today. I really hope that when we look at the
budget today we will see a significant investment in what the current
government purports its agenda to be.
My colleagues across the way often like to see themselves as the
champions of public safety but often what we have is a lot of rhetoric
with very little funding that goes along with the programs they
announced, or lack thereof, or has often been accompanied by cuts as
well.
This particular piece of legislation, despite its title, “drug-free
prisons act”, I would say is a baby step that we do support. Let me
tell members that it would not have the kind of impact that my
colleagues across the way seem to think it would because this
particular bill would not tackle the real issues that our prisons are
facing.
Bill C-12 would add a provision to the Corrections and
Conditional Release Act that would make it clear that the Parole
Board may use positive results from urine tests, or refusals to take
urine tests for drugs, in making its decisions on parole eligibility.
Let me assure members that my understanding is this is already
being done. Therefore, what we would do is take a practice that is
already in play into legislation, and that is a good thing. What it
would do is give clear authority to an existing practice, a practice
that we do support, but this practice by itself and on its own would
not address the serious issues we do have to tackle, which are drug
addictions, mental illness and the very fundamentals that lead to
more and more people ending up in prisons rather than in treatment.
The title of Bill C-12, as I have mentioned a few times, is
misleading. We know the current government has a penchant for
coming up with some pretty outrageous, all-encompassing titles for
bills, but when we actually dig into the bill we find there is very little
● (1015)
It always makes me proud to sit on this side of the House with my
colleagues, because we have been steadfast in our support for
measures that will make our prisons safe, while the Conservative
government has ignored recommendations from corrections staff and
the Correctional Investigator that would decrease violence, gang
activity, and drug use in our prisons.
We are not the only ones. We know that the current government is
allergic to data and experts. However, most of us know that when we
are dealing with the complexities of drug addiction, we have to pay
attention to what we know and to the knowledge acquired by the
experts in this area. The stakeholders agree with the NDP that this
bill would have a minimal impact on drugs in prisons.
This bill is about granting parole and what the Parole Board would
take into consideration. It has very little to do with what is actually
going to be happening inside the prisons. Once again, the
Conservative government is using legislation to create an opportunity to pander to its base and to pretend that it is doing something
with no real solutions to the issue of drugs and gangs in our prisons.
I would go so far as to say that the government is actually making
our prisons less safe by cutting funding to correctional programs,
such as for substance abuse, and by increasing the use of doublebunking, which leads to more violence. Our priority as parliamentarians should be ensuring community safety by preparing exoffenders to reintegrate into society once released, addiction-free and
less likely to reoffend.
I looked very carefully at this legislation, because as a mother and
now a grandmother and as a life-long teacher and counsellor in a
high school and for the school district, I know what a difficult task
we have ahead of us as a society as we try to tackle drug addictions.
There are no simple solutions.
In my city of Surrey, in beautiful British Columbia, in the last 38
days we have had 23 shootings. On Sunday, what we all feared
happened: a fatality, with a 22-year-old losing his life. People in my
community of Surrey, like in other communities across Canada, care
very deeply about addressing the issues of violence, gangs and
drugs. No parents out there want to see their young daughter or sons
engaged in the use of drugs or involved in any kind of criminal
activity. When these kinds of tragedies happen in our communities, it
shakes us to the core and makes us want to hug those around us.
Right now, my heart goes out to the family—the parents, uncles,
aunts, cousins, brothers, sisters—but also to the whole community as
it deals with this latest round of gun violence.
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It is because we want real solutions that we want to tackle the real
issues. We want to starting looking at the underlying issues.
● (1020)
We need a real strategy and action on mental health, not just talk,
that happens in a multi-faceted way. Many people will say that it has
nothing to do with this topic. We know that the majority of people in
our prisons are there because they were convicted of crimes related
to drugs and many of them because they suffer from mental health
issues. Unless we start tackling mental health issues in a serious way,
I do not think this baby step is going to help us achieve a safer
society or make our prisons any safer.
It is like the current government wants to see how many more
people it can put into prisons, even if it has to double-bunk them, and
the mandatory sentencing has led to more people being sent to
prison. I absolutely believe that we need policies that mete out
punishments that fit the crimes, but we also need to make sure that
there is rehabilitation.
Before we even talk about crimes and people ending up in prison,
we need to look at our communities, school systems, and the kind of
programming needed. When I look at the public school system, I
would say that it has been under attack for many years. When I look
specifically at British Columbia, a lot of the preventive work that
used to be done on drug addictions in high schools is very difficult to
do today, because a number of counsellors have been removed and a
lot of the money that used to be available for prevention is no longer
there. I look at Surrey and the kind of support system for youth in
our community. I look at how many students per counsellor there are
today compared to when I came to B.C., when there were 250
students to a counsellor in my district Nanaimo. Now I am hearing
that the number can be as high as 800 to 1,000 per counsellor.
If we look at all the pressures on our children through social media
and the Internet, and we know, because we have dealt with many
pieces of legislation in the House, at the very same time that is
happening, they are cutting a lot of the support systems that used to
be available. In my school district in B.C., we used to have some of
the most progressive, stellar programs to engage youth in a positive
way. One was called action Nanaimo. There was also a steps to
maturity program, which actually dealt with kids' self-esteem,
communication skills, and the issue of bullying and how to deal with
that. None of those programs exist today.
This is where we have to have all levels of government and
communities working together to provide young people with the
kind of supports they need so that they do not end up getting into
trouble, whether it is due to mental health or drugs, and do not end
up joining gangs and engaging in trafficking drugs. We need to make
sure that youth have the scaffolding they need to steer through the
many challenges they face in our society today.
I would say that the same is true of those people who are in our
prisons today. It is very easy to sentence people to prison, but if once
they are in prison we do not provide them with rehabilitation, we are
not doing a service to society.
● (1025)
Let me throw out a figure that will be absolutely shocking to most
people. The cost to send a person to prison and keep him or her in
confinement has risen to about $80,000 to $90,000 a year. We are
prepared to spend that as a society. On the other hand, we are not
prepared to put even 10% or 20% of that money into education and
prevention programs so that our young people do not end up in
prison.
If mandatory sentences and putting more people into prisons
would get rid of drugs and crime, then the U.S. would have no crime
and no drug problem. What we are good at, under the government
across the way, is following examples that we know are not good.
Instead of looking at evidence, we would rather just blindly copy the
U.S. and keep putting people in prison, while the U.S. is sending
experts up here to learn about rehabilitation from us.
Once people are in prison, we do not provide them with the
resources they need to not reoffend. I find it quite outrageous to sit in
this House and listen to the rhetoric of the government across the
way when it has failed. It has not only failed to increase funding, it
has cut funding to programs that would provide support for those in
prison, and in hospitals too. I have a 90-year-old mother who I was
recently visiting in hospital. Despite the amazing work being done
by the staff at the hospital, I would say that they are facing major
challenges as well.
To truly address the issue of drug use in prisons, we need to do a
proper intake assessment of an inmate's addiction and then provide
the proper correctional programming for that offender. Without
treatment, education, and proper integration upon release, a prisoner
will likely return to a criminal lifestyle and possibly create more
victims. What we have then is what has come to be known as the
revolving door.
With mandatory minimums, our prison population is increasing
while at the same time both federal and provincial governments are
closing institutions. It is quite disconcerting how mental health
services are being impacted.
Correctional Service Canada's directive 55, which establishes
procedures to normalize double-bunking, is kind of weird to me.
When I was young and I went to youth hostels, double-bunking was
kind of fun, but I cannot imagine double-bunking in prison.
Let me once again say that we support this. It is a baby step.
However, without investments in prevention, education, treatment,
and rehabilitation, all we have are words. Our communities deserve
far more. I hope that in the budget presented today we will see a real
infusion of funds to address prevention, education, mental health
issues, rehabilitation, and real support for an effective reintegration
policy that will make a real difference and lead to safer communities.
● (1030)
I would say there is no better investment than in the education of
our children. I urge governments at the provincial level to please
make it a top priority, because our children are our future and they
are worth every penny we invest.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
will focus my question on the member's priority throughout her
speech, which is education.
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Government Orders
I agree in many ways how important education is. The leader of
the Liberal Party, a teacher by profession, has talked a great deal
about the importance of education. For example, he talked about the
importance of looking at how we fund first nations education, and
that we need to provide a lot more resources.
states. “Harm reduction measures within a public health and
treatment orientation offer a far more promising, cost-effective and
sustainable approach to reducing subsequent crime and victimization.”
Earlier today I met with representatives, including Paul Olson, the
president of the Manitoba Teachers' Society. We talked about the
importance of education. If we do not recognize how important
education is to the children of our country, then we will sell short
their potential. Many will end up on the wrong side of the law if we
are not more proactive in encouraging our provinces, which have the
administrative responsibility for education. We also need to
recognize the important role that the national government can play.
We need to ensure there is a sense of equity across the country in
dealing with education as well as issues such as mental health. We
need to ensure there is programming that allows for the nutritional
well-being of young children even before they enter the education
system.
The member raised the issues around the need for rehabilitation in
her speech. I wonder if she could comment on that statement.
If we had a proactive national government dealing with those
types of issues, we could actually prevent more people from going
into prisons.
Perhaps the member could comment on those points.
Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims: Mr. Speaker, there are areas in which
the federal government plays a key role in education, such as in the
education for our first nations people and aboriginal communities. A
very large percentage of the people in prison are from our aboriginal
communities.
There is a lot of preventative initiatives that could be happening,
such as investing in early childhood education, quality education,
nutrition, prevention and education programs, and truly in strong and
inclusive community building. It is always easy to say that this is not
our mandate, as I have sometimes heard my colleagues across the
way say. However, once people are in prison, it is our mandate.
Here is an amazing figure from seven institutions surveyed in
February 2012: only 12.5% of the total offenders were enrolled in a
core correctional program, and there is a waiting list to access these
programs exceeding 35%.
They say we should start at home and fix what we can fix, but we
have a government that has made cut after cut to services in
rehabilitation and education. What we are seeing now is that only
12.5% access services, and there is a wait list for people in prison
who want to get away from drugs and take the rehabilitation and
education programs, but the Conservative government has made so
many cuts that they are being denied rehabilitation. That is
disgraceful.
● (1035)
Ms. Jean Crowder (Nanaimo—Cowichan, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
as the member has pointed out, the NDP is supporting Bill C-12.
However, there is a misnomer in the title. The short title is “drugfree prisons act”, but in the annual report of the Office of the
Correctional Investigator for 2011-12, it was pointed out that a zero
tolerance stance to drugs in prison is an aspiration rather than an
effective policy. It simply does not accord with the facts on crime
and addiction in Canada or elsewhere in the world. As the report
Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims: Mr. Speaker, I always like to relate
some of the big issues to what happens in our families and how we
raise our kids. If parents telling their kids that they must do not do
drugs would alone get rid of the drug problem in the world, we
would not have that issue in Canada today. I know how hard parents
work, and zero tolerance is a great aspiration to have, but until we
achieve that, we have to have real expert advice from those who deal
with these issues, based on the research and what works. We have to
have a multifaceted approach.
Just telling people not to do drugs, hitting them on the head with a
baseball bat and sending them to prison is not going to get rid of the
drug problem. What is going to get rid of the drug problem is
investment in education, rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
[Translation]
Mr. Raymond Côté (Beauport—Limoilou, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I thank my colleague from Newton—North Delta for her very
sensitive speech that got right to the heart of the problem: how to
prevent and address the challenges of incarceration. The important
thing is not to create more problems, which is what the government
is doing, unfortunately.
During the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National
Security's brief study, the Correctional Investigator was very critical.
He condemned the lack of resources to prevent drug use in our
prisons. We can try to limit supply, but all of the credible witnesses
said that focusing solely on supply is unrealistic. We also need to
tackle demand.
That means we have to support inmates coping with addiction. We
have to identify them at intake and provide good programs so they
can progress and make choices with comprehensive support.
Would my colleague like to comment further on the Correctional
Investigator's recommendation?
[English]
Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims: Mr. Speaker, whenever I talk about
drugs in our communities or our prisons, I am always amazed how
people want simplistic solutions. It is as if all of us are looking for a
magic pill that would suddenly get rid of the impact of drugs on our
families, our communities and our society as a whole.
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The Correctional Investigator has stated and there have been
numerous reports that the corrections system risks unintended
consequences when simplistic solutions are applied to the complex
issue of drugs in prisons. They talk about the need for a proper
assessment of prisoners on intake. For instance, when someone has
gotten into problems and has been sentenced to prison, let us do an
assessment of what got them there. Do they have mental health
issues? Are drugs involved? When did the drugs kick in? We have to
take into account all of those things.
We have to start looking at some of the causes at that time. Our
prison system is not a one-way street. It is supposed to be one where
we believe in rehabilitation. That is the kind of penal system we
have. There has to be a proper assessment. Then we have to identify
the specific problems that can be targeted. Then we need to have
rehabilitation programs so that people can be better reintegrated into
society. Once they are released from prison we need to have a
reintegration process that is scaffolded with a multitude of services
so that the likelihood to reoffend is reduced.
Once again, there is no simple pill. This is a complex issue. It is
going to take investment and resources. Every dollar we invest will
bring us back thousands of dollars in savings.
● (1040)
[Translation]
Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, before I begin, I wish to inform you that I will be sharing
my time with the member for Beauport—Limoilou.
As the House has heard from other members of the official
opposition, we will support Bill C-12. We will support it because the
measures in this bill are not bad. Nonetheless, will this bill really
change anything? Some doubt remains in that regard. We will
support it, in any case, but I really do not believe this bill will have
the desired effect.
The bill's short title refers to making prisons drug-free. This title is
a little misleading, however, because it is rather unrealistic to think
that a bill that contains just five clauses, the first of which is the short
title, and fits on a single double-sided sheet of paper could
successfully eliminate drugs from prisons with four clauses to
amend Canada's laws.
Moreover, this bill is rather redundant, and it legally confirms the
common practice and what already exists in Canada's laws. When
members of the Parole Board of Canada are deciding whether an
inmate can be released on parole, they already have the discretion to
take into account the results of urine testing or the fact that an inmate
refuses to provide a urine sample.
Parole board members already have the power, albeit discretionary, to consider those factors in their decisions. Even if those
members do eventually take drug testing into account, that is not
how we are going to eliminate drugs from prisons.
It is important to understand that in order to be effective, the
government needs to invest money and act on the reports that the
Correctional Investigator and the federal ombudsman have published
over the years. However, there is nothing in the bill to suggest that
the government is listening to the experts. I highly doubt that this
afternoon's budget will contain any additional funds to tackle
addiction problems in prisons.
In summary, the bill just legally confirms rules that are already in
use. The member for Victoria clearly pointed that out in his speech
last December when he referred to the National Parole Board
document entitled “Decision-Making Policy Manual for Board
Members”.
Section 8 of that manual, “Assessing Criminal, Social and
Conditional Release History”, reads:
8. Information considered when assessing criminal, social and conditional release
history includes:...
e. any documented occurrence of drug use, positive urinalysis results or failures or
refusals to provide a sample while on conditional release;
Clearly, these factors are already being considered in the decisionmaking process. The crisis in our prisons involves substance abuse,
rampant gang activity and the recruitment of gang members within
the prison population. Some of these problems could be eradicated if
we were to apply the measures that were proposed by some of the
witnesses when this bill was examined in committee.
In short, resources for rehabilitation are wanting, and the budgets
of correctional organizations and the many cuts the Conservatives
have made over the years are not at all consistent with the logic they
are trying to establish in this bill.
● (1045)
If we want to eliminate drugs in prisons, we need to combat drug
addiction there with the help of resources and stakeholders, which
we do not have right now.
Even though drug addicts are well aware that they risk delaying
their parole by taking drugs in prison, they will continue to do so
because addictions are difficult to overcome. We therefore need to
take action on the ground and establish real substance abuse
treatment programs.
In the civilian world, people can get help and services from
professionals. However, in prison, inmates who admit that they have
a drug addiction are shooting themselves in the foot. It is better for
them to hide their addiction in order to avoid the consequences.
This is a complex issue. We need specialized addictions
counsellors who understand the prison system to help on the
ground. However, these counsellors need the government to invest in
prisons.
The Correctional Service of Canada has admitted that $122
million of Conservative spending on interdiction tools and
technology to stop drugs from entering prisons since 2008 has not
produced any results. How come nothing has been done in light of
that shocking statistic? Why have there been no policy reviews or the
like? We know that a very high percentage of Canada's offender
population abuses drugs.
The report entitled “Substance abuse—The perspective of a
National Parole Board member”, by Michael Crowley, an NPB
member from Ontario, begins as follows:
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It is clear that alcohol and other drug problems constitute a major problem for
both incarcerated offenders and those who are on some form of conditional release. It
is estimated that about 70% of offenders have substance abuse problems that are in
need of treatment, and that more than 50% of their crimes are linked with substance
use and abuse.
We know that the vast majority of offenders, unfortunately, abuse
drugs and that criminals often have a history of substance abuse.
Inmates who are added to the prison system often already have
substance abuse problems.
These figures are rather shocking and indicative of the government's dire lack of investment in rehabilitation programs for inmates
that would address this problem. Furthermore, the prison population
in Canada has skyrocketed because of the infamous minimum
mandatory sentences, even though the crime rate has been steadily
declining.
In closing, I would like to say that mental health issues are also
part of the problem. This is a growing problem that, together with
inmates' addictions, exacerbates the situation. Inmates with mental
health problems sometimes tend to self-medicate with drugs
available on the prison market. That is a rather explosive
combination.
If we really want to eliminate drugs in prison, we have to be
realistic. We have to be prepared to make the required investments,
put resources in place and understand that the drug problem in
prisons will not be fixed by a bill with four clauses.
● (1050)
Yes, we support these clauses, because they confirm an existing
informal practice. We realize and openly admit that Bill C-12 does
little to make prisons drug-free, and it is going to take a lot more than
that to solve this problem.
Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault (Sherbrooke, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
thank my colleague for her speech on Bill C-12. As is the case with
many bills, this bill's title is surprising because it is an impressive
title about fixing a serious problem. I have a hard time believing that
the clauses in this bill will truly do what the title implies they will,
which is to make our prisons drug-free.
Could the member tell us what she thinks about the titles this
government loves to give its bills? The titles are misleading, because
at the end of the day the bills do not achieve what the titles imply
they will. Could she give us her opinion on how the Conservative
government gives its bills nice titles that do not pan out?
Ms. Christine Moore: Mr. Speaker, indeed, the Conservatives
have a habit of always trying to fool the public. They talk about a bill
with a title that implies it will fix everything, when in fact that is not
the case, since the bill is missing a lot of clauses or it will create
other problems. The government often tries to make Canadians
believe that it has managed a problem by introducing a bill—in this
case on drug-free prisons—but in fact, the bill is not comprehensive
enough to fix the problem. People who may not be able to
understand the bill, read through the legal terminology and
understand its impact will think that the Conservatives took action,
when in reality that is not the case. This government has a bad habit
of trying to fool Canadians. It is being intellectually dishonest with
the people it is supposed to represent.
● (1055)
[English]
Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
we have a government that is willing to spend $80,000 to $90,000 a
year incarcerating prisoners. We see that it spent over $100 million
already in trying to stop drugs getting into prisons and has failed.
The problem is a lack of vision in terms of how to deal with the
serious issue of drugs that are affecting our communities.
In the city of Timmins we have set up a fentanyl task force to deal
with the heavy impacts of the abuse of fentanyl, and one of the key
things that has come forward is the need to be able to track the
fentanyl patches. These are opiate patches. My colleague is a nurse,
so she would know very well about fentanyl, but without a bar code
or a serial number put on by Health Canada, the police are unable to
track the source of the patches.
If we have patches of 100 mcg coming into the city of Timmins,
these are very lucrative for gangs, but we need to be able to take the
preventive approach to stop this kind of heavy duty opiate being
brought into our communities and then affecting people who may
not have otherwise gotten into drugs. I know some wonderful young
people who had their lives ahead of them who have been affected by
fentanyl, and people who have died from it.
What does my colleague think about the need for these coherent,
grass roots, preventive approaches, first, to prevent these kinds of
drugs coming into our communities and keep people from getting
involved in the drug trade, and also to be able to stop it by going
after the gangs who are trading in fentanyl patches?
[Translation]
Ms. Christine Moore: Mr. Speaker, illicit drug use certainly
exists, but many people abuse prescription drugs. Unfortunately,
sometimes people go through grandma's medicine cabinet looking
for interesting things. Those are tragic situations. In many cases,
community approaches are more successful than criminalization and
repression.
Keeping people from engaging in these bad habits by making
positive activities available often has an impact on drug use among
youth. When they have access to leisure spaces and opportunities to
participate in these activities, that has a positive impact in terms of
drug use. Drug use drops when there is better support for the
community and people have opportunities to do things other than use
drugs.
Drug addiction is a complex issue. We have to take a communitybased approach and conduct broad consultations with all stakeholders if we want to eliminate this problem or reduce its impact.
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Mr. Raymond Côté (Beauport—Limoilou, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I thank my esteemed colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue for
sharing her precious speaking time with me so that I can express my
views on Bill C-12 on behalf of the people of Beauport—Limoilou.
The title of the bill is “An Act to amend the Corrections and
Conditional Release Act”. This bill amends a law. The title sends a
fairly disturbing message, one that I would call misleading. I would
also like to quote the short title, which the Conservatives liked to trot
out all the time. It is the “drug-free prisons act”.
Like many people, I have tried to get dandelions out of my lawn.
Everyone knows that is one tough slog. I am not saying it is a lost
cause, but those dandelions often come back from the other side of
the fence when you least expect it.
First of all, I want to emphasize how unrealistic this bill is, which
was also pointed out by the very few witnesses we managed to
squeeze into the meetings of the Standing Committee on Public
Safety and National Security. Those witnesses, who were not from
the department, pointed out that the bill unfortunately did not
introduce anything new, despite its value and the fact that it should
be supported. Like my NDP colleagues, I support the bill in
principle. This bill will confirm a practice that is already established,
but it does not solve the underlying problem.
I want to touch upon the Conservatives' message. It is quite ironic
that they have not said a thing since this debate began. I should add
that the debate only began about an hour ago, and yet there they sit,
firmly rooted in their chairs, refusing to listen to the strong
objections and, more importantly, the concerns we are raising in
relation to the problem of drug use in our prisons. That problem will
not be resolved, not really, by passing this bill.
This title, the drug-free prisons act, and these five clauses send a
clear message to inmates with drug problems. If they ever want to be
released, they will have to satisfy certain conditions. As far as their
substance abuse problem is concerned, they know that they cannot
count on getting any help and that they will have to face their
problem alone.
That has been precisely the Conservatives' approach for years.
Repression above all else is what they promise their base. People
who are plagued by a problem they often cannot control are told that
they cannot count on the Conservatives to spend any money on
supporting them and helping them break free them from their
addiction to drugs.
It is really too bad. In addition to ignoring the offender population
that is facing very serious problems that might prevent early parole
and completely undermining reintegration, once again the Conservatives are refusing to listen to experts directly affected by this,
namely staff and the Correctional Investigator. These stakeholders
are making recommendations to deal with the substance abuse
problems in our prisons and other very serious problems that lead to
substance abuse, such as mental health problems, a scourge that
affects a large segment of the population.
I have some very disturbing statistics, which clearly illustrate the
extent of the current problem in Canada's prisons and penitentiaries.
● (1100)
In 2011, 69% of female inmates and 45% of male inmates were
treated for mental health issues. That already speaks to the extent of
the problem. However, a certain number of mental health cases may
not even be treated. This gives us an idea of how this problem cannot
be addressed by the pure and simple repression that the
Conservatives defend so vigorously. I am going to tell it like it is:
it is easy for the Conservatives to score political points on the backs
of our inmates while ignoring mental health problems of this
magnitude.
I learned about the position of senior RCMP officials concerning
the fight against terrorism. The Standing Committee on Finance,
which I am pleased to be a member of, is currently carrying out a
valuable study of the financing of terrorism. However, what is
troubling is that the RCMP is robbing Peter to pay Paul. We had
already heard this at the Standing Committee on Finance, but it was
confirmed at a meeting of a Senate committee on public safety, if I
am not mistaken. The RCMP is transferring investigators from the
fight against organized crime to the fight against terrorism. In the
funding approved by the House, $1.5 billion allocated to the RCMP
was not spent, but instead returned to the public treasury. Everyone
knew it, starting with the Conservatives. However, once again they
chose to ignore this. In the end, the RCMP and our correctional
services do not have the means to address the enormous challenge of
fighting terrorism and organized crime. Similarly, correctional
officers are increasingly ill-prepared to address mental health issues,
the violence in our prisons and drug use. These budgets are
unfortunately being cut.
Ultimately, the claim made by the department and especially by
the government that the drug problem in prisons is being adequately
addressed rings hollow. I hope that my colleagues will speak up in
the House and participate in an important debate. Despite the fancy
titles the Conservatives give their bills and the claims they make
when they are boasting to their voter base, this once again shows that
—I am going to say it again—the victims of crime are collateral
victims of the Conservatives' decision to abandon the fight against
drugs at every level. We need to focus on prevention.
When people are struggling with addiction and mental health
problems and when nothing is done to help them deal with those
issues or to prevent them in the first place, they get more and more
out of control and their condition deteriorates. It then becomes very
difficult for them to deal with these problems by themselves. A
correctional officer told me very clearly that, for most of these
people, there is life after prison. If their mental health deteriorates
and their drug addiction leads them down a dead-end street, their
reintegration into society and their ability to find a place in it
obviously becomes an enormous obstacle that could lead them to
reoffend.
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Once again, the Conservatives are not facing the problem and are
abandoning the victims of crime in this regard. I would like to end on
that note, and I look forward to questions from my colleagues in the
House.
I would like to repeat that I support this bill, but I hope that the
means will follow. However, I have been saying that in the House
and in committee for the past four years, and I no longer expect
results from this dying government.
● (1105)
Mr. Hoang Mai (Brossard—La Prairie, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
would like to thank my colleague from Beauport—Limoilou for his
speech on a rather important bill that conveys a specific vision of
public safety.
My colleague gave us a good analysis of the Conservative way of
doing things. I would like to hear him talk about his vision and the
NDP's vision of public safety issues. Could he tell us about
prevention and about investments in social programs?
What can we do to address this issue? We need to protect public
safety in Canada, but how does the NDP propose that we better
protect the public?
Mr. Raymond Côté: Mr. Speaker, I sincerely thank my colleague
from Brossard—La Prairie for his question.
I do not want to repeat all of the very sensible points made by our
highly esteemed colleague from Newton—North Delta, who spoke
in favour of education and of the hopes that could be raised when we
invest in the future of our young people and the public in general by
providing them with opportunities.
I will pick up where she left off and talk about the upcoming
budget. As I already mentioned, I am a member of the Standing
Committee on Finance. Unfortunately, as with the nine previous
budgets, this 10th budget will once again represent negativity and
lost opportunities for a large segment of our population. It will cause
problems that could escalate and cause people to lose all hope in
improving their future or the future of their loved ones.
That is truly disappointing, since the Conservatives have always
sought to punish people who stay away from drugs but who do not
yet have a good job for their bad behaviour and bad choices. Instead
of providing them with opportunities, to be as inclusive as possible
and enable people to make real choices, the Conservatives have
always limited these choices, and they will continue to do so in this
budget.
● (1110)
Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault (Sherbrooke, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
thank my colleague for his speech and for telling it like it is. He had
no qualms about saying that the Conservatives are politicizing issues
at the expense of certain segments of the population, inmates in this
case.
When offenders with addiction problems enter prison, no
emphasis is put on treating their addiction and no program is
offered to help them overcome their addiction while they are there.
They are given no resources. They are told they have to figure out
how to overcome their addiction themselves if they want to get early
parole. Those who do not manage to do so will eventually leave
prison with the same addiction problems.
What does my colleague think will happen if we stay on this same
path, if we do not change this policy and if inmates keep getting
released with the same addiction problems?
Mr. Raymond Côté: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from
Sherbrooke for his question.
At the beginning of my mandate, when I was taking my first steps
as an MP, I talked to a correctional officer about the reality in our
penitentiaries. He said that it was characteristic of this Conservative
government to ignore the fact that there is life after prison.
Many people leave our prisons abandoned because they were not
guided. They were not given the chance to rehabilitate. The
Correctional Investigator and correctional officers are deeply
concerned about the deteriorating situation, which unfortunately
will only get worse in the coming years.
Again, the Conservatives should be ashamed of keeping silent in
this debate. Not one of their MPs has risen to speak. I am really
looking forward to the upcoming election. When the Conservatives
are called on to defend their sorry record, words will fail them again
because they will not have spent enough time practising their
speeches.
Ms. Françoise Boivin (Gatineau, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I have to
seize this opportunity. Actually, I have lots to say about the
government's silence.
That said, let me first deal with the positive. I want to thank the
NDP members on the Standing Committee on Public Safety and
National Security, because, especially over these past few months,
they have had an enormous amount of work to tackle. I thank the
member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, the member for Alfred-Pellan
and the member for Compton—Stanstead. I congratulate them on
their hard work. I understand the frustration that can set in when you
have to deal with bills like Bill C-12.
It can be frustrating to know that, clearly, we could do so much
better. It can also be frustrating—as my colleagues have said before
me—to see grandiose titles like drug-free prisons act, as we can see
written in the bill itself under “Short Title”:
● (1115)
[English]
This act may be cited as the drug-free prisons act.
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[Translation]
This raises so much hope. People read that and think that that
would be wonderful. Then, reality sinks in. After seeing such a
grandiose title, I was expecting a rather lengthy, comprehensive bill,
since it deals with such a complex issue. Ultimately, with one clause
on the bill's short title and just four substantive clauses, the
Conservatives are claiming they can eliminate drugs from prisons.
This reminds me of the time that they studied the issue of
prostitution following the Supreme Court ruling. That bill also had
a grandiose title, indicating that, with that bill, the government was
going to put an end to prostitution and abolish it in Canada. Well
done. There will never be any prostitution ever again. Only, that is
not what I am hearing in the street. It remains a thriving industry. It
may be done differently, but it still exists.
As I was soaking up my colleagues' speeches—thank goodness
they are here to speak in the House—I was reminded of what I dealt
with over the past two weeks in my riding. Being in my riding is a
much more positive experience than being in the House. Those
watching us must be as disheartened as we ourselves can be.
Sometimes we get the feeling we are howling in the wilderness, and
this is one of those times because we really get the sense that just one
side of the House is talking about this, and people are noticing that.
We all know, because lots of people were talking about it, that last
week was National Volunteer Week. I made a lot of contacts and met
with lots of people in Gatineau who are doing amazing work on all
kinds of issues, such as helping people with drug addictions and
helping former inmates reintegrate into society.
I sat down with these people and talked to them about the
Conservative agenda. I explained to them that I would be giving a
speech this week on the fact that the government says it will
eradicate drugs from prisons. Mr. Speaker, you cannot imagine how
much people laughed at that. They did not take me seriously. They
asked me just how the government planned to do that.
I replied by reading clause 2:
If an offender has been granted parole under section 122 or 123 but has not yet
been released and the offender fails or refuses to provide a urine sample when
demanded to provide one under section 54, or provides under that section a urine
sample for which the result of the urinalysis is positive, as that term is defined in the
regulations, then the Service shall inform the Board of the failure or refusal or the test
result.
They said, “All right, and then what?” I told them about clause 3:
Section 124 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (3):
(3.1) If the Board is informed of the matters under section 123.1 and the offender
has still not yet been released, the Board shall cancel the parole if, in its opinion,
based on the information received under that section, the criteria set out in paragraphs
102(a) and (b) are no longer met.
They said, “All right, and then what?” I told them about clause 4:
The releasing authority may impose any conditions on the parole, statutory release
or unescorted temporary absence of an offender that it considers reasonable and
necessary in order to protect society and to facilitate the offender’s successful
reintegration into society. For greater certainty, the conditions may include any
condition regarding the offender’s use of drugs or alcohol, including in cases when
that use has been identified as a risk factor in the offender’s criminal behaviour.
They said, “And then what?” I told them about clause 5:
The Governor in Council may make regulations providing for anything that by
this Part is to be provided for by regulation,...
Members will understand that they laughed because they
wondered how this would make prisons drug-free. They asked me
to explain how that would happen.
They asked me to explain how that would happen. I told them
that there was no explanation. This bill does absolutely nothing,
aside from cancelling someone's parole. No one can be against
virtue, which is why there is unanimity on Bill C-12. However, this
government is once again missing an opportunity to do something
good.
For four years now, the government has been giving us bills with
fancy titles that sound great but actually accomplish very little. I
think that people are starting to realize this. The best example may be
Bill C-51. All of the polls showed how the New Democratic Party
was seen to be on the wrong side of the fence: we supported
terrorists, we were not to be taken seriously when it comes to
security, and the government was right.
Those who are a bit more timid, such as the third party, the Bloc
Québécois and others, jumped on the Conservative bandwagon.
Everyone was unanimous because they thought it was the right thing
to do. When the members opposite and the third party remain silent
on a bill like this, I tell myself that the NDP is doing the right thing.
At report stage and third reading, we should have something to say
on behalf of our constituents. I am not saying that that is necessary
for all bills, but when it comes to a bill about eradicating drugs in
prisons, I cannot believe that the members of the House, who
represent Canadians, have nothing to say about their respective
ridings.
All of us, or almost all of us, have detention centres, prisons or
penitentiaries in our ridings. We can talk to our constituents, our
street outreach workers, the people who take care of those with drug
addictions and those who take care of inmates. If we really want to
make our communities safe, we need to know what we are talking
about. We have to be able to read a bill to our constituents without
having them laugh at us and ask us if we are serious and if we really
believe that a bill will solve the problem. Where is the money for
rehabilitation? Where is the money for programs? The Conservatives
cut that funding over the past few years. We are constantly being told
that we cannot be serious.
We are taking a stand. We are doing the work in committee. We
are unequivocally telling the government that this does not make
sense and that it is ridiculous to insult people by trying to sell them
this. I am sure that this afternoon we will see even more rhetoric
about what they are doing. I cannot wait to see what kind of budget
the government will allocate to public safety and justice. Why?
Because I still think—and I will be surprised if the government
proves me wrong—that this government spends more on ads saying
how wonderful and extraordinary it is than on programs that could
help drug addicts in prison. It is one thing to be able to prove that
someone consumed drugs, with a blood and urine test, and to cancel
that person's parole, but do we simply want to punish that person or
do we want to ensure that he will not continue to have drug problems
after he is released? That is what we should be looking at.
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This government has little interest in such things. That is ironic,
because at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights,
one of the first bills that came to us from the Conservative benches,
Bill C-583, covered the problems related to fetal alcohol spectrum
disorder. It was a meaningful bill that showed it was possible to do
something other than punish. It looked at a disorder, one from which
many people in prisons suffer, and tried to find solutions tailored to
their needs and their problems. There was unanimity, which was
nice, but what did the government do? It withdrew the bill. It forced
the MP who introduced it to withdraw it for further study. We took a
close look at it in the time we were given. Everyone knows that the
Conservatives do not give us much time for thorough study. The
study will probably produce some conclusions. I am eager to see the
final recommendations that will be submitted to the House.
● (1120)
Considering our past experiences with our colleagues across the
aisle, I would be willing to bet that the recommendations will simply
encourage a more thorough study and therefore do absolutely
nothing. This is really just like what the Liberals used to do before
them. It is mind-boggling how similar they are; there is no
difference. It is astounding.
It is extremely frustrating because, actually, what is happening
here today is a perfect example of what is leading the people of
Gatineau to ask, when I meet them, what the point of Parliament is.
People here do not even have five minutes to stand up in the House
and at least explain how the four little clauses I read earlier are going
to achieve what the title says, that is, ensuring that prisons are drugfree. Instead of telling us how wonderful and perfect they are, the
Conservatives could simply tell us how they believe these clauses
will be so successful, when everything else has failed. It is very
frustrating.
Fortunately, things are balanced in Canada. Our democracy has an
executive branch, a legislative branch, and a judicial branch. At
present, unfortunately, Canadian democracy has to rely too heavily
on the judicial branch to rebalance the principles of law, which those
on the Conservative benches should be familiar with. The
Conservative MPs all have the advantages of the Department of
Justice: they can consult people ad nauseam and get legal opinions
from the top legal minds in Canada. They do not even take
advantage of that. They keep passing bill after bill that gets
hammered in the courts all the way to the Supreme Court.
Some denigrate the Supreme Court by claiming that it is engaging
in legislative activism. That is not the case at all. The Supreme Court
tells us legislators that we cannot do certain things, and reminds us
that there are laws in this country and that we have a Constitution
and a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It tells us that we can go
ahead and pass the legislation that we want, that it is our highest
prerogative, but that there is still a framework to be respected. If
people are not satisfied with this framework, then it is up to us as
legislators to change that. However, we have to work within the
Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution. This is not
about judicial activism.
I will digress for a moment to talk about Edgar Schmidt, a former
public servant who is involved in a case against the Attorney General
of Canada that is currently before the Federal Court. He said that he
received orders not to follow the charter at all or to just aim for 5%.
A 5% chance of winning was enough to move forward. That is
ridiculous. This government does not take its role as the executive
and as a legislator seriously. That leads to the results we get when we
end up before the Supreme Court of Canada.
Bill C-12 will not end up before the Supreme Court of Canada.
That is clear. We would not support it if that were the case.
Nevertheless, in my opinion, this bill will not accomplish what it is
supposed to. Unfortunately, the bill will only delay the action that
could be taken to do much better. If only the government would
listen to the heartfelt pleas of the people who told us in committee
what the government should do instead of cutting rehabilitation and
support programs for people with serious drug addictions, then we
might achieve better results.
As the Commissioner of Penitentiaries told us, given all the bills
with longer and longer mandatory minimum sentences, prisons have
no incentive to place these people in rehabilitation programs until
just a few years before they are released on parole. Take for example
someone who is serving a sentence of seven or 10 years. That
individual will not necessarily be placed in a rehabilitation program
immediately. The prison might wait until that person has been
incarcerated for five years or until he has only one or two years left
before he is eligible for parole. What kind of hardened individual
have we created in the meantime?
● (1125)
If we claim to want safer communities, what is our responsibility
as legislators? When it is time for these people to leave prison, I
would like them to be able to reintegrate into society. What will
happen if we do nothing to help them? This is not about being a
bleeding heart. I would say that there is a certain measure of selfinterest. I want to make sure that these people will not be a threat to
my family, my friends, my community or me. We must implement
the kinds of measures that will achieve these results. This
government does not see it like that and, after four years, we are
familiar with their approach. We were not born yesterday. This
government likes to use grand titles.
This afternoon, we will probably hear about tons of budget
measures that earned us the Conservatives' ridicule just for
mentioning them. The Conservatives are going to appropriate them
to further their interests and to strut around in the next few months,
in a manner that I will not even describe, simply to boast about their
magnificent agenda, as though this was the best government Canada
ever had. They will want to make everyone forget all those years in
the past when they were unable to bring forward a balanced budget.
All the Conservatives have done, in fact, like the good economists
they are, is to add to the national debt, after everyone had tightened
their belts under the Liberal government of the 1990s. That will not
stop them from having a splendidly grand title for their budget, as
they did for BillC-12.That is unfortunate. I do not know whether this
is what the Conservatives are looking for, or whether it just reaches a
portion of the population that is on their side. However, even for
those who claim they are tough on crime and believe what the
government says, I would tell them to go and read the bill. It is worth
doing. I was able to read the bill designed to get drugs out of our
prisons in exactly one minute. That gives you a good idea.
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If someone listening to me believes that Bill C-12 will help solve
the problem, I take issue with that. We should talk because,
seriously, no one in their right mind will believe that Bill C-12 will
help eliminate drugs from prisons. This is what I call misleading the
public.
When I read this bill, I had the impression not only that it was
useless, but also that the measures it provides for were already being
applied on the ground. Did she note the same thing about this bill?
In my opinion, it is shameful for a government that otherwise
proclaims itself to be serious to think it will succeed in slipping this
“quick fix” past Canadians. Again, it is unfortunate that when bills
have some appeal, like Bill C-583 and others, the government
succeeds, through all kinds of procedural tactics, in derailing it.
Ms. Françoise Boivin: Mr. Speaker, that is precisely the case. I
wish to thank my colleague from Ahuntsic for her question. I will
take the opportunity to congratulate her on the work she is doing. As
a criminologist, she has inside knowledge that is absolutely
invaluable and very much appreciated when the time comes to
make informed decisions. I am therefore happy to hear her speak.
Moreover, when the Conservatives do not want us to talk too long
about something, they bring in time allocation motions. People are
no longer fooled, and I saw that firsthand on the ground over the last
two weeks. People are aware of this. I am comfortable with that,
because the message I am sending to the government is what we
have succeeded in doing with BillC-51. That bill had a fairly strong
measure of support when tabled in the House, but that is no longer
the case. People are not fooled. They understand, because we explain
it to them. We are doing our job as the official opposition. We do not
do so just on the basis of polls. We do so on principle. We have stood
firm.
Some parties may have changed their ideas along the way when
they saw they were perhaps on the wrong side of the fence, like the
Bloc Québécois. Others, like the Liberal party, decided to persist in
their error and continue to support the Conservatives. That is not
surprising, because they are much alike.
That said, people are not easily fooled. We too will have the time
to explain what is going on, although we perhaps do not have the
same budget as the Conservative government, which will spend
millions of dollars, not to say hundreds of millions of dollars, on
advertising during our hockey games, for example, to tell us how
great its budget is.
However, people are not fooled, and they will be able to tell this
government that the time has come to stop mocking them and
making them believe it is doing things that it does not do at all.
● (1130)
Mrs. Maria Mourani (Ahuntsic, Ind.): Mr. Speaker, I
congratulate my colleague on her excellent speech. She really
zeroed in on a number of important points, particularly the
uselessness of this bill with respect to stopping drugs from entering
our prisons.
Because I worked for a long time in our prisons, I can say that it is
a daily struggle to prevent drugs from being brought in in all kinds of
inventive ways. Also, we should not forget that drug use is strongly
associated with many other problems. Therefore, if we want to
eliminate drugs from prisons, we should first and foremost help
people to stop using them.
However, as my colleague put it so well, that is almost impossible,
because it involves a multitude of variables that the bill does not take
into account.
Does my colleague not find that this bill is not only useless, but it
also includes things that are already carried out on the ground, such
as drug testing and the suspension of parole for offenders who use?
● (1135)
I would have liked to hear from other members. I have some
colleagues who were police officers and others who worked in
detention centres. That is the beauty of being in a parliament where
there are 308 voices representing personal and individual experiences that are widely diverse, as well as people who are dealing with
situations on the ground.
Much like my colleague from Ahuntsic, I was surprised when I
read the bill, because its provisions are in fact already being applied.
By putting questions to my colleagues who are more knowledgeable
in matters of public safety, I learned that we should not take parole
officers for idiots. This bill merely states what is already being done.
It is as simple as that.
If there is one thing that should be taken from my speech, it is that
the Conservatives only wanted to introduce a bill with a grandiose
title like “drug-free prisons act”. The Conservatives are touring
around their ridings and saying they have introduced BillC-12 to
make prisons drug-free and they are taking serious measures to make
prisons drug-free.
People are not going to read the bill. I made a point of reading it
in the House because then it will be on the record in Hansard. We
will be able to use it and tell people this is it, the vaunted bill in
question. The Conservatives have to stop treating people like fools. I
advise people to look deeper than the grandiose titles and the smoke
and mirrors that the Conservatives have been trying to get us used to
for four years.
The fact is that the Conservatives have suffered a series of defeats
in the courts and the crime rate for sexual offences against children
has risen by 6% in the last two years. Their program is a monumental
failure. It is just ink on paper, an excuse to hold press conferences
where they can pat themselves on the back. It fixes absolutely
nothing.
Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault (Sherbrooke, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
thank my colleague from Gatineaufor her speech. She too has not
hesitated to tell it like it is.
Can she confirm what I think I understood from her speech: when
the bill has received royal assent, it will change nothing in the
existing prison system or in how the Parole Board of Canada does
things? If that is the case, what actual point is there to this bill?
Ms. Françoise Boivin: Mr. Speaker, I am glad my colleague from
Sherbrooke sees me as someone who tells it like it is. I think so too.
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Obviously, the message in my speech is to watch out for people
who tell it like it is. Do not be afraid to go deeper than what they say.
Even when I speak—and I am saying this to my constituents in
Gatineau—people should not simply accept what I say; they should
verify the information I give. Do not fall for a catchy slogan, like the
one that says the government is going to make prisons drug-free.
In fact, the day after it comes into force, this bill will have an
effect in the range of 0% to 5% and not much more than that. That is
unfortunate. I will say it again: it could have been much more than
that.
As is the case for many justice or public safety bills, if, beyond the
title, we saw real efforts on the part of the government in power to
create programs that match these absolutely huge announcements,
and if we saw financial and human resources in them too, perhaps
then the grandiose title would be slightly more credible. As I was
just saying, however, they are merely words on paper that are not
followed by any concrete actions.
The first ones to laugh at this kind of thing are people who work
in the field, but they are too polite to do it to our faces. The
volunteers can do it because they are not paid by the government.
They do volunteer work with inmates in the penitentiaries, with
people who have substance abuse problems and others. Those people
see it right in front of them. They think to themselves that they are
doing all this volunteer work when the government has enormous
resources it could use to make our communities safer. What it comes
up with, however, is rubbish like this. That is what they call it.
This amounts to laughing at people, and that is why people are
increasingly stepping away from politics, and that is unfortunate. If
that is the goal the government is aiming for, well done! Mission
accomplished, if the goal is to upset people, so they will lose interest
in all of it and go back home.
However, when I see the reactions to Bill C-51or to other bills, I
tell the government to pay attention, because at some point it is
going to break something that is going to make Canadians stand up
as one and say enough is enough. I think that is going to happen,
probably sometime around October 19.
● (1140)
[English]
Mr. Kennedy Stewart (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I know my colleague has a lot of experience in this area. Could she
give us more of an explanation on the legal aspects of how the bill
may or may not help reintegrate folks who have been in prison back
into society?
Ms. Françoise Boivin: Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting
question. When I read the clauses in Bill C-12, it is all about the
possibility for the Parole Board to test people before they are let out
on the probation and if they have drugs in their system, it would hold
a deliberation. It would do absolutely nothing to ensure they do not
take drugs. That is the problem.
As the member for Ahuntsic said, how do we ensure that no drugs
go into the prisons? How do we ensure that a person who has a drug
problem can get out of that problem? There is nothing, but the
Conservatives call it a drug-free prisons act. If that is not laughing at
people, I do not know what it is.
So many aspects surrounding drugs in prisons would not be
addressed with Bill C-12. It is an insult to anybody's intelligence to
claim that it would create drug-free prisons.
Mr. Jasbir Sandhu (Surrey North, NDP): Mr. Speaker, as
always, it is an honour to rise in this House to speak on behalf of my
constituents from Surrey North, in this case to Bill C-12, an act to
amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the so-called
drug-free prisons act.
The member before me was saying that the title was almost
laughable. In fact, I was laughing when she pointed that out, because
there is nothing in this bill that would take any concrete steps to
prevent drugs entering prisons or to help those in prison to get off
drugs.
There is only one small aspect to the bill, and it is a small bill of
three or four pages. It is not detailed. The only thing this bill would
really change is that it would add a provision to the Corrections and
Conditional Release Act that would make it clear to the Parole Board
that it would use a positive result from a urine test or a refusal to take
a urine test for drugs in making its decision on parole eligibility. That
is all it would do. Basically, it would give legal authority to the
Parole Board to use drug tests or urine tests of prisoners to determine
eligibility for parole. Here is the kicker. The practice is already in
place. The Parole Board already does this. The only thing the bill
would do is give it the legal authority, so nothing else would change.
That is why the title of this bill is laughable. It is called the drug-free
prisons act.
I have yet to hear any Conservative get up in this House and
explain it to this House. None of the Conservatives, or the Liberals
for that matter, are getting up to explain to us how this would prevent
drugs in our prisons. If the Conservatives were really concerned
about preventing drugs, there would be a more concrete effort made
to address the demand for drugs in prisons, rehabilitation, and those
kinds of initiatives. However, there is nothing in this bill that would
lead us to hope that one day we will have drug-free prisons, although
it is a great aspiration to go toward drug-free prisons. The
Conservatives come up with hollow titles for bills that somehow
pretend that things are going to happen.
Yesterday, on the opposition day motion, we were talking about
the oil spill in English Bay. The Conservatives have been throwing
around the idea of a world-class response. We saw what happened in
English Bay when the toxic oil was spilled, and it was not a worldclass response. It took six hours to reach the spill. Is that worldclass? The Conservatives frame things with fancy titles. I have to
give them one thing; they are very good at coming up with fancy
names for their bills.
The problem is that the legislation itself is hollow. It does not
address what we need to address. If they were really concerned about
addressing drugs in prisons, they would bring more concrete
proposals to this House, and we would be happy. We have always
supported having concrete initiatives to ensure that we have safe
prisons, drug-free prisons, and prisons that have a good work
environment for the people who work in those difficult situations.
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I have visited a prison. I was on the public safety committee, and
we were studying this very issue of drugs in prisons.
● (1145)
We had a number of hearings. We heard from Corrections Canada
staff, experts and many stakeholders throughout Canada. I can say
that the majority of those people at committee were of the opinion
that we need more rehabilitation in prison to curb this menace in
prisons.
I know that Conservatives do not like facts and figures, and they
even have trouble with business and economics when it comes to
supply and demand. I will get into that in a minute, but I want to go
back to the amount of money the current government has spent
trying to prevent drugs from getting into prisons and what the result
has been.
In 2008, the Conservatives decided to invest, over three years,
$122 million to bring in sniffer dogs and ion machines to prevent
drugs from getting into prisons. The result of that three years of
spending a substantial amount of money was that random urine tests
done at the beginning and random tests done at the end did not show
any difference. Basically, the amount of drugs in prisons before was
still present afterward, even after spending $122 million on
interdiction. At the same time, the programs to help these individuals
get off drugs were being cut.
In terms of supply and demand, the Conservatives are trying to cut
the supply, yet on the demand side, they are not helping those
individuals get off the drugs. Sometimes I wonder if the
Conservatives actually understand what economics is all about or
if they understand the law of diminishing returns.
I had a chance to visit two medium-security prisons in Kingston,
the Kent Institution in the Harrison Lake area, and the Matsqui
Institution in Abbotsford. I had a chance to sit down with the
prisoners, and I asked the warden to step outside. Some of the
prisoners were on a committee representing other prisoners. I asked
them point blank what had changed in the last three years since the
government had started the interdiction program and had spent $122
million of taxpayers' money. I asked if I could get drugs in the
prison. They said, yes, sure I could, and then asked what type of drug
I would like. When I asked what had changed, they said the only
thing that had changed was that the price of drugs had gone up to
five or six times what it was before. They could still get the drugs,
but the price had skyrocketed. That was the result of the effort by the
Conservative government to stop drugs from entering prisons.
Then I asked if they wanted to get off drugs. I said that surely they
wanted to get off this stuff and be clean when they got out. I asked
what was needed for them to be off drugs. They told me that they
needed rehabilitation programs to help them get off these drugs.
The majority of people going into prison, 80% or 90%, have some
form of addiction. This is well documented. However, if there are no
rehabilitation services or programs to get into when they get to
prison, how are they supposed to manage?
● (1150)
This was what the prisoners were asking for. They wanted
programs available to them when they got to prison so that they
could access those services and get off these drugs. There would be
less demand for these drugs, and we could reduce the supply of
drugs coming into prisons.
One way or another, once prisoners do their time, they will be out
in society. We have a captive audience where we can provide
rehabilitative services and programs that will help them get off of
these drugs and reintegrate into society when they are released from
prison. It becomes much easier to reintegrate if they are off of any
substances they were taking before they went to prison. As I said, a
high percentage of prisoners are addicted to drugs or alcohol when
they get to prison. That is the record.
If we are really serious about curbing the use of drugs in prisons,
we also have to look at the demand side and at helping those
individuals get off drugs. However, the Conservative government
has made cuts to rehabilitation services and programs that would
help curb drugs in prisons.
Today is budget day. I know that this is going to be the last budget
for the Conservative government, because it will not be presenting a
budget next year. I can assure the House of that, because I have
heard from my constituents and people from across the country that
this is the Conservatives' last budget. If the Conservatives are really
concerned about curbing drugs in prisons, they have a last
opportunity. Let us make an impact. Talk to the Minister of Finance.
Talk to the Prime Minister. Talk to cabinet colleagues. Let us make
this real. Let us make that investment in this budget to ensure that we
have rehabilitation programs not only in prisons but in our
communities.
There have been over 20 shootings in my hometown of Surrey
over the last 35 days or so. That is very disturbing to me as a father
and as a representative from Surrey North. This is happening in my
backyard. There is a gang war going on. There are drug deals going
on. There is a turf war going on. Unfortunately, what we had feared
happened just the other day. One young man was killed, and there
are fears that the violence will escalate because of this tragedy on the
weekend.
I urge the government to invest in the very programs that are
going to make our communities safer instead of coming up with
these hollow, laughable names for bills that do nothing to make our
communities safe. Let us make real investments in our communities.
Let us fund programs.
I have a motion in the House asking for long-term, sustainable
funding for youth gang crime prevention programs. I have talked to
service providers in my community that help youth and provide
services to at-risk youth. What they have been telling me is that the
programs that have been funded through the Canadian government
have been cut by the Conservatives over the last number of years. If
we are going to make investments in our youth and in safer
communities, it is these kinds of programs we need to make
investments in.
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I have talked to the individuals who provide programs to these atrisk kids, and the results are fabulous. There has been about an 80%85% success rate in these youths being able to graduate from high
school. However, I have seen in my own community that the
Conservative government has made cuts to the very programs that
help our youth get on the right path and that help make our
communities safer.
● (1155)
are a problem, as I have said, not only in my part of town, but also in
prisons.
If the Conservatives were concerned about making our communities safer, instead of presenting hollow, laughable bills in this
House, they have an opportunity, their last opportunity, because they
will not get that opportunity next year, to commit to making that very
investment. When they formed government in 2006, they said they
were going to do things differently than the party in the corner over
there, the Liberal Party, yet they have failed to do that. They are
basically doing the same thing. They are shuffling chairs at a table on
the Titanic. It is not helping. If they were really concerned about
ensuring the safety in our communities, they would be making
investments.
● (1200)
The bill has a very narrow scope that simply gives direction to the
Parole Board to legally use the fact that a prisoner failed to provide a
urine sample as a tool to deny parole. As I have said before, the
Parole Board has been using this practice. There is nothing concrete
in this bill, the drug-free prisons act, that would actually enhance or
provide for safer working conditions, safer prisons, drug-free
prisons.
He touched on this, but I would like him to elaborate on the
subject: does he think this is a real missed opportunity on the part of
the Conservatives, to have a bill with this title but with only four
clauses that ultimately only reiterate a practice that already exists at
the Parole Board? Is this an opportunity that the Conservatives have
missed to put new measures in place, real, concrete measures, to
prevent the spread of drugs in our prisons? They could have done so
much more.
There is absolutely nothing in the bill, yet the Conservatives have
come up with a fancy name to have people believe that somehow,
magically, out of the sky there will be drug-free prisons. Frankly
speaking, this is their 10th year in government and I think they are
running out of new ideas on how to provide for Canadians, whether
it is safer communities, providing services, enhancing our health
care, or whether it is working toward having a pharmacare program
and a day care program.
The Liberals promised a day care program, a child care program,
back in 1972. They did not deliver on that. The Conservatives said
that they would make hundreds of thousands of spaces available, yet
they have not delivered. We have an idea. We will be bringing in
child care programs throughout this country once we form the
government in 2015.
An hon. member: Dream on.
Mr. Jasbir Sandhu: Mr. Speaker, I see the member cheering. He
can be sure that we will be forming the government in 2015.
This is an issue we need to address. If the government were
serious about addressing this issue, it would be looking at
rehabilitation, looking at investing in our communities across this
country, yet the government comes up with hollow titles and tries to
pretend that somehow it is actually doing something.
This is a very small step which, yes, I will support, but at the end
of the day, what the government is proposing is already being
practised by the Parole Board.
[Translation]
Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault (Sherbrooke, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
thank my colleague from Surrey North for his excellent speech and
for sharing his experience in his riding and the experience he had
when he visited a penitentiary.
With a title like this, it truly is a missed opportunity. As other
colleagues have said, the bill will not have the planned effects, as
stated in its title. Is this a missed opportunity? And with this being
budget day, would there be other opportunities that the government
might offer in order to genuinely address this very real and well
documented problem?
● (1205)
[English]
Mr. Jasbir Sandhu: Mr. Speaker, the short title of the bill is very
misleading in the sense that we all aspire to have drug-free prisons,
but there is nothing in the bill that is going to help us have drug-free
prisons. The bill allows the Parole Board to use drug tests on
prisoners to deny them parole. That is already happening. That
practice is being used by the Parole Board.
There is one issue that comes up often, and we heard it when we
were doing the study into drug-free prisons. If the Conservatives
were truly interested in drug-free prisons, they would provide tools
and investments for the CSC to have a proper intake assessment of
inmates' addictions, and then provide the proper correctional
program required.
This is a missed opportunity. The member is absolutely right.
Today is budget day. The government has run out of new ideas for
some concrete ways to make prisons a safer place for correctional
workers and for the reintegration of individuals into society. Instead,
the Conservatives have come up with a fancy name for a bill that has
no impact whatsoever on the actual workings of the prisons or any
sort of elimination of drugs.
Without addiction treatment, education and proper reintegration
upon release, a prisoner will likely return to the criminal lifestyle and
possibly create more victims. It is common knowledge that when a
young person is brought into the prison system, it is a university for
higher learning from other gangsters with respect to crime. Gangsters
The official opposition has always advocated for ways to reduce
harm and reduce drug use in prisons. We will continue to do that. In
2015, we will bring in real concrete action, real concrete proposals to
ensure that our prisons are safe not only for the workers, but also for
the prisoners.
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Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague. There are so many
people working on making safer streets, dealing with recidivism,
making sure that we actually get people out of the drug trade and
making sure that people do not get involved in drugs. Then we have
the Conservative government.
This is a perfect Conservative bill. It meets the three criteria: one,
it has a ridiculous title that means nothing; two, it will not change
anything because what it is claiming to do is already within the
Parole Board; and three, the big kicker, the Conservatives have
already wasted $122 million and have not changed anything. They
are going to stand again and bang their heads against a brick wall
that they created in their prison attitudes without ever bringing
forward in the House one coherent, reasonable response that would
actually cut down the drug trade and bring down the rates of
recidivism.
because it is good news. For a number of years now, 15 or 20 years
or more, crime rates in Canada have been steadily dropping. Violent
crimes, property crimes, murder and whatnot have steadily dropped,
all statistics across the board. At the same time, since the
Conservatives have been in government, and I would argue it was
more for political reasons that they needed to make crime an issue,
the incarceration rate has gone up. Before any of the measures that
the Conservatives brought in, the crime rate was dropping and
continues to drop even though they bring in these new laws and they
are supposed to change this, that, and the other. The one thing that
has changed is incarceration, which is an incredibly expensive thing.
It runs up to more than $100,000 a year per prisoner. My friend tells
me it is $150,000 for a federal maximum prison. However, the
government is unconcerned with whether its measures are actually
working, but just wants to spend money and lock up more people.
With the member's experience in Surrey and what he knows in
dealing with drug issues through his portfolio in the House, why
does my colleague think the government continues to present such
tired, out-of-touch ideas? Maybe it is time that Canadians finally did
throw those guys out.
If crime is dropping, let us look at the things that actually work. If
incarceration rates are going up, let us look at who is being
incarcerated and try to find out how to prevent the crime in the first
place. Would that not be the most ideal crime-fighting tactic any
government could take on?
Mr. Jasbir Sandhu: Mr. Speaker, I could not have summed it up
better than the member for Timmins—James Bay did. This bill has a
fancy title and yet it has no meat. It pretends to do something that it
will not really do. That is what has been happening with the
Conservative government over the last four years that I have been
here. The government pretends to be doing something, but actually
does not do anything.
Mr. Jasbir Sandhu: Mr. Speaker, the member for Skeena—
Bulkley Valley hit the nail on the head. Absolutely, we need to take
proactive approaches to crime in today's society, and prevention is
the best investment any government and any society could make.
The member is absolutely right. The government spent $122
million over a three-year period to eradicate drugs from prisons.
What was the result? The result was zero change. In the Correctional
Service annual reports, I checked the random drug testing that was
done and after this $122 million was spent, the rate of drugs in
prisons was the same as before. There was no significant change.
Experts have been telling the government that if it is looking at the
supply side, it also has to look at the demand side, which involves
prevention and rehabilitation. The government put a chunk of money
on the supply side, which had no effect on the amount of drugs
getting into prisons, but on the demand side, it cut the preventive and
rehabilitation programs that would cut the supply if there was no
demand. I know it is hard for the Conservatives to comprehend
something as simple as supply and demand.
The member is absolutely right. The government has run out of
ideas. I think Canadians will show the Conservatives the door come
October 19, 2015.
● (1210)
Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, crime is a big issue for many Canadians, I would say in
particular in his part of Canada, in Surrey. It is a top-of-mind issue
for many voters and yet in dealing with this issue, it is important to
bring our best intelligence and thoughtfulness around what to do
about crime, be it crime that is committed in prisons or leading in.
My question for the member is about this particularly annoying
statistic for the Conservatives, which should not be annoying
There have been a number of shootings in the town of Surrey over
the last month. There have been over 20 shootings. A young person
was killed over the weekend. There are fears in my community that
this will further escalate. Not only do we need more police, which
the government promised back in 2006, but we also need additional
preventive programs, preventive investment in communities, to
ensure that young people are not getting into these types of activities.
Unfortunately, I have talked to many organizations on the ground
and the Conservatives have failed to make these vital investments in
communities that would make them safe.
Many studies have been done. These are not Kijiji facts. These are
academic studies from the United States and Canada where a
minimal investment in crime prevention programs provides a huge
return at the end. As the member pointed out, it costs a lot of money
to keep someone in prison. Up to $150,000 is being spent per
prisoner per year, but a fraction of that invested early on in gangprevention programs in communities would make Canada a better
place for all Canadians.
Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, thank you
for the opportunity to play a role in this debate. It is an important
debate.
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Although the bill itself is rather modest in scope it is rather
expansive in title. It claims to be the drug-free prisons act, but it
would actually amend a practice that is currently being carried out by
the Parole Board, which is to take into account either a failure to take
a drug sample or the results of a drug sample testing for someone
who is about to be released on parole. Therefore, it would not
actually change very much, except to put into law a practice that
already exists. However, it is an opportunity for New Democrats to
spend some time to talk about the approach the government has
taken not only for legislation in general, but in particular, legislation
as it relates to crime and punishment and the treatment of offenders.
We can be magnanimous today and say everyone in the House
would like to have a safer society. We would like to have safer streets
and communities. The question is, how do we go about that and is
the government's approach one that works and actually creates safer
communities or is it not? We on this side of the House, in particular
New Democrats, believe that the government is an absolute failure
when it comes to this issue. It is great at the rhetoric. We have one
here today. “The act to amend the Corrections and Conditional
Release Act” is the long title. The short title, the inaccurate
propaganda title, is “the drug-free prisons act”. The government is
good at propaganda. It actually puts propaganda into the names of
legislation.
I do not know if this is unique to this particular government.
Maybe the Liberals did it too. I do not remember that far back. I was
not here then. I was here back in 1987 when the Progressive
Conservatives were in power but I was not here during the Liberal
regime.
To call this act “the drug-free prisons act” is an attempt to fool
people. There is an old saying that is common enough, but we do not
hear it that often these days as it is a bit of an old-fashioned saying. It
is, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the
people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
In fact, one cannot fool the majority of the people all of the time and
the government is going to find that out in September of this year.
Let me go back to the first part of that saying, “You can fool all of
the people some of the time”. The government believes it can get
away with titles like this. It believes it can fool all of the people some
of the time. By calling a bill “the drug-free prisons act”, it believes it
can make people think the bill will remove drugs from prisons.
The government has spent $122 million on interdiction programs
over a three-year period from 2012 on, the same period it took $295
million out of the corrections system. What was the result? Did it
create drug-free prisons? It absolutely did not. In fact, there are just
as many drugs in prisons these days as there were then. Therefore, is
the government's approach working? No, it is not.
I would like to quote from the office of the correctional
investigator, Howard Sapers, a very renowned expert on this matter.
He is so renowned that the government decided not to renew his
appointment after serving the position for some eight years or more
and doing a magnificent job providing dispassionate, fact-based,
evidence-based advice to government. In his 2011-12 annual report
he said that a zero tolerance stance to drugs in prison is an aspiration
rather than an effective policy that:
...simply does not accord with the facts of crime and addiction in Canada or
elsewhere in the world. Harm reduction measures within a public health and
treatment orientation offer a far more promising, cost-effective and sustainable
approach to reducing subsequent crime and victimization.
● (1215)
The John Howard Society is working very hard at this but this is
basically saying that it is not a realistic goal to even have. Therefore,
the government really has the question put wrongly and it has the
wrong answer.
What we are really trying to do to create a safer society and safer
communities is to reduce the number of victims of crime. We know
that the crime rates are going down, although we would not know
that from the emphasis that the government is placing on it. Prisons
are becoming more filled. The conditions in prison are getting worse
with double-bunking and so forth. One of the consequences of that is
we will not have safer communities. If we have people in prison
longer without programs to assist with issues such as drug addiction
and substance abuse, many of those prisoners will eventually be
released into society once they have served their sentence. If they go
out into those communities without those problems having been
solved or tackled they will pose a bigger danger to society and there
will be more victims of crime. That is just plain logic. I know that
interferes with the views of some of the members opposite with
respect to humankind and how we should deal with criminals.
I practised law for many years and practised criminal law for a
number of those years. I understand the system. There are principles
of sentencing. The idea of sentencing is to fit the sentence to the
crime. There are a number of factors taken into consideration. We
need to deter and punish crime but we also need to rehabilitate the
offenders so that we have safer communities. Those factors are taken
into consideration. Once they get into a prison those factors should
be put to work. Once they are removed from society, as best we can
we want to reduce the rate of recidivism, which is a complicated
word for a simple thing. It means that we do not want these people
who are in prison to commit crimes when they get out. How do we
do that? By spending $122 million over a period to try to interdict
and prevent drugs from getting into prisons, totally without serious
effect, and then spend I think it was $9 million to $11 million over
the same period on substance abuse programs in our prisons. That
does not make sense. At the point in time when this bill was going
through committee it was estimated that 2,400 prisoners in our
corrections system were waiting to get access to a substance abuse
program. One would ask what happened. One aspect is that they are
in prison with no access to a substance abuse program and have
access to drugs, because we know that there are drugs in the system.
When those prisoners eventually come out of prison without having
had an opportunity to deal with their drug addiction and without
having an opportunity to move forward they will go back into the
streets without the ability or the opportunity to be better serving
members of society. That is really what we are dealing with.
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One of the comments that was made by representatives of the John
Howard Society was that this bill will not eliminate drugs from
prisons and merely seems to be a tactic to ignore some of the real
issues in prison, such as mental illness, double-bunking and prisoner
self-harm. Prisoner self-harm is one aspect that we are reminded of
as a result of the very tragic story of Ashley Smith, a young woman
who died in prison at the age of 19. She was first arrested at the age
of 14 for I believe throwing crabapples at a letter carrier, which was
what got her in trouble with the law. She ended up in what turned out
to be a death spiral from the ages of 14 to 19, which led her to
desperation and maltreatment by the prison system. There have been
reports on this. It is a tragic case.
● (1220)
It was well investigated, well reported on, but tragic nonetheless.
She ended up killing herself under the watchful eye of corrections
officials who were told not to interfere while she was strangling
herself in prison. That is what it came to in that particular case. It
was a sense of desperation that cried out for reform, cried out for
change, and change is still required to take place. We are not getting
it from the government. What we are getting instead is increased
crowding in prisons and the closing down of some special facilities
that dealt with mental health cases in prisons.
We do know that when we are talking about drugs in prison, a
very high percentage of the offender population who abuses drugs is
also currently struggling with mental illness as well. We do not have
adequate programs in the prisons for that.
The Conservative government is closing down treatment centres
for inmates dealing with serious mental illness. This is a very serious
problem. Many times drug abuse and substance abuse occur with
mental health problems. There are some figures that show the size of
this issue. In 2011, it was estimated that 45% of male offenders and
69% of female offenders had received a mental health care
intervention prior to going into prison.
That shows a level of serious need within prisons to provide
access to care and access to programs. Prison can, in fact, be a
positive experience for some people who are in desperate
circumstances if the programs are available.
We need to have an attitude that recognizes that there is individual
responsibility, and nobody is suggesting that everybody in prison is
there because they have somehow been wronged. However, we do
know there are socio-economic factors. We do know there are people
with serious needs that are not being met in society, whether it be
drug addictions that they have no way of dealing with or whether it
be mental health issues that are improperly or inadequately
addressed in society.
We do know there is high unemployment in many parts of this
country. We have significant problems in the aboriginal communities
as a result of many factors which I will not go into here. There is a
whole series of issues that have led to that situation.
We cannot say the answer is to just increase the sentences, which
we have often heard from the government. Putting in mandatory
minimum sentences as a deterrent to people committing crimes is
something we know does not work and has even been recognized
very recently by the Supreme Court of Canada. The research shows,
and has been confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada, accepted
by the highest court in the land in a recent decision, that mandatory
minimum sentences as such do not in fact deter crimes.
The government is anxious to continue to make prison a situation
which is negative, not only for the prisoner, obviously, but also for
corrections guards. When the government starts talking about zero
opportunities for parole forever, what will that do for the safety of
corrections officers? What will it do if a prisoner has no hope
whatsoever of ever getting out and nothing to lose? Even if there is a
faint hope, it is still some sort of hope.
It the metrics of that are changed and we say to the prisoners that
no matter what happens, no matter what they do, they are not getting
out ever and the circumstances are going to be worse, will that help
the safety of corrections officers? I think the answer is pretty
obvious. It does not at all.
We have to do something different from what the government is
doing, because what the government is doing, frankly, does not
work.
● (1225)
We support the bill because it would in fact put to place in
legislation a practice that already exists. We are okay with the
legislation. We are happy to see it pass, but we do not want to let his
opportunity go when we pass legislation that has a short title of drugfree prisons act, which is clearly a misnomer, is clearly a propaganda
title and is clearly wrong. The long title of the bill An Act to amend
the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, which is fine.
In fact, a motion was made in committee to amend the legislation
and, of course, the motion was not allowed. We tried to fix it. I want
Canadians to know that even though we support the actual terms of
the legislation, what it stands for and what it says, we do not like the
title. We tried to change it and it was ruled out of order because there
was no amendment to the bill that would lead to a change in the title
being required.
What do we have? As of March 14, 2012, the national penitentiary
population was 15,000. If 20% of them, nearly 2,400 people, are
waiting for a program for drug abuse and substance abuse, then we
have a serious problem. If this legislation is followed through, those
people would stay in prison longer, they still would not get the
programs they need and eventually they would have to be released
when their sentences ended. When that happens and they did not
have access to the programs, we will have a continued problem for
our society, despite the government's claim that it cares about
victims. I think we all care about victims. In fact, we care about
victims to the point that we want to see fewer of them. One way to
do that is to ensure that people who are incarcerated get the
rehabilitation programs and support they need to allow them a
greater chance of living a life of less crime when they get out and to
participate better in society.
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Let us talk about some of our other programs. When we talk about
a mandatory $15-a-hour minimum wage, that is really designed as
well to allow people to have a decent opportunity to make a living
and support themselves. When we talk about other programs we are
promoting, that is also about ensuring that prisoners who get out of
jail and want to be productive members of society can have proper
rehabilitation programs so they have those opportunities and a better
chance of not reoffending.
There was a lot of talk about supporting victims and victims' bills
of rights, but the current government has done nothing to help the
Criminal Injuries Compensation Board program that has existed in
our country for many years. When it was established, the federal
government support was based on the dollar formula of 90/10. It
provided victims of crime with compensation for losses they
incurred as a result of crime. The government has done nothing
about that. It brought in its so-called victims' bill of rights, but it did
nothing on the plus side to provide something that would help with
their problems associated with the crimes against them.
● (1235)
[English]
Mr. Jack Harris: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for
reminding the House of the fact that the government is bucking
the trend. In the United States for example, the trend had been to be
far more harsh on prisoners, with more use of mandatory minimum
sentences, solitary confinement and other methods. The Americans
have recognized that this does not work. Some of the more rightwing states that had a tradition of being so-called tough on crime, as
the Conservatives like to call themselves, are recognizing that some
of the measures they have chosen lead to greater crime in their
communities and to less safe communities. It is a bit of an
enlightened approach even for those who take that ideological point
of view.
We want prisons to be a safe workplace for correctional staff. We
want prisoners to be rehabilitated. We want to have them access
government programs so when they are released, they are in a better
position to lead a crime-free life. If part of their problem is mental
health or drug addiction and rehabilitation programs can help fix
that, we need to put more money into prison programs to make that
possible.
● (1230)
The Conservatives government does not seem to get it. However, I
hope that when the government changes in the fall, we will have an
opportunity to put more resources into ensuring that rehabilitation
programs are available and that prison conditions are more
conducive to rehabilitation. That way, when people leave prisons,
they will be better citizens and less likely to commit crimes.
[Translation]
Mr. Matthew Dubé (Chambly—Borduas, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
thank my colleague for his speech.
Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan (Scarborough—Rouge River, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague is always intelligent when he helps
people.
Although we support the bill, I would like to take this opportunity
to point out just how much the Conservatives’ approach does not
work, even though they say they are the best ones to handle law and
order issues. My colleague gave an excellent example of this in his
speech: mandatory minimum sentences. In the United States, even
the Republicans, who are often hand in glove with the Conservatives
ideologically, are rejecting that idea as a way of reducing crime rates
in our communities.
When it comes to drugs in the prison system, we also have to
consider health and prevention. Of course, people have addiction
problems, and I do not understand why we would not be considering
solutions to address that.
As my colleague said in his speech, we could offer programs
within the prison system to start reducing the incidence of these
problems and healing these people and then, as he put it so well,
avoid crimes being repeated. The best way to protect victims is to
make sure that people are not in a position where they want to
commit crimes, and I think we can do that by focusing on
rehabilitation.
On that point, would my colleague like to say more about the fact
that in spite of the new laws being enacted, very little is being done
to offer more resources? We see cuts being made and a lack of
financial resources in the prisons.
What does my colleague think?
The NDP has been steadfast in our support for measures that will
make our prisons safe. Meanwhile, the Conservative government has
ignored recommendations from Correctional Service staff and the
correctional investigator that would decrease violence, gang activity
and drug use in our prisons. Multiple stakeholders across the country
agree that this bill would have a minimal impact on the drugs in our
prison system.
Recently the Conservatives cut $295 million to the operating
budget of Correctional Service Canada, which likely has impacted
the already small portion of the funding that is dedicated to core
correctional programming. Meanwhile, they have invested $122
million into failed interdiction tools, even after the stakeholders and
experts in the field have said that drug-free prisons are not
achievable. Experts have said that we need to invest in rehabilitation
programs for our prisoners and the Conservatives have shown that is
not something they are interested in doing.
My colleague said that we needed to invest in more programming
to support our prisoners, so when they left the prison system
recidivism would be lowered rather than maintained at the same rate.
Could my colleague comment on that?
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Mr. Jack Harris: Mr. Speaker, it is a serious situation when the
government makes things worse and less safe for our communities
by taking the money out of the prison program that could be used for
substance abuse programs or other programs that would help to
rehabilitate offenders, help them with mental health issues and to
provide substance abuse programs. It would leave us all in a
situation where, when they came out of prison, they would be in
better shape than when they were when they went in. We do not want
them in the same frame of mind with the same problems if they can
be addressed inside prison. We want it to be a positive experience.
Instead, what we have is money taken out of the system and
conditions becoming worse, and that is not good for society.
● (1240)
Mr. Jasbir Sandhu (Surrey North, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I have
been in the House since this morning and I have listened to the
debate very carefully. It is almost deafening that the government and
Liberal members are not participating in this debate. Why? Surely, if
the government is presenting a bill, it would want to defend it and
root for it.
Is it because it is an indefensible bill? The title of the bill would
not really address the real issue of drugs in prisons. It would just
provide a legal avenue for the Parole Board to use urine samples to
deny parole, which is already a practice. One would think that for a
bill like this, the government would be getting up, cheering and
defending it, letting Canadians know what is happening in the House
of Commons.
Would the member care to comment on that?
Mr. Jack Harris: Mr. Speaker, the member for Surrey North
makes an interesting point. I see members opposite, apparently
unwilling to get up and talk about this. I suspect there is one reason
why. I do not really believe that anybody over there is happy to get
up to try to defend the fact that they have called this bill the drug-free
prisons act when it would do nothing of the kind. In fact, it has no
relation to having drug-free prisons at all. I think the member for
Yukon and the committee recognized as much by acknowledging
that the title was a bit of an overreach. That is a pretty big admission
from the other side.
In fact, it is more than an overreach. It is something that is really
indefensible and that is why we do not see anybody on the other side
getting up trying to defend it.
Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan: Mr. Speaker, following in a similar
vein to my previous question, we know that mental health is a
significant problem in our communities across the country. In the
intake interviews with prisoners, there is quite a significant number
of prisoners who go into our prison system with identified mental
health issues.
Instead of complaining, I would like to hear proposals or
propositions of how we could make changes. What should we do
as responsible legislators to ensure that the occurrences of mental
health issues and concerns with our prisoners as they exit the prison
system can be reduced, rather than increase or stay the same.
According to many studies, mental health continues to be a problem,
rather than being resolved or worked on while our prisoners are in
the system.
Mr. Jack Harris: Mr. Speaker, I will quote Catherine Latimer, the
executive director of the John Howard Society, who talked about
what we could do for people who were out on parole. She said:
We want to enhance the likelihood that communities would be safer. We do that
by a supported, targeted parole reintegration scheme that looks at the needs of the
individual and how to support those needs.
On the way in to prison, when individuals are taken in and
assessed at the beginning, there has to be a program that assesses the
addiction problem and provides a proper correctional program for
that offender. Without addiction treatment, education and proper
reintegration upon release, a prisoner will likely return to a criminal
lifestyle and possibly create more victims. That is what we are trying
to prevent.
● (1245)
Ms. Jean Crowder (Nanaimo—Cowichan, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-12, an act to amend the
Corrections and Conditional Release Act, and as others have pointed
out, the short title is the drug-free prisons act.
Other New Democrats have indicated today that we are supporting
this very narrow bill, and people might wonder why we are rising to
speak to the bill if we are supporting it. Part of the reason we are
rising to speak comes down to the short title, the drug-free prisons
act. Nothing in the bill would contribute toward a goal of drug-free
prisons.
One would think, given the Conservatives' approach to being
tough on crime, that part of their interests would be that any
legislation they bring forward would actually have a goal of keeping
our communities safer. So part of that goal would be that, when
people are incarcerated, when the justice system has found them
guilty and they are incarcerated for whatever their misdeeds were—
we would presume the Conservative goal would be to ensure that
prisoners are rehabilitated so that they can be reintegrated back into
the community in a safe way and thus keep our communities safer.
I think all of us in the House would argue that one of our roles is
to ensure that federal employees have a safe workplace. We would
assume that any legislation we bring forward would consider
whether or not the workplace for correctional officers, men and
women who serve in the federal penitentiary system, is safe. I would
argue that nothing in the bill would achieve those ends.
I am turning to the legislative summary because it is important to
highlight what exactly the bill would do and presumably why the bill
came about. The legislative summary says:
The bill requires the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) (or a provincial parole board,
if applicable) to cancel the parole of an offender who has not yet been released if the
offender tests positive in a urinalysis or fails to provide a urine sample and the Board
is of the opinion that the criteria for granting parole are no longer met.
The bill also clarifies the legislative intent underlying section 133(3) of the
Corrections and Conditional Release Act 1 (CCRA)—which authorizes a releasing
authority to set conditions on an offender's parole, statutory release or unescorted
temporary absence—to provide that conditions may be set regarding the offender's
use of drugs or alcohol, including when that use has been identified as a risk factor in
the offender's criminal behaviour.
There is a long history of drug use within the penitentiary system,
and the legislative summary quotes some of that background. Under
a section called “The Presence of Drugs in the Federal Penitentiary
System”, it says:
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Prevalence rates of substance abuse for persons involved in the criminal justice
system are “much higher” than those in the general population. According to the
Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), “in Canada, 80% of offenders entering the
federal prison system are identified as having a substance abuse problem.”
I am going to repeat that number: 80% of people of entering the
system have a substance abuse problem. That should be setting all
kinds of warning bells off for everybody in the House who is
considering legislation.
The summary goes on to say:
The presence of drugs within the federal penitentiary system is not a recent
phenomenon. Problems associated with drugs in the penitentiary system were noted
in 1990 by the Federal Court of Canada in Jackson v. Joyceville Penitentiary (T.D.),
when the Court found that the evidence clearly indicated that:
unauthorized intoxicants in the prison setting create very serious problems
including a greater risk and level of violence that affects the safety and security of
prison institutions for both staff and inmates.
In 2000, the Sub-committee on the Corrections and Conditional Release Act of
the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights tabled a
report entitled A Work in Progress: The Corrections and Conditional Release Act, in
which it noted:
One of the issues that arose in virtually every correctional facility visited by the
Sub-committee was the entry, presence and use of drugs in an environment where
they are not supposed to be found. The Sub-committee also learned that the brewing,
distribution and consumption of alcohol are serious problems in many correctional
institutions. The consequences of the presence of alcohol and drugs in correctional
facilities can be devastating to both the correctional environment and to what
corrections personnel are trying to achieve in working with offenders.
Probably people who have listened to this debate would presume
that the collection of a urine analysis for drug testing is something
new, when in fact, it has existed within the penitentiary system for a
number of years.
● (1250)
I will not go over all the history, but the mandatory urine analysis
within the penitentiary system began in the mid-1980s, and so it has
been going on for decades. There have been some changes to it
because of some court challenges and human rights issues, but
essentially the collection of urine for analysis and drug testing has
been within the penitentiary system for a number of years.
What currently exists? According to the legislative summary,
under the heading “Authority to Collect Urine Samples” it says,
“Today, the CCRA authorizes the collection of urine samples within
the institutional setting in the following prescribed circumstances.”
I will read the prescribed conditions without the explanation, but a
number of things have to be present: reasonable grounds; random
selection; when required for program activity involving community
contact or a treatment program; testing to monitor compliance with
conditions to abstain from the consumption of drugs or alcohol;
consequences of a positive result or a refusal to provide a sample;
and consequences for offenders on conditional release. This is the
current situation from before we had Bill C-12 before us.
been granted day or full parole but has not yet been released, has
failed or refused to provide a urine sample or has had a positive urine
analysis test.
Clause 3 of the bill would add a new section that states that if the
Parole Board has been informed of an offender's failure or refusal to
provide a urine sample or positive urine analysis result, and the
offender has not yet been released, it must cancel the offender's
parole, but only if, in its opinion, the criteria for granting parole
provided in section 102 of the CCRA are no longer met.
Clause 4 of the bill would modify section 133(3) of the CCRA to
direct the consideration of a condition regarding the offender's use of
drugs or alcohol following an offender's failure or refusal to provide
a urine sample, and Bill C-12 would give the Parole Board clear
legal authority for the imposition of a condition regarding the use of
drugs or alcohol by adding that:
For greater certainty, the conditions may include any condition regarding the
offender’s use of drugs or alcohol, including in cases when that use has been
identified as a risk factor in the offender’s criminal behaviour.
Therefore, what we have currently is a situation where the
Correctional Service of Canada already does the urine sampling and
drug analysis, and now we have this communication link with the
Parole Board so that it may be considered when granting parole.
However, members will notice that nowhere in there does it talk
about rehabilitation or treatment while offenders are within the
correctional system. Therefore, how this would contribute to a drugfree prison escapes me. I cannot find anything in the legislation that
would create an environment that would reduce the use of drugs in
prisons, that would presumably lead to better reintegration into
society and more safety for prison staff who have to deal with these
inmates who may be intoxicated or under the influence of some sort
of drug.
It is interesting that this issue has been raised in any number of
venues, and I am going to quote from an April 2012 report called
“Drugs and Alcohol in Federal Penitentiaries: An Alarming
Problem”. This is a report of the Standing Committee on Public
Safety and National Security. In that report, there is a section entitled
“The Impact of Drugs and Alcohol in Federal Correctional
Facilities”. The report states that:
Therefore, we already have this method. However, in terms of
drug-free prisons, I will talk a little later about how effective the
programs have been, or have not been, and how little the bill would
contribute to it.
Upon admission, 80% of offenders have a serious substance abuse problem, and
over half of them reported that alcohol and drug use was a factor in the commission
of their offence.
On the changes to the legislation, clause 2 of Bill C-12 would
amend the CCRA by creating a new section, 123.1, which states that
the CSC is required to inform the Parole Board when an offender has
Mental health problems are also highly prevalent among inmates in the
correctional system. Experts note that drug addicts and inmates with mental health
issues generally have complex problems to contend with, such as concurrent mental
health issues, drug addiction and alcoholism.
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Dr. Sandy Simpson, Clinical Director of the Law and Mental Health Program at
the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, said that substance abuse “is a driver of
mental ill health and it is also a barrier to recovery, wellness, and reducing
recidivism.” This is all the more alarming since “anywhere up to 90% of a standing
prison population will have a lifetime problem of substance misuse or dependence.”
The Commissioner also raised this point with the Committee, noting that “[t]his
dependency does not magically disappear when they arrive at our gates.”
● (1255)
Anybody who has studied the corrections system is well aware
that these substances are illegally available within the correctional
system. I think there is a theory out there that when people go to
prison, they will go cold turkey and somehow magically be relieved
of needing or wanting the substance, but of course, these substances
are illegally available in the system, which does not help with
reintegration into society.
With regard to that report, New Democrats actually filed a
dissenting opinion because, despite all of the testimony that was
heard, the report only came down on one part of a proposed solution.
In the dissenting report, New Democrats said:
The report: Drugs and Alcohol in Federal Penitentiaries: an Alarming Problem,
is fundamentally flawed and fails to adequately represent the testimony heard at
committee in a fair manner. Critical information is missing and as a result many of
the conclusions and recommendations are incomplete or insufficient, for this reason
New Democrat members of the Public Safety Committee have submitted this
dissenting opinion....
The most startling example of the information missing from this report is the
failure to note evidence that clearly demonstrated $122 million dollars [sic] of
Conservative spending on interdiction tools and technology since 2008 has not led to
any reduction in drug use in prisons. The Commissioner of Correctional Services
Canada...Mr. Don Head, admitted at meeting number 16 on December 1, 2011, that
this spending has been largely ineffective according to the CSC's own report on drugtesting, but this information is not reflected anywhere in the committee's report.
Of significant concern is the appearance that the Committee's report reached a
pre-determined conclusion that the solution to the problems of drugs and alcohol in
prison is increasing interdiction measures. This conclusion does not reflect the
testimony that the Committee heard describing the complexity of the problem of drug
and alcohol in federal prisons. As many witnesses affirmed, a narrow focus on
interdiction measures alone will not serve the purpose of reducing the use of drugs
and alcohol....
New Democrats believe that the problems facing Canadian prisons, including
mental illness, drug use and the spread of disease, including HIV and hepatitis, are
complex and interrelated. Violence and increased population pressures, gangs and
drug trafficking in prisons are as interrelated as well. In order to move towards real
solutions targeting the issue of drugs and alcohol in prisons, a balanced approach that
is based on a complete understanding of the problems that exist is required.
Unfortunately, that report was another example of where the
Conservative majority on the committee used the majority to actually
subvert the recommendations and witness testimony so that it came
out with a very narrow conclusion that simply did not reflect the
other work that was done.
I want to turn for a moment to the Correctional Investigator, who
provides annual reports that talk about the state of prisons in Canada.
In a report from 2012 on the previous fiscal years, he indicated a
number of problems, and I would like to take a few moments to raise
that. In his report, he stated:
More offenders are admitted to federal penitentiaries more addicted and mentally
ill than ever before. 36% have been identified at admission as requiring some form of
psychiatric or psychological follow-up. 63% of offenders report using either alcohol
or drugs on the day of their current offence. With a changing and more complex
offender profile come accumulating pressure points and needs—provide for safe and
secure custody, meet growing mental health and physical health care demands, and
respond to the special needs of aging, minority and Aboriginal offenders. This is a
compromised population which presents some very complex mental health, physical
health and criminogenic issues. As I report here, these needs often run ahead of the
system's capacity to meet them.
He provided some numbers. People love to talk numbers in the
House, as they should. He indicated that the annual cost of keeping a
federal inmate behind bars has increased from $88,000 in 2005-06 to
more than $113,000 in 2009-10. In contrast, the annual average cost
to keep an offender in the community is about $29,500. At a time of
widespread budgetary restraint, it seems prudent to use prison
sparingly and as a last resort, as it was intended to be.
Later on in the report, the Correctional Investigator outlined some
challenges with mental health because, as noted, mental health and
substance abuse often go hand in hand.
● (1300)
Again, quoting some statistics, he said:
CSC data indicates that the proportion of offenders with mental health needs
identified at intake has doubled in the period between 1997 and 2008. 13% of male
inmates and 29% of women were identified at admission as presenting mental health
problems. 30.1% of women offenders compared to 14.5% of male offenders had
previously been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons.
CSC's use of computerized mental health screening at admission indicates that
62% of offenders entering a federal penitentiary are “flagged” as requiring a followup mental health assessment or service.
Offenders diagnosed with a mental illness are typically afflicted by more than one
disorder, often a substance abuse problem, which affects 4 out of 5 offenders in
federal custody.
That is four out of five. That is 80% in custody.
50% of federally sentenced women self-report histories of self-harm, over half
identify a current or previous addiction to drugs, 85% report a history of physical
abuse and 68% experienced sexual abuse at some point in their lives.
He reviewed the progress with regard to dealing with some of
these matters, and the Correctional Investigator indicated the
following:
In a series of reports and investigations over the last three years, the Office has
identified gaps in CSC's mental health framework and has further recommended a
series of measures where progress is necessary. The following are among the most
urgent needs in the federal system that speak to capacity and resource issues and raise
questions of purpose, priority and direction:
1. Create intermediate mental health care units.
2. Recruit and retain more mental health professionals.
3. Treat self-injurious behaviour as a mental health, not security, issue.
4. Increase capacity at the Regional Treatment Centres.
5. Prohibit the use of long-term segregation of offenders at risk of suicide or
serious self-injury as well as offenders with acute mental health issues.
6. Expand the range of alternative mental health service delivery partnerships with
the provinces and territories.
7. Provide for 24/7 health care coverage at all maximum, medium and multi-level
institutions.
With regard to drugs in prison, he indicated that there is no
question that the presence of illegal substances is a major safety and
security challenge. He said:
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The smuggling and trafficking of illicit substances and the diversion of legal
drugs inside federal penitentiaries present inherent risks that ultimately jeopardize the
safety and security of institutions and the people that live and work inside them.
Almost two-thirds of federal offenders report being under the influence of alcohol or
other intoxicants when they committed the offence.... A very high percentage of the
offender population that abuses drugs is also concurrently struggling with mental
illness. The interplay between addiction, substance abuse and mental health
functioning is complex and dynamic. Living with addiction or managing a substance
abuse problem in a prison setting creates its own laws of supply and demand, which
in turn is influenced by gang activity and other pressures.
We can see that there is a very serious problem within the prison
system. We have had a number of experts who have testified to that
in a variety of circumstances, yet the bill does nothing to deal with
that problem.
He recommended the following:
a comprehensive and integrated drug strategy should include a balance of
measures—prevention, treatment, harm reduction and interdiction. The Office's
analysis suggests that CSC's current anti-drug strategy lacks three key elements:
1. An integrated and cohesive link between interdiction and suppression activities
and prevention, treatment and harm reduction measures.
2. A comprehensive public reporting mechanism, and;
3. A well-defined evaluation, review and performance plan to measure the overall
effectiveness of its investments.
With respect to performance indicators and public reporting, a more balanced
score sheet might include consideration of these measures:
Decreased gang activity linked to the institutional drug trade.
Reduction in the number of major security incidents....
It goes on. I know I am running out of time, so I want to conclude
by indicating that the Correctional Investigator said this:
On balance, the facts surrounding and impacts of substance abuse and addiction in
federal prisons suggest a different approach. A "zerotolerance" stance to drugs in
prison, while perhaps serving as an effective deterrent posted at the entry point of a
penitentiary, simply does not accord with the facts of crime and addiction in Canada
or elsewhere in the world. Harm reduction measures within a public health and
treatment orientation offer a far more promising, cost-effective and sustainable
approach to reducing subsequent crime and victimization.
Based on the respect I have for the member who just spoke, would
it not have been a better use of the time of the House to deal with
legislation and actually have a debate on other than the short title?
Ms. Jean Crowder: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the chair of the
justice committee for that question. I know that he was listening
intently to my speech. As I pointed out in my speech earlier, the
reason we are here debating this is that we have so few avenues in
this House, because of the lack of democratic process, to raise valid
concerns about legislation.
What we know about this particular piece of legislation is that,
yes, it was referred to committee. There were only a couple of
meetings allocated for it.
We have clearly stated in this House that we are supporting this
very narrow bill, and we are raising concerns about the fact that the
Conservative government has been in power since 2006 and has had
nine years to deal with the very serious problems in the Correctional
Service system with regard to drug and alcohol abuse, and it has
done nothing about it.
The Conservatives introduced interdiction techniques, for $122
million, around security measures that have not looked at prevention,
harm reduction, and treatment. What are they doing to make sure
that when prisoners are released they are reintegrated into a
community in a way that keeps the community safe. What are they
doing to keep the staff who work within Correctional Service
Canada safe? We know that trafficking in illegal substances makes a
workplace unsafe for staff and makes the living arrangements unsafe
for the prisoners.
[Translation]
● (1305)
Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault (Sherbrooke, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
following the comment my colleague just made and her speech, does
she think it was a missed opportunity for the Conservatives to find
real solutions, and not just the appearance of a solution?
Although we are supporting the bill, I would urge the
Conservative government to take a more detailed and complex look
at the problem of substance abuse within the prison system.
As she quite rightly said, it is just a title, but in reality as in the
bill itself, there is no solution that will really eradicate drugs from
our prisons.
Mr. Mike Wallace (Burlington, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I have been
here all morning. It is now a little after one o'clock. I would like to
go through the process. The bill was introduced by the minister.
There was second reading debate. Everyone in the House agreed,
and it went to committee. There was a discussion at committee and
witnesses. It came back here.
Does she believe the Conservatives have missed a good
opportunity to really deal with the problem and find practical ways
of solving it? Could today’s budget also provide a practical and
genuine opportunity to attack the problem? Does she think the
Conservatives have let a good opportunity go by?
There have been comments about why the Conservatives have
not been up to speak to this. The fact of the matter is that the whole
House agrees with the bill. What opposition members are arguing
about today is the short title. They do not like the short title. One
party is carrying the debate from ten o'clock until two, is my
understanding. Then on another date, we will hear about not having
enough time to debate issues.
There is other legislation we could have introduced that the
opposition members may actually disagree with, and we could have
a real debate in the House.
[English]
Ms. Jean Crowder: Mr. Speaker, I will start with the tail end of
the question on the budget.
I am under no illusion that the government is actually going to
take some of its responsibility for some of the most disadvantaged
people in this country seriously and put the resources in to work with
offenders with a view to keeping our communities safer. I did not get
an opportunity to talk about aboriginal offenders, who are seriously
over-represented in the federal correction system.
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Everyone has to remember what the ultimate goal is. It is to keep
our communities safer and to reduce recidivism. I have no
confidence that the government is going to put any resources into
the Correctional Service that will help us, as a country, meet that
goal.
With regard to the bill as a missed opportunity, what is unfortunate
is that this is not new information about drug use within the prison
system. Correctional Service Canada itself has information that
suggests that it is a serious problem. The office of the investigator
actually took a look at the stats, and although they claim that there
has a been a slight reduction in the number of urinalysis that are
showing positive results for drugs, in fact when some other things
are removed, like legitimate prescription drug use, they plateau.
Their methods are not affecting drug use within the prison system.
Correctional Service Canada, the Office of the Correctional
Investigator, mental health professionals, the John Howard Society,
the Elizabeth Fry Society, and the list goes on and on, all talk about
the serious problem around substance abuse within the prisons, with
people both entering and exiting the system with mental health and
substance abuse problems.
This was an opportunity to actually do something meaningful
instead of putting forward a bill that misleads the Canadian public
about what the Conservative government is actually doing to create a
drug-free prison system. It is a missed opportunity.
● (1310)
Mr. Jasbir Sandhu (Surrey North, NDP): Mr. Speaker, carrying
on with the theme of the budget that is coming up this afternoon, I
know a lot of seniors are concerned about the pensions they are
getting. This is another topic I have heard about many times in my
community, where seniors are living in poverty. However, I am
going to stick to the topic at hand, Bill C-12.
I was glad to see a Conservative member get up to actually ask a
question. However, rather than asking a question, the member went
on a rant about the title. He did not provide the answer to the
question we have been asking all morning: How does the title relate
to the actual content of the bill? The title includes the words “drugfree prisons”. However, what we have heard in the House from
member after member of the official opposition is that the bill will
actually do very little, if anything at all, to curb drugs in our prison
system.
The government has an opportunity to invest in rehabilitation and
treatment programs in the prison system. I know that most are not
very optimistic that the government will take any sort of leadership
role, which it has failed to do in the last nine years.
My question is to the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan. Is this a
trend with the government in regard to fancy titles for hollow
legislation that does not actually address some of the very issues we
need to address in this House?
Ms. Jean Crowder: Mr. Speaker, it is a very troubling trend. I
cannot speak for the government. It is unfortunate that the
Conservative government will not get up and explain how this
piece of legislation actually contributes to drug-free prisons.
As I noted in my speech, the legislative summary clearly pointed
out that drug testing has been going on in the prisons since the
1980s, and we have not seen a decrease in the use of drugs. Again, I
need to point out that a lot of these drugs are smuggled in or brewed
on site. Testing has not led to a decrease in the use of those illegal
substances. They are illegal within the prison context.
There is nothing in this bill that indicates that simply continuing to
do the drug testing they have already been doing since the 1980s and
simply informing the Parole Board will change anything. The Parole
Board still has the option of granting release, depending on the
conditions.
It is not clear to me from this piece of legislation, or from any
analysis I have seen on it, how this is going to contribute to a drugfree prison. The Conservative government has not stood up in this
House and explained it to us.
The government wonders why we want to debate this. It is
because it is asking us to roll over on a piece of legislation that does
not do what the title says it is going to do. We have a responsibility
to the Canadian public to raise concerns when legislation is brought
forward. That is simply what we are doing here. We are exercising
our democratic right to highlight concerns with a piece of legislation.
I want to reiterate that we are supporting it, but we believe that much
more needs to be done in order to keep our communities safer.
● (1315)
[Translation]
Ms. Charmaine Borg (Terrebonne—Blainville, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I have the pleasure to rise in the House today to talk about
Bill C-12.
I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Timmins—
James Bay. I will therefore be speaking rather more briefly, but there
is no harm done, as I will be leaving the floor to others.
As my colleagues have pointed out, we are going to support this
bill. However, we see it as a little piece of paper that does not really
solve the problem. It is a little something, but the drug problem in the
prisons is a very large one. What is before us today is only a small
part of the solution.
This bill provides for ineligibility for parole following a positive
test or a refusal to provide a sample. I emphasize that this is already
common practice. Drug tests and the refusal to provide a sample are
already taken into consideration. That does not change much. It is
nevertheless a step in the right direction. At least we are talking
about the problem, which is a start. However, we believe the
important thing is to create a safer environment for correctional staff,
and one in which inmates or ex-inmates can be reintegrated into
society and into the community. We have to create an environment in
which they can take part in detoxification programs, one with
programs and resources for inmates who are unfortunately drugdependent.
It is also important that we address the problem of street gangs in
prisons. It is often street gangs that produce drugs or alcohol inside
prisons or arrange for drugs to be smuggled in. Obviously, the result
is that the problem spreads and proliferates.
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Street gangs and drugs can increase violence in prisons. This
concerns me greatly because in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, in the
riding of Terrebonne—Blainville, there are three federal prisons.
Many of my constituents work in one or other of the three. I have
spoken to prison workers who are extremely concerned, because
their working conditions are unsafe. The environment is not safe
because we are not dealing with the problems of violence and street
gangs. We are cutting budgets, resources and detoxification
programs. We are also increasing the number of prisoners in the
cells, with double-bunking, which can increase violence and the
spread of gangs within prisons.
Ultimately, it creates a more dangerous work environment for
corrections officers. We need to think of those people. They do an
extremely difficult job. Not just anyone can do this job in a pressurefilled environment. These people work with prisoners and help
protect society. As parliamentarians, we have a duty to do our best to
ensure that our prisons are free of drugs and violence. We have a
duty to reduce the presence of—if not eliminate—street gangs in
prison.
● (1320)
This bill may have started with good intentions, but the
government made our prisons less safe by reducing the budget for
drug addiction programs by $295 million, which is 10% of the total
budget. This will obviously affect the programs, which are often the
first targets of cuts to public safety.
However, these programs are essential to helping prisoners
rehabilitate. If we want them to become productive members of
society, we need to give them a chance to take part in drug treatment
programs and free themselves of their addiction. If they have mental
health problems, we need to give them the opportunity to participate
in proper programs in order to receive care and get their condition
under control. Unfortunately these programs fell victim to the
Conservatives' budgets.
The government invested $112 million in tools and technology to
tackle the problem of drugs in prisons, but failed to achieve the
hoped-for results. Now the Conservatives are trying something else.
That seems logical to me. This bill might be part of that, but it lacks
substance. All it does is reiterate what is already being done, such as
screening.
To get to the root of the problem, we need to look at the big
picture. If these people have addictions, we need to treat them. If
drugs are available in prison, we have to tackle that problem. If drugs
are banned in prison, why are they there? If it is because of street
gangs, we need to go after street gangs. That seems logical to me, but
unfortunately, that is not what is being done.
I talked about the importance of having programs that meet
inmates' needs so that they can be reintegrated into the community
and become productive members of society. However, the government reduced funding for these programs from $11 million to
$9 million even as the prison population grew. That is not enough.
Another thing I wanted to point out, which the Union of Canadian
Correctional Officers also pointed out, is that we all want to get rid
of drugs in prisons. That is a sincere objective shared by us all.
However, we need to be realistic. The union and many other
witnesses said that completely ridding prisons of drugs is not a
realistic goal. That is important to remember.
The bill's short title is the “drug-free prisons act”. We all want to
get rid of drugs in prisons. That is not the issue here. However, we
have to wonder if that is realistic. The experts say that it is not. Once
again, we need to reframe the debate. Maybe that way we could
achieve something.
I want to talk about programs again. I talked about how the budget
for drug addiction programs and anti-gang programs was cut from
$11 million to $9 million. In seven institutions surveyed in February
2012, only 12.5% of offenders were enrolled in a core correctional
program, while 35% were on the waiting lists to access these
programs. The waiting lists continue to grow, but institutions do not
have the resources needed. It is critical that we address these
problems.
In closing, I wish to reiterate our support for the idea of
eliminating drugs from prisons, but I want to emphasize the need for
resources and programs so that correctional officers can work in a
safe environment.
● (1325)
Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, if my colleague would indulge me, I wonder if she could
put herself in the minister's shoes for a moment and answer the
following question: if she had been asked to try to eliminate drugs
from prisons, would she have come up with a bill that has only five
clauses or would she have presented a much more comprehensive
solution?
What kind of action might she have taken to come up with a
comprehensive solution to the problem of drugs in prisons?
Ms. Charmaine Borg: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her
question.
I believe that as a rule, MPs do not usually respond to hypothetical
questions.
Nonetheless, in this case, I am being asked whether I, as minister,
would introduce a bill with just five clauses to get rid of drugs in
prisons, which is no small feat, and the answer is no. It takes a lot
more than that.
We need to invest in programs and provide resources. There needs
to be a serious commitment to the programs that the inmates have to
have access to. There needs to be mental health care. This calls for a
multi-faceted solution.
This bill is a piece of paper that may indeed have an impact, but it
addresses just a small part of the problem and provides a small
offering of potential solutions. What we really need is a greater
commitment if we want drug-free prisons.
Ms. Christine Moore: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to ask a second
question.
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I wonder if my colleague would indulge me in another
hypothetical question. Does she think it is worth talking to provincial
stakeholders to get the provinces' support when it comes to addiction
services?
As we know, addicts are more likely to commit crimes in order to
pay for their drugs, among other things. That is how they end up in
prison.
In the member's opinion, is it also worth talking to provincial
stakeholders to address the issue of addiction and mental health?
Ms. Charmaine Borg: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my
colleague once again.
Yes, we must always work with the provinces, especially on such
a broad issue as drug addiction. This problem affects many people.
When someone has an addiction, they might do something they
would not ordinarily do.
The keyword here is prevention. It would be fantastic if there were
no more crime and if there were no more prisons because there were
no more offenders. It would be fantastic if there were no addicts in
Canada.
However, to make that happen we have to work on prevention.
Prevention is vital. We need to consult the provinces and different
organizations working in the community in order to come up with a
proper prevention action plan. There must be consultation.
Unfortunately, on many occasions, we have seen that this
government consulted no one. The Conservatives do their homework
in their little corner, and if we do not agree with their decision they
just brush us off and do not consult us. They do not consider our
point of view and they move forward without consulting. That is
unfortunate because there are opportunities to be seized, and we can
can work together on prevention.
they are dumb on crime. It is more wasted money. Do members
know, and the folks back home, the terrible financial record of the
current government that will blow money on anything that suits its
ideology, like the F-35s that it was going to spend incredible
amounts on?
The Conservatives have spent $122 million on this program
already, claiming that they are going to stop the drugs in prison.
“We're going to get tough on those prisoners”. After $122 million,
they have come up with nada, zero, doughnuts. They have not
delivered on anything. Rather than going back and figuring out what
they are doing wrong, they will just come up with another fake bill,
with another fake title, offering very little.
Why this is of concern is that this is a government that has run on
its so-called tough on crime agenda with one bill after another
without ever coming forward with focused, coherent legislation that,
number one, can meet the test of the charter and is not a waste of
money. Our present justice minister has had more recalls than the
Ford Pinto, in terms of his legislation. It costs Canadian taxpayers
about $100,000 a year to incarcerate a prisoner. That is an enormous
amount of money that is being wasted in prisons.
I am not saying that we do not need prisons to hold people.
However, if we are going to spend up to $100,000 a year holding
each of them, we could certainly divert a lot of that money toward
smart crime prevention, which is to keep people out of the prison
system. The fact that we do not factor in is the enormous financial,
emotional and psychological damage that happens to our society
when someone gets into the system in the first place.
Prevention is central to a discussion of public safety issues.
[English]
Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
it is a great honour to rise in this House to represent the people of
Timmins—James Bay.
The bill we are debating today, Bill C-12, the so-called drug-free
prisons act, is a perfect bill for a Conservative government in the last
tired dying months of its senile reign. It meets the three main criteria
of a Conservative crime bill.
It has a bogus title that they would somehow create drug-free
prisons, when their own studies say they are never going to deal with
that and they need to come up with other solutions.
As a classic Conservative bill, it would not change anything. It is
a windmill that the Conservatives are going to run at with their fake
spears because the provisions already exist. They are saying they are
going to ensure that the drug tests are brought before the Parole
Board to stop these bad people from getting out. The Parole Board
already has those powers. They are tying up more time in the House
of Commons.
However, there is a third element that makes it a definitive
Conservative crime bill, because these guys are not tough on crime,
We need to look at where solutions exist, where good grassroots
solutions exist, so that we can actually find ways to cut the
recidivism rates and ensure that we are pulling people out of the
prison system and out of the nightmare of drug addiction and drug
trading.
I have seen a few really good models at the grassroots level of
how we could actually be smart on crime. For example, just recently
in Timmins we launched a fentanyl task force. Fentanyl has become
a major problem. It has replaced what was the OxyContin epidemic.
I have noticed, in many of the communities that had never dealt with
opiate addictions before Oxy became very street available, that a lot
of people got caught up in Oxy who would not normally have got
caught up in Oxy. It created a market for heroin synthetic opiates.
Now, with the Oxy market being squeezed off, fentanyl has become
the new drug of choice. Fentanyl is extremely dangerous. It is a
patch that is meant to deliver a synthetic heroin over a three-day
period. If people cut it up and smoke it, they might end up getting the
full shot in one go, which will stop the heart. I have seen young
people who have died from fentanyl, and these were good young
people. These were people with their whole lives ahead of them who
thought this was a party drug, and it is not.
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In the city of Timmins, as they have done in so many other
communities, we have started a grassroots response of bringing
people together, asking, “How do we learn from each other? How do
we start dealing with the trade in fentanyl?” However, we obviously
need the federal government involved because we need a way of
tracking the fentanyl patches. It is not simply a matter of someone
taking their uncle's or their grandmother's patch off them when they
are getting cancer treatment; there is a trade that is going on in
fentanyl that is much bigger.
● (1330)
The impact here is that we have the demand of people who are
being brought into addiction, thinking that it is a party drug and this
drug could actually kill them. We have to do the public awareness on
that, but there is the supply issue. If it is a lucrative enough market,
we are going to get into the gangs and a very illegal trade by people
who do need to be put away. However, we need a way of tracking
them and working with police.
At the grassroots level, what we have done in the Timmins area
with the fentanyl task force is try to find ways to come up with smart
solutions from the grassroots up so that we are, first of all,
preventing the casualties, deaths and overdoses that are costing our
families terrible emotional strain, as well as costing the medical and
prison systems. We are also trying to find a way to track these
patches back to the source so that we can cut off that trade. We need
the federal government to show some leadership on this. That is one
important element.
I was at a very fascinating conference just this past week in
Timmins, led by Brent Kalinowski, who spent 27 years on the Prince
Albert, Saskatchewan, police force. Brent was bringing to Timmins a
program that is working very well in North Bay, and it is working in
Saskatchewan and some other communities, where they create a
community hub. Brent explained this really well when he talked
about the years that he had spent in policing, going after the bad
guys after the fact, after the damage had been done, and after the
families' lives had been ruined. At that point, what can we do with
these characters except put them in jail?
We are dealing with enormous costs to the medical system, to the
prison system, and to families who might never recover if it is an act
of violence. Brent said that after 25 years of doing this, he felt that
there needed to be a smarter way of getting people before they get
too far into the system. That is a really important issue. There is
nothing soft or namby-pamby about diverting people out of the
prison system. When we put someone into the prison system, we are
putting them into a university of humiliation and a university of
crime. That is not where we want our graduates coming from, so
whoever we can divert from that, we are making smart, grassroots
responses.
The hub response that is working very well in North Bay and that
we have talked about bringing into Timmins is one where we bring
the key organizations together, including the school boards, the
addiction experts and the police, and identify individuals. We do not
give the person's name, but we could say that we have a 13-year-old
female who overdosed twice and was in the emergency ward, and we
think that this may be the scene of a need for greater intervention.
The school would say that it has her and that she has been missing
school five, six, or seven days in a row. One of the counsellors
would say that they have been dealing with her and what is actually
happening is that a boyfriend has moved in and it has become an
abusive situation.
All of the little pieces of the puzzle around this hub become
identified. We have a problem here. This could end up flaming into a
much more serious condition. They put a team together to go and
meet the family, the mother and daughter, and say “How can we
help?” It might seem like an extremely simple solution, and it might
seem that it would not work, but it is amazing, they say, how quickly
people are willing to open their door and say “Thank God. Come in.
Can we make you a coffee? How can we divert our child from this
crisis?”
It goes all the way up through various issues. We start to see the
symptoms in someone who is starting to miss school when they are
young, starting to get in trouble, or starting to appear again and again
in the emergency ward. These are people who either become victims
of violence or victims of crime, or become criminals themselves.
Once they have identified someone who has had months of skipping
school, certain schools would say that they will just suspend them
permanently. They are suspended, they are out there and they are not
being helped. The emergency ward just puts them back out on the
streets.
We need a smarter way. If we are going to get them to the prison
system and waste $100,000 a year, plus all of the other costs that the
system incurs, and then spend $122 million to stop them doing drugs
in prison, there has to be a smarter way of doing this. We are seeing
some really good grassroots models coming from police and
community organizations. That is where the House of Commons
needs to start working to say that we can be a lot smarter on crime,
rather than always spending the enormous amounts of money after
the fact and after it is too late.
● (1335)
Mr. Harold Albrecht (Kitchener—Conestoga, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, I listened with interest to my colleague across the way.
Certainly, we have a lot of differences on many of these issues, but
one thing that we do agree on is the importance of investing in
programs that will help to reduce recidivism. During the break
weeks, I had the honour of announcing some large funds for a group
in my riding that is doing work in that area, helping prisoners who
have been released to re-enter society in a way that will help them to
not reoffend.
It is important to note that currently, there are 1,500 drug seizures
each year in the prisons. It would seem like common sense that we
should not have drugs in our prisons, but the reality is that we do.
I have one simple question for my colleague. If inmates are doing
drugs in prison, what does he think the likelihood is of them
successfully staying off drugs after their release from prison or when
they are on parole? What is the likelihood of that happening if we are
actually providing drugs for them while they are in prison?
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● (1340)
Mr. Charlie Angus: Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. colleague
would agree with me that if prisoners are doing drugs in prison, it is
a problem, but there is certainly a huge problem when the
government spent $122 million trying to stop drugs from getting
into prisons, they are still in there, and the solution in this bill is to
allow the Parole Board to look at drug tests, when it already has that
power. We need to look at other options.
The concern I have if there are people dealing with drugs in
prison, and there is a high percentage of people with mental illness,
where are the plans in place to make sure they are getting training?
People in prison need to be re-educated. If they are doing drugs in
prison, they are going to come out doing drugs and are going to carry
on the cycle of violence. The fact is that simply naming a bill the
drug-free prisons act will not stop this problem. We need to look at
the smart solutions, and the smart solutions will deal with the prison
population and making sure that there are ways of retraining them
out of this destructive lifestyle.
Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I would like to know, in the opinion of my colleague, what
the best objectives are if we want to stop someone's addiction. We
are talking about people in jail, but in communities what is the best
treatment? Is it just to say drugs are illegal and people should not
take them or provide professional resources that they will benefit
from and maybe stop their addictions?
Mr. Charlie Angus: Mr. Speaker, as a nurse, my colleague
certainly knows the impacts of misusing fentanyl. We do not want
people playing with these drugs because they are killers. This is the
differentiation from people going to a party and smoking pot. When
people smoke a synthetic opioid, they can die as soon as they do it.
Number one is that we need to work with our communities for
public awareness, to say these are not party drugs we are talking
about. We need to make sure that the supply is not going into the
communities. What we are seeing in rural areas, which is surprising
us, is the rise of hard drugs. Before we knew of cocaine and other
drugs, but heroine coming in is going to bring gangs. When gang
violence comes in, heavy organized crime comes in. We need to get
back to the source. Again, on the issue of fentanyl, we need to find
out where these patches are coming from and cut off the source,
because we do not want that kind of organized gang violence coming
into our communities.
At the end of the day, we have to go back to the model that I
talked about, the hub approach, where we start to identify people
when they are young and getting themselves into trouble. If we can
divert any of them from the system, it will save us enormous
amounts of money, the emotional heartache that it brings to families,
and the lost opportunities that we are seeing in our communities
when people fall into this and end up losing or ruining their lives.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
what I would like to do with respect to Bill C-12 is go over the
summary of the bill, provide a few specific quotes, and then give
some observations.
The summary of Bill C-12 states:
This enactment amends the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to require
the Parole Board of Canada (or a provincial parole board, if applicable) to cancel
parole granted to an offender if, before the offender’s release, the offender tests
positive in a urinalysis, or fails or refuses to provide a urine sample, and the Board
considers that the criteria for granting parole are no longer met. It also amends that
Act to clarify that any conditions set by a releasing authority on an offender’s parole,
statutory release or unescorted temporary absence may include conditions regarding
the offender’s use of drugs or alcohol, including in cases when that use has been
identified as a risk factor in the offender’s criminal behaviour.
In reading the summary, it is obvious why the bill will likely
receive support for its passage from all parties in the chamber.
I would like to take a different approach to debating Bill C-12.
Let me start off by talking about the short title. I have often talked
about where these short titles come from. I have suggested in the
past and will continue to maintain today that when the government
comes up with legislation, it goes directly to the Prime Minister's
Office where the individuals there come up with the short title. The
short title of this bill is the drug-free prisons act. If we think in terms
of the implications of making a title of a bill, what sort of impression
are we giving to Canadians?
I would like to focus on the 2011-12 annual report of the Office of
the Correctional Investigator, which made the following observation
with respect to the prevalence of drugs within our federal prisons:
A “zerotolerance” stance to drugs in prison, while perhaps serving as an effective
deterrent posted at the entry point of a penitentiary, simply does not accord with the
facts of crime and addiction in Canada or elsewhere in the world.
One of the biggest issues I have with the Conservative
government is the type of propaganda and political spin it puts on
the legislation it brings to the House of Commons. We see this yet
again with Bill C-12. The Government of Canada and the Prime
Minister are trying to give the impression that if we pass this
legislation there will be drug-free prisons. If the Conservatives were
honest with Canadians, which is a rarity with this government, they
would acknowledge that achieving a drug-free prison is not as easy
as just saying it in the title of a bill and then having 308 members of
Parliament voting in favour of the legislation.
April 21, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12827
Government Orders
I have had the responsibility of being the justice critic at the
provincial level. As a justice critic, I had the opportunity to tour a
number of prisons in the province of Manitoba, such as the remand
centre, where individuals will often be brought to stay overnight or
while awaiting trial, and the Headingley Correctional Centre, which
is a provincial jail where prisoners with sentences under two years
are sent. I have also had the opportunity to visit federal penitentiaries
such as Stony Mountain. I believe that the government has not done
its homework with respect to dealing with our correctional
institutions, jails and prisons. I suspect Manitoba is not that unique
and that the issues I am referring to with respect to the province of
Manitoba are applicable no matter where one goes in Canada, and
even beyond Canada's borders, as we have been told by our
professionals, which is that drugs are a reality in our prisons and that
there is a need for the government to do more.
● (1345)
The Office of the Correctional Investigator said that a comprehensive and integrated drug strategy should include a balance of
measures: prevention, treatment, harm reduction and interdiction.
That is in the 2011-12 annual report. The information is actually
there. If the government really wants to deal with the issue, there is
plenty of information to assist it in bringing forward legislation.
Also, especially today, when we are talking about crime and
prisons, things which Canadians are very much concerned about, the
budget will be released in a few hours from now and the government
is going to set its priorities. Would it not be wonderful if we saw a
government that had the common sense to understand that it takes
more than just the Prime Minister and his minister who is
responsible to wave a wand and to improve the system. There is
an obligation to meet with the different stakeholders. There is an
obligation to work with the provinces and the provincial ministers
who are responsible for the administration of justice in those
jurisdictions.
We need to look at how we can work with our correctional
officers. I would suggest that our correctional officers are one of the
greatest assets we have as legislators in terms of being able to deal
with the issues in our prisons. When we ignore the potential of
consulting and working with those correctional officers, we set
ourselves up for what I would suggest is a situation that could
ultimately cost lives.
When I was an MLA, there was a riot in the Headingley jail. A
number of factors were involved. I cannot say 100%, but I would be
surprised if drugs were not involved in one fashion or another in
terms of what took place in that riot. I suspect if we took the time to
meet with our correctional officers, we would get a better
understanding of why drugs continue to be such a significant factor
in our prisons today.
We have not seen that. We have not seen this goodwill from the
majority government. It comes right from the Prime Minister's
Office. Many times we have been critical of the Prime Minister
because he does even recognize the need to have first ministers'
conferences. What message does that send to his ministers about
having ministerial conferences? To what degree has the Minister of
Public Safety met with the attorneys general or ministers of justice in
different provinces? After all, the Prime Minister feels he does not
have to meet with the premiers on a regular basis. He is the first
Prime Minister in a generation plus that has ignored the need for a
meeting with first ministers. I suspect that has a lot to do with the
same attitudes that the ministers across the way have.
The Minister of Public Safety is not working with our provincial
ministers. If he worked and consulted with the different stakeholders,
including the provincial ministers, I would suggest that we would be
debating better legislation than what we have today. We are getting
close to an election. The Prime Minister's motivation for a number of
years has been how to get re-elected. It is all about power, but at the
end of the day, what we want to see is good governance.
● (1350)
The Prime Minister more than his predecessors has been found
wanting in being able to deliver to Canadians solid programs that
will make a difference. The Conservatives want to talk about drugs
in jails. Yes, we and our constituents are concerned about drugs in
jails, but the Liberal caucus is concerned about what is being done to
prevent crimes in the first place. These are the types of issues which I
believe Canadians want us to debate in the chamber, as opposed to a
piece of legislation that is meant to do one thing alone, which is to
make a couple of modifications. The PMO has come up with a
wonderful short title, the drug-free prisons act, to give the impression
that the Conservatives are really tough on crime, tough on convicts
and that they are going to get rid of drugs in prisons.
I have news for the Prime Minister. His plan is not going to work.
Canadians are seeing more and more the degree to which the
Conservatives talk a lot but their actions have been found wanting.
Canadians have a higher expectation of government. They want
government to deliver on the issues that are important to them. We
will get a very good sense of that today when the budget comes
down. Where is the government's emphasis going to be?
The other day I was here and we were talking about the
exploitation of children. Cybertechnology was the issue. The
Internet's impact on the exploitation of children in Canada continues
to grow. The Conservatives again had a piece of legislation which
tried to give the impression that they were actually doing something
on the issue, but the reality is that the RCMP that was tasked with the
responsibility of dealing with the issue was underspending its budget
by 10%. Millions of dollars were not being spent in order to create a
false impression that there will be a balanced budget.
It is the same principle here as it was there. On the one hand, we
have legislation that talks tough, but the actions in the budget will
say something entirely different. What was so horrendous about that
private member's bill is that we were talking about children who
were being exploited through the Internet, and the government was
underspending on the RCMP which was investigating and trying to
lock up individuals who were doing that exploitation.
On the legislation before us, to what degree have the
Conservatives done their homework?
12828
COMMONS DEBATES
April 21, 2015
Statements by Members
I am only making an assumption, but sometimes that could be a
big mistake in itself especially if it is related to the Conservative
government, but have there been any members other than the
Minister of Justice who have visited the prisons? To what degree
have the Conservatives visited some of our prisons in Canada? They
could gain a lot by going out and taking the time to get a better
understanding of what is actually taking place in the real world. That
applies to more than just prisons.
I have had the opportunity to talk to Correctional Service officers.
They are very much concerned about the issue of safety, not only the
safety of the prisoners but equally, and in the minds of many, more
importantly, the safety of the institution and the guards themselves.
We have seen double-bunking and triple-bunking take place. To
what degree is the government bringing in programs that will take
some of the pressure off convicts who are taking drugs in prison?
[Translation]
This honour represents the unique and special relationship
between France and Canada, which is based on the common values
and the freedom that we defend.
[English]
I was honoured to join Mr. Peter Poohkey's proud family, his
comrades at the Royal Canadian Legion Airdrie Branch No. 288, as
well as his many friends from the Balzac United Church in
celebrating this very prestigious honour on April 7.
I thank him and all of the other Canadian heroes who have served
and sacrificed so that we could remain free.
***
[Translation]
● (1355)
What kind of action is the government prepared to take? Do we,
for example, have drug detection dogs going through prisons? What
about new detection equipment? If we talk to correctional officers,
they tell us about the need for searches and how important they are.
However, they will also tell us about the importance of being able to
look at the issue in a holistic approach.
When I think of a holistic approach to deal with our prisons and
jails, it is not just Ottawa that is responsible. The administration of
justice goes beyond Ottawa and incorporates our provinces as well.
They play a vital, critical role with regard to what happens in our
jails, as do other stakeholders, whether it is law enforcement officers
or the different groups out there.
The message I have for the government is that it is great to see this
bill, but I question the motives of the naming of the bill. I would sure
love to see some resources allocated that will make a real difference
for Canadians in dealing with—
● (1400)
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Order, please. The
Chair regrets having to interrupt the hon. member for Winnipeg
North at this point. He will have three minutes remaining when this
matter next returns before the House. The time for government
orders has expired.
WORLD INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY DAY
Ms. Charmaine Borg (Terrebonne—Blainville, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, April 26 is World Intellectual Property Day. This year's
theme is “Get up, stand up. For music.” The music that we listen to
today comes from artists around the world, but in the era of
globalization and the Internet, we need to ensure that those who
make our cultural identity so vibrant, our Quebec and Canadian
creators, can make a living from their art.
That is why the NDP believes that we need a better balance
between the rights of creators and the rights of users. We have been
speaking out for a long time about the government's failure to listen
when it comes to this issue. The experts are clear that intellectual
property and high-quality patents promote innovation and the
creation of good-paying jobs. Today, it is essential to see the
protection of intellectual property as a way for Canadian businesses
to succeed in the digital era.
Canadians deserve a dynamic digital economy in which they can
benefit from opportunities to innovate. On World Intellectual
Property Day, let us be proud of our Canadian creators. Their work
deserves to be recognized and protected.
***
[English]
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
[English]
LEGION OF HONOUR
Mr. Blake Richards (Wild Rose, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I rise today
to congratulate Mr. Peter Poohkey of Airdrie, Alberta, on receiving
the French Légion d'honneur.
The Légion d'honneur is France's highest honour, and it is being
awarded to all living Canadian veterans of the Second World War
who participated in the D-Day landings and therefore contributed to
the liberation of France.
CANADA-INDIA RELATIONS
Mr. Devinder Shory (Calgary Northeast, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
as a proud Indo-Canadian and as a member of the international trade
committee, I was very encouraged by the positive results for
Canadian businesses from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's
bilateral visit to Canada last week.
Not only were 16 commercial agreements worth over $1.6 billion
and six significant initiatives between Canada and India finalized,
both Prime Ministers also agreed to complete the road map to
finalize a comprehensive economic partnership agreement by
September 2015. This agreement will significantly expand trade
between Canada and India.
April 21, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12829
Statements by Members
On behalf of 1.2 million Indo-Canadians, I would like to thank
Prime Minister Modi for his visit, and thank our Prime Minister for
extending Canada's hospitality. I am proud of our Prime Minister's
leadership in strengthening Canada's relationship with India, and
opening trade opportunities in this growing market of over 1.2
billion people.
***
CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
Ms. Eve Adams (Mississauga—Brampton South, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, throughout our history, Liberal governments in particular
have welcomed immigrants from across the world who chose
Canada as their home, immigrant, who worked hard not only for
their families but for our country.
In return for their help to build a stronger Canada, we have offered
a pathway to citizenship and a chance to more fully join the
communities they helped to create.
Across the GTA I have heard from many people in communities
who are feeling abandoned as they wait to be deported after working
so hard in Canada. I heard in particular from people in the
Portuguese community, many of whom support families back home
with their earnings, who will not be allowed to come back and see
their extended families for at least four years.
● (1405)
[Translation]
NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK
Mrs. Djaouida Sellah (Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, last week was National Volunteer Week. In Saint-Bruno—
Saint-Hubert, we have hundreds of volunteers who dedicate
themselves to making their fellow citizens' lives easier and more
beautiful every day. Every minute they spend being involved makes
our community richer and better.
This year as always, the teams running volunteer centres and
meals on wheels and their volunteers travelled the streets of SaintBruno and Saint-Hubert to provide hot meals and help with
organizations. They also helped people prepare their tax returns.
They accompanied people to the hospital and did so many other little
things that mean so much to our community.
On behalf of all of the people of Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, I
would like to thank them.
I urge all of my colleagues here in the House to honour the work
of the volunteers active in our communities.
***
[English]
ISLAMIC STATE
Now they are back to square one. Many applied for permanent
residency and should be allowed to stay through that process and
have their work permits extended. These women and men came to
Canada to provide a better life for their families. They worked hard
and they deserve new pathways to citizenship. Instead, the
Conservative government is turning away these nation builders.
***
EARTH WEEK
Mr. Phil McColeman (Brant, CPC): Mr. Speaker, to kick off
Earth Week, I had the great privilege of taking part in a tree planting
event at Brantford's new “Forest in the City” The community has
embraced the wonderful idea to develop a new urban forest inside an
existing industrial park. The project has become a reality, thanks to
the hard work of the Brantford/Brant Tree Coalition and project
champion Chuck Beach.
With 37,000 trees planted, 2015 marks year four of a five-year
plan, with the project well on its way to surpassing the goal of
50,000 trees planted in five years. The new forest includes walking
trails so residents can hike and appreciate the diverse ecosystems that
are being created. The project has also been supported generously by
the city of Brantford, the Grand River Conservation Authority and
local businesses, as well as a grant from CN.
New forest in the city is an idea that is growing into a very special
place in beautiful Brantford.
Mr. Jay Aspin (Nipissing—Timiskaming, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
we stand proud that Canada is joining our allies in the fight against
ISIS. Due to the competence of our Canadian Forces, we are
punching above our weight alongside our allies in this important
mission.
Recently Colonel Sean Boyle of 22 Wing/CFB North Bay has
been elevated to Canada's air task commander, Operation Impact in
the Middle East. Our former wing commander has an exceptional
record of service that will ensure Canada continues to perform above
expectations.
Operation Impact aims to halt and degrade ISIL's presence in Iraq
and Syria. To date, Impact has degraded ISIL's control by 25%.
Commander Sean Boyle's community and country are solidly
behind him.
I ask my colleagues in the House to join with me in recognizing
the leadership of Commander Boyle and the many Canadians in
uniform who continue to serve and protect our great nation.
***
LIVE BELOW THE LINE
Hon. Laurie Hawn (Edmonton Centre, CPC): Mr. Speaker, 1.2
billion people live on less than $1.75 a day. Forty-five percent of all
child deaths have malnutrition as an underlying cause. A child who
gets proper nutrition is 33% more likely to escape poverty as an
adult.
12830
COMMONS DEBATES
April 21, 2015
Statements by Members
Each year a number of organizations, including Results Canada,
encourage Canadians to become more aware of the cause of fighting
world poverty. One way to highlight that fight is for people to take
the “Live Below the Line” challenge, and limit their food and drink
for five days to whatever they can buy with $1.75 a day.
Tonight at sundown begins Yom Hazikaron, Israel's Day of
Remembrance for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terror. On this
solemn day, we pay tribute to those who tragically lost their lives
defending Israel's right to exist in peace and security.
Along with hundreds of Canadians and some colleagues in the
House, I will take that challenge next week.
Yom Hazikaron concludes with the start of Yom Ha'atzmaut,
Israel's Independence Day. This year marks 67 years of independence for the Jewish state.
My five day budget of $8.75 will include two bagels, three cups of
oats, one potato, one yam, one bunch of carrots, one onion, four cups
of beans, rice, lentils and peas, five tea bags, which will get very well
used, and all the tap water I can drink.
Our Conservative government is proud to celebrate not only
Israel's independence, but the strong friendship between Canada and
Israel that is based on shared values of freedom, human rights,
democracy and the rule of law.
It is a heck of a way to start a summer diet, but I invite colleagues
and all Canadians to Google “Live Below the Line”, take the
challenge or simply donate to the cause of fighting world hunger. My
stomach is growling in anticipation, already.
Am Yisrael Chai.
***
***
MEMBER FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA SOUTHERN
INTERIOR
CHAMPLAIN BRIDGE
Mr. Hoang Mai (Brossard—La Prairie, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
last week, the government announced the name of the consortium it
has selected to rebuild the Champlain Bridge.
Mr. Alex Atamanenko (British Columbia Southern Interior,
NDP): Mr. Speaker, as I ride off into the sunset later on this year, I
would like to pay tribute to all those who made the past nine years
the most enriching experience of my life. I thank my wife Ann and
my staff, both past and present, for their loyalty and service to our
constituents.
[Translation]
Unfortunately, the Conservatives are determined to impose a toll
that no one wants, which is going to cause terrible congestion and
will result in huge economic losses for the people and businesses of
the south shore. Furthermore, we still do not know how much users
will have to pay to cross the new Champlain Bridge.
[English]
People of my riding of Brossard—La Prairie want to know how
much profit the PPP will be making on their back.
[Translation]
The Conservatives' mismanagement does not end there. Although
they are talking about a $3-billion to $5-billion project, they are
refusing to ensure that there will be economic spinoffs for our
communities.
Given this mismanagement and lack of transparency, only the
leader of the NDP has the experience and the solutions needed to
replace the Conservatives and repair the damage they have done.
To those front-line activists who are advocating for a better world,
it has been an honour to stand by them.
To the members of my party who are always there for every
election, I thank them for their confidence in me. One such person is
my brother George, here with me today, who together with his wife
Gloria have been truly an inspiration to me.
To all those in Ottawa who make this a very pleasant place to
work—custodians, maintenance workers, restaurant and cafeteria
staff, security personnel, post office staff, House of Commons and
NDP staff—I thank them for their professionalism and dedication.
[Translation]
Lastly, I want to thank all of my colleagues, from all political
parties in the House, for the respect they have shown me. It has been,
and continues to be, an honour to work with them. I wish everyone
all the best in their future endeavours.
***
● (1410)
[English]
JEWISH HISTORICAL EVENTS
Mr. Mark Adler (York Centre, CPC): Mr. Speaker, this month
Jews in Canada and around the world will mark three historical
events.
On April 15, Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, was
an opportunity for Canadians to pay tribute to the six million Jews
who were murdered at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators.
It is also a time to raise awareness about the Holocaust and to combat
anti-Semitism.
***
[English]
TAXATION
Mr. Peter Braid (Kitchener—Waterloo, CPC): Mr. Speaker, my
constituents know that our Conservative government believes in
keeping more money in the pockets of Canadian families. That is
why we continue to lower taxes and why the Minister of Finance
will table a balanced budget in the House today.
For example, the new family tax cut and enhanced universal child
care benefit will benefit 100% of families with kids, the vast majority
of benefits going to low- and middle-income families.
April 21, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12831
Oral Questions
The Liberals and the NDP want to raise taxes on the middle class.
That is why we are the only ones Canadians can trust to lower taxes
and balance the budget.
***
BUD INGS
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I rise
today to remember a great man, a great Prince Edward Islander, and
a great Liberal.
Born in Mount Herbert on February 5, 1926, Bud lngs grew up on
the family farm and later established his long-running, well-known,
and successful veterinary practice on Prince Edward Island, first in
Fortune, then in Montague, and finally in Brudenell.
Along the way, Bud was elected in 1970 to the Liberal
government of Alex Campbell and served as minister of agriculture,
health, and social services. He later became president of the Liberal
Party of Prince Edward Island, contributed to the establishment of
the Atlantic Veterinary College and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital,
was a member of many community boards and an avid musician,
photographer, and author, writing two award-winning books
documenting his successful veterinary career.
about Canada's mission in Iraq. He eventually gave a theatrical and
tearful apology. However, yesterday, in response to clear questions
from New Democrats about Senate residency requirements for a
senator who campaigned for him in the last election, he went back to
his cynical old tricks. So much for his full apology and the tears he
shed in the House.
The lack of respect Conservatives have shown the House is at a
new low. Canadians deserve better, and they can trust that an NDP
government will answer questions in question period, will give
Parliament the respect it deserves, and will fix the damage the
Conservatives have done. Respect for Parliament is only an election
away, and that is good news for Canadians.
***
[Translation]
TAXATION
Mr. Jacques Gourde (Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière,
CPC): Mr. Speaker, our plan to keep taxes low for families is
working.
With Bud's passing, our province lost one of its greatest sons, and
his family lost a wonderful father and grandfather. There was no one
else like Bud. He will be sorely missed
Under our Conservative government, the tax burden on Canadians
is at its lowest level in over 50 years. Every family with children will
benefit from the new family tax cut.
***
The family tax cut and the improved universal child care benefit
will put more money in the pockets of every family with children.
We know that the Liberals and the NDP would increase taxes on the
middle class. Canadians know that our government is the only one
they can trust to lower taxes.
TAXATION
Mr. John Carmichael (Don Valley West, CPC): Mr Speaker,
our government increased the amount Canadians can earn tax free
and removed over one million Canadians from the tax rolls. We cut
the GST, introduced pension income splitting, and created the family
tax cut with benefits to help 100% of families with children.
We created important tax credits, like the credit for first time home
buyers and the credit for family caregivers. Our government's tax
relief will save the typical family of four in Don Valley West nearly
$6,600 this year.
However, the Liberals and NDP would raise taxes. According to
media, the Liberal leader has claimed he can convince Canadians to
accept a tax hike. Meanwhile the NDP would raise the cost of gas,
groceries, and everything else with its carbon tax.
Stay tuned. Despite the opposition's high-tax plans, our government will table a budget today that will continue to make life more
affordable for Canadians.
***
● (1415)
ORAL QUESTIONS
Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, yesterday in question period the Parliamentary Secretary to
the Prime Minister did again what Canadians find reprehensible. He
ran away from serious questions.
Just a few months ago Canadians were outraged by this member's
refusal to answer clear questions from the Leader of the Opposition
Together, we look forward to learning about the measures for
families that are included in the balanced budget that the Minister of
Finance is presenting this afternoon.
ORAL QUESTIONS
[Translation]
ETHICS
Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, does the Prime Minister maintain that Mike Duffy was a
resident of Prince Edward Island when he, the Prime Minister and
leader of the government, appointed him to the Senate?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, there is a constitutional practice with regard to this that
dates back almost 150 years.
[English]
Obviously, the matters to which the member refers are really Mr.
Duffy's expenditures, which as we know, are right now before the
courts. While the government is assisting the Crown with its case,
we are not going to comment on testimony before the court.
12832
COMMONS DEBATES
April 21, 2015
Oral Questions
Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, actually what we are talking about is the Prime Minister's
decision to name him. We are not talking about Duffy's expenses.
The Prime Minister is going to have to talk to the lawyers who are
now pleading this case, because they say that it was the government
that named him irregularly.
[Translation]
With senior business leaders now siding with the NDP against the
Conservatives' Bill C-51, will the Prime Minister finally withdraw
this attack on Canadians' rights and freedoms?
Mike Duffy helped 74 members of Parliament because he was
doing something out of the ordinary. In return for being appointed to
the Senate when he did not live in Prince Edward Island, he was
going to help 74 government members.
These measures parallel the kinds of authorities that other
national security and police agencies have in other countries. As a
matter of fact, it is absolutely unacceptable that websites or the
Internet would be used for terrorist recruitment purposes. It should
be a crime, and it will be a crime when this legislation passes.
Does the Prime Minister not realize that everyone now understands that the only reason he appointed Mike Duffy was so that he
would raise money for his Conservative Party and his government?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, we followed a parliamentary practice that has been in place
for nearly 150 years.
[English]
The issue before the court, as we know, is Mr. Duffy's
expenditures, just as when we are talking about residence the issue
is also expenditures with the leader of the NDP. The residence of the
Parliament of Canada is Ottawa. It is not Saskatchewan, Quebec, or
everywhere else where he tried to use parliamentary funds to
establish party offices. That was obviously incorrect, and that money
should be paid back.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, in his deal with Mike Duffy, Nigel Wright agreed that, if
asked, the Prime Minister would make a public statement confirming
that Mike Duffy met the residency requirements to sit as a senator
from Prince Edward Island. The Prime Minister went ahead and
made that very statement five days later on February 27, 2013, when
he claimed that Duffy was a P.E.I. resident. However, now the
government's own prosecutors are saying just the opposite in court.
In fact, they are saying that it was not true.
Is the Prime Minister claiming that the government's own lawyers
are now misleading the court?
● (1420)
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, once again, what I am saying is that there is a whole series
of charges against Mr. Duffy that relate to his improper use of public
funds. Obviously I am not going to comment on those matters.
We have assisted the RCMP in its investigation. We have been
assisting the Crown in its prosecution of this case, but obviously I
will leave the evidence before the court to be decided on its merits.
***
PUBLIC SAFETY
Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, now 60 Canadian business leaders are speaking out against
the Conservatives' Bill C-51:
...this proposed legislation will undermine international trust in Canada’s
technology sector, thereby stifling the kinds of business our...companies can
generate....[O]perators of online platforms...[fear the] risk of criminal sanction for
activities carried out on their sites.
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, we know that the NDP has never supported one serious
anti-terrorism measure ever, in any Parliament in this country. The
reality is that these measures are strongly supported by Canadians.
[Translation]
Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, all of civil society is opposed to Bill C-51, and rightly so.
Scholars have shown that it violates our rights and freedoms,
environmentalists are worried about their freedom of expression, and
now corporate leaders are saying that it is bad for business. The only
ones who support the Prime Minister are the members of the Liberal
Party.
Why does the Prime Minister refuse to listen to reason? Why is he
ignoring everyone and and why in this case is he ignoring even the
most respected business people in the country?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, most Canadians support the government on this.
However, the Liberal Party can read the polls. That is the reality of
the situation. We expect a strong response. Our law enforcement
agencies, like those of other countries, have the powers necessary to
counter jihadist forces. That is essential, and we will continue to act
to protect Canadians.
I would also like to commend the police in Montreal for the arrests
they have made and the work they have done in response to these
incidents.
***
[English]
TAXATION
Mr. Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, according to
the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the government's plan to double
tax-free savings account contribution limits is regressive, with
benefits mostly going to wealthy Canadians. In fact, the PBO says
that under this plan, gains for the wealthy will be 10 times those of
other Canadian households.
First income splitting, now this. Why does the Prime Minister
continue to prioritize tax breaks for the rich?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, of course, of the some 11 million Canadians who have been
involved in TFSAs, the vast majority are people of modest or
middle-class incomes. The vast majority. It is fulfilling a promise we
made.
April 21, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12833
Oral Questions
I know why the Liberal Party and the NDP oppose these tax
reductions. It is because they want to hike taxes on hard-working,
middle-class Canadians because they need that money to give to
bureaucracy to fund their priorities.
Hard-working, middle-class Canadians want more of their own
money in their own pockets.
● (1425)
Mr. Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the
government cynically plans to spend billions on income splitting
and increases to TFSAs, both of which overwhelmingly benefit
wealthy Canadians. At the same time, it is increasing the retirement
age to 67 from 65, putting the retirement security of our seniors at
risk.
Why is the Prime Minister giving tax breaks to the wealthy,
instead of ensuring that our seniors can retire in dignity?
[Translation]
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, we have cut taxes for all Canadian families and all
Canadian seniors.
We instituted income splitting for seniors, and the Liberal Party
voted against it. We introduced the largest increase in the guaranteed
income supplement for our seniors, and the Liberal Party voted
against it. It always votes against benefits for the middle class and
tax cuts. It always votes against putting money in taxpayers' pockets.
The Liberals want money for themselves.
Mr. Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the
government plans to spend billions of dollars to help the wealthiest
Canadians by introducing income splitting and increasing the TFSA
contribution limit. At the same time, the retirement age will increase
from 65 to 67, jeopardizing the financial security of our seniors.
Why is the Prime Minister giving the wealthiest Canadians more
tax breaks rather than helping our retirees live in dignity?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, we cut the taxes of all Canadian seniors. Furthermore,
middle-class seniors and people of modest means received the
largest cuts. That is the reality.
However, the Liberal Party and the NDP always oppose tax cuts
for these people because they want this money to go to the
bureaucracy. We want this money to remain in the pockets of our
taxpayers and our seniors.
***
[English]
ETHICS
Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
former Senate law clerk Mark Audcent has testified that it was the
business of the Prime Minister's Office to vet Senate appointees to
see if they were actually eligible to sit in the Senate. On the day that
Mike Duffy was nominated, the media pointed out that Duffy, as a
resident of Kanata, did not actually have the right to represent Prince
Edward Island. In response, the Prime Minister's spokesman, Dimitri
Soudas, assured Canadians that Duffy would take the steps to
become eligible, but that did not happen.
Can the Prime Minister explain why he failed to follow through on
the promise to ensure that Duffy actually became a resident of Prince
Edward Island and, therefore, eligible for that housing allowance?
Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime
Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
the constitutional practice on this has been clear for almost 150
years, but what it suggests to me is that the member is actually trying
to make a victim out of Mike Duffy. Mr. Duffy is not a victim here.
He is accused, after an independent audit, after an RCMP
investigation, and, ultimately, the Crown believes that he committed
fraud. We will see what the court says on that matter, but I am very
surprised, now, to hear the NDP trying to make a victim out of this
senator accused of such serious crimes.
Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
maybe I will have to start this again because it is the issue of Duffy's
eligibility, which the Senate has said was the role of the Prime
Minister and it was his eligibility to sit that was the centre of the
negotiations in the backroom, with Nigel Wright, in the Prime
Minister's Office, which led to the bribery charge.
According to the RCMP, the audit was whitewashed on the issue
of residency. Then the Prime Minister stood on February 27, 2013, to
state that:
...all senators conform to the residency requirements. ...those [residency]
requirements have been clear for 150 years.
Would the Prime Minister explain on what basis he considered
Mike Duffy to be eligible for this housing allowance and a resident
of Prince Edward Island?
Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime
Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
again, as I just said and as the Prime Minister said, the constitutional
practice on this has been clear for almost 150 years.
Mr. Duffy is not a victim here. I cannot believe, now, that the
NDP is trying to suggest that Mr. Duffy is a victim. Is it because the
NDP is accused of doing the exact same thing, pretending that it was
hiring people to work in an office in Ottawa when, really, these
people were being housed in Montreal, in a partisan office, using
House of Commons resources, against the rules, accumulating $2.7
million worth of illegal expenses?
● (1430)
[Translation]
Ms. Ève Péclet (La Pointe-de-l'Île, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the
government has a duty to comply with constitutional requirements
when appointing senators.
The parliamentary secretary told the press that it was up to the
Senate to follow the rules, but that is not true. The Prime Minister is
responsible for ensuring that constitutional rules are followed.
Why did he not follow them?
Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime
Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
as I have already said, constitutional practice has been quite clear on
this for more than 150 years.
12834
COMMONS DEBATES
April 21, 2015
Oral Questions
[English]
However, what is also clear is that one is not allowed to use House
of Commons resources for partisan political purposes.
Now, this member used more than $25,000 of House of Commons
resources for political purposes.
The member for Scarborough Southwest took it to a different
level. He took almost $140,000 worth of resources that would have
been used in his constituency and funnelled it to an illegal office in
Montreal.
They should pay it back.
[Translation]
Mr. Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, this may surprise you but I agree with my colleague.
Indeed, for 150 years, the rules for appointing senators have been
clear: it is the responsibility of the Prime Minister. That is what we
are saying. Even government lawyers agree with us on this.
Why was it so important to break the rules in order to appoint
Senator Duffy? Why? Was it for his skills, his expertise and his great
care in managing public property, or was it because they wanted to
use Senator Duffy to do something other than study bills?
[English]
Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime
Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
this is a member who owes Canadian taxpayers more than $122,000.
In fact, he owes them $122,122. He can repay the money that he
illegally took from Canadian taxpayers by a money order. I am not
sure if they take credit cards. I know he knows how to write cheques
because he wrote 29 separate cheques to the separatist party in
Quebec. I would encourage him to use one of these methods to repay
the money he took illegally from the taxpayers of Canada.
***
[Translation]
FOOD SAFETY
Ms. Ruth Ellen Brosseau (Berthier—Maskinongé, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, the Conservative government is taking unacceptable risks
with food safety.
The union representing meat inspectors has sounded the alarm and
is speaking out about a serious shortage of inspectors in Quebec.
Quebeckers want the products on their plate to be of high quality.
However, the government insists on off-loading its food inspection
responsibilities onto the companies so that they can regulate
themselves.
Why are the Conservatives giving up on food safety for
Canadians?
[English]
Mrs. Cathy McLeod (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Health and for Western Economic Diversification, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, Canadians want high-quality food on their plates, and that
is exactly what they have.
Dr. Stuart Smyth, from bioresource policy, University of
Saskatchewan, said:
Canada has one of the top...food safety systems in the world. Other countries look
to our regulatory system as a model of food safety....
...food products that are available for purchase in our grocery stores are as safe as
they possibly can be.
[Translation]
Ms. Ruth Ellen Brosseau (Berthier—Maskinongé, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, that is completely false. As history has unfortunately shown
us, we cannot rely on companies alone to inspect our food. The
Conservatives have probably forgotten that, since they continue
making more and more cuts to the Canadian Food Inspection
Agency. That agency is predicting that the government will reduce
spending on food safety by 21%.
Is food safety in Canada not important to the Conservative
government, or do we need another serious crisis for the government
to act?
[English]
Mrs. Cathy McLeod (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Health and for Western Economic Diversification, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, the premise of that question is totally inaccurate. Food
safety is at the highest level in Canadian history. Budget 2014
committed to 200 more front-line food safety inspectors. I would like
to read another quote from Dr. Sylvain Charlebois with the
University of Guelph, who said the Canadian Food Inspection
Agency's method is the “right way” to approach inspections.
Mr. Malcolm Allen (Welland, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I find it ironic
that the parliamentary secretary should tell us so, because, quite
frankly, in the city of Toronto there is one inspector, just one, for
consumer protection for the entire city of Toronto, who is
responsible for every restaurant, every retail store. There is just
one inspector, but the government says just one is enough. Four and
a half million people should be looked after by one inspector, the
parliamentary secretary says.
What it actually boils down to, the bottom line, is when will the
government actually get serious about food protection in this
country, look after consumers and make sure that food is safe?
● (1435)
Mrs. Cathy McLeod (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Health and for Western Economic Diversification, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, The Conference Board of Canada ranks our food safety
system number one out of 17 OECD countries, which includes the
U.S. The fearmongering is unacceptable from that side.
Again I will provide a quote. Dr. Keith Warriner, University of
Guelph, stated that the suggestion that the meat sold in Canada is
unsafe is “scaremongering”.
April 21, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12835
Oral Questions
[Translation]
LABOUR
Ms. Laurin Liu (Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the
Conservatives have no more interest in protecting interns than they
do in ensuring the safety of our food. Too many young Canadians
have to work long hours with no protection and no pay, just so they
can break into the labour market.
That is why I introduced a private member's bill to protect interns
from sexual harassment, exploitation and dangerous work.
Why do the Conservatives refuse to work with the NDP in order
to grant interns these basic protections?
[English]
Hon. K. Kellie Leitch (Minister of Labour and Minister of
Status of Women, CPC): Mr. Speaker, like I have said before, this
government is committed to the safety of all workers. The Canada
Labour Code states that employers must ensure that individuals,
including interns, are protected and informed of health and safety
hazards in the workplace.
Let us be very clear. We are supporting interns, actually providing
them jobs and opportunities, things the opposition votes against
every single time.
Mr. Andrew Cash (Davenport, NDP): Mr. Speaker, let us
actually be very clear. We are talking about unpaid interns. The fact
is that unpaid interns have no basic workplace protections like health
and safety. They do not even have access to provisions under the
Canada Labour Code that protect paid employees, paid interns, from
sexual harassment in the workplace.
If the government was serious about this serious issue, then we
could get the job done and pass the intern protection act now, but,
instead, why are the Conservatives once again putting politics ahead
of the health, the safety and the well-being of young workers in this
country?
Hon. K. Kellie Leitch (Minister of Labour and Minister of
Status of Women, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I will repeat what I literally
just said. In the Canada Labour Code it states that employers must
ensure that individuals, including interns, are protected and informed
of health and safety hazards in the workplace. It is very clear.
***
NATIONAL DEFENCE
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
Leading Seaman Robyn Young was misdiagnosed and went through
needless surgery because of negligence by the military. The quality
of care decision rendered yesterday glossed over this most
significant point. The government claims to look after service men
and women, but is failing to do so on so many fronts. The minister
promised to support Leading Seaman Young and has not done that.
Will the minister finally do the right thing and restore Robyn to
full-time class C status so she can finally get the benefits that she
needs and deserves?
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the member
deliberately asked a question that is impossible to answer, because
she knows that I am constrained by the Privacy Act. If the member
would like me to release the details of the report from the Surgeon
General's review committee, I would be very happy to do so. The
findings in that report are not consistent with what the member just
said.
I believe the member should respect the professional opinion of
the physicians on that panel, including the external physician who
reviewed these matters. The Forces has given extraordinary medical
care and treatment and consideration to Leading Seaman Young and
has offered a transition plan to this individual as well. We will
continue to support Leading Seaman Young.
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that
is a lot of words with no answer and no heart.
[Translation]
The tragic death of Sergeant Doiron requires a complete and
transparent explanation. Canadians deserve to know the truth. For
six weeks now, we have been waiting for a full investigation and
results, and we are getting nothing but contradictions.
Will the Minister of National Defence convene a board of inquiry
so that Canadians and Sergeant Doiron's family will know what
really happened?
● (1440)
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it seems that
the hon. member was not here yesterday, because I said that Canada
is conducting two internal investigations. The Canadian Special
Operations Forces Command is leading one of the inquiries and the
other is being done by the Canadian Forces national investigation
service. As I said yesterday, and on many other occasions, we will
make both reports available as soon as we receive them, except, of
course, the parts that deal with confidential military activities.
***
FOOD SAFETY
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
food inspectors are currently in short supply in Quebec, which needs
about 30 more inspectors than it has. In Alberta, slaughterhouses and
meat processing plants are operating with 33% fewer inspectors than
the minimum set by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The
damage has been done.
Why, in budget after budget, has the Conservative government
done nothing to ensure food safety for Canadians? Why has it gotten
to the point that we have an inspection crisis that will be difficult to
resolve?
[English]
Mrs. Cathy McLeod (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Health and for Western Economic Diversification, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, I understand that that information is very inaccurate.
Economic action plan 2014 committed to hiring over 200 more
front-line food safety inspectors. It is important to point out again to
the public that in the OECD, according to The Conference Board of
Canada, we are first out of 17 countries, including the U.S., in terms
of a strong, robust system.
12836
COMMONS DEBATES
April 21, 2015
Oral Questions
[Translation]
● (1445)
NATIONAL DEFENCE
Ms. Élaine Michaud (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, we still do not have clear answers on the circumstances that
led to the death of Sergeant Doiron. First, the government said that
the coalition's U.S. headquarters would investigate. Then we were
told that the U.S. special forces would be doing it. Now we are
hearing that journalists are being denied access to the site where the
incident occurred.
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I cannot take
that question as being posed in good faith, because I have offered
that member a briefing on this matter. The member, in order to get
briefed, would have to obtain a privacy waiver from the individual in
question. If he received that briefing, he would find that the premise
of the question he just posed is not accurate.
What exactly is the government trying to hide? Will it launch a
public investigation?
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, we have
absolutely nothing to hide. As I have said repeatedly, there are two
Canadian investigations, one of which is being conducted by the
Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, a military police
organization. We will be releasing the report, except for elements
that must remain confidential for military and operational reasons, of
course. That goes for the investigation carried out by the Special
Operations Forces Command too. We will also release the summary
of the U.S. report, with their permission.
[English]
Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, there are
confusing and contradictory reports about how Sergeant Doiron died
in Iraq. Some reports say he was on the front line. Others say he was
far back. Canadians should have the answers by now but do not, and
the government seems interested in keeping us in the dark. The one
thing that is clear is that as of now, there will not be a board of
inquiry by the Canadian Armed Forces, despite the fact that these
boards are common after a death in action.
Will the minister commit to a board of inquiry and to making the
results public?
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the position
of the NDP is entirely contradictory, because the member has asked
for a quick review of this tragic incident of friendly fire, but a board
of inquiry typically takes months, sometimes years. This is why,
several years ago, the military moved to having summary
investigations of military deaths so that lessons could be learned
and the facts could be public much more quickly. That is why the
Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is conducting a
summary investigation, as well as the Special Operations Force
Command. Both of those reports will be released publicly when they
are available, except for those elements that touch on confidential
military operations.
Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, boards of
inquiry are certainly taking years under the current government.
Robyn Young, a 24-year-old reservist, displayed symptoms of a
brain tumour for four years but was sent by the Department of
National Defence for corrective eye surgery. The department now
refuses to take responsibility for misdiagnosing her, and Young is
now left to fend for herself, despite the minister's assurances of
support. Can the minister promise the House today that he will do
what is necessary to make sure that Leading Seaman Young gets the
help she needs?
[Translation]
Ms. Élaine Michaud (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, this is another example of this minister's incompetence
when it comes to helping our soldiers.
Leading Seaman Robyn Young is being left to fend for herself.
After undergoing unnecessary surgery that aggravated her health
problems, she has now been cut off from medical support and
financial assistance.
The Canadian Armed Forces, and apparently this minister, are
washing their hands of this serious misdiagnosis. It is outrageous.
Will the minister keep his promise and help reservist Young?
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of National Defence and
Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC): Mr. Speaker, if the hon.
member were truly interested in this case, she would agree to receive
the briefing we offered her and every opposition member concerned
about this case.
Ms. Young's permission is required before we can share all the
details of her case. The Canadian Forces are still there to provide
medical support to Ms. Young, as we have been doing all along.
The Surgeon General reviewed her case, and I would be pleased to
share the results of the report with the hon. member if she obtains
permission.
***
[English]
THE ECONOMY
Mr. Phil McColeman (Brant, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the strong
leadership of our Prime Minister has delivered remarkable results for
Canada. Since our government was elected in 2006, Canada has had
the strongest job creation in the G7. What is more, the International
Monetary Fund and the OECD expect Canada to be among the
strongest growing economies in the G7 this year and next. Can the
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance please tell the
House how our government's plan for the economy differs from that
of the opposition parties?
Mr. Andrew Saxton (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Finance, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member
for Brant for that excellent question and for his great work as chair of
the human resources and skills development committee.
April 21, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12837
Oral Questions
The Liberal leader's same old high-tax, high-debt agenda is
perhaps underpinned by his position that a budget can simply
balance itself. Meanwhile, the NDP continues to push risky high-tax
schemes, like a $20-billion carbon tax that would hurt Canada's
economy and kill Canadian jobs.
To the contrary, our Conservative government remains steadfast
with our low-tax plan, a plan that has provided over 1.2 million jobs
for Canadians across the country since the recession. Members
should stay tuned, because in less than two hours, Canada's Minister
of Finance will table a budget that will keep—
The Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Scarborough—
Rouge River.
***
GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS
Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan (Scarborough—Rouge River, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, it seems that even in an election year, the Conservatives
just cannot break their addiction to partisan appointments. Just last
week it was revealed that the government appointed a former
Conservative candidate and donor to the the Public Servants
Disclosure Protection Tribunal. It is critical that judges in this
position are truly independent and impartial. They are deciding cases
that involve public servants blowing the whistle on the government.
Why did the minister insist on a partisan Conservative nomination
for this important post?
Hon. Tony Clement (President of the Treasury Board, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, all candidates are vetted for their appropriateness and
high calibre, and that is the case in this case as well.
[Translation]
Mr. Mathieu Ravignat (Pontiac, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the
Conservatives clearly have no shame when it comes to appointing
their friends to high places.
They just appointed their former Ottawa Centre candidate to the
Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal. Get real. Whistleblower defence groups do not trust him. This is no way to encourage
public servants to disclose wrongdoing.
Why did the Conservatives appoint one of their cronies to this
important position?
Hon. Tony Clement (President of the Treasury Board, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, every candidate will be appropriate. Our government
obeyed that rule in this case.
***
● (1450)
THE ENVIRONMENT
Ms. Megan Leslie (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the government
likes to repeat that it has a plan to reduce our greenhouse gas
emissions, but the latest Environment Canada report indicates that
our emissions have increased since 2013. They have not been
reduced—they have increased. The Conservatives may be congratulating themselves, but Canadians and our international partners
are not.
Will the government finally take action to follow through on our
commitments with other countries?
[English]
Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of the Environment, Minister
of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and
Minister for the Arctic Council, CPC): Mr. Speaker, our
Conservative government is the first government in Canadian
history that reduced greenhouse gas emissions and it will continue
to do so without introducing the NDP carbon tax. We will continue
to implement a responsible sector-by-sector regulatory approach that
is aligned with the United States and that protects Canada's
economic competitiveness.
Ms. Megan Leslie (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, falling further
and further behind is not showing leadership. Environment Canada
clearly shows that our emissions are growing, thanks to the
government's refusal to take climate change seriously and to
breaking its own promise to regulate the oil and gas sector. Any
hopes that the government could meet its targets, well, they are
fading.
Why is the government ignoring our international commitments
and putting our health, environment, and economy at risk because of
climate change?
Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of the Environment, Minister
of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and
Minister for the Arctic Council, CPC): Mr. Speaker, our record is
very clear. We have reduced emissions while growing the economy
and creating good, well-paying jobs. We will continue to implement
a responsible sector-by-sector regulatory approach that is aligned
with the United States to ensure that Canada's economic competitiveness is protected.
Our government is also the first government in Canadian history
that has seen reductions in greenhouse gas emissions on that basis
and it will continue to do so without the job-killing carbon tax.
***
ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
well over 1,000 young aboriginal girls and women have gone
missing or have been murdered, and individuals from premiers'
offices to mayors' offices to chiefs and councils and many
stakeholders are calling on this cold-hearted Conservative government to recognize the need for a public inquiry.
The Prime Minister and the Prime Minister alone needs to explain
why the government is not calling for a public inquiry. Does he have
the courage to stand in his place today and explain to those
individuals and the stakeholders why he refuses to call that public
inquiry?
Hon. K. Kellie Leitch (Minister of Labour and Minister of
Status of Women, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, these
are terrible crimes against innocent people. The RCMP has said in its
own study that the vast majority of these cases are addressed and
solved through their police investigations. We do not actually need
another study. There have been 40 that have already been completed.
What we do need is for the police to catch those responsible and
punish them.
12838
COMMONS DEBATES
April 21, 2015
Oral Questions
Our government is focused on making sure we take action to make
sure individuals are supported, that these crimes are prevented, and
that these individuals are protected. Unlike the opposition members,
who vote against matrimonial property rights that could protect these
people, we are here taking action to support these women.
***
JUSTICE
Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it is
National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, yet the victims bill of
rights ignores an important group of victims. At committee, Maureen
Basnicki, whose husband was killed in the 9/11 attacks, pleaded for
Canadian victims of crimes committed abroad to be included under
the bill. The government rejected those pleas. Why are Canadian
victims, like 9/11 widows, being ignored? Conservatives claim to be
focused on terrorists. What about the victims?
Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Justice and Attorney General
of Canada, CPC): Mr. Speaker, far from being ignored, victims in
Canada have never had more attention, more support, more
legislation, and more funding than from this Conservative government. This historic bill, as the hon. member and members present
will know, for the first time entrenches in Canadian law rights for
victims across the country. This is a historic piece of legislation. We
hope to have the bill back before the House for royal assent, and I
hope the member and his party will continue to support it.
***
[Translation]
STATUS OF WOMEN
Ms. Mylène Freeman (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel,
NDP): Mr. Speaker, no woman has been nominated for induction
into the Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame in the past
two years.
Two eminent female scientists stepped down from the selection
committee at the Canada Science and Technology Museum to protest
the lack of willingness to recognize the contributions women make
to the sciences.
Will the government show some leadership and take action to
promote the success of women in the sciences?
● (1455)
Hon. Shelly Glover (Minister of Canadian Heritage and
Official Languages, CPC): Mr. Speaker, let me be clear: the
Canadian Science and Engineering Hall of Fame is simply housed at
the museum. The nomination process and the selection committee
operate independently of the government and work based on
nominations from the public. I wanted to be clear that the museum
does not make the nominations.
We are very proud of the women in the sciences and we encourage
them to continue.
***
[English]
MARINE ATLANTIC
Mr. Ryan Cleary (St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador rely on Marine
Atlantic. It is a critical transportation link that our people and our
economy cannot live without. Yet in the main estimates the
government showed a cut of $97 million in operating funding to
Marine Atlantic. This is unacceptable to Newfoundlanders and
Labradorians.
The federal government has a clear obligation to protect this ferry
service under our terms of union. Will the minister ensure that this
budget has full funding for Marine Atlantic?
Hon. Lisa Raitt (Minister of Transport, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I
can speak to the main estimates, but I cannot speak to the budget
because we all have a wait a few more minutes for that to be
unveiled. The hon. member should know that.
The main estimates are just that. They are estimates with the
information that we have at that point in time. Since 2006, we have
provided Marine Atlantic with significant new funding that allows it
to provide a superlative service.
I am very proud of the men and women at Marine Atlantic and
everything they do every day to serve the needs of Newfoundlanders
and Labradorians.
***
TAXATION
Hon. Ron Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, families in my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country are
looking forward to the enhanced universal child care credit and
family tax cut.
I am proud to say that it is our government that has introduced
these measures because we understand that all Canadian children
deserve support. This includes children living with disabilities.
Could the caring and compassionate Minister of State for Social
Development please inform the House how our government is
helping these children?
Hon. Candice Bergen (Minister of State (Social Development),
CPC): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his consideration for the
families in his riding.
Our government is helping children with disabilities by launching
our enabling accessibility fund program to help make playgrounds
more accessible for children with disabilities.
In addition to that, I was very pleased to announce at the
Starbright Children's Development Centre in Kelowna that we would
be funding that specific program. Families were thrilled to hear that
and to hear about our expanded universal child care benefit and
family tax cut.
We are cutting taxes for Canadian families with children. The
Liberals and the NDP want to increase taxes, increase debt, increase
burdens on Canadian families.
April 21, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12839
Oral Questions
RAIL TRANSPORTATION
Mr. Adam Vaughan (Trinity—Spadina, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
during the debate yesterday we learned that in the middle of a
disastrous oil spill in Vancouver, nobody in the federal government
thought it was necessary to contact Vancouver city hall. Apparently
that was somebody else's job.
It is not much different when it comes to rail. The mayors of
Oakville, Burlington, Milton and Halton Hills are pleading with the
Minister of Transport to help stop CN as it starts to expand its
services in those areas in a very dangerous way.
We are giving Northerners the opportunities and the tools they
need to shape their own future.
Could the Minister of the Environment update the House on what
our government is doing and how we are investing in the great
people of Canada's north?
Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of the Environment, Minister
of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and
Minister for the Arctic Council, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I would like
to take this opportunity to list all of the things we have invested in,
which the member for the Northwest Territories voted against.
The minister is not only in charge of this file, it is her riding. This
is the question because it is her job not someone else's job, but
maybe it will be soon. Will the minister sit down with those cities?
Will she start working with cities across the country to protect public
safety?
Hon. Lisa Raitt (Minister of Transport, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
indeed, I do exactly that through the Federation of Canadian
Municipalities. Every one of those cities that the hon. member
quoted, I actually met with last week in a round table sitting in my
riding at the brand new velodrome, which is funded by this
government as part of the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.
He opposed the Inuvik to Tuk highway. He opposed the health
transfer monies. He is opposed to infrastructure investments. He
opposed job training. He opposed the establishment of a Health
Canada office in Yellowknife. He also voted against aboriginal
women having the same matrimonial rights as other Canadian
women. He also did not bother to show up to vote against the long
gun registry.
I would like to thank the Minister of State for Sport for all the
good work he does on that issue.
[Translation]
***
[Translation]
HOUSING
Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP): Mr. Speaker, for four
years now, the government has left the pyrrhotite victims in my
riding to fend for themselves.
The answer the Coalition d'aide aux victimes de la pyrrhotite was
just given from the Conservatives in response to their request for
financial assistance is a resounding no. It is unacceptable that the
government is part of the problem but refuses to be part of the
solution.
At a time when the government is preparing to confirm its gifts to
the wealthiest Canadians in its budget, can the thousands of
pyrrhotite victims expect the slightest bit of compassion from the
Prime Minister?
● (1500)
Hon. Ed Holder (Minister of State (Science and Technology),
CPC): Mr. Speaker, the pyrrhotite problem falls under provincial
jurisdiction. In fact, the Government of Quebec has a provincial
program to provide financial help to property owners dealing with
damage caused by pyrrhotite. I invite anyone who is concerned
about this problem to contact the Société d'habitation du Québec.
***
[English]
NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Ryan Leef (Yukon, CPC): Mr. Speaker, unlike the previous
Liberal governments that balanced their budgets by slashing transfer
payments to our territories and cutting programs and services, our
government is making record levels of investments in the north.
That is the record for the member for the Northwest Territories.
***
INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS
Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour,
BQ): Mr. Speaker, after investing in Churchill Falls, which will be in
direct competition with Hydro-Québec and Quebec's revenues, after
imposing a toll on the new Champlain Bridge and after condoning
the comments of a member who said he was fed up with the National
Assembly's unanimous declarations, now the federal government is
once again taking unilateral action with its reform of the temporary
foreign worker program, despite repeated requests from Quebec's
labour minister.
Does the federal government's new way of co-operating with
Quebec involve imposing its way of doing things on the province
and then sending it packing?
Hon. Pierre Poilievre (Minister of Employment and Social
Development and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, obviously, our government works with all of our provincial
partners on every issue.
We have an excellent relationship with the Government of
Quebec. It is a partnership based on our common priorities, and we
are going to maintain that partnership.
***
CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION
Mrs. Maria Mourani (Ahuntsic, Ind.): Mr. Speaker, in
December 2014, the government ended the moratorium on deporting
some 3,000 citizens of Haiti and Zimbabwe, requiring them to obtain
status by June 1, 2015.
Despite the tireless work of refugee aid organizations, out of an
estimated 1,500 cases, only about 400 have begun processing, and
only 25 have been forwarded to federal authorities. This speaks to
how cumbersome and complex the process is.
12840
COMMONS DEBATES
April 21, 2015
Government Orders
Will the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration give people an
extra three months and simplify the permanent residence application
processes?
[English]
Mr. Costas Menegakis (Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
we are one of the most generous countries in the world. We accept
one in ten of the world's resettled refugees. We do everything we
possibly can to assist refugees once they are here. They know the
rules and they abide by the rules. We are very pleased to say that this
year we are sponsoring an additional 10% in our levels plan, who
will be coming through refugee processing.
example, crimes from taking place in the first place. It does not give
us any reason to believe the government has done its homework on
the legislation. To what degree did it work with the provincial
governments, for example, and the ministries of justice and safety in
the different provinces? After all, it is a joint responsibility in the
sense that it is not only Ottawa that deals with justice-related issues,
but also our provinces. Yet the government, through the leadership
of the Prime Minister's Office, never sees the merit in having a first
ministers conference.
The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has
not done his homework in terms of consultation. If he had, I suspect
we would see better legislation than what we have before us.
● (1505)
GOVERNMENT ORDERS
[English]
DRUG-FREE PRISONS ACT
The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-12,
An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, be
read the third time and passed.
The Speaker: The hon. member for Winnipeg North has three
minutes left to conclude his remarks.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
with only three minutes, it puts a lot of limitations on what I can say.
It is important to highlight an aspect of the legislation that I believe
speaks volumes about the way in which the government approaches
legislation. It is something that I have made reference to with other
legislation, and that is the way in which the government determines
how to name its legislation.
In naming legislation, the government's attitude seems to be more
about political spin than anything. That no doubt is its first priority. It
is much like how we see a government that will introduce a budget
in about an hour's time. It will want to promote it by spending
millions of public tax dollars to tell Canadians how wonderful its
budget is, and there will be many misgivings in that budget.
However, the government is more concerned about promotion, selfpreservation and trying to communicate a message than it is about
substance and content. This is yet another bill where we see a great
example of that.
The Conservatives have titled the bill the drug-free prisons act,
trying to give the impression to Canadians that they have a
mechanism or a way in which they can ensure prisons across Canada
are drug-free. If they consult or look in a mirror behind a closed door
where no one else will see, I am sure they will find that no one could
legitimately suggest that it is achievable to get prisons 100% drug
free.
As it has been suggested by our correctional officers, we need to
strive to do what we can to ensure we minimize the amount of drug
abuse that takes place in our prisons, and I am all for that. There is
some merit and value to the substance of the legislation. That is why
the Liberal caucus will vote in favour of it.
However, it fails to deal with the broader issues. It does not
necessarily deal with the issue of how we would prevent, for
[Translation]
Mr. Raymond Côté (Beauport—Limoilou, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I thank my colleague for his speech.
The distressing situation we are seeing right now in our prisons is
partly the legacy of the Liberal government. The Liberals were in
power for 13 years. During their reign, or rather, under their yoke,
inmates complained about long waiting lists for drug treatment
programs. It was already a problem back then. When I ran my first
election campaign in 2006, long waiting lists for unemployed
workers were already a problem too. The employment insurance
program was already full of holes.
I would like my colleague to explain why the Liberal government
of the day, the party he represents, did not take steps to fix the
problem. I am not interested in hearing about how that was another
time and he was not around then.
[English]
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, had the member been
listening, he would have caught the end of my comments where I
was talking about the need to work with the provinces. That is very
important. I started my speech by talking about being the justice
critic when I was a provincial MLA. We should not underestimate
the role that provinces have to play. If the member wants to make
partisan shots about the former Liberal government, I can tell him
that when I was a critic, it was an NDP provincial government and
there is not enough time in the rest of the day between now and the
budge, for me to give examples of just how bad the provincial New
Democratic government was. It was unable to deal with the issues
facing our prisons. In fact, one of the issues I highlighted earlier was
in regard to the Headingley riot, which in part was because of the
provincial government.
The bottom line is we need to see a higher sense of co-operation in
dealing with our prisons. That is the way to deal with some of those
core issues that need to be developed. That means having to work
with different levels of government and different political parties.
I do not believe the New Democrats are any holier than any other
political party in trying to achieve justice and making sure we have
safe prisons for our correctional officers and others.
April 21, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12841
Government Orders
● (1510)
Hon. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the member
talked about the way the government names these bills, this one
being the drug-free prisons act. It really is more impression than
reality in terms of getting to results and having the prisons drug-free.
There are some elements of the bill that would actually prevent some
use of drugs in the prison system.
My question is a little broader. What about crime prevention
strategies that need to go beyond the bill that would actually keep
people out of prisons so they do not really fall under that act? What
about a crime prevention strategy itself?
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question
from my colleague. That is the type of attitude we need to be
bringing into the House in dealing with justice issues.
Prisons and jails are an absolute in modern day society, but there
is so much more we could be doing and so much more emphasis
could be placed on how we could be preventing crimes from taking
place in the first place.
Let me give a very specific example. In the city of Winnipeg and
many other municipalities across Canada, we have seen an increase
in the number of individuals getting involved in gang activities.
Ultimately, that activity will lead them to incarceration. Why not
have more resources, or a government that is more progressive in
taking action that is necessary to provide other programs? Youth
need to be engaged so there is more of a challenge to their abilities,
as opposed to having our young people being challenged by gang
opportunities and ending up in jail, which creates all sorts of other
social issues.
We need to be much more proactive. Hopefully, we will see
something on that in the upcoming budget. Something the Liberal
Party would like to see is a more proactive approach in dealing
with—
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Questions and
comments, the hon. member for Ahuntsic.
[Translation]
Mrs. Maria Mourani (Ahuntsic, Ind.): Mr. Speaker, as you
know, several studies have shown that marijuana seriously impairs
concentration and decision making capacity. Marijuana is extremely
harmful to young people's brains, especially adolescents and young
adults. When it comes to medical marijuana, that is one thing, for as
we all know, all medications can have side effects. Recreational use,
however, is another thing altogether.
More and more studies are showing this. We know that the Liberal
Party wants to legalize marijuana; it wants to make money by
collecting taxes on marijuana, just as many dealers do.
I have a question for my colleague. Given that his party wants to
legalize marijuana, does that mean that his party also plans to give it
to inmates, since that is the most common drug used in prisons?
[English]
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, as for the political party
that the member will be running for in the next election, all one has
to do is maybe do a little search on Google to find some interesting
comments from its former leader, Jack Layton, in regard to the issue
of legalization of marijuana. The member might find that quite
interesting if she takes the time to investigate it.
In relation to Bill C-12, the drug-free prisons
specific quote, which I made reference to earlier,
annual report of the Office of the Correctional
following observation was made with respect to
drugs within our federal prisons:
act, I will read a
from the 2011-12
Investigator. The
the prevalence of
A “zerotolerance” stance to drugs in prison, while perhaps serving as an effective
deterrent posted at the entry point of a penitentiary, simply does not accord with the
facts of crime and addiction in Canada or elsewhere in the world.
I think that the bill might make a modest move forward, but at the
end of the day, we need a much more comprehensive approach to
deal with drugs in our jails and prisons.
● (1515)
[Translation]
Mr. Raymond Côté: Mr. Speaker, it is really unfortunate to see
the member spewing this rhetoric rather than having the courage to
respond directly to the questions he is asked. My colleague from
Ahuntsic asked him a very interesting question.
I want to talk about another issue, though, because any time we
talk about drug use in prisons, we have to talk about mental health
issues. There is a link between the two. The member will have to
defend this record under the Liberals, in light of the upcoming
election campaign, so he can practice by answering our questions
directly.
The number of inmates with mental disorders doubled under the
Liberal government. In my speech this morning, I indicated that over
half of all inmates have been treated for mental health issues. This is
huge, and it is a serious problem that is directly related to the
problem of drug use and trafficking in prisons.
How can he justify this Liberal record from the time they were in
power?
[English]
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, the member might not like
the answer, but that does not necessarily mean it does not answer in
good part the question that has been posed.
The member just made reference to mental health. The budget for
mental health is administered through our provinces, and many
individuals who are not getting the mental health attention they need
at the provincial level ultimately will end up in our prison system.
This is why I said that if we want to look at governments, all one
needs to do is look in my own backyard in the province of Manitoba.
Whether under Gary Doer or Greg Selinger, one will find that the
whole issue of mental health has not been dealt with to the degree in
which it could have had a more positive impact within our prisons.
I would suggest to members that we need to see a higher sense of
co-operation between the federal government and the provincial
governments, because both have a role to play in terms of improving
the conditions in our prisons. That should be our first goal. It is
something which the leader of the Liberal Party and Liberal caucus is
committed to doing.
12842
COMMONS DEBATES
April 21, 2015
Government Orders
[Translation]
Ms. Ève Péclet (La Pointe-de-l'Île, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am
very happy to be able to rise today to discuss Bill C-12.I would also
like to respond to a few comments by my honourable colleague
fromWinnipeg-Centre, who talked about co-operation between the
Liberal party and the provinces.
In 1995, the Liberal federal government decided to cut millions of
dollars in transfer payments to the provinces in order to balance its
budget. That is exactly what the Conservatives are doing. In matters
of federal-provincial co-operation, therefore, I am not sure we can
count on the Liberals to work with the provinces and offer more
services to Canadians and to Quebeckers.
We are talking here about a bill that my Conservative colleagues
consider crucially important. In general terms, the bill seeks to
introduce a practice that is already in common use. Some
government members would like to tell Canadians that this bill is
going to work miracles, but that is untrue. This bill merely adds to
the Corrections and Conditional Release Act the possibility for the
Parole Board to base its decisions respecting parole eligibility on
positive drug tests or the refusal to provide a sample.
Yet the board has been doing that for years. Writing it into law is a
good objective, but I doubt very much whether this bill will succeed
in eliminating drugs from our prisons, as the Conservatives claim.
Are they implying that there is a problem with the board itself? That
is another question. However, this bill covers only a page and a half.
Accordingly, as far as details are concerned, they will get back to
you.
The bill is therefore misleading, because it will not do much to
eliminate drugs in the correctional system. The solution it proposes
is a practice that has been carried out for years, and unfortunately has
not solved the problem. I therefore do not see how writing it into law
will make it possible to solve mental health problems and eliminate
drugs from our federal penitentiaries.
In my speech, I will be giving some ideas for a solution, but I will
also raise a few priorities that the Conservatives refuse to consider,
preferring to invest elsewhere and put money in the pockets of the
wealthiest or the large corporations.
All the witnesses who spoke in committee told us that the bill
would have little or no effect on drug use in prisons. We know that
the government is using this legislation to cater to the wishes of its
electoral base or do some election campaigning, instead of proposing
real solutions to a real problem.
The situation is very different in our federal prisons. In
connection with the study we are concluding in the Standing
Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the Correctional
Investigator of Canada came to tell us that over 45% of the federal
prison population is dealing with mental health or neurological
problems. That is nearly 50% of the population.
In general, unfortunately, these people use drugs. Therefore, is
requiring them to take a urine test in order to be eligible for parole
going to solve problems at the source, including their mental health
disorders? I repeat that nearly 50%, not just 1% or 5%, of all
offenders in federal institutions have mental health problems.
● (1520)
We have a problem here and Bill C-12 will do absolutely nothing
to help these people. The bill offers them no tangible support.
Instead, it cuts the budgets for programs to treat addiction and to
provide support for people with mental health problems.
However, they say that enshrining in legislation that someone will
or will not be eligible for parole is going to prevent that individual
from taking drugs. That is ridiculous. I will give an example: many
of my colleagues here have children. When you want a child not to
do something, you educate the child, you offer them support, and
you talk to them. You do not leave the child with no support and then
tell them that unfortunately they have made a mistake and it is their
problem. That is not how you solve a problem at its root. If we do
that, we have failed in our role as legislators and as a society: to help
the most vulnerable people, for example, people who unfortunately
have mental health problems or neurological problems.
This is very interesting because the mistaken perspective adopted
by the Conservative government when it comes to public safety has
multiplied the prison sentences imposed on people with addiction or
mental health problems, for example, through mandatory minimum
sentencing. I will come back to this later in my speech. Many
individuals who are addicts or are dealing with mental health
problems find themselves in prisons. The Correctional Investigator
of Canada has told us that the correctional service unfortunately can
no longer offer specialized services tailored to these people because
the Correctional Service of Canada does not necessarily have the
resources to detect and diagnose these problems.
At the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, we are
doing a study on FASD, or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. There are
no precise statistics because these individuals cannot be diagnosed,
but for the moment it is said that they represent about 5% of the
federal prison population. According to testimony we have heard at
the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, 55% of
people who have problems caused by fetal alcohol exposure have
addiction problems. What is specific to FASD is that these people
have a low capacity for understanding the consequences of their
actions, a low capacity for analyzing situations and a low capacity
for learning from their mistakes. It has been proven that these people
should not be in the prison system because they are not necessarily
responsible for their situation. What do we do with these people? Is
Bill C-12 going to help them? Is the fact that the government has
decided to put it in the bill that they will or will not be eligible for
parole going to help them? No. On its face, these people will not
receive the help and support they need to overcome their addiction
problems.
April 21, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12843
Government Orders
I would like to talk about the fact that the Conservatives have
never acted on the many reports from the CSC in 2006 and 2011 and
from the Correctional Investigator of Canada in 2008. Those reports
could be used, for example, to tackle the problem of gangs in
prisons. The Conservatives are closing down prisons and there is
double-bunking in the cells. It has been shown that this leads to more
crime and more gang activity, and so to more drug trafficking.
To solve the drug problem at the source, we have to offer support
to people who are incarcerated and to correctional officers, so that
they are able to do their job properly.
● (1525)
Mr. Jean Rousseau (Compton—Stanstead, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I congratulate my colleague on her excellent and very passionate
speech. She has touched on a fundamental aspect of the issue we are
discussing today: rehabilitation. That also includes treating people
for the various illnesses and pathologies that are found in the prisons.
This is crucial because if we could do that, we could prevent the
unfortunate consequences and, most importantly, ensure that many
of these individuals can be better reintegrated into our society.
Why would it be in the interests of society to rehabilitate these
people more effectively and, most importantly, to provide the
Correctional Service of Canada with the necessary resources, both
human and financial?
Ms. Ève Péclet: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the
question.
It is fundamental. All the experts agree that the source of the
problem is the fact that nearly half the people in our federal
institutions have mental health problems. What is more, most of
these people also have substance abuse problems.
We have to provide correctional officers with resources to offer
programs and support to help people overcome their addictions, so
that when these people are released one day, they can return to
society in a positive way.
drugs. That is really an insult to our intelligence. It will not solve the
problem.
To solve the problem the government must invest in systems and
an intervention plan. For instance, when people go to jail, they
should be diagnosed and receive tailored services; we need to know
what we are dealing with. Correctional officers currently do not have
the resources or the capacity to provide services to inmates.
Therefore, not only are correctional officers at risk, but so are
inmates. There is more violence.
Mrs. Djaouida Sellah (Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, we are debating at third reading Bill C-12, which adds a
provision to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act enabling
the Correctional Service of Canada to eliminate drugs from prisons. I
must say that this is quite ambitious given that we know that there is
not one correctional service in the world that has been able to do this.
This title, which again is reminiscent of a newspaper headline,
does not reflect the content of this bill, which actually makes an
amendment that is very narrow in scope to the Corrections and
Conditional Release Act.
This amendment makes it clear in law that the Parole Board of
Canada may use the positive results from drug tests or refusals to
take drug tests in making its decision on parole eligibility. Note that
the board already does this.
The amendment also makes clear that the Parole Board can
impose conditions on the use of drugs or alcohol, once again a
practice that is already in place.
In the case of a positive drug test when an individual is on parole,
the discretion remains where it should be, with the Parole Board of
Canada.
● (1530)
Mr. Jean Rousseau: Mr. Speaker, I would like to add that most of
our institutions lack not only resources, but also planning. What do
we do with these people? If we want to prevent crime, then we have
to have a public safety plan, a national safety plan. We also need to
pass a number of bills in order to prevent different types of crimes.
We were talking earlier about criminal gangs. That too takes
prevention and resources on the ground.
I would like to ask my colleague what type of resources should be
put in place in our prisons in order to prevent various types of crime
and especially recidivism?
Ms. Ève Péclet: Mr. Speaker, that is a relatively broad and very
complex question. The justice system and the prison system form a
whole. For example, mandatory minimum sentences will send
people to jail and, unfortunately, those people often have mental
health or addiction problems. With the increase in mandatory
minimum sentences, we have seen an increase in people suffering
from mental health and addiction problems. What is being done
about this? The Conservatives' response is to write into the
conditional release act that inmates do not have the right to take
That is why we support the bill. The Parole Board of Canada is
independent and is in the best position to judge individual cases and
determine the consequences when someone fails a drug test or
violates the conditions of parole.
Let us talk a little about the Conservative government's approach
and its zero-tolerance approach to drugs. The Conservative
government has dedicated a lot of time and resources to eliminating
drugs in prison, with little success.
Correctional Service Canada has admitted that the $122 million
spent on tools and technologies to eradicate drugs in prisons has not
led to any reduction in drug use in our prisons.
According to a 2012 Public Safety study, we know that drug-free
prisons are unlikely to be achieved in the real world, yet the
Conservative government continues to pander to their base, as
always, by investing money with the aim of achieving this unrealistic
goal.
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COMMONS DEBATES
April 21, 2015
Government Orders
The Conservative government's faulty approach to public safety
has resulted in more prisoners with addictions and mental illness in
our prison system.
The NDP has been steadfast in our support for measures that will
make our prisons safe, while the Conservative government has
ignored—yes, you heard me correctly, ignored—recommendations
from corrections staff, corrections unions and the Correctional
Investigator that would decrease violence, gang activity and drug use
in our prisons. The government has not only ignored these
recommendations but it has also made budget cuts.
In 2012, the government announced that it planned to cut the
budget of Correctional Service Canada by $295 million by 2015, and
that is what it did. The budget for Correctional Service Canada was
cut by over 10%, while during that same period, the prison
population grew from 14,000 to 15,000 inmates.
● (1535)
The consequences of these cuts include more double-bunking and
the closure of treatment centres for inmates with serious mental
problems. This has resulted in increased violence. The Conservative
government has also failed to address the growing problem of
inmates with addictions and mental illness.
In 2011, 45% of male offenders and 69% of female offenders
received a mental health care intervention. Despite this staggering
data, the Conservative government still has not asked for a report
from Correctional Service Canada, or CSC, on the implementation
of recommendations to improve handling of prisoners with mental
illness.
Rather than focusing its efforts on a narrow bill, the government
needs to invest in rehabilitation programs to limit violence and the
use of drugs in our prisons. Our priority should be a corrections
system that can deliver effective rehabilitation programs, such as
continuing education, addiction treatment and support programs to
assist in reintegration. That is the only way to reduce recidivism rates
and effectively tackle the issue of repeat offenders.
To truly address the issue of drug use in prison, CSC must have a
proper intake assessment of an inmate’s addiction and then provide
the proper correctional programming for that offender. Our priority
must be to keep communities safe by preparing ex-inmates for
reintegration into society once freed from their addiction and thus
less likely to reoffend. Without addiction treatment and proper
reintegration upon release, a prisoner will likely return to a criminal
lifestyle and possible create more victims.
Before I conclude, I would like to say that committee work is not
just for kicks. Our mandate is to examine, analyze and legislate to
improve our society. I think that the Conservative government is
being disingenuous by introducing a bill that does not take into
account witnesses' recommendations even though they are the
people on the ground. Several witnesses have said that Bill C-12 will
not do what the short title says, so the Conservative government
should show some common sense and stop its electoral propaganda.
The NDP is the party that listens to constituents, experts and the
people on the ground. This bill, like so many of the Conservative
government's bills, ignores the real needs on the ground.
● (1540)
Ms. Ève Péclet (La Pointe-de-l'Île, NDP): Mr. Speaker, this is all
very interesting, and I would like to thank my colleague for her
speech.
I talked about this in my speech. The basic problem is clear.
Everyone says so. I do not understand why the Conservatives do not
get it. CSC has produced a number of reports about how inmates
with mental health issues make up close to 50% of Canada's federal
prison population.
Right now, there is no plan, no budget, no system to adapt the
programs and support services available. Bill C-12 is a drop in the
bucket compared to everything that needs to be done.
Can my colleague tell us about some of her solutions to this
problem?
Mrs. Djaouida Sellah: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her
relevant question.
As I mentioned, what this Conservative government is doing is
cutting funding in a system that is already struggling. Consider what
the the CSC Commissioner said at the time of the coroner's inquest
into the death of Ashley Smith. He said that his organization did not
have the resources needed in that regard. The Correctional
Investigator's report on women who self-harm or commit suicide
stated that Correctional Service Canada remains ill-equipped to
manage offenders who chronically injure themselves.
That is why we in the NDP believe that there has to be a greater
focus on drug treatment programs, education and the reintegration of
people who are victims of their drug addictions. We know that most
people who are in prison, up to two-thirds of the prison population,
suffer from mental illness, which is why substance abuse treatment is
needed.
Mr. François Lapointe (Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska
—Rivière-du-Loup, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for
her speech. She is a doctor. She has a health care background and
therefore feels empathy for these people.
I have seen figures estimating that over 2,000 or 2,400 inmates are
currently on waiting lists for drug treatment programs. If I were to
say that that bothers me, I know the members opposite would say
that I support criminals, more or less like grade school children.
I am actually thinking of the consequences. If these people are
treated like animals in prison, it is much more likely that they will
reoffend and we will have more victims. This is a complex, longterm problem.
What are my colleague's thoughts on this aspect of the problem,
which requires long-term reflection, specifically to avoid creating
more victims in Canada?
Mrs. Djaouida Sellah: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my
colleague for his question.
April 21, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12845
Government Orders
As we said, every program requires money and human resources.
However, this government is not using common sense.
repeatedly stated that this leads to increased violence and gang
activity.
The only way to address the problem of recidivism is to treat drug
addictions. In the past, this involved methadone treatment, but now it
involves opiate substitute treatment. Unfortunately, not all inmates
have access to treatment and here again there are waiting lists. Some
people serve their sentence and leave prison with the same problems
they had when they arrived or worse. With the Conservatives' zero
tolerance policy, people leave prison more hardened and will likely
victimize more people. The government's policy does not work.
● (1545)
Ms. Mylène Freeman (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel,
NDP): Mr. Speaker, Bill C-12 seeks to add a provision to the
Corrections and Conditional Release Act that makes it clear that the
Parole Board of Canada may use positive results from urine tests or
refusals to take urine tests for drugs in making its decisions on parole
eligibility.
Further, I want to underline that according to Kim Pate from the
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, the rise in women
serving federal sentences is directly related to cuts in social services,
social programs, health care, education—all the programs that
traditionally help level the playing field for those who are most
impacted. By “those”, we often mean, of course, indigenous peoples,
women, poor people, and those with mental health issues.
This gives clear legal authority to an existing practice of the Parole
Board. I support that and so I support this bill, since it simply places
something that already happens in practice into the act.
[English]
Since we are talking about a provision that is rather straightforward and relatively uncontroversial, I want to take the time to talk
about related issues that I believe need to be addressed, so I will take
the time that has been allotted me to do so.
[Translation]
The government is making our prisons less safe by cutting
funding to correctional programming, such as substance abuse
treatment, and increasing the use of double bunking, which leads to
more violence. That is not only dangerous for inmates but also for
those who work in correctional institutions. It also does not promote
rehabilitation. This is an issue that we all need to be concerned
about.
Our priority should be ensuring community safety by preparing
former offenders to reintegrate back into society, and by helping
them overcome their addictions and become less inclined to
reoffend.
● (1550)
[English]
A report from Correctional Service Canada in 2011 states that
there ought to be improved access to medical professionals and
medical health services and a continued focus on the role of
substance use and self-harming behaviours as coping mechanisms,
and that there are several issues regarding the implementation of
programming specifically related to the availability and accessibility
of programs, the frequency with which programs are offered, and the
wait lists of these programs.
The prison population is increasing at the same time as the
Conservative government is closing institutions, and this has resulted
in directive 55, which I am sure all of my colleagues are aware of,
from Correctional Service Canada, which establishes a procedure to
normalize double bunking. In my province of Quebec, that has led to
double bunking at 10%. Staff and the Correctional Investigator have
According to Correctional Service Canada data published in 2011,
27% of women incarcerated were convicted of a drug-related
offence.
[Translation]
According to the Office of the Correctional Investigator's 2011-12
report, almost two-thirds of inmates were under the influence of an
intoxicant when they committed the offence leading to their
incarceration.
[English]
I want to raise the fact that we are looking at people being
incarcerated who need to deal with this issue.
I also want to state that the majority of women incarcerated—
86%, to be specific—report having been physically abused at some
point in their lives, with two-thirds of the women, 68%, reporting
that they had been sexually abused throughout their lives. When we
talk about using drugs as a coping mechanism, especially when
incarcerated, we need to keep this in mind.
A zero tolerance stance on drugs in prison is proving to be a
completely ineffective policy. Meanwhile, harm-reduction measures
within a public health system and treatment orientation offer a far
more promising, cost-effective, and sustainable approach to reducing
subsequent crime and re-victimization. That is from the report of the
Office of the Correctional Investigator in 2011-12.
According to a report looking at policy for offenders with mental
illness published in 2010, compared to the general population, the
rate of mental illnesses among jail detainees is almost twice as high
for women, and detainees with a serious mental illness have cooccurring substance abuse disorder.
That is why we are talking about both these things right now. We
are talking about mental health and drug use as being correlated and
as being major issues that need to be dealt with within the
incarceration system, not only for the betterment of the detainees and
their reintegration into society, but also to reduce violence in the
future, to reduce violence within prisons, and also to make correction
officers' workplaces safer ones.
Individuals with mental illnesses are not only disproportionately
represented in the criminal justice system, but they are also
disproportionately likely to fail under correctional supervision. In
2011, 69% of female offenders received a mental health care
intervention. When we are talking about their being more likely to
fail, we are talking about 70% of the women who are currently
incarcerated being those who are more likely to fail. Those are
staggering numbers.
12846
COMMONS DEBATES
April 21, 2015
Government Orders
[Translation]
[Translation]
To really tackle this problem, we must also tackle the problem of
substance abuse in prison. To that end, we must first implement an
intake assessment process to accurately measure the level of drug use
by inmates, and then provide adequate programs for offenders in
need. We talked a lot about that today. We have to ensure that these
women have access to these programs and services because, as I
mentioned, a large percentage of incarcerated women suffer from
mental health or substance abuse problems, as do these men.
Without drug addiction treatment, education and proper reintegration
upon release, offenders run the risk of returning to a life of crime and
claiming new victims. We want to avoid that at all costs.
As I mentioned earlier, 70% of incarcerated women have mental
health issues. This means that these services are extremely important
and we need to strengthen them. Unfortunately, the government does
not really appear to be ensuring that these services are provided.
We should strive to have a correctional system that provides
effective rehabilitation programs such as ongoing education,
substance abuse treatment and support programs, in order to foster
the social reintegration of offenders when they are released. That is
the only way to reduce the rate of recidivism.
The last point I would like to make is the following: we want to
ensure that prisons are a safe workplace for the people who work
there. As I mentioned earlier, we can start by eliminating the practice
of double-bunking and ensuring that resources are allocated to the
treatment of inmates with substance abuse or mental health
problems.
Mr. Raymond Côté (Beauport—Limoilou, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I thank my colleague for her speech. Although we support the idea
and the principle behind this bill because it represents something
positive, there is no denying that we are very concerned about how
the Conservative government plans on addressing the scourge of
drugs.
As my colleague indicated, problems have escalated in our prisons
and the situation is almost unmanageable in some respects. Drug
addiction prevention programs at Correctional Service Canada have
undergone significant cuts. The situation is so serious that the
Correctional Investigator made some very important recommendations. One of the recommendations was an assessment of prisoners at
intake into correctional programs to identify their addiction problems
and to help meet their needs to reduce their dependency on drugs.
Could my colleague comment on how the government will help—
or likely not help—prisoners who are struggling with addiction?
● (1555)
Ms. Mylène Freeman: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for
asking this question.
[English]
Just the cuts to Corrections Canada have dramatically affected the
availability of services and programs that do help inmates.
Unfortunately, we can see them going down the path of making
those cuts and also increasing prison sentences, and therefore, the
number of people who are incarcerated. This is a very dangerous
situation where now, for just services such as dealing with mental
health, dealing with drug addiction, the waiting lists are so long that
inmates can wait their entire prison sentence before getting the
services. Therefore, they go back into society without the
rehabilitation that was needed. These individuals have a much
higher recidivism rate.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre (Alfred-Pellan, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I would like to thank my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—
Mirabel for her excellent speech on Bill C-12. Today I would like to
share some thoughts about this bill in particular with the House of
Commons.
First, I would like to say that the title of Bill C-12 is misleading,
considering the content. It is misleading to say that Bill C-12 will
eradicate drugs from our prisons. Unfortunately, nothing in this bill
will address the problem of drug addiction in our prisons.
I expected better from the federal government. I wish it had
handled this issue with greater respect. Unfortunately, it did not. As
my colleague pointed out in her speech, that is always the problem
whenever it comes to issues associated with drug addiction and
mental health. Nothing in this bill tackles the problem directly. There
is nothing here that will help the men, women and first nations
people coping with drug addiction, which, sadly, is so widespread in
our prisons.
Ms. Mylène Freeman: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the
question.
I also want to thank the member for Alfred-Pellan for all the hard
work she does as the NDP deputy critic for public safety. She is
doing a truly fantastic job and we really admire her for that. She
raised a very good point.
As I said at the beginning of my speech, basically, this bill just
puts into law something that is already a common practice. It does
nothing to tackle the problem. I did not spend my whole speech
listing all the problems and explaining why it is dangerous, not only
for those who are incarcerated, but also for those who work in
correctional institutions.
This issue must be considered a priority and it really needs to be
dealt with through mental health services and drug treatment
programs.
[English]
The Speaker: The time for questions and comments has expired.
Is the House ready for the question?
Some hon. members: Question.
The Speaker: The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of
the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Speaker: I declare the motion carried.
April 21, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12847
The Budget
(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)
● (1605)
The Speaker: Order. The House will now proceed to the
consideration of Ways and Means Proceedings No. 18 concerning
the budget presentation.
***
I cannot go further without saluting the man who, through fiscal
acumen, careful stewardship and love of country, can take so much
credit for this, my predecessor, Jim Flaherty. It is because of Mr.
Flaherty's efforts and the leadership of our Prime Minister that we
are in a position to move forward. It is because of their discipline and
deliberate choices in dark times that, rather than privation and
painful austerity, we face a future of opportunity and possibilities.
That path is the right path for Canada.
THE BUDGET
FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF MINISTER OF FINANCE
Hon. Joe Oliver (Minister of Finance, CPC) moved:
That this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I rise before this House today to table
budget documents for 2015, including notices of ways and means
motions.
[Translation]
The details of the measures are contained in these documents, and
I am asking that an order of the day be designated for consideration
of these motions. I also wish to announce that the government will
introduce legislation to implement the measures in the budget.
[English]
I am proud to present economic action plan 2015, our
government's plan for growth and opportunity. It is a prudent and
principled plan which will see Canadians more prosperous, more
secure and ever more confident in our country's place in the world.
The story of Canada is, and has always been, the story of
opportunity. Opportunity is what has drawn people here from around
the world generation after generation. It is what draws them still,
opportunity for themselves and for their families, the opportunity to
work hard, dream big and achieve those dreams.
On a personal note, I will be forever grateful to my grandparents
for their fateful decision to immigrate to Canada more than 100 years
ago. Like so many others, they chose liberation over oppression,
opportunity over stagnation, a bright future over a gathering storm.
The federal budget is, on the face of it, about dollars and cents, but
on a more fundamental level, it is a path to opportunity, and it is in
this spirit that I present it today. I do so acknowledging that we live
in what continues to be challenging times.
● (1610)
[Translation]
Around the world, many nations—including some of our friends
and allies—remain mired in a struggle for fiscal security. Global
growth coming out of the great recession has been lacklustre.
Geopolitical uncertainty continues to hobble the recovery. And, of
course, the dramatic plunge in oil prices has taken its toll on our
economy.
[English]
Still, news for Canada is, by and large, good. Amid the tumult, our
country remains a beacon of economic stability and security, built on
a foundation of sound financial management.
I recall the words of another man who, half a century ago, served
as Canada's minister of finance, the Hon. Donald Fleming. Like me,
he was a proud member of the Conservative government and, like
me, he had the honour of representing the good people of Eglington,
the predecessor to my own riding of Eglinton—Lawrence, in the
great city of Toronto. He told the House:
We have withstood the disturbing calm of recession, and the winds of prosperity
again fill our sails...With a united, determined and confident population, Canada
marches on unflinchingly towards its bright destiny.
[Translation]
Our economy is now substantially larger than it was prerecession, a performance that remains the envy of the G7.
International observers expect Canada’s growth—already ahead of
our peers during the recovery— to continue to be solid. They expect
our net debt-to-GDP ratio will continue to be the lowest in the G7.
[English]
The causes of global financial challenges are complex and largely
beyond our control, but our responses, the choices we have made
have been direct and unambiguous. We have cut taxes to their lowest
level in more than half a century. We have made the largest, longest
federal infrastructure commitment in our country's history. We have
negotiated free trade deals that encompass more than half of the
global economy. We have increased transfers to the provinces and
territories to record levels to support health care and education. We
have done all of this while controlling spending.
For generations, Canadian families have understood the path to
prosperity. Do not compromise tomorrow by spending recklessly
today, do not pile on debt we cannot afford, and invest sensibly for a
secure future. For governments, the principles are the same. We have
been prudent, we have been practical, and we have stuck to our plan.
I am proud to announce that this budget is balanced. This year, we
are forecasting a $1.4 billion surplus and growing surpluses
thereafter.
[Translation]
I am proud to announce that this budget I am presenting today is
balanced. This year, we are forecasting a $1.4 billion surplus, and
growing surpluses thereafter.
12848
COMMONS DEBATES
April 21, 2015
The Budget
Now, this did not just happen. It took hard work, unwavering
focus and firm resolve. Some underestimate the discipline involved,
suggesting that budgets balance themselves.
return to balance and only with an accompanying freeze on operating
spending.
They do not understand what it takes, or why it matters so much.
I would now like to talk about tax restraint. Our approach has been
clear and consistent: take as little as possible and give back as much
as we can.
● (1615)
[English]
Perhaps they never will.
A balanced budget is the only way to ensure long-term prosperity
for Canadians. It clears a path for further tax relief, bolsters our top
credit rating, supports lower interest payments, and inspires greater
consumer and investor confidence. It protects health care and
education. It strengthens our ability to respond to the unavoidable
and the unexpected in a volatile world, and it means, importantly,
that we can leave our children and our grandchildren an even more
secure and prosperous country, not a hangover from reckless
selfishness.
When our government first came to power, we worked hard to
reduce Canada's substantial federal debt, and we did it, in short
order, by more than $37 billion.
Then in 2008, the world was rocked by the greatest financial
meltdown since the Great Depression. It was not a crisis of our
making, but it was nevertheless one we could not escape, so we
undertook extraordinary measures to protect the financial security of
Canadians, but we did it with a clear and prudent plan to return to
balance.
We cannot borrow our way to prosperity, no matter what our
opponents might say. Their path, the path of spending money we do
not have on bureaucratic programs we do not need leads to the
crushing structural deficits that plagued this country for years. When
our Liberal opponents tried it, they found themselves in an economic
swamp of their own creation. By the time they figured out the
disaster the country was facing, the only way out was brutal cuts to
programs Canadians counted on.
George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are
condemned to repeat it”.
[Translation]
Still, given the chance, they seem determined to try it again.
Ignoring the lessons of history, they would take the well-trod road to
economic decline—a journey that will not end well.
[English]
Mr. Speaker, it will not end well.
[Translation]
When our Government launched its stimulus program, we made a
solemn promise to the Canadian people.
[English]
A promise made, a promise kept.
This budget is written in black ink. This is the responsible way
forward for Canada, which is why we have also introduced balanced
budget legislation. This legislation will recognize that in times of
crisis, a deficit may be the appropriate action, but only with a plan to
It all starts with the bedrock of our country: the family. Raising a
family is hard work. Unlike our opponents, we prefer to leave it to
the experts: Mom and Dad. It also costs a lot of money, which is why
in recent months we expanded the universal child care benefit,
introduced the family tax cut, increased the child care expense
deduction limits, and doubled the children's fitness tax credit. These
measures make life more affordable for all Canadian families with
children.
● (1620)
[Translation]
For a typical two-earner family of four, it means up to an extra
$6,600 in their pockets in 2015.
Helping families now is vital, but just as important is helping them
plan for a secure future.
[English]
Our low-tax measures are extremely important. One that I am
particularly proud of is the tax-free savings account. When we
introduced the TFSA in budget 2008, it was the most significant
boost to Canadians' ability to save for their future since the creation
of the RRSP. Since then, close to 11 million Canadians, mostly low
and middle-income Canadians, have opened a TFSA.
Who are these Canadians? They are the people we see at the
coffee shop, at the rink and in our place of worship. Half make less
than $42,000 a year. Some are saving money to buy their first home
or start their first business. Some are saving to put their children
through college or university. Others are putting away extra money
to make their hard-earned retirement more comfortable and
enjoyable. In fact, more than half the people currently maxing out
their TFSA contributions are low and middle-income Canadians over
the age of 55.
I am also very pleased to announce, therefore, that we will
increase the TFSA annual contribution limit from the current $5,500
to $10,000. This is another promise made, another promise kept.
We are also making life easier for the almost four million
Canadians living with some form of disability. Many Canadians with
disabilities, as well as seniors, want to enjoy greater independence
living in the comfort of their homes. To help, we will create a new
and permanent home accessibility tax credit. It will support those
who want to renovate their dwellings to make them safer, more
accessible and more functional.
April 21, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12849
The Budget
[Translation]
Our government has a strong record of support for people with
autism spectrum disorders and the people who love them. Our
budget builds on this, with funding to pursue a greater understanding
of autism and the needs of those living with its unique challenges.
● (1625)
[English]
We will also implement changes to the Copyright Act to
implement the Marrakesh Treaty, allowing the one million
Canadians with visual impairments greater access to adapted books
and other printed material.
We want older Canadians to enjoy the golden years that are their
reward after decades of hard work and diligent saving. Our
government has already greatly expanded the guaranteed income
supplement for very low-income seniors. Today I am pleased to
announce that we will give seniors more choice when it comes to
managing their retirement income by reducing the minimum
withdrawal requirements for registered retirement income funds.
For more and more Canadians, caring for family not only means
making sure that kids have the best start possible in life; it means
being there for parents and other elderly relatives through their final
days. When someone we love is gravely ill, we should be free to
focus on what matters most. That is why we are extending the
employment insurance compassionate care benefits period from the
current six weeks to six months.
they need to create the products and the jobs of the future. That is
why I am pleased to announce that we will help to boost this sector's
productivity by introducing a 10-year investment incentive that will
allow a faster writeoff for machinery and equipment.
We are also launching the automotive supplier innovation
program. This investment of $100 million over the next five years
will support our auto parts industry as it meets the constantly
evolving demands of automakers and consumers.
● (1630)
[Translation]
We will continue our collaboration with the provinces and
territories in skills training. We will also bring employers and
educators together to make sure the skills of our graduates match the
needs of our economy.
For Canada’s best and brightest graduate and post-graduate
students, we will increase our support for internships that allow them
to focus on industry-related research.
[English]
Along with supporting Canadian families, our government's
priority has always been the creation and protection of opportunity
for Canadians. Indeed, since the depths of the global recession,
Canada has had one of the best job creation records in the G7. How
did we do this? We cut taxes and slashed red tape, and we will
continue to do both.
For students who need to work to put themselves through school,
the current in-study income limit of the Canada student loans
program is a barrier. We will remove it. We will also reduce the
program's parental contribution requirement to make it easier for
middle-class families to finance the education of their children.
It is no secret that small businesses are critical to the health of the
Canadian economy. They employ half of all Canadians in the private
sector and contribute over 40% of our private sector GDP. That is
why we have worked so hard to support them over the years and
continue to do so. We have lowered the small business tax rate to
11% and have increased the amount of annual income eligible for
this lower rate.
We will make permanent our foreign credentials recognition loans
program, which helps skilled newcomers cover the cost of having
their qualifications recognized here.
Today I am pleased to announce that our government will reduce
the tax rate further, all the way down to 9% in 2019. This will be the
largest tax-rate cut for small businesses in more than 25 years.
We will extend the working while on claim employment insurance
pilot project, which gives unemployed Canadians the ability to
accept some work, work that could lead to learning new skills or
even full-time employment while protecting their EI benefits.
[Translation]
[Translation]
Small businesses across the country will be able to use these
additional tax savings to fuel growth, invest in capital and hire more
people.
Canada is now attracting the best and brightest minds from around
the globe in science, research and development.
[English]
[English]
Manufacturing accounts for more than 10% of our GDP and over
60% of our merchandise exports and employs 1.7 million people all
across the country. Some have questioned the role of manufacturing
in Canada's future economic success. We do not. For this
government, the words “Made in Canada” continue to fuel pride
and inspire confidence, but we must give manufacturers the tools
To build on this success, we will make a significant new
investment of $1.3 billion over six years to the Canada Foundation
for Innovation. We will do that to ensure our researchers continue to
have the leading-edge lab facilities they need to be the best in the
world.
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April 21, 2015
The Budget
Although their work is about changing lives, some of it is about
saving them. A case in point, the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research has been searching for a solution to drug-resistant
infections. We will provide stable, multi-year funding for this
important work. To help meet the challenges of an aging population,
we will likewise provide stable, multi-year funding towards the
establishment of a Canadian centre for aging and brain health
innovation based at Baycrest Health Services in Toronto.
greenhouse gas emissions, proof that emissions can decline even as
economic growth continues.
To build on this record of good stewardship, economic action plan
2015 includes investments to enhance marine transportation safety in
the Arctic as well as to strengthen environmental protection, spill
prevention, and response measures in Canadian waters.
[Translation]
Since the era of the last spike, infrastructure has been vital to
Canada’s success as a country—which is why it is a key priority for
our government. Our new building Canada plan is the largest longterm federal investment in infrastructure in our country’s history.
[English]
Indeed, our investment in infrastructure is three times greater than
the previous government's, but building this great country is a
project that never ends. Anyone who lives in or near thriving, fastgrowing cities knows the reality of traffic gridlock, so I am pleased
to announce the launch of a major new infrastructure program, the
public transit fund. This program, increasing to $1 billion per year by
2019, will be a permanent source of funding for provinces and
municipalities for major public transit projects.
This fund will result in more money and more transit projects by
requiring a significant role for the private sector and by allowing for
a more flexible payment approach. It will also drive efficiency in the
design and costing of transit projects.
● (1635)
I want to address the dangerous world we live in. We say this
often, because it is true. Government has no greater responsibility
than protecting the lives of its people. Our government understands
the present dangers and is determined to respond responsibly,
without ambiguity or moral equivocation. Therefore, this budget
includes measures to ensure the continued safety of Canadians.
[Translation]
First, it must be said: The jihadist terrorists who proclaimed a socalled “caliphate” in the Middle East have declared war on Canada
and Canadians by name.
In response, we have taken up the fight both overseas and here at
home.
[Translation]
Canada is home to some of the world’s largest and most
experienced private-sector infrastructure investors. This fund will
require their involvement and expertise to deliver projects in a
manner that is affordable for taxpayers and efficient for commuters.
[English]
Canada’s prosperity has always been rooted in our wealth of
natural resources. From the bounty of our seas to the abundance of
the earth, these riches provide good, well-paying jobs for almost two
million Canadians.
Measures we will take to support this sector include the forest
innovation program and expanding market opportunities program to
help Canadian forestry companies adopt emerging technologies and
develop new markets for Canada’s wood product exports.
When people make working the land or the sea their life’s work,
they have earned everything they have put into that enterprise.
Therefore, we will also raise the lifetime capital gains exemption to
$1 million. We will do that for those who make their living in
farming or fishing.
We are proud of our record when it comes to the responsible
development of our natural resources, and we will continue to pursue
the vast opportunities with which we are blessed. At the same time,
we will only proceed with projects that are safe for Canadians and
safe for our environment. We take this stewardship seriously. We are
the only government in our nation’s history to reduce Canada’s
[English]
We are extremely grateful to the men and women in uniform who
put their lives on the line every day defending our freedoms. Our
government will ensure they continue to have what they need to
accomplish the dangerous tasks Canadians ask of them. We will
increase the annual escalator for National Defence’s budget to 3%
starting in 2017-18. As a result, our spending on Canada’s military
will increase by $11.8 billion over 10 years.
Meanwhile, the RCMP and CSIS will have new resources not
only to investigate and prevent further terrorist attacks on Canadian
soil but to protect vulnerable young people susceptible to the lies and
manipulation of ISIS recruiters, preventing them from throwing
away their lives by travelling abroad to join the terrorists’
reprehensible cause.
Threats to Canada are not limited to jihadis with guns and bombs.
We will also protect Canada’s most vital and essential services,
including financial systems and communication grids. Our government is also focused on making our streets and communities safer
from crime and putting the concerns of victims at the head of our
justice system.
April 21, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12851
The Budget
● (1640)
[Translation]
Our government has always supported strong communities, firm
in our belief that they are the foundation of the nation.
[English]
Central to making our communities great is the willingness of
Canadians to help others. Today I am happy to say we will make that
easier to do. We will create a capital gains tax exemption for publicspirited Canadians who wish to donate private shares or real estate
when the proceeds of their sale are directed to a charity.
For Canadians who support loved ones in other countries, we will
take steps to make sure more of their money makes it to the recipient,
and less is gobbled up in administrative costs.
[Translation]
To assist Canadian businesses that want to invest in developing
countries while helping pull those countries out of poverty, we will
establish a development finance initiative to provide financing,
technical assistance and business advisory services to firms
operating in developing countries.
[English]
This entire budget is about our unflinching march into the future,
so we must never forget our rich and inspiring history, because that
history guides our future. As our 150th anniversary approaches, we
have set aside substantial funds for the celebrations, both on a
national scale and at the community level.
Almost 150 years ago, the Fathers of Confederation had grand
dreams and ambitions. If they could see us now, I think they would
be pleased with the Canada we have become.
We have been through some trying times but now our hard work,
the hard work of all Canadians, is paying off. Those winds of
prosperity are powering us toward an even brighter future.
These are times of immense opportunity for Canada but also of
substantial risk. The choices we make can assure a secure and
prosperous Canada for generations to come. Together, let us make
the greatest country in the world even greater
● (1645)
Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of Finance for his first
budget.
I think we now understand why it took a couple of extra months to
write this document, because on the job growth strategy, he had to
borrow and in fact endorse the NDP's job growth strategy put
forward by our leader not 60 days ago. It is a curiosity as to why the
Conservatives voted against the NDP's idea to lower the small
business tax rate, why they voted against the NDP's idea to help out
the manufacturing sector, and why they voted against the idea to help
out innovation in this country. However, I will allow the minister to
answer that.
My question is the following. After 10 years of failed economic
strategy from these guys, with billions of dollars going out to
corporations, 400,000 lost manufacturing jobs, 300,000 more
Canadians out of work than before the recession, and youth
unemployment at twice the national rate, if handing out billions to
the wealthiest corporations does not work, why is the Conservative
government stubbornly going ahead and handing out billions more
to the wealthiest few with its income-splitting scheme?
Hon. Joe Oliver: Mr. Speaker, I have outlined the great success
story that is Canada. Integral to that, of course, is our low-tax plan
for jobs and growth—the 1.2 million net new jobs.
The New Democrats—who seem to like part of our budget, which
might suggest that perhaps they will vote for it, which we would of
course welcome—completely and continually attempt to mischaracterize the family benefit program. Two-thirds of the benefits of the
family program will go to low- and middle-income Canadians, 25%
to Canadians who earn less than $25,000. The TFSA, which is a
tremendous savings regime for Canadians, will benefit Canadians
right across the country, as does the flexibility and the choice
provided by the new RRIF structure.
Hon. Judy Sgro (York West, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in 2012, the
Conservatives said they had to raise the age for OAS because the
program was not financially stable, which we all know is not true.
That takes money away from each of Canada's poorest and most
vulnerable seniors.
This budget doubles the TFSA limit—
Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
Hon. Judy Sgro: Are they finished, Mr. Speaker?
This budget doubles the TFSA limit, but because the TFSA
contributions are not considered in calculating OAS payments, this
will result in allowing wealthier seniors to get billions of dollars in
extra OAS payments.
Why are the Conservatives so concerned with cutting OAS for
low-income seniors in order to give more OAS to the wealthier
seniors? Do they not realize how unfair and un-Canadian that is?
Hon. Joe Oliver: Mr. Speaker, the TFSA is the most popular
savings plan that has been introduced since the RRSP. Eleven
million Canadians partake in it and of those who have maximized
their contribution, 60% earn less than $60,000.
The member opposite would focus on one small part of the
program. It is not a problem at all, but if it ever becomes a problem
in the future, we will of course deal with it. Right now, what is
important is that this is providing savings opportunities for
Canadians right across the country from every walk of life, and
advantaging in particular our seniors.
12852
COMMONS DEBATES
April 21, 2015
The Budget
Mrs. Stella Ambler (Mississauga South, CPC): Mr. Speaker, on
behalf of all members of Parliament and all Canadians, I would like
to thank Canada's Minister of Finance for tabling this government's
11th consecutive budget.
As members may know, our government has done a lot for
families by putting more money into their pockets, by expanding
benefits such as the universal child care benefit, by introducing the
family tax cut, by raising child care exemptions, and by doubling the
children's fitness tax credit.
However, across Canada, and especially in my home province of
Ontario, Canadians are sick and tired of being stuck in a gridlock
that delays them from being with their loved ones or catching their
child's soccer game.
I ask the minister, what does economic action plan 2015 do to help
these frustrated commuters?
● (1650)
Hon. Joe Oliver: Mr. Speaker, the people of Mississauga South
are fortunate to have such a dedicated MP, the best in over 20 years.
Economic action plan 2015 builds upon our government's
impressive record of providing the largest and longest infrastructure
fund ever. We have listened to Canadians in our urban and suburban
centres across the country. They are tired of traffic gridlock and long
commutes that keep them from their families. I am proud that our
budget introduces the public transit fund which will provide amounts
rising to $1 billion every year for major public transit projects. It will
be a permanent source of financing and will bring in private sector
discipline so projects will be delivered on time and on budget.
Again, the opposition is opposed to an initiative that will create
jobs and economic growth, relieve traffic jams and reduce smog and
pollution.
[Translation]
Mr. Guy Caron (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I will start by congratulating our former
colleague, Olivia Chow, who fought for years to obtain from this
government more substantial investments in public transit.
When we look at recent NDP commitments, it is easy to see that
we proposed new investments in public transit. Since 2011, we have
been proposing that the rate of taxation for SMEs be reduced from
11% to 9%. We proposed extending the accelerated capital cost
allowance for the manufacturing industry. All these measures were
proposed by the NDP and are more or less tentatively included in
this budget.
Now that the Minister of Finance is implicitly admitting that the
Conservative approach has been a failure to date, why does he not
look to the social economy measures that the NDP is proposing, such
as the establishment of a national child care program with a
maximum daily rate of $15 and a $15 minimum wage for employees
of federal institutions?
At the end of the day, these measures will help middle-class
workers and also stimulate the economy.
Hon. Joe Oliver: Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled that the hon. member
supports some of the measures in our budget. I would ask him to
support our entire budget.
As far as low-income people are concerned, we created more than
1.2 million jobs; we ensured that more than one million low-income
Canadians no longer pay tax; we reduced overall taxes to the lowest
levels in 50 years; and we created the historic working income tax
benefit to help low-income Canadians who have a job. Transfer
payments to the provinces through the Canada social transfer have
never been so high.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
the minister obviously understands full well that, if we want to give
money to someone or something, then we have to take money away
from someone or something else, particularly when economic
growth is non-existent as is now the case.
In spite of this reality, the minister would have Canadians believe
that he is giving them gifts from on high. However, someone has to
pay the price. That is particularly true when the economy is stagnant
like it is now. For example, the government is going to spend billions
of dollars on income splitting, but it has also raised the age of
retirement. Does the government consider that a fair and balanced
approach?
I would also like to ask the minister whether those who experience
financial difficulties because of the increase in the retirement age
will be able to benefit from the increase in the contribution limit for
tax-free savings accounts.
● (1655)
Hon. Joe Oliver: Mr. Speaker, as I said, as far as registered
retirement income funds are concerned, we are offering choices by
reducing the minimum withdrawal amounts; for someone 45 and
older, it will still be roughly a third or more. We will reduce the tax
credit for small businesses and we are doubling the maximum
contribution to the TFSA. We are creating funds for major transit
projects and extending employment insurance compassionate care
benefits from 6 to 26 weeks. Finally, we are creating a home
accessibility tax credit for seniors and people with disabilities to
make their homes safer and more accessible.
[English]
Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I have a few comments before we adjourn the debate today.
It is remarkable to watch the Conservatives stand today. It must be
the eve of an election because suddenly they are consumed with the
notion that job growth might be an important thing for Canadians,
that the 400,000 lost manufacturing jobs are now consuming the
government, that the 300,000 more Canadians who are out of work
today than before the recession are suddenly an interest to
Canadians, that seniors, as was recommended by my friend from
Thunder Bay—Rainy River, in adjusting the way RRIFs work, are
now a concern for the Conservatives.
April 21, 2015
COMMONS DEBATES
12853
The Budget
Imitation is a nice form of flattery, but certainly the Conservatives
have missed an opportunity to give up on their stubborn and arrogant
push on the $2.5 billion income-splitting scheme that would do
nothing for 85% of Canadian families, overwhelmingly helps the
wealthiest few, and have compounded the problem today by adding
further help to the wealthiest Canadians by doubling the TFSA,
which all studies have shown us again skew toward wealthier
Canadians and away from those who need the help.
Canadians back to work. I look forward to illuminating some more
of these ideas for the House and Canadians. I look forward to debate
on the budget.
In the following days, weeks and months, the NDP will continue
to put ideas in front of Canadians. The Conservatives picked up a
few, but missed the big ones. We know Canadians are looking for
affordable child care. They are looking for true environmental
protection. They are looking for a manufacturing strategy to help get
The Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 83(2) the motion is
deemed adopted and the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at
2 p.m.
However, I will now move:
That the debate be now adjourned.
(Motion agreed to)
(The House adjourned at 5 p.m.)
CONTENTS
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Government Response to Petitions
Mr. Lukiwski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12799
Committees of the House
Canadian Heritage
Mr. Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
12799
...........................
Petitions
The Environment
Ms. Crowder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Democratic Reform
Ms. Crowder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Agriculture
Ms. Crowder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Impaired Driving
Mr. Warawa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sex Selection
Mr. Warawa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Public Transit
Ms. Sitsabaiesan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Agriculture
Mr. Casey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Violence Against Women
Mr. Kellway . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Consumer Protection
Mrs. Day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Agriculture
Mrs. Day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Prostitution
Mr. Benoit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Genetically Modified Foods
Mr. Benoit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sex Selection
Mr. Benoit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Questions on the Order Paper
Mr. Lukiwski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12799
12799
12799
12799
12799
12800
12800
12810
12811
12811
12813
12814
12814
12814
12817
12817
12818
12818
12821
12821
12822
12822
12823
12824
12825
12826
12826
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
12800
Legion of Honour
Mr. Richards. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12828
12800
World Intellectual Property Day
Ms. Borg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12828
12800
Canada-India Relations
Mr. Shory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12828
Citizenship and Immigration
Ms. Adams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12829
12800
Earth Week
Mr. McColeman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12829
12800
National Volunteer Week
Mrs. Sellah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12829
Islamic State
Mr. Aspin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12829
Live Below the Line
Mr. Hawn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12829
Champlain Bridge
Mr. Mai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12830
Jewish Historical Events
Mr. Adler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12830
Member for British Columbia Southern Interior
Mr. Atamanenko. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12830
Taxation
Mr. Braid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12830
Bud Ings
Mr. MacAulay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12831
12800
12800
GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Drug-Free Prisons Act
Bill C-12. Third reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Sims . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Crowder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Côté . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dusseault . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Angus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Côté . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Mai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dusseault . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Boivin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Mourani . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dusseault . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Stewart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Sandhu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dusseault . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Angus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Cullen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harris (St. John's East) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dubé . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Sitsabaiesan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Sandhu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Crowder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Wallace. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dusseault . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Sandhu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Borg . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Angus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Albrecht . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12801
12801
12802
12803
12803
12804
12805
12805
12806
12807
12807
12807
12810
Taxation
Mr. Carmichael . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12831
Oral Questions
Mr. Julian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12831
Taxation
Mr. Gourde . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12831
ORAL QUESTIONS
Ethics
Mr. Mulcair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Mulcair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Mulcair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Public Safety
Mr. Mulcair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Mulcair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12831
12831
12832
12832
12832
12832
12832
12832
12832
12832
Taxation
Mr. Trudeau . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Trudeau . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Trudeau . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12832
12832
12833
12833
12833
12833
Ethics
Mr. Angus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Calandra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Angus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Calandra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Péclet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Calandra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Boulerice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Calandra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12833
12833
12833
12833
12833
12833
12834
12834
Food Safety
Ms. Brosseau . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. McLeod . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Brosseau . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. McLeod . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Allen (Welland) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. McLeod . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12834
12834
12834
12834
12834
12834
Labour
Ms. Liu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Leitch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Cash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Leitch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12835
12835
12835
12835
National Defence
Ms. Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Murray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12835
12835
12835
12835
Food Safety
Mr. Scarpaleggia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. McLeod . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12835
12835
National Defence
Ms. Michaud . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harris (St. John's East) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harris (St. John's East) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Michaud . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kenney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12836
12836
12836
12836
12836
12836
12836
12836
The Economy
Mr. McColeman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Saxton. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12836
12836
Government Appointments
Ms. Sitsabaiesan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Clement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Ravignat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Clement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12837
12837
12837
12837
The Environment
Ms. Leslie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Aglukkaq . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Leslie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Aglukkaq . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12837
12837
12837
12837
Aboriginal Affairs
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Leitch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12837
12837
Justice
Mr. Casey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. MacKay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12838
12838
Status of Women
Ms. Freeman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Glover . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12838
12838
Marine Atlantic
Mr. Cleary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Raitt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12838
12838
Taxation
Mr. Cannan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Bergen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12838
12838
Rail Transportation
Mr. Vaughan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Raitt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12839
12839
Housing
Mr. Aubin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Holder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12839
12839
Northern Development
Mr. Leef . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Aglukkaq . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12839
12839
Intergovernmental Relations
Mr. Plamondon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Poilievre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12839
12839
Citizenship and Immigration
Mrs. Mourani . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Menegakis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12839
12840
GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Drug-Free Prisons Act
Bill C-12. Third reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Côté . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Easter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Mourani . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Péclet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Rousseau . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Sellah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Péclet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lapointe. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12840
12840
12840
12841
12841
12842
12843
12843
12844
12844
Ms. Freeman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Côté . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Doré Lefebvre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed) . .
12845
12846
12846
12847
The Budget
Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Mr. Oliver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Cullen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Sgro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Ambler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Caron . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Scarpaleggia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Cullen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Motion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(Motion agreed to) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12847
12847
12851
12851
12852
12852
12852
12852
12853
12853
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