House of Commons Debates Thursday, February 28, 2013 VOLUME 146 NUMBER 216

House of Commons Debates Thursday, February 28, 2013 VOLUME 146 NUMBER 216
House of Commons Debates
VOLUME 146
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NUMBER 216
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1st SESSION
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OFFICIAL REPORT
(HANSARD)
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer
41st PARLIAMENT
CONTENTS
(Table of Contents appears at back of this issue.)
14409
HOUSE OF COMMONS
Thursday, February 28, 2013
The House met at 10 a.m.
Prayers
ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
● (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 29 petitions.
***
[Translation]
INTERPARLIAMENTARY DELEGATIONS
Hon. Mauril Bélanger (Ottawa—Vanier, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present, in
both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation of the
Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association respecting its bilateral
mission to the Republic of Kenya and the Republic of Malawi, held
from January 19 to 26, 2013.
The delegation travelled to Kenya to speak with our parliamentary
colleagues about the importance of holding a transparent election
that is free from violence. The election will take place next week.
***
[English]
Mr. Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the
New Democratic Party is very supportive of deepening and
broadening Canadian economic relations with Japan. We share the
view that closer economic relations between Canada and Japan can
lead to greater prosperity for the people of both nations. We believe
that pursuing an effective economic partnership agreement between
our two countries is an important means to this end, and we support
in principle and in many specifics the findings and recommendations
contained in the report.
However, evidence received by the committee makes it clear that
economic progress for Canada is dependent on more than simply
signing an agreement. Economic benefits will accrue fully to Canada
only if the necessary policy and structural supports are provided.
Careful and skilful negotiations are essential to achieve an economic
partnership agreement that preserves democratically determined
policy making, recognizes the importance of both private and public
interests, and deals successfully with the real issues at hand.
That is why the New Democrats have prepared a supplemental
report containing some 17 additional recommendations to ensure that
economic relations with Japan truly result in a better economy,
environment and society.
JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Mr. Mike Wallace (Burlington, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I have the
honour to present, in both official languages, the 19th report of the
Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in relation to Bill
C-273, an act to amend the Criminal Code (cyberbullying).
The committee has studied the bill and has recommended to the
House not to proceed further with the bill.
***
COMMITTEES OF THE HOUSE
INTERNATIONAL TRADE
Hon. Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead, CPC): Mr. Speaker, with a
continuing desire to grow our economy and create more jobs for
Canadians by way of international trade, I have the honour to
present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing
Committee on International Trade, a report of an economic
partnership agreement between Canada and Japan. Japan is the
third-largest economy in the world and, as such, very important to
Canada.
Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the
government table a comprehensive response to this report.
PETITIONS
AFGHANISTAN
Mr. Corneliu Chisu (Pickering—Scarborough East, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by a further 200
Afghani Canadians, including those in my riding of Pickering—
Scarborough East, calling for the establishment of a consular and
immigration office in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The petitioners note, among other things, the deteriorating
conditions in the Islamabad office in Pakistan, which currently
handles many of the consular and immigration requests originating
in Afghanistan.
14410
COMMONS DEBATES
February 28, 2013
Government Orders
[Translation]
HOUSING
Mounted Police is one of great interest to Canadians and one I am
glad to have a chance to speak about today.
Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault (Sherbrooke, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
am pleased to present a petition from a number of people in Regina,
Saskatchewan. The petition they sent to me is calling for a housing
strategy for Canada.
Canadians have high expectations of the RCMP. They expect the
men and women of the RCMP to serve them with honour and
integrity. We need them to serve us and protect us and protect public
safety. We ask them to put their lives on the line to protect us.
I am very proud to present it on their behalf in support of this
strategy, which the government should put in place to ensure that
everyone has access to affordable, decent and quality housing.
The RCMP officer in the red uniform, the Mountie, is an iconic
symbol of Canada. The force's service to Canadians is, on the whole,
exemplary. It is an institution in which we take great pride. It is a
symbol of Canada around the world, known to citizens of different
countries all over the world.
[English]
EXPERIMENTAL LAKES AREA
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
am pleased to present a petition signed by many Manitobans who are
asking the government to reverse its decision to close the ELA
research station.
The ELA provides essential scientific knowledge for the
development of our national and international policies that ensure
the future health of fresh waters. A good example of that would be
our very own Lake Winnipeg and the amount of concern that many
residents have in regard to its future.
SEX SELECTION
Mr. Bev Shipley (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, I have a petition from a number of residents in Lambton—
Kent—Middlesex calling on the House to condemn the discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy
termination. Sex selection is condemned by all national political
parties, and millions of girls have been lost through sex selection.
Parliament needs to condemn this worst form of discrimination
against females.
***
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]
ENHANCING ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
ACCOUNTABILITY ACT
The House resumed from February 12 consideration of the
motion that Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police Act and to make related and consequential
amendments to other Acts, be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Matthew Kellway (Beaches—East York, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak about Bill C-42.
The issue of enhanced accountability for the Royal Canadian
However, recent high-profile incidents, including complaints of
sexual harassment lodged by current and former female RCMP
officers and, importantly, the failure to discipline officers who step
outside the bounds of the law, show that there are deep underlying
issues with respect to the culture of the RCMP. It is being called, in
some circles, dysfunctional. It is unanimously recognized that it is a
culture that needs to be changed dramatically.
Speaking to the CBC in November, RCMP Commissioner
Paulson referred to the institution as “...the culture of harassment,
it's the culture of misuse of authority”. So much so is this the case
that, regrettably, public confidence in the RCMP has been shaken. A
change in the accountability framework for the RCMP is long
overdue.
We witnessed on television, and in the news, the concerns and
complaints of many former and current RCMP employees, mainly
women, talking about their concerns with the culture and the lack of
response to their concerns and complaints. These are clearly difficult
issues that have had profound effects on the careers and lives of
these RCMP officers and former officers.
Speaking of Bill C-42, the Minister of Public Safety has stated:
...Canadians' confidence in the RCMP has been tested over the past few years and
this legislation will ensure that the RCMP is fully accountable for its actions and
is open and transparent in its service to Canadians.
However, Bill C-42 does not lead to more independent and
transparent oversight of the RCMP. It is simply the same body that
reports non-binding recommendations to the minister, but with a new
name.
Bill C-42 is the Conservative government's take on what
accountability should look like, but on this side of the House, we
have an entirely different perspective. We actually understand
accountability, what it means and how valuable it is, and we believe
in it. We find Bill C-42 wanting because of its lack of accountability.
● (1010)
Although we agree with the principle of the bill, what we find is
that the bill is deeply flawed in its execution. We have a piece of
legislation here that fails to recognize either the needs of RCMP
officers who have experienced harassment in the workplace or the
very reasonable and appropriate expectation of Canadians of civilian
oversight of a police body. This is the key to improving
accountability in this institution; that is, civilian oversight and
transparency.
February 28, 2013
COMMONS DEBATES
14411
Government Orders
We voted in favour of the bill at second reading, hoping that the
bill's flaws would be addressed in committee. Unfortunately, true to
form, the Conservatives voted down every amendment the NDP
proposed. The result is that we have missed an opportunity to fix the
glaring holes in the bill that we identified at second reading, glaring
holes that many witnesses at committee were able to identify and
expound upon.
Some of the amendments we proposed at committee included
these few things that I think members of the House should find
critically important to a bill that purports to bring accountability and
transparency to a policing institution. They included adding
mandatory harassment training for RCMP members and specifically
to lodge that requirement in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Act; ensuring a full independent civilian review body to investigate
complaints against the RCMP; adding a provision to create a
national civilian investigative body, which would avoid police
investigating police; and creating more balanced human resource
policies by removing some of the more draconian and despotic
powers proposed for the RCMP commissioner, and by strengthening
the external review committee in cases involving possible dismissal
from the force.
The new investigative framework for these incidents proposed in
Bill C-42 is really just a patchwork system. It would differ from
province to province. A province would choose to appoint an
investigative body or a police force or would leave the RCMP to
either refer the investigation to another police force or to even
conduct the investigation itself. These provisions simply allow a
continuation of the current practice of police investigating police. It
is clearly a problematic practice and clearly is a practice that got this
institution into the issues it is in now. That, fundamentally, is one of
the key things that needs to be changed under the bill, but it is not.
Unfortunately, a fully independent national watchdog agency is not
part of this legislation. Although independent civilian oversight is
needed, the bill fails to deliver that independent civilian oversight.
Bill C-42 not only fails to deliver that oversight, it concentrates
considerable power in the hands of the commissioner, who would be
granted the authority to appoint and dismiss officers and to establish
a system of investigation and resolution of harassment complaints.
Rather than taking responsibility for addressing problems within the
RCMP, the minister has decided to simply give this responsibility
over to the commissioner.
The Conservatives turned down all of those very reasonable
proposals to amend Bill C-42. As a result, the bill fails to create a
strong independent civilian oversight body for the RCMP such as—
and this is important to note—the one proposed in the 2006
O'Connor inquiry or the 2007 recommendations of the Task Force on
Governance and Cultural Change in the RCMP.
The NDP feels that a more balanced approach would involve
strengthening the external review committee rather than concentrating the power to dismiss officers in the hands of a single individual.
However, again, all proposed amendments were rejected at
committee.
The proposed new civilian review and complaints commission
would replace the Commission for Public Complaints Against the
RCMP and would have greater authority to conduct investigations,
gather evidence and materials and compel testimony. Admittedly,
that is a step in the right direction.
RCMP officers carry out difficult and dangerous work at
considerable risk to themselves to protect Canadians. Some have
died in this service, and that is a profound tragedy for all Canadians
and particularly for the families of those officers.
However, the new body would not report to Parliament, not to us,
but to the commissioner and to the minister, so this is most
emphatically not an independent organization. It most emphatically
does not bring about the purported goals of the bill, which are to
bring transparency and accountability to this institution.
As well, the commission's findings would be non-binding. Indeed,
this represents a missed opportunity to have a fully independent
complaints commission that would be accountable to all Canadians
and not just the Minister of Public Safety.
The word “accountability” is one the government loves to use. It
throws it about all the time. However, I do not think it has quite
grasped the concept. In fact, it has cheapened and undermined it and
simply does not value it.
● (1015)
The bill purports to bring accountability to a police institution.
That is, I think, sufficient evidence that the government fundamentally does not believe in accountability and does not act in
accordance with the principles of accountability. We simply do not
see it in the bill.
This new body would have observer status only in investigations
of serious incidents involving the RCMP. This is evidence of not
grasping the concept of accountability.
The question for us to contemplate in this House is what those
RCMP police officers are owed, in return, from us, yet we have so
far even failed to create an open and respectful workplace
environment for all members, which all Canadian workers are
entitled to. In the circumstances of the police, who put their lives on
the line and from time to time tragically lose their lives in that
service, it is an absolute minimum expectation in any kind of tacit
contract with members of the RCMP.
However, what we have are officers who experience harassment in
the workplace and are fearful about even speaking up. They are
fearful of losing their jobs, in fact. Many have even left their jobs
because of these circumstances in the workplace.
● (1020)
For a bill that was supposedly introduced as a response to sexual
harassment complaints brought forward by female RCMP officers,
Bill C-42 is strangely silent on that very specific but critically
important issue. We have female officers who have been serving the
Canadian public in the RCMP for almost 40 years. In that time we
have failed to bring about protections from this type of abuse, which
is barred under Canadian human rights codes and provincial human
rights codes and which all workers across the country in all
workplaces and jurisdictions are entitled to.
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COMMONS DEBATES
February 28, 2013
Government Orders
In 2013, we have a Conservative government that is missing an
opportunity to use this legislation to create a workplace in which
RCMP officers, like all workers, should feel safe in bringing forward
harassment complaints. NDP members on the public safety
committee brought forward an amendment to the bill that would
make harassment training mandatory for RCMP officers. However,
just like every other amendment, the Conservatives voted it down.
The RCMP needs a clear anti-harassment policy that will set the
standard for behaviour in the force. This would allow for a fair
disciplinary process in cases where harassment occurs. Despite the
NDP's best efforts, the government has passed up this opportunity to
address that issue in the bill.
Earlier this month, the Commission for Public Complaints Against
the RCMP released its report on issues of workplace harassment
within the RCMP. The report had this to say:
The RCMP bears a responsibility to foster public trust to the extent possible, and
when the public perceives that the organization is unwilling to adequately protect and
discipline its own employees, it is difficult to see how their interactions with the
police and trust in the organization would remain unaffected. It is for this reason that
swift and effective action must be taken by the RCMP in terms of dealing with
workplace conflict and harassment, and taken in a manner that engenders the
confidence of both members and the public.
We are not seeing swift and effective action here. We are not
seeing action at all.
We on this side of the House believe that trust in the RCMP, for
the officers and the public, is a critically important issue. Important
legislative steps can be taken to enhance trust and accountability for
the RCMP and for Canadians. However, Bill C-42 falls short of this
mark. It is unfortunate that in their rush to pass this bill, the
Conservatives did not even take time to make sure that the new
legislation ensured that the RCMP and the public were getting the
transparent and independent oversight they expect and deserve.
The men and women of the RCMP provide a vital service to all
Canadians. They carry out this service in difficult and often
dangerous situations, putting themselves in harm's way to protect
others. Bill C-42 is a missed opportunity to protect them in return.
They deserve the protection of independent oversight, and they
should not be afraid to speak out about harassment in the workplace.
The members of the RCMP deserve to know that when one of their
own breaks the rules, that person will be held accountable.
Canadians need to see this accountability to enhance the trust
between the police force and the members of the public, a trust that
has been weakened by recent incidents.
The men and women of the RCMP deserve better than what Bill
C-42 has to offer. The Canadian public deserves better. Most
certainly the women who work for the RCMP have a right to a
workplace free from sexual harassment, and indeed, harassment of
all kinds. They need and deserve our protection. Bill C-42 fails to
adequately provide that protection and should, for that reason alone,
be rejected by this House.
● (1025)
Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I
thank my colleague for his speech and his dedication on the justice
committee.
As he is aware, I am a retired member of the RCMP. I spoke with
two members of the RCMP yesterday who feel that this bill has been
a long time coming. The RCMP has been unable to do anything with
regard to discipline, because it has not been there. Since 1873, the
RCMP, and specifically the commissioner, have not had the
opportunity to deal with anything. Bill C-42 would provide the
commissioner of the RCMP with the authority to dismiss someone if
the person is found to have caused a breach under the RCMP Act
and/or the Criminal Code.
Does the member think that the commissioner of the RCMP
should have the authority to remove someone who breaches either
the RCMP Act or the Criminal Code, or does he believe that sending
it to an independent body, which will have no authority to remove
the member, would be better?
● (1030)
Mr. Matthew Kellway: Mr. Speaker, I have a point of
clarification, for the record. I am not on the justice committee. I
now sit on the Standing Committee on Health.
There were a couple of issues in the question. First, the member
raised a hypothetical issue of an independent review body not being
able to discipline or dismiss a member. I am not prepared to address
a hypothetical situation. What I am prepared to address is what the
government has done to redress the circumstances that Canadians
surely find offensive. Whether Canadians work for the police, in
retail, or the industrial sector, it does not matter; they have an
expectation that they can work in a workplace where they are
protected, by law, from harassment so that they can go to work and
feel safe, do their jobs and return home to their families at night. For
the RCMP, these days, unfortunately, that is not the case.
We know that there have been many charges of sexual harassment
raised by members and former members of the RCMP. There needs
to be a transparent process for handling those charges and there
needs to be accountability within that organization. It is not
reasonable to lodge all of that authority with the commissioner.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
Liberals agree in the sense that there needs to be and always can be
more transparency and accountability. The issue of harassment and
bullying in the workforce among all the different professions is, of
course, of great concern.
In committee, and even at second reading, there are ideas and
thoughts on how legislation could be improved. There was a lost
opportunity by the government in not necessarily taking the action it
should have taken to directly deal in more tangible, concrete ways
with sexual harassment. I would add workplace bullying, because it
takes place in significant ways. We also need to recognize that what
we are really talking about is a very small percentage of RCMP
personnel that actually carry out such activities. A vast majority, 95%
plus, actually do fabulous jobs in terms of their dedication to the
force.
I am curious to know if the member thinks there would be any
benefit whatsoever in supporting the bill at this stage. Does he see
any benefit from the bill?
February 28, 2013
COMMONS DEBATES
14413
Government Orders
Mr. Matthew Kellway: Mr. Speaker, the fundamental issue in
what the legislation needs to do is change the culture of the
institution. Clearly, there are issues within that culture. However, we
have a government on that side that is effectively a one-trick pony. It
knows only the stick. It knows only deterrence and punishment.
The provisions of the bill and the failure to bring about a process
of an independent civilian oversight of the institution is a failure to
get at the root of the problem, which is about changing the culture of
the institution.
The notion that putting more power into the hands of the
commissioner to fire individual officers in order to curb harassment
would somehow change the culture of that organization shows a true
lack of understanding of organizations and workplaces and shows a
true lack of understanding for the pernicious effect of sexual
harassment upon workers.
I am surprised that the member down the way would stand and
begin his discussion with, effectively, a dismissal of the problem.
The NDP and Canadians recognize that there is an issue . We know,
of course, that there are a limited number of cases, but it is a
critically important issue that needs to be addressed. Canadians
understand that workplaces need to be safe and that workers,
whether they are RCMP or others, need to feel that they can go to
work and be free from sexual harassment. That means that the
culture of the RCMP needs to be changed, and it needs to be
changed through this legislation, which is why we welcomed the
legislation being brought forward.
● (1035)
without appropriate civilian oversight, and it would fail to bring
comfort to those people in the RCMP who are concerned about
having a workplace that is free from harassment in any form.
Mr. Wayne Marston (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, there are times in debates in this House that speak to
times and periods in our own lives. I was pleased to hear from the
member for Kootenay—Columbia, who is an RCMP officer and
who can bring to this debate a very clear perspective from inside the
organization.
In my lifetime, as a young boy growing up in a town called Plaster
Rock, New Brunswick, RCMP officers enforced the law in our
province. My family had occasion to deal with them. When I was
very young, my sister died at the hands of a person or persons
unknown. It turned out to be a very ill family member.
For a long time afterwards my father talked about the investigators
from the RCMP who handled that investigation. Initially he was
taken in for questioning, and he talked about how professionally he,
a man who was broken-hearted, who had just lost a daughter, was
handled. In fact, that particular incident would affect the rest of his
life. He became an alcoholic.
Again my family would interact with RCMP officers, who would
pick him up from time to time, as they should and as they needed to
do, but there was always a sense that they handled my father with a
kind of dignity that perhaps they might not have under other
circumstances. I do not know.
[Translation]
Ms. Paulina Ayala (Honoré-Mercier, NDP): Mr. Speaker, as a
mother and a member of the public, I believe we have a right to
transparent police investigations. That is fundamental.
For a young boy growing up, my ideal was to become an RCMP
officer. Well, if members look at me, I am wearing glasses and I am
too doggone short to be an RCMP officer, so I had to forgo that, but I
had this great interest in the RCMP, and a great respect for them, for
an awful long time.
Could my colleague explain the points raised by the NDP about
this bill, in particular the idea that investigations should be carried
out independently so that the public can be sure that those at fault
will receive due punishment and so that the atmosphere of trust and
the atmosphere within the RCMP are tolerable for whistleblowers?
I still respect the RCMP, although they have fallen on difficult
times. There is a cultural change that has happened, at least in my
view, over the last number of years, relative to how they treat one
another. We have heard those reports.
Could my colleague expand on that idea?
[English]
Mr. Matthew Kellway: Mr. Speaker, there is very little in the bill
that would enhance that protection. The fundamental mechanism that
would be used is threat. It is by lodging into the person of the
commissioner, and ultimately the Minister of Public Safety, the
ability to dismiss RCMP officers who have breached the workplace
rules and, in some cases, have broken laws. That is all they would
have. It would not go to the culture of the issue.
I recall, I believe it was in the 1970s, a group that was referred to
as the "dirty tricks" squad. There was an investigation, and as I
understand it, that particular group was disbanded.
The warning signs were there for some time about things that
would later become almost institutionalized within the RCMP. Going
back to Justice O'Connor in the Maher Arar case, Justice O'Connor
made some very significant recommendations to the RCMP at that
time, things that they needed to address, things that the government
needed to address. That has gone wanting, as far as I am concerned.
What we expected to see included in the bill to change the culture
were such things as a mandatory harassment policy, mandatory
harassment training for RCMP members and a clear, consistent,
transparent, accountable investigation process.
Members will recall Bill C-38 in the last Parliament. It started to
address this issue, and of course it was lost to the election cycle, as
so many things are.
Instead we have a patchwork of investigation processes. Province
by province, they can figure out how to do this. The options would
still include, very problematically, police investigating police; very
problematically, it would include the RCMP investigating itself
Going back to my friend from Kootenay—Columbia, who brings
to this place a particular view of this institution and perhaps of the
problems and of some solutions, I am looking forward to listening to
his commentary as the day unfolds.
14414
COMMONS DEBATES
February 28, 2013
Government Orders
In my previous life as a union leader, one of the things that we had
to deal with quite often was harassment in the workplace. We would
get together with the company and work on strategies for education
of the members who were involved with such things.
Within the union movement itself, I can recall that in the 1980s
we worked hard dealing with our own conferences and doing our
own internal work on the respect that needed to be paid to one
another.
The key to it, in both of those cases, was education. I have a little
saying: “With knowledge comes responsibility”. We have the
knowledge today of the accusations and abuses that it is suggested
have happened within the RCMP. We have enough knowledge to
know that something of significance has to be done.
Our party was concerned about this bill because we felt it did not
go far enough. During the committee stage, we made proposals for
changes to the bill. For instance, a change that is needed is to add
mandatory harassment training for RCMP officers.
● (1040)
Every single individual who works with the public and who works
under the kind of pressure that these officers work under needs to
have that training.
Again reflecting back on my own life, there was a time I worked
for the Canadian National Railway as a signal maintainer. In Niagara
Falls there was a place called Thorold Stone Road that some
members here will know of. Four people were killed there, struck by
trains while driving through.
My point is that day in and day out, our RCMP, our police officers
and our fire departments deal with the aftermath of horrific events.
Today I read in the newspaper that there was a six-car pileup in
Hamilton because of the storm. Quite often the first on the scene is a
police officer, who has to deal with the pressures that come from
those situations. If we consider that pressure for a moment, it does
not justify harassment, but in some cases it might help to explain it.
It might help us to understand what officers' lives are like and the
problems that they take home with them.
In any situation in the workplace, we have to give employees the
tools they need to deal with those situations. In the case of the
RCMP, I and our party have stressed the need for mandatory
training. We also believe there should be a civilian body involved,
someone at arm's length. Often we are too close to issues and
problems ourselves and keep repeating the same mistakes and not
addressing them in a fashion that is helpful to the situation, whereas
a civilian board at arm's length would have the capacity to bring a
different perspective to the situation. It is really important that the
government should pause and look at this idea and give serious
consideration to implementing civilian oversight.
In our view, some of the human resources policies we see are
overly dramatic and perhaps even draconian in what they offer, but I
am not going to dig too far into that because I do not want this to
become a bashing of the RCMP. My party and I have great respect
for this organization, but part of our responsibility in this place is to
do the right thing to help that organization make the corrections
deemed necessary by the government.
The government has made an attempt with this bill to start a
process, but we do not think it has gone far enough. Witnesses at the
committee made recommendations that the government did not see
fit to follow through on, any more than it did for things proposed by
our party at committee.
As I recall, the bill was put forward in June 2012. It referred to
enhancing trust and restoring accountability to the RCMP. Accountability will need the oversight that was talked about. It will need
someone at arm's length.
There are proposals in the bill to give more power to the
superintendent in charge. The number one officer is going to be
given authority where what I would call due diligence should come
into play.
I am a great believer in people's right to be heard. People in the
workplace, whether they are RCMP officers or regular workers in a
plant, make mistakes and do things wrong, and there may be an
arbitrary situation in which an employer says, “You're fired”. I
worked for Bell Canada, which many times, in my opinion, fired
people too quickly. Bell did not even listen to the story in those days.
Hopefully that has changed—it has been almost 20 years since I was
there—but the reality was that workers would be called on the
carpet, the accusation would be made, and they were fired. Then,
along with the union, they had to prepare a case to come back to
correct the accusation. It is very concerning when that kind of power
is vested in one manager or one superintendent in a workplace.
● (1045)
When there is a situation like with the allegations about the
RCMP, which talk about a systemic problem that has had to have
developed over many years, I remind members again of the pressures
that these individuals live under. I want everybody to pause and
think about it. It does not justify misbehaviour on the part of workers
or officers, but we need to have a trail of due diligence that allows
people to look at and understand the situation and help the officers
retain their position and correct the behaviour with which people
have problems.
● (1050)
As I look through some of the statements from our party and our
view of things that could happen, we need the minister to prioritize
the issue of sexual harassment. This is the part of the story that has
received a lot of media attention. In my experience, the media
sometimes make a flashpoint of an issue in which other underlying
related or cultural issues in an organization are overlooked because
the focus is drawn so heatedly on that point. Sexual harassment in
any form in any place, workplace or otherwise, is certainly not
acceptable and must be addressed.
However, we can look at the existence of police officers in general
and the military-style training they have. Again, I refer back to 19631964 when I was a sapper apprentice in the Canadian army. At that
time hazing took place. It was considered part of becoming a soldier.
We had to be tough enough to put up with whatever happened,
whatever was done. Fortunately, the environment I was in did not
contain any sexual harassment, but there were other forms of it. Over
time, the military dealt with that.
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My understanding is that the world today in the military is entirely
different. In the military-style training that police officers receive, the
environment for that kind of culture is there, and it is just a very
short distance between harassment or the buddy-buddy system
where people are harassed in good-natured fun.
When women are introduced into the force, their sensibilities
relative to what men consider jokes are often greatly different, in
most instances. What a man may think is very humourous may
tragically hurt a woman. Women live in an environment where the
males in the environment have the perceived power in many
instances, and they perceive themselves as not having the power to
push back. If we listen to the accounts that have been made public by
women officers in the RCMP, we hear that is exactly what they have
felt happened. They were marginalized, troubled by what happened
to them. When they went to superiors for assistance, they felt they
did not receive the respect they deserved.
However, I go back to the question of whether the people they
went to really had the training, understanding and development of
sensitivity for what the women faced. Did they really and truly
understand? It is easy to say that they neglected and ignored, but
maybe they did not have a true understanding of the damage being
done.
We have to go back to education and to changing the system that
has evolved in such a negative way. We have to give the tools to the
RCMP as a whole to begin to address this problem. We cannot fix
these things from the outside. We can start doctoring and putting
band-aids on it, but the culture needs to evolve itself. Again, we need
sensitivity training of relationships between men and women in the
workplace, and as well visible minorities, because that is another
new thing within the RCMP. All of these things are added to the dayto-day pressures that these good officers live under and the culture
that has sadly reached the point it has, a point where we have
lawsuits and individuals going very public with their stories.
From my own experiences as a representative in the trade union
movement, the last thing harassed people want to do is to make that
public. In their minds, they look at it just like bullying in a
schoolyard and the people will do it again, or they will lose the
respect of their co-workers. All of those things need to be addressed.
● (1055)
When the bill went before the committee, the NDP went to
committee in good faith. We understood that the situation had to
addressed. We cannot support the bill in its present form because it
does not go far enough.
The government has the idea that power can be vested in one
person, that person being the head of the RCMP. The government
believes that individual will create the environment. That individual
is going to need exterior help, such as experts who deal with
harassment situations and training experts to assist the people in
charge of individual departments. A comprehensive training cycle
has to be put in place or this will not work.
It has taken many years for this to evolve. We never heard stories
like this before, and it is not because people were silent. We never
heard about it because it was not happening. The pressure on
modern-day police forces is beyond anything.
Being a child of the fifties, I am from the days when we did not
lock our houses or our cars. Police officers in those days very rarely
faced somebody with a firearm. The environment we lived in was
different. Again, I want to stress that I am not justifying what has
happened, but stress has to be part of the equation so we can
understand what is happening to these officers and the spillover
effect of that evolving negative culture. It totally is out of hand.
Many women RCMP officers have come forward, and I
encourage all of them to come forward. They need to understand
that there are people who sincerely want to see change. We want to
correct the tarnished record of the RCMP. We also want those in
charge of the RCMP to have the tools they need to create and sustain
a healthy workplace, and I cannot stress that enough.
Members can probably tell that I speak with a great deal of
sadness and that is because, as I said earlier, I wanted to become an
RCMP officer, but that was a long time ago. I am talking the fifties.
The NDP went to committee in a sincere attempt to make the bill
better. We can do better for our RCMP so that we can remain proud
of the people who work so hard for us and put their lives at risk, but
work in a difficult environment. There is a culture in the RCMP that
has been tainted, and we have to do everything we can to fix that.
Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
there are a couple of things we should recognize. The RCMP has
been our national police force since 1873, and on August 30 of this
year it will have existed for 140 years. Another thing to recognize is
that on September 23, 1974, the first female troop went through
Depot, and since that time it has evolved from full 32 women troops
down to integrated troops to a whole bunch of things. I do agree that
the RCMP needs to recognize that transformation.
I hear what the opposition is saying, but the unfortunate part of the
entire process is that the RCMP falls under its own federal statute,
which is the RCMP Act. No one in the House can change that unless
we want to remove the RCMP Act. As a result of that, the
commissioner, and only the commissioner, has the authority to deal
with things within the RCMP Act. Whether it be implementing
programs or removing someone from the force or a number of
things, they fall under the RCMP Act.
Recognizing that the commissioner is the totalitary of the RCMP
Act, would my colleague agree that the commissioner is the one who
needs to implement the programs that need to be brought forward to
recognize the issues that the RCMP has, and whether we like it or
not, the commissioner is the only person who can provide discipline
to RCMP members?
● (1100)
Mr. Wayne Marston: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for
Kootenay—Columbia for his service prior to coming here. Within
the question he just put to me, I hear the sense of his loyalty,
something I greatly respect.
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In the context of vesting the power with the commissioner, he will
have the responsibility of implementing whatever we do, but we can
alter the RCMP Act. We can alter the regulations that are part of the
act, which would give direction to the commissioner and other folks
in the RCMP who would deal with this situation.
I recall that In 1974 women first took part in the RCMP. I was just
beginning my career in the labour movement and I remember how
proud my sisters at Bell Canada were of the fact that women were
taking their places.
Women's service in the RCMP or in the military has evolved over
the last 30 or 35 years in a way most people did not think was
possible. The environment has changed. Equipment within the
military and the RCMP has changed. However, it takes people with
exceptional skills to deal with that life, not only during the day but
when they go home.
As I said in my speech, education is the key to this situation:
education of the folks who have created the problem, because
obviously there is a place they have to go; education for the folks
who are on the receiving end, with assistance, help, peer counselling;
and the HR people who administer whatever the commissioner
brings forward.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
when I posed a question earlier, the member asked where the Liberal
Party might be on this. It is important for us to recognize that
whether it is the RCMP or the workforce in general, sexual
harassment or bullying in the workplace is not acceptable. We need
to address that issue head-on.
We have to recognize that the Conservatives, having a majority
government, are not very sympathetic to improving legislation. We
see that at committee when an opposition member attempts to bring
forward amendments.
There is no doubt that the government could have done more to
deal with sexual harassment in the workplace with regard to RCMP.
There is a lost opportunity there.
The commissioner's increased capacity to deal with disciplinary
action we thought, in principle, was necessary. Does the hon.
member believe there is any necessity to increase the capacity of the
commissioner to take disciplinary action? Does he believe there is
any need for that whatsoever?
Mr. Wayne Marston: Mr. Speaker, it is not often I am almost at a
loss for words in this place, but this is one of them. The Liberal Party
of Canada was the governing party for many years and lost the
opportunity to address this problem.
At the committee our party made 18 proposals for amendments
and his party made zero. The Liberals are in the House saying how
things should be addressed when they were not even prepared to do
their part in committee. I find that astounding.
● (1105)
[Translation]
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre (Alfred-Pellan, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I would first like to thank my colleague from Hamilton East—
Stoney Creek for his excellent and very heartfelt speech to the House
about the official opposition's position on Bill C-42. It was a fine
tribute to our national policy, but especially to the men and women
who serve on our national police force. It was a good way to
recognize the incredible and hard work this police force does every
day.
My colleague spoke about the training and the tools the RCMP
needs to combat various problems, including sexual harassment. I
found that interesting because one of the amendments we proposed
in committee, after having various discussions with witnesses who
appeared before the committee, would have required mandatory
harassment training for all RCMP members. Unfortunately, this
amendment was not adopted in committee, which is very sad.
What are my colleague's thoughts on the fact that this amendment
was not adopted and the official opposition tried to make harassment
training mandatory?
[English]
Mr. Wayne Marston: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for that
question, because in my opinion, that is the most significant failure
with respect to the bill going forward. We have to educate people.
With knowledge comes responsibility.
Often people in the workplace, not just in the RCMP, but in
general, do things with a sense of humour that they believe justifies
what they do. They do not give a lot of consideration to the feelings
and the fears of the people on the receiving end.
I recall a time, around 1966, when I worked for the railway, in a
machine shop. There was a man there who was highly nervous.
When people went by, they would give him a little tap, and he would
jump. They had him so shell-shocked, he could not talk. If someone
said boo, he would literally jump and take two steps away from him
or her. The people in that workshop thought it was wonderfully
humorous. That man was fragile and close to having a breakdown.
If we view that in the context of sexual harassment, we put it in a
place where we have to talk about it. We have to understand that this
so-called sense of humour is a testing vehicle for people. If they can
do that to her, what else is available? It could be an exercise in power
if it is done by a superior. In some instances in the RCMP, it was a
superior who did these things. It humiliates the woman. It
embarrasses and troubles her. It devalues her in front of her coworkers in a fashion that is totally unacceptable.
The only answer is to go back to those individuals who are doing
it to determine whether they are truly bad people. They have
established that they are people of trust by becoming RCMP officers
and completing the training. In my opinion, the only answer to that is
what you raised, which is to educate those people and provide
corrective action that would bring them back where they belong.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. I would point out to the member
that he should address all of his comments to the Chair, not to
individual members of the House.
[Translation]
Before I give the floor to the hon. member for Chambly—
Borduas, I would like to inform the House that we will now go to 10minute speeches and five-minute periods for questions and
comments.
The hon. member for Chambly—Borduas.
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Mr. Matthew Dubé (Chambly—Borduas, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
it is very difficult to follow a speech like the one given by the hon.
member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek.
He spoke about his own personal experiences, and I think that, in
so doing, he attacked the very heart of this bill. We are talking about
the impact that this can have on individuals and what can happen to
people who have problems in the workplace, particularly those
involving sexual harassment.
When a debate is held on this type of issue, it is very important to
point out that criticizing those who put their heart and soul into
serving their community, for example police or RCMP officers, will
not advance the debate.
When we talk about matters pertaining to National Defence,
Veterans Affairs or the RCMP, our opinions are often criticized and
simplistic arguments are often made. Some would say that it is only
natural for us to say such things since we do not support our police
officers or our armed forces. It is very important to point out that
nothing could be further from the truth.
Contrary to what the Conservatives believe, when we engage in a
debate and have the courage to take a stand and say that the bill does
not go far enough, it is because we have a great deal of respect for
the work that is done and we think that it is important to implement
measures that will allow RCMP officers to operate in a healthy work
environment and that will improve the working relationship between
the police and the people they have the duty to serve and protect.
Of course, we will oppose the bill at third reading. As always, we
optimistically tried to make amendments to the bill based on the
testimony given in committee, but as always, our attempts were in
vain.
I would particularly like to acknowledge the work done by the
hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, our public safety critic,
and the hon. member for Alfred-Pellan, the deputy critic. They
certainly worked very hard to put forward these amendments.
I want to point out that these amendments were not based on some
radical ideology, as the government claims. They were based on
testimony from experts in committee. These experts have been
involved with this issue for a very long time. It is not a new thing.
The first version of this bill, Bill C-38, was introduced during the
40th Parliament. It is not to be confused with the omnibus Bill C-38,
which was introduced last spring.
The amendments came out of the testimony, but they were
unfortunately all rejected, as usual. I think that is very disappointing.
When we hear the points raised by witnesses and propose changes
that do not necessarily change the spirit of the bill, but instead help
make the measures in it more precise, effective and transparent, I
think that the government should be more receptive to the proposed
amendments. However, true to form, the government rejected all of
the amendments outright.
The member who spoke before me talked about his experience
with unions. With respect to the harassment within the RCMP, it is
the only police force in Canada that does not have a collective
agreement.
People will say that other measures will be put in place to ensure
that workers' rights are respected. They are workers, because they
work for us. However, when there are no appropriate measures in
place, it becomes hard to defend their rights in cases of harassment.
This is not the only workplace where harassment is a problem, but as
my colleague pointed out, harassment is quite prevalent.
● (1110)
RCMP members have to deal with certain cases and, as one may
well imagine, with a very heavy psychological burden in some
situations. Sometimes that means that relations between the various
individuals involved may be tense and negative behaviour may
result. When you take all that into consideration, you realize how
important it is to establish ways to manage those problems more
effectively.
Continuing on the subject of harassment, when we say sexual
harassment, we are talking about an issue that mainly affects women.
That may seem to be a prejudicial view, but it is unfortunately true.
From the standpoint of gender equality, it is even more important to
address the problem of harassment when you want to encourage
women to consider taking on any role in our society.
Government members will no doubt tell us that this bill would put
in place a system that will solve that problem. We do not believe that
is the case, particularly given the structure that would be introduced
to do so. That is really our biggest concern in relation to this bill.
To put the matter simply, the government wants the police to
investigate the police and the commission to be accountable to the
minister, not to Parliament. The lack of political will that this
minister has shown for some time now is becoming a problem. After
all, when discretionary or decision-making authority lies solely in
the hands of one minister, we have to rely on his political will, and
he seems to have no such will at the present time.
On the contrary, if we asked the commission to report directly to
Parliament, there would be more transparency, more answers and a
structure more accountable to the public, which the RCMP is
supposed to serve. That would also be good for people on the force,
RCMP members, particularly those who are victims of harassment.
To put it simply once again, when we talk about the police
investigating the police, this is really the problem that emerged from
Justice O'Connor's report in the Maher Arar case. I am very
interested in that case. At the risk of making myself seem very
young, I was just a student when that report was issued in 2006, but I
was very much involved and very interested in politics and current
affairs, and I supported various causes.
I remember seeing the report at the time. One of the issues of
great interest to me was the way in which our police forces and our
armed forces acted, even though we were still in the postSeptember 11 phase five years after the fact. People in Canada,
the United States and Europe were trying to adjust to this new reality
as a society and give our police forces powers while protecting
citizens' rights.
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That report was an attempt to balance those two realities.
However, this bill does not take its recommendations into account.
Justice O'Connor recommended establishing an independent commission that would actually have been able to go further in changing
the RCMP's culture and solving the harassment problem in
particular.
We in the NDP want to see more concrete measures. That is why
we oppose this bill, which is far too flawed. We want something
much more concrete, and these are precisely the kinds of measures
we will put in place in 2015 if we have the opportunity to form the
government, in order to change this culture, protect RCMP members
and ensure there is a better relationship between them and our
communities.
I await your questions and comments.
● (1115)
[English]
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
over the last number of years we have seen a huge increase in the
need to deal with this issue. One of the reasons for that was several
allegations of sexual harassment. However, it was in May of 2012
that the RCMP commissioner, in a public letter, talked about the
need for legislation. The idea behind it is that the commissioner has
to have some sort of capacity to take disciplinary action. Although
this legislation falls short in being able to deal with a number of
different issues, it at least addresses in part what the commissioner
was calling for and has been calling for.
My question to the member is this: does he not believe we should
be respecting, at least in part, RCMP Commissioner Paulson saying
in his letter dated May 2012 that we need to have something? Does
he not agree that this bill does at least something with regard to
providing some form of disciplinary action, that something is better
than nothing and, in that sense, that it is better for us to pass the bill
in the hope that we will be able to bring in additional legislation in
the future?
● (1120)
[Translation]
Mr. Matthew Dubé: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the
member for his question.
The commissioner expressed his opinion, but despite the respect
he deserves for the important work he does, he is just one piece of
the puzzle. During my speech, I pointed out that, according to
testimony heard in committee, this bill has significant flaws.
In response to the member's question I would say that we often
support a bill if it is a step in the right direction. The NDP has often
supported bills even though our amendments were rejected and the
government could have gone much further or even taken an entirely
different tack. The difference here is that there are very significant
systemic problems. The bill has far too many flaws for us to be able
to support it in its present form.
If there were fewer flaws, we would be more willing to support it.
But the issues are far too serious. They were clearly identified in
committee. When we are dealing with police forces and sensitive
issues, as in the recommendations in the O'Connor report, it is very
important that we implement far more tangible and fair measures.
Mr. Pierre Nantel (Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member on his wonderful
speech. Once again, he is an inspiration when it comes to speaking
from the heart and representing his constituents' opinions.
I could not help but think of some of my constituents who are part
of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and who are very
disappointed with this bill. They are wondering when we will
evolve.
The women who were victims of harassment must be bitterly
disappointed in the government's lack of intervention and its inaction
with this bill. What does my colleague think?
Mr. Matthew Dubé: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his
question, since it gives me an opportunity to talk about something I
neglected to mention in my speech.
There are RCMP members living in my riding and the
surrounding ridings, and that is exactly what they are feeling. I
pointed that out because this is not an attack against individuals, who
do an excellent job within the RCMP. This is about combatting the
attitudes that are institutionalized within this police force.
I believe that they want a change. When structures like the
complaints system are inadequate and dated people want to see
changes. That is where our role as legislators becomes very
important. That is why we are so disappointed that there are so
many flaws in this bill. That is also why we are opposed to it.
Furthermore, we would be happy to propose something concrete
and much better to bring about real results. We will certainly have
the opportunity to do so soon.
● (1125)
[English]
Mr. Andrew Cash (Davenport, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is an
honour to rise in this place on behalf of the residents of Davenport,
in the great city of Toronto, for whom this issue is of great concern
and of great interest. The idea of, in particular, a civilian oversight of
the RCMP and a more rigorous accounting of its operations is
something that certainly the people in my riding and the people in
Toronto are very much concerned about, particularly in light of
events that occurred in Toronto in June 2010. I am referring to the
G20 conference and the events that led to essentially the biggest
mass arrest in Canadian history, for which the RCMP was the lead
law enforcement agency.
We note that Bill C-42 does seek to reform the RCMP public
complaints commission by establishing a new complaints commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and implementing a
new framework to handle serious incidents involving the members.
The problem, though, is that while the name may change, the
powers would not really change. It looks remarkably like the current
RCMP public complaints commission, especially in that it would not
be a fully independent commission reporting to the House of
Commons. Instead, it would continue to report to the Minister of
Public Safety.
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We on this side of the House have great concerns about that
because we have concerns about the minister himself. We cannot
forget that this is the same minister who extolled and hectored and
lectured Canadians, saying that if Canadians did not stand with him
and his flawed online piracy bill then they were standing with
pedophiles—an outrageous and offensive comment that earned the
scorn, the rightful scorn, of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
The changes in the bill would essentially mean that any major
investigation would be overseen by the minister himself, who
ultimately would be the final arbiter of these investigations.
As well, the new commission would have serious restrictions on
its ability to undertake independent investigations, and its findings
would be presented only in the form of non-binding recommendations to the commissioner and the Minister of Public Safety. These
restrictions on the independence of the new commission would be a
major issue for us.
The law would allow the Minister of Public Safety to make
regulations concerning the watchdog's access to privileged information, such as classified intelligence or material about clandestine
operations. It also permits the RCMP commissioner to deny the
watchdog access to such information. The new law also lacks time
limits for RCMP to respond to the commission's interim reports.
Many people may view this debate as a bit inside the bubble, as
“inside baseball”. However, in fact, when we get down to the street
level and go back to June 2010 and we think about what happened
on the streets of my city, the biggest city in the country, the economic
engine of this country, the cultural centre of Canada, we see what
actually happened, especially right at the corner of Queen and
Spadina.
As we have done on many bills that have passed through this
House, we put forth many measured amendments to the bill, ones
that would actually have beefed up the idea of civilian oversight and
made it independent. Once again, the government ignored every
single one of our recommendations and amendments.
Hundreds and hundreds of regular folks, most of whom lived in
the neighbourhood, were kettled, or boxed in, in the rain, for several
hours as the police pursued a tactic known as kettling. One of the
many problems with what happened that night is that kettling is
something the RCMP is not supposed to do. It is not part of their
regulations. It is not part of their code, and they did participate.
This is particularly concerning in light of the 2006 report of
Justice O'Connor of the O'Connor inquiry into the actions of
Canadian officials in relation to Maher Arar, which called for the
RCMP watchdog to be structured along the lines of the Security
Intelligence Review Committee, which monitors CSIS. It would
have the right to audit all RCMP files and activities and the power to
subpoena related documents and compel testimony from any federal,
provincial, municipal or private sector person or entity.
A report into the RCMP's activities at the G20 was delivered in
May 2012. It itemized, in rather minute detail, some of the issues that
occurred that night. It also very clearly states that kettling was not
part of the RCMP's mandate, and yet officers pursued it.
The present RCMP public complaints commission does not have
review powers to ensure, systematically, that the RCMP's national
security activities are conducted in accordance with the law and with
respect for rights and freedoms.
This issue of civilian oversight and the independence of an agency
that would oversee complaints is an important one. It is an important
one for civil society. It is an important one for democracy.
● (1130)
I think it is important to note, as many of my NDP colleagues have
during this debate, that we have enormous respect for officers in the
RCMP. We understand that they are oftentimes working in extremely
difficult conditions and situations, often chaotic, often situations
where they have to make split-second decisions, quick decisions.
This is an example of why we need an independent civilian
oversight body to build the public trust. I have to say that the events
of the G20 severely damaged the public trust in our law enforcement
agencies to both keep the peace and protect people who are
peacefully coming together and expressing their democratic right of
free speech.
● (1135)
I would like to end my comments there. I welcome any questions.
We understand that sometimes this is an incredibly difficult and
pressure-filled job that we as Canadians ask them to do on our
behalf, which is all the more reason why it is so important that we
create and then maintain an independent oversight body for the
RCMP. This is exactly what we had recommended.
Mr. Hoang Mai (Brossard—La Prairie, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
one thing that is really important, and we have stressed it, is for
Canadians to know that we support the RCMP. The NDP tried to
move some amendments so that we could actually support the bill.
That is why, at second reading, we supported the bill going to
committee. At committee, we proposed a lot of amendments and
tried to work with the government to bring them forward.
We have seen some of the reactions from various stakeholders in
Canada around this bill. We would also note that the former chair of
the commission for public complaints, Paul Kennedy, commenting
on the last iteration of this bill, Bill C-38—and not a lot in terms of
this part of the bill has changed—said that the legislation is riddled
with loopholes and does not meet Mr. O'Connor's standards.
Could my colleague comment on the reaction to the amendments
we brought forward and how difficult it is, if we want to make a bill
better, to work with the government? We know that none of the
amendments were accepted. Could my colleague speak to that?
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Mr. Andrew Cash: Mr. Speaker, this is becoming a broken record
in this place. It is a broken record that is dramatically out of tune. It
is out of tune with Canadians. It is out of tune with the idea that
Canadians elect parliamentarians to come and work together, to the
best of their abilities, to craft the kind of legislation that is the best
legislation we can come up with. Instead, what happens too often
here is that partisan games and politics are played that supersede
sound public policy. It has happened constantly. It is at play right
now as we debate the bill. None of the amendments, not a single one
the NDP presented on the bill, was accepted or considered by the
government.
Occasionally the government will accept amendments from the
Senate. Instead of listening to elected representatives and the wise
counsel they can bring to a debate, it will go to the other place, get
together with its various campaign buddies and hash out some
amendments there. That is not the way Canadians expect this place
to work, and that certainly is not the way the NDP, the official
opposition, works.
Mr. Rob Clarke (Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River,
CPC): Mr. Speaker, I served in the RCMP for over 18 years. The
opposition talked about kettling and public peace. What is it about
public safety that is not in order, especially in Toronto? What police
officers do is make sure that no one gets hurt. Individuals attending
these protests or rallies or demonstrations then put other innocent
people at risk. Having had to serve on the front lines with the RCMP
and also having participated in issues like this and having actually
been with the tactical troops, listening to an individual who has no
clue, a downtown suburban person, does not make sense.
There are poor performers in the RCMP. Having been a sergeant
in the RCMP and having had to administer the RCMP Act and do the
investigations on those individuals, I know that the RCMP is looking
for a tangible, meaningful way to get rid of the RCMP troublemakers
who are tarnishing the image of the RCMP.
What I am asking my colleague, yes or no, is whether he is going
to support the bill to get rid of the poor performers in the RCMP.
This is what I had to investigate as a member of the RCMP.
Mr. Andrew Cash: Mr. Speaker, why do we not first start by
getting rid of the poor performers in the Senate? Why do we not start
there?
The member opposite starts talking about the fact that if someone
lives in an urban or suburban part of Canada, one has no idea what
one is talking about as it pertains to public safety. This is an
outrageous comment from the member opposite. It really shows how
this party—
● (1140)
The Deputy Speaker: Is the member for Desnethé—Missinippi
—Churchill River rising on a point of order?
Mr. Rob Clarke: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I asked a question, and I want
that question answered.
The Deputy Speaker: That is not a point of order. We have about
20 seconds.
Mr. Andrew Cash: Mr. Speaker, I think this is an important point
to bring up about the G20. It spells it out in the report. I am happy to
give this report to my friend across the way. It also shows that when
the RCMP participated in the kettling at Queen and Spadina, they
actually arrested five people, two of whom were undercover police
officers. I think urban people in Canada are very engaged with this
issue. You have just insulted a wide swath of the Canadian
population.
The Deputy Speaker: Again, could I direct all members of the
House to direct their comments to the Chair and not to each other or
other members of the House?
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Longueuil—PierreBoucher.
[Translation]
Mr. Pierre Nantel (Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, on days like today it is discouraging to listen to what our
adversaries opposite have to say. That just cannot be.
I am very disappointed, but not surprised by this government's
approach, which is unproductive, indifferent and unfocused and
whose failings have been laid bare. Today, the government is on the
defensive because of its indifference. It is very evident this morning.
Amendments put forward by the NDP included mandatory
harassment training for RCMP members, a civilian body to
investigate complaints against the RCMP, and an independent
review body to avoid police investigating police. All these
amendments were very reasonable and in keeping with what the
many witnesses said. All these amendments were rejected.
Contrary to the recommendations in the O'Connor report on the
Maher Arar case and the many witnesses who appeared before the
committee, the government rejected the amendments and continues
to favour an internal, perhaps even arbitrary, approach at the RCMP,
as we would unfortunately expect, rather than an independent,
external and transparent approach.
Unfortunately, Bill C-42 will not resolve the very serious
problems that will continue to plague the RCMP. In the meantime,
many people will suffer. We are obviously thinking of the women
who experience sexual harassment.
Therefore, it is with great regret that we must oppose this bill for
all the reasons mentioned and especially because of the lack of
transparency and the government's blinkered approach to official
opposition amendments.
The people in my riding of Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher sometimes ask me whether I am fed up with Conservatives' behaviour. Of
course we are fed up. We cannot take any more of this closedmindedness, this sense of divine authority and omniscience, the way
the Conservatives do not want to listen to and consider other points
of view, the bad faith. We are fed up with how the Conservatives
always make their ideological agenda a priority, but especially with
how, particularly lately, they are always using the buzzword
“transparency” and talking about accountability when they are the
champions of silence, the champions of working behind closed
doors.
I cannot help but see something that is very suspicious in the
Conservatives' attitude. What are they hiding by always calling for
transparency and officially talking about accountability, when they
have an agenda that they will never reveal?
February 28, 2013
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This is very disappointing for us, particularly for those of my
colleagues who have been asking for reforms for a long time, such as
the member who is sitting right beside me. It seems that we are still
working on the issue of harassment within the RCMP. The NDP has
been asking the government for ages to take care of this situation,
which affects many people, particularly women. It is a governance
problem within the RCMP, a problem with the internal culture.
The bill that the government put forward is not a solution at all.
We were hoping for a proactive approach and a strategy to prevent
these regrettable situations from happening again, but unfortunately,
the outcome we are seeing today is a dry, disciplinary, impersonal
and ill-considered bill in which the word harassment appears only
once. It is unbelievable. As I was saying earlier, although the
amendments we proposed in committee were very positive, they
were rejected, and the opinions of many witnesses and experts were
ignored.
Once again, as is often the case, the Conservatives took a serious,
systemic problem affecting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and
addressed it in a simplistic and—quite frankly—lazy manner. What
is needed today to change the RCMP and reassure the public is a
major change to the culture of this organization, something that this
bill does not allow for. On the contrary, in a few years, we will once
again be faced with the same problem because harassment will
continue to be a serious problem within the organization. This bill
does not reassure Canadians that their formal complaints will be
examined with the attention they deserve.
Robert Paulson, Commissioner of the RCMP, has repeatedly said
that a cultural change is needed. He said the following before the
Standing Committee on the Status of Women:
It's the culture of the organization that has not kept pace... We haven't been able to
change our practices and our policies...
and if that option is not available, the RCMP will carry out the
investigation itself.
This means that the job of overseeing the RCMP is assigned in
the first instance to provincial bodies, in spite of the fact that such
bodies exist in only four provinces: British Columbia, Ontario,
Alberta and Saskatchewan. Ultimately, and unfortunately, oversight
of the RCMP is too often shifted to the provinces. This amounts to
the federal government abdicating its responsibility and once again
downloading the federal government’s costs onto the provinces.
I thought that the Conservatives wanted to reduce the size of
government, since they told us they did, but that cannot mean that
responsibility for the oversight of federal institutions has to be
shifted to the provinces.
We are opposed to this Byzantine system because it can be
simpler and more effective. We tried to do this through an
amendment in committee, proposing that a national, independent
civilian group be created that would systematically handle this and
report to Parliament. Obviously, that amendment was rejected. We
have to put an end to this system of the police investigating the
police. Even the mayors of some municipalities are opposed to it.
We made proposals here and in committee to that effect. Our
amendments and the recommendations from reports, task forces,
commissions and witnesses have been waved off by a government
that is running headlong toward disaster. Its stubborn insistence on
doing nothing of any real effect is astounding, and we find it
particularly tiresome.
The bill before us is also an abdication of the minister’s
responsibilities. The proposal to significantly increase the powers
of the commissioner of the RCMP amounts to running toward the
nearest exit; it is the easy solution.
[T]he problem is bigger than simply the sexual harassment.
David Brown, who led a working group on the issue in 2007 at the
request of the federal government, also said the same thing. The
name of that group was the Task Force on Governance and Cultural
Change in the RCMP. It could not be clearer than that.
● (1145)
And yet rather than a real change of culture on the inside and
outside, through unambiguous leadership and listening on the part of
the minister’s office, we have been treated instead to a sort of “light
reform”, which ultimately will do nothing to solve the fundamental
problems we have been raising in the House for several months now,
if not several years. It will do nothing to change the problems that
have brought us to where we are and that this bill is supposedly
intended to solve.
The system proposed in this bill for investigating the police
completely fails to meet the test of logic and common sense. Bill
C-38, which was cloned to produce the bill that is before us today,
had provided that the RCMP would investigate itself in certain cases.
The strange structure we are presented with in this bill provides
that in the case of serious incidents involving the RCMP—deaths
and serious injuries—the provinces will step in and assign the
investigation to an investigative body or police service. Otherwise,
the RCMP may assign the investigation to another police service,
This is another abdication: the government should have led the
charge against harassment inside the RCMP with a vigorous reform.
Instead it is choosing to set up and endorse a system that massively
increases the commissioner's powers, in the hope that this will
change something.
All the witnesses and experts who are familiar with this issue say
that we do not need more powers concentrated in the hands of a
single person and that what we really need is a new system of
transparency and independent oversight.
The Task Force on Governance and Cultural Change in the
RCMP, which the government created in 2007, had another idea in
mind. It proposed reforms that would bring the RCMP into line with
the internal governance methods and structures used in civilian
bodies, with a board of management that would oversee and could
challenge decisions of the commissioner, that would require
accountability, that could hear complaints from employees and that
would exist within a transparent structure.
Unfortunately, what the government is proposing is, once again,
the complete opposite. Clearly, the solution in this bill, which is to
put more powers than ever in the hands of a single person, when
what is needed is to overcome an organizational problem, will solve
nothing. In fact, it may well create more internal problems and
discontent.
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This is a clash between two different philosophies. When the
Conservatives are faced with a complex problem, they propose more
powers in the hands of a single person, more order, more hierarchy,
more unchallengeable or arbitrary decisions and more discipline.
When we look at the same problem, we call for a system that is
structured, transparent, well thought-out and systematic and that will
act in the public interest and respect the rights of RCMP members,
certainly, but most importantly the rights of the public.
In this bill, what the Conservatives are proposing is unprecedented: an enormous reform that will replace the existing
commission that examines complaints against the RCMP and
reports its findings to the minister with a commission that will
examine complaints against the RCMP and report its findings to the
minister. That is very impressive.
In conclusion, the people in my riding are not taken in by this kind
of obsession with the rhetoric of transparency and accountability,
and they hope that we are going to oppose this sham as long as we
can.
● (1150)
[English]
Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
what the member does not understand is that the system his party is
proposing cannot be integrated into the RCMP Act. It just cannot be
done. The power needs to be implemented within the RCMP Act
first, in relation to the Commissioner of the RCMP.
the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, has all
the credentials in the world to make comment on this bill.
He recently wrote:
The Government, at the cost of many millions of dollars, established a major
initiative in the form of the O’Connor Inquiry to specifically provide policy
recommendations upon which a new legislative regime of civilian review would be
based. Bill C-42 presumably is a response to those recommendations. Having
appeared as a witness before that Inquiry I am familiar with its key recommendations
and can attest to the fact that Bill C-42 falls well short of the standard of review set
by Justice O’Connor. It will serve neither the needs of Canadians nor the RCMP.
I am profoundly disappointed that a bill that purports to improve
things for the RCMP falls so far short in the view of this expert. I ask
my friend from Longueuil for his comments.
[Translation]
Mr. Pierre Nantel: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from
Saanich—Gulf Islands for her question.
It is very sad to see an experienced and eloquent person, like the
witness she quoted, be completely ignored. That is exactly what the
NDP is referring to when we say that the government does not listen,
and the Green Party clearly agrees.
These people have their agenda and a one-track mind. We cannot
support a bill like this because it is too little too late.
● (1155)
[English]
To say that only the Commissioner of the RCMP would hand out
all or any punishment or any other types of things is simply
incorrect. The Commissioner of the RCMP would automatically
provide options for deputy commissioners, assistant commissioners,
chief superintendents, superintendents and anyone of commission
rank They could also provide guidance or discipline to members
across this great country.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
RCMP Commissioner Paulson indicated in an open letter in May
2012 that the government needs to enhance the powers of the
commissioner in order to take disciplinary action and cited issues
such as sexual harassment.
The RCMP has to fix itself from within, because since 1873 we as
parliamentarians have done it that way. We created the RCMP Act.
Therefore, I believe that Bill C-42 goes in the right direction.
My question to the member is this: does he believe that passing
Bill C-42 would make the current law weaker?
My question to the hon. member is this: does he believe that not
supporting Bill C-42 would solve anything?
Mr. Pierre Nantel: Mr. Speaker, I am not an expert on police
forces, but like many of my colleagues, I have a lot of respect for the
work they do.
[Translation]
Mr. Pierre Nantel: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his
question.
I used to work in communications and media relations, so I can
tell the Conservatives that this is what I see as their biggest problem.
They march in authoritatively with their solutions, as though they
had divine power and knew everything. They refuse to listen to
suggestions from others and disregard what witnesses have to say.
That is what is most pathetic.
We cannot support a government that asks for our trust, when
history has shown that it has duped us on many occasions.
[English]
Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP): Mr. Speaker,
I want to share with the House and the member who was speaking a
comment from Paul Kennedy, who, as the former commissioner for
The Liberal Party believes that we need to deal with this.
[Translation]
These people live under huge amounts of stress. It exists
everywhere, but if this bill does not properly address the
unbelievable stress caused by sexual harassment, we might as well
take it back to the drawing board and address real problems.
These people, who have complicated jobs and put their lives at
risk on the front lines to protect us, need to feel that we understand
their reality and should not feel that we are denigrating it.
[English]
Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is a
pleasure to have an opportunity to speak to Bill C-42 at third
reading. It is an important area of public policy that needs to be
addressed by the House. Unfortunately it is our conclusion that it has
not been addressed properly by the House, because the bill would
not do what it is expected to do.
February 28, 2013
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As previous speakers have said, the RCMP is a storied institution
in Canada. As the member for Kootenay—Columbia said, it goes
back to 1873. It has not always been a perfect institution, and we all
know that. It has been open to criticism from time to time in its
history for some of the uses to which it was put by various
governments.
● (1200)
When I started practising law, the RCMP was regarded as the
senior police force in the country. Police forces around the country
looked up to the RCMP for standards and training and discipline and
proper procedures.
Third, we wanted to add a provision creating a national civilian
investigative body. We still have the situation of the RCMP being
able to investigate itself when complaints are made of improper
behaviour by police officers. That is not right. There is an elaborate
procedure in place that maybe the provinces would undertake
something first and if not, then the RCMP would do it and
potentially there would be some civilian role in that, but that is not
good enough. Some of the provinces do not have the capability of an
independent review. Also, there are three territories that do not have
an independent police force, and the RCMP does the work there. It is
going to be a situation of RCMP officers investigating cases
involving their own activities.
Of late, unfortunately, people have become disconcerted with the
way the RCMP has been able to handle matters, particularly those of
an internal nature. We have heard complaints for a number of years
about harassment, particularly the harassment of women. There are
outstanding lawsuits by 200 women complaining about harassment
within the force and the apparent inability of the force to deal with
that issue. As a result of some constant prodding by the NDP in the
House, legislative action was deemed necessary and taken.
Unfortunately, the bill does not address the kinds of issues that
caused the need for this legislation to take place.
We have talked about the need for a more respectful force in terms
of having a proper method to deal with sexual harassment and a
proper response to the concern about that harassment, the need for a
broader and more balanced human resource policy and the removal
of some of the more draconian powers that are proposed for the
RCMP commissioner. None of these were accepted in committee.
The government's response to these problems is to create a more
powerful hierarchy within the RCMP and to give the commissioner
more draconian powers than ever. As the member for Kootenay—
Columbia said, the commissioner is going to delegate all of these
powers to various deputy commissioners and others. Instead of
having a more balanced approach whereby people would have a
right to have their grievances dealt with and issues responded to, we
are going to have a top-down hierarchy, which will not inspire
confidence but create more of a paramilitary organization. That is an
anachronism when it comes to modern policing in Canada.
Obviously there needs to be discipline within a police force, and
all of that should take place, but when it comes to matters such as
complaints about sexual harassment, there has to be a safe place for
people to go. People have to know that these matters will be dealt
with. They should have a clear expectation that the professional
police officers throughout the force, from the bottom to the top, are
well aware of and sensitive to what sexual harassment is and what it
can do. Previous speakers have outlined some of the particular ways
in which that should happen.
Through some 18 amendments at committee stage, we talked
about what could be done to meet some of these needs. All of these
amendments were rejected by the government. These amendments
included adding mandatory harassment training for RCMP members,
and specifically adding those measures to the RCMP Act itself, so
that it would be clear that this was a response to the problem. We
wanted to ensure that there would be a fully independent civilian
body that would be able to review and investigate complaints against
the RCMP.
This is important. The model that was proposed was a model like
SIRC, which oversees CSIS. It is independent, with decision-making
power, not just the recommendation power in the bill. That was
provided for as well. It was turned down by the government.
The fourth one, which I just talked about, was to have a more
balanced human resources policy, removing some of the powers that
were proposed for the RCMP commissioner and strengthening the
external review committee so cases involving possible dismissal
from the force could have an outside review. Now the situation is
that the final authority is being given to the RCMP commissioner,
with no possibility of appeal or independent review. That is not right.
One of the complaints about that was made by the president of the
Canadian Police Association, Mr. Tom Stamatakis, who stated,
“Without any additional, and most importantly, independent avenue
for appeal, I would suggest there is a possibility that RCMP
members could lose faith in the impartiality of a process against
them, particularly in situations in which the commissioner has
delegated his authority for discipline”. The contrast to that would be
the example in Ontario, where a police officer subject to a
disciplinary process has the right to appeal that decision against an
independent civilian police commission.
These two go hand in hand. Having a proper policy and proper
disciplinary process, but also an expectation by police officers
themselves that the process is fair and impartial would allow for the
cultural change that is required to take place. As the commissioner
said, cultural change is required, but legislation cannot bring about
all of the cultural change. In fact, he said that the culture of the
organization had not kept pace. Commissioner Paulson stated:
—the problem is bigger than simply the sexual harassment. It is the idea of
harassment. The idea that we have a hierarchical organization overseeing men and
women who have extraordinary powers in relation to their fellow citizens, which
requires a fair degree of discipline.
It is the hierarchical system that he says has been part of the
problem. Instead of making mandatory sexual harassment training
part of the solution, instead of having a more balanced approach in
terms of management and perhaps a board of managers to oversee
this, what we have done is strengthened the hierarchical system. We
have not found a solution to the problem that caused and brought
about the need for legislation. Instead of solving the problem, this
legislation has actually made it worse.
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The member for Kootenay—Columbia asked why members
would not vote in favour of it since, in part, it went in the right
direction. In fact, we think voting in favour of this bill would not
provide a solution at all.
● (1205)
I would like to hear him speak some more and perhaps compare
what he knows about sexual harassment at National Defence with
the RCMP.
[Translation]
Mr. Tarik Brahmi (Saint-Jean, NDP): Mr. Speaker, once again,
I would like to congratulate the member for St. John's East on his
speech. I must say that it is always a pleasure to listen to his fine
analysis and his vast legal expertise as he picks apart bills that are
brought before us.
[English]
I cannot help but draw a parallel between Bill C-15, which we are
currently studying in the Standing Committee on National Defence,
and the fact that the Conservatives refuse to hand more power over
to people outside the system. That is what is happening with
National Defence and military justice, and it is also what is
happening here with regard to giving people outside the RCMP more
opportunity to see what is going on within the system.
I would like to hear his thoughts on that parallel. Does he see a
pattern in the Conservative government's actions?
[English]
Mr. Jack Harris: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his work
on the defence committee.
Yes, we are going through a similar process as we went through
on Bill C-42, for which the NDP brought forward a significant
number of amendments. We are not through all of them yet, but so
far the government has accepted none of the amendments we
proposed, and that is the case here.
If there is a problem that requires a solution, legislation is brought
forward. If it is inadequate and we provided means to address the
problem for which the legislation was created in the first place, we
would expect the co-operation that reasonable members of
Parliament would address to an issue.
However, it appears the Conservatives say that it is their bill and
they will not make any changes. They do not care what arguments
are made and what support there is for them logically and from
people who are experts in the field. They will continue to do what
they want. This seems to be what happened here as well.
[Translation]
Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, my colleague is the official opposition's national defence
critic. I know that he is aware of the issue of sexual harassment in the
armed forces, which is another government institution. I served in
the armed forces. During my recruit course, I had sexual harassment
training sessions, and they were given every year.
Does my colleague believe that they could have discussed this
issue with other federal departments that have taken measures to
prevent sexual harassment? Does he find it acceptable that the issue
is not addressed in this bill, even though we know that in many cases
it is very important to have women who are able to intervene and
who are capable of doing the work of intervening in certain
situations?
● (1210)
Mr. Jack Harris: Mr. Speaker, there have been complaints in
respect to both organizations, but what is comparable between the
military and the RCMP is that we have hierarchical organizations in
which the people who are senior in rank have an enormous amount
of power over individuals below that rank. Therefore, in order to
counter that, the culture has to have a very strong and robust antiharassment policy and clear ways of dealing with it.
Neither in the bill nor anywhere else has the Minister of Public
Safety mandated the adoption of clear anti-harassment policies
within the RCMP containing specific standards for behaviour and
specific criteria for evaluating the performance of employees. We
need that kind of commitment from the government if the RCMP is
to have the tools to deal with that, and the support and ability for
discipline to take place and a fair process to deal with it. What is
lacking is leadership by the government.
[Translation]
Ms. Françoise Boivin (Gatineau, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is
important to note certain statistics, because sometimes, in order to
understand why a bill has been has been introduced in the House, we
have to understand what led up to it.
A number of people in the House have already spoken, but it is
very important to remember that more than 200 women who are now
employed or who were employed by the RCMP have joined
Constable Janet Merlo to bring a class action suit against the RCMP
for sexual harassment.
This has caused quite a stir in Canadian society, and justifiably so.
It is difficult to come up with a more contemptible crime in the
workplace than sexual harassment, or even harassment in any form. I
spent 30 years of my life as a labour lawyer for businesses, where
staff relations are very important. Everyone wanted to develop
harassment prevention policies. The more people talk to each other,
the more familiar they become with the issue and the more likely
they are to do what they have to do to get rid of harassment. It is the
employer’s duty to ensure that the workplace is free from any form
of harassment.
The cases that I dealt with in my area of practice were often the
most tragic ones. I thought that when I arrived here as a member of
Parliament, I would see fewer of these cases. Treasury Board has a
great policy, and I really do not see much wrong with it. However, as
I often say, the devil is in the details, in the implementation.
I am sure that some of my colleagues are hearing the same kinds
of stories from their constituents as I am. Constituents who are
public servants, members of the RCMP or some other agency
contact us and tell us their horror stories.
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I am not going to get involved in legal matters between the
government and its employees, but I can barely repress a shudder
when I hear some of their stories. I see people who, five years ago,
followed the proper procedure: they filed a complaint, talked to their
harasser, criticized the behaviour, and ended up being harassed more
than before. Then they went to see their supervisor, who looked into
the issue and realized that it was true.
Within the Canadian public service, apparently when there is a
harasser, an offender, he receives a promotion after going on a
training course to become a little more aware of the issue. Although
the government claims to be on the victims' side, victims still have to
jump through all the legal hoops. If we spent as much time trying to
resolve the issue and change behaviours, which are sometimes
attributable just to a lack of education and political will to solve the
problem, we could avoid these types of situations.
People who are broken come to tell us their side of the story.
Many do not understand that it is a case of harassment. Harassment
is about control; it is a way of trying to demean someone. If the
harassment is psychological, the harasser is messing with his
victim’s head. If the harassment is sexual, there will be repeated
actions. However, sometimes a single unwelcome act may be serious
enough to be called harassment. As there is often a power
relationship between the harasser and the victim, the victim often
feels caught between a rock and a hard place, caught between losing
her job and coping with the despicable behaviour.
We must remember what led to the introduction of Bill C-42. Let
us remember the grand pronouncements by the Minister of Public
Safety.
● (1215)
He said he would fix the problem and introduce a bill to ensure
that the RCMP takes care of the problem. As I said, 200 people have
brought a sexual harassment class action suit against the RCMP,
which did not protect the victims. That is why we need a meaningful
bill.
When Commissioner Paulson was appointed, he said that this was
a priority.
When I am called to speak to a bill, I like to read it first, which
may surprise the Conservatives, who think we do not read the bills.
On the contrary, we in the NDP read the bills. Based on some of the
questions I hear in this House, it is clear that some people did not
read the bill or they would not be asking the questions they are
asking.
The preamble says it all. In fact, it lays out what we would expect
to see throughout the bill, but we do not see those things anywhere in
the provisions. The preamble says:
Whereas
Canadians should have confidence in their national police force;
That goes without saying.
Whereas civilian review is vital to promoting transparency and public
accountability of law enforcement;
That goes without saying as well, but these are concepts that the
current government is not grasping. I think the government does not
have the right definitions for these concepts.
Whereas civilian review should enhance the accountability of the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police to provincial governments that have entered into arrangements for
the use or employment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police;
Whereas all members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are responsible for
the promotion and maintenance of good conduct and are guided by a Code of
Conduct that reflects the expectations and values of Canadians;
And whereas the Government of Canada is committed to the provision of a
framework that will serve to enhance the accountability of the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police and support its continued modernization;
A preamble like that augurs very well. Anyone reading it would
say, “This is wonderful.” Again, the devil is in the details. A number
of provisions in Bill C-42 give a tremendous amount of discretionary
power to the commissioner.
My colleague from St. John's East did a good job of illustrating
how we are in the process of creating a more powerful hierarchy
within the RCMP. We know that the police like to investigate
themselves. They would opt to investigate themselves every time, if
we let them. However, this is at odds with values of transparency and
accountability. It is best to have independent agencies.
With respect to labour relations, certain parts of the bill, namely
clauses 2 to 34, indicate how the commissioner can make certain
decisions. He would not necessarily make bad decisions, but there is
a real danger in having the commissioner make all the decisions.
Such provisions do not bode well for transparency. The commissioner would make reports and recommendations at certain
committees, but implementation of these recommendations would
not necessarily be mandatory.
We noticed serious problems during the debate at second reading.
We were confident that the bill would be carefully studied at the
Standing Committee on Public Safety. And that does seem to have
happened. However, as is always the case for a number of
committees, the problem arises when it is time to listen to the
advice of anyone other than the government. The Conservatives can
never listen carefully or actively, and they always have blinders on.
They are so afraid of leaving just one sentence that they have not
penned in a bill, not being able to take full credit, not being able to
say that they are the best, and so on, that they prefer to be closedminded and wilfully blind and pass weak laws that may be
challenged and may not achieve the desired results. This attitude is
unfortunate and does not solve the problem.
To those who think that women will breathe a sigh of relief today
because of Bill C-42 and that women will finally be able to put to
rest the issue of harassment, feel respected and believe that there will
be transparency and accountability, I say this bill deserves a big fat
zero.
● (1220)
[English]
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it
is important to note that it was actually RCMP Commissioner
Paulson who ultimately got the government to take action.
Prior to the commissioner's going public in the form of a public
letter, the government did absolutely nothing in terms of recognizing
how important it was to, for example, allow the commissioner
increased capacity to invoke some sort of disciplinary action against
members of the force.
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That said, there is no doubt that the bill falls short. I think all of us
on the opposition benches, whether Liberal or New Democrat, would
say that the bill falls short.
me that she did not listen to a word I said or maybe what I said was
lost in translation.
The question I have for the member is this: given the
shortcomings of the bill, if this bill were to pass as it is today,
does she believe the system would actually be worse than it is today,
or does she think that at least in some small part the bill does deal
with what Commissioner Paulson was hoping to achieve?
Ms. Françoise Boivin: Mr. Speaker, if it does that in some small
part, it is really small. I would need quite the magnifying glass to
find it.
[Translation]
On the contrary, measures need to be taken to increase the number
of women in the RCMP. However, women wanting to enter these
somewhat difficult work settings need reassurance. We need to let
them know that we are sending them to work in an environment that
is free from every form of harassment. Stories such as what
happened over the past few years are not very reassuring at all. And
often we only see the tip of the iceberg.
I agree with the hon. member for Winnipeg North that
Commissioner Paulson—and I am not here to criticize Commissioner Paulson—was appointed at the height of the storm and he
made promises. He said he would do things. I will give him all of
that. However, the fact that he could delegate some of his powers
himself poses a problem.
Just read some of the clauses in Bill C-42 to understand what its
limitations are. What will happen when there is no whistle-blower,
like the RCMP officer who made this story public and instigated the
class action suit? That is often what it takes in these situations. There
needs to be a heroine. When you work for a police force, it is not
easy to go public and say that you are a victim of sexual harassment.
We know that it is such a macho environment and that it has been
hard for women to find their place in that environment.
I find that this entire debate on Bill C-42 does not address the
underlying issue, which is the pain and suffering of the victims. In
short, not enough improvements are being made for us to say that we
are taking a step in the right direction with this piece of legislation.
● (1225)
[English]
Ms. Candice Bergen (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Public Safety, CPC): Mr. Speaker, let me get this right.
We have heard evidence, overwhelming testimony, even on
Tuesday morning—and clearly this member has not read a word of it
—from not only the independent chair of the complaints commission
but the commissioner himself, who has just laid out a very good and
very thorough plan called “Gender and Respect”. The goal is to not
only stop harassment and bullying within the RCMP but also to
make sure there are more women within the RCMP.
There are some agencies that will come on behalf of the
government to say that we must pass Bill C-42. What we are saying
is that there were some serious flaws that could have been fixed with
a bit of political will. The government shies away from fixing
anything if it is the official opposition's idea. That is the problem.
[English]
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): I would like to
remind all hon. members that they ought not refer to whether their
colleagues are in or outside the chamber.
[Translation]
Resuming debate.
The hon. member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue.
Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by pointing out that I made a
speech on this bill at second reading. In it, I clearly stated my
concerns and explained what I felt was missing from the bill.
Now that the bill has been studied in committee, we can see the
outcome. We had decided to give the Conservatives a chance,
believing that they were perhaps prepared to create a useful bill for
the RCMP.
At issue here are the RCMP, accountability, transparency and
sexual harassment. We are not discussing a bill about changing the
colour of the placemats, but about the RCMP. I was accordingly
expecting a degree of openness and a desire to do much more.
Both of these individuals, as well as countless numbers of law
enforcement agencies, have said that in order to do this, we need Bill
C-42 passed so that we have a framework and can go ahead with the
road map.
The 23 amendments put forward by the Conservatives were
mainly grammatical corrections to the French. Is it not rather
amateurish for a minister of the Crown to introduce a bill and then
have to make so many amendments to correct the grammar? It strikes
me that something was really messed up here. It is unacceptable.
Let me ask this member a question. She is willing to stop this bill,
stop the ability of the RCMP to end harassment and bullying and to
have more women recruited into the RCMP. Is she willing to
sacrifice all of that because she has a political agenda? Is that what
the member is saying?
[Translation]
Ms. Françoise Boivin (Gatineau, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I always
appreciate how measured my colleague's speeches are. It seems to
It would be understandable if it was a private member’s bill that
had to be introduced quickly because the member’s name happened
to come up by chance early on. But this bill was introduced by a
minister of the Crown who had received assistance from the
department and many people, and even so he was unable to submit a
grammatically satisfactory product. From the outset, this shows us
just how botched it is because it was not worked on enough. It is
really not that great.
February 28, 2013
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The focus of the amendments proposed by the NDP was sexual
harassment. In the bill as a whole, sexual harassment is mentioned
only once, even though this issue was raised many times because of
the legal action taken by the women who publicly condemned the
fact that they were subjected to sexual harassment. It is a major
problem.
If we want our institutions to work properly, then real action is
required to deal with sexual harassment. Simply expecting the
problem to disappear magically will not do; practical measures are
needed.
When I was a member of the military, we received training on
sexual harassment from the very beginning of my recruit course. We
received such training virtually every year. I cannot remember
exactly how many times, but it was fairly often. Soldiers took the
issue seriously precisely because some women had spoken out about
it at the time. Sexual harassment training and the measures that were
introduced can never solve all the problems, of course. Nevertheless,
having talked with a number of women who served in the Canadian
Forces—veterans who served in the 1970s and 1980s, for example—
and having taken training myself, I can tell you that things have
changed and that the problem was taken seriously. There is still work
to be done, but the situation has vastly improved. It too is a federal
institution.
It is therefore important to stop burying our heads in the sand.
People say they want more women, but they also have to want them
to remain. It makes no sense to launch programs and go to great
lengths to encourage women to join the RCMP and our federal
institutions unless we are prepared to take steps to ensure that they
will stay. It makes no sense at all.
The Conservatives rejected all of the NDP’s amendments, the
precise target of which was sexual harassment. This is unacceptable.
I believe they did not even look at the amendments as such. They
merely looked beside the amendment and decided to oppose it when
they saw the letters “NDP”. That is not a responsible attitude. If we
really want to improve our legislation and our institutions, especially
the RCMP, partisan considerations must be set aside. If some
members of this House find it difficult to do that, we should conceal
the name of the party submitting the amendment and consider it with
a view to providing a logical response, instead of operating in an
arbitrary way. This is important in order to improve bills.
From my youth, I have always fought for the opportunity to do
what I want in life, and never to be limited because I am a woman. I
made a career in the military for a few years, and I am proud of it. I
would not want other women to decide not to make a career in the
RCMP, telling themselves that the situation is intolerable and the
government is unable to give them the necessary support. That is not
acceptable. In my view, we really should be doing more to protect
women and provide them with a safe work environment.
I would like to return to another subject. There has been talk of
unionization in the RCMP for over 35 years, but there is no reference
to it in the bill. I think that would have been something useful to
explore, and it would have enhanced the bill.
Contrary to what the Conservatives believe, unionization comes
with many benefits. Usually, unions are dedicated to the welfare of
their members. Many social measures have been introduced to
workplaces as a result of union lobbying. This bill, however, makes
no mention of that. It sweeps it under the rug. Basically, the
government is interested in what it is interested in, and that is all,
which is a pity. The government could have introduced a solid,
comprehensive piece of legislation if it had conducted an in-depth
study and been prepared to discuss and accept amendments. The
government could have done that for RCMP members. Yet, the
government chose not to, which is a terrible pity.
I would also like to briefly turn back to one of the problems with
the RCMP: in some cases, it investigates itself. In my opinion, this
was a golden opportunity to address the problem. The allegations
that women were not taken seriously by the RCMP have recently
been the subject of discussion. This is an important issue. The
RCMP needs to properly address this issue. Unfortunately, if the
RCMP investigates itself, or if an individual investigates himself, the
findings may not be worth the paper they are written on.
● (1230)
It is important to understand that the purpose here is not to scold
people unnecessarily. When an investigation is launched to
determine what has occurred and what went wrong, the goal is not
to castigate people and tell them that they are bad or have not done
things properly. When a procedure is not followed and there seems
to be a problem, the purpose of an investigation is to determine what
the problem is, to address it and to find solutions. However, if this
process is not followed, the problem will not be solved.
We want to avoid having to return three, four, five, six or seven
times to a bill on the same subject, namely the RCMP, to make
corrections that could have been made at the outset. The government
could have put together a very good bill, a complete bill, by showing
some openness of mind. However, it decided not to do so. In my
view, this is a major problem.
In closing, I believe that more could have been done for women
and for RCMP members. It is really a pity that the government has
this attitude. When we consider a bill, we must bear in mind that the
ultimate objective of important legislation is to make genuine
improvements and not to score partisan points.
So who pays the price? Women in the RCMP, who will not have
access to a legislative system to help and support them. This is not
acceptable. For partisan reasons, the government persists in refusing
to accept amendments. I am frankly disappointed that the NDP’s
amendments were not accepted. It is a pity. What bothers me is the
knowledge that it is women in the RCMP who will pay the price.
● (1235)
I believe that something very positive could have been achieved.
Unfortunately, the government did not even try to achieve anything
with this bill, and that is a great pity.
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[English]
Mr. Rick Norlock (Northumberland—Quinte West, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, I listened to the member intently. I am on the Standing
Committee on Public Safety and National Security. We did hear from
the Commissioner of the RCMP as well as the chair of the
Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, the person
vested with investigating the whole issue of harassment in the
RCMP.
I encourage all Canadians to look at the evidence presented at the
committee, which will show, beyond a shadow of any doubt, that
what this side of the House is saying is basically correct. He said that
there's no systemic evidence of harassment in the RCMP. The
Commissioner of the RCMP said there will be mandatory training
for all RCMP officers, and that is his intent. To put it in his words, he
has aggressive recruitment targets for additional women on the
RCMP. I can say, after 30 years of working with both men and
women in the police force, that it is possible for men and women to
work together. It is possible for those targets to be met.
The member is saying that she is ideologically opposed to what
this side of the House is saying, that no good ideas can come from
this side, only that side. We are saying that we are listening to the
commissioner and the person who—
● (1240)
[Translation]
Ms. Christine Moore: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member did
not hear the first speech I gave when this bill was at second reading.
In it, I explained that this bill was a step in the right direction and
that it constituted progress but that it did not go far enough and that
other measures were needed. I never said that this bill was just a bad
idea and that there was nothing good about it. Rather, I said that it
did not go far enough and that we needed to build on it.
Unfortunately, after this bill was examined in committee, the
Conservatives refused to go further. That is the problem. The
problem is not the initial idea but the fact that this idea is not being
transformed into practical measures to address sexual harassment.
The witnesses were not unanimous. In the testimony she gave on
October 24, 2012, Yvonne Séguin, the executive director of Groupe
d'aide et d'information sur le harcèlement sexuel au travail de la
province de Québec, said:
With the 32 years of experience we have, we have found out that when companies
do have a clear policy, when employees do know what is acceptable and not
acceptable, it makes it much easier for management to deal with the problems.
So, in response to my colleague, I would like to repeat that I never
said that the members opposite never have any good ideas. I think
that the initial idea was good. However, the government did not take
it far enough. The government could have made this bill really great
but, unfortunately, did not do so.
[English]
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it
is important to note that it was RCMP Commissioner Paulson who
ultimately led to the government taking action and introducing
legislation. I would not give credit to the government for taking
action without being prodded by the RCMP, in particular the
commissioner, in an open letter to all Canadians. In essence, to quote
the CBC in May 2012: “The RCMP's disciplinary process is so
bureaucratic and out of date that 'bad apples' end up staying on the
force long after they should be thrown out, RCMP Commissioner
Bob Paulson said in a remarkably frank open letter to Canadians on
Monday”.
Given that the very nature of the legislation allows for some
additional authority for the commissioner, is it better that we pass the
legislation that at least enables the commissioner to have some of
that power, which is something the commissioner himself has been
asking for, and look at making changes in the future as opposed to
trying to kill the legislation outright? We all recognize that there are
many shortcomings in this legislation. It could have done more on
sexual harassment and so forth, but would the member agree that this
is better than absolutely nothing? According to the commissioner,
one might draw that conclusion.
[Translation]
Ms. Christine Moore: Mr. Speaker, I cannot presume to know
what the government's intentions are. It is possible that what
happened pushed the government to act but that it would have done
so anyway. But I do not have any proof of that. I will assume that it
was acting out of goodwill and that it truly wanted to improve the
RCMP. That is why I do not understand why it did not want to push
this further.
I do not accept that something is better than absolutely nothing
when it comes to a bill. I do not think that is logical. We cannot pass
a bill just because it is better than nothing. It makes no sense. We
must create something excellent, that will improve the situation and
that we will not have to revise at some point. Voting for something
because it is better than nothing makes no sense to me. That is not
why I became an MP.
I want us to have excellent bills that go far enough, that are
relevant and that we will not have to revise three, four, five, six,
seven or eight times. So no, I do not think this is satisfactory.
Mr. Hoang Mai (Brossard—La Prairie, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-42, An Act to amend the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and to make related and
consequential amendments to other Acts.
I would like to begin by saying how important the RCMP and the
police in general are to me. My colleague also mentioned this in his
speech. When we were young, several of us, including myself,
wanted to be police officers. We thought that it was a noble
occupation, that genuine conviction was needed to engage in it and
that it was a way of dedicating oneself to society. This is part of the
process, of the importance that I personally attach to the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police. I therefore have enormous respect for all
those people who have served, and I know that my colleague
opposite has previously served. I tip my hat to them. As a member of
various committees, I have had the opportunity to question and
speak with RCMP members. Quite frankly, I must say that I owe
them an enormous amount of respect.
February 28, 2013
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Government Orders
The purpose of this bill is to solve certain problems that exist at
present time. Although we assert that we admire those individuals
and that we believe they are doing a good job, as in any organization,
there are always minor problems and matters that must be resolved.
In this case, we really want to solve those problems. The initial
purpose of this bill was to do precisely that. The NDP supported it at
second reading so that we could study it in greater detail. However,
we knew from the outset that it was somewhat flawed.
actual fact, the RCMP public complaints commission already exists.
However, there is no separation here; by that I mean that we do not
have an entirely independent commission. We know that the
commission already exists, but once again we are ensuring that
police officers will manage police officers, or that RCMP people will
manage RCMP people.
I would like to provide more details on the bill’s deficiencies and
the positions that have been taken. The bill in fact addresses the
process for dealing with sexual harassment complaints within the
RCMP. It was introduced in response to the headline-making
scandals. It constitutes a government reaction to this problem.
Unfortunately, it appears to have been an improvised reaction, since
the government's bill contains numerous flaws. I will elaborate on
that later.
This commission has to be independent if we are talking about
transparency and something more public. Its members must report to
people other than the same people who must manage all this. In my
opinion, this is one of the more important factors that has not been
addressed in the bill for which we made recommendations.
With Bill C-42, the government wanted and we wanted to solve
existing problems and address instances of misconduct. There were
abuses of power, intimidation and harassment. So we wanted to give
the commissioner the power to decide what disciplinary measures
should be taken in those cases. However, one of the issues with
Bill C-42 is that it does not solve the problem and, according to some
witnesses, even creates more problems. To answer my Liberal
colleague's question, that is why it creates more problems. I will
come back to this a little later.
The purpose of Bill C-42 was also to add clauses respecting
labour relations and to give the RCMP commissioner the power to
appoint and dismiss members at his discretion. We see a problem
with that. Also, the bill does not go far enough. Commissioner
Paulson stated that current legislation was not enough to retain the
public's trust and that serious reforms were needed. That is what led
to the introduction of Bill C-42. We knew there were flaws and a
problem regarding the public's trust in the system.
Once again I repeat how important it is for me to protect RCMP
members, the men and women who are doing an outstanding and
necessary job to maintain order in the society we live in. It is
important for us as legislators to protect the RCMP. We have the
opportunity to do it. We see what the public is calling for and what
Commissioner Paulson, in particular, has demanded. The public has
spoken, and that is why the government ultimately decided to move
forward.
When we look at what has happened and where we are headed,
we see that this is not enough. We would like the bill to result in a
working environment that is more open, more co-operative and,
especially, more respectful of all concerned. It would also benefit the
RCMP if we brought in legislation that would achieve greater
transparency and a better workplace. That would be good for the
public and for the RCMP.
● (1245)
However, the minister has not really done his homework and has
not gone far enough in this area, particularly with respect to
disciplinary investigation procedures.
Here is what is happening. We are creating a new commission,
except that, when we look at and analyze the bill, we see that, in
We also have other restrictions in this area, particularly regarding
the new commission's ability to conduct independent investigations.
Its findings would serve only as a basis for non-binding
recommendations. Consequently, recommendations would be made
to the commissioner or to the Minister of Public Safety, but they
would not be binding. Once again, we see that the "new
commission"—as my colleagues opposite call it—would not be
independent and would only issue non-binding recommendations.
So ultimately nothing much is changing in this area. This is one of
the major problems we had.
The second major point that really troubles me about this bill is
that it does not address the problem of sexual harassment within the
RCMP. On the other hand, I have sometimes heard it said that, if
there is not really any sexual harassment, then it is not a big problem.
We have to be honest, open our eyes and take off our rose-coloured
glasses. This is a problem, but one not exclusive to the RCMP. We
must not necessarily point a finger at it alone. Once again, I restate
my enormous respect for the men and women who work at the
RCMP.
However, we must protect the women who work for the RCMP.
We know that our society is evolving. More and more women are
entering the labour market. In some places, people's attitudes have
not changed. I am not necessarily saying that this is the case in the
RCMP specifically, but there are problems that we wanted to
address. We really wanted to tackle this issue, to stop burying our
heads in the sand and look at what we can really do to get rid of
sexual harassment. Unfortunately, once again, this bill is not the
answer.
Justice O'Connor made many recommendations. Fifteen of his 23
recommendations concerned the RCMP. As I mentioned, and I
would like to mention again for the benefit of my colleagues, in the
beginning we supported this bill. We found that it was indeed a step
in the right direction. We wanted to move reasonable proposals to
resolve the problems I mentioned a little earlier. We put forward 18
amendments that I find very thoughtful and reasonable.
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For example, we wanted to include mandatory harassment
training for RCMP members in the RCMP Act. How can anyone be
opposed to that? Here again, it is obvious that if we bury our heads
in the sand and put on our rose-coloured glasses we can say that
harassment does not exist. The government is saying that maybe it
does exist, that it problably does, that yes, it does. Now we have to
take measures. We in the NDP understand that prevention and
education are important. The members on the other side are
primarily talking about repression. If we want to eradicate certain
societal ills, harassment prevention and education are crucial.
Among other things, this is what we are proposing here.
● (1250)
We also asked that a completely independent civilian body be
established to review complaints against the RCMP. I think it is
obvious that a certain degree of independence is essential. Here
again, it is not only for the benefit of the RCMP, but also for the
public’s benefit. Both the public and the RCMP would come out
ahead.
Our goal in establishing this independent body is to reassure
Canadians. Obtaining the public’s trust will help the RCMP directly.
We must not forget that the RCMP works closely with the general
public. It is important to show some transparency and some sincerity,
and let Canadians know that not everything is being done behind
closed doors. We know that is how the Conservatives prefer to do
things, and unfortunately, it comes through clearly in their bills.
We are aiming for openness and consultation. Let Canadians be
part of the process.
Moreover, we want to avoid cases where the police investigate
themselves.
● (1255)
[English]
This bill does not really address the root of the problem, and one
of the things that was really disappointing was that none of the
amendments we brought forward, and I mentioned all of them, were
accepted. We have a government whose members are not listening
and not consulting. Unfortunately, that is why we have a bill that is
flawed.
Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague, and I want him to
speak a bit more on something that I find very concerning.
We see a pattern with the Conservatives where they shut down
debate; they invoke closure continually. Whenever there is an
attempt to be bipartisan in this House, to actually bring forward
amendments to correct bills, because there is no such thing as a
perfect bill, the Conservatives vote down every amendment every
time. They refuse to address them and allow the ability to change
and fix bills. What we see here is this attitude of infallibility. At that
moment, Canadians have no reason to trust a government that is not
willing to listen to the Canadian people.
Could my hon. colleague comment on why the government is so
arrogant and so out of touch and why its members believe
themselves to be infallible?
[Translation]
Mr. Hoang Mai: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from
Timmins—James Bay.
Let us not forget that this government is the first in Canadian
history to be guilty of contempt of Parliament. That is the essence of
this government. Clearly, it does not respect Parliament. It is the first
time in Canadian history that a government has been guilty of
contempt of Parliament.
Moreover, this government has a majority. It is perhaps trying to
make up for the times when it had a minority. It is taking that
majority to extremes and ignoring what people have to say.
The recommendations did not necessarily come from the NDP
alone. Public servants were consulted. Having served on the
Standing Committee on Finance, and now as a member of the
Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, I know that the
recommendations were set aside. I wonder if the government reads
them. It scarcely reads them, and when it does so, it is only looking
for points to argue.
There is often no reason to reject the amendments proposed,
especially when they are reasonable and improve the legislation.
[English]
Mr. Andrew Cash (Davenport, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I too
listened with great interest to my colleague's speech and also to
many of the other comments that have been made here today in the
House. It is clear, based on some of the comments we heard earlier,
that members opposite do not seem to have an appreciation that these
are important issues in urban Canada as well. We have produced
several amendments that the government dismissed out of hand.
In fact, since I was elected in 2011, I believe the government has
not entertained a single amendment from the opposition side.
However, it has entertained amendments from the unelected Senate.
Would my colleague comment about this inclination toward a lack of
democracy on the other side of the House?
[Translation]
Mr. Hoang Mai: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from
Davenport for his question.
That is a very good point. I had not yet been elected, but I
remember that when the House passed Jack Layton’s bill on the
environment, it went to the Senate, and the Senate completely killed
it despite the fact that elected members had voted in favour of the
legislation. I know that Jack and my colleagues did a tremendous
amount of work on it. I had not yet been elected, but I found that
extraordinary. I watched the vote on CPAC. That was something I
did not often do at the time. To me, it showed real open-mindedness
and a vision for the future. I was so happy about it. Nevertheless,
without even looking at it, without even referring it to committee or
studying it, the Senate killed it.
It is not for nothing that people wish to abolish the Senate. It has
become such a partisan place. This is to be expected, because
senators are appointed by the Prime Minister. We have seen the
results this produces. Senators with a somewhat dubious past or
dubious positions are not people who will always have good
judgment. Some senators are now demonstrating this.
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It is too bad that they listen to what senators have to say about
bills, but not to the opposition or to witnesses.
● (1300)
[English]
Mr. Jasbir Sandhu (Surrey North, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is an
honour to rise in this House to speak to this very important bill
dealing with the RCMP.
It is important to me and to people in Surrey, British Columbia,
because as members may know, Surrey has the largest RCMP
detachment in the country. The men and women who work in the
RCMP in Surrey do tremendous work to make our communities
safe. In fact, I was very proud to have an opportunity to present
Diamond Jubilee awards to a current member and a retiree in the last
month. I am proud to work with the RCMP on a regular basis and to
look at issues that deal with the RCMP on a regular basis.
As the House of Commons, we have a duty to restore public
confidence in the RCMP, and we have an opportunity with this bill
to do that.
The preamble of the bill states that the goals for this bill are
transparency, improving conduct, strengthening the review and
complaints body, and dealing with the climate of sexual harassment
that exists in the RCMP. Those are all good goals, and we supported
these goals at second reading, hoping that we would be able to
scrutinize the bill more fully at the committee stage.
However, when we got to the committee, we heard witness after
witness pointing out that the bill actually does not address a number
of the issues that have been plaguing the RCMP over the last number
of years. In fact, for the last six or seven years, the Conservatives
have mismanaged this file so badly that the reputation of the RCMP
has taken a beating.
Bill C-42 fails to act on any of the recommendations set out by
Justice O'Connor in the Maher Arar inquiry that aim to improve the
standards of review for the RCMP to meet the needs of Canadians.
The bill is supposed to fix years of mismanagement of the RCMP by
the Conservatives. The Conservatives presented Bill C-42 as a
solution to a dysfunctional RCMP, but it fails to improve any of that.
The bill not only falls short of addressing sexual harassment
within the force but also falls short on a number of other areas that
the NDP tried to amend in the committee. The NDP put forward a
number of amendments meant to ensure that Bill C-42 effectively
meets the challenges the RCMP is facing.
Since I was elected in 2011, the NDP has made hundreds, if not
thousands, of proposed amendments at the committee stage. I am
quite surprised that not one of them has been accepted by the
government. One would think that maybe one, two, three or ten
would make sense to the government; no. It has consistently rejected
all amendments.
Those amendments are based on consultations that happen in the
committee. Experts come to the committee and provide expert
testimony, but we know the Conservatives do not like to consult. On
the aboriginal file, we have seen them fail to consult aboriginal
people time after time. This is a similar case.
We had experts at the committee who provided testimony that
gave good solutions as to how we could restore confidence in the
RCMP. Again the Conservatives failed to take any of the
amendments from the NDP. Some of those amendments included
adding mandatory harassment training for RCMP members and
ensuring a fully independent civilian review body to investigate
complaints against the RCMP.
● (1305)
The credibility of the RCMP has taken shots in a number of highlevel cases in British Columbia over the last number of years. I have
talked to a number of people in my constituency and throughout
British Columbia, and I have heard people on the radio as well
talking about having a civilian body to investigate the RCMP.
Throughout this country, Canadians have been calling for an
investigative body that is independent of the RCMP.
Again, the Conservatives had an opportunity with this bill to put
the RCMP on the right path and restore the confidence of the people
of this country in the RCMP. However, they failed to do that. The
bill before us does not address any of that.
Another of the amendments we proposed was to add a provision
to create a national civilian investigation body that would avoid
having police investigating police. Again, the Conservatives chose
not to accept it.
We also offered to create a more balanced human resource policy
by removing some of the draconian powers proposed for the RCMP
commissioner and by strengthening the external review committee in
cases involving possible dismissal from the force.
I would point out again that we saw the deterioration start under
the Liberal government, and it has continued under the Conservative
government.
The Liberals did not even offer any amendments at the committee
stage. We offered 18 amendments, but not one of them was accepted
by the Conservative government. The Conservatives voted down
every single one of the amendments, ignoring many recommendations made by witnesses at the committee. Witness after witness
explained that legislation alone will not foster a more open and
respectful workplace for all.
We need to see an ongoing effort from the RCMP and the
government to modernize the RCMP. However, Bill C-42 lacks the
transparency and accountability necessary for that change. The bill
does not go far enough in directly addressing the concerns of women
serving in the RCMP, who are calling for urgent action to foster a
more inclusive and safe environment for women in the RCMP. As
well, the bill has been introduced without the benefit of the findings
of the internal gender audit of the RCMP ordered by the
commissioner, which is currently under way but not yet completed.
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The Conservative approach does not make women in the RCMP a
priority, which is necessary if we want to deal with the problem of
harassment in the RCMP. My concern is that over and over we see
the government attempt to gloss over the real issues within the
RCMP and implement quick fixes instead of actually looking at the
root causes of the problems and addressing them. Again, the
Conservatives had an opportunity to do that; we in this House owe it
to Canadians to address these issues, but the Conservatives have
fallen flat on that.
The scope of sexual harassment in the RCMP is massive. We have
seen a number of women come forward to talk publicly about
harassment in the RCMP, and there are currently lawsuits in front of
the courts. We had an opportunity to address this problem, but again
the Conservatives have failed.
To conclude, I stress that in my community of Surrey and in
communities across this country, crime and violence are a reality.
Many shootings have occurred in the greater Vancouver region in
broad daylight. However, instead of investing in crime prevention
programs, the Conservative government is actually making it harder
for the RCMP to do its job. Our job is to help the RCMP, give its
members tools and resources, and invest in our forces.
The Conservatives had an opportunity to improve the reputation
of the RCMP. We must get to the root cause of the internal cultural
problem of sexual harassment in the RCMP, and we need to finally
have binding independent civilian oversight so that we can deal with
the real issues of accountability and transparency and ultimately
restore public confidence in our force.
● (1310)
Mr. Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
am very pleased to stand to speak to Bill C-42, an act to amend the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act., an issue that is not only of
importance to all members in the House, but is of great interest to the
public at large, from coast to coast.
To put this in context, I want to pick up on some of the themes that
were mentioned by my hon. colleague from Hamilton East—Stoney
Creek, who gave one of the most thoughtful speeches on this subject,
or any subject that I have heard in the House in years. What he
touched upon, and what is important, was the special relationship
that Canadians have with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I do
not think there is a more memorable symbol of our country around
the world than the iconic Royal Canadian Mounted Police figure. It
has played a pivotal role in the history and development of Canada
and is responsible for delivering police and community safety
services in communities across our country.
This long storied history is not uncheckered. Like any organization, it has not been perfect. It has had its challenges in the past and it
has its challenges today.
The job that we call upon of our RCMP women and men across
the country to do is one that is of utmost importance to Canadians. It
is one of the most challenging and difficult ones that exists. We
expect these men and women to answer calls in the middle of the
night, often alone, and to be first responders at times of crisis,
tragedy and emergency. We expect them to be the first people on the
scene of an accident to deal with death and injury. We expect them to
put their lives on the line in defending our communities and keeping
people safe. For that, all members of the House join together in
expressing our deep gratitude and respect for the men and women of
the RCMP.
At the same time, the RCMP is an organization that is facing some
serious challenges. Is it possible in 2013 to create a national police
force that has a proper civilian oversight structure? Is it possible to
construct a labour relations framework that not only gives management the tools it needs to ensure there is an appropriate standard of
conduct for the staff that work under it, as well as a fair structure for
the men and women to ensure they have access to justice and are
treated fairly and equitably? Is it possible to expect that we can have
a national organization that can deal promptly, swiftly, fairly and
adequately with important issues like sexual harassment? Is it
possible to have a modern-day police force that meets the
expectations of Canadians? I think all members of the New
Democratic Party say, absolutely, we can do that and in fact we
should do that.
Bill C-42 is the Conservative government's response to longstanding claims of sexual harassment in the RCMP and to some
difficult scandals that have made headlines as a result of problems
with the disciplinary process and, if we are honest, lenient
disciplinary measures handed out to officers accused of serious
misconduct.
Bill C-42 proposes to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Act in three main areas. First, it adds new provisions to the labour
relations clauses and gives the RCMP commissioner the power to
appoint and dismiss members as he or she sees fit. Second, it seeks
to reform discipline, grievance and human resource management
processes for members. Last, it seeks to reform the former Royal
Canadian Mounted Police Public Complaints Commission by
establishing a “new” civilian complaints commission and implement
a new framework to handle investigations of serious incidents
involving members.
Because of the immense respect we have for the RCMP, we can
talk about some of these challenges. We have had cases of deaths
occurring in custody. In my home province of British Columbia,
some very serious questions were raised about the conduct of RCMP
officers when civilians died while in the hands of the police. Over
200 women have joined a class action lawsuit alleging sexual
harassment against members of the RCMP and making the more
disturbing allegation of a widespread, well-entrenched system of
gender harassment within that structure.
● (1315)
Bill C-42 reiterates many of the provisions of Bill C-38 from the
40th Parliament. At that time, the NDP criticized that bill for not
going far enough in dealing with these very important issues. A very
significant difference from the former Bill C-38 and the present Bill
C-42 before the House today is silence on the issue of unionization
of the RCMP. I would like to start there for a moment.
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There has already been a court decision that has struck down the
labour relations structure in the RCMP as being unconstitutional. As
I said when I was public safety critic, the RCMP is the only police
force in the country that does not have the right to have its men and
women freely choose their bargain representative and engage in free
collective bargaining. It is a national embarrassment. It is also unjust
to the men and women who all members of the House claim to
support and respect. If we truly respect the men and women we send
into dangerous situations, should we not also respect their ability to
decide who will bargain the terms and conditions of their work and
raise concerns as any other group in the country is free to do? I think
we do.
It is not acceptable that to this day the government has not
replaced the bargaining structure in the RCMP with a free collective
bargaining structure that respects norms, a bargaining structure that
not only every worker in the country expects but that is contained in
international treaties to which Canada is signatory. The main reason
we oppose the bill is that it refuses to deal with this very important
issue.
When we talk about sexual harassment, as my friend from
Hamilton East—Stoney Creek so eloquently pointed out, one of the
many workplace issues that organized labour has worked toward in
the county and has helped improve is the situation of harassment in
the workplace, including sexual harassment. It is only by changing
workplace culture and the attitudes not only of management but of
the men and women who are in a bargaining unit or performing
labour that we can make meaningful progress.
The fact that the government has failed to act as the court has
directed it to—that being to replace the unconstitutional labour
relations structure with one that actually conforms to our law and the
legitimate desires of the men and women in the RCMP—is a
contributing factor to the poisoned context and situation that occurs
in many RCMP detachments across the country.
The NDP supported the intention of Bill C-42 to modernize the
RCMP and address issues such as sexual harassment in the force and
voted for the bill to move to committee because we believed that it
was important to work with the government to bring in effective
legislation. We made that good-faith attempt.
I have been in the chamber long enough to know that no party has
a monopoly on good ideas. Sometimes they come from the right,
sometimes from the left and sometimes from the centre. However,
the Conservatives have an unprecedented fashion, governed by
rejecting virtually every idea that comes from any other part of this
chamber, because they are hyperpartisan and extreme.
We hear the hon. members clapping when they are called extreme.
I will leave it for Canadians to judge the thinking that goes behind
that.
● (1320)
I want to point out, as well, that the bill fails to directly address the
issue of sexual harassment in the force. It fails to bring a civilian
oversight body that is truly independent. It fails to deal with the
unionization requirements of the workforce. It also fails to put in an
adequate system that would deal with sexual harassment.
The New Democrats remain ready and willing to work with the
government to fix those problems and we urge it to do so. The men
and women of the RCMP and the public deserve to have a modern
RCMP that upholds the finest traditions of this force and makes it
prepared for the century ahead.
Ms. Candice Bergen (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Public Safety, CPC): Mr. Speaker, is my hon. colleague aware of
some of the amendments that his colleagues put forward during
committee? One of them was to change the short title of the bill,
which really had absolutely no purpose. Therefore, we defeated that
one as it was not a good amendment.
Another proposed amendment shows that the NDP is not ready to
govern because it does not know legislation and how it works. The
NDP wanted to use word “harassment” within the legislation. We
argued, and the Liberals agreed with us, that we did not put specific
words in legislation like that. We give the RCMP the ability to deal
with all kinds of inappropriate behaviour.
Ian McPhail just came forward with the report that stated
harassment was not the number one problem in the RCMP, that it
was actually bullying. The members on that side are strangely silent
on that issue right now, which is smart. The bill would give the
RCMP the ability to modernize the discipline process to deal with
not only harassment but bullying and other inappropriate behaviour.
It would give it the ability to have an absolutely independent civilian
oversight body, as well as a number of other things for which the
commissioner and the chair of the complaints commission asked.
The New Democrats members on the committee proposed 18
amendments to help strengthen the bill and make it conform to not
only the necessities of good legislation but also the dictates of
previous commissions and the requests of very informed respected
people who were knowledgeable about the RCMP, such as former
RCMP complaints commissioner Paul Kennedy, groups such as the
Supreme Court of Canada and people like Justice O'Connor, who
made recommendations in the aftermath of the Arar inquiry as to
how the RCMP could improve its standards. These are eminent nonpartisan people who have made a number of deeply thoughtful
suggestions as to how we can modernize and improve the RCMP.
The NDP wanted to help build that legislation.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Order, please. The
hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway.
Unfortunately, the Conservatives rejected every one of those 18
amendments. For Canadians watching, this is a common daily
occurrence in the chamber.
Mr. Don Davies: Mr. Speaker, some of the amendments that the
NDP proposed dealt with adding mandatory harassment training for
RCMP members, specifically in the RCMP Act.
The NDP members are down to process arguments. That is all
they have left. They did not get their poorly written amendments
passed, so they will not support the bill.
Is that what the member really thinks is going—
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When we have a national scandal going where 200 women have
launched a class action lawsuit alleging sexual harassment in the
workplace, does one not think that putting mandatory harassment
training in a bill dealing with the RCMP would be logical response?
The New Democrats did. That is not procedure; that is substance.
The NDP proposed to ensure a fully independent civilian review
body to investigate complaints against the RCMP. The number one
problem with oversight of police forces in our country is that it
allows, and the bill would still allow, police to investigate police. If
we ask Canadians if they think it is a truly independent process to
have police investigate police, even a different police force, they will
tell us no.
Finally, the NDP asked for an amendment to create a national
civilian investigative body that would be fully independent and
could actually initiate investigations on its own and that would not
have to report to the minister to avoid partisan political interference.
There are the kinds of substantive amendments the NDP put
forward.
I might add that we will take no lessons from the Liberals, who
put in zero amendments and who were in government for much of
the last 30 years and did absolutely nothing to modernize these
problems within the RCMP.
● (1325)
Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I find it distressing that the Conservatives are attempting to diminish
the effect of sexual harassment on the 200 and some women by
saying that it is merely a case of bullying. The RCMP commissioner,
Robert Paulson, said, “I've said it publicly, and I'll say it again. I
think the problem is bigger than simply the sexual harassment. It is
the idea of harassment”. The commissioner of the RCMP understands that it is an issue of harassment.
What does hon. colleague think about the Conservatives
attempting to say that this is just some minor schoolyard bullying
and not harassment? It is very different terms.
Mr. Don Davies: Absolutely, Mr. Speaker. If we just stop and
think for a moment, in 2013 I think Canadians expect that when men
and women walk through the workplace door, they do not check
their rights. When they walk through the workplace door, they
expect to be treated professionally. They expect to have their civil
rights respected. They expect to not have other co-workers be
allowed to intimidate them, to demand sexual services, to suggest
sexual services, to make fun of them, to have any kind of treatment
or words or conduct that demeans their dignity as workers. We
expect the people in the RCMP to uphold the law.
Here is the difference between the NDP and the Conservatives.
The NDP believes RCMP officers should also have the benefit of the
law. In this country, sexual harassment and bullying, and I do not
make any real distinction between those two things, are both
offensive and unacceptable. For the Conservative member to
suggest, and she sits on the public safety committee, that somehow
or other bullying is somehow a less serious form of workplace
treatment than harassment shows the depth of misunderstanding that
the government has and why the bill is so flawed.
Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
as always, it is a great honour to stand in the House and represent the
people of Timmins—James Bay and to speak on the issue of
reforming the RCMP, which is a very serious issue.
Mr. Greg Rickford: Oh, oh!
Mr. Charlie Angus: Mr. Speaker, I see the member for Kenora is
attempting to shut down my ability to speak, but he should realize
this is not grade 6; I am actually here to speak.
In my region in terms of police issues, we see the Nishnawbe-Aski
Police underfunding and the post-traumatic stress that is being faced
by front-line officers. Our officers and our citizens expect that the
people we put on the front lines will have the benefit of a secure
work environment. That is a fundamental for them to have a secure
work environment so that they can go out and create safety in our
communities. Whether or not it is the Nishnawbe-Aski Police who in
northern Ontario are dramatically underfunded and are servicing
communities without backup, without proper radios in their
detachments and with jail cells that are often in third world
conditions, they put themselves above and beyond time and time
again.
We look at the RCMP, which is perhaps one of the most famous
symbols of Canada. As Canadians, we do not often brag about our
history. We think our history is boring, but there is something to be
said about the fact that we have a tradition in this country where we
had a system of law and order. The Dakota Sioux talked about
crossing the famous medicine line that was the 49th parallel; it was
to go from lawlessness to the idea of the rule of law. That was
because of our North West Mounted Police at the time.
Canadians, whatever their political stripes, whatever region of the
country they are from, are invested in the RCMP. We all agree it has
been very distressing that we have a very troubled force—the
undermining of the force, the issues of harassment and the issues of
leadership.
The bill purports to address the issues of harassment at the RCMP,
where we have an unprecedented case of 200 women police officers
who came forward in a class action lawsuit over the issue of
harassment, which is intimidation, threats, the demand for sexual
services that is completely unacceptable. It is a culture that has gone
on far too long. I would like to quote Robert Paulson, the RCMP
commissioner, who agrees on the need for this reform. “It's the
culture of the organization that has not kept pace”, he said.
We haven't been able to change our practices and our policies, or provide systems
that would permit women to thrive in the organization and contribute to policing,
which they must do....
I've said it publicly, and I'll say it again. I think the problem is much bigger than
simply sexual harassment. It is the idea of harassment. The idea that we have a
hierarchical organization overseeing men and women who have extraordinary
powers in relation to their fellow citizens, which requires a fair degree of
discipline.
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How do we address this poison that has affected and undermined
our national police force? We were hoping we would be able to work
with the Conservatives on bringing forward legislation that would
get to the core of the problem and snuff this problem out once and
for all. Unfortunately, once again we have a government that
believes it is above democracy, that does not accept amendments,
that does not accept debate. We have a government that is
unprecedented in its use of shutting down debate in the House of
Commons, of shutting down organizations like the round table on
sustainable environment and the economy.
Conservatives are very threatened by anything that challenges
them. It is a level of anger and paranoia. I have never seen such sore
winners in my whole life. It is disturbing because the idea of
democracy is that Canadians send us to the House of Commons to
work together, and the muttering and the anger I see on the other side
is reflective of very defensive and insecure people who are afraid to
actually get to the bottom of the issue.
The New Democrats brought forward a number of good-faith
recommendations, and some of those recommendations are key to
addressing this, one of which is to address the issue of harassment.
That is what the bill is about, but the government does not want to
say it. The other is the need to establish a civilian oversight board. If
we ask any Canadians how they ensure police services are
accountable, they would say we should have an independent civilian
board.
● (1330)
Unfortunately, what we see with the government is the idea that it
will just give the RCMP commissioner the power to fire someone he
feels has broken the rules.
It is important to move the process along for dealing with people
who perpetrate harassment, but we also recognize the need, again
through civilian independent review, to be able to look at the whole
instance. It is not just about holding people accountable, but it is
about ensuring that officers are actually able to have the right to due
process.
This is a government that refuses to recognize the desire of the
RCMP to put in place a members' union so that they could be
protected and so that there is a balancing act.
Let us look at what the Canadian Police Association has said
about this bill. Mr. Tom Stamatakis said:
Bill C-42 provides the commissioner with extraordinary powers in this regard,
powers that go beyond what one might find in other police services across Canada.
Again, it is unbalanced. The government is not looking at what
other police services do. One would think that the government would
actually listen and look at other areas that work, but the government
is very paranoid and actually seems to believe it is infallible. It does
not look to other services; it just ignores them. It is ignoring the
president of the Canadian Police Association.
The Canadian Association of Police Boards president, Dr. Alok
Mukherjee, said:
We...share the concerns that have been expressed...about...the...provisions of the
bill. We fear that they could undermine true, effective oversight.
The Canadian Association of Police Boards opposes the
government's plans.
Mr. Ian McPhail, who is the interim chair of the Commission for
Public Complaints Against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
says:
The credibility of any civilian review process will be lost if the agency subject to
review is in a position to control when investigation may or may not occur.
These are serious objections. They are not frivolous. If we had a
sense of working for the common good in this House of Commons,
we could have fixed the problems in this bill. We could have ensured
that this bill had the power to deal with the issue of harassment, that
we had a civilian oversight board, and that we had started to put in
place the mandatory harassment training. It is needed in that
organization. When there are 200 officers coming forward in a class
action law suit, it is needed.
In terms of restoring the trust of Canadians, in terms of addressing
the legitimization crisis, especially now with the allegations of
potential sexual crimes on the trail of tears, Canadians need to know
that if they bring forward allegations they will be investigated, they
will be investigated fairly and independently. That is not what this
bill does.
This bill actually creates another cone of protection around the
leadership in the RCMP and, by extension, the government in that
they would be able to limit the reviews, fire the troublemakers and
not address the fundamental problems.
As parliamentarians we need to realize that this is not just about
the attack notes that come out of the PMO on any given day. This is
about saying there is a long-term systemic problem; it has been
identified; it is undermining the officers and the communities they
represent; and it is incumbent upon this House to begin to address
this.
Let us look at some of the amendments that were turned down:
adding mandatory harassment training for RCMP members,
specifically to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act; ensuring a
fully independent civilian review board to investigate complaints
against the RCMP; adding a provision to create a national civilian
investigative body that would avoid police investigating police; and
the issue of creating more balanced human resource policies by
removing some of the draconian powers that actually exist with the
RCMP commissioner now.
This is not about a witch hunt. This is about ensuring that the
RCMP officers, male and female, who go into their workplace and
put their lives on the line in community after community across this
country, can do so in an environment where they can be safe, free
from intimidation, free from sexual threat, and at the end of the day
that they can be promoted based on their merit, not on their sex.
Unfortunately, the government ignored every single amendment,
just as it has done with every attempt in this House to move forward
legislation. It refuses to work with anyone else. It believes itself
infallible. Once again, it is showing the error of its way, and we have
a bill that will not address the fundamental problem, which is the
harassment in the RCMP.
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● (1335)
● (1340)
Mrs. Stella Ambler (Mississauga South, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I
would just like to point out, before I ask the member opposite a
question, that Ian McPhail of the independent RCMP complaints
commission did appear before the status of women committee last
week. He specifically said that the commission found, through
surveys and investigation, that the problem of harassment and sexual
harassment is not in fact systemic.
Mr. Charlie Angus: Mr. Speaker, I think that example is
excellent, because it shows how ridiculous government looks when
it believes it is infallible, when good amendments are brought
forward.
However, that is not to say that there are not very important issues
that need to be addressed, and I want the member opposite to know
that they are being addressed. In fact, today at committee, E division
deputy commissioner Callens appeared to talk about the work it is
doing.
Every member in this House has a right to bring forward
amendments, because we are here to work for the common good.
However, the government shuts down everything and sees it as a
personal threat. I see this in debate after debate on bill after bill.
I would like to ask the member opposite specifically if he agrees
that establishing a civilian complaints body under Bill C-42 would
help the problem. Why does he think that harassment and sexual
harassment need to be detailed specifically, when Bill C-42
addresses the entire problem of all of these issues?
Mr. Charlie Angus: Mr. Speaker, I refer my hon. colleague back
to the words of the RCMP commissioner himself, who said that the
problem was harassment and that this was the culture in the RCMP.
He said that.
However, when the Conservatives realize that they have created a
really bad bill because they have been blocking their ears and not
listening to reality, often they will just pass it and not care.
Sometimes they have to rely on the Senate—the unelected,
unaccountable Senate that is under massive investigation right
now. The Conservatives do not mind going to the perps in the
Senate, but they will not listen to the democratically elected
members of this House.
Now we hear, “Oh, it's not systemic”. Earlier we heard the
Conservatives say, “Well, it's not harassment; it's just bullying”, as
though we can somehow diminish the issue of sexual intimidation,
threats and violence against workers with “it's bullying” or “it's not
systemic”.
That shows us that this government is fundamentally afraid of
accountability and democracy.
Well, if it was not systemic, then there would not be 200 police
officers coming forward in a class action law suit.
Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to discuss concerns about Bill C-42.
Again, this is the kind of bubble the Conservatives live in. They
believe that if they ignore the issues, if they shout down the
opposition, that it will all just go away. This is what has created the
rot and undermined one of the greatest police services in the world.
We need to get to the bottom of this and we need to deal with the
issue of harassment, just as the RCMP commissioner has called on
us to do.
Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, a while ago there was a justice bill going through this
House, and our hon. learned colleague for Mount Royal proposed
about eight to ten amendments. Every single one of those
amendments was refused at committee, absolutely refused. However,
when the bill came to third reading here in the House of Commons,
the government realized it should have taken those amendments. The
bill then went to the Senate, where a senator introduced almost the
exact same amendments to the bill.
The NDP proposed some very proper and straightforward
amendments to Bill C-42 that would fix the bill and address some
of the concerns that my hon. colleague has outlined. Again, in
typical Conservative Party fashion, the Conservatives refused any of
the amendments, which is a huge mistake.
I would like my hon. colleague to comment on that, please.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with government members or
anybody introducing legislation for better transparency, better
accountability or better working arrangements within any department. The unfortunate part is that Bill C-42 would leave out many
issues.
I have been following the RCMP and have been a fan for many
years. I have been following careers and have tried, through my
Veterans Affairs advocacy, to ensure that veterans of the RCMP
receive the benefits they so rightly deserve.
Let us go back to how some of these things have happened. It was
the current government that appointed, for the first time in my
memory, a civilian to be the commissioner of the RCMP. If the
Conservatives had tried to do that to the military and make a civilian
the CDS, there would have been a riot and an uproar. For whatever
reason, they thought it was okay that a civilian, Mr. Elliott, could
look after the RCMP. Right away we could see that the rank and file
RCMP members across the country were really upset. Many of them
in my own riding were upset. They said that was not the way to go.
February 28, 2013
COMMONS DEBATES
14437
Government Orders
Young people join Depot and do the training and put on the
yellow stripe. Probably the proudest day in many of these young
men and women's lives is to wear the red serge. Maybe someone has
ambitions and wishes to grow within the RCMP and maybe one day
be the commissioner of the RCMP. Basically, the Conservatives said,
“Don't worry about it. We're going to hire one of our friends and
make him or her the commissioner of the RCMP”. That was such a
wrong thing to do. It is nothing against Mr. Elliott personally. It is
just that he never wore the uniform. I honestly believe that the only
person who should be the commissioner of the RCMP or the CDS of
the military should be someone who has actually worn the uniform at
one time. That is my personal belief.
SISIP clawback legalities they went through after five years of
litigation? No. Their answer is, “Take us to court”.
Only the Conservatives can do this. The RCMP has an
organization called the Pay Council, which negotiates with
government its pay and benefits for future years. In 2009, after
many months of negotiation, they negotiated a 3.5% increase, which
was fair in 2009. That was negotiated between the Government of
Canada and the Pay Council of the RCMP. It was an agreement. On
December 23, in the afternoon, an email went out from the minister's
office saying that the 3.5% they had negotiated was completely off
the board now and that they were getting 1.5%, end of story. It was
just before Christmas. It was the Conservatives who did that, not the
NDP, not the Liberals, not the Bloc, not the Greens, and not the
independents. The Conservatives did that. Just before Christmas,
they rolled back the pay increases of RCMP members without
consultation. Just like that, it was done. Mr. Elliott said that there
was nothing we could do at that time.
When my colleagues introduced amendments at the committee
stage to improve the legislation, with very little discussion, the
response from Conservatives was, “No, we are not accepting any
opposition amendments. It is our way or the highway”.
Also, on the desk of the former public safety minister, Mr.
Stockwell Day, there was a long-standing request for members of the
RCMP and their families to have access to the VIP, the veterans
independence program, which is a great program for those in the
military who receive it, although many of them do not. It allows
members of the military and their families to stay in their homes
longer as they age and require help with groundskeeping and
housekeeping services. RCMP veterans have been asking for the
same program for many years. What did they get from the
Conservatives? They said no, even though it has been a request on
the desk for many years.
The third factor in the abuse of RCMP veterans is that recently the
government had to be taken to court to settle the SISIP clawback.
These are pain and suffering payments. They came back. That ended
up costing taxpayers $880 million, $150 million of which was
interest and legal fees, which never would have had to be paid if the
government had only listened in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Especially in 2007, before the legal proceedings started, the
government could have saved an awful lot of money and a lot of
aggravation on the SISIP clawback. The veterans won their case, and
now those cheques will eventually be going out. We are glad that it
has happened.
● (1345)
Did the Conservatives learn from that mistake? No. What have
they done now? About 1,000 disabled RCMP veterans in the country
have a lawsuit against the government on literally the exact same
thing, a clawback of pain and suffering payments from their
superannuation. Did the Conservatives learn from the expensive
Given these three examples of the Conservatives' attitude toward
the men and women of the RCMP, RCMP veterans and their
families, it is no wonder that we on this side of the House distrust
them when they bring forward legislation that is faulty at best.
We agree with the fact that there are certain elements of the RCMP
that need changing, internally and structurally. We understand that,
and we are willing to work with the government to see that it
happens.
As I said before, the justice committee was doing a justice bill.
My hon. colleague from Mount Royal introduced some very relevant
and important amendments that would have strengthened the bill and
made it constitutionally legal in many ways. He is one of the finest
human rights people in the entire world. He is one of the most
respected people I know. He does not do things on the fly or willynilly. He is a thoughtful and intelligent person. He introduced
amendments, and the Conservatives said, “No, we're not going to do
it”.
It got to third reading, when amendments cannot be introduced,
and all of a sudden, the government realized that maybe it should
have listened to him. The bill went to the Senate, where a senator
introduced amendments that were almost word for word the
amendments the hon. member for Mount Royal introduced at the
committee. It is incredible. What level of arrogance does the
government have when it thinks that nobody in the opposition has an
idea that may improve something it is bringing forward? It is
incredible.
I have said for many years that it took the Liberals a long time to
develop that arrogance. The Conservatives developed it very
quickly, and I do not know why. Individual members of the
Conservative Party are very good people. I do not know why they
think they are the only ones who have all the answers. Many people
came before committee and brought forward amendments that we in
the opposition took from them to give the government. The answer
was no.
The three examples I have given show exactly how the
government treats RCMP members and their families. It is no
wonder there is distrust. It is no wonder the morale among some
members of the RCMP is really low.
I have been helping a veteran RCMP member for many years with
his case with DVA. He lives in my riding. He said the proudest day
of his life was when he put the red serge on at Depot. It was the
proudest day of his life. He said the happiest day of his life was when
he took it off. What did the RCMP or the government at the time do
to make him so upset with the organization he had been willing to
live and die for?
14438
COMMONS DEBATES
February 28, 2013
Government Orders
We in the NDP want to tell the government that we understand
what it is trying to do. We are willing to work with it in this regard. It
is going to have to bend to make this bill an awful lot better. If it is
not willing to do that, then obviously, we are going to have to oppose
this legislation.
I say, in closing, that the men and women who serve the RCMP
have unlimited liability. We in government or in the opposition have
the ultimate responsibility to see that their needs and their families'
needs are met.
● (1350)
Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
as the member is aware, I am retired from the RCMP. I am very
proud of the RCMP and am happy to wear the red serge today. I
would strongly suggest to the hon. member that the retired RCMP
member he was speaking of probably has a pension and was happy
to receive that.
Beyond that and the other things the member said, I think the
RCMP has served our country very well for 140 years and continues
to serve its members as best it can. Bill C-42 just extends an
opportunity for what the commissioners of the RCMP want, whether
it be the first one, MacLeod, or Paulson, and that is the power to do
something within the organization that since 1873 it has not been
able to do. I would like to hear one thing from the other side that
shows that the commissioner has had the power, because he has not.
Bill C-42 is at least a start down the road. Commissioner Paulson
has been very clear that he wants to eliminate the problems within
the RCMP. Does the member believe that Bill C-42 is at least a good
start for the Commissioner of the RCMP?
Mr. Peter Stoffer: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his
service. The reality is that the gentleman I spoke to was very proud
of his RCMP service. What he is not proud of is the way the
government is handling his pension benefits affairs when he is
fighting with DVA. That is what he is angry about.
We just want to ensure that the office of the commissioner does
not have over-extenuating powers and that when the men and
women of the RCMP have grievances or concerns that they are able
to have them addressed properly. We agree that Bill C-42 was a
discussion point to open up concerns within the RCMP.
I throw the question back to my hon. colleague. Why would his
government not accept any amendments that came from experts,
which were passed on to us and that we passed on to the
government? Why is it that he, on behalf of his government, thinks
that only they have the answers when it comes to the RCMP, when
the fact is that we were trying to assist and help improve Bill C-42?
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
the issue of sexual harassment in the RCMP is an issue the Liberals
have been talking about for the last number of years. In May 2012,
Commissioner Paulson came forward with a public letter about how
important it was that there be more authority for the commissioner to
have the capacity to deal with disciplinary action. The sexual
harassment issue is one of the things that really stirred that pot.
Bill C-42 has many shortcomings. We probably both would agree
on the fact that it could have done a lot more in terms of making the
bill better legislation. I agree with that. I agree with his comments,
especially when he talked about trying to get amendments through
with this government.
Does he see any merit whatsoever in Bill C-42? Does the bill
improve the system at all?
Mr. Peter Stoffer: Mr. Speaker, as with most bills, there are
always certain elements that move the discussion forward, possibly
in a proactive way. The unfortunate part is that we have to take the
bill in its entirety. The reality is that we cannot just pick a bill and
say that one part is good and the rest is not. It is sort of like a budget.
There are thousands of things in it. One thing is good and the rest is
bad.
The unfortunate part is that Bill C-42 has many flaws. I am not
sure if they are going to be supporting the legislation, but I
encourage my hon. colleague to rethink the bill, because it could be
greatly improved, and we have some suggestions for how to do that.
● (1355)
Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I thank
my colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore for the tone and
content of his remarks. I think he has summarized our objections to
the bill in a very comprehensive way, from the heart and out of
principle.
Given the nature and subject matter of the bill, I also want to
recognize and pay tribute to my colleagues from London—
Fanshawe, Churchill, Halifax, and the many others who are
volunteering to be recognized today, with the notable exception of
the member for Kings—Hants, for the contributions they have made
to this important subject matter, which includes not only the serious
issue of sexual harassment in the workplace but also the issue of
restoring confidence and pride in our national police force, the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police.
For whatever reason, we know that the image of the RCMP has
suffered in recent years as a result of unresolved allegations,
investigations and complaints regarding the operations and functions
of that workplace in the context of harassment and in the broader
context of bullying, a word that has come up a number of times in
comments by learned members in the House. Bullying has almost
become a motif or theme throughout a great deal of the objections
we have heard, and I think we cannot separate the two.
I am also proud of the opposition day motion that my colleague
put forward, the motion regarding an anti-bullying policy or strategy
for this country. It is a shame that the anti-bullying initiative was
turned down, because the issue we are dealing with today could be
quite appropriately dealt with in the context of that anti-bullying
legislation.
The reason I wanted to compliment my colleague from Sackville
—Eastern Shore is that he got to the root of the problem, which is
that it is actually too late to be debating the merits of the bill now that
it is at third reading.
February 28, 2013
COMMONS DEBATES
14439
Statements by Members
We tried to amend the bill at committee stage. We supported the
bill at second reading in the hopeful belief that there was an intention
of co-operation by the government side members to accommodate
some of the legitimate concerns we brought forward. The theme of
the speech by my colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore was with
respect to an arrogance in this place, the likes of which we have
never seen in the government, as it has refused to allow a single
amendment to a single piece of legislation in the entire 41st
Parliament.
I was a member of Parliament during the majority Liberal
government. We were a small party, about the size the Liberals are
now, and almost as irrelevant as the Liberals are now. However, we
did have one member on each committee, just as the Liberals have
now. I can say without any fear of contradiction that during the
Liberal majority years, my colleagues and I used to get amendments
through on pieces of legislation at committee. That is only
reasonable, because in a Westminster parliamentary democracy
there is an obligation on the ruling party to accommodate some of
the legitimate issues brought forward by the majority of Canadians
who did not vote for the majority party.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Order. I must
interrupt the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre at this point. He
will have six minutes remaining when the matter returns before the
House.
[English]
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
Mr. James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake, CPC): Mr. Speaker, after
facing persecution in 2005 for converting to Christianity, Pastor
Saeed Abedini fled Iran for America.
One year ago Abedini returned to Iran to visit his family and build
an orphanage. He was arrested.
Last month Abedini was sentenced to eight years in prison for
starting Christian House churches in Iran. He was accused by the
judge of being a national security threat. Abedini is in the Evin
prison in Tehran. It has been compared to a gulag for political
prisoners.
While it may be easy to take our freedoms for granted here in
Canada, we must never forget that so many other nations do not
protect these rights. Human rights are most often violated by
persecuting people for their religious beliefs.
Canada has always served as a safe haven for religious minorities
escaping persecution. I am proud to say that this government has
taken the principled stand of defending religious freedom at home
and abroad. Nothing has proven this commitment more than the
establishment of Canada's Office of Religious Freedom. This is a
signal to the world that this government stands for freedom,
democracy and human rights.
***
[Translation]
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
● (1400)
[Translation]
EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Mr. Jean-François Fortin (Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of
Human Resources had an opportunity to show some openness and to
note the devastating impact of the employment insurance reform that
she is shoving down the throats of Quebeckers.
The minister first met with representatives of the Coalition de
l'Est, who provided concrete examples of the major and immediate
impact of the new measures. Then, she had a meeting with the
Quebec Minister of Labour on the tragic consequences of the reform
for Quebec workers, their families and for our communities.
On both occasions, the minister responsible for the reform rudely
and flippantly cut short the testimonies and arguments. Her
arrogance towards Quebeckers is further incentive to do whatever
it takes and take as long as we need to fight and win this battle.
Rest assured that the Bloc Québécois, along with workers and
employers from all regions of Quebec, and the Government of
Quebec, will fight to the end.
BUSINESS TRAINING AND RECOVERY CENTRES
Mr. Pierre Nantel (Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, today I would like to talk about the mandate of the Centres
de formation en entreprise et récupération, commonly known as
CFERs. Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the CFER at
Jacques-Ouellette school in Longueuil. The company-school shreds
confidential documents. I met dynamic, dedicated teachers and I
spoke with youth who, despite being visually impaired, find it
motivating to be developing their skills.
I cannot talk about CFERs without mentioning De Mortagne high
school in Boucherville. The youth there, who will visit Ottawa this
spring, collect second-hand clothing from Hydro-Québec and
SEPAQ.
I must admit, I am a loyal customer of theirs, and I do not hesitate
to make purchases at these stores, where you can find gloves, work
clothes and overshoes for winter. To the youth involved in CFERs
across Quebec: you are models of perseverance.
***
[English]
HUMAN RIGHTS
Mr. David Sweet (Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I wish to extend thanks for the hospitality
and to thank all parliamentarians who attended the memorial event to
commemorate the second anniversary of the shocking assassination
of the Hon. Shahbaz Bhatti, federal minister for minorities of the
Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
14440
COMMONS DEBATES
February 28, 2013
Statements by Members
Shahbaz Bhatti was the sole Christian minister in the government
of Pakistan, and his brutal murder two years ago sent a chill to the
soul of the nation. It was truly a dark day in human history.
Calverley, Mamie De Groot, Kory Whitlow, Shirley McCarthy,
Margaret Thompson, Pauline Wyville and Joan Stephenson on
receiving this award.
The late Minister Bhatti's life work was to promote peace,
tolerance and understanding among peoples of all faiths in Pakistan
and throughout the world.
Nurses are a vital link between patients and families, and it is great
to see that a spotlight is being put on nurses.
It was also my privilege to attend the announcement last week at
which our Prime Minister appointed Dr. Andrew Bennett as head of
Canada's Office of Religious Freedom. He did so in the spirit of
Shahbaz Bhatti's mission of peace, tolerance and understanding
among all peoples.
As a country that cherishes human rights, democracy, freedom and
the rule of law, let us never forget what Shahbaz Bhatti stood for.
***
PARLIAMENTARY INTERNSHIP PROGRAMME
Hon. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, last night
I had the honour of attending the annual parliamentary internship
programme gala dinner with my intern Morgan Ring, who is a
terrific intern with whom I am honoured to work.
The parliamentary internship programme brings Parliament to life
for 10 exceptional young Canadians every year.
Last night at the dinner we were joined by Globe and Mail writer
Jeffrey Simpson, who actually was one of the distinguished interns
some time ago. We were also joined by Derek Burney, a great
Canadian public servant, who gave an inspiring and insightful
speech on free trade and Canada's role in shaping the future of global
trade.
We also heard from Ed Lumley, a former member of Parliament
and one of Canada's great trade ministers. I would like to thank Mr.
Lumley and BMO Capital Markets, where he is the vice-chairman,
for their continued support of the parliamentary internship
programme. Last night Mr. Lumley launched an additional
$250,000 in support for this exceptional program.
Congratulations to all for this well-deserved recognition, and I
thank all nurses for their outstanding work.
***
[Translation]
EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Mr. Philip Toone (Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, a delegation from the Coalition de l'Est sur l'assuranceemploi, which includes representatives from all sectors in the five
regions of eastern Quebec, came to Ottawa yesterday to meet with
the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. This
delegation was representing hundreds of thousands of Quebeckers.
That same day, demonstrations were held in Pointe-à-la-Croix,
Chandler, Rivière-au-Renard, the Magdalen Islands, Sainte-Annedes-Monts and elsewhere in show of support for the delegation. All
these people are saying no to the minister's reform.
The delegation met with the minister to explain the very
devastating effects of her reform, and the fact that she is not
considering the situation in their area. Unfortunately, the delegation
left empty-handed, and the minister insinuated that they were
spreading lies. The delegation now feels that this government is
incapable of listening.
I am proud of the work done so far by the Coalition de l'Est, and I
know that it will continue to mobilize against the reform. Employment insurance belongs to workers and employers. The minister
must put her reform on hold.
***
***
● (1405)
CARING NURSE AWARD RECIPIENTS
Mr. Larry Miller (Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, an anonymous author once said, “Save one life, you're a
hero. Save 100 lives, you're a nurse”.
I stand today to recognize the hard work and dedication of nurses
in Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, and indeed of all nurses across
Canada.
[English]
GOVERNMENT POLICIES
Mr. Colin Mayes (Okanagan—Shuswap, CPC): Mr. Speaker, a
former statesman once said, “A wise and frugal government, which
shall restrain citizens from injuring one another, shall leave them
otherwise free to pursue individual enterprise and shall not take from
the mouth of labour the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good
government.”
A number of nurses in Bruce County and Grey County were
recently awarded the Caring Nurse Award from Bayshore's Healthy
Tomorrows Association. Recipients are nurses who are nominated
by their fellow community members and who merit being
recognized for outstanding work in their community.
The three principles of this statement are exactly what our
Conservative government has provided to Canadians since 2006.
I extend my sincere congratulations and thanks to Ann Thompson,
Leanne Edwards, Jennifer Cowan, Garry O'Toole, Bobbi Jackson,
Robyn Hewson, Kari Johnson, Pauline Linton, Shelly Dolson, Kim
Our Conservative government has cut unnecessary red tape,
opened new trade markets for business and invested in Canadian
research and technology, which supports individual enterprise.
Our Conservative government has enacted laws to protect our
citizens and is making Canada's streets safer.
February 28, 2013
COMMONS DEBATES
14441
Statements by Members
Finally, our Conservative government has lowered taxes over 140
times, thereby putting more money in the pockets of Canadians and
Canadian businesses.
[English]
I stand on this side of the House because Conservatives believe in
these principles, and we are delivering good government to
Canadians.
Mr. Devinder Shory (Calgary Northeast, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism is leading a
Canadian delegation in India. India is a very important emerging
market for our tourism sector. Being born, raised and educated in
India, I have a good story to tell.
***
HOCKEY HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE
Mr. Daryl Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, hockey is Canada's game from coast to coast to coast.
Today I heartily congratulate Marc Crawford for being named a
2013 inductee to the British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame.
Members may question why I, as an Ontario MP, would honour
Marc as one of the six new inductees to the shinny shrine in B.C. this
year.
Marc is a Belleville, Ontario, native who comes from a family of
dedicated and talented hockey players in the Quinte area. His father,
Floyd, led the Belleville McFarlands to the world title. Marc, his
brothers and his family achieved great success throughout the
hockey world.
After six seasons playing in the NHL, Marc was named NHL
Coach of the Year with the Quebec Nordiques in 1994-1995, and of
course left a great hockey legacy with the Vancouver Canucks.
From minor hockey to the NHL, hockey is legendary in Prince
Edward—Hastings. We are all very proud when one of our own
accomplishes so much in this great Canadian game. We send our
congratulations to Marc.
***
● (1410)
[Translation]
CASCADES-NOREMPAC
Ms. Mylène Freeman (Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel,
NDP): Mr. Speaker, the Cascades-Norempac boxboard mill in
Lachute will be closing down next month. These were good, wellpaying jobs that were essential to our region's economy.
We now have 155 laid-off workers, and these workers recently
learned that their pensions would not be fully honoured, even for
those who might apply to another division at Cascades. This is
especially distressing for the employees who are nearing retirement.
Some were a few months from retirement.
I am committed to working with all the people and organizations
involved and with all levels of government to ensure that these
workers are treated with dignity and justice. Simply complying with
the law is not enough. This is about solidarity. We must create new
measures to protect the pensions of Canadian workers.
To quote local union president Daniel Brisebois: “I accept that this
is legal...but it's a crappy situation nonetheless.”
TOURISM
Last year a record-breaking number of Indian travellers visited
Canada. Indian travellers are now among our top 10 international
travellers to visit Canada.
Our Conservative government is working with industry to
capitalize on this growth. Because of the significant improvements
made to the visa application process, thanks to the Minister of
Immigration, we are now in a position to welcome even more Indian
travellers this year.
This is not only strengthening our relationship with our Indian
friends; it is also creating jobs and growth in Canada.
***
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, today is February 28, the end of Black History Month. I
encourage my colleagues on both sides of the House to never stop
remembering the contributions of our black society to this great
country we call Canada.
I have the proud distinction of representing the fantastic
community of Preston, Nova Scotia, Canada's largest indigenous
black population. Some of these individuals can trace their roots all
the way back to Mathieu Da Costa.
There are people like the great Ovid Jackson, the Rt. Hon. Lincoln
Alexander and Jean Augustine, Canada's first black individuals ever
elected to the House of Commons. There are people like Custio
Clayton of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, who was not completely
successful at the London games but showed the class and dignity of
a true Canadian, a true Dartmouthian and a true Nova Scotian in
what it is like to be a man of class.
These are just two examples of the wonderful contributions that
African Canadians have made to our country. I encourage every
person to continue to learn the history of our proud black people of
Canada.
***
STATUS OF WOMEN
Mrs. Kelly Block (Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, for more than 25 years, aboriginal women on reserves
across Canada have been without the legal protections that are
available to all other Canadians. When a relationship breaks down,
their spouse can ban them from the home, sell the house and even
keep all the money without the consent of the woman.
14442
COMMONS DEBATES
February 28, 2013
Statements by Members
This is why we have introduced matrimonial property rights
legislation to protect aboriginal women and children. This bill will
allow judges to enforce emergency protection orders and remove a
violent partner for the safety of the woman and child.
Women on reserves, international organizations and even the
Manitoba NDP have asked for this legislation. Shockingly, the
Leader of the Opposition and his federal NDP oppose this
legislation. This is absolutely shameful.
On this side of the House, we will continue to stand up for
aboriginal women so they can have the same protections as all
Canadians.
***
HUMAN RIGHTS
Hon. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, on
Tuesday, our Subcommittee on International Human Rights received
Tibetan prime minister-in-exile, Dr. Lobsang Sangay, who provided
compelling testimony on the ongoing repression and persecution of
Tibetans by the Chinese government.
Dr. Sangay spoke with great sadness of the 107 Tibetans since
2009 who have expressed the ultimate cry of protest through selfimmolation, some just days ago, which we ignore both at their peril
and our own, to protect against the occupation and environmental
degradation of their lands; against arbitrary detention and forced
disappearance; and against marginalization, cultural suppression and
the denial of religious freedom.
Tibetans value democracy, freedom and respect for the rule of law,
while subscribing to the principle of non-violence in their pursuit of
genuine autonomy pursuant to the Chinese constitution.
Let us all join our voices with Dr. Sangay in calling on Canada to
press China to dialogue with the Tibetan administration, to permit
Canadian representatives to visit Tibet and to work closely with the
U.S., EU and international partners to end the persecution and pain
of Tibetans.
***
● (1415)
FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Mr. Mark Adler (York Centre, CPC): Mr. Speaker, our
Conservative government categorically rejects the remarks on
Zionism made by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan yesterday on
the margins of the fifth United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.
Inflammatory statements do nothing to advance the cause of peace or
effective cross-cultural dialogue.
The UN Alliance of Civilizations must promote “respect and
understanding for religious and cultural diversity...and...dialogue and
cooperation among different cultures, civilizations and peoples”,
rather than use language that would divide us. The fact that this type
of statement was made at such a forum is truly unacceptable.
Zionism cannot be considered a crime against humanity. Such
misguided sentiments only give expression to a dangerous, insidious
form of new anti-Semitism. On this point, there is no space for
ambivalence.
Canada fundamentally upholds Israel's right to exist as the Jewish
state in peace and security. We are compelled as a country of free
citizens to speak directly and to speak honestly. We have the
obligation to speak out and to act. That Israel is still the subject of
hatred is deeply disturbing and is one of the forces that drives our
unwavering support for the Jewish state.
***
[Translation]
THE SENATE
Ms. Ève Péclet (La Pointe-de-l'Île, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the
Conservatives continue to show that they are grossly incompetent
when it comes to financial management.
While unemployed workers are treated like fraudsters with
surprise visits, and the marine safety of francophones has been
deemed unimportant, the Senate's budget continues to increase. Of
all the Conservatives' bad choices, this is no doubt the worst.
It is not enough for the Conservatives to use taxpayers' money to
sign bigger and bigger cheques for their fundraising friends. Their
eyes are bigger than their bellies.
The Conservatives are also allowing the gross abuse of public
funds. They are allowing senators to lie about their place of
residence, use public funds to pay for plane tickets for travel during
election campaigns and even submit expense claims for partisan
activities.
The members opposite will defend senators' questionable schemes
so that they can keep their privileges. In fact, the Prime Minister's
Office has already decided that the senators who have abused public
funds will be absolved of any wrongdoing regardless of the results of
the investigation.
The Senate is undemocratic, unaccountable and filled with
Conservatives who are rolling in the money—
The Speaker: The hon. member for Prince George—Peace River.
***
[English]
NATURAL GAS
Mr. Bob Zimmer (Prince George—Peace River, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, natural gas is an affordable fuel that Canadians across our
country use every day. British Columbians are fortunate to have
natural gas deposits in our province and are benefiting from the jobs
that the industry supports and low cost fuel for home heating,
electricity and other important uses. Our government puts the jobs
and economy first by supporting this important industry.
The Minister of Natural Resources was in British Columbia this
week to announce our plan to support the export of natural gas to the
fastest-growing economies abroad.
February 28, 2013
COMMONS DEBATES
14443
Oral Questions
While we act in the interest of Canadians, the NDP would impose
a $21 billion carbon tax that would raise the price of everything,
including natural gas. That means more expensive electricity bills,
higher home heating costs and less money for British Columbians.
We will not support this job-killing carbon tax.
taxpayers, to let unelected people overturn the laws of Parliament.
That is undemocratic. That is what is unacceptable.
ORAL QUESTIONS
Today, we learned that on top of their mismanagement, the
Conservatives are spending an additional $1.5 billion on joint
support ships. This government cannot count. Its mismanagement
and incompetence when it comes to military support are astounding.
This Conservative government does not know what it is doing.
[English]
ETHICS
Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, there are 16 Conservative senators who have refused to
come clean with Canadians about their residency and housing
expenses. However, now the Conservative senators charged with
investigating corruption in the Senate have said that only three will
face a forensic audit.
How can Conservatives be trusted to investigate Conservatives?
Will the Conservative government finally agree to a full independent
investigation of all residence and travel expenses in the unelected,
unaccountable and unapologetic Senate?
● (1420)
Hon. John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, we have committed to ensuring that all expenses are
appropriate, that the rules governing the expenses are appropriate
and that the Senate will report back to taxpayers. It has done so. We
take these issues tremendously seriously and that is why the Senate
has retained outside support to ensure that the integrity of the system
is respected.
[Translation]
Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, a new analysis of Senate files reveals that in the last three
years alone, no fewer than 46 senators were required to pay back
expenditures that were billed to taxpayers.
Canadians have no way of knowing if these were simply
administrative errors or out-and-out fraud. Senate representatives
are refusing to provide more information. It is unacceptable for
Conservative senators to investigate themselves.
Will the Conservative government agree to hold a full,
independent investigation into the Senate? Yes or no?
[English]
Hon. John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister asked the leader of the NDP to
help the Conservatives pass legislation that would do two things:
one, allow for elected senators; and two, allow for term limits for the
Senate.
What did the leader of the NDP do? He blocked it. He stopped this
legislation from moving forward, and that is a disgrace to taxpayers.
***
NATIONAL DEFENCE
Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, what is a disgrace to taxpayers is to have Conservatives
stonewalling Conservative senators to hide the truth from Canadian
[Translation]
Who is responsible for the Canadian ship spending fiasco?
[English]
Hon. John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, the NDP leader wants to talk about unelected people
making decisions. I could not make this up. The leader of the NDP
claimed that he wanted to abolish the Senate, but just yesterday in
the House he proposed a private member's bill giving the Senate new
and unprecedented power. Look at what he has done. In his private
member's bill, he is now going to make the Parliamentary Budget
Officer not just appointed by the elected House of Commons, but it
is going to need to have the support of the unelected Senate.
The NDP leader should make his choice. Does he want the
unelected Senate to have more power, or does he want to join this
government in bringing real reforms?
***
NATIONAL DEFENCE
Mr. Matthew Kellway (Beaches—East York, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, I believe the question had been about joint support ships,
the latest mismanagement in the military procurement file. The NDP
supports building these ships, but nobody trusts the Conservatives
with procurement.
To date, it has been about fighter jets that do not fight or jet,
maritime helicopters that do not fly over water and fixed-wing search
and rescue craft that somehow got lost.
Therefore, who is going to take the blame for this one? Is it the
Minister of National Defence who is finally ready to stand? Is the
new associate minister going to lie down on the tracks for this one,
or is the Minister of Public Works and Government Services still
carrying the bag on this one?
14444
COMMONS DEBATES
February 28, 2013
Oral Questions
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, our national shipbuilding procurement strategy has
employed rigorous independent oversight and shipbuilding expertise
from the start. This oversight has included: a fairness monitor for our
competition; internationally respected experts in the shipbuilding
industry, First Marine International, which is overseeing the whole
strategy; an independent validation and oversight firm which is
KPMG; and we will have an independent third party to advise the
shipbuilding secretariat on project management and cost validation
for each step of every project moving forward.
Let us remember that this is in the design phase, but we have all
these measures in place to protect the taxpayer.
Mr. Matthew Kellway (Beaches—East York, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, are the Conservatives claiming that the PBO has the
numbers wrong? If so, what is the real cost of these ships? They are
already scaling back on their promises about these ships and what
they will be able to do. With their stated budget, are we going to be
left with nothing but two tugboats painted grey?
If the procurement were on track, the Conservatives would not
have already cancelled the program once and the delivery schedule
would not have been pushed back six years. What capabilities are
going to be lost because of this Conservative mismanagement?
● (1425)
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, as I said, we have ensured not only that we have rigorous,
independent oversight when it comes to costing but also that we are
bringing in important shipbuilding expertise. We have not only First
Marine International, which is an internationally recognized expert
in the shipbuilding industry, overseeing the strategy but also an
independent third party with shipbuilding expertise that will be
reviewing not only the project management but also the cost
validation for every step of every ship project moving forward.
If adjustments need to be made, they will be done in partnership
with the shipyards, the navy and the coast guard.
Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, we all know
that if there were tugboats they would not be painted grey, but they
would be painted red, white and blue, the colours of the
Conservative Party of Canada.
I wonder if the minister who just answered the question could
please answer a very simple question. The Parliamentary Budget
Officer has said that the estimate of $2.60 billion is in fact incorrect
and he estimates that replacing the Protecteur will cost about $3.28
billion, but following the American GAO practice, the best estimate
would come up with a number of $4.3 billion.
What will it be, fewer ships or a bigger budget?
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, it is important to note that the Parliamentary Budget Officer
himself stated in his report that his “high-level cost estimates and
observations are neither to be viewed as conclusions...nor as a view
to future costs”.
We feel that, importantly, we put in place the independent
oversight that we believe necessary and the shipbuilding expertise to
ensure that we have those measures in place. Let us remember that
these ships are in the design phase, but as we move forward we have
the independent oversight and expertise in place to protect taxpayers.
If any adjustments need to be made, they will be made with the navy
and the Coast Guard.
[Translation]
Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the minister
spoke of adjustments. But the question remains the same. Do these
adjustments mean fewer ships or an even bigger budget than the
Conservative Party originally planned on?
Fewer ships or a bigger budget—which will the department
choose?
[English]
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, as I indicated, we do have the necessary expertise in place
to ensure that as we move forward there is not only project
management expertise but cost validation at every step of every ship
project moving forward. Involving these kinds of independent, thirdparty experts will continue to be an integral part of our process, to
provide the shipbuilding secretariat with sound advice not only on
affordability but on capability and also on risk.
Again, we are in the design phase, and if any adjustments need to
be made, they will be made with the shipbuilding secretariat in
partnership with the shipyards and the navy and the coast guard.
***
PUBLIC SAFETY
Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, with respect
to the situation regarding Mr. Porter, I know that the Minister of
Public Safety and others have said that of course his name was
shared with the opposition parties. The opposition parties do not
have the capacity to do a security clearance. They do not have a
capacity to investigate. They do not have a capacity to crossexamine. They do not have a capacity to do the kind of work that is
supposed to be the work of the government. I can vouch for the fact
that—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
The Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Toronto Centre
still has the floor.
Hon. Bob Rae: Mr. Speaker, I can vouch for the fact that the
security clearances for SIRC are traditionally very rigorous indeed.
Yet, in the comments made by Dr. Porter, he made it clear that there
was scarcely any security clearance for him. How does it happen for
him? How does it happen for Bruce Carson? Where are the security
clearances on the current government?
Hon. Vic Toews (Minister of Public Safety, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
Arthur Porter submitted his resignation. It was accepted almost two
years ago.
February 28, 2013
COMMONS DEBATES
14445
Oral Questions
The leaders of the NDP and the Liberal Party were consulted and
they consented to this appointment. Now the member stands up and
says he did not have any information and so he simply consented.
That is an abdication of his responsibility. If there were any concerns
that he had, he could have brought them to the attention of the
appropriate authorities and simply asked the question. He failed in
his responsibility.
independent third party that has expertise in shipbuilding and will be
giving advice on the project management and cost validation for
every step of every ship project moving forward.
We are putting in place the right measures to make sure this is
successful.
***
● (1430)
***
[Translation]
NATIONAL DEFENCE
Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, let us get back to ships.
If all goes well, the vessels will be delivered 16 years after the
proposal was submitted.
In other parts of the world, this process takes just a few years. The
Parliamentary Budget Officer's figures are in line with those of
National Defence, as Radio-Canada reported last week.
The extent of the problems in this file again shows the
Conservatives' mismanagement.
What will the minister do to correct the situation?
[English]
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, as I have indicated, the national shipbuilding procurement
strategy, right from the beginning and ongoing over the next 20 years
in fact, will employ rigorous independent oversight and shipbuilding
expertise. We have brought in the expertise and the capacity we need
to oversee this strategy to ensure it remains successful. It is a very
important industrial strategy for the economy of Canada, and we
have made sure we are putting in place the right measures, the right
expertise and the right oversight so that it does succeed.
Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, this
project has been announced, delayed, announced, cancelled and then
announced again. Conservative incompetence in managing military
projects is mind-boggling. This PBO report shows that the initial
cancellation by the government could cost taxpayers over $1 billion,
and it has been delayed by years.
It is the Minister of National Defence who is responsible for this,
and yet he is not even allowed to stand up and explain himself.
When will the minister and the government finally take responsibility for their failure to manage this project?
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, as I have indicated, the national shipbuilding procurement
strategy has employed very rigorous independent oversight and
shipbuilding expertise right from the beginning to ensure that this
strategy is successful over the next 20 years.
Not only have we ensured that we used a fairness monitor
throughout the competition, but we have employed the internationally respected experts in the shipbuilding industry, First Marine
International, to oversee the entire strategy. We also have an
PUBLIC SAFETY
Mr. Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, his colleagues seem to have trouble counting and the
Minister of Public Safety seems to have trouble listening. The
tripartite agreements for 18 first nation police services will expire on
March 31, but he has refused to respond to their concerns, except
today in committee. In what looked like an accidental moment of
honesty, the minister said he thought the funding would continue,
but then he retracted and said it was up to the Prime Minister.
Will the minister or maybe the Prime Minister tell these first
nation communities today that they will still have police at the end of
March?
Hon. Vic Toews (Minister of Public Safety, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
I think the Prime Minister made the position of the government very
clear.
I find it interesting that the member is talking about improving
safety for aboriginals. That member opposed matrimonial real
property rights for aboriginal women, he opposed tougher sentences
for sexual assault, he opposed ending house arrest for serious crimes,
he opposed tougher penalties for those who sell drugs to our children
and he opposed funding to keep our young people out of gangs.
[Translation]
Mr. Romeo Saganash (Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—
Eeyou, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is unacceptable for the Assembly of
First Nations of Quebec and Labrador to be told that a meeting with
other chiefs is all that is needed to respond to its concerns.
Studies show that the work of first nations police services results
in savings for other social services. If these forces do not receive the
funding they need, it will cost even more to replace them.
My question is simple. When will the minister advise the Quebec
chiefs that they will receive the funding they need for their police
services?
14446
COMMONS DEBATES
February 28, 2013
Oral Questions
[English]
[English]
Hon. Vic Toews (Minister of Public Safety, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
while policing is primarily a provincial responsibility, the federal
government has long invested in first nation policing to help keep
communities safe. As has been indicated by the Prime Minister, a
funding decision will be made in the near future. However, I can say
that spending on first nations policing has increased substantially
under this government.
Hon. John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, our vision for Canada is a strong economy, one that is
creating jobs so that people can provide for themselves and their
families.
***
● (1435)
[Translation]
EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Under the economic leadership of the Prime Minister and the
Minister of Finance we have seen the creation of some 900,000 net
new jobs. More work remains to be done. That is why the
government is providing a significant level of employment supports
to help people find the dignity of a job and the pride of
independence. That is why we are taking reasonable measures to
ensure the system is sustainable for those hard-working workers who
pay the freight.
Mrs. Anne-Marie Day (Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles,
NDP): Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' determination to destroy the
employment insurance program and to pretend it is for the good of
workers is becoming increasingly pathetic. Protests are taking place
every day—and I mean every day—to denounce the minister's
ideological reform. Again today, workers are demonstrating in
Rivière-du-Loup to tell the Prime Minister where he can put his
reform: in the garbage of course. It is very simple: the Conservatives
could not care less about what these workers think.
[Translation]
How many protests will have to take place before the minister
realizes she is completely off base?
Why did the minister deny benefits for a mother who has a child
requiring specialized care outside her region?
[English]
[English]
Hon. John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, our fundamental responsibility is to ensure that there is
integrity to all the programs the Government of Canada administers.
Hon. John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, Canadians who have worked hard and paid into premiums
should be entitled to the benefits they require. We have a substantial
number of well-qualified public servants who are prepared to
provide support and help Canadians achieve and obtain the benefits
they have paid for. However, we would encourage the member
opposite's constituents to work with the hard-working public
servants, to ensure they get the benefits they so justly work for
and so justly paid into.
We are working to ensure that Canadians who have worked hard
and paid the premiums get the benefits they need when they need
them. That is why we are taking some reasonable measures to ensure
that inappropriate payments are not paid out. This can save workers
literally hundreds of millions of dollars.
Our fundamental responsibility is to create an economy that will
create jobs so that everyone can provide for themselves and their
families.
[Translation]
Mr. Jean Rousseau (Compton—Stanstead, NDP): Of course,
Mr. Speaker, while they are targeting the unemployed, their senators
continue to abuse the system and benefit from it.
The Conservatives are making changes to employment insurance
without impact studies. That is unacceptable, particularly for small
and medium-sized businesses, except for an amateur government
like the Conservative government. Apple growers in the Compton
region and the tourist industry in the famed Coaticook Valley, which
includes the Coaticook Gorge Park, will all suffer because of this bad
reform.
How can we ensure the sustainability of these businesses and the
quality of their workforce, year after year, if they have to start from
scratch and hire new employees every time? That is not feasible, and
it is not manageable.
Mr. Jonathan Genest-Jourdain (Manicouagan, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, since the minister does not know the impact of her reform,
here is a real-life example. A young mother in Manicouagan waited
two months to get her EI benefits because of the cuts at Service
Canada. However, she was just denied any benefits because she did
not answer the questions concerning wage cuts and the distance she
was prepared to travel to get a new job.
Ms. Linda Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, Canadians from coast to coast to coast continue to raise
concerns with the reckless cuts to EI, and still the minister refuses to
take responsibility.
This week, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, a wellrespected organization representing Canadian producers, has also
joined the chorus. The Conservative cuts to EI are seriously
potentially impacting their ability to farm, to harvest and to plant.
Did the minister even consider, did she even consult the
agricultural sector, before she plowed ahead with these reckless
cuts to seasonal workers?
Hon. John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, the last time this government and this party consulted rural
Canada with a widespread consultation, it was a record bumper crop.
It is because of the leadership of this Minister of Agriculture.
Ms. Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
we just cannot get a straight answer out of the minister.
February 28, 2013
COMMONS DEBATES
14447
Oral Questions
After denying it for weeks, the HRSDC minister finally admitted
that bureaucrats are given targets for cutting people off EI. This is the
same as a quota. Staff reviewing claims are given quotas and are paid
bonuses for rejecting EI claims. How can out-of-work Canadians
expect their claims to be judged in a fair and impartial way when the
Conservatives have already decided that they are guilty until proven
innocent?
● (1440)
Hon. John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, Service Canada employees do not have quotas which
would carry negative consequences for staff who fail to meet them.
What we are trying to do is ensure that Canadians who work hard
and play by the rules, who pay the premiums, get the benefits that
they are entitled to, and nothing more.
***
NATIONAL DEFENCE
Hon. John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, here we go again, another Conservative procurement gone
wrong. For the money allocated, the Conservatives cannot possibly
get the number of supply ships promised. Something has to give—
either more money or fewer ships. Had the Conservatives not
abandoned the 2004 program, the military today would have three
ships, not two, and Canadian taxpayers would have an extra half
billion dollars in their pockets.
How can the Conservatives be so incompetent as to mess up a
three-boat procurement?
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, our 20-year national shipbuilding procurement strategy,
very importantly, has the proper independent oversight and
shipbuilding expertise that we believe is necessary to make it
successful over the coming decades. We have made sure that we
have included a fairness monitor throughout the competition, of
course, but also, and most importantly, internationally respected
experts in the shipbuilding industry are now overseeing the strategy.
We also have independent third parties that are going to help with
project management and advice on costing validation for every step
of every ship project moving forward. This is an important part of
the strategy, moving forward, to not only protect taxpayers but to
ensure that the strategy is successful.
Hon. John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, unlike the Conservative government, the PBO has done
in six weeks what the Conservative government has failed to do in
six years. Unlike the Conservative government, the PBO does
serious costing analysis. Unlike the Conservative government, the
PBO tests the numbers against internationally recognized verifiers.
Unlike the Conservative government, the PBO spends his money on
peer-review panels rather than on spin and re-announcements.
Would the minister consider formally engaging the PBO instead
of wasting the budget on spin?
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, my office does engage with the PBO, but again, the
important thing is that we have included, right from the beginning,
and let us remember that this process was launched just a year ago,
the independent oversight necessary and the expertise in shipbuilding necessary to make this strategy over the coming decades
successful. We have employed the internationally respected experts
in the shipbuilding industry, First Marine International, which
benchmarked our shipyards against shipyards all over the world. We
also have KPMG, which is an independent validation and oversight
firm, and a shipbuilding expert company, which will be—
The Speaker: The hon. member for Bourassa.
[Translation]
Hon. Denis Coderre (Bourassa, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in his report,
the Parliamentary Budget Officer tells us that we got taken with
regard to the F-35 program, but we also learn that the Conservatives
are now taking us for a ride on a boat that will not float. The fact is
that they do not know how to count. Even as they are going through
their great crisis management exercise, they are saying that not only
might they be forced to redesign the ships, they are not even sure
they can afford them.
There are two options here: either the budget gets bigger or the
government buys fewer ships. Is that clear? Is it going to be a bigger
budget or fewer ships?
[English]
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, as I said, we have independent third parties in place. These
experts are an integral part of the process. They are providing sound
advice, from beginning to end, on every step of every ship project
moving forward, not only on affordability but on capability and risk
assessment. Let us remember that these ships are in the design phase
at this point, but as we move forward, we have all the measures in
place to protect the taxpayer. Of course, if adjustments need to be
made, they will be made in partnership with our shipyards, the navy
and the Coast Guard.
***
ETHICS
Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
the Prime Minister has assured Canadians that he can personally
vouch for the residency requirements of all senators under
investigation, just as he vouched for Patrick Brazeau and Arthur
Porter.
● (1445)
Mr. David Anderson: It is gerrymander.
The Speaker: Order. The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay
has the floor.
Mr. Charlie Angus: Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives get worried
when they get questioned on accountability. It is like they are
circling the wagons.
14448
COMMONS DEBATES
February 28, 2013
Oral Questions
They are claiming that Senator Patterson of Vancouver actually
lives in Nunavut, although he does not pay taxes there. Two weeks
ago, Senator Lowell Murray said that if a senator pays taxes in
another province, “he's finished”. Why the whitewash? Why will
they not stand up for the taxpayers and defend them against these
cronies?
Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and for the
Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario,
CPC): Mr. Speaker, those questions have already been answered.
What has not been answered from the gerrymanderer-in-chief over
there is why he and only his NDP colleague have been singled out
by an independent electoral commission for inappropriate behaviour
as it relates to the boundaries. It appears that he was trying to apply
inappropriate pressure in order to conform the boundaries to his
political desires, because he does not want to run on a fair game after
having voted against his constituents on the long gun registry.
Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
yesterday it was Farrah Fawcett reruns, and now the member is back
to the duck hunter, so he will have to get his Rolodex of excuses out,
because we are now learning that Senator Mac Harb is registered to
vote in Ottawa and uses an Ottawa home address for his business,
yet he signed a document claiming that he lives hundreds of
kilometres away in order to ding the taxpayer for over $40,000 in
questionable living expenses.
Enough of these whitewashes. Will the government agree that any
of these senators who defraud the taxpayers will be charged and
booted out of the Senate? Will they stop defending their cronies?
Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and for the
Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario,
CPC): Once again, the member failed to address the question before
the House of Commons, which is why it is that he was singled out, in
a very unusual step by an independent electoral commission, for
inappropriate behaviour. He is the one who did it. He is the one who
stands in the House and grandstands so regularly, putting himself on
the highest moral level. He is the one who has been singled out for
breaking the rules. He is the one who should stand and explain that.
[Translation]
Mr. Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, my colleague is standing up for the interests of the
people—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
The Speaker: Order. We are wasting time. The hon. member for
Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
Mr. Alexandre Boulerice: Mr. Speaker, my colleague is standing
up for the interests of the people of Ontario, while the Conservatives
are defending the abuses of their friends in the Senate. That is what is
happening.
Let us think about it. Right now, senators can do whatever they
want. They can lie about their place of residence and submit expense
claims for a bogus residence or for plane tickets. And the worst thing
that will happen to them—the very worst thing—is that they will
have to secretly pay back the money and then be defended by a
bunch of docile and obedient MPs. Senators are not facing any
consequences. None. And then, the Conservatives are surprised
when this type of abuse occurs.
Will the Conservatives finally crack down on their friends in the
Senate who are abusing taxpayers' money?
[English]
Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and for the
Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario,
CPC): Mr. Speaker, the member asked about residency. On this side
of the House, at least, we know what country we live in.
The NDP interim leader was a member of the Bloc Québécois.
That member gave donations 29 times to the separatist Québec
solidaire. The member for Laurentides—Labelle has supported the
Bloc Québécois. The member for Sherbrooke said the NDP would
respect sovereignty, and now one of the separatist members in the
NDP has gone to join the Bloc. Is it the NDP over there or the
NDPQ?
[Translation]
Mr. Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be a member of a party that works for
people and stands up for families—the only party that will get rid of
the Conservatives.
Workers are not fraudsters. The fraudsters are the Conservatives'
friends, like Arthur Porter.
The Conservatives took advantage of his money. They did photo
ops with him, even after he was charged with tens of millions of
dollars in fraud. They refuse to even admit that they screwed up
royally by appointing him to monitor the activities of CSIS.
Will the Conservatives finally admit that the Prime Minister made
a monumental mistake in appointing Arthur Porter to this key
position?
● (1450)
[English]
Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and for the
Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario,
CPC): Mr. Speaker, that member has been asked almost as many
times if he is a federalist as he has donated to the separatist Québec
Solidaire. One more time he had an occasion to stand and be clear
and answer the question. Today would have been a good day, when
one of his compatriots joined the Bloc Québécois, for him to stand in
the House of Commons, clarify his position and state that he is a
federalist who believes in a united Canada.
Let us give him one more chance, a 30th chance, to stand in the
House of Commons and do just that.
February 28, 2013
COMMONS DEBATES
14449
Oral Questions
HUMAN RESOURCES
Mr. Brad Butt (Mississauga—Streetsville, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
our government is proud of our proven track record of helping create
over 900,000 net new jobs. However, we also know that skills and
labour shortages do present a significant challenge to Canada's
continued competitiveness and long-term prosperity. Would the
Miniser of Labour please update the House on how our government
is addressing skills and training for all Canadians?
Hon. Lisa Raitt (Minister of Labour, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it
would be my great honour and pleasure to answer the question from
the hard-working member for Mississauga—Streetsville.
Today the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development
outlined that there is a skills mismatch in Canada. She stated that it is
actually becoming Canada's most significant socio-economic
challenge that in too many cases, Canadian workers do not have
the skills that employers seek. Our government is committed to
better helping Canadians, particularly young Canadians, to get the
skills and the training they need for that labour market. We are going
to work with our partners, and we are going to encourage employers
to step up to the plate for training.
***
[Translation]
EMPLOYMENT
Ms. Isabelle Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I have one example of where the Conservatives are way
off on the employment file.
The Conservatives are acting innocent and letting our airlines
subcontract foreign planes and pilots for their flights. Sunwing and
CanJet are among the Canadian companies that often use foreign
planes and pilots. I have two simple questions.
Why did the Conservatives authorize so many foreign pilots and
why are they exporting Canadian jobs abroad?
Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and for the
Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario,
CPC): Mr. Speaker, our airline system is one of the safest in the
world, and we are making improvements.
We have reduced the number of accidents by 25% since 2000.
Foreign pilots, like Canadian pilots, must go through a rigorous
selection process to ensure that they have the necessary qualifications.
Transport Canada is reviewing its policies to see whether change
is necessary.
***
[English]
AIRLINE SAFETY
Mr. Mike Sullivan (York South—Weston, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
that is not actually true. There are risks associated with hiring foreign
pilots, particularly when it comes to understanding Canadian safety
regulations.
CTV reported that a CF-18 had to be scrambled when a Sunwing
plane from Paris to Toronto went missing for an hour. It is a good
thing we were not relying on an F-35; they are grounded. The reason
was that Sunwing's foreign pilot had made a mistake.
Why is Transport Canada rubber-stamping wet leases, letting
potentially unqualified foreign pilots fly Canadian flights? Does the
minister consider this an acceptable practice?
● (1455)
The Speaker: The audio does not seem to be working. We will
come back.
The hon. member for Trois-Rivières
***
[Translation]
RAIL TRANSPORTATION
Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP): Mr. Speaker, we
talked about planes, now I want to talk about trains.
There are more cuts coming for VIA Rail. Last year, the
Conservatives slashed $20 million from the operating budget, and
we have seen what that has done to service.
But the die has been cast, and nothing more can be done. The
Conservatives have chosen to slash another $290 million, which is
more than half of VIA's budget.
With these cuts, it will be impossible for VIA Rail to maintain the
same services, which, it bears repeating, have already been cut.
Can the Minister of Transport tell us how many new routes will be
cut?
Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and for the
Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario,
CPC): Mr. Speaker, we need to strike a balance between VIA Rail
services and the fact that it is a crown corporation, paid for by
taxpayers. Obviously, VIA Rail has made decisions in order to save
money and protect taxpayers while still providing excellent service
to Canadians.
We will work with VIA so that we can have better service in the
future.
Mr. Guy Caron (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, NDP): Mr. Speaker, we are talking about a 60% reduction.
This situation with the Conservatives and VIA Rail is a bit of a
catch-22. The Conservatives are discouraging people from using
VIA by making cuts, but they are justifying further cuts by saying
that there are fewer passengers. And the downward spiral will
continue until the train is completely defunct, starting in the regions.
In my riding, the train is key to economic development. The
government cuts to VIA are an attack on the regions that depend on
the train.
Will the Conservatives stop these attacks on our regions and
cancel these cuts that are hurting our communities?
14450
COMMONS DEBATES
February 28, 2013
Oral Questions
[English]
Hon. Steven Fletcher (Minister of State (Transport), CPC):
Mr. Speaker, what the member is saying is incorrect. Our
government has invested over $1 billion in VIA Rail to renovate
trains, improve accessibility and upgrade tracks and stations. These
are important investments that the NDP voted against.
The issue with the estimates refers to a single investment in
infrastructure that has been completed. Things are going well at VIA
Rail.
As a government we will never apologize for doing our due
diligence when it comes to the food safety of Canadian consumers.
We recognize the need that is out there. We continue to add expertise
and capacity to the CFIA, and those members continually vote
against it. That is shameful.
***
RAIL TRANSPORTATION
PUBLIC SAFETY
Hon. Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul's, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the
Anishnaabe police service serves at 16 individual first nations
throughout Ontario. Without new funding, it will lose 15% of its
force, putting the communities it serves at risk.
Mr. Malcolm Allen (Welland, NDP): Mr. Speaker, VIA is not
working for Niagarans. On February 20 last week I hosted a
community round table on the cancellation of the only VIA train
from Niagara Falls to Toronto. Many angry Niagarans from across
the entire region came and raised their concerns about the reckless
Conservative cuts to VIA, a train cancellation that VIA said “wasn't
because of ridership”. In fact, most of the time it is full.
The government is actually cutting $15 million from first nations
policing while increasing its own self-serving advertising budgets by
almost the same amount.
What is the alternative that VIA says we should adopt in Niagara?
It says we should take the GO bus and get stuck in traffic or wait
until night and take the Amtrak train from the U.S.
***
How can the Minister of Public Safety defend laying off police
officers so his government can continue its Conservative propaganda?
Hon. Vic Toews (Minister of Public Safety, CPC): Mr. Speaker,
in respect of the funding decision, the Prime Minister has made it
very clear that a decision is forthcoming.
However, I find it interesting to hear that member talking about
the safety of aboriginals. She is simply not telling Canadians where
she stands on matters such as her opposition to matrimonial real
property rights for aboriginal women. It is shameful. She opposes
tougher sentences for sexual assault. She opposes ending house
arrest for serious crime. She opposes tougher penalties for those who
sell drugs to our children.
***
FOOD SAFETY
Mr. Frank Valeriote (Guelph, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, with the XL
beef recall and the listeriosis crisis before that, the Minister of
Agriculture has now presided over two of the largest food safety
failures in Canadian history, yet he came before committee just this
morning and lamely defended $30 million in further cuts to food
safety and biosecurity risk management.
Since he could not tell committee, will he tell the House why his
government's ad budget received a sizeable increase while food
safety gets a lump of coal? Who will want to trade with us when the
next group of Canadians gets sick?
● (1500)
Hon. Gerry Ritz (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and
Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, CPC): Mr. Speaker, it is
absolutely unfortunate that the member opposite did not take
advantage of the two hours that I and officials spent at committee
this morning. We explained that signatures are required from our
partners in the provinces and territories. These negotiations are
ongoing, and that will make up that shortfall more than ever before.
When will the government restore VIA's funding and give
Niagarans their train back?
Hon. Steven Fletcher (Minister of State (Transport), CPC):
Mr. Speaker, VIA is an arm's-length crown corporation, which
means the government does not have day-to-day control over VIA's
operations. VIA makes decisions based on the number of people, the
proximity of other transportation and so on.
The idea of meeting demand and supply is foreign to the NDP, but
VIA is doing the best it can and is matching demand with supply.
That is what we expect and that is what taxpayers expect, so why is
the member against it?
Mr. Wayne Marston (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, it seems the government only wants to invest in one
type of travel: cross-country fundraising trips for senators.
Canadians do not want to foot the bill for jet-setting Conservative
senators. Canadians want and need affordable, accessible rail
transportation.
We have seen VIA's budget cut $300 million since 2011. Instead
of wasting money on their senators, when will the Conservatives
restore the budget for VIA and invest as well in high-speed rail
service for Canadians?
Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House
of Commons, CPC): Mr. Speaker, we have given the opposition
ample opportunity to help us reform and develop a more democratic,
accountable Senate.
We had a bill to make senators elected. Opposition members keep
opposing it. They had an opportunity yesterday to pass it; they
blocked it.
February 28, 2013
COMMONS DEBATES
14451
Oral Questions
We debated it 17 times. On September 30, 2011, they blocked it.
On October 3, they blocked it. On November 22, they blocked it. On
December 8, they blocked it. They are bloc in all but name.
***
[Translation]
EMPLOYMENT
Mr. Andrew Cash (Davenport, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Toronto
workers are having a very tough time right now. A new United Way
report finds that almost half of GTA workers cannot access full-time,
stable employment.
REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Mr. Jim Hillyer (Lethbridge, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is focusing on job creation, economic growth
and long-term prosperity for all regions of the country.
People are cobbling a living together, working multiple part-time
jobs—
Today, in Rivière-du-Loup, the Prime Minister announced funding
for Premier Tech. This assistance will help to support the innovation
and commercialization of the company's new products.
The Speaker: Order, please. The hon. member for Davenport has
the floor.
Can the Parliamentary Secretary for the Economic Development
Agency for the Regions of Quebec tell the House about this
announcement?
Mr. Jacques Gourde (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Public Works and Government Services, for Official
Languages and for the Economic Development Agency for the
Regions of Quebec, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend
my colleague on his excellent French.
While the NDP wants to impose a $20 billion carbon tax on
Canadians, our Conservative government is working hard to create
jobs across the country. The funding announced by the Prime
Minister will allow Premier Tech to develop and commercialize
about 60 new products that will have a positive impact on the
environment.
Our Conservative government remains focused on job creation
and—
The Speaker: The hon. member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Andrew Cash: Mr. Speaker, people are cobbling a living
together in Toronto by working multiple part-time jobs. They are
working contract to contract. They are freelancing. They are
temping. However, these jobs come with no pensions, no benefits,
no job security.
When will the Conservatives actually take this issue seriously and
stand up for workers, particularly young workers in the GTA?
Hon. John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, we take very seriously the plight of young workers, young
Canadians and all Canadians who are looking for work so they can
provide for themselves and their families.
I know the member opposite has a lot of experience in having a
part-time job. I read in the paper recently that in addition to
taxpayers paying him more than $150,000 a year, he is moonlighting
at the CBC at the same time as he is sitting on the Canadian heritage
committee. Maybe he should explain that to Canadians.
***
***
EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Hon. Stéphane Dion (Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, yesterday, I urged the Conservative government to listen to
job creators who are sounding the alarm about its job-killing reform.
Yesterday, I began reading the long list of these job creators, and I
am going to continue today.
NATIONAL DEFENCE
Will the Conservatives listen to the Association touristique
régionale des Îles de la Madeleine—whose president is a former
Conservative candidate—the Haute-Gaspésie, Matane and Rivièredu-Loup Chambers of Commerce; Entreprises agricoles et forestières
de Percé inc.; Tourisme Bas-Saint-Laurent; the Chamber of
Commerce—
● (1505)
The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs.
[English]
Hon. John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, if only the hon. member had listened to all those chambers
of commerce when they spoke out so loudly and clearly against his
plan to impose a huge carbon tax on Canadians. If only the leader of
the NDP listened to Canadians, we would not have his plan for a
$21.5 billion carbon tax.
Mr. Wladyslaw Lizon (Mississauga East—Cooksville, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome the new Associate Minister of
National Defence and congratulate her on her new role.
Since 2006, our government has made significant investments in
the Canadian armed forces to get our men and women the equipment
they need after the Liberals' decade of darkness.
Can the associate minister tell the House how she plans to
continue to build on the government's great record of delivering the
equipment our men and women in uniform need to do the job we ask
of them?
Hon. Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay (Associate Minister of National
Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, we are providing our military with the
equipment they need while ensuring taxpayers receive good value
for money.
We are working with all stakeholders, including industry, to
leverage these procurements to drive economic growth and provide
our troops with the right equipment at the right price.
14452
COMMONS DEBATES
February 28, 2013
Business of the House
The government is rebuilding the forces by acquiring critical
aircraft to transport supplies, modernizing army vehicles to protect
our personnel, and making unprecedented investments in our navy.
We will continue to provide the Canadian armed forces with the
tools they need by ensuring we invest taxpayers' money responsibly
and maximizing—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
The Speaker: The hon. member for Jeanne-Le Ber.
***
[Translation]
CANADA REVENUE AGENCY
Mr. Tyrone Benskin (Jeanne-Le Ber, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
Revenue Canada now only mails income tax packages to Canadians
upon request. Most seniors file a paper return, not an electronic one.
However, the Canada Revenue Agency has not clearly indicated that
paper copies will only be sent upon request. This measure
discriminates against seniors and people who do not have access
to the Internet in my riding.
Will the minister fix this?
[English]
Hon. Gail Shea (Minister of National Revenue and Minister
for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, CPC): Mr.
Speaker, the way that Canadians file their taxes is changing, and
we are changing to meet those needs.
We do, however, understand and recognize that everyone does not
have access to a computer or can use a computer, so that is why we
have ensured that taxpayers can still file on paper. They can pick up
their tax forms at any Service Canada or local post office. They can
also call the 1-800 number and have the tax form mailed to them.
Last year 1.3 million packages that were mailed out were never
used. That is not a good, efficient use of resources.
The Speaker: Due to the technical difficulties before, I am going
to give the floor back to the hon. member for York South—Weston
for a very brief question.
***
● (1510)
AIRLINE SAFETY
Mr. Mike Sullivan (York South—Weston, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
there are risks associated with hiring foreign pilots, particularly when
it comes to understanding Canadian safety regulations.
Why is Transport Canada rubber-stamping wet leases and letting
potentially unqualified foreign pilots fly Canadian flights? Does the
minister consider this an acceptable practice?
Hon. Steven Fletcher (Minister of State (Transport), CPC):
Mr. Speaker, the same question was asked in French and an answer
was given in French. I will provide the English answer, which is
exactly the same.
Canada has one of the safest transportation systems in the world.
It gets stronger every year. The number of aviation accidents has
fallen by 25% since 2000 while air travel has increased significantly.
Foreign pilots, just like Canadian pilots, go through a rigorous
selection process in order to ensure that they are fully qualified.
Officials are currently reviewing this policy to see if reform is
needed.
***
RAIL TRANSPORTATION
Mr. Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay—Superior North, Ind.): Mr.
Speaker, the United States, China, Japan and Europe are all investing
heavily in passenger rail, but Canada is going backwards.
The Conservatives seem determined to kill VIA Rail, chopping
more than 60% of VIA's budget over two years. These reckless cuts
will cause a train wreck for service across Canada.
Which services will be slashed as a result of these drastic cuts, and
will the last remaining trans-Canada service be further cut?
Hon. Steven Fletcher (Minister of State (Transport), CPC):
Mr. Speaker, again, the member has his facts completely wrong.
Since this government has taken office, we have invested almost
$1 billion in VIA Rail for new cars so that they could be made
accessible. We have invested in rail track and the corridor between
Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. The frequency of rail service has
increased, and that is due to the investments we have made. The rail
service is better than it has ever been and that is thanks to this
government.
***
[Translation]
POINT OF ORDER
ORAL QUESTIONS
Hon. Stéphane Dion (Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, Lib.): Mr.
Speaker, since I did not have enough time during my two questions
to read the entire list of employers from eastern Quebec who are
opposed to the EI reform, I want to table the list in the House for my
colleagues.
[English]
The Speaker: Does the hon. member have unanimous consent?
Some hon. members: No.
***
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP): Mr.
Speaker, it is an honour for me to rise on behalf of Canada's official
opposition.
My questions for my friend across the way deal with the calendar
for the rest of this week and going into the next. I notice the lack of
action on repairing the cuts and damages done to services Canadians
rely upon, such as employment insurance, rail safety and food
security. I wonder if the government has any response to the hue and
cry coming from Canadians.
February 28, 2013
COMMONS DEBATES
14453
Government Orders
My friend also seemed to confuse and misunderstand the role of
Parliament in his references earlier today in question period. I
wonder if, now that we are at a year and a day since the last time the
Conservatives brought in their so-called Senate accountability act,
there are any plans for him to reintroduce the bill, which he claims
the official opposition has delayed. In fact, all we have done is what
MPs do, and that is to debate legislation. He may have confused the
role that members of Parliament play on behalf of their constituents.
He could spend a little less time defending the unelected,
unaccountable and under-investigation senator colleagues in his
caucus if he could find a way to deal with the fragile nature of the
Canadian economy in any of the legislation the government sees
forthcoming in the next number of days.
Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House
of Commons, CPC): Mr. Speaker, this afternoon we will continue
debating third reading of Bill C-42, the enhancing Royal Canadian
Mounted Police accountability act, a bill that would give the RCMP
the tools it needs to strengthen accountability and enhance public
trust. I am puzzled why the NDP is putting up member after member
to delay and block bringing accountability to the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police. The New Democrats should let the bill come to a
final vote so that these much-needed reforms can be put in place. In
fact, the RCMP commissioner, Robert Paulson, was in front of the
committee yesterday, and he called for swift passage of the bill.
If the New Democrats heed the commissioner's advice and allow
the debate to conclude, we will be able to start third reading of Bill
S-7, the combatting terrorism act, and help keep Canadians safe that
way.
● (1515)
[Translation]
Tomorrow, we will start the second reading debate on Bill C-54,
the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act. This bill proposes to
put public safety as the first and paramount consideration in the
process of dealing with accused persons found to be not criminally
responsible. It accomplishes this change without affecting the
treatment these individuals receive.
The debate on Bill C-54 will continue next Thursday and—if
necessary—on Friday. Monday, we will consider Bill C-47, the
Northern Jobs and Growth Act, at report stage and third reading. We
will continue that debate on Wednesday.
Tuesday, March 5, shall be the sixth allotted day, which will go to
the New Democrats.
[English]
Finally, I hope that the opposition will support our hard-working
approach to business so that we could also consider second reading
of Bill C-48, the technical tax amendments act, 2012; the second
reading of Bill S-12, the incorporation by reference in regulations
act; and report stage and third reading of Bill S-9, the nuclear
terrorism act.
In addition, in response to what I will take to be an invitation from
the oppostion House leader, I would like unanimous consent to
propose the following motion. I hope the opposition will not block it.
I move that, notwithstanding any standing order or usual practice
of the House, Bill C-7, an act respecting the selection of senators and
amending the Constitution Act, 1867 in respect of Senate term
limits, be deemed to have been read the second time and referred to a
committee of the whole, deemed considered in committee of the
whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in
at report stage and deemed read the third time and passed.
Unanimous consent for this would show that they really do care
about Senate reform.
The Speaker: Does the hon. government House leader have the
unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?
Some hon. members: No.
***
POINTS OF ORDER
TABLING OF DOCUMENTS
Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House
of Commons, CPC): Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, yesterday the
opposition members asked the government to table in the House
documents relating to costing that was conducted by the Canada
Mortgage and Housing Corporation in response to Bill C-400. This
is the NDP private member's bill for a national social housing
program. I have the document here today, which I am proud to table
in the House, and it shows the clear reason our government could not
support it. It would indeed put us $5.45 billion further into debt. I am
pleased that we were able to do this work for the New Democrats
since apparently they had not costed the document. I would like to
table the document at this time.
The Speaker: I thank the hon. government House leader for that.
GOVERNMENT ORDERS
[Translation]
ENHANCING ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
ACCOUNTABILITY ACT
The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-42,
An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and to
make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, be read
the third time and passed.
Mr. Guy Caron (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to speak to
Bill C-42 at second reading. At the time, I began my speech by
talking about the scandals that the RCMP has been involved in. Sad
revelations about police officers in northern British Columbia add to
the many cases of misconduct and show the urgent need to take
action and ensure that these police officers are quickly identified and
removed from the force.
14454
COMMONS DEBATES
February 28, 2013
Government Orders
However, this is impossible to do given the existing culture within
the RCMP. That is the origin of the principles of Bill C-42, which, I
would like to remind hon. members, are designed to punish or fire
more quickly members who are accused of violating the standards
and laws that they are supposed to uphold and who cause significant
harm to the organization's image. These are the words that I used in
my speech at second reading.
When he was appointed, Commissioner Paulson said that he was
aware that harassment exists within the RCMP and that this was
unfortunately not a new thing. He added that mindsets must change
and that these behaviours must not be tolerated. That is why I am
talking about culture.
When Mr. Paulson was appointed, he said: “First on my plate will
be addressing the issue of harassment and sexual harassment in the
workplace.”
On this side of the House, we think it is too bad that the
recommendations from the 2007 Brown report, which we did not
really talk about, were not more fully incorporated into the spirit of
the bill.
Mr. Brown clearly identified the importance of focusing on
changing the organization's culture. These recommendations were
diluted quite a bit and most of them were simply ignored in
committee.
In his task force's report, David Brown indicated that the RCMP is
not just another department. He said:
In many ways, the RCMP's approach to governance has been based on a model
and style of policing developed from—and for—another era...
[N]one of these changes will be sustainable without the fundamental changes to
structure that we are proposing.
Theses are David Brown's own words. They bear repeating here.
To some extent, that is why the NDP wanted to study this bill in
committee. We supported the bill at second reading. We reached out
to the Conservative government by mentioning that we were going
to propose several amendments that would improve the bill. The
Conservative government was apparently not receptive to our
overture because every one of the amendments we suggested to
improve the bill, which we felt was inadequate, was rejected.
The committee made an effort to hear from those who would be
affected—the experts and the women alike. It did hear from a
number of these experts, and a number of the people affected,
including those at the RCMP.
Bills are important, but they must be well crafted and do what we
want them to. The government did not create all the tools it needs to
properly and effectively achieve its goal. It rejected most of the
Brown report recommendations; it refused to hold a public hearing;
and it introduced this bill without waiting for a number of important
reports, such as the review ordered by the new commissioner on
relations between men and women and the role of women in the
RCMP, or the conclusions of the independent inquiry on workplace
harassment being conducted by the Commission for Public
Complaints Against the RCMP.
When the bill was tabled, the two reports had not yet been
completed. They have been completed since then, but their
recommendations were not included in the bill.
I therefore wonder whether this can really be a serious exercise by
a government that claims to listen to what people have to say about a
bill in committee, a government that in the end refuses to seriously
consider any of the amendments and recommendations that have
been proposed.
In committee, most of the testimony from those affected indicated
that the bill did not go far enough, in terms of the nature and scope of
changes to the structure and organization of the RCMP, to really
effect a significant change in the culture. One such witness was
Darryl Plecas, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Research Chair and
Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice Research, School of
Criminology and Criminal Justice, University College of the Fraser
Valley, who was rather hard on the organization:
● (1520)
Again, if there is one thing that's glaring about cases historically it's that there has
been a never-ending effort in the past to minimize the seriousness of offences through
the way in which they're dealt with, and to minimize them again through the kinds of
penalties that are handed out. I don't think any reasonable outsider could look at the
penalties that are awarded and think for a second that they in any way reflect what
should be given as a disposition to anyone, let alone a police officer.
I will quote Mr. Plecas once more, because his remarks were
instrumental in the NDP's decision to oppose this bill at third
reading. He said:
What would be the process to ensure there is a proper and independent vetting of
that so that cases can't be scaled down when they more properly ought to be dealt
with in a formal manner?
When one considers—or at least we found—it's the entire spectrum of code of
conduct cases, hopefully those regulations would be such that they would provide
some assurances to any outside observer that every case is being given full
consideration.
Maybe I'm missing something in the proposed changes, but I'm not sure that's
happening or could happen with what's in there right now.
As I said, the NDP tried to move amendments to the bill in order
to improve it and tried to work with the government to ensure that
the bill addresses the concerns of Quebeckers and Canadians.
However, the Conservatives rejected all the NDP's amendments
without any discussion. They seem to think that the Commissioner
of the RCMP should have absolute control of the RCMP, and that is
why they oppose a more balanced approach to the issues of
dismissal, independent oversight and harassment training.
One of the amendments rejected by the Conservatives in
committee was adding mandatory harassment training for RCMP
members to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act. Another
amendment would have ensured the independence of the body that
will investigate RCMP complaints. Yet another asked for a provision
to create a civilian investigative body in order to avoid police
investigating police. It was deemed inadmissible. Finally, we asked
for a police service with a better balance of human resources by
eliminating some of the more sweeping powers of the RCMP
commissioner and strengthening those of the external review
committee in cases of potential dismissal from the RCMP. This
amendment was deemed inadmissible.
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If this government were really serious about reforming the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police, the way it operates and its culture, it
would have studied the amendments from the official opposition and
the opposition in committee more seriously, in addition to the
amendments that were suggested by external stakeholders, including
the proposal to establish an independent RCMP oversight body that
would report directly to Parliament. But that would be asking too
much of the government; too much progress at any given time is a
big no-no.
The new commissioner has, on several occasions, reiterated his
intention and willingness to take action. It remains to be seen
whether this government’s proposals will help or hinder him. It must
never be forgotten that beyond its responsibility to enforce the law,
the government must do everything within its power to avoid any
appearance that it considers itself above the law. That is where the
buck stops.
In closing, I would say that the bill before us at second reading
seemed like a step in the right direction. We understood the intention
behind it, and the problems with the RCMP, and we wanted to help
the government do something about it. That is why we highlighted
the major shortcomings of the bill, which include too much power in
the hands of too few.
We believe that, as a result of this bill, the RCMP Commissioner
will have too much power to unilaterally decide the outcome of
problems that may exist within the RCMP. Another fundamental
problem that explains why we cannot support this bill at third
reading is that the bill will not lead to any radical change in culture.
There was broad consensus regarding the testimony heard in
committee, testimony given by people who have had to deal with
these problems, and who have observed from the outside or
experienced from the inside what goes on.
This bill will do nothing to change the culture at the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police, and that is a great pity. This was our
chance to do something, but the government rejected our overtures
and refused to make the changes that are sorely needed. I cannot—
we cannot—in good conscience vote in favour of this bill at third
reading.
● (1525)
[English]
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
would like to point out the obvious. In 2012 RCMP Commissioner
Paulson published a public letter that in essence said, in good part,
that the commissioner's capacity to deal with disciplinary issues that
related to the issue of sexual harassment in the workforce required
additional authority.
I believe the legislation could have been a whole lot better. There
could have been amendments made and ultimately passed. I applaud
those individuals who put forward some amendments. The
government has never demonstrated sympathy in passing opposition
amendments.
My question to the member is this. If C-42 were passed, could he
clearly define why it would make it worse than it currently is, which
is the reason he will be voting against it as opposed to allowing it to
pass, recognizing that it has shortcomings that could be improved
going forward?
[Translation]
Mr. Guy Caron: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member asked a straight
question, and I will give a straight answer. The problem is that the
bill creates a false sense of security. It gives the illusion of answering
the question it was supposed to answer.
Harassment and sexual harassment are very serious issues and
should be taken seriously. We believe that this bill provides only the
illusion of an answer. If we pass this bill, Canadians, including
people who have been victims of harassment and those who monitor
the RCMP and its internal challenges, may have the impression that
the problem has been solved, when in fact it has not.
We need an approach that really deals with the current RCMP
culture. The bill does not do that. If we pass this bill, we create the
illusion that the problem has been solved and that we can now move
on to something else.
● (1530)
Mrs. Sadia Groguhé (Saint-Lambert, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
thank my colleague for his speech.
The NDP argued that we need to do more to address harassment
issues. Not only is harassment a serious problem within the RCMP,
but the men and women involved absolutely need help and support
to deal with these situations.
Would our colleague comment on that?
Mr. Guy Caron: Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the member for
Saint-Lambert, is entirely right.
The issues that have been brought to light at the RCMP, such as
harassment and sexual harassment, are systemic. They are symptomatic of a culture that needs changing at the RCMP. They reflect not
on the quality of the men and women who serve on the force, but on
the culture in which they must work.
This culture may not be tangible but it exists all the same. Any
sociologist or expert in the field would say that an organization's
culture or atmosphere is certain to impact on its members' behaviour.
In this case, the impact is negative. Given the systemic nature of the
problem, we need the proper legislative provisions to change the
prevailing culture.
These provisions are not found in Bill C-42.
Mr. François Choquette (Drummond, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
thank my honourable colleague for his excellent speech.
He clearly laid out the effects of this bill, a bill whose initial
promise quickly turned to disappointment. We brought forward
many amendments in committee; unfortunately, all were rejected.
I would like my colleague's take on the Conservatives' unwillingness to consider the amendments brought forward to improve the
bill.
Mr. Guy Caron: Mr. Speaker, my thoughts are easily summed
up: same old, same old.
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We try to work on bills that would benefit Canadians as a whole,
and more specifically members of the RCMP and those who deal
with the organization. The Conservative government categorically
refuses to even consider the amendments that we bring forward to fill
the gaps in its legislation. One can only decry this government's lack
of openness with regards to these very important questions.
We proposed a number of amendments that were rejected by the
Conservatives without any discussion. We proposed to include
mandatory training on harassment for RCMP members in the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police Act, but they said no. The Conservatives
simply do not want to hear a dissenting opinion, or even recognize
its validity.
Mr. Sylvain Chicoine (Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-42. In my
last speech on this bill, at second reading, I mentioned that we
welcomed the introduction of this bill, despite certain problems we
had noted regarding harassment, an urgent public concern for
Canadians. We also pressed the Department of Public Safety to make
sexual harassment within the RCMP one of its priorities.
The director of the Groupe d'aide et d'information sur le
harcèlement sexuel au travail de la province de Québec appeared
before the committee and said:
However, the initial version of Bill C-42 did not directly address
the systemic problems rooted in RCMP culture. The bill, as
introduced at first reading, would not have changed the climate
currently prevailing within the RCMP. When the bill was drafted, the
Minister of Public Safety does not appear to have considered the
various recommendations made by the Task Force on Governance
and Cultural Change in the RCMP.
We nevertheless supported the bill at second reading so that we
could study it adequately in committee and improve it so that it could
solve the problems that seem firmly rooted within the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police. Unfortunately, that is not how matters
unfolded, and we were not satisfied with the committee's study of the
bill. I am genuinely disappointed by the government's lack of cooperation on this matter, and, unfortunately, on others as well.
The Conservatives did not want to co-operate with us to ensure
balanced representation of the various options and positions
available. In committee, they were able to invite 12 witnesses,
whereas the opposition could only invite seven. We also observed
that the Conservatives' witnesses were unfortunately not entirely
independent. All but one were representatives of the government or
the RCMP. Consequently, they came and asserted the government's
position without qualifying it in any real way. The witnesses selected
by the Conservatives were thus not there to offer an independent
opinion. That is what we observed.
The Conservatives were also not that eager to hear from our
witnesses. Our first witness was unable to appear before the
committee until the fourth meeting, and most of our witnesses were
not invited until the last day of hearings. The Conservatives also
forced us to submit all our amendments on the day of the last
meeting in which we heard from witnesses. They asked us to provide
our amendments three and half hours later that same day. That did
not leave us much time to evaluate or consider the recommendations
made by the witnesses before the committee.
We wanted to introduce amendments that would have made the
legislation more effective so that it could achieve its objective, based
on the recommendations of those same witnesses. This kind of
behaviour on the government's part is unacceptable and impedes the
proper conduct of parliamentary proceedings. This lack of cooperation by the government is what we have observed since the
start of this Parliament. As far as I know, virtually none of the
amendments introduced has unfortunately been accepted.
With the 32 years of experience we have, we have found out that when companies
do have a clear policy, when employees do know what is acceptable and not
acceptable, it makes it much easier for management to deal with the problems.
But the Conservatives preferred to ignore that testimony and the
others heard in committee. It is also disappointing that the minister
did not ask for a clear policy on sexual harassment in the RCMP,
with specific standards of conduct and criteria for assessing the
performance of all employees.
● (1535)
Such a policy is necessary to provide a basis for a fair and
effective disciplinary process. The director of the Groupe d'aide et
d'information sur le harcèlement sexuel au travail de la province de
Québec spoke eloquently on the importance of such a policy. The
Conservatives chose to ignore her testimony and stubbornly insisted
on a magic solution that will not resolve all the RCMP's problems.
We also put forward an amendment that would guarantee the
independence of the body set up to investigate complaints in the
RCMP. Once again, the government said no. We also proposed
adding a provision to establish a civilian investigative body, to stop
the police from investigating themselves. Again, the government
said no. Yet all Canadians are asking for such a provision. Trust in
police investigations has to be rebuilt. When a police force
investigates another police force, there may well be a conflict of
interest or a perceived conflict of interest.
If the Conservatives do not want to listen to Canadians or the
opposition, perhaps they should listen to the former chair of the
Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, who stated
that the bill did not meet the standards of review set out by Justice
O'Connor and that it did not meet the needs of the Canadian public
or even the RCMP itself. I would like to point out that Justice
O'Connor, in the Arar inquiry, said that Parliament should create an
oversight body for the RCMP. It would appear that these remarks,
like all those that are not in line with Conservative ideology, have
fallen on deaf ears.
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The bill will give the RCMP commissioner new power to decide
on appropriate disciplinary measures. This includes the power to
appoint and dismiss members at his discretion. During my first
speech on this bill, I said that the approach taken by the Minister of
Public Safety was perhaps a little too simplistic, considering the size
of the problem. It is not enough simply to grant final authority for
laying off employees to the commissioner.
This is why we put forward an amendment to solve the problem
and to create police forces that are better balanced in terms of human
resources by eliminating some of the more draconian powers given
to the RCMP commissioner and strengthening those of the external
review committee in the case of potential layoffs from the RCMP.
As I mentioned earlier, although Bill C-42 gives the commissioner the power to establish a more efficient process to resolve
harassment complaints while at the same time giving more
disciplinary authority, he will not be able to bring about a real
cultural change in the RCMP, a change that is necessary not only to
get rid of sexual harassment issues, but also to deal with discipline
and behavioural issues more generally among RCMP officers.
As evidence, Commissioner Paulson himself stated that
legislation alone would not be enough to preserve public trust and
that extensive reform would be necessary to address the serious
underlying problems within the RCMP, in order to create a
workplace that is more open, more co-operative and more respectful
of everyone. We can see that the minister failed to provide the
necessary leadership to deal with the broader issues faced by the
RCMP.
Commissioner Paulson told the Standing Committee on the Status
of Women that he thought the problem was bigger than simply
sexual harassment. This situation must change, and the minister
should have taken the commissioner’s extensive experience in the
RCMP into consideration.
All the witnesses told us that this bill would not be enough to
establish an open, co-operative and respectful working environment,
and that giving so many powers to the commissioner would lead to
more problems than it would solve. The Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada shares our view. In committee, an
association representative said that Bill C-42, rather than mitigating
the issues mentioned, would only make them exponentially worse.
If Bill C-42 is adopted as it is—including the charter violations
and the measures enabling managers to continue abusing their
powers—rather than correcting the problems that undermine the
RCMP, our Parliament will be promoting misconduct and the culture
of cronyism by legitimizing these kinds of behaviours.
For all these reasons, we will vote against this bill at third
reading.
● (1540)
[English]
Ms. Candice Bergen (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Public Safety, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to NDP
members speak one after the other on Bill C-42, and it is clear that
the majority of them have not read the testimony with regard to this
bill. They have not even read the blues or the transcripts from the
meetings. For example, most of the amendments were ruled out of
order, including the amendment they introduced regarding an
independent investigative body. It was poorly written, introduced
late and ruled out of order by the chair.
I am wondering about a couple of things. Did the NDP members
who are speaking one after the other bother to actually read the
documents and know what happened at committee with some of
these very poor amendments that were ruled out of order and
defeated—for example, silly ones like changing the short title? Has
he bothered to actually read the legislation, and does he know that
not only the RCMP but the commissioner and the chair of the
commission said they need this to provide the framework to change
the culture? The legislation will not do it alone, but the legislation is
needed. Has he even read the bill?
● (1545)
[Translation]
Mr. Sylvain Chicoine: Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary
secretary for her question.
I may actually not have taken the time to read all the committee
“blues”, but the parliamentary secretary is reporting only what suits
her, in this case, because there were admissible amendments. They
were all completely shrugged off by the government, as is the case
every time in every committee, not just this one. It happens every
time a bill is introduced and reasonable amendments are proposed, as
in this case. A number of amendments were proposed. Some of them
may have been ruled out of order, but that is not the case for all or a
majority of the ones we proposed.
That is completely despicable. The parliamentary secretary says
they were out of order, but most of them were not.
The government is not listening to Canadians. Canadians want a
civilian police force that investigates the police and they are tired of
having police investigate the police. There is an appearance of a
conflict of interest there, and once again, the government is
disregarding the opinion of Canadians.
Mr. Tarik Brahmi (Saint-Jean, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is indeed
quite despicable to hear the parliamentary secretary asking us
whether we have read every line of the committee transcripts, when
in fact we need only look at the witnesses that are called. They are
often in a conflict of interest and are not free to speak, and that
discredits most of the things they say.
The few witnesses who are genuinely free to speak all agree with
us. That is true at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and
National Security and at the Standing Committee on National
Defence. So this is indeed despicable.
I would like my colleague to say more on this point, because it is
absolutely unbelievable to hear the parliamentary secretary say this.
Mr. Sylvain Chicoine: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from
Saint-Jean for his comments and his entirely accurate observations.
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We see in the committees that nothing suits the government, and
often the witnesses they invite are not completely free to state their
opinions or real, scientific facts. Nothing we propose suits it. That is
more than despicable, because this government is anti-democratic in
a number of ways. The way it behaves is quite frustrating, and not
just in the House of Commons where it constantly muzzles us and
imposes gag orders. It also uses its majority in committees to present
bogus studies, and so on.
The government’s behaviour is simply despicable. That is the
word that comes to mind, and that is what it is. It cannot be repeated
often enough. With this government, doing anything in the House of
Commons or in committee is an exercise in frustration.
[English]
Mr. Craig Scott (Toronto—Danforth, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
would actually like to begin where I was going to conclude with my
speech, after hearing the, frankly, rather arrogant question coming
from the parliamentary secretary.
We all know what the government does in committee time after
time after time. Any amendment, however well framed, is voted
down by the majority. There is almost a zero per cent passage rate of
NDP, Liberal or independent members' amendments in committee in
this Parliament, so to pretend that the fact of the writing of a few
amendments by the opposition in this process would have made an
iota of difference is the height of arrogance.
I would also like the House to know that in this context, most of
the opposition witnesses were in the last two days, the majority on
the last day. The majority on the committee voted to make sure that
the amendments from the opposition came in three and a half hours
after the session. Can we imagine, in the context of a complex bill
like this, putting together well-crafted amendments when put up
against an artificial deadline like that? This is the behaviour of the
government in that committee. Committees do not function in any
kind of straightforward or good-faith legislative manner.
I would like to address how far Bill C-42 diverges from and does
not respect the recommendations from Justice O'Connor and the
Arar commission for a proper review mechanism for the RCMP.
Most of the other interventions have talked about other areas of the
bill and other issues, but I would like to talk about how the bill does
take a small step in the direction of the Arar commission
recommendations, but ultimately stops far short. This is consistent
with how the government has truly resisted appropriate oversight
mechanisms for any body that deals with policing or security
matters.
For example, in another bill that is before the House now, Bill S-7,
Combating Terrorism Act, Conservatives have stoutly resisted any
form of serious oversight or monitoring. In my speech on that bill, I
will go into some detail on that. In each case, the NDP has proposed
more than a dozen carefully considered amendments that would help
make good on the Arar commission's exhaustive second report on a
review mechanism, yet every one was voted down or ruled out of
order.
This is consistent with the general approach of the government to
the Arar commission. I had the fortune to be in the Standing
Committee on Public Safety and National Security when the
Minister of Public Safety appeared to defend the report called
“Building Resilience against Terrorism”, and I asked him what the
government's intention is with respect to the recommendations on a
review mechanism coming out of the Arar commission report. It was
absolutely clear from his response that the government has no
interest in that report or using it as any kind of a reference point,
baseline or road map. Bill C-42 has made that completely clear.
I will proceed as follows. I will provide a short overview of what
the Arar commission did recommend by way of review mechanisms,
and then I will look at how Bill C-42 on at least four points does not
take those recommendations at all seriously.
The report I am referring to from the Arar commission is called “A
New Review Mechanism for the RCMP's National Security
Activities”. Before proposing the exact mechanisms, Justice
O'Connor, who is of the Ontario court of appeal, outlined reasons
for the inadequacy of existing accountability and review mechanisms
for the RCMP's national security activity. In general, he pointed out
that there has been an evolution and a deepening of the RCMP
national security role, despite the fact that CSIS itself was peeled off
from the RCMP at some point. Obviously in the post-2001 climate,
we know that to be true and why that is true. He emphasized three
elements.
First of all, there has been enhanced and deepened informationsharing with other countries and among federal, provincial and
municipal agencies, and increased integration and national security
policing. We know that information-sharing was at the heart of what
happened to Mr. Arar.
Second, he talked about comparative and other Canadian
experience with both policing and security intelligence review that
led him to conclude that there was the “inability of a complaintbased approach to provide a firm foundation for ensuring that the
often secret national security activities respect the law and rights and
freedoms”.
● (1550)
Third, he said that the existing Commission for Public Complaints
Against the RCMP has encountered “difficulties in obtaining access
to information from the RCMP”. We will see that this is the
understatement of the century when we look at some of the
testimony.
For the information of the parliamentary secretary, I did read the
blues and I did consider the testimony of various witnesses,
including Mr. Kennedy, the former head of the CPC, whose
testimony is irrefutable. The government did everything it could in
committee to try to underplay and deflect the impact of that
testimony.
Justice O'Connor recommended a number of features that the new
review mechanism would have.
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First, it must be authorized to conduct self-initiated reviews in the
same way and to the same extent as SIRC, the Security Intelligence
Review Committee that oversees CSIS. He talked about the need for
these reviews not just at the time when activities were deepening, but
in the context in which national security activities by definition were
conducted in secret and received little by way of judicial scrutiny or
other independent scrutiny. He emphasized how a self-initiated
review had to be linked to the criterion of independence from the
RCMP and the government in the right of access to information and
to initiate those reviews.
The second feature that he felt would be important was that the
body had to have investigative powers similar to those that public
bodies had under the Inquiries Act. He emphasized a few things.
Some of them are in the bill, such as the right to subpoena
documents and compel testimony. Also, the review body has to have
the right to decide what information is necessary and not have
barriers put in front of it in making that decision or accessing the
information.
Third, he stated:
—the review mechanism must not be hampered by jurisdictional boundaries. It
must be able to follow the trail wherever it leads, to ensure full and effective
investigation or review of the RCMP's national security activities.
With those principles in mind he went on to recommend a new
independent complaints and national security review agency for the
RCMP that would replace the CPC and would also take on the role
he recommended for overseeing the Canadian Border Services
Agency, the CBSA.
He went on to talk about the need for coordination across the
various bodies, this new body he recommended, the existing SIRC,
Security Intelligence Review Committee, and the commissioner for
the CSE, the Commissioner for the Canadian Security Establishment, who also has broader and wider powers than what is found
recommended in Bill C-42.
What is in Bill C-42 that falls far short of these recommendations?
The first major problem is that Bill C-42 does not give the new
review body uninhibited access to information that the body deems
necessary and relevant. In committee the Conservatives tried to
avoid acknowledging that the bill would give the power to the
RCMP commissioner to prevent examination and review of a broad
range of privileged information. From lots of experience, we know
how various bodies, including the RCMP, have abused the claim of
privilege.
Mr. Kennedy, the former head of the CPC, noted in testimony
before the committee, the findings of former Supreme Court Judge
John Major in the Air India inquiry, who experienced first-hand the
abuse of privilege by the RCMP.
Mr. Kennedy stated:
—with reference to the privilege. Justice Major, whom I talked to, was scathing in
terms of his comments that the RCMP over-claimed privilege, concealed
information from him, and in some case a witness who wanted to testify, they
claimed they needed the information for investigative purposes which wasn't true.
The second major problem is that the RCMP commissioner can
force the chair of the new recommended body, the CRCC, to
suspend an investigation by means of a simple request in a letter on
the grounds that it would compromise an ongoing investigation. Mr.
Kennedy commented how this completely gutted the credibility of
this body in the eyes of the public. It completely undermines any
sense of independence of the body.
The third major problem is that the bill is largely void of
timeframes within which the RCMP must respond to requests and
findings of this new review body. As Mr. Kennedy said:
● (1555)
Inordinate and unjustifiable delay was the hallmark of the RCMP during the fourplus years that I was chair of the Commission for Public Complaints...
There was one fourth major problem, but perhaps a question will
elicit that.
Mr. Ray Boughen (Palliser, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I want to make
a comment on the hon. member's speech. I find it very interesting
that when the other side of the House disagrees with this side of the
House, this side of the House is automatically wrong. There is a
possibility that side of the House is wrong. Just because this side of
the House does not accept an amendment as proposed by that side of
the House, then, again, we are wrong.
However, the truth of the matter is that many of the amendments
do not meet the constraints of the bill. They are outside of the bill
and do not add anything to it. In fact, they may well detract.
Therefore, prior to the hon. member's speech, his view of what
happens on this side of the House, I respectfully submit, is very
clouded, one-sided and without precedence in terms of any direct
evidence that says what he is saying makes any more sense.
● (1600)
Mr. Craig Scott: Mr. Speaker, I completely accept the member's
observation that just because we take different views, it does not
mean that one side is automatically right or wrong. I was simply
responding to the rather strongly worded criticism coming from the
parliamentary secretary.
I also pointed out the context in which amendments had to be
drafted in this context: three and a half hours after the end of the
majority of opposition witnesses were there.
I also noted that it was the practice of the Conservative
government, working through government members on committees,
to accept virtually no amendments across all committees. If the
member has evidence to refute that claim, I would absolutely love to
see it.
[Translation]
Mr. Jean-François Larose (Repentigny, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
would like to thank my hon. colleague for his presentation.
As someone who used to wear the uniform, I found his excellent
remarks very interesting, critical and detailed. I would like to hear
the rest of his presentation.
[English]
Mr. Craig Scott: Mr. Speaker, we are the party of co-operation.
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I was simply add one further point, which is there is indeed
something on which I would compliment the government. It did
include the chair-initiated complaints procedure investigation
procedure. However, it comes with a couple of conditions, one of
which is that the commission, this new review body, cannot proceed
on its own motion to investigate “if there is another review or inquiry
that has been undertaken on substantially the same issue by a federal
or provincial entity”. This may seem like a reasonable provision, but
it opens the door for delay and challenges by the RCMP, including in
court.
The judgment about whether it is germane to the commission to
initiate its own investigations, frankly, should be with the
commission. There should not be a mechanism whereby the RCMP
can push back, including by using and drawing on government
lawyers. There is a further provision that indicates that possibly the
minister himself or herself could challenge. Therefore, the granting
of a commission-initiated review or investigation is partly undercut
by these conditions, and that was my only other point.
[Translation]
Mrs. Sadia Groguhé (Saint-Lambert, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my
colleague talked about unrestricted access to the commission,
something that would ultimately be necessary for the success of
this bill. Could he further expand on this?
[English]
Mr. Craig Scott: Mr. Speaker, the only thing that I would
mention is what was said by the former head of the CPC, Mr.
Kennedy, which really stood out during the seven days of testimony.
He talked about the context in which government bodies, including
the historical pattern within the RCMP, invoke privilege—the idea
that documents are privileged—as a way to shield from external
agencies documents that had no reasonable basis to be excluded. He
gave lots of examples.
The very idea that the minister can both set regulations on the
scope of privilege and also have the RCMP commissioner, separate
from the minister, actually decline to provide documents based on
his or her own judgment of what is privileged in a way that would
unduly affect the RCMP completely undercuts the independence of
the body.
[Translation]
Mrs. Sadia Groguhé (Saint-Lambert, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am
pleased to speak to Bill C-42, Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted
Police Accountability Act. The official opposition has been waiting
for a long time for this enactment, which seeks to establish a new
independent civilian commission to replace the present
RCMP public complaints commission.
dismissed is an outrage. Further, it promotes an environment where
people don't speak up.”
Our federal police also showed that when, in 2012, 150 women
announced their intention to file a class action suit against the RCMP
for sexual harassment. Despite mounting evidence, the institution's
first reaction was to deny everything. Such is the climate in the
RCMP. Such is the internal culture that prevails in our federal police.
In light of these harassment scandals, and other abuses such as the
Maher Arar affair, the NDP has always argued for a major reform to
oversee the internal practices of that institution. Unfortunately, these
cases have tarnished the RCMP's reputation. They deserve strong
action by parliamentarians. Bill C-42 should have been that answer.
Our party supported the bill at second reading, since its objectives
were laudable and we were hoping to take an in-depth look at this
legislation in committee. We wanted to work with the government
and develop an effective act to tackle the various issues that need to
be dealt with.
Given the bill's objectives, we thought it was critical to reform the
processes relating to disciplinary reinforcement, human resources
management and complaint handling. We also felt essential to create
an independent and transparent investigative body to tackle the
whole issue of harassment in the RCMP. In this respect, the NDP
proposed several amendments to improve Bill C-42 and to better
meet existing needs.
We proposed mandatory harassment training for all
RCMP members to promote better prevention and to provide
employees with the right tools to react more appropriately.The NDP
also proposed the establishment of a civilian body to deal with
complaints filed against the RCMP. This was to ensure an
independent investigative and handling structure that would have
been accountable to Parliament, and not directly to the minister, as
proposed by the Conservatives.
In the same vein, we also wanted to set up an independent
investigative body, because the current situation may leave room for
partiality that should not exist and that could be reversed by a
structure that is separate from police forces and from the department.
As regards human resources, we were hoping for a strengthening of
the RCMP External Review Committee to tighten up internal
mechanisms, particularly in cases of harassment.
First, it is important to remember that, between 2005 and 2011,
over 718 internal complaints were filed with the RCMP. These
complaints related to sexism, bullying and reprisals. Worse still, the
RCMP public complaints commission says that “these numbers
probably only reflect part of the situation, because the Canadian
federal police way of doing things does not encourage employees
who feel wronged to file a complaint”.
The Conservatives rejected all these proposals, which deserved
special consideration and which would clearly have improved the
government's legislation. In doing so, the government went against
the recommendations of several witnesses who supported such
measures and who were asking for more independence in the
RCMP's investigative process.
A civilian member of the RCMP even contends that: “It takes an
incredible amount of courage for people to step up with complaints
such as these—to have them continually diminished, deflected and
The Conservatives also ignored the recommendations of Justice
O'Connor in the Maher Arar inquiry to improve the RCMP's review
standards.
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● (1605)
The government completely ignored Commissioner Paulson's
comments that much more extensive reform was needed to address
the issues and to promote a more open, co-operative and respectful
workplace.
For months now, the NDP has been calling on the government to
make sexual harassment and institutional abuse at the RCMP a
priority. Throughout the legislative process, we have advocated for
measures that would have helped change the culture at the RCMP.
By refusing to accept our party's suggestions, the government chose
not to address the problem. By giving the commissioner more
powers over discipline and complaints management, Bill C-42 does
not directly address the problem of harassment anymore than it will
change the corporate culture within the RCMP.
The government is keeping the existing structures and refusing to
completely overhaul the internal processes. By allowing the RCMP
to investigate the RCMP—the police investigating the police—the
Conservatives are not addressing the issues. They are refusing to
bring in a truly independent structure that operates at arm's length
from the institution. There is nothing here to change the atmosphere
at the RCMP.
With the new civilian complaints commission proposed in Bill
C-42, the government is not straying far from the RCMP public
complaints commission. We find it regrettable that the commission is
not fully independent since it does not fall under the jurisdiction of
the House of Commons, but it will instead continue to report to the
Minister of Public Safety.
In conclusion, the government went against the recommendations
made by a number of witnesses, Justice O'Connor and Commissioner Paulson. Not only did the government reject the opposition's
amendments outright, but it also clearly refused to make the RCMP's
internal investigation process more independent and transparent. It
refused to fix the systemic problems within the RCMP.
Bill C-42 is not an adequate response to the culture of secrecy and
harassment that unfortunately exists within our federal police force.
It is also not a response to these women and men who have been the
victims of bullying, harassment and retaliation.
● (1610)
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre (Alfred-Pellan, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
before asking my question, I would first like to congratulate my
colleague from Saint-Lambert on her excellent speech.
I would like to share with the House something that has been
bothering me about this whole sexual harassment issue. This regards
a document that was released recently in response to an access to
information request made by La Presse. According to that document,
some female employees may be reluctant to report sexual harassment
because they have no faith in the RCMP's current complaints
process. The fact that women are afraid to use the current complaints
process is very troubling.
I would like to hear my colleague's comments on this. Is she
horrified to know that, because of the current system, women are
afraid to speak up about misconduct? Could she comment on the fact
that, with Bill C-42, the Conservatives are sadly refusing to protect
female workers who spend their lives in the service of our country?
Mrs. Sadia Groguhé: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her
question, which is truly of central importance. Where victims of
harassment are concerned, of course, they already have difficulty in
reporting what has happened, because announcing that you have
been harassed is not easy, and it is even less so if they do not find the
necessary and essential trust within the institution to be able to
submit such complaints.
If a climate of trust has not been established, and a climate of
violence is in place, because we can see that these women are
victims of harassment and we do not find in Bill C-42 the necessary
and valid responses to address this kind of situation, I totally agree
with her that it is absolutely deplorable.
Mr. Guy Caron (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, NDP): Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned in her speech the
importance of the change in culture within the RCMP that we hoped
to see effected, or at least addressed, by this bill.
At committee stage, an NDP amendment I find particularly
interesting was rejected by the Conservatives, with no debate or
discussion. It involved adding mandatory harassment training for
RCMP members to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act. I find it
absurd, in fact, that such training is not systematically provided.
I would like to hear my colleague’s comments on the impact
mandatory training for RCMP members would have in terms of the
cultural change we of the NDP are calling for.
● (1615)
Mrs. Sadia Groguhé: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his
question.
Regardless of the location, in point of fact, whether in a private
enterprise or within the RCMP, when you are dealing with a change
in culture, it is fundamental to build it up through a coaching
process. It becomes feasible when the necessary training has been
put in place to enable people to talk about harassment.
In terms of training, talking about harassment means being aware
of the fact that you can be a victim, or an abuser. It is important to
have the necessary information and resources to avoid becoming a
victim, and as a victim, to have the opportunity to make a complaint.
Also, as a perpetrator, you can avoid becoming an abuser and find
help, if needed, on the same basis as a victim.
[English]
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton): Before we resume
debate, it is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the
House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of
adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Beauharnois—
Salaberry, Environment; the hon. member for Alfred-Pellan,
Correctional Service of Canada.
Resuming debate, the hon. member for Drummond.
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[Translation]
Mr. François Choquette (Drummond, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am
honoured to speak to Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police Act and to make related and consequential
amendments to other Acts.
directly address the problem of sexual harassment, as I said just now,
and as my colleagues explained so clearly in their speeches earlier.
Nor does it address a number of other issues that were the subject of
NDP amendments at the committee stage, and which the
Conservatives unfortunately rejected.
Before beginning my speech, I would like to stress how
committed the NDP is to this legislation. Many of my colleagues
have risen over the past hour to show their commitment to
addressing the problems within the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The NDP put forward a range of amendments designed to ensure
that Bill C-42 reflected the challenges the RCMP is now facing.
Once again, I take my hat off to my colleagues, who did such careful
work in committee.
On that note, it is important to stress just how disinterested the
Conservatives are in this important legislation and in improving the
RCMP. We have done very serious work in committee. Moreover, I
would like to highlight the work of my colleagues who sit on this
committee. They work very hard and have introduced amendments
that, unfortunately, have not been accepted.
● (1620)
Now, what does this bill contain? To begin with, Bill C-42 adds
new provisions to the sections on labour relations and gives the
RCMP Commissioner the power to appoint and dismiss members as
he sees fit. Secondly, it attempts to reform the process pertaining to
disciplinary matters, complaints, and the management of human
resources for the members of the RCMP. Finally, it is an attempt to
reform the former RCMP public complaints commission by
establishing a new civilian complaints commission.
As members can see, Bill C-42 reintroduces several provisions
included in Bill C-38 of the 40th Parliament. At that time, the NDP
criticized the bill because it did not go far enough in reforming the
disciplinary inquiry procedures. The most notable difference
between Bill C-42 and former Bill C-38 is the fact that the new
bill says nothing about the issue of unionizing the RCMP.
On that note, I would like to remind members that the NDP is the
only political party in the House of Commons whose employees are
unionized. We are very proud of this. It is something that we care
about deeply. For that reason, we stand behind workers and cannot
stress enough how important it is to respect the work they do. We are
proud that our employees are unionized. I take this opportunity to
put the ball in the courts of the other parties, so that they, too, begin
negotiating with their employees. I think that all employees of the
House should have an opportunity to become unionized.
The NDP supported the intention of Bill C-42 to modernize the
RCMP and to address problems such as sexual harassment, about
which my honourable colleagues have spoken. The NDP voted in
favour of referring the bill to committee. As I mentioned, my
colleagues who sit on this committee have worked very hard, and
very seriously.
After hearing from witnesses and experts, however, it became
obvious that the bill had major shortcomings, and would not succeed
in improving the RCMP's oversight mechanisms. Moreover, Bill
C-42 does not reflect, for example, the recommendations of Justice
O'Connor emerging from the inquiry into the Maher Arar case,
which also sought to improve the RCMP's review standards so as to
meet the needs of Canadians.
The Conservatives introduced Bill C-42 as the solution for the
problems of the RCMP, which has become somewhat dysfunctional;
on the contrary, however, this is not the solution. The bill does not
The main thrust of the amendments related to the following
points. The first thing was to require all members of the RCMP to
take harassment training, under the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Act. Unfortunately, this was rejected by the Conservatives. Next, we
sought the establishment of a completely independent civilian
agency responsible for investigating complaints against the RCMP.
Unfortunately, this was denied by the Conservatives. We also
proposed adding a provision to set up an independent national
civilian investigating body to avoid having the police investigate
themselves. Again, this was rejected by the Conservatives. We also
wanted to develop more balanced human resources policies by
withdrawing some of the draconian new powers suggested by the
RCMP Commissioner, and strengthening the RCMP External
Review Committee in cases involving discharge. Unfortunately, this
too was rejected by the Conservatives.
So the Conservatives rejected all these NDP amendments,
ignoring many recommendations from witnesses who had given up
their valuable time to come and speak before the committee and
explain their points of view, and to suggest amendments and ways of
dealing with the shortcomings. We are in fact in favour of the RCMP
review principle. We even supported this bill at second reading.
Unfortunately, it is not well enough developed at this stage because
the Conservatives botched the committee work. They rejected the
amendments proposed by witnesses and members of the NDP in
committee. That is why we are going to vote against this bill at third
reading.
I will now return to the point we were speaking about just now
about misconduct and sexual harassment. It is an exceedingly
important point, one that has been very much in the news recently
and needs to be addressed. Bill C-42 has not gone nearly far enough.
Furthermore, as you know, we are asking that this bill should at least
provide for training at the RCMP on sexual harassment issues. We
are still awaiting the conclusions of the two reports that should shed
light on sexual harassment at the RCMP—the investigation by the
RCMP public complaints commission and the RCMP gender issues
report.
Another problem I discussed earlier, which I find extremely
important, is unionization at the RCMP. As I mentioned, we in the
NDP are very proud of our support of the unions. We take pride in
having unionized assistants and we would like to allow all
employees to be unionized. The bill does not address this matter,
which is currently before the courts. The RCMP is the only police
force in Canada without a collective agreement. Imagine that.
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For 35 years, labour relations representatives have been elected to
manage employment-related matters. However, this way of doing
things, which established a democratic process for employee
representation, is a consultation process rather than a true collective
bargaining process. As I mentioned, only the RCMP does not yet
have a collective agreement and is not yet unionized. This is a
shortcoming that needs to be dealt with and which this bill
unfortunately does not address.
I could mention a number of other points like that to illustrate the
failings of the bill and to explain why we will be voting against it.
Among other things, it is because the Conservatives did not take the
trouble to listen to the conclusions of the excellent work done by
NDP members, in this committee and elsewhere.
I am available to answer any questions you may have about this. I
would be more than happy to go into detail about a number of
subjects, like sexual harassment and unionization, neither of which
this bill deals with.
I would not hesitate to suggest that perhaps we are tarring the
whole force with one brush. We are saying that the RCMP has no
union. I respectfully submit that I am not sure it has ever asked to
have a union. Somehow the hon. member has decided that is part and
parcel of what should be in place and therefore, if the Mounties do
not agree with it, they are out of sync. I have trouble understanding
that.
Just because we do not agree does not mean we are arrogant. If we
do not agree with something, it may well mean that we do not
believe in it or that we do not think it is pertinent to the bill. I think
we have to continually question ourselves. When we make an
agreement and then we decide that we want to make a
recommendation around the agreement, around the bill, and the
other side does not accept it, then is the other side obviously wrong?
In my way of thinking, that is the wrong premise to work under.
[Translation]
● (1625)
Mr. François Choquette: Mr. Speaker, it is entirely natural for us
to have different positions. That is not a problem.
Mr. Jean-François Larose (Repentigny, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
many MPs have said that this arrogant government thought our
amendments in committee were not good.
However, we are here to do a job, and we must do our work
properly in committee. We invite witnesses because we want to hear
their comments, recommendations and expertise. When we invite
knowledgeable witnesses, we listen to them; then we introduce
amendments and improve the bill. That was not done in this case.
Has my honourable colleague, who has heard the same things I
have, had the same experience in the committee on which he sits?
Do the Conservatives listen to the experts who appear there with an
open mind, or are they always closed-minded? Do they always ask to
proceed in camera, and do they merely do as they please?
Mr. François Choquette: Mr. Speaker, I thank my honourable
colleague from Repentigny for his excellent question.
It is not right that our NDP colleagues on this committee listened
to the expertise of witnesses and introduced amendments, yet the
Conservatives refused to implement them for purely ideological
reasons. These are very serious, very grave matters. Sexual
harassment is very serious. We must tackle it, but this bill does
not. That is why we will vote against it.
Before going any further, I would like to name the four NDP
members who are doing an excellent job on this committee: the
member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, the member for AlfredPellan, the member for Compton—Stanstead and the member for
Thunder Bay—Rainy River.
Ms. Ruth Ellen Brosseau (Berthier—Maskinongé, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to discuss solutions to the
very serious problems of sexual harassment, abuse of power and
bullying in the ranks of the RCMP.
My colleague from Repentigny is absolutely right in saying that it
is hard to work on the committees at times. In my committee, the
hardest thing is that, from the moment we want to talk about
amendments, the meeting goes in camera and we cannot report on
what happens there.
Bill C-42 was introduced by the Conservatives to address serious
allegations of abuse, bullying and sexual harassment that had been
made by a number of female members of the force.
In a democracy, the public must know what is going on. When the
Conservative government does not support our amendments or the
recommendations of experts, and when it does whatever it wants to
please its little buddies and to attend to its interests, the public must
know. We have to tell the public about this so that they vote against
the Conservatives in the next election and let the NDP win the
election instead. That is what we will do in 2015.
● (1630)
[English]
Mr. Ray Boughen (Palliser, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon.
member on the other side of the House for his position with the
RCMP.
Those members reported that they were the target of sexist
comments, sexual pranks and derogatory remarks in the workplace,
and had been for decades.
The harassment came from co-workers as well as superior
officers. They said the work environment was hostile and unhealthy
for women. The abusive behaviour had become standard practice,
one of them reported. According to these women, an abusive work
environment had existed for years.
I am pleased that we are finally discussing this bill in the House
of Commons. I hoped we would come up with workable solutions. I
think we all agree that something has to be done to ensure that these
RCMP employees are able to work in a healthy and safe
environment.
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The Conservatives introduced Bill C-42 as a solution. This bill
gives the commissioner of the RCMP the ultimate power to
discharge members for administrative reasons only and to appoint
managers to resolve conflicts and investigate problems relating to
harassment, in particular.
It also establishes the civilian review and complaints commission
for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the CRCC, to replace the
Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP.
The new commission will do its own reviews of RCMP policies to
ensure compliance with the minister’s directives, the act and the
applicable rules. It will have access to information under the control
or in the possession of the RCMP. It will establish new investigative
powers, such as compelling witnesses and officers to testify and
compelling the production of evidence and documents. It will report
to the Minister of Public Safety and the commissioner, and its
recommendations will be non-binding.
The bill also creates a mechanism for investigating serious
incidents, that is, deaths or serious injuries involving the RCMP.
I will remind my colleagues that the NDP supported this bill at
second reading, because in principle, we wanted to rectify the
serious sexual harassment situation in the RCMP.
In committee, my colleagues listened carefully to the experts’
testimony. The witnesses were clear: this bill would not be sufficient
to create an open, collaborative and respectful work environment.
Giving the commissioner more powers is not the solution. The
RCMP and the government have to go further in their effort to
modernize the RCMP.
My colleagues on the committee proposed amendments in good
faith, based on the experts’ testimony, to strengthen the bill and try to
genuinely solve the problems of abuse in the RCMP.
For example, we proposed that the bill be worded more
proactively to combat the systemic problem of harassment, and
particularly sexual harassment, among members of the RCMP. That
amendment was rejected.
After hearing the testimony of Yvonne Séguin, executive director
of the Groupe d'aide et d'information sur le harcèlement sexuel au
travail de la province du Québec, we proposed amendments that
would tackle the hostile and sexist work environment head on:
incorporating mandatory training on harassment for RCMP members
into the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act.
When she appeared before the committee, she said:
With the 32 years of experience we have, we have found out that when companies
do have a clear policy, when employees do know what is acceptable and not
acceptable, it makes it much easier for management to deal with the problems.
This mandatory training would help establish a clear policy and a
respectful work environment.
That amendment was also thrown out.
My colleagues also tried to guarantee the independence of the
body set up to investigate complaints in the RCMP, which is an
essential part of making the organization more transparent and
responsible. That, too, was rejected.
● (1635)
The list goes on. The Conservatives voted against all of our
amendments in the House without any discussion. They feel that the
RCMP commissioner should have complete control over the RCMP.
Concentrating power in one person's hands is not the solution. That
is not how we will make the RCMP more transparent.
I would like to point out an important difference between the
Conservatives and the NDP: we listen to experts and we are openminded. When we look at a bill, we consult experts in the field, we
do our research, and we study and consider numerous options. It is
important not to focus on one opinion and cast all others aside. We
do not start with a preconceived notion and ignore all those that
differ from ours.
I would like to talk about the specific context of this bill. This
issue is of utmost importance. We need to ensure that the female
officers in the RCMP and the public served by the RCMP can trust
our police system. I do not feel that this bill goes far enough to
address the female officers' concerns. They asked for immediate,
tangible results that will foster a safer and more open work
environment. But the Conservatives have proposed giving the
RCMP commissioner more power.
A recently published Human Rights Watch report describes how
aboriginal women in the west mistrust the RCMP. Fifty women
shared their experiences in the report. They alleged that the RCMP
ignored their requests for help, abused its power and harassed them.
They no longer call the police because they no longer trust them.
This is only one example of the Canadian public's loss of confidence.
Why not take appropriate steps now to deal with the problem?
It is important to deal with serious internal problems of abuse,
intimidation and harassment in order to regain the trust of Canadians.
We hoped that this bill might be a step in the right direction, but
unfortunately the Conservatives chose to ignore all the recommendations made by the stakeholders. The solutions they have come up
with would make things more difficult for employees who encounter
abuse and bullying. This serious problem calls for real solutions and
actions.
To conclude, I fail to understand how my colleagues on the other
side of the House could have rejected all the amendments without
any real discussion. I know that our points of view are different, but
that is what debates are for. We might be able to find a middle
ground. It is important not to forget the victims in this kind of
situation. We are here to improve things. It is our duty to do so and
that is what bills are for.
[English]
We have to go 110%.
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[Translation]
A small step is not enough to tackle this matter; we need to do
more. No matter what form harassment takes, it has serious
consequences for the women or men who are affected. There are
psychological consequences, like fear that the charges will be
rejected, fear of being accused of provocation, anger, frustration,
feelings of powerlessness, shame, intimidation, humiliation, depression, stress and anxiety, as well as a loss of self-confidence and selfesteem.
Harassment can also have serious tangible effects, such as poorer
quality of work, job loss, loss of benefits, a bad reference from the
employer, a tarnished employment record, unfair performance
evaluation, or having one's work sabotaged. The victims' burden
can take many forms.
It is totally unfair. That is why we have to change things and
improve practices at the RCMP. People are supposed to have
confidence in the RCMP and in this government. That is why I
believe that we are not going far enough and not doing our duty.
● (1640)
[English]
Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, we train a
lot of police overseas. In the past, we have trained police in Kosovo,
and we look at what is happening in Afghanistan.
One thing that is fundamental when training police is that the
police have to understand that they have a responsibility to the
people they protect. There has to be accountability within the police
service. To do that, we often push for a lot of training and education
on sensitivity. When it comes to sexual harassment and the use of
power within the ranks by those who are in senior positions, we have
to be vigilant to ensure that there is not an abuse of power. What we
put forward as amendments to the bill was to have that
accountability in there. It is not good enough to have these
prescriptive pieces of legislation: we have to back them up with
something. We put that forward in amendments, as my colleague
described.
I wonder if my colleague could provide her perspective on the
need to have that embedded in our police services. It is not just a
matter of having the legislation, which is fine; we also have to have
that other piece. We have to ensure that we are vigilant in making
sure there is accountability.
Ms. Ruth Ellen Brosseau: Mr. Speaker, I am not a police officer,
but I do have work experience. I know that people have to have a
good work environment and a healthy work environment. They have
to trust in the people they work with, trust in the bosses and trust in
the system. When there is no trust, the system will not work.
What we have asked for in our amendments is reasonable. I do not
understand why they were not accepted or even discussed, because
they came from witnesses. We did not just pluck them out of the sky
because we thought we could make the bill bigger. There was a
reason behind the amendments. Adding mandatory harassment
training for RCMP members would help. Education helps. It helps to
know what is right and what is wrong. It needs to be deep-rooted.
There needs to be a systematic change in how the RCMP
proceeds. We know that there is a problem, and this is our moment to
change it. If we do not go all the way, what is the point? That is why
we are against this.
● (1645)
[Translation]
Mr. Guy Caron (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I would ask my colleague from Berthier
—Maskinongé to comment on the process used at committee stage.
Of the nineteen witnesses who appeared before the committee,
twelve had been called by the Conservatives and only seven by the
opposition. The first of the seven opposition witnesses was not heard
until the fourth meeting. As a result, most of the opposition witness
testimony was squeezed into the last meeting. The Conservative
majority on the committee also forced the opposition to table its
amendments by 3:30 p.m. on that same day, the day of the last
meeting.
Since some questions from the government side implied that they
were right and we were wrong, could my colleague comment on the
process the Conservative majority chose to use at committee stage?
Ms. Ruth Ellen Brosseau: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for
his truly relevant question.
The work we do in committee is quite important. No matter how
we add things up, there are simply too few NDP members to move
things forward and win votes in committee. Things might change in
2015; let us hope they do.
I would still like to congratulate my colleagues who sit on the
committee. It is not an easy job to draft amendments in less than
three hours. Several amendments were brought forward without
debate, and then a vote was held, but there were only four New
Democrats, so we lost the vote.
I would like to point out that, when I was elected on May 2, 2011,
I knew there were differences between Conservatives, Liberals and
New Democrats, but I was convinced we could find common
ground, or at least agree on some potential solutions. We are stronger
when we work together.
It sometimes pains me that we cannot see eye to eye.
Mr. Jean-François Larose (Repentigny, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
rise today to speak about Bill C-42. Frankly, it is a privilege for me
to speak to this issue, because I wore the uniform for close to
18 years. Incidentally, I want to salute all the people I met, including
my RCMP friends, my son's godfather and all those who have worn
the uniform and who have worked extremely hard. During the
18 years before I became a member of Parliament, I was a manager,
a first responder, and even a trade unionist. I worked in the public,
parapublic and private sectors, both in open and secure custody.
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This is a special environment. Today, I heard my colleagues make
very pointed and appropriate statements. I am pleased to participate
in this debate. So, I decided to talk about the environment, because I
think it is important. People who become police officers, or who
wear the uniform and play a regulatory role in society, all do so with
the best intentions. My son, who is five years old, wants to do like
his dad and wear the uniform. He has a beautiful and idealistic
perception of that. Before I wore the uniform, I myself had this noble
ideal, which always stayed with me. We must have the strength to
protect those who need to be protected. Even now, as a member of
Parliament, it is still the same.
Throughout my career, I met people who wore the uniform and
who did extraordinary things, who went above and beyond the call
of duty and who saved lives. One of my colleagues, who was
retiring, took the time, after attending the party organized in his
honour, to go out and meet all the people he had dealt with at one
time or another during his career and who were out on the street. He
simply wanted to say hello to them and to ask if they were all right.
He did that on his last day at work. Another one of my friends
jumped into the water to save a woman in distress. He was prepared
to sacrifice himself for her. I remember the explosion at the Accueil
Bonneau, in Montreal. There were many victims. I was one of the
first responders. There were many people, but no one was paying
attention to what the others were doing. Everyone was there for the
right reasons.
Despite all this great energy, there is also a very negative and dark
side. During my career, I met people who committed suicide. They
felt the environment was excessively hard and, despite all the
representations to managers and all the efforts in their private life,
they would have wanted to be listened to more carefully, and they
would have wanted support mechanisms to be put in place.
Unfortunately, these support mechanisms were not available. They
made a choice with which I do not necessarily agree, a choice I find
extremely sad and which affected me and many of my colleagues.
We hope that this no longer happens.
Today, we are talking about harassment, and that is a reality in
every environment where people wear uniforms. There is a culture
and an isolation, but that must no longer be tolerated. In 2013, we
still see practices that existed 40 years ago. I can guarantee that these
practices are not those of front-line and street workers who are there
every day. They want to move forward and to evolve, but there is a
political and an administrative culture that stifles them and prevents
them from getting out of this rut.
When I was a manager, I was given the opportunity to test new
approaches, and I did. I had 34 people wearing the uniform and
working under my authority. They were being treated like kids.
Problems were kept secret and we did not want the media to know
that these problems existed. I proposed an organic, dynamic,
proactive and inclusive system. We were trying to reconcile
administrators, workers and the population. We sat around the table,
we talked to each other respectfully, and we tried to understand the
problems and frustrations that had been lingering for a long time. We
had to realize that these people have problems with schedules, which
are often very demanding, and also with extremely demanding legal
pressures.
They do not need to get hit with a club. They simply need to be
listened to and to be given the opportunity to put in place appropriate
mechanisms. That is often what we see. That is the criticism we
heard today in the House and also in committee. I sat on four
committees, and it was the same thing in each one of them: the
meeting was held in camera and people were never prepared to listen
to what others had to say.
● (1650)
We say this is arrogance because witnesses tell us that what is
being put in place is a half-measure, that improvements should be
made but that the government is not making them. Why? What is the
intention here? These witnesses are professionals, people who
impress me; my colleagues impress me, but the government is not
listening to them. How are the people on the front lines at the RCMP
supposed to feel helped and supported if the government is not even
prepared to listen to them when they come and testify? There is a
problem here.
Bill C-42 is a half-measure at best, and once again we are talking
about administrative oversight. When we move an amendment to
provide employees with training on harassment to support and help
them in their distress, it is brushed off. Why? This is a simple
measure that could have been put in place, but it was rejected.
What message is being sent? Are we saying that harassment is all
right? Are we being tolerant and agreeing to perpetuate a closed
environment in which there is a gulf separating oversight, police
officers and civilians? The government wants to put measures in
place, but not to increase transparency or accessibility.
When I was a manager, I had the opportunity to put in place
mechanisms that helped bring together schools, issue tables and
street workers. However, the solution to the problem was also to
include workers and people who were on the front line. We sat down
and held open conversations about each party's frustrations so that
there could be a reconciliation and we could grow.
We are talking about a constant culture of separating entities and
increasing secrecy. When I was a manager, I never once saw any
danger of a leak on operational matters. That had nothing to do with
anything. However, the workers were highly motivated, and mutual
respect made it possible to achieve progress and a unique dynamic.
People felt increasingly supported.
It should not be forgotten that the primary mandate of law
enforcement agencies is to be there for the public, not for the
government. This is not an oversight mechanism based on dubious
policies. They represent and defend the people, and the government
represents the people. It must not use police services merely as it
wishes, especially if it has made bad policy that is thrown back in its
face. This is creating a cycle.
I have a great deal of respect for those who wore the uniform for
many years before me, just as I have for all the MPs who were
members for 20 or 30 years. It is a great pleasure for me to sit down
with them and to understand the mechanisms that were previously in
place. Those people said a number of times that there was a culture
of isolation and that they were being completely excluded. That
creates a gulf and mistrust, which is absolutely unacceptable.
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We are seeking amendments that are more than reasonable. I do
not understand why there cannot be a reconciliation so that we can
move forward. This makes no sense. Let the Conservatives remain
arrogant and maintain their position. That is up to them, but there is
no way that will reconcile law enforcement agencies with the public
service.
I recently read a quote by Nelson Mandela. He said that when he
was imprisoned in South Africa, he spoke to the prison warden and
told him that the relationship they had today would be important
tomorrow because tomorrow their roles would not be the same. How
will we eat tomorrow's meal? How many people have I seen become
professional police officers as adults, and how many police officers
have I seen become civilians? The same is true of MPs and the
relationship we have in the House today.
In a recent speech, President Obama said we are not here to be
perfect, but to do a job. Unfortunately, every day in every committee,
there is a barrier that should not exist because we are trying to move
forward, to listen and to put appropriate mechanisms in place. The
amendments we proposed are more than reasonable. The Conservatives could have kept at least one of them, but they did not.
We are trying to come up with a policy of reconciliation. It is a
positive and constructive step, one that would result in more
transparency and accessibility and an improvement in services in the
field. I am proud of our workers in uniform because they do an
excellent job. I am proud to have worked with them and to have been
one of them. However, there are some serious issues that need to be
dealt with.
● (1655)
We must put a stop to the harassment in this work environment.
Let us put an end to it once and for all.
[English]
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I
appreciate the comments made by the member. I know that even
shortly after I was first elected to the House, the issue of sexual
harassment in the RCMP was a big issue. I know it has been raised
for a number of years now, and it is one of the reasons I believe that
the RCMP commissioner ultimately went public in providing a letter
saying that he wants to have more ability to discipline RCMP
officers in situations such as sexual harassment.
It is somewhat frustrating that when we get good ideas on this side
of the House and an amendment comes up, it does not seem to matter
if the amendment is good or bad; it just does not have a chance at
passing because there is a new mentality with the majority
government that if it is an opposition amendment, it is automatically
bad.
I wonder if the member would like to comment with respect to
amendments and that process. I know there was an attempt on their
part to try to improve the legislation because, like the Liberal Party,
they believe that the bill falls short and that the government could
have done more.
[Translation]
Mr. Jean-François Larose: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon.
member for his question and comments.
Having sat on four committees, I can indeed confirm that
amendments are always dealt with in the same manner. I once
pleaded with the Conservatives, in camera, saying I understood their
position but disagreed with them, and I asked if we could at least
meet halfway in order to move forward.
I know the members of the committee because I have had to
replace one of them in the past. They are quite professional and
thorough. I even heard someone say how good it was to have
someone who once wore the uniform, because no one else had that
experience. Unfortunately, however, no one there really listened.
All questions raised and solutions brought forward are brushed
aside. I believe the people know better and will draw their own
conclusions regarding the government's intentions.
● (1700)
[English]
Mr. Dennis Bevington (Western Arctic, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
thank my colleague for his speech and his great experience with this
segment of our society, which makes his words even more powerful.
The Conservatives have a thing about amendments. With regard to
Bill C-47, some 50 amendments were put forward. Most of them
came from northerners, and the bill was on the north. Most of the
amendments came from witnesses from across the north, who
brought them forward in amendment form, and that made the body
of the amendments that were put forward. None of them were voted
for by the Conservatives, of course.
I want to clarify something with respect to these amendments that
were brought forward. What was the position of many of the
witnesses before the committee as to these amendments?
Mr. Jean-François Larose: Mr. Speaker, I was not in committee,
but I did read the blues and I did go through all the material. I would
say the majority of them said two things. First, they said that Bill
C-42 fell short. That was all there was to it. It did not address their
issues. Second, the amendments that were brought forward were
brought forward with the information of the witnesses.
I do not understand what the position of the government is. They
bring in witnesses who contradict Bill C-42 and say that it is a good
step but it is far from being sufficient and it needs to be modified.
This is how they see it. Then we propose the amendments, both
sides, the NDP and the Liberal Party, and the Conservatives
systematically vote against them. I am a little confused. They can say
they listened to the experts, but when they bring in their own experts,
they do not even listen to them.
[Translation]
Mr. Jean Rousseau (Compton—Stanstead, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
I congratulate my colleagues who spoke before me, especially my
colleague who has a great deal of experience in this area.
The NDP has often wondered why RCMP members were not
really consulted.
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The government says that 12 members of the House used to be
police officers in various parts of the country and that they should
understand the situation and the changes and amendments that need
to be made to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act. I am sorry,
but the 20,000 officers in the field who serve every day across the
country were not consulted. They will be the forgotten ones in this
process. We are not asking that each and every one of them be
consulted, but only that the government go out into the field. Did the
famous government members go back to the field to see how things
are going? Do they know how all the changes resulting from Bill
C-42 will pan out?
Having said that, I would like to express my gratitude for being
able to speak to Bill C-42, Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted
Police Accountability Act, more commonly known as the modernizing RCMP services act. If we want to modernize a service as
important to public safety and national security as the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police, we must establish a certain process for
consulting its members.
I was a human resources manager. When you want to make
changes to an organization and its members, you must consult them,
listen to them, be receptive to their comments and especially take
care of their injuries. Whether or not they are unionized is not part of
this discussion. Some have been carrying around not only physical
injuries, but also emotional and psychological injuries for too long at
the RCMP. They are not being consulted. They are not being listened
to. They carry weapons. It seems to me that the government should
feel a sense of responsibility to them, should listen and be attentive
to them, especially those who are in distress.
It is a matter of national security. Sometimes, they are the first line
of defence. But the government is not listening to them. They seem
to have been left out of a process meant to enhance performance and
increase efficiency so that they can protect us faithfully. I know some
of them. I have come to know them since I was elected. They are
very proud of their work, their history and the culture of their police
force. A negative culture may have permeated the RCMP over the
last few years, but we must look at the evidence, examine the
situation coolly, and then make changes and implement them in the
field.
We know how important it is to have not only an effective police
force, but also police officers who have optimum working
conditions, especially when it comes to public safety, as I mentioned.
Everyone acknowledges that Canadians should be able to trust their
national police force. This is indisputable.
This bill emphasizes that civilian oversight of the RCMP is critical
to promoting accountability to the public and ensuring transparency
in police forces. There must also be transparency in the review
process when legislation that is as important as the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police Act is being rewritten. Similarly, civilian oversight
should increase the RCMP's accountability to the provincial
governments that its forces serve. All too often we forget that,
throughout Canada, the leading police service is the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police.
● (1705)
The legislation is also meant to provide the Canadian government
with a framework that would be used to launch an ongoing
modernization process. As I said, unless the government consults
and goes to see what is happening on the ground, we will be unable
to accept any of its measures, and so will Canadians and people in
the RCMP. When such huge changes are being considered, they
must be acceptable to everyone involved.
As I said, since I was elected on May 2, 2011—almost two years
ago—I have had many opportunities to meet members of the RCMP
and to learn about the extraordinary work they do, despite the limited
human, materiel and financial resources available to them. Because
they are expected to do more work with less money, major
components of our national security are at risk.
We are talking 2,500 km. There are six border posts in my riding.
We have 22 in Quebec. We have the east coast, the west coast, the
north and the Arctic. The RCMP is a sizeable police force. Over
20,000 workers have been and will continue to be subject to
accusations and cuts, over and over. In spite of everything, they have
to continue to perform their duties under difficult conditions. Morale
has been seriously affected. How can they ensure the safety of
Canadians and, often, that of visiting dignitaries, summit security, as
we have seen, and sometimes even the Prime Minister?
As a manager, I would tend to pay attention to the mood of such
people. This is important to me because I do not like to see workers
whose basic right to be heard is being disrespected, especially when
they are showing signs of distress. There is plenty of that within the
ranks of the RCMP.
Yes, the intent of the bill is good. They want to resolve matters,
but are they not trying to resolve the image rather than the real
problem that exists within the RCMP?
In terms of organizational structure, it is the same thing. They are
going to give more and more discretionary powers to the
commissioner. They say:
It modernizes the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s human resources management regime [and] authorizes the Commissioner to act with respect to staffing...
I know very well that staffing is involved. They are replacing
trained RCMP officers with civilians in public service positions.
They go on:
disputes relating to harassment and general human resource management.
The Commissioner can have a right of oversight, but it is not up to
him to do that.
In big corporations, they never let senior management decide
everything—not under these conditions. It is unacceptable. People
must be listened to and consulted. Human resources management is
done by professionals. I look forward to hearing the reaction on the
shop floor when they appoint a human resources management
professional as commissioner. They will say he knows nothing about
the job, because he has never worked on the shop floor.
This is what they are doing. They are leaving the management of
things as important as promotions and complaints to the commissioner. He will not even be bound by observations made by the
civilian review body.
February 28, 2013
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● (1710)
Under these conditions, it is unacceptable to have a police force
the size of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police which also has to cooperate and share responsibilities with provincial and municipal
police forces in many provinces. As for First Nations police officers,
they were not even heard from in this process, yet they are an
important part of the equation.
I could discuss this at greater length.
Mr. François Choquette (Drummond, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
want to congratulate and thank my colleague from Compton—
Stanstead for the work he did on this file in committee.
In his speech, he clearly pointed out how the bill should have been
improved. Sadly, the Conservatives rejected every excellent amendment the expert witnesses had suggested. It is very disappointing.
I would like my hon. colleague to tell us more about the work he
did at committee stage. I would also like to hear his thoughts on the
fact that the Conservatives rejected all the amendments from our
NDP colleagues. Could he tell us how this attitude interferes with
our work as MPs and is forcing us to vote against this bill, when we
could have supported it had the amendments been passed?
Mr. Jean Rousseau: Mr. Speaker, I sincerely thank my colleague
from Drummond, who does an excellent job on environmental issues
in his riding and in our party.
The committee members get along well. We all agree on some
points, but on other issues, we hit an unbreakable wall. There is a
total rejection of any recommendations that come from NDPsupported reports and a total rejection of NDP amendments.
We even see personal attacks at times. The Minister of Public
Safety himself has launched attacks against NDP members instead of
answering questions.
The government claims that, because some of its MPs are former
police officers, it knows exactly how to fix that type of legislation.
This attitude is unacceptable. Once again, the government rejects all
collaboration. It does a sloppy job on bills, rushing to get rid of them.
Canadians will have to live with the consequences.
● (1715)
Ms. Paulina Ayala (Honoré-Mercier, NDP): Mr. Speaker, we
were talking about sexual harassment in the RCMP. One thing
worries me. Victims are afraid. How can a woman speak about such
a difficult situation when she is ashamed? There are many other
factors that come into play. If the person harassing her is her boss—
the one who makes the decisions—she is out of luck.
Could my colleague explain how it is possible to introduce a bill
that is so lacking in that area.
Mr. Jean Rousseau: Mr. Speaker, a report was released by the
Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP on February
14. That is not that long ago. Ian McPhail made 11 recommendations
aimed at improving the manner in which the RCMP deals with
workplace conflict. He recommended enhanced reporting and
tracking of harassment complaints. Some complaints in the RCMP
have been collecting dust for four or five years. When it comes to a
harassment or other complaint, if there is a delay of four or five
years, it is easier to forget the victim and the person who might be
accused of harassment or wrongdoing. Then what happens?
There are 900 RCMP positions in Canada. The answer is far too
easy. I have heard about officers who worked for 10 to 15 years in
their province and then were transferred when they were suspected
of doing something wrong. They were moved three or four provinces
to the east, west or north to remove them from the situation and
demoralize them further until a proper procedure was put in place.
Every employee in Canada's public service, every provincial
employee and even every non-unionized worker has access to a
labour relations grievance process. But the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police is not entitled to have a process that is fair for both the victims
and those accused of negligence.
[English]
Mr. Dennis Bevington (Western Arctic, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I
am pleased to rise to speak on Bill C-42, the Enhancing Royal
Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act.
We can see quite clearly, through the work that has been done by
our side of the House in exposing it, how difficult it was to get any
amendments to this bill and how difficult it was to deal with the real
issues that witnesses in front of the committee brought forward. This
is a pattern that the Conservative government in its majority has
worked on pretty hard. It exists in almost every committee of this
House.
While I support the need to modernize the workplace of the
RCMP, this bill does not do enough to reach that objective. My
colleagues on this side of the House have gone through the process
and raised many valid issues and complaints.
As a person from the northern regions of Canada where the
RCMP is the only police force, and having lived there all of my life,
I see that there is really a requirement in small communities across
the north for RCMP officers to have the opportunity to have a very
direct relationship with others that they can get hold of in order to
deal with the kinds of grievances that may arise in very small
detachments. I just do not see that this bill is adequate to deal with
that.
Having said that, I want to focus on two proposed new
subsections of the act that maybe have not received much attention
and that I think are very interesting subsections of the bill. We need
to look at subsection 31(1.3) and subsection 31(1.4).
Section 31 of the act sets out when an RCMP member may make a
grievance and sets out limitations to when an officer may not make a
grievance.
Proposed subsection 31(1.3) reads:
A member is not entitled to present a grievance relating to any action taken under
any instruction, direction or regulation given or made by or on behalf of the
Government of Canada in the interest of the safety or security of Canada or any state
allied or associated with Canada.
In other words, officers who refuse to carry out an unlawful order
can be disciplined up to and including dismissal from the force, and
they would not be able to complain that they are being punished for
refusing to obey the law.
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This section could also mean that RCMP officers who blow the
whistle on illegal orders would also be subject to discipline,
including dismissal, and would have no right to complain that they
were being disciplined for revealing illegal activities inside the
RCMP, even if they were under the instruction of the government—
especially if they were under the instruction of the government.
Retired RCMP officer Rob Creasser, spokesperson for the
Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada, said:
It places RCMP members in an untenable situation when they are being directed...
to break Canadian or international law.
Proposed new subsection 31(1.4) reads:
For the purposes of subsection (1.3), an order made by the Governor in Council is
conclusive proof of the matters stated in the order in relation to the giving or making
of an instruction, direction or regulation by or on behalf of the Government of
Canada in the interest of the safety or security of Canada or any state allied or
associated with Canada.
In other words, the cabinet, a small group of like-minded
politicians meeting in secret, would determine which laws the
RCMP would have to follow and which laws the RCMP would
break, and what those mean.
Gail Davidson, executive director for Lawyers' Rights Watch
Canada, describes this clause as very dangerous, saying:
Police officers have special powers...to use force and to deprive people of their
liberty, and the reason they have those powers is to keep the public peace.
Keeping the public peace means ensuring that the laws are upheld,
and this is legitimate laws and the rule of law.
Some of the dangers in here are that these clauses could be used to
condone torture and the use of information gathered through torture.
Torture and the use of information gained through torture are against
both Canadian law and international law. However, once enforced,
this bill would negate these laws.
Upholding the law and the rule of law is something the Minister of
Public Safety does not appreciate. With his directions to the RCMP,
the Canadian Border Services and CSIS, he has instructed them to
use information gained through torture.
Last November Surrey, B.C., RCMP Constable Lloyd Pinsent
circulated a paper he wrote with the title, “The Terrorists Have Won.
RCMP Ordered to Accept Torture-Tainted Information”.
In his paper, Constable Pinsent lays out how Bill C-42, combined
with the Minister of Public Safety's direction that it is okay to use
information gathered through torture, essentially ordered the RCMP
to break the law.
● (1720)
Mr. Pinsent wrote:
While the direction from Minister Toews is in contravention of existing Canadian
and international law, under [Bill C-42’s] section 31. (1.4) the order is to be viewed
as conclusive proof and questions about the legitimacy of the order are not allowed
either....
What we have here is a situation that can lead to abuse in the
future. Why did the Conservative government decide to put this
particular aspect into the accountability act, such as they call it? In
other words, RCMP members are not accountable here, cannot be
accountable and cannot stand up and speak the truth about what is
happening to them or how they feel about the imposition of illegal
practices upon them through an order of the Governor in Council.
The Governor in Council can make that decision in secret, based on
its desire to ensure what it considers to be the safety and security of
Canada. This smacks of a police state, and I think everybody would
agree to that.
In this country, we always have a need for people to deal with
illegal behaviour. Canada is a signatory to the United Nations
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment, which states:
No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of
war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a
justification of torture.
Therefore, with regard to the minister's attempt to justify torture
and the use of information gained from torture, any such use or
activities are illegitimate under Canada's international legal obligations. However, considering recent actions, the Conservative
government has little respect for the rule of law.
In June 2012, the UN Committee Against Torture released a report
on Canada's compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture. In
this report, the committee raised serious concerns with the
Conservative's laissez-faire attitude toward torture saying that it
could result in violations of article 15 of the convention. However,
Bill C-42 would give more authority for any government to act in a
way that is improper and could lead to Canada's reputation being
tarnished before the world. It could lead to great human rights
abuses. It could lead to a number of other things, such as the need for
illegal wiretaps and information collection, and all kinds of activities
that could take place in the name of the security of this country.
These are very serious issues.
In 2006, Justice Dennis O'Connor, in his report on the events
relating to Maher Arar, recommended:
Policies should include specific directions aimed at eliminating any possible
Canadian complicity in torture, avoiding the risk of other human rights abuses and
ensuring accountability.
These sections in Bill C-42 would go against that recommendation. These sections would create a situation in which the
government would have the ability to direct the police force in a
way that is inappropriate. Here we have a proposed law that would
essentially make it legal for the police to break the law, and if they
choose not to break the law, they may be dismissed without the right
to a grievance.
This is supposed to be legislation about modernizing the RCMP
workplace. However, these clauses would take it backward in time
and should not have been put into the legislation. It should have been
debated in a different fashion. Perhaps the laws could have been
amended to provide some security to Canadians. However, when it
comes to viewing these clauses in the bill and the thought of the
Conservative government overriding civil rights in the name of
national security, we must ask these questions: Did the terrorists
win? Has the Canadian state acquiesced?
● (1725)
Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the
member mentioned Mr. O'Connor. The other person we should be
listening to is Paul Kennedy. He was the one who recommended
many things that the government should do to reform the RCMP.
February 28, 2013
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Private Members' Business
Paul Kennedy, after having spent much time trying to deal with
things internally in the RCMP and the complaints commission
process, said it had to be outside the RCMP, that it had to be civilian
oversight. He said that the legislation this one is based on, Bill C-42,
which is a reiteration of Bill C-38, “is so riddled with loopholes it
doesn't meet O'Connor's standard”.
Could he comment on Mr. Kennedy's comments about this
legislation?
Mr. Dennis Bevington: Mr. Speaker, I have addressed my
remarks to one particular section of the legislation that I find to be
unacceptable, and I am sure many other people would look at it in
that fashion.
Having met with the RCMP over many years here on different
occasions, I feel very strongly the RCMP needs a union or an
association that could protect the individual rights of the RCMP
members. Until that happens, we will have the situation we have
now. Thousands of grievances are backlogged, and RCMP officers
are unhappy. There is no opportunity for people to deal with the
kinds of situations in which they find themselves in the workplace
and there is no intermediary on their side.
How can people work in that kind of environment? How can they
do their jobs in the kind of risk-oriented work that police officers
have to take on every day, with the stress and the strain they have to
deal with, without some measure of support that is legitimate and is
there for them when they have troubles or situations where they need
to have someone on their side?
We can create any law we want. Without giving the police forces,
our RCMP, the opportunity to have the same rights as other
Canadians and other Canadian workers, this simply will not work.
● (1730)
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bruce Stanton): The hon. member for
Western Arctic will have, if he wishes, two and a half minutes left for
questions and comments when the House next resumes debate on the
question.
It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to consideration of
private members' business as listed on today's order paper.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
[Translation]
CLARITY ACT
The House resumed from January 28 consideration of the motion
that Bill C-457, An Act to repeal the Clarity Act, be read the second
time and referred to a committee.
The Deputy Chair: The hon. member for Haute-Gaspésie—La
Mitis—Matane—Matapédia has four minutes remaining.
Mr. Jean-François Fortin (Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, BQ): Mr. Speaker, since I am the first to speak
during this second hour of debate, I would like to remind members
that this bill is very important to the very foundations of democracy
and the right to self-determination of a people that forms a nation. I
would like to share the definition of self-determination as recognized
in international law and by the member nations of the United
Nations.
In international law, self-determination, or the right of peoples to
self-determination, is the principle that a people must have the free
and sovereign right to determine its own form of government
independently of any foreign influence. It is a collective right that
can only be assumed by a people that forms a nation.
The Bloc Québécois bill, introduced by my colleague from
Richmond—Arthabaska, is very simple. It contains only whereas
clauses and one clause that would fix a serious violation of the
inalienable right of the Quebec people to self-determine its own
future if it chooses to do so.
Whereas
the Québécois form a nation;
Whereas that nation has been formally recognized by the House of Commons;
Whereas the decision on its future within Canada lies with the Québécois nation,
not the federal government;
And whereas the Québécois nation has laws that give its government both the
right to consult the people of Quebec by means of a referendum on the subjects of its
choice and the right to determine the wording of the referendum question;
[Consequently] the Clarity Act...is repealed.
The Bloc Québécois and all the parties of the Quebec National
Assembly, whether they be sovereignist or federalist, agree that this
law, which was passed by the federal Parliament, is in direct
violation of the right of the people of Quebec to self-determination.
The Clarity Act is an aberration. The National Assembly is sovereign
and can consult its people on anything it chooses and as it sees fit.
Now, it is important to remember the very harmful impact of the
Clarity Act. This law interferes in an internal debate, a Quebec
debate, over which the people of Quebec should have control. The
House of Commons used this law to give itself the power of
disallowance with regard to the results of a referendum on Quebec's
sovereignty. The House of Commons wants to determine, retroactively, whether the question is clear and whether there is a clear
majority, namely, by taking into account the views of the other
provinces.
In closing, since my time is almost up, I urge all members of this
House who respect international law and the rights of peoples to
determine their own future to support the hon. member for
Richmond—Arthabaska's bill. Quebec, Canadian and international
democracies are at stake. Regardless of allegiance, members must
support this bill to uphold our values and democracy.
● (1735)
Mr. Mathieu Ravignat (Pontiac, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I rise in the
House today to speak to Bill C-457, An Act to repeal the Clarity Act.
First of all, I must say that the NDP team is working very hard to
restore Quebeckers' faith in politics.
In introducing this bill, the Bloc Québécois is trying to resuscitate
old debates and is proposing nothing new. In view of the fact that
Quebeckers have overwhelmingly rejected parties that have
disappointed them in the past and those that took them for granted
election after election, my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois should
be ashamed.
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Private Members' Business
The NDP's approach is different. We believe the federal
government should be an ally to Quebeckers, as a nation, as
acknowledged in the House, and that it should co-operate with the
provinces in a way that respects them. This shows once again that
the Bloc does not really want to help people build bridges or bring
them together from sea to sea. We know that people are prepared to
move on to something else in good faith and to set aside the old
debates. That, moreover, is the message they sent in the last election.
The NDP has even tabled its own bill, which follows from the
Sherbrooke declaration and its positive vision of federalism, which
turns the page on the old debates. We believe that the leader of the
official opposition is the person who can best bring together the
people of Quebec and the rest of Canada to work together to build a
more just, greener and more prosperous Canada. The NDP's team
and leader are the only ones who really want to establish winning
conditions for Canada in Quebec in a manner respectful of
democracy.
democratic choice of the voters in a riding located in the heart of
Quebec.
Nor do the Liberals have any lessons to teach us, having led
Canada to the brink of separation in 1995. The Liberals will not learn
from their mistakes. Their response to the unity crisis was the
sponsorship scandal. The Liberals gave up on the political battle for
Canada. As a last resort, they introduced an obscure act that is far
from clear.
Instead of attacking the NDP for the progress it has made in
Quebec, the Liberals should be applauding it. Thanks to the NDP, a
majority of the members elected by Quebeckers are federalist, for the
first time since 1988, and at the same time Quebeckers defeated the
Bloc Québécois, which wants to revive old quarrels.
Speaking of democracy, allow me to point out that, in an election,
members solicit votes under a political banner with ideas and
promises from the party they wish to represent. Once elected,
members have a duty to respect the people's choice and be
accountable to their constituents throughout their term.
As a Quebecker, I believe with all my heart that it is important to
restore the hope of the people of Quebec in their country and to see
that Ottawa respects the people of Quebec, while working with them
to build a better future for everyone.
I introduced a bill to that effect last year. Its purpose was to make
the people's representatives more accountable and to enhance the
image of the country's political institutions. That bill provided that a
member's seat would be vacated and a byelection called for that seat
if the member, having been elected as a member of a political party
or as an independent, changed parties or became a member of
another party. However, the seat would not be considered vacant if
the member, having been elected as a member of a political party,
chose to sit as an independent.
Quebeckers do not want to move backwards. They have had
enough of the old quarrels. We have to put an end to these pointless
squabbles. That is what the NDP is committed to doing.
In other words, my bill proposed that byelections would be called
when a member elected as a member of a political party chose to
change political parties during his term. It proposed that byelections
would also be called. That is respect for democracy.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): The hon. member for
Richmond—Arthabaska.
Mr. André Bellavance: Mr. Speaker, I do not like to interrupt my
colleagues when they are in full flight. However, with all due respect
for the Chair, I would like to remind him and my colleague who is
making a speech that we are discussing Bill C-457. I really do not
see the connection with the bill he is talking about now.
● (1740)
[English]
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): It is the practice of
the Chair to give members some latitude in terms of relevance when
they are speaking to a matter before the House. I would encourage
the hon. member for Pontiac and all members to make their remarks
relevant to the matter before the House.
Unfortunately, some people are prepared to stifle that hope,
simply to score cheap political points, because that is precisely what
the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois are trying to do by
resuscitating their old debates with this motion and the Clarity Act.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.): Mr. Speaker,
I am the member who has the honour to represent one of the most
federalist ridings in Quebec, judging by the percentage of the vote
garnered by the “no” camp during the two referenda on
independence, in 1980 and 1995. I could not, therefore, stand idly
by without contributing to this debate on a bill to dismantle the
Clarity Act.
The hon. member for Pontiac.
[Translation]
Mr. Mathieu Ravignat: Mr. Speaker, I am deeply disappointed
that my colleagues in the Bloc Québécois have recently not exhibited
the same fundamental respect for basic democratic principles and the
I also take this opportunity to salute my honourable Liberal
colleague from Saint-Laurent—Cartierville and to thank and
congratulate him. I remind members that he spearheaded with great
skill, intelligence and courage the Jean Chrétien Liberal government's efforts to pass this important legislation in 2000.
Our team succeeded in restoring hope among Quebeckers: the
hope of being heard, understood and respected in their country and
the hope that their values are shared by other Canadians and will
soon be able to guide a government in action.
That is why I will be voting against this bill. Quebeckers deserve
better than the Bloc's desperate efforts, and certainly better than to
pay the price for the irresponsible political games of the Liberal
Party, which wants to create a national unity crisis where none exists.
That is political opportunism.
February 28, 2013
COMMONS DEBATES
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Private Members' Business
I support the Clarity Act with a great deal of pride and conviction,
not only because I am a staunch federalist. I also support it because
my political philosophy is firmly anchored in liberalism. Liberalism
rejects ideological solutions. The Liberal approach is based on wellinformed political decisions. It is based on the notion that these
decisions, which affect us at every level in our daily lives, must be
rooted in fact and be the result of a rigorous thought process. In
short, these decisions must be well informed and well-reasoned,
based on transparency and a clear and thorough understanding of the
issues at play.
As with democracy itself, liberalism is rooted in intellectual
honesty. All those who lived through the two referenda in Quebec
know from experience how unclear and nebulous the questions were
that Quebeckers had to vote on in these two plebiscites. In fact, the
questions, which could be characterized as two-tiered, became a sort
of inside joke in Quebec, if not elsewhere in Canada.
However, the joke is not at all funny to Quebeckers. The Clarity
Act requires that the question in a referendum, if ever there were to
be another referendum—and it is my heartfelt hope that we will
never again be called upon to participate in such a process—be first
and foremost clear and that it communicate to the voters the real
meaning of the decision that they are being called upon make after
due consideration.
Some who oppose the Clarity Act claim that the legislation
constrains Quebec and is a straitjacket that is unworthy of a free and
proud people. Some have even described it as a Soviet-style piece of
legislation. That point of view perplexes me. It saddens me that there
are people who are capable of so gravely misinterpreting the act.
In my opinion, the opposite is true. The Clarity Act—which was
spearheaded by a proud Quebecker, the member for Saint-Laurent—
Cartierville, acting under the direction of a great Québécois Prime
Minister, Jean Chrétien, also a proud son of Quebec—gives
Quebeckers the legislative tool, affirmed by no less than the
Supreme Court, to hold to account any government in Quebec City
that would dare to put us on an irreversible path to independence.
In fact, the Clarity Act safeguards for Quebeckers that most
cherished of freedoms: the freedom to communicate to their
government their true intentions regarding their future and to protect
themselves against any attempt at manipulation on the part of
politicians who have a hold on the reins of power, albeit on a
temporary basis.
From this point of view, the Clarity Act is a yardstick. It is part of
our Canadian system of democratic checks and balances, to borrow
the jargon used by our neighbours to the south. The concept of
checks and balances to protect the interests of the population is,
moreover, one of the great principles at the heart of liberalism.
The Clarity Act requires, therefore, that any victory on the part of
the “yes” camp in a referendum result from a clear question that
leaves no one confused about the consequences of such an outcome,
which I hope never comes to pass.
With regard to the threshold that would have to be met in a
referendum to begin negotiating Quebec’s independence with the
rest of Canada, the Liberal caucus fully supports, with the strongest
and deepest conviction, the Clarity Act, based as it is on the Supreme
Court opinion to the effect that the threshold must be much higher
than the 50% plus one rule.
There are number of reasons for this condition. First, the 50%
plus one rule is not 50% plus one in reality; voter turnout at the polls
is never actually 100%. We know that those who are absent must live
with the consequences, but do they deserve to lose their country and
their citizenship forever if illness or some other situation makes it
impossible for them to exercise their right to vote?
In the event that the “yes” side won a slight victory, would there
be the broad popular consensus needed to move forward with the
difficult negotiations with the rest of Canada? Or, in the wake of this
kind of result, would Quebec fall into a bitter political deadlock that
would undermine economic stability?
● (1745)
The answer is obvious. Many political analysts and columnists,
the so-called experts, claim that Quebeckers strongly disagree with
the clarity bill. The facts, however, show something different.
The Clarity Act received Royal Assent in June 2000. In
November 2000, during the federal election, the Liberals under Jean
Chrétien easily won 36 seats in Quebec, with 44.2% of the vote as
opposed to 39.9% for the Bloc Québécois, which, it must be said,
campaigned against the Clarity Act.
If poll results from that time are anything to go by, a poll
conducted by Quebec sociologist Maurice Pinard showed that 60%
of Quebeckers, including 53% of sovereignists, supported or
strongly supported the Clarity Act. A CROP poll of 4,992 people
conducted the previous year about the principles on which the
Supreme Court made its ruling—principles that would later be
included in the clarity bill—showed that an even higher proportion
of Quebeckers demanded that a threshold of at least 60% be met
before the Quebec government could pursue sovereignty.
Finally, I cannot remember any demonstrations at that time that
were organized by the sovereignist leaders against the Clarity Act.
That is a remarkable indication that there was not a lot of opposition
to the legislation. Overall, I am very disappointed that the NDP is so
fixated on the 50% plus one rule, on a matter that is as serious as the
future of Canada, one of the best countries in the world.
The NDP is not on the same page as my constituents regarding
the Clarity Act. However, I continue to hope that my NDP
colleagues will change their position, return to the fold and stand
up for a united Canada.
● (1750)
Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP): Mr. Speaker, you
have listened to all of my speeches since I was elected to this
Parliament, so you will probably be a little surprised that I rise today
with neither a lectern nor a script.
The reason is quite simple: this speech is one that I not only wish
to give by heart, but one that I intend to be heartfelt, because the bill
in question this afternoon strikes at the heart of my political
conviction which, alas, flies in the face of this legislation. Here is
why.
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Private Members' Business
Every time I tell one of my constituents that it was a long-held
dream of mine to get involved in politics, I am invariably asked why
I did not do so earlier. The answer is quite simple: it is uncommon
that all the stars align, that one finds a party that corresponds to one's
values and that lays out a suitable plan for society, that a nomination
is available and that there is a charismatic leader to follow. Yet, what
happened on May 2, 2011? The message was very clear.
I am from a riding that was, for some time, represented by Bloc
Québécois MPs. Obviously, my election, on May 2, 2011, has
nothing to do with my star quality, or lack thereof. The vast majority
of people from my riding, just like the vast majority of Quebeckers,
clearly demonstrated that they were ready for something different,
that they liked Jack Layton's leadership style—his positive vision for
the future, and the respect that he had for Quebec within the
Canadian Constitution—and that they had an overwhelming desire
to defeat the Conservative government. They decided, therefore, to
place their trust in the NDP.
It must be said that on May 2, 2011, the NDP association in my
riding would not have sufficed to get me elected. In fact, a massive
coalition of constituents from my riding rallied behind a unifying
idea, believed in it, and to this day believe in the basic principles of
the Sherbrooke declaration. This guided my political involvement
because it enabled me to meet with federalists and to tell them about
the work that I intended to do in Ottawa. It also gave me an
opportunity to meet with members of the Bloc Québécois and
sovereigntists, and to tell them about the work I intended to do in
Ottawa, and that if they truly stood by their conviction—and it is a
noble idea that will probably never disappear—they would have to
fight in the appropriate forum. I think that the majority of
Quebeckers have a solid understanding of the fact that their future
belongs to them and that it will be decided by them, at the
appropriate time, if ever that time comes.
But in the meantime, on not one but two occasions, the majority of
Quebeckers have affirmed that they wish to remain in Canada, and
this message must be heard. Regarding the proposal by the Bloc,
which I am going to vote against, everything, in my opinion, is a
question of respect. Each party in the House appears to have a
different approach to Quebec.
Every time I think of the Conservatives, I think of a small speech
bubble in an Asterix comic book in which someone asks a question,
and all the legionnaires start whistling and trying to do something
else. In other words, we will not talk about it, there is no problem,
we will forget about it and sweep it under the carpet.
For the Liberals, respect means asking us to trust them, because
one day, they will be able to reply by saying that perhaps an
acceptable answer to a question that is deemed to be clear after the
fact is between 50% and 100%. In short, total confusion. This kind
of clarity act is something that we understand full well.
What the members of the Bloc mean by their bill is that if you
respect Quebec, then do not interfere in its affairs. That is my
summary of it. However, telling others to mind their own business
means yet again ignoring a whole segment of Quebec's population
who mean business when they say they want to stay in Canada. The
Bloc’s position is also unacceptable.
Who then has the most balanced approach? Without a doubt, the
NDP, under the leadership of the member for Outremont. We are
headed precisely in the right direction. Nearly all the major
editorialists agree.
● (1755)
What does the NDP bill say compared to the bill introduced by
the Bloc? It says very straightforward things. An association,
whether a business association, a constitutional association, or even
a romantic association, is based on trust. It starts with trust. We will
not change the ground rules along the way.
It would therefore be rather silly to claim that 50% plus one is
enough to join Canada's Constitution, but that in order to leave, you
need 66%. The rules for entry and departure should be the same. The
NDP's job is to make Quebeckers feel respected and at home in
Canada, thereby ensuring that the question does not come up again.
If it does, then these are the conditions that will apply.
The question could not be clearer. At the beginning, I said that
Quebeckers will be able to decide their future at a time of their
choosing. Naturally, they will also decide on the question. The NDP
believes, however, that with their experience of repeated referenda,
Quebeckers have also gained maturity. We believe that it might be
possible, should a third referendum be held, to follow the example of
the Scottish model and agree in advance on the wording of a
question that would have everyone live with the results when the
referendum was over. This is a very mature approach that
Quebeckers are prepared to adopt, except perhaps for those who
are spoiling for a fight.
If the option has to succeed through confrontation, it is because it
does not have a strong enough foundation to move forward. For
those reasons, it will be very difficult if not impossible for me to
support this Bloc Québécois bill, which enables us to reject a Clarity
Act that I agree is utterly abominable. On this point, we will share a
very broad consensus with them. However, having said that the
Clarity Act is anything but clear, we cannot replace it with a legal
vacuum. That would mean going back 10 years, and reviving futile
and, so to speak, puerile debates.
Quebeckers have had enough. They have chosen, and will choose
again in 2015, to give wide support to the NDP. They want Quebec
and Canada to be governed in accordance with a positive vision.
Only one party embodies that vision, from Jack Layton to the
leadership we have now under the guidance of the member for
Outremont. I really wanted to say his name, but I refrained.
We need a policy that puts an end to the climate of tension, that
seeks negotiation or says that we will address the issue as adults who
can understand each other, should the need arise one day. The reality,
however, is that today the need does not arise, and it probably will
not arise tomorrow or the day after. The question about when the
next referendum will take place does not figure in the frequent
conversations I have with people in my riding. The government now
in power in Quebec, which is itself sovereignist, does not seem to be
making it a priority. It, too, is listening to the message from society
as a whole, which says that its priorities lie elsewhere.
February 28, 2013
COMMONS DEBATES
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Private Members' Business
The NDP has already begun to put measures in place and propose
legislation reflecting its vision to enable all Quebeckers to feel at
home in Canada. That is what induced me to take concrete political
action, and I will continue for as long as the people of Trois-Rivières
place their trust in me.
● (1800)
Ms. Nycole Turmel (Hull—Aylmer, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I am
happy to rise today to debate Bill C-457, An Act to repeal the Clarity
Act.
I should say at the outset that we will not be supporting this bill. In
May 2011, 4.5 million Canadians voted for a more inclusive, greener
and more prosperous Canada. Some of those Canadians live in
Quebec. For the first time since 1988, Quebeckers elected a majority
of federalist MPs to the House of Commons, thanks to the NDP.
Quebeckers placed their confidence in our progressive, federalist
vision. They voted for a party that believes there is a place for
Quebec in the federation. The message Quebec voters sent to the
Bloc Québécois was very clear: we want to go in another direction;
we want to work together to build a better Canada; we want to look
towards the future, not the past. The Bloc does not seem to have
understood the message, however.
In tabling its Bill C-457, the Bloc is clearly demonstrating its
limitations. It obviously has little to offer Quebeckers. Rather than
talk about the economy, combatting poverty, the social housing crisis
or job creation, Bill C-457 talks about referenda.
In 2013, Quebeckers and many Canadians expect their elected
representatives to work tirelessly to find solutions to such problems
as the rising cost of living. They want their representatives to
pressure this government to put more money into health, abandon its
employment insurance reforms, ensure security in retirement for our
seniors, and stop cutting the services for which they pay taxes. They
also want the government to step up and ensure that big corporations
pay their fair share of taxes. They do not want to hear any more talk
of secession.
As our fellow citizens watch the Conservative government
perform, they wonder how the next government will manage to clean
up the mess it leaves behind. The NDP has practical solutions to
improve the lives of all citizens.
We are fighting every day to establish a balanced 21st-century
economy based on sustainable development, an economy that
generates wealth, not just for a handful of industries and regions, but
for every part of this country.
Conservative government out of power, instead of trying to get
Quebec out of Canada. An NDP government will implement the
progressive policies that millions of Canadians supported in the last
election.
With regard to federalism, our position on Quebec’s place in
Canada is clearly set out in the Sherbrooke Declaration we adopted
in 2006. Our approach has the merit of being firmly positive and
inclusive. We want to build bridges between people, not divide them.
Unlike some, we refuse to believe that secession is the only solution
available to Quebeckers.
● (1805)
Anyone reading Bill C-457 will realize at once that it disregards
the opinion of the Supreme Court, as set out in its opinion in the
Quebec Secession Reference. The Supreme Court was very clear in
formulating its opinion: if a majority of Quebeckers chose secession
in a referendum, both parties would be obligated to negotiate.
The federal government would thus be obliged to negotiate, but
so would Quebec. Now, in order to trigger an obligation to negotiate,
there must be a clear question and a clear result.
Bill C-470, An Act respecting democratic constitutional change,
sponsored by my colleague from Toronto—Danforth, responds to
the Supreme Court opinion and the federal government’s obligation
to negotiate if a majority of Quebeckers answer a clear question in a
referendum.
Bill C-470 does not deal with secession, but opens the door to any
question about constitutional change, because the NDP believes that
Quebec’s right to decide its future may also be exercised within
Canada.
Among other things, the Bill refers to the integration of Quebec
into the Canadian constitutional framework, the limitation of federal
spending power in Quebec, and the Government of Quebec’s opting
out with full compensation from any programs if the Government of
Canada intervenes in areas of exclusive provincial jurisdiction.
Bill C-470 is designed not to prevent negotiation between the
federal government and the Quebec government, but to provide
genuine clarification of the conditions that trigger the obligation to
negotiate referred to by the Supreme Court. It also provides
examples of clear questions, while recognizing the right of the
National Assembly to draft its own question.
The NDP champions respect for democracy and for voters. On
this subject, at the beginning of this Parliament my colleague from
Pontiac tabled Bill C-306, the main purpose of which was to require
members wishing to change sides in the middle of a legislature to run
in a byelection. Unfortunately, the bill was rejected by the
Conservatives. This is nevertheless the kind of commitment to
respect for democracy that Canadians expect. They no longer want
members of Parliament who get elected under one banner, and then
change sides.
My colleague from Toronto—Danforth has introduced an
excellent bill, and I wish to congratulate him on it. I should add
that the entire NDP caucus is behind him in the introduction of his
bill.
As we prepare to form the next government in 2015, the Bloc is
limited to talking about referenda. Our goal is to get the
We should be looking towards the future, and that is what Bill
C-470 proposes.
Unlike Bill C-470, Bill C-457 has the merit of proposing a
constructive solution that moves us forward, rather than back. That is
what Canadians expect: that we propose solutions for the future,
rather than be content to live in the past.
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Private Members' Business
Ms. Françoise Boivin (Gatineau, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I listened
carefully to all of the debate on this issue. Clearly, this debate is in
Quebeckers' genetic makeup. This is a key issue that is not always
easy to address.
There was already a sense of normalcy. We waited to see which
side would get the majority at the end of the day. The federalists
ended up being successful. However, we cannot forget history. In the
House and in Canada and Quebec we often forget our history, which
means that we repeat the same mistakes.
I listened to the comments made by the member of the Bloc
Québécois who gave his speech a few weeks ago. Like many Bloc
members, he is always trying to give the impression that only
members of the Bloc Québécois or the Parti Quebecois can be proud
or respectful of Quebec. As the member for Gatineau, what I often
hear in what these members are saying is that, if we are not with
them, then we are against them, and we are not sticking up for
ourselves.
● (1810)
As a proud Quebecker, I think that, sometimes in life, there are
issues that are even more important, such as respect for the rule of
law. Everyone—at least everyone in the NDP caucus, since they
supported the Sherbrooke declaration—recognizes that Quebec has
the right to self-determination, that Quebec is a nation and that, as a
nation, Quebec certainly has the right to determine the statute under
which it wants to operate. However, even if Quebec is not a
signatory to the Constitution, despite what the hon. member for
Papineau thinks, Quebec signed administrative agreements and
operates under a very specific legal framework.
Much has been written about the issue of a Quebec referendum.
Often, it seems that people are walking on eggshells because they are
so scared to talk about it. Yet, Quebeckers, the people of my nation,
are more open than people may think. It is wrong to think that
dotting the is and crossing the ts, or trying to see how Quebec
operates will cause mass hysteria.
As the hon. member for Trois-Rivières was saying earlier, when I
talk to the people of Gatineau, this is not the first question that I am
asked, nor is it the second or the third. Frankly, I am rarely asked
anything about it. However, the Bloc Québécois introduced
Bill C-457. I am not surprised. That is also part of their genetic
makeup. It was time it was done. Given that the Bloc Québécois held
the majority of seats for Quebec in the past, I am surprised that the
party waited for the mass influx of NDP members and the positive,
optimistic offer that Jack Layton made to Quebeckers before it
finally woke up and decided that it wanted to repeal the Clarity Act.
The party took its time. If this is how the Bloc Québécois takes care
of Quebec's interests, then I have some news for them. They
introduced the bill, but now it is in our hands.
Bill C-457 is very simple and calls for the “Clarity” Act,
introduced by the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, to be
repealed. The word “clarity” is in quotation marks because this bill is
anything but clear. It was drafted hastily and in a panic.
In 1995, the day after the last referendum in Quebec, all of Canada
woke up and realized that the results were very tight. Oddly enough,
no one was talking about 60% or 65%. Throughout the night, I was
providing commentary on the results for a television station in my
region. No one was asking me what would happen if the results
reached the majority of 51%. Although we sensed that the results
would be tight, no one told me that we had to wait for them to reach
60% or 70%.
What happened? There was a wave of panic, because people
realized that they could end up in the middle of a serious
constitutional crisis. They were wondering what to do. People were
wondering if it would be acceptable had the results been reversed.
Then came the brilliant idea that any government with no
backbone, no sense of leadership and no idea what to do would come
up with: it sent the issue to the Supreme Court to ask the court to rule
on the subject. The Supreme Court rendered its decision in 1998 in
the Quebec Secession Reference. What it said was very clear. It had
to answer three questions. Under the Canadian Constitution, could
the National Assembly, legislature or Government of Quebec effect
the secession of Quebec from Canada unilaterally? Could they do so
unilaterally under international law? Which would take precedence
between domestic and international law?
In response to the first question, the Supreme Court said that, yes,
negotiations would have to take place if a clear answer were given
and if the result were clear. That would force the federal government
to sit down with the province that wanted to secede. An obligation
would be created.
The Supreme Court was extremely clear. The members of the
House will have to decide how they are going to vote on Bill C-457
and how they are going to vote on Bill C-470 introduced by the
member for Toronto—Danforth, who has the courage of his
convictions and is very faithful to the constitutional law established
by the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Supreme Court was very clear in its response: Canada's
constitutional law forces the federal government to negotiate once a
clear question receives a positive response and a clear result. That
question is clearly defined in Bill C-470, so we would have no
choice. But what did the Liberal government at the time—that great
defender of democracy, values and respect for the charter, the party
that cloaked itself in the flag—do? It passed the Clarity Act. I
challenge anyone, even those with a law degree, to tell me, with a
straight face, that the Clarity Act is a clear piece of legislation.
What it says is very clear: we might negotiate with you but we will
look at the results and the question after the fact and then we will
decide whether to sit down and negotiate.
Yet that is not at all what the Supreme Court of Canada told the
partners in the federation. There must be some form of respect.
Things start to get off track when people start to get worked up about
Bill C-470. First, this bill does not impose a specific question on
Quebec; however, it has the courage to warn Quebec. That is a good
negotiating approach. When I negotiate under labour law, I do not
tell the opposing party that I will see what I feel like discussing and,
if I feel like it, I might talk about something, but then again I might
not. Instead, I provide an agenda and I announce how the items on it
will be dealt with.
February 28, 2013
COMMONS DEBATES
14477
Private Members' Business
Bill C-470 simply gives the other side, namely, the Quebec nation,
two examples of questions that have been deemed appropriate.
Those questions could not be overturned and the results could not be
called into question.
As others have already mentioned, Canada agreed to allow
Newfoundland to enter into the Constitution based on the 50% plus
one principle. I am asking those who are telling me that the NDP's
constitution requires two-thirds of the votes to leave me alone. If my
Gatineau riding association wants to change the NDP's constitution,
then a majority has to pass a resolution. Then, it can go to the next
level. It is the same thing for Canada.
Once again, for those that think that this bill is not at all
democratic, I would like to say that the Clarity Act is undemocratic.
What is more, the legal vacuum that the Bloc Québécois is trying to
create is even more undemocratic.
As a proud Quebecker, I would be pleased to vote for Bill C-470
and to vote against Bill C-457 and would like to tell Quebeckers that
they were right to democratically elect all these people to represent
them.
● (1820)
[English]
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Resuming debate,
there are six minutes remaining for the hon. member for Toronto—
Danforth.
Mr. Craig Scott (Toronto—Danforth, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it is
indeed my honour to rise to speak in this debate and say a few words
on Bill C-470, An Act respecting democratic constitutional change,
which is part of the NDP's forward-looking vision for Canadian
provinces and the federal government, alongside territorial and
aboriginal governments, to work together toward building an even
stronger country than we have now.
As I said when tabling the bill, the NDP is all about building
sustainable and co-operative relationships as the essence of a
democratic federalism.
[Translation]
Since the NDP adopted the Sherbrooke Declaration under the
leadership of Jack Layton in 2006, it has clearly indicated its desire
to play a leading role in establishing a constructive relationship
between Quebec and the rest of Canada.
That is why Quebeckers, embracing Jack Layton's unifying vision,
elected almost 60 NDP members.
[English]
Bill C-470 rejects the bill tabled by the Bloc Québécois, which
seeks to repeal the Clarity Act, the result of which would be a legal
void on the question of secession.
At the same time, the NDP supports the idea that fair and clear
rules for democratic constitutional change deserve to be in place, and
so we focused on replacing the problematic Clarity Act with a
framework that is more faithful to the Supreme Court of Canada's
judgment in the Quebec secession reference, a vision oriented to
unifying and not dividing Canada.
The bill also reflects the House of Commons recognition in 2006
that the Québécois constitute a nation within a united Canada.
The NDP appears to be the only party in this House that believes
that the will of Parliament, as expressed in that motion, cannot be
treated as empty words.
It is very important to know that the focus of this bill is not simply
secession but more the recognition of Quebec's aspiration to have its
distinctiveness much better integrated into Canadian federal
arrangements. The bill applies to democratic constitutional changes
of all sorts. It could just as well outline the process for a
rapprochement of Quebec with the Constitution Act of 1982,
therefore helping to build a stronger Canada.
Let me be clear about one thing. I firmly believe that secession is
made less likely by this bill, in comparison to the approach taken in
the Clarity Act.
Bill C-470 emphasizes the importance of any referendum question
being both clear and fairly determined. Unlike the Clarity Act, for
example, our bill places emphasis on clear questions by suggesting
wording that would prevent misleading statements or confusion on
the meaning of the question. Because of the clarity of a question like
“Should Quebec separate and become a separate country?”, and also
because a simple majority has the threshold for triggering
negotiations, voters will know exactly what is at stake when casting
their vote, and they will take their vote very seriously.
I would like to share a few words from Charles Taylor, who is
probably Canada's leading moral and political philosopher of the last
half century. He wrote the following in The Globe and Mail:
Let me be clear: I am a federalist and a Quebecker. I campaigned on the No side in
1980 and 1995. And Thomas Mulcair was there with us in the trenches, fighting—
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Order. I would
remind the member not to use the names of other members even
when quoting.
Mr. Craig Scott: The hon. member for Outremont
...was there with me in the trenches, fighting for Canadian unity and passionately
making the case then - as he does now - for Canada, in Quebec.
He then goes on to say:
When the so-called Clarity Act was adopted by Parliament in 2000, some
federalists breathed a sigh of relief. We were told this was the solution to repeated
attempts by Quebec sovereigntists to break up the country we cherish....
But the new law failed to provide clarity and became yet another flash point in the
ongoing constitutional debate....
But with a clear question, 50 per cent plus one becomes the unambiguous and
democratic expression of the electorate. As the Supreme Court made clear, if we
agree that Canada must be held together by motivating its people to stay together, and
not by force, then there is no other path.
So how do we so motivate them? For one thing, we pass clear laws that avoid the
kind of arbitrary after-the-fact shifting of the goalposts that has been met with such
anger by Quebeckers. Independentists in Quebec have few effective battle horses left,
which is why they're trying to exploit this issue, as we see with the Bloc Quebecois
motion in the House of Commons.
As a federalist, my message to all Canadians who want this country to stay
together is simple: Let's not help the Bloc by perpetuating the confusions of the
Clarity Act.
This is why I believe that rewriting this act to add clarity is helpful to the cause of
unity.
I can only subscribe to the comments of Charles Taylor.
14478
COMMONS DEBATES
February 28, 2013
Adjournment Proceedings
● (1825)
[Translation]
Mr. André Bellavance (Richmond—Arthabaska, BQ):
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to conclude the debate on Bill C-457,
An Act to repeal the Clarity Act.
Liberal and Conservative MPs both delivered their usual speeches.
They stuck to their guns, which was to be expected. The Liberals
brought forward the Clarity Act after being shaken by how close we
came to a yes vote in the 1995 referendum. They came up with a
plan B. This plan B was the Clarity Act.
I heard some fairly unbelievable things in those speeches, which is
why I should inform all my colleagues that the Clarity Act was
condemned by the whole of Quebec's National Assembly. By that I
mean that every member of every party, federalist and sovereignist
alike, rejected this ignominious law called the Clarity Act.
As for the Quebec Liberals, we know that the former leader of the
Quebec Liberal Party, Claude Ryan, said that the Clarity Act placed
Quebec under trusteeship. We know that Daniel Johnson, the leader
of the “No” side and also the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party at
the time, criticized the Clarity Act, just like Jean Charest who, when
this legislation was passed here in 2000, said that Quebec was the
master of its destiny. All these federalists felt that Quebec was the
master of its destiny regarding its decision to become sovereign, or
to remain part of Canada.
As for the leader of the NDP, he was the most surprising in this
House. He too arrived here and criticized the Clarity Act. Like all
NDP members who spoke to my bill, he said that the Liberal Party's
Clarity Act passed in 2000 had no reason to exist and that it was
disrespectful of Quebeckers' rights. He also said that the debate was
useless—that was also mentioned this evening—that there were
other priorities, that this was an old issue, an old quarrel, and that the
Bloc Québécois was only looking for trouble.
In short, he used a bazooka to kill a fly. He said he would
introduce Clarity Act No. 2. He said the Clarity Act should be
abolished because it deals with an old issue, it is a sword of
Damocles hanging over the heads of Quebeckers, who want a
democratic process to decide whether or not they want Quebec to
achieve sovereignty. However, he comes up with Clarity Act No. 2.
The first one is useless, but Clarity Act No. 2 is so useful. So, he
perpetuates the old debates by introducing this legislation.
Bill C-470, introduced by the previous speaker, the member for
Toronto—Danforth, is just a bill which, like the present Clarity Act,
imposes trusteeship on Quebec regarding its perfectly democratic
right to decide its own future in the Canadian Constitution.
Clarity Act No. 2—that is what it is—is not simply about
oversight in Quebec's affairs. It gives the federal government—the
Conservative government in this case —the right to decide whether a
referendum question is clear. It is written in black and white in the
bill. It even goes further and unilaterally provides the wording of two
questions that the NDP considers to be clear. According to the NDP,
the Quebec National Assembly and the people of Quebec do not
have the last word on the question to be asked in a potential
referendum. The NDP has the last word in its Bill C-470.
Even if the National Assembly agreed on the wording, with this
bill, the federal government could oppose the question and send it to
the courts, which would certainly bring Quebec's referendum process
to a standstill.
I think this comes down to trading four quarters for a dollar. The
speeches we are hearing from the NDP make no sense. They are all
saying that the Clarity Act should be repealed, but they do not want
to vote in favour of my bill, even though the only thing my bill
would do is repeal the Clarity Act.
In conclusion, I want to reach out to all members of Parliament,
especially those from Quebec. I urge them to do some soulsearching, to look at themselves in the mirror and say, like Robert
Bourassa and a number of federalists said, that Quebec has the right
to its own destiny, the right to choose its own future, and that these
decisions should happen in Quebec, not in the federal Parliament.
● (1830)
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): The time provided for
debate has expired. The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure
of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
Some hon. members: No.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): All those in favour of
the motion will please say yea.
Some hon. members: Yea.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): All those opposed
will please say nay.
Some hon. members: Nay.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): In my opinion, the
nays have it.
And more than five members having risen:
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Pursuant to Standing
Order 93, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday,
March 6, 2013, immediately before the time provided for private
members' business.
ADJOURNMENT PROCEEDINGS
A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed
to have been moved.
[Translation]
THE ENVIRONMENT
Ms. Anne Minh-Thu Quach (Beauharnois—Salaberry, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about the navigable waters aspect of
Bill C-45.
February 28, 2013
COMMONS DEBATES
14479
Adjournment Proceedings
Pollution and climate change are an increasing threat to Canadian
waters, yet the government is dismantling environmental safeguards
one by one and is withholding essential water quality data from
Canadians.
mistakes? And what will happen if projects impact on ecotourism
and water quality? What will the government do about that?
The government stopped protecting waters and enforcing laws
years ago. This negligence has been documented time and time again
by biologists and the Commissioner of the Environment and
Sustainable Development. In a 2009 report, the commissioner said:
Mr. Pierre Poilievre (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and for the
Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario,
CPC): Mr. Speaker, first of all, we will read and reread the law that
we are changing.
The Department [of Fisheries and Oceans] does not have a systematic approach to
monitoring proponents' compliance with the conditions of its project approvals. Nor
does it evaluate whether its decisions on mitigating measures and compensation are
effective in meeting the no-net-loss principle. As a result, projects may be causing
damage to habitat beyond the amount authorized, and mitigating measures and
compensation may not be effective.
Instead of changing course and improving the environmental
assessment process, the government decided, on the contrary, to axe
it. First, Bill C-38 repealed all habitat protection measures and
eliminated 99% of environmental studies.
Then, with Bill C-45, waterways are no longer habitats but merely
navigable waters. What planet is the government living on? Does it
truly believe that rivers and lakes are flat surfaces on which ships
simply glide? Is there nothing underneath? Does it think that lakes
and rivers do not have water, plants and fish? Come on. The
Fisheries and Oceans Canada website clearly says that:
[The Navigable Waters Protection] Act is administered by the Navigable Waters
Protection Program (NWPP)/Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) of the Department of
Fisheries and Oceans.
In November, when I asked the government to explain why
ministers keep saying that the Navigation Act only deals with
navigation, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities gave this reply:
When we talk about navigation, we are talking about the ships that are on the
water, not the fish that are floating and swimming in the water.
That is totally absurd. I am not even sure he realizes the absurdity
of his answer.
Before it was gutted by Bill C-45, the Navigable Waters Act
ensured that bridge or dam construction projects, or any other
project, did not interfere with navigation and did not cause
environmental damage. This is a critical difference.
The Conservative government is treating our resources as if they
were its private property. Worse still, the Conservatives are selling
off our navigable waters by allowing anyone to build structures
without any idea of the impact of these projects on fish habitat or
water quality. This is a utilitarian and dangerous view of the
economy and of our resources. It is true that once our waters become
polluted and wasted we will not do anything but navigate, because
there will no longer be any fish or drinkable water. The government
imposed omnibus bills without consultation. The public is worried
and aboriginal people are protesting.
Under the new act, only 97 lakes and 62 rivers will be protected.
What will the government do when individuals or organizations take
legal action to protect their lakes, since this will be the only means
still available to them? Who will pay for this pollution? Is it going to
be the taxpayers? Will people have to pay for their government's
● (1835)
After that, we will have noted that the Navigable Waters Act is a
law about navigable waters. If the honourable member had read the
act before giving her speech, she would have known that. However,
she did not read it.
She obviously thinks that the Navigable Waters Act is a piece of
environmental legislation. She could even have searched the terms
“environment”, “fish” and other terms related to the environment on
the Internet, and she would not have come up with the law we are
debating.
In fact, the law we are changing is a law about navigation. I will
repeat that navigation has to do with boats on the water. There are
fish in the water and that is why we have a law to protect fish. We
have another law to protect the environment in general. We have yet
another law to protect habitats.
[English]
We have laws for the ships that go over the water and then laws
that protect the fish that are under the water. We are talking about a
law that deals with those ships on top of the water. Changes to that
law have no impact whatsoever on the fish under the water, because
they are protected by a different law.
I would be happy to share with the member all of those laws.
When we do, she will have occasion to find out that there are very
powerful laws protecting fish habitat, including environmental
protection and environmental assessments, that are all deeply
embedded in our statutes and that are very successful at protecting
wildlife and fish habitat.
The reason we have a Navigable Waters Protection Act right now,
and have always had, is to create a legal manner in which one person
can build a bridge over a river and another person can still float his
or her ship down that river. In order to balance the competing
interests of those two hypothetical parties, we have a law to deal with
navigable waters.
Unfortunately it applied to a whole series of waters that were not
navigable. That is because the law goes back to the time of
Confederation, when many people still went to work by canoe.
Therefore, we have many little streams that have no navigation on
them whatsoever, and those little streams do not need to have an
assessment for navigation because nobody navigates on them.
14480
COMMONS DEBATES
February 28, 2013
Adjournment Proceedings
The good news is environmental laws still protect those streams.
The ecology is well regulated. Our officials have the ability to
prevent any action that can do damage to their ecosystems. None of
that has changed. What has changed is we do not need to check if a
tanker ship can go down a farmer's stream anymore before the farmer
can build a footbridge across that stream.
I would hope the member, having now heard the details of the
proposal, would come around to supporting it.
● (1840)
[Translation]
Ms. Anne Minh-Thu Quach: Mr. Speaker, one does not gain
more credibility by being contemptuous or condescending.
With all the information given here, I would like to know who was
consulted about the amendments that Bill C-45 makes to the
Navigable Waters Act and other laws.
Did the Conservatives consult with first nations? Did they consult
the public? I do not imagine so because, if they had, there would not
be so many protests.
Did they consult with fishers? Did they consult with people who
live near waterways and who would have claims to make? Did they
consult with scientists who make recommendations?
I do not think so because there are still thousands of scientists
from all backgrounds who disagree with this legislation, who have
written about it and expressed their opinions in the media.
It seems that the people who are happy with these changes are the
people from the oil and gas industry. That is not surprising because
they are getting exactly what they asked for.
Through the Access to Information Act, we were able to obtain a
letter written by the Association of Oil and Gas Producers asking for
amendments to the Fisheries Act, the Environmental Assessment
Act, the National Energy Board Act and the Navigable Waters Act.
What a surprise. No scientists were consulted.
[English]
Mr. Pierre Poilievre: Actually, Mr. Speaker, we consulted
municipalities. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities actually
asked for this change. We also consulted people who live on the
waters. Several dozen people at Wabamun Lake, in Alberta, for
example, had to wait over a year to build their little cottage docks so
their kids could fish off the end of them into the lake, the same way
Canadians do right across the country. They had to wait over a year
to be able to build their docks because we had to do one-by-one
assessments as to whether or not those docks would interrupt
shipping. That is the problem with the existing law.
We are changing the law to focus on navigation, and we are
keeping environmental and fish habitat laws in place so that they can
protect the environment and fish habitat.
[Translation]
Smith. This is a disturbing story that upset many people in Canada,
including my constituents in the riding of Alfred-Pellan.
Ms. Smith suffered from a mental illness and, unfortunately, she
did not receive proper treatment. Destitute and hopeless, she
unfortunately took her life while under the responsibility of
Correctional Service Canada. Videos released by the media clearly
show that Ms. Smith received inadequate treatment, given her
condition. This is unfortunate and unacceptable in a country like
ours.
In light of these revelations, I asked the minister to put in place an
action plan on the mental health of people under the responsibility of
Correctional Service Canada. That was several months ago and we
are still waiting for a reaction. The minister did meet with his
provincial counterparts recently, but why is he still waiting instead of
moving forward?
Data provided by the mental health screening computerized
system and used by Correctional Service Canada for its initial
assessment indicate that, in 2012, 62% of the offenders placed in a
penitentiary were deemed to need mental health assessments or
follow-up services. Moreover, 50% of federally-sentenced women
have a history of self-injury. This confirms the need for more
professionals to care for inmates and ensure their rehabilitation and
the safety of our communities.
This issue needs to be dealt with on an urgent basis. We have been
aware of this issue for a long time. Several experts have sounded the
alarm on many occasions. The story of Ashley Smith is but another
tragic example. That case was the straw that broke the camel's back.
It is all the more disturbing because, to this day, the minister still
refuses to apologize to the victim's family and friends. I am
convinced that my colleague is just as upset as I am by what
happened during this tragic episode. I know that, deep down, he also
feels that this kind of treatment is unacceptable.
I just wonder why he refuses to apologize on behalf of the service
that he runs. Why? That gesture would help Ms. Smith's family go
through the grieving process. It is a simple and compassionate act
that could do a lot of good. I invite the minister to sincerely
apologize, without further delay, through the parliamentary secretary.
This is not the first time that I have risen in the House to call for
real mental health measures in cases such as that of Ashley Smith.
Some of my colleagues and predecessors have done so before me.
The government responded each time with empty talking points and
partisan rhetoric. It has never wanted to take real action. Now that
the parliamentary secretary is present, I will reiterate my request.
CORRECTIONAL SERVICE CANADA
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre (Alfred-Pellan, NDP): Mr. Speaker,
recently, during question period, I asked the Minister of Public
Safety what he was going to do following the tragic case of Ashley
Will the Minister of Public Safety finally explain how he plans to
manage cases of inmates with mental health issues? Will he take this
opportunity to apologize to the family and friends of Ms. Smith?
February 28, 2013
COMMONS DEBATES
14481
Adjournment Proceedings
● (1845)
[English]
Ms. Candice Bergen (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister
of Public Safety, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today
to speak to the question that has been raised by the member for
Alfred-Pellan regarding a couple of issues.
First, she spoke specifically about Ashley Smith and that very
tragic incident. She is also asking about Correctional Service of
Canada and the treatment that offenders with mental health issues
receive, measures that are very important and that are taken very
seriously by this organization to prevent death in custody, such as in
the tragic case of Ashley Smith.
Given the ongoing coroner's inquest into Ms. Smith's death that is
currently under way, my hon. colleague will understand that it would
be very inappropriate for me or any of us to comment on this
situation specifically. Any loss of life is significantly tragic, and this
is something our government takes very seriously. That is why our
government directed Correctional Service of Canada to fully cooperate with the coroner's inquest. To Ashley's parents, her family
and her friends, all of us agree that this is tragic. Our thoughts and
our prayers go out to them and for the suffering they continue to
endure.
On the issue of Correctional Service of Canada, I assure members
that since this incident, CSC has introduced a number of additional
initiatives and programs specifically aimed at the preservation of life
in an effort to prevent death in custody. Furthermore, CSC continues
to pursue initiatives that will help it position itself to avoid such
tragedy in the future. It is obvious to all of us that this is not a
stagnant process. This process has to be continuous, with CSC
learning and developing best practices all the time.
Since 2006, our government has invested nearly $90 million in
mental health specifically for inmates. We have taken action to
improve access to mental health treatment and training for staff.
These investments have helped us implement critical aspects of
Correctional Service of Canada's mental health strategy, which is a
leader in developed countries. These include building capacity in
federal institutions and supporting offenders to return safely to
communities, which is another very important part of rehabilitation.
We also have, for example, ensured faster mental health screening.
We have created a mental health strategy for prisoners. We have
extended mental–psychological counselling and we have improved
staff training, which is an important part of making sure that these
tragedies do not happen again.
CSC continues to show its commitment to managing the mental
health needs of offenders within Canadian correctional facilities, but
work certainly remains to ensure that individuals receive the most
appropriate care, which, by the way, may not be in a federal
correctional facility. That is why it is important to recognize the
dedication and professionalism of the vast majority of CSC staff who
work very hard every day, in very difficult circumstances, to make a
positive difference in the lives of offenders across this country. Our
government is dedicated to promoting CSC's efforts to prevent death
in custody and to meet the mental health needs of federal offenders.
We will continue to support its work toward ensuring the safety and
security of all Canadians.
[Translation]
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre: Mr. Speaker, I thank the
parliamentary secretary for her comments.
I think that she missed the point. Now is the time to put words into
action. What I understand from the other side is that there are a
number of things we completely agree on, such as prevention,
rehabilitation and the need for federal correctional officers to have
tools to deal with mental health issues. We cannot deny that these
issues exist. We cannot simply say that they should not exist,
because they do. There are mental health issues in our prisons, and
the Office of the Correctional Investigator pointed that out in its last
report. I think it is extremely important for us to look at this issue.
It is not only important in light of the tragic cases we mentioned,
such as the case of Ashley Smith, but it is also important for all those
who truly want to work in prevention programs, which are
eliminated here, and for our prison and security workers.
What is being done? Will they really invest money to help our
prison workers?
● (1850)
[English]
Ms. Candice Bergen: Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we have
done. We have put our money where our mouth is. This government,
through CSC, is committed to ensuring the safety and security of all
Canadians, including staff working in correctional facilities and the
offenders who reside in them. That is why we have committed over
$90 million alone to deal with mental health among offenders. In
doing so, Correctional Service of Canada is determined to prevent
death in custody and to improve its capacity to deliver treatment
programs and services for federal offenders with mental health
needs. It is for this reason I would like to again reiterate for my hon.
colleague that since 2006, our government has invested $90 million
in mental health for federal offenders, and we have taken real action
to improve access to mental health treatment and training for staff.
We have taken action. Unfortunately, the majority of times we try
to take action, the New Democrats do not support us. They criticize
and do not support the work we do. However, we are doing work,
and we are proud of the work we are doing.
[Translation]
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): The motion to
adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted.
Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m.
pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 6:52 p.m.)
CONTENTS
Thursday, February 28, 2013
ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
Government Response to Petitions
Mr. Lukiwski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14409
Interparliamentary Delegations
Mr. Bélanger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14409
Committees of the House
International Trade
Mr. Merrifield . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Justice and Human Rights
Mr. Wallace. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Petitions
Afghanistan
Mr. Chisu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Housing
Mr. Dusseault . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Experimental Lakes Area
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sex Selection
Mr. Shipley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Questions on the Order Paper
Mr. Lukiwski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14409
14409
14409
14409
14410
14410
14410
14410
GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act
Bill C-42. Third reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kellway . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Wilks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Ayala. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Marston . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Wilks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Doré Lefebvre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dubé . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Nantel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Cash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Mai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Clarke . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Nantel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Wilks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. May . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harris (St. John's East) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Brahmi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Boivin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Bergen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14410
14410
14412
14412
14413
14413
14415
14416
14416
14417
14418
14418
14418
14419
14420
14420
14422
14422
14422
14422
14424
14424
14424
14425
14426
Ms. Boivin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Norlock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Mai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Angus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Cash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Sandhu . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Bergen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Angus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Angus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Ambler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Stoffer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Stoffer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Wilks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Martin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14426
14426
14428
14428
14428
14430
14430
14431
14432
14433
14434
14434
14436
14436
14436
14438
14438
14438
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
Employment Insurance
Mr. Fortin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14439
Religious Freedom
Mr. Bezan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14439
Business Training and Recovery Centres
Mr. Nantel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14439
Human Rights
Mr. Sweet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14439
Parliamentary Internship Programme
Mr. Brison . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14440
Caring Nurse Award Recipients
Mr. Miller . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14440
Employment Insurance
Mr. Toone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14440
Government Policies
Mr. Mayes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14440
Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee
Mr. Kramp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14441
Cascades-Norempac
Ms. Freeman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14441
Tourism
Mr. Shory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14441
Black History Month
Mr. Stoffer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14441
Status of Women
Mrs. Block . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14441
Human Rights
Mr. Cotler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14442
Foreign Affairs
Mr. Adler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14442
The Senate
Ms. Péclet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14442
Natural Gas
Mr. Zimmer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14442
ORAL QUESTIONS
Mr. Coderre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Ambrose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14447
14447
Ethics
Mr. Angus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Poilievre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Angus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Poilievre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Boulerice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Poilievre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Boulerice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Poilievre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14447
14448
14448
14448
14448
14448
14448
14448
Human Resources
Mr. Butt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Raitt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14449
14449
Ethics
Mr. Mulcair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Baird . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Mulcair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Baird . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14443
14443
14443
14443
National Defence
Mr. Mulcair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Baird . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14443
14443
National Defence
Mr. Kellway . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Ambrose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Kellway . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Ambrose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Rae . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Ambrose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Rae . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Ambrose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Employment
Ms. Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine) . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Poilievre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14449
14449
14443
14444
14444
14444
14444
14444
14444
14444
Airline Safety
Mr. Sullivan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14449
Rail Transportation
Mr. Aubin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Poilievre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Caron . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Fletcher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14449
14449
14449
14450
Public Safety
Mr. Rae . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Toews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14444
14444
Public Safety
Ms. Bennett . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Toews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14450
14450
National Defence
Ms. Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Ambrose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Harris (St. John's East) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Ambrose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14445
14445
14445
14445
Food Safety
Mr. Valeriote. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Ritz. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14450
14450
Public Safety
Mr. Garrison . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Toews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Saganash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Toews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14445
14445
14445
14446
Rail Transportation
Mr. Allen (Welland) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Fletcher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Marston . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Van Loan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14450
14450
14450
14450
Employment Insurance
Mrs. Day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Baird . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Rousseau . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Baird . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Genest-Jourdain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Baird . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Baird . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Charlton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Baird . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Regional Economic Development
Mr. Hillyer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Gourde . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14451
14451
14446
14446
14446
14446
14446
14446
14446
14446
14446
14447
Employment Insurance
Mr. Dion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Baird . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14451
14451
Employment
Mr. Cash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Baird . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14451
14451
National Defence
Mr. Lizon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Findlay. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14451
14451
Canada Revenue Agency
Mr. Benskin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Shea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14452
14452
Airline Safety
Mr. Sullivan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14452
National Defence
Mr. McKay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Ambrose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. McKay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Ambrose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14447
14447
14447
14447
Mr. Fletcher
...............................................
14452
Rail Transportation
Mr. Hyer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Fletcher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14452
14452
Point of Order
Oral Questions
Mr. Dion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14452
Business of the House
Mr. Cullen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Van Loan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14452
14453
Points of Order
Tabling of Documents
Mr. Van Loan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14453
GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act
Bill C-42. Third reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Caron . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Groguhé. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Choquette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Chicoine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Bergen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Brahmi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Scott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Boughen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Larose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Groguhé. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mrs. Groguhé. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Doré Lefebvre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Caron . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Choquette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14453
14453
14455
14455
14455
14456
14457
14457
14458
14459
14459
14460
14460
14461
14461
14462
Mr. Larose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Boughen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Brosseau . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dewar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Caron . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Larose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Lamoureux . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Bevington . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Rousseau . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Choquette . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Ayala. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Bevington . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Dewar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14463
14463
14463
14465
14465
14465
14467
14467
14467
14469
14469
14469
14470
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Clarity Act
Bill C-457. Second reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Fortin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Ravignat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Scarpaleggia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Aubin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Turmel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Boivin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Scott. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Bellavance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Division on motion deferred . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14471
14471
14471
14472
14473
14475
14476
14477
14478
14478
ADJOURNMENT PROCEEDINGS
The Environment
Ms. Quach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Poilievre. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Correctional Service Canada
Ms. Doré Lefebvre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ms. Bergen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14478
14479
14480
14481
Published under the authority of the Speaker of
the House of Commons
Publié en conformité de l’autorité
du Président de la Chambre des communes
SPEAKER’S PERMISSION
PERMISSION DU PRÉSIDENT
Reproduction of the proceedings of the House of Commons
and its Committees, in whole or in part and in any medium, is
hereby permitted provided that the reproduction is accurate
and is not presented as official. This permission does not
extend to reproduction, distribution or use for commercial
purpose of financial gain. Reproduction or use outside this
permission or without authorization may be treated as
copyright infringement in accordance with the Copyright Act.
Authorization may be obtained on written application to the
Office of the Speaker of the House of Commons.
Il est permis de reproduire les délibérations de la Chambre et
de ses comités, en tout ou en partie, sur n’importe quel
support, pourvu que la reproduction soit exacte et qu’elle ne
soit pas présentée comme version officielle. Il n’est toutefois
pas permis de reproduire, de distribuer ou d’utiliser les
délibérations à des fins commerciales visant la réalisation d'un
profit financier. Toute reproduction ou utilisation non permise
ou non formellement autorisée peut être considérée comme
une violation du droit d’auteur aux termes de la Loi sur le
droit d’auteur. Une autorisation formelle peut être obtenue sur
présentation d’une demande écrite au Bureau du Président de
la Chambre.
Reproduction in accordance with this permission does not
constitute publication under the authority of the House of
Commons. The absolute privilege that applies to the
proceedings of the House of Commons does not extend to
these permitted reproductions. Where a reproduction includes
briefs to a Committee of the House of Commons, authorization for reproduction may be required from the authors in
accordance with the Copyright Act.
La reproduction conforme à la présente permission ne
constitue pas une publication sous l’autorité de la Chambre.
Le privilège absolu qui s’applique aux délibérations de la
Chambre ne s’étend pas aux reproductions permises. Lorsqu’une reproduction comprend des mémoires présentés à un
comité de la Chambre, il peut être nécessaire d’obtenir de
leurs auteurs l’autorisation de les reproduire, conformément à
la Loi sur le droit d’auteur.
Nothing in this permission abrogates or derogates from the
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permission does not affect the prohibition against impeaching
or questioning the proceedings of the House of Commons in
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and privilege to find users in contempt of Parliament if a
reproduction or use is not in accordance with this permission.
La présente permission ne porte pas atteinte aux privilèges,
pouvoirs, immunités et droits de la Chambre et de ses comités.
Il est entendu que cette permission ne touche pas l’interdiction
de contester ou de mettre en cause les délibérations de la
Chambre devant les tribunaux ou autrement. La Chambre
conserve le droit et le privilège de déclarer l’utilisateur
coupable d’outrage au Parlement lorsque la reproduction ou
l’utilisation n’est pas conforme à la présente permission.
Also available on the Parliament of Canada Web Site at the
following address: http://www.parl.gc.ca
Aussi disponible sur le site Web du Parlement du Canada à
l’adresse suivante : http://www.parl.gc.ca
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