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41st PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 035

CONTENTS

Monday, January 27, 2014




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 147 
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NUMBER 035 
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2nd SESSION 
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41st PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayers


  (1105)  

[English]

Vacancy

Fort McMurray—Athabasca 

The Speaker:  
    It is my duty to inform the House that a vacancy has occurred in the representation, namely Mr. Jean, member for the electoral district of Fort McMurray—Athabasca, by resignation effective Friday, January 17, 2014.

[Translation]

    Pursuant to paragraph 25(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act, I have addressed my warrant to the Chief Electoral Officer for the issue of a writ for the election of a member to fill this vacancy.

[English]

Board of Internal Economy

The Speaker:  
    I have the honour to inform the House that Mr. Toone, member for the electoral district of Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, has been appointed as a member of the Board of Internal Economy in place of Mr. Cullen, member for the electoral district of Skeena—Bulkley Valley, for the purposes and under the provisions of section 50 of the Parliament of Canada Act.

Private Members' Business

[Private Members' Business]

[Translation]

Electronic Petitions

    The House resumed from October 28, 2013, consideration of the motion.
Ms. Charmaine Borg (Terrebonne—Blainville, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, since this is the first speech of this parliamentary session and the first of 2014, I would like to wish all members of the House a very happy new year. I hope this year will bring lots of interesting, relevant debate.
    With this in mind, let us talk about the motion moved by my colleague, Motion No. 428. Several members, myself included, are of the opinion that it will improve parliamentary debate so that it more accurately reflects what really matters to Canadians.
    As the NDP critic on digital issues, I am often asked to evaluate new technologies that will enhance communication with our constituents, with the hope that they will become more involved in the debates. For instance, the Internet is an excellent tool for sharing information and making people aware of important current issues.
    At present, although Canadians can get information and learn more about an issue, they cannot take action by signing an online petition. In fact, their online signatures are absolutely worthless in this House. This is a serious flaw. In this digital age, the House does not reflect how the world works today. The fact that only paper petitions can be submitted is a flaw. Many people sign electronic petitions, but their voices will never be heard here.
    It is our duty to modernize how we do things in order to better represent Canadians. These days, nearly everyone is on Facebook and other social networks. That is how we communicate. Accordingly, why not present issues in a way that reflects how the world works in the 21st century?
    Everyone of my generation is on Facebook. We all use social networks to communicate. I very often receive online petitions from my constituents and even my friends. Unfortunately, as it stands, they are pointless. The legislatures in Quebec and the United Kingdom accept online petitions. Now it is our turn.
    We need to do everything we possibly can to get young people involved in democracy. In 2011, only 39% of young people voted in the election. My colleague came up with the idea of moving a motion that would make it acceptable to present online petitions. I sincerely believe that this will ensure that youth are better represented in the House, that their voices are heard and that we are talking about things that are of interest to them.
    I would like to point out that this is not the first time this idea has been discussed. The issue was raised as part of a committee study during the 38th Parliament. That was a long time ago and nothing has been done. It is clearly time to act.
    I am hearing more and more that people are not interested in politics. Perhaps the issues we are talking about today and those we have talked about during this parliamentary session are not what matter to the people in my riding or their neighbours.
    The motion moved by my colleague would allow Canadians to directly influence debate in the House. What could be better for democracy? Other ideas can certainly be proposed in the future; however, this first step is an essential one.
    According to a 2012 study by Samara, only 55% of Canadians are satisfied or very satisfied with our democracy.
    We have some work to do to achieve a better result. I think we can do better than 55%.
    The purpose of this initiative is to have members debate an issue when 50,000 people have signed a petition that five members of Parliament have sponsored. This number is not in the wording of the motion, but that is something we can discuss with hon. members.
    For 50,000 people to take the time to sign a petition suggests that the subject matter is very important to them. It is our duty to discuss that subject. This could be a way to encourage people to vote and to watch the debates in the House of Commons. A very small minority of people are watching this debate right now or watch the debates on a regular basis. When there is a proposal like Motion No. 428, we should act on it and support it. We should do everything possible to make the House relatable to people and help them see that it truly debates issues that matter to them. What my colleague is proposing just might do that.
    I would like to mention some of the support my colleague has received for this motion. That support is coming from various sources: the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Preston Manning, and OpenMedia, an agency that seeks to use new technologies to engage people in the democratic process.
    It is time to modernize Parliament. This institution is old, but we have the means to improve democracy and to give our constituents a voice in the House. I congratulate my colleague on putting forward this proposal. I hope that on Wednesday, all the members of the House will support the motion.

  (1110)  

[English]

Mr. Joe Preston (Elgin—Middlesex—London, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to participate in today's debate on Motion No. 428, sponsored by the member for Burnaby—Douglas, which would create a new electronic petitions system. My colleague across the way has a keen interest in the role of Parliament and its members and has examined the experience of other jurisdictions with electronic petitions.
    I want to emphasize the government's commitment to a strong Parliament. All members know that in 2006, the government's first act after forming government was to pass the Federal Accountability Act, which changed the way Ottawa does business for the better. Thanks to this unprecedented legislation, government accountability has been strengthened, including accountability to Parliament, and the government has further continued to promote democratic reform and open and transparent government.
    Let me now turn to Motion No. 428. The first part of the motion would essentially require the procedure and House affairs committee to recommend changes to the Standing Orders and other conventions governing petitions so as to create and implement an electronic petitions system.
    The second part of Motion No. 428 would require the committee to consider, among other things, the possibility of a debate in the House outside sitting hours when a petition has reached a certain threshold of signatures.
    The motion goes on to state that the committee would have to table its report within 12 months of the motion being adopted. Under the terms of the motion, the committee would be required to include recommended changes to the Standing Orders and other conventions to implement an electronic petitions system. Basically, to summarize, the motion requires that the committee report lead to the implementation of an electronic petitions system for the House.
    For the purposes of this debate, it is worth first examining our current paper-based petition system. Our current petition system is set out in Standing Order 36, which is based on principles of representative democracy and the fundamental role of an individual member of Parliament. As evidenced by the 2,000 petitions presented by members in 2012, the system works quite well.
    The Standing Order requires that before petitions can be presented, they must be certified correct by the Clerk of Petitions. House rules specify that at least 25 Canadians must sign a petition, using the proper format, including a statement of the grievance, and that it be addressed to the House, the government, a minister, or a member of the House for a response.
    It is a matter of routine practice that members table petitions on behalf of constituents, and it is understood that members may not always agree with the views of a specific petition. Following the presentation of the petition, the government must respond within 45 calendar days.
    Our current petitions system functions efficiently. The system is transparent. Canadians are able to tune in and watch our proceedings to see what petitions are being presented, or they can view a list of petitions presented in House of Commons Debates or in Journals of the House.
    As we debate Motion No. 428, it is useful to examine the experience of other jurisdictions.
    Most jurisdictions have a petitions system similar to our current approach and appear to be satisfied with that approach. However, there are some jurisdictions that have recently implemented electronic petitions systems as part of their legislature or as part of the government's operations.
    In 2011 the United Kingdom House of Commons authorized electronic petitions. Petitions with at least 100,000 signatures can have a debate in the House or in Westminster Hall, a parallel chamber to the House. To date, these debates have included national issues such as health care and pension increases as well as special interests, such as eliminating welfare benefits for the convicted 2011 London rioters, heart surgery at a local hospital, and the elimination of the badger cull.
    I would contend that the experience of the United Kingdom suggests that while electronic petitions can increase the participation of citizens in the petition process, they can also be used by orchestrated special interests to force their agenda onto the parliamentary stage.
    Similarly, the We the People electronic petitions system established by the White House in the United States, whereby petitions with at least 100,000 signatures are publicly recognized, has been used to advance topics such as the Star Wars-inspired Death Star and the deportation of a CNN journalist.
    Some commentators in the United States have suggested that electronic petitions systems can undermine representative democracy by recognizing or debating divisive or frivolous issues. I would ask members whether they would want to create an electronic petitions system if that were to be the result.

  (1115)  

    In addition, at a time of fiscal restraint, the creation and implementation of a new electronic petition system, and potentially the addition of extra sitting hours for the House to debate petitions with a high number of signatures, could be quite costly. Further, the need to put in place a process to verify thousands of online signatures could prove to be quite an involved and onerous process. Do members believe that such an additional cost would be prudent at a time of global economic uncertainty and fiscal restraint?
    The member for Burnaby—Douglas has said that the electronic petitions would “empower citizens to communicate their concerns with their elected representatives and to have the opportunity to set the agenda for debate in Ottawa”.
    As all members know, every day of the year, whether in our ridings or here in Ottawa, Canadians have many options for contacting their individual members of Parliament or the government. Each of us is regularly back in his or her constituency. We all have staff in our constituency offices and in Ottawa to help constituents with questions and detailed requests, including through electronic means such as email and websites. I ask members whether creating an electronic petition system would really enhance our ability to engage and serve our constituents.
    As mentioned at the beginning of my speech, Motion No. 428 presupposes a result for the work of the procedures and House affairs committee. By dictating the outcome, Motion No. 428 undermines the principle that committees are masters of their own affairs. It is one thing for the House to instruct the committee to undertake a study, but this motion goes too far and oversteps the principle that committees are masters of their own proceedings. I would ask members whether they want to support a motion that would diminish the independence of a House committee and the ability of members of committees to decide upon and manage their own affairs.
    On the surface, the idea of creating an electronic petition system may have some appeal in terms of using new technologies to serve our constituents. However, the experience of other jurisdictions suggests that many countries have decided not to implement an electronic petition system and that such a system could become a popularity contest and be open to abuse by special interests. In addition, the cost of implementing a new electronic petition system is a concern during a time of budget constraints.
    Finally, I take issue with the wording of the motion as it undermines the principle of House committees being masters of their own affairs.
    For these reasons, I am not prepared to support the motion. However, I note that the procedure and House affairs committee will be examining our rules and procedures, and if its members were to agree, the committee could decide to review the effectiveness of our current petition system and whether changes are needed.

  (1120)  

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I must say at the beginning that I am somewhat surprised at the way the government members are responding to this motion. We see before us a motion that would enable Canadians to participate in our process and have the opportunity, through petitions, to express themselves. I am surprised by the arguments being brought forward.
    For example, the member from the government who stood before me talked about a significant cost factor. I can assure the member that it would be a fraction of the potential cost of the increase, by the current government, in the number of members of Parliament. The Conservatives are increasing the size of the House of Commons, estimated to cost over $30 million a year. Interestingly, I have a petition on that issue. There has been an overwhelming response from the constituents I represent that we do not need to increase the number of MPs in the House of Commons. I can assure the member that it would cost Canadians a lot more to increase the number of politicians in this House, which is ultimately unnecessary, than it would to allow Canadians the opportunity to be engaged through petitions.
    This is really where the government is off base. Why would the Conservatives oppose the opportunity for citizens from across Canada to provide their thoughts on a wide variety of issues that come before this House?
    I was at a protest rally at the Manitoba legislature just two days ago. Individuals from Winnipeg, and I suspect from even outside of Winnipeg, came to the Manitoba legislature because they were concerned about what was happening in Ukraine. What is happening in Ukraine today is horrific. It is a slap at fundamental freedoms. The people of Ukraine want to be able to express themselves and to have the right to do so. Some of the actions we have seen in Ukraine go against some of the fundamental principles we often take for granted here. It was interesting that at the rally, one of the calls was to have people attending that rally sign petitions. In fact, I have already submitted, first thing this morning, the names of some of the individuals who signed that petition so that I would be able to stand in my place at some future time, hopefully soon, and express to the floor of the House of Commons the wishes of those individuals who took the time to go to the Manitoba legislature and sign a petition.
    What are we asking for here? It is an opportunity for a committee of the House of Commons, on which I sit, to study the issue of electronic petitions. What is wrong with that? What do the Conservatives have against affording the public the ability to participate? On the issue of Ukraine, could members imagine the response if we were allowed to use electronic petitions through the Internet? Hundreds of thousands of Canadians from coast to coast to coast would be able to engage on this one issue alone.
    The leader of the Liberal Party constantly talks about going out and meeting and connecting with Canadians and trying to get Canadians engaged. Unlike the Prime Minister of this country, the leader of the Liberal Party is constantly out meeting with Canadians and challenging the government to be more accountable.

  (1125)  

    This is one of the ways in which Canadians could, in fact, have the opportunity to send messages and participate in the process. Yet the government, for whatever reason, says no, not this time, or it does not want this to move forward. It does not want to provide answers to the types of petitions that might come through electronic means.
    The member who spoke before me started off by speaking about accountability, as if the government is more accountable. He talked about his accountability legislation. I have not been here for that long, but with regard to the accountability within this chamber, I would challenge the member or any government member for the way in which the Conservative-Reform government has taken away accountability inside the chamber and limited debate. There are record high numbers of time allocation by the current majority government, unprecedented in Canadian history.
    Budget implementation bills have multiplied by hundreds of pages, with numerous pieces of legislation all wrapped up in one bill. Liberals do not have to take any lessons from the current majority government in terms of accountability, because it lacks it in the chamber; and I am disappointed that it does not see the merit of at least allowing the debate of electronic petitioning. I, for one, use petitions a great deal. I afford the constituents of Winnipeg North the opportunity, as much as I can. Quite often in my mailings I encourage people to get engaged in the process by signing petitions.
    I have presented petitions on issues such as housing co-ops, the Experimental Lakes Area, refugees, crime prevention, Canada Post, the environment, Elections Canada and robocalls, as well as ethical corporations in developing countries. Of course, one of my favourites was the petition with regard to the government's wanting to increase the age of retirement from 65 to 67. The constituents of Winnipeg North say no to that, and they have been signing petitions to that effect. They value our programs for pensions.
    The health accord is going to expire in 2014 and the government has done nothing to support the renewal of a health care accord, which Paul Martin established, that has seen more money delivered to health care than ever before. The government likes to take credit for the amount of money that is going into federal transfers for health care, when it was actually former prime minister Paul Martin. I have a petition that calls on the government to deal with the health care issue.
    I made reference to the number of members of Parliament. I talked about the signatures from the Manitoba legislature related to Ukraine. Over the last seven days, someone contacted me about a pet registry petition, which I look forward to presenting. These are petitions that Canadians have seen fit to sign because they believe in what is being reported in those petitions.
    How does electronic petitioning hurt democracy here in Canada? We should at least allow it to continue in terms of debate. Let us bring it to the procedure and House affairs committee. I represent the Liberal Party on that committee, and I can say that the Liberal Party, in fact, is very supportive of the concept of electronic petitions. Liberals see it as a way for more Canadians to get involved in our democracy, and that is a good thing. We see that as a healthy thing.

  (1130)  

    We are asking the government and all members to open their eyes, as hopefully members of the Conservative Party will see the value of at least bringing it to the next step.
    I appreciate the opportunity to share a few words with members.

[Translation]

Ms. Laurin Liu (Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to Motion No. 428 about e-petitions. This initiative was put forward by my NDP colleague from Burnaby—Douglas, a meticulous and effective parliamentarian, and a champion of democracy.
    I would like to begin by pointing out that the Conservative government has a very poor record when it comes to democratic participation. First, the Conservatives tried to prevent citizens from participating in environmental assessments. Then they muzzled scientists and librarians. After that, they started a witch hunt against environmental organizations that oppose their policies.
    The NDP believes that citizens should have the opportunity to participate in democracy, to intervene and to express their opinions about the government's policies. This motion, which encourages citizen involvement, is in line with our philosophy.
    I would like to explain how the system works now. As we all know, petitions have always been a key part of our democratic system. People use petitions to draw Parliament's attention to a problem.
    Right now, electronic petitions cannot be presented in the House of Commons by members because they do not comply with the Standing Orders. As a result, the government is not required to provide an official response to e-petitions the way it does to paper-based petitions.
    Motion No. 428 recommends updating the rules governing the format of petitions and studying the possibility of letting e-petitions trigger a debate in the House of Commons once a certain number of signatures have been collected and if at least five members sponsor a petition.
    Clearly, the Standing Orders need updating. The House of Commons has to get with the times and take into account what Canadians are thinking now that they are making increasing use of electronic means to communicate and join forces on political issues. We have to give people more ways to participate in their democracy; we have to adapt democracy to 21st-century realities. If we do not, Parliament will become more and more useless, perhaps even insignificant. Anyone who looks at the other chamber, the Senate, will see that is true.
    Right now, thousands of Canadians feel left out and powerless when it comes to decisions made in the House. I happen to agree. The current rules have led to a growing divide between people and the government.
    The numbers speak for themselves. According to an online survey of Canadians carried out by Samara in December 2012, only 55% of Canadians report being satisfied with the way democracy works in Canada. This number is going down, since it used to be 75% in 2004. To combat this democratic deficit, we need to start listening to Canadians again. They need to feel that their voices are being heard.
    I will digress for a moment to point out that this is why we are calling for reform of the Elections Act. We need to give more powers to Elections Canada, so that it can more effectively combat election fraud.
    We have been seeing the worst kinds of abuse from the Conservative Party in recent years. For example, there were the misleading phone calls to deny voters their right to vote; the bending of the rules on political party funding, which is known as the Conservative in and out scandal; and the election schemes of the former Conservative minister from Labrador, who failed to declare election expenses. Furthermore, the current member for Peterborough is facing four charges in court regarding overspending during the 2008 election campaign.
    These despicable actions are alienating Canadians from politics, since they get the impression that they do not really have a say in the matter. They come to believe that the only things taken seriously are the interests of the Conservative Party's big contributors and their friends.

  (1135)  

    I could also talk about the need to change our voting system to make sure that every vote counts. Many changes need to be made to our electoral and parliamentary system, but I will save that for another day because my time is short.
    More fundamentally, we need to fix the Elections Act to regain Canadians' trust. It is also important to change the rules governing how our parliamentary institutions operate so that we can better connect with Canadians. Petition reform is part of that overall plan. Unlike the Conservatives, we want more than ever to strengthen Canadian democracy and to do everything we can to get Canadians involved in the debates that affect them because, ultimately, this is their House of Commons. We want to give Canadians a chance to have a say in Parliament's agenda. That is why Motion No. 428, which was moved by the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas, calls for the use of electronic petitions in the House. I wish to make it clear, however, that we do not want to do away with the current Standing Order with regard to paper petitions. Both paper and electronic petitions will be accepted.
    I can attest to the fact that my colleague has done an excellent job of garnering support within all political parties. On the left, former NDP leader Ed Broadbent supported the initiative by saying:
    Bringing electronic petitioning to the House of Commons is a 21st Century idea and one I fully endorse. Empowering Canadians to come together and help set the Parliamentary agenda will breathe fresh air into our democracy.
    My colleague also had the support of Preston Manning, a well-known political figure in our country, who clearly stated:
    To be able to petition one's elected representatives, and to have such petitions addressed, is one of the oldest and most basic of democratic rights. Affirming and re-establishing this right in the 21st century through electronic petitioning is an idea well worth pursuing.
    Similarly, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation welcomes this motion:
    The Canadian Taxpayers Federation applauds this worthy initiative from the member [for Burnaby—Douglas] to kick-start Parliament on accepting electronic signatures on petitions. When taxpayers get the opportunity to go online and sign an official petition to Parliament, they'll be able to get the attention of Ottawa politicians in a hurry. We also support the [member's] suggestion that 50,000 Canadians signing a petition and 5 MPs should be able to force a debate in Parliament. This would help restore some grassroots democracy and accountability on Parliament Hill.
    According to an Angus Reid poll conducted in March 2013, Canadians, including my constituents, widely support the principles of Motion No. 418. The pollster found that 81% of Canadians either support or strongly support the use of electronic petitions as a way to present their concerns to the federal government. It is important to understand that this motion represents real progress towards improving Canadian democracy and the vitality of our participatory institutions.
    Promoting and adopting this motion are one more step towards creating a healthier, more transparent democracy. This is a tangible step with clear and demonstrable repercussions on how important issues are represented in parliamentary debates. It will also allow us to productively channel the widespread discontent regarding Canadian democracy and many of its institutions, including the Senate, where the Conservatives are now showing their true colours. I think it is absolutely crucial that our constituents be included in the political process, and such a motion would be one of the best ways to encourage them to actively participate in our public debates.
    I urge my colleagues to support this motion in order to lead off the debate on the future of electronic petitions in our country.

  (1140)  

Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, this is the first time I have risen to speak in 2014. Allow me, respectfully, to wish you a good year, in the hope that our democratic institutions will increase in value, which has absolutely not been the case in previous years.
    The motion we are discussing this morning could be an excellent way to get back on track.
    I would also like to wish an excellent year to my fellow MPs and to all Canadians and Quebeckers, who I hope might once again be proud of their politicians because of the quality of the debates that we engage in throughout this new year.
    When I was elected in 2011, I was determined to improve our democracy. I still am. The desire to change the way politics is done continues to drive my political involvement. It is not so easy to change things in this honourable institution, Canada's Parliament, but I am not one to give up on my goals so quickly.
    The subject we are discussing this morning is quite the paradox between tradition and the need to modernize our political institution.
    Hon. members also know that I am a teacher by profession and that engaging young people in public debate is one of my priorities. I, like many others, was disappointed to see that voter turnout among 18- to 24-year-olds in the 2011 federal election was 39%, which was well below the national voter turnout of 59%. That is not a spectacular number either, but it is far better.
    There are likely a number of reasons for this that deserve our attention. In my riding, Trois-Rivières, I was surprised to learn that political debate seems undesirable at the university, where student associations—NDP, Conservative, Liberal, PQ, whatever the political stripe—do not seem to be welcome.
    How are we supposed to engage young people and prepare a new generation of active citizens when political debate is considered suspect or dangerous? I must admit that I have a problem with that attitude and the fact that many public places are not open to political debate.
    Now that the opportunity is here to explore this issue, I am very pleased to speak to Motion No. 428 on electronic petitions moved by my colleague, the member for Burnaby—Douglas.
    Mr. Speaker, like the vast majority of us, you have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a YouTube channel and a website. I know because I checked.
    All of these digital tools are useful in helping us accomplish some of our work as parliamentarians. They allow us to share our ideas, our values and our vision for the Canada of tomorrow. Much of our work and that of our assistants is visible on social media.
    I have, at times, had the pleasure of working with the longest-serving member of the House, the member for Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour. He told me that when he began his career, he did not have any of these tools, not even a cell phone. Today, politicians would be at a loss without these tools. As time moved on, we adapted to new technology and the purpose it can serve. I believe there is more to be done.
    These platforms serve as more than just a means of spreading our political message and doing politics. We also need social media and the Internet to communicate with all of our constituents, all of the groups that wish to be in contact with us and those interested in the debates taking place in our democracy. We use digital media every day in order to speak with our constituents, no matter which party we belong to or what our ideas are.
    In just a few short years, democracy has gone online. Long speeches in the public square are becoming increasingly rare. Even more rare is an entire town or community gathering together to listen to us. The relationship between parliamentarians and constituents has been transformed and there is no going back. The town square is virtual now, and we need to keep up with the times if we want to connect with the people we claim to serve.
    My colleague's motion acknowledges that transformation and sheds some light on the issue. The idea is that if we, as parliamentarians, can make frequent use of digital tools to share our thoughts, why is the public not also able to use technology to connect with us?
    In other words, we are constantly reaching out, trying to convince them of our ideas, but they cannot influence our debates or our agenda by taking advantage of progress in electronic communications.

  (1145)  

    It is almost hypocritical of us, and we need to try to change that. That is exactly what this motion is about. What my colleague is proposing in this motion is quite simple. He is proposing that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs recommend changes to the Standing Orders so as to establish an electronic petitioning system in Canada, while maintaining the existing paper-based petition system. The committee would present a report to the House sometime in the next year. Among other things, the member's motion recommends that the committee consider the possibility of holding debates in the House of Commons, similar to take note debates, once a certain threshold of signatures is reached. For example, 50,000 signatures on an electronic petition is a considerable number. I think it is a rather serious problem if members do not feel that an issue with such support must be addressed. In addition, five members of Parliament would have to agree to sponsor or support the petition in question.
    Electronic petitioning systems are nothing new. An increasing number of democracies are embracing this new way of doing things to revitalize the relationship between the work of parliamentarians and constituents. Need I remind members that our Parliament does not always have a good reputation and that our institution has been harshly criticized by Canadians? The Senate scandals and the Conservative government's inability to address the related issues are fueling people's cynicism about both chambers of Parliament. I am confident that any initiative that would reaffirm and restore Canadians' trust in our work is a step forward, a step in the right direction for our democracy.
    As I was saying, electronic petitioning systems are nothing new. They are already in use in Quebec and the United Kingdom, and the results are quite promising. We would do well to take a closer look at them. In the British system, for example, petitions supported by at least 100,000 signatures trigger a debate. However, this new way of doing things has not made any significant changes to procedures or the rigour of the work. Members do not have to be concerned that our agenda will be disrupted by the tabling of a huge number of petitions. Although electronic petitions with over 50,000 signatures are not unheard of, they all draw attention to important issues.
    According to an Angus Reid poll, this motion already has support from a wide range of stakeholder groups and 81% of the population. We are talking about 81%. In what survey will you find more than 80% of Canadians and Quebeckers agreeing on an issue? It is clear that Canadians and Quebeckers want to see our systems modernized. This reflects their growing expectation that the House of Commons pay more attention to movements of opinion across the entire country.
    I have two examples. First, I want to talk about Marie-Hélène Dubé, a Quebec woman who decided to start a national petition after her third reoccurrence of thyroid cancer. Her petition calls on the federal government to amend section 12 of the Employment Insurance Act, which is 40 years old, to ensure that people with serious illnesses can receive more than 15 weeks of benefits, which is what they receive now. As we speak, this national petition has collected around 430,000 signatures.
    I would also like to talk about Sylvie Therrien's online petition. Ms. Dubé developed a rather onerous technique that means people have to sign the paper version of the petition and print it, so that it can be submitted in the House. Ms. Therrien, who had a different experience, also has thousands of signatures on her petition, but unfortunately, it cannot be submitted to the House.
    In conclusion, I want to quickly say that this is a tangible measure that will have a clear and demonstrable impact on the way issues that are important to Canadians are represented in parliamentary debates. This proposal would also be a proactive way to combat the widespread discontent with respect to Canadian democracy and many of its institutions, including the Senate.
    Therefore, I fully support my colleague's motion. I hope that in 2014, the Canadian Parliament can join the 21st century and agree to hear from the people of this country through electronic petitions.

  (1150)  

[English]

The Deputy Speaker:  
    I would advise the hon. member that in order for the sponsor of this motion to exercise his five-minute right of reply, the member for Victoria will only have nine minutes of debate.
Mr. Murray Rankin (Victoria, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to be participating in this debate.
     I want to congratulate my friend and colleague from Burnaby—Douglas for this initiative. In a former life he was a professor of public policy at Simon Fraser University, where he studied the very issues that are before us today. I commend him for bringing them to the House of Commons.
    If ever there were a non-partisan issue, I would have thought it would be this one. It is trying to improve our democracy, trying to enhance the participation by people from all walks of life in Canada, and in particular the young people. I will come to that in a moment.
    What I would like to do first today is to describe what I understand this motion to be, and what it is not, despite some people characterizing it as such, and to talk about, if I may, the objections that might be raised to an initiative like this. I hope we can persuade all colleagues to agree that this is an initiative that is long past due in our country.
    The clear intent is to modernize our long-standing tradition of citizen petitioning of their government. That has been done to date only in paper form. What we have is a transformative technology called the Internet that has changed so many aspects of our lives. Young people come to me in my riding of Victoria and say “Well, why do you not use the Internet? Why do you have to sign the petitions? Why can I not just send an email?”
    Young people basically cannot understand why this is not already in place. They particularly cannot understand when I advise them that it has been the case in other modern democracies, like Great Britain, where it is working well, and in Quebec, the Northwest Territories and other places. They look at me and ask, “What is wrong with you? Why do you not harness this communication tool that has been made available?”
    Canadians are among the most plugged in people on the planet, and it is getting to be more and more the case that Canadians utilize the Internet. Why can we not use electronic petitions?
    This motion does not do much more than say that we should get the relevant committee, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to examine this, not to replace paper petitions but to enhance the ability of citizens to participate by way of electronic petitions, and to consider a number of things as well, which I will come to.
    This initiative comes within a broader context of parliamentary reform initiatives, such as the private member's bill introduced by the member of Parliament for Wellington—Halton Hills. His proposed reform act of 2013 was designed to reinforce the principles of responsible government by which the executive branch is accountable to the legislative branch of the government. This is just one manifestation of the hunger in our democracy for parliamentary reform and for bringing our institutions, of which Canadians should be very proud, into the 21st century to enhance and make our democracy more vibrant.
    We hear people talking about other reform initiatives. The NDP has proudly been in favour of proportional representation for many years. I believe that will go some distance, along with the reform initiatives of the hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills. This electronic petitions initiative must be understood in the broader context of that reality. People want this.
    The recommendation in this motion is that the procedures committee consider the possibility of triggering a debate in the House, something like a take note debate, once a certain number of signatures, such as the proposed 50,000 that we have heard, have been obtained. What is a take note debate? For those watching, it may not be clear. Historically a minister moves a motion which includes the words “that the House take note” of something. It is designed to solicit the views of members on some aspects of government policy. It does not usually come to a vote. We have used it very effectively on issues such as peacekeeping commitments, NORAD, missile testings, and the war in Kosovo. These are all examples where this has been used.
    A take note debate is all that would be triggered under this motion. It is not a direct democracy initiative. It enhances our parliamentary procedures.
    The problem is that such online petitions cannot be tabled in the House of Commons under our rules. That is why we are debating this. The United Kingdom has a threshold of 100,000 signatures before a take note debate may be triggered.

  (1155)  

    Based on the population differential between Canada and the United Kingdom, 50,000 signatures has been proposed. That may well be the right number, but the committee should examine that and give us its response.
    Many from every side of the political spectrum have validated this, ranging from Mr. Preston Manning to Mr. Ed Broadbent. We have heard from many equality-seeking groups, such as Egale Canada, which have strongly supported this, all the way to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a group that I often do not have a meeting of minds with at the finance committee. However, the federation is completely behind this as well, as are so many other groups.
    In an effort to persuade all members to get onside with this reform initiative, I want to talk about what the objections to such an initiative might be.
    The kind of objections that have been brought forward, and for which I am indebted to the member for Burnaby—Douglas, are as follows. Maybe the initiative will be costly. What is the experience in other countries? Will frivolous issues be generated as a consequence of these electronic petitions? Perhaps the wording of the motion is problematic.
    I will examine those in the time available because we need to disabuse members of those concerns.
    First, on the cost side, the member for Burnaby—Douglas has talked to a number of members of political science departments and has used the Library of Parliament, and there have been no cost concerns. In Quebec and the Northwest Territories existing resources are mostly used. There has been no concern of that kind.
    Second, the experience in other countries has been uniformly positive. The Library of Parliament reported back that no jurisdiction has ever put an e-petition in place and then taken it out. Once enacted, it seems to have gone well. Indeed, a recent House of Commons committee in the U.K. studied it and reported back the following:
    The system introduced by the Government has proven to be very popular and has already provided the subjects for a number of lively and illuminating debates.
    That does not sound as if the U.K. government wants to get rid of it.
    As for frivolous matters being a concern, the point is that five members of Parliament would have to look at the petition. It would also require a certain threshold of signatures. That should be an effective check of any abuse.
    With respect to the question of the wording being too prescriptive, as some say, that does not seem to be the case if we examine similar motions.
    Therefore, by way of conclusion, I would urge all members of the House to reform our parliamentary institutions to allow a more vibrant, participatory democracy and to take advantage of the technology of the Internet to enhance all of our parliamentary traditions.
Mr. Kennedy Stewart (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure to speak here in the early days of the new year.
    Let me begin by thanking all hon. members for participating in this debate on my motion to bring electronic petitions to Parliament. I think the spirit of the debate has been respectful. What I will try to do in my five minutes is to give some more information that might help members decide to support this.
    I believe that we all want to find practical ways to make Parliament more accessible for our constituents. My motion is in the spirit of what I see as an emerging trend of cross-partisan efforts to reform Canadian politics.
    Next week, we will vote on a measure by the member for Saskatoon—Humboldt regarding committee reform. We will also soon consider Bill C-599, the reform act, put forward by the hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills. I am proud to say that I have jointly seconded both of these efforts. In fact, I view these three proposals as somewhat of a package that would bring real change to how we do business in this place.
    It appears that this cross-partisan spirit is infectious. Former reform party leader Preston Manning and former NDP leader Ed Broadbent have endorsed my e-petitions motion, as have the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Moreover, as my colleagues mentioned, Canadians want electronic petitions. An Angus Reid poll shows that over 80% of Canadians support bringing electronic petitioning to Parliament.
    Again, though, my motion is just one step in the larger process. I would like to say that what I am proposing here is only a study. This is not a motion to bring e-petitions to Parliament; it is a motion to study this before we move to bringing e-petitions to Parliament. It is a study on how we might implement electronic petitioning only to supplement our current paper-based system.
    If it is the will of the House to modernize our democracy in this simple way, then it would be the responsibility of the procedure and House affairs committee to conduct this study and make recommendations as to how we would best accomplish this goal.
    It has been suggested that perhaps I should have introduced a bill rather than a motion. However, the respective procedures of this House are such that that Standing Orders are usually amended using motions. That is why I used this method. More important, the best laws and rules are often only reached after careful consideration and consultation. An in-depth committee study would allow us to hear from experts in civil society to ensure that we get this right. That is important.
    The issue of costs has been brought up a number of times. I have asked the Library of Parliament to look into how much it would cost if we decided to move ahead with these reforms. These costs would not be onerous at all.
     As my colleague said, the National Assembly in Quebec has looked at this. It reports that their e-petition system was developed and is maintained through existing resources. So there are no extra costs.
    In the Northwest Territories, the initial start-up cost was $8,000. However, the year-to-year cost is only $800. So it is a very low-cost way to bring thousands, if not millions, of people into this process.
    It might actually save money as well, because it might reduce the burden upon MPs who are now inundated with hundreds of electronic petitions that we cannot present here in the House but that we have to sift through and reply to.
    In the U.K. and in the U.S., citizens can create an account, and once their identity is verified they can sign on to whatever petitions they choose. That might be something we would choose to do here. Again, it would give people an official way to get into the process and, once registered, they could do it over and over again.
    Some members have expressed to me their concerns about my idea of building in a safeguard of having five MPs sign on to any petition receiving sufficient signatures to trigger a take-note-style debate. They think perhaps five members is not enough. However, the procedure and House affairs committee could certainly sort that out and might conclude that maybe 10 MPs would be the proper number.
    An hon. member: Why not?

  (1200)  

Mr. Kennedy Stewart:  
    Why not? This is what a committee does. Again, if it wants to safeguard the House of Commons through this debate, that is a very good way to do it.
    In conclusion, a lot of countries use electronic petitions. I feel that Canada is behind. No country has ever shut down an e-petitioning system once it has been installed. Every single legislature that has adopted this innovation has been sufficiently satisfied to keep it.
    If we went ahead with the study and implemented this initiative, it would better our democracy, I feel. It would allow northern and rural Canadians to overcome geographic challenges to better access their legislature.
    I ask all reform-minded MPs to join me in taking this small practical step to improve our democracy by supporting the motion.
The Deputy Speaker:  
    That brings to a conclusion the debate on this motion.

  (1205)  

     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 Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the yeas have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Deputy Speaker: Pursuant to Standing Order 93 the division stands deferred until Wednesday, January 29, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

[Translation]

Votes on Bills C-475 and C-513  

The Deputy Speaker:  
    I would like to inform the House that, pursuant to Standing Order 94, the divisions on Bill C-475, An Act to amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (order-making power), and Bill C-513, An Act to promote and strengthen the Canadian retirement income system, stand deferred until Wednesday, January 29, 2014, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Respect for Communities Act

    The House resumed from November 28 consideration of the motion that Bill C-2, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the motion that this question be now put.
Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, before I begin my comments on Bill C-2, I would like to welcome you and all my colleagues back to the House of Commons from the weeks we had with our constituents and families. I hope everyone had an informative and restful time away from the House, because the debate about the future of the country begins again.
    One always hopes, coming out of a time when politicians are separated by great distances and surrounded by friends and family, that we would return to find a new spirit from the government, a spirit in which we could start to renew and rebuild Canada and perhaps find some common ground in order to make our country a better place, which I believe we all begin our political careers hoping for.
    Unfortunately, after a very productive debate we just had on a democratic motion from one of the New Democratic members about e-petitions and restoring and enhancing democracy in our Parliament, for which we hope to see some Conservative support, we now move over to an incredibly offensive piece of legislation. This is the first one the Conservatives felt they needed to call. They often have trouble naming their pieces of legislation accurately. We have seen them time and time again borrow from the worst aspects of our neighbours in the south, particularly the Republican Party, which uses the naming of bills to inappropriately stir up feelings and emotions within the public and inaccurately reflect what is actually being proposed in the legislation. We have that here with Bill C-2. An appropriate name for the bill would be “Bill C-2, shutting down InSite”. This is essentially what the bill is meant to do.
    For those who are not familiar with InSite, it has become something that the Conservatives constantly and almost vehemently oppose. It is a program run out of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, one of the most troubled communities in the entire country but also one of our most resilient communities. I spent some time working with people who have been positively affected by InSite, a program started a number of years ago in the nineties. It is a safe injection site and the only safe injection site in Canada.
    I know some of my Conservative colleagues who choose ignorance over the facts will use this as some sort of culture war rallying cry, raising money and potentially securing votes by misinforming the people they represent. However, they cannot misinform themselves during the course of this debate, because the facts sit before us. They can choose to have their own opinions, but they cannot choose to have their own facts. What we see in this piece of legislation directly goes against science. It goes against the facts of the matter and the principles that we, at least in the New Democratic Party, think are important. Therefore, I am disappointed that this legislation continues to receive support from the Prime Minister and the Conservative Party. I am not surprised, unfortunately.
    However, I am also encouraged because it allows us to talk about such important things as public safety and the health of Canadians. InSite was at the time, and remains, a cutting-edge program, a bold initiative to try to tackle a problem that has been plaguing a community for many years. It is one that has received support, at least in British Columbia and Vancouver, from both ends of the political spectrum. Very conservative mayors and more progressive mayors, like Mayor Robertson, have supported this initiative over the years. It forms one pillar of the four-pillar approach in Vancouver, which has taken on a challenge.
    As you know, Mr. Speaker, being from Windsor and having spent some time in Toronto and other Canadian cities, within some of our neighbourhoods there can be a cycle in which crime leads to more crime, open drug use leads to more open drug use, and people stop fighting for their neighbourhoods. They leave. The people we want to move into the community will not do so because they do not feel safe, and communities spin almost out of control. The police are unable to regain a certain amount of public security, and the community ends up looking like one of those communities we fear.
    Perhaps there are better examples across the border from your home, Mr. Speaker, in Detroit, where because of economics and social malaise, entire neighbourhoods are essentially being bulldozed because no one wants to live there.

  (1210)  

    It costs communities not only the hardship, but many millions and billions of dollars in the end. The Downtown Eastside has seen a renewal and revitalization owing not just in part to InSite and the good work the people there do, but also because of many programs that progressive governments have brought to bear in dealing with issues like housing. The Conservative government would perhaps take note that housing is one of the most affordable and most essential components. The renewal has not been complete, but there is certainly an incredible difference from even 15 years ago when I spent some time working in the Downtown Eastside. It is quite amazing.
    Let us deal with the bill, because in Bill C-2 the government has found a new love for public consultation and community input. I look to my colleagues to see if they can think of anything else the government has ever done on which the public's opinion has actually mattered. Those of us dealing with the pipeline politics in northern B.C. and the Enbridge northern gateway would love to hear the Conservative government suddenly have some feeling and concern for the opinion of the public.
    For those dealing in the Toronto waterfront, such as my friend from Trinity—Spadina, to hear that the Conservative government actually cares what the public thinks would be remarkable. Right across the country we have seen the government time and time again simply invoke measures, as happened when the Prime Minister changed the age of retirement from 65 to 67. I do not remember that he consulted with Canadians and asked for their opinion, but suddenly, when it comes to a safe injection site, the Conservatives ideologically oppose it. Their opposition is not based on any facts or evidence, even though Conservatives say from time to time they have a new-found love for science.
    We asked them to help review with us the 30 peer-reviewed articles and medical journals that have studied the effectiveness of InSite. InSite is supported by the Police Association, by the Chiefs of Police, by the Nurses Association, and by the Canadian Medical Association. These must be some of those foreign-funded radical groups the Conservatives are always crying about, these well-respected institutions of our health and public safety in Canada, but each of these studies has shown time and again that this harm reduction strategy has lowered fatalities due to overdose by 35% since its inception.
    A caring Conservative would say there are fewer people dying of drug overdose, and it seems like a good thing. A Conservative who is concerned about public safety would also note that crime has dropped precipitously in the same region over the same time. Therefore, the whole idea that safe injection sites in communities cause the crime rate to go through the roof has proven to be the opposite; in fact, the spread of communicable diseases in that community, a serious public safety and public health issue, has also dropped in that same community in which InSite exists.
    Not only must we consider the pain and hardship of those who contract these communicable diseases, we must also consider the public purse and what it costs the already strained public system. It should be every government's intention and work to lower the amount of disease spreading in our communities, and drug relapse for those who have participated in this program is significantly lower than it is in any other program in this country. The addicts who go through the InSite program tend not to get back on drugs nearly as frequently as they do after any other detox or remediation program we have.
    All those facts together—public safety, the lowering of crime, the lowering of health costs, the encouragement and support of people in Vancouver and British Columbia of all political persuasions for such a program—should open the eyes of the Conservatives just a little bit.
    The medical doctors of Canada support this program, the nurses of Canada support this program, and the police in the city and the province support this program. One would think one of those groups would be of interest to Conservatives, but no, that is not the case. What is of interest is fundraising and ideological warfare. We know that when they introduced the bill, it had not even been debated for a minute in the House of Commons before the Conservative Party sent out a fundraiser to its membership asking them to send money for this great bill.
    I remember that when the Prime Minister ran for election after being in a position of minority government, he said to give him a majority and not to worry about any agenda he had, because he would be restrained by the courts. In the case of the Supreme Court of Canada, after three trials at the B.C. Supreme Court, the government took the case to the B.C. Court of Appeal and finally to the Supreme Court. What was the cost to taxpayers? I do not know, but it was millions.

  (1215)  

    Even after the Supreme Court said that this bill violates charter rights, that it may well be unconstitutional, and that the government is arbitrarily undermining the very purposes of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which includes public health and safety, that is what the government is doing.
    It is not a free and conscious clear-thinking government. It is one driven only by ideology, only by fundraising initiatives, and only by blind faith in some sort of world view that absolutely contradicts the facts in front of us.
    We will be opposing this legislation at every step of the way.
Hon. Michelle Rempel (Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification), CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, welcome back to all of my colleagues. Happy new year—
    An hon. member: It is Groundhog Day.
Ms. Michelle Rempel:  
    Mr. Speaker, it is not Groundhog Day, as one of my colleagues said.
    This is a very important piece of legislation that we are discussing, because it addresses an issue that is very keen and close to a lot of people's hearts across Canada, which is how we help Canadians overcome addictions to these types of substances.
    My colleague spoke very passionately about the need to help people overcome them and the best way to do so. That is a debate that is very worthy of the House. I think we all agree that it is an important issue, but what I did not hear my colleague talk about was the impact of these sites on the communities around them. One of the things that we have been talking about in debating this bill is the right of the communities in which these centres are located to have consultation and to talk about the impact on their households and their lives.
    I ask my colleague a very honest question: How do we balance that? How do we balance the needs of the community with the needs of folks who are affected by substance abuse?
    We have put a lot of policy in place in this government in terms of addressing some of the determinants of how people fall into that type of substance use. Does the member not agree that it is important for us to consult with our communities ahead of opening up one of these sites?

  (1220)  

Mr. Nathan Cullen:  
    Mr. Speaker, I welcome my friend back as well. I wonder if we could apply those very same principles to energy policy in this country. I am talking about consultation with the communities that are affected.
    Communities that are affected by any government proposals—such as, say, a bitumen pipeline—should be consulted and listened to. That would be a curious thing, because in the consultations that the government has conducted with Canadians over one pipeline in northern British Columbia, if anybody opposed, the Minister of Natural Resources called them foreign-funded radicals.
    With response to safe injection sites, let us understand the process of how these things come to be.
    The initiative starts from a community that is facing an intractable problem like the one in the Downtown Eastside. The facts of the matter are that in terms of lowering the incidence of drug use in our communities, this works. The facts of the matter are that in terms of lowering crime associated with that same drug use in those same communities, this program works. It has been peer-reviewed by 30 different groups. It is supported by the police, by the nurses, and by the doctors. These groups are concerned with the same things that my friend just raised.
    If she does not want to listen to me, that is fine, but she should listen to the groups that have studied this situation. I would also encourage my friend to do as I did and actually visit InSite and talk to the people who work there. She should talk to the clients who go there and to their families. They have seen the success that has happened in this program.
    Is it perfect? No. Does it move us further along? Yes. Is there a better idea in this piece of legislation? Absolutely not. Let us not sacrifice the perfect as we seek the good.
Mr. Frank Valeriote (Guelph, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my friend from Skeena—Bulkley Valley for his thoughtful and informed remarks about InSite.
    During both the campaigns of 2008 and 2011, I had questions asked of me of InSite. People had this impression that it was like people walking into a Holiday Inn and walking up to a bar where they could order drugs and have a wonderful room in which to sit and relax and take their drugs. I had to inform these people that it is not at all what it is like.
    I am taking my friend up on his last comments about visiting InSite and seeing what really goes on there. Perhaps he might tell Canadians the frame of mind that people are in when they go to InSite, what they meet, the welcoming that they have, the opportunities they have for rehabilitation, and all the other things that are afforded those who actually use InSite.
Mr. Nathan Cullen:  
    Mr. Speaker, if we talk to the people who work on the street, the nurses and the social workers, one of the things that they will tell us, and this is clear across Canada, is that getting access to people who are addicted to harmful drugs is one of the most challenging aspects of their work. It is very difficult to access them and get them into those programs, such as the affordable housing programs or the other initiatives that may be coming from the federal government or some of the provincial governments providing health care.
    They cannot get access to people, and one of the reasons InSite has been successful is that ability to at least have the initial conversation. Not everybody is ready at the first invitation to start to move off of a destructive lifestyle, but the conversation starts and the relationship starts.
    There is not a better idea coming from government. It is not even close. All that we see is this, something that is likely unconstitutional and that breaks our charter. I think we can do better. I know we can do better. We can support InSite, not take it to court and spend millions of Canadians' dollars fighting good programs that save lives.
Ms. Megan Leslie (Halifax, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am just going to pick up from where my colleague left off with his answer to a question about the perceived ideas of what a safe injection site is. My colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley talked about getting access to the addicts as being one of the most difficult things for people working in health care, for people working with folks on the street and for people who are trying to reach out to addicts and help them, whether to access health care or addiction services or housing. How do we actually find the addicts? How do we get to them so we can give them the supports they need?
    That is very true in my home community in Halifax. We have this incredible program right now called MOSH, which stands for mobile outreach street health. It is a van with nurses that goes around to where people are. They go to homeless shelters, under bridges and to fields. They go with the van to where they know homeless people are and try to access them and give them some very basic, rough medical attention, and maybe talk to them about the next step. They may talk to them about treatment; there is a doctor down at the North End Community Health Centre. They may talk to them about housing and ask if they know how to access housing. They might connect them to Halifax Housing Help or to Direction 180, which is our methadone clinic in Halifax. Actually having access to people with addictions is a great thing because we can give them the supports they need. We need access to people who are looking to deal with their addiction or become housed or get the health care they need, and safe injection sites are a way to access people with addictions.
    My colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley cited some great statistics about how safe injection sites work, such as InSite in particular, and how people who want support—not everyone—can actually get addiction counselling and can transition to a healthier life where they tackle their addictions. That is something we should be doing as a country and as Canadians. We should be helping. We should be thinking about ways to actually help people with addictions instead of just further marginalizing them and making it harder for them.
    So why are we here talking about Bill C-2? We are here because, in 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada decided that InSite saves lives, that it offers life-saving services and therefore should be exempt from section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the CDSA. I really think judicial decisions are separate from who we are as legislators, but I read that decision and think it was a victory for evidence-based science over ideology. That was 2011. Here we are now at the beginning of 2014 and, unfortunately, I am standing here debating a bill that is a return of that ideology, and it makes me quite sad that we are actually moving backwards.
    This bill is deeply flawed, and it is based on an anti-drug ideology and on fears about public safety that are not necessarily rooted in evidence. The fears are not necessarily real. They are false fears.
    What are these fears? My colleague from Guelph was talking about some of these false fears: people think there are raging addicts going around our communities, who get to go into these posh sites and put their feet up and access drugs, and it is like one-stop shopping for addicts; people think that if there is a safe injection site there will be increased drug use; people think there will be more drug users on the street. When I say “people” I do not mean all people, but those are the false fears that exist. They are false fears that drug users are going to terrorize our children and our communities.
     Why do I say these false fears are out there? It is because on the Conservative Party website we see that the Conservatives are trying to capitalize on these fears. There is this beautiful page, and I say “beautiful” with a heavy dose of sarcasm. It says, “Keep heroin out of our backyards”. It is a fundraising request. People can sign up, and the big donate button is there to donate to the Conservative Party of Canada. There is a picture of a couple of needles on the ground and people milling around. They are not people in fancy dress shoes or high-heeled shoes. It is apparent that these are the shoes of drug dealers; again there is a heavy dose of sarcasm there.

  (1225)  

    It is incredible; it is fearmongering. There is a Facebook site that goes with it. If members have some time and they want to get themselves quite exercised about what state the country is in, they should read those comments. They are comments filled with vitriol and more fearmongering. It is incredible. I pulled one comment that said, “Addiction is not a health problem. Addiction...is stupidity”. The vitriol extends bizarrely into saying the civil service should be gagged and put on the EI line. I do not really know where that comes from, but it is out there. That fearmongering is being fueled by the Conservatives.
    People may say they do not want a safe injection site in their backyards, but I am going to talk about my backyard in Halifax. My office is on Gottingen Street. Gottingen is a beautiful, strong, vibrant street full of community action and community togetherness. I love the street my office is on, but Gottingen Street has its share of social problems. It is a historically poor neighbourhood. There is drug use and sex work in my community. There is a lot of poverty in this community.
    The last time this legislation was up in the House I spoke to it as well. The week before was a riding week and MPs were at home in our constituencies. Just purely by chance that it happened that week, I rode my bike to my office and right on the ground by my bike lock was a needle. I dutifully went inside, got something to pick it up with and took it three doors down to the community heath centre, which has a sharps bin. That is the reality of my community. If my community decides it is better to have a safe injection site, then why can my community not make that decision free of interference and fearmongering from the Conservatives?
    I was chatting with some folks from the Metro Non-Profit Housing Association, which is located across the street from my office. I did not know this, but they told me that it and other community organizations had rallied together to put a sharps container on a street behind my office where there is not a lot of back and forth traffic nor a lot of people, so it turns out to be a place where people do use intravenous drugs. Bushes provide privacy. It is ideal if someone is looking for a place to do something outside the eyes of the public. The association rallied together and said it would put a sharps container behind these buildings because there is so much drug use. At the very least, kids would not be walking around in the midst of needles and having an accident.
    At first I thought that was a great idea. If there are needles, then let us give people a place to put those needles. Then I found out that people were breaking into the sharps container to steal dirty needles. What kind of desperation must one feel to break into a sharps container to steal dirty needles? What kind of low is that individual at? Where is that individual who thinks that is a good idea and acts on it? Where is that individual when he or she acts on that, when that is the reality?
    That is not an awesome thing about my town, but it is real, it exists and it is not going to go away if we just ignore it and do not talk about it. My community says enough is enough. It does not want sharps containers in the café down the street anymore. It does not want sharps containers in all of the community organizations along Gottingen Street. We do not want people shooting up behind the office or behind the health centre. We want to take care of people and offer them the supports they may need. We want to help them if they want to transition away from addiction. Who is to say that we cannot do that?
    I will finish with a quote from the Supreme Court of Canada. “Insite saves lives. Its benefits have been proven.” That speaks volumes.

  (1230)  

Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, having been involved with drug investigations a number of times, I understand where people are coming from with regard to InSite. However, the problem with InSite is not the building per se, but rather that 1.1 grams of heroin cannot be purchased legally in this country. The problem is that it has to be brought to that site in an illegal form to inject it legally within that site. To say that there is no drug dealing going on in east Vancouver or Halifax is really not a fair statement to make because it is still happening. It is just a matter of where the people are injecting.
    The question boils down to this. Within InSite or any of these sites, is there a way that your party would ensure that the drug being purchased is safe, because there is no way of proving that right now, and how would you do that?
The Deputy Speaker:  
    I would ask all members to direct their comments to the Chair and not to other members of Parliament, please.
    The hon. member for Halifax.
Ms. Megan Leslie:  
    Mr. Speaker, that is a good question and it is complicated. This is not easy stuff. It is not black and white. There are a whole lot of shades of grey here, and so we figure it out.
    Yes, there will still be people dealing in drugs if there are safe injection sites. Yes, there will be, but right now there are people dealing in drugs. We have a choice of having a community where there are drug transactions and people dying, or a community where there are drug transactions and maybe not as many people dying. Maybe one person will decide to take advantage of addiction services and will no longer be an addict. If there is just one, I consider that to be a victory.
    It is not simple. I am not standing here saying that we have the magic bullet, that we know exactly how to do this and how it should roll out, but I do know in my heart that the first thing we have to do is try to save people's lives. If that is what safe injection sites do, I am all for them.

  (1235)  

[Translation]

Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, as my colleague said, parents often have concerns about safe injection sites.
    Does my colleague think it is better for a child to see a building without really understanding what goes on inside or to come across an addict shooting up or even a person who died from an overdose in the park where that child plays? Does she think that such activities are better carried out inside a building or in front of a child in a place where parents have no control?
Ms. Megan Leslie:  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her question.
    I would like to give an example of what is happening here in Ottawa. Perhaps that will help alleviate some of the concerns people in our communities have.

[English]

    In Ottawa, Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites and the Drug Users Advocacy League came together and opened a mock injection site, where people from the community could see what it was all about. Instead of fearmongering, with pictures of needles rolling around, they said, “This is what it is. Come and talk to our nurses, health experts and people who think this is a good idea. Come on in and see what it is that happens in here”. People get to see the little kits that would be given to people who access the site. It's a mock site, which helps demystify and dispel the myths, where people can ask questions. We are afraid sometimes, and that is okay. People can go there to ask questions and get educated on the issue instead of just being told that we should live our lives in fear.
    We should get educated on these issues, and the Campaign for Safer Consumption Sites has done a really remarkable thing. Not everybody in Ottawa agrees, but it has created a safe space for debate and discussion, and that is a far cry from what the Conservatives are doing.

[Translation]

Mr. Raymond Côté (Beauport—Limoilou, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the members for Skeena—Bulkley Valley and Halifax for speaking to this issue. I am honoured to join them in talking about this bill, which will have a major and very worrisome impact.
    I will begin with a fact about what happened in Vancouver between 1987 and 1993. The number of overdose-related deaths at the end of that six-year period was 12 times higher than at the beginning.
    That is a spectacular increase over a period of six years. Even if that number had merely doubled, it would still have been a very serious problem.
    However, given the Conservatives' attitude toward this bill, the way they want to deal with the problem of hard drug use, and their attempts to undermine the amazing work done by Vancouver's InSite, it is obvious that they are refusing to face the facts.
    I would like to mention another significant statistic. Since InSite opened, there has been a 35% decrease in overdose deaths. That is a huge success. Of course it is not enough, but it is a big step forward in dealing with a problem that is beyond the control, and against the will, of drug addicts.
    Those are the indisputable facts. They are widely available for anyone to consult. Now, the real debate is about the respect that needs to be shown for the work and the rulings of our courts.
    I would like to remind the House that the B.C. Supreme Court, the B.C. Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada all supported the idea of keeping InSite open because it addresses the dangers related to drug abuse.
    The Supreme Court ruled that the minister's decision to close InSite was in violation of the clients' charter rights and that the decision was:
...arbitrary, undermining the very purposes of the CDSA, which include public health and safety.
     The government’s lack of respect for the country’s courts, a pillar of our society, is a very serious issue. It is troubling because it begs the question of how the public can maintain the same respect for, and especially the same confidence in, one of Canada’s fundamental authorities.
     However, this attitude on the part of the Conservatives comes as no great surprise. In fact, it is very much in keeping with their desire to appeal to their base, as illustrated so clearly in their “Keep heroin out of our backyards” campaign. This approach promotes fear and prejudice and denies reality. All this sorry campaign puts forward as a possible solution is to tell people that in order to guarantee their children’s safety on the streets, it is important to keep drug users out of their neighbourhoods. This is an approach worthy of the Far West.
     At least the Conservatives have not gone so far as to encourage people to get out the tar and feathers to chase away individuals who are much more in need of assistance than stigmatization to free themselves from their drug addiction.

  (1240)  

     The Conservatives refuse to address the problems and face reality. Above all, they refuse to support the people and the organizations that are not afraid to be on the ground and take steps to reach out to people and tackle the root cause of the problems. That is what is truly most important.
     The NDP believes that any legislation must be based on facts, on empirical and objective data. Above all, it must respect the spirit of the courts’ decisions and their interpretation of our fundamental laws.
     Of course, the Canadian Human Rights Act is not perfect. Any piece of legislation, anything created by man, can be made better and can be improved upon. However, when this legislation is used as a frame of reference, especially given that it was passed after major debate and that it is based on experiences in countries around the world, then it serves as a foundational text that puts basic principles to paper.
     If some elected members of this Parliament lack respect, either for the amazing results of this work or especially for the decisions made in the course of interpreting these laws, then in which direction are we heading?
     To cite the Supreme Court decision again, the approach that the government is planning to take with Bill C-2 puts too much arbitrary decision-making power in the hands of the minister. Furthermore, Bill C-2 does not even provide time limits for making a decision on a proposed safe injection site. So, in addition to the minister’s disinclination and the onerous procedures that the organizations wanting to open a safe injection site will have to contend with, they are also going to be facing a wall of silence. This decision will be one that is hidden, arbitrary and hypocritical, because neither Health Canada nor the Minister of Health will be subject to any time limits. They will not have to defend their decisions or justify their point of view about any proposal to establish a safe injection site.
     This is totally unacceptable. It is unacceptable for any of our institutions or any government representatives to subject a single one of our citizens to arbitrary decisions, inaction or silence.
     In conclusion, I would also like to speak briefly about the terms and conditions that would allow the minister to withhold approval of an application to open a safe injection site. They are found in clause 5 of the bill, which is a long list of criteria for refusing the exemption. They are so extraordinary that, taken to the extreme, they could even be yet another way to kill these proposals and put an end to such initiatives.
     It is not even a downstream evaluation of the project, that is, after the proponents and those who have decided to set up these kinds of sites have fulfilled all of the requirements; it is something that happens beforehand. It is tantamount to telling people that they can go ahead and do everything in their power and be as professional as possible, but the government will have made up its mind right from the outset. The six principles mentioned, that I will not take the time to read out loud, go so far that they will stop any proposal in its tracks long before anyone can even start working out the details.

  (1245)  

     I hope that the government members will listen to reason and that for the public good, in the interest of Canadians and for public health in general, the Conservative members will vote against this bill.
Ms. Hélène LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague and those who spoke about this bill earlier.
    The complexity of the situation has been mentioned. However, Canada is recognized as a compassionate nation. With this kind of values in our DNA, we must reflect on how we can do more to help people. As we have already seen, InSite in Vancouver met a desperate need among the population.
    I wonder if my colleague could elaborate on the importance of showing compassion for people who are addicted to hard drugs. This is also a health issue. These places really focus on health.

  (1250)  

Mr. Raymond Côté:  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question.
    This gives me the opportunity to talk about the situation in Quebec City and specifically in my riding, Beauport—Limoilou.
    There has been a debate in Quebec City on the appropriateness of, as well as the concerns and dangers associated with, a safe injection site. Clearly, proponents of the project have faced prejudice and resistance, but they have also faced perfectly reasonable, genuine concerns.
    I had the opportunity to speak directly to people—but more importantly, to listen to people—from certain organizations that provide direct assistance to really vulnerable people. These people are overcoming hardships like drug addiction, and they often need to take substitutes in order to be able to function. As for the will to beat their addiction, they told me that they did not want to take drugs, but they had a problem and they did want to get help.
    However, this requires infrastructure, as well as qualified people who are willing to reach out and provide assistance.
    Getting back to my colleague's question, compassion is probably one of the most important aspects. The government needs to show some compassion, and that is how it must approach this problem.
Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, my question is actually very simple.
    Whenever we talk about supervised injection sites, the subject of parents and protecting children comes up. True, some addicts do come from troubled homes. Others, however, had very good parents who did their level best, but whose children, sadly, became drug addicts for one reason or another.
    Let us put ourselves in the shoes of a parent whose child is a drug addict. Would we not feel better knowing that our child has access to a safe injection site rather than constantly worrying about him shooting up in the streets? He could be assaulted or even die on the street, not to be found until two or three days later. A daughter could be sexually assaulted while under the influence of drugs she used in some backyard.
Mr. Raymond Côté:  
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue did a nice job of summarizing the issue. This is about keeping vulnerable people safe and about the danger they pose to others. Leaving them to their own devices or making them go away shows no compassion or understanding. It is based on prejudice. It is dishonourable. This bill will create and multiply problems, not solve them or help us deal with them.

[English]

Mr. Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay—Superior North, GP):  
    Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to be back in the House today, after the recess, not only as the newest member of the Green caucus of Parliament but also, as of today, as the deputy leader of that party.
    As we know, we are here to talk about Bill C-2, an Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
    It is clear to me, and I believe to at least three-quarters of Canadians, that the party across the way is of the mindset that if a person is poor, or a single mom, or a person of colour, or unemployed, or if the government has unfairly cut off EI, that is that person's fault. That also extends to addictions. If someone is in the unfortunate position of becoming addicted to a substance, all too often caused by the sorts of things I just mentioned, it is entirely his or her fault. Society and the government are not to blame.
     We have a government with a punishment attitude. Empathy is often lacking. Understanding of the root causes is often lacking. For those who fall into that class of society and who the government feels are, pardon the expression, "losers", it is their fault.
    I do not think I can do better than to read some of the recommendations of the Canadian Nurses Association on why Bill C-2 is a bad idea. They state:
    The federal government has the opportunity to create policy founded on the best scientific evidence, while reducing costs to taxpayers, supporting vulnerable members of society, providing essential disease-prevention services and encouraging access to addiction-treatment.
    Given the numerous benefits of [safe injection sites] to public health and safety...
    If I may interject, the Supreme Court has indicated that it agrees with the nurses on this.
...the [Canadian Nurses Association] recommends
    1. that the proposed legislation governing Section 56 amendments to CDSA be withdrawn; and
    2. that it be replaced by legislation that creates favourable conditions for the minister to grant exemptions in communities where evidence indicates that [a safe injection site] stands to decrease death and disease.
    The legislation must
- recognize access to health services as a human right for vulnerable groups;
- be based on the principles of harm reduction;
    It should not cause more harm. It goes on:
- be founded on evidence-based practices in public health;
- be developed in consultation with relevant stakeholders, including people who use injection drugs;
- consider the cost-savings benefits of [safe injection sites] to the Canadian health-care system; and
- provide for reasonable establishment and evaluation periods prior to renewal.
    In addition, [the Canadian Nurses Association] recommends that harm reduction be reinstated as a fourth pillar in Canada’s National Anti-Drug Strategy. [The Canadian Nurses Association] recommends that the auditor general review Canada’s National Anti-Drug Strategy every [decade]. Doing so will not only ensure that the strategy is modified if it is not meeting public health objectives, it will also allow the strategy to integrate recent, effective, evidence-based public health interventions.
    We have heard it said on many issues in this House, such as the environment, Statistics Canada, and now this, that Canada needs to have policies based on evidence and science. Today we have legislation, like this, based on an ideology that if one is rich and powerful, one is a winner. The government picks winners. If a person is a loser, it is his or her fault.

  (1255)  

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague and caucus mate for bringing forward some additional points on the ideology that underpins the bill. I spoke to it before the recess.
    One of the things I find most distressing about Bill C-2 is that it is a disguised attempt to bring in, by stealth, measures that would defeat the purpose the Supreme Court of Canada threw back to Parliament to meet, which was to ensure that the security of the person is protected.
    There are more than 40 different so-called conditions before a clinic for harm reduction can be opened in a community, including some that are practically impossible. For example, before they are even able to get permission to open such a clinic, they have to provide the background, resumé, and educational qualifications of the people they plan to hire. This is not a reasonable set of conditions.
    I certainly have a lot of sympathy with the idea that a community where an InSite harm reduction, needle exchange program facility would open, such as the one that exists in Vancouver, should be consulted. My view is that Bill C-2 is not a set of conditions for consulting a community. It is a set of conditions for defeating the instructions of the Supreme Court of Canada by stealth.
    I wonder how the hon. member feels a community should be engaged in these decisions.

  (1300)  

Mr. Bruce Hyer:  
    Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands that safe injection sites should not go everywhere. They should not go anywhere. There should be community involvement by all the stakeholders. There should be thoughtful, evidence-based decisions based on some clear criteria.
    As my hon. colleague has pointed out, at least some of the members of the current governing party, not all, but many, and especially those at the top, do not believe in democracy. They do not really want to listen to the Supreme Court on several issues. We can think of others, I am sure. They are really not interested in a fair voting system. They are not interested in a fair system of parliamentary democracy at all. They are ideologically driven. They are bound and determined to do whatever it takes to gain control and push their own ideological agenda.
Mrs. Carol Hughes (Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, the numbers speak for themselves with respect to why the funding should continue for InSite injection clinics. The rate of overdose deaths in east Vancouver has dropped by 35% since InSite opened.
    It is about the health and safety of people and the well-being of communities. Those who use InSite services at least once a week were 1.7 times more likely to enrol in a detox program than those who visited infrequently.
    Over and over we have heard that it is about the well-being of the community, about the well-being of the person, and about trying to get people into programs so that they can get out of their dependencies.
    Does the member think that by removing the funding and not allowing these InSite programs the problem will go away, or will it get worse?
Mr. Bruce Hyer:  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hard-working member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing for her good question.
    It is very clear that this will not be a cost-saving measure. It is very clear to anyone with a brain that doing that kind of draconian thing and forcing people eventually into our prison system, at a cost of $80,000 to $120,000 per year per person, is a really dumb thing to do.
Mr. Jamie Nicholls (Vaudreuil—Soulanges, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, today we find ourselves debating Bill C-2, a bill that has been given a pet name by the Conservative government that really does not speak to what the bill is about.
    I would like to start off with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. who once said:
    Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
     I would like to ask each member in this House a question. How many people in this House have actually met and spoken with drug addicts? How many people have been witness to neighbourhoods affected by drug addiction and poverty? How many people would prefer to steer away from these areas? These are pertinent questions to put to the House today.
     I remember vividly when I was living on the west coast. I would take weekend visits to Vancouver to visit friends in the Strathcona neighbourhood. I remember walking down streets like Hastings and Cordova during the winter of 1995 and seeing people huddled on doorsteps, people who might have been dead. The rate of overdoses that winter was horrible. One could walk the streets and literally see people dying on the streets. It was devastating.
    In the media at the time, figures such as drug enforcement staff sergeant Jack Dop could see the problems that were hitting the streets in Vancouver. They were saying that we had to do something about it. They could see how this scourge was affecting the community, because it was not controlled. It was uncontrolled.
    I should point out that at the time, in 1995, the Chrétien regime had instituted cutbacks and a reorganization of Transport Canada that affected the coast guard and ports. It might have been a coincidence that shipments of heroin from Asia increased at our ports during that time of reorganization and cutbacks. It might have been a coincidence, or it might have been related. That is for the House to decide.
    This is a complex issue. We know that drugs exist in our communities, that people use drugs. As responsible legislators, we have to respond to this problem in a responsible manner.
    I asked before if anyone in this House has known a drug addict. I asked that question because I have known a drug addict. I knew a guy named Johnny. He stayed with us in Victoria for a couple of months. He was a tree planter. He was a very hard worker, and he was a recovering heroin addict. He had been clean for four or five months, and he had been planting trees in the interior of British Columbia. He worked hard. He was a funny guy and a nice guy. He could play a mean guitar and cook a great meal. We had lots of laughs with Johnny. He was a nice guy, a human being.
    Now at the time I met John in 1994, we were living in a poor neighbourhood. It was the North Park neighbourhood in Victoria. It was a pretty rough-and-tumble, poor neighbourhood. It attracted all types of people: students, artists, and coincidentally, drug addicts.
    I know that John eventually went back to using, and I lost track of him. He got swallowed up by drugs. He ended up back on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. I do not know what happened to him. I do wonder if during that winter of 1995 John was one of those people on the doorsteps who had overdosed and died because there was pure heroin and there was no one there to take care of them.
    This is a human story. This was a good guy with a bad habit. There are a lot of good people out there who have bad habits, and they need our help. They need us to stand up for them. That is why we need places like InSite.
    Ten years later, when I was doing my graduate studies at UBC, I worked with communities in the Downtown Eastside, primarily in the child care community. I talked to people in that community. They said that their fear was needles in parks and needles found in child care centres. InSite was responding to things like that. InSite was keeping these neighbourhoods safe, because it was centralizing the problem, and it was controlled.

  (1305)  

    This legislation would promote unsupervised drug consumption sites. They do exist. There are flophouses in communities. They pass under the radar because they are not official. They are drug dens. They could be anywhere in our communities and could pop up anywhere.
    InSite creates a centre that is legitimate, controlled, and visible in the community, rather than unsupervised drug consumption sites, which I would contend the government is promoting by trying to make it more difficult for supervised ones to open.
     “Keep heroin out of our backyards” is the slogan of Conservative national campaign manager Jenni Byrne. She thinks it is pretty clever. I do not think it is clever. I think it is irresponsible policy on the part of the government to make it more difficult for supervised injection sites to open.
    I do not think the bill would eradicate heroin from people's backyards. If we do not have supervised drug sites, we would have unsupervised ones, which I think could be more chaotic, dangerous and have greater criminal elements attached to them. Since they are not controlled or supervised, those criminal elements could flourish.
    We need a responsible way to frame these afflicted communities and to help them.
    The current government often talks about safe streets and communities. I think InSite contributes to safe streets and communities. As I said, maybe my friend John was one of those who overdosed. If he had been able to go to InSite, then maybe when he had a reaction the people supervising him could have seen that and contacted medical authorities to help him out.
    In terms of needles in parks and schoolyards, at least when people are injecting on those sites the needles are taken care of. They are not discarded next to a swing set at a child care centre or in a public park. It is controlled. It is supervised. That is the whole idea around it.
    When something like InSite is created, it is a community coming together to say they have to find a solution to this problem. We have addicts in our communities and they need help. They need medical help. They might need psychological help. They might need clean works. A place like InSite provides that. It is a step in a community's deciding to better its environment, not worsen it.
    I think this policy is playing a lot on people's fears. They are people who have never met drug addicts and are afraid to talk with people with these problems. As a society we all have to work together to solve these problems. We have to talk to drug addicts. We have to work with them. We have to create points of contact with these people. Otherwise, it goes under the radar and we end up with unsupervised flophouses and drug dens. The criminal element is allowed to flourish because we do not want to deal with it.
    By creating places like InSite, we have a point of contact where we start to deal with these problems and with complex questions like the hon. member from the interior of British Columbia asked about. It was a good and pertinent question. However, if we back up and move away from places like InSite, I do not think we are going to ask those important questions complex questions about drug addiction and drug importation in this country.
    Through InSite, we can start to discuss these questions. This legislation has offered a chance to debate this issue, and I look forward to questions from my colleagues on the other side concerning this. I do not think we can put on blinders and say that hard drug use in our society is going to go away if we do not do anything about it. Nobody wants a flophouse or a drug den or a crack house next to their house. If you ask anybody in Canada, they would not want that.
    InSite creates a community point of contact where these people can get help, be supervised, and where they can be kept healthy. It is a good positive step in the right direction. There is always room for improvement, but we have to start somewhere.

  (1310)  

Ms. Roxanne James (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I keep hearing from the NDP that InSite is meant to help people get off of drugs and be no longer dependent, but I have yet to see or hear any statistics which actually show that addicts who have gone to this site have chosen to get treatment, no longer live a life of dependence and have stopped contributing to the illegal drug industry and trafficking in Canada.
    Would the member have any statistics to prove that people who use needles to feed their addiction have instead sought the help, are no longer dependent, are free from drugs and are contributing to society and not contributing to supporting the illegal drug industry?

  (1315)  

Mr. Jamie Nicholls:  
    Mr. Speaker, that is the hope of all Canadians, that people who are addicted to hard drugs such as heroin or crack cocaine should seek help to kick their habit and become responsible contributing members of society. All Canadians hope for that.
    We are saying that places like InSite offer the opportunity for them to do that. They are public points of contact, supervised and official. We can actually gather those statistics through working with that community. This is opposed to having unsupervised drug places in society; no one will be able to monitor whether anyone is getting better or kicking their habit. By having places like InSite, we have the opportunity to work with that community to see if we can help them.
    In all cases, our hope would be that these people would want to quit using drugs. That is everyone's hope. The reality is that there are so many steps to get to that point and that addiction is a complex issue. Speaking to addicts and seeing their struggles, hardships, and the complexities of their lives, it is not just a one-shot solution, where we build a centre and they will be cured. It does not work that way because drug addiction is a complex issue; it is not a simple issue. However, we have to start working on a multifaceted approach. Places like InSite are a good start. It is not a be-all and end-all solution.
Hon. Mauril Bélanger (Ottawa—Vanier, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am standing to comment on the question by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. I have some information that she has been looking for about InSite in particular.
    InSite has generated the highest intake of people wanting to get on a program to wean themselves off whatever illegal substance they are consuming. As the members for Vaudreuil-Soulanges and Skeena—Bulkley Valley said, it is the point of first contact. It is not necessarily at the first contact that this is taken up, but it has worked. The take-up of people who have a dependency on illegal drugs in Vancouver is the highest by far from InSite.
    The parliamentary secretary may want to take that under advisement because that aspect of the program is working very well.
Mr. Jamie Nicholls:  
    Mr. Speaker, InSite created an opportunity for researchers to look at this, so there are statistics. Dr. Tyndall and a group of other researchers, in 2005, did a study over a one-year period and produced a report in 2006. They found that there were 273 overdoses at InSite and none of them resulted in a fatality. Over that year, 2,171 referrals were made for InSite users to addiction counselling or other support services. InSite created the ability for researchers to monitor and to benchmark the program to see if it was working. They found that it was successful. By having sites like these we can work with this community to learn how to conquer addiction and help people move on with their lives without drugs.

[Translation]

Ms. Hélène LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to extend to you, to all my colleagues and to my constituents in the riding of LaSalle—Émard my best wishes for health, happiness and solidarity in the new year.
    Before turning my attention to the proposed legislation to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which the Conservatives have dubbed the Respect for Communities Act, I would like to quote a firsthand account recently published in the Globe and Mail:

  (1320)  

[English]

    As I watch the daily circus and the madness surrounding Mayor Rob Ford, I envy the people of Toronto, who get to watch this on television, read it in the newspaper and listen to it on the radio. They quack about it on Facebook and laugh about it on their daily travels. I envy them because they can change the channel, stop talking about it or turn it off. In my life this is not an option.
    My daughter is 23 and she has been an addict, in one form or another, for seven years.
    She has snorted drugs, shot them in her arm, smoked them and taken pills. She has had her own version of the “drunken stupor,” and she has even been found with vital signs absent by paramedics.
    Contrasted to this is the very bizarre fact that our daughter is also a university student who pulls A grades in every subject. What she desperately wants is to be well.
    The family, if the addict still has a family intact, is swallowed whole and suffers immeasurably.

[Translation]

     On reading this account, I feel compassion for this mother who goes through this tragedy every day, a tragedy that affects the entire family, even though I cannot fully comprehend this family’s suffering or the suffering of an individual addicted to hard drugs.
     Compassion is a value Canadians hold dear. We live in a country with a harsh climate, as today’s weather attests. The population is spread over a vast area. Communities have always survived by helping each other through difficult situations. Similarly, Europeans shared with and forged mutually beneficial ties with First Nations.
     Canada therefore became a country in which communities forged close ties with one another. I am fortunate to represent the closely knit community of LaSalle—Émard, where a wide range of community groups and volunteer associations never ask whether they should assist those in need or why they need help. They simply roll up their sleeves and extend a helping hand.
     Addiction to hard drugs is a complex problem, as my colleagues noted earlier. In Vancouver an innovative approach was developed to help hard drug addicts.
     This innovative approach helps persons struggling with hard drug addictions by providing them with a safe place where they can survive. Addicts are given a helping hand and directed to services that hopefully will help them overcome an addiction that slowly kills them.
     InSite also has associated benefits, so to speak. By providing drug users with a safe injection site, this service also keeps the neighbouring community safer. As was pointed out, public places are kept free of drug addicts and their syringes. This also helps provide the health care that is so important to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and to give people the help they need.
     The current bill would amend the legislation that regulates certain drugs and other substances, but primarily it would affect the way in which supervised injection facilities can be set up. First there was the non-renewal of InSite’s licence, and then there was the ruling handed down by the Supreme Court of Canada on the matter. What happened? The government decided to challenge the Supreme Court ruling and then to comply with it, more or less, by introducing this bill.
     This decision and the proposed policy in Bill C-2 garnered a variety of responses. I will mention a few, as follows:

  (1325)  

[English]

    It's difficult to imagine a more cynical and dangerous response to a unanimous Supreme Court ruling that Ottawa has a constitutional duty to protect Canadians than the...government's Respect for Communities Act announced Thursday.

[Translation]

     They say that the government, through Bill C-2, also called the “Respect for Communities Act”, is providing a very cynical and dangerous response. The government must protect all of its citizens. What is even more dangerous is the partisan way in which the current government has exploited such a situation. I will continue with the quotation:

[English]

    As [the former] Health Minister...was holding a press conference to announce details of the act that sets conditions for new safe injection sites, the Conservative party was emailing its faithful to organize opposition to such facilities.

[Translation]

     How can the Conservatives be so partisan when it comes to a safe site that—hopefully—helps improve the health of people who are addicted to hard drugs?
     How can they be so cavalier in opposing a unanimous Supreme Court ruling and propose insurmountable barriers that will allow the federal health minister to strike down any initiatives that could improve the lives of people who need them so badly? This is why the NDP will vote against Bill C-2 as it currently stands. We should show compassion and extend a helping hand to these people.

  (1330)  

[English]

Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I come back to the problem that the issue is not InSite itself. The issue is the fact that one cannot purchase one gram of heroin in our country legally. As a result, anyone who goes out to purchase heroin anywhere does not really know what they are getting. They assume that what they are getting is between 65% and 70% pure heroin, but if they were to get 90% they would be in big trouble.
    Therefore, I go back to my continuing question. I would like to hear what the opposition's solution is with regard to heroin itself. There is no arguing that InSite in its present form in East Vancouver is there to assist, but it does not control what is coming in. It cannot. It is not possible for that to happen. Therefore, what is her party's solution from the perspective of controlling heroin that comes into InSite for injection?

[Translation]

Ms. Hélène LeBlanc:  
    Mr. Speaker, these questions have been raised a number of times by the government member. He is not addressing any of the facts relating to Bill C-2.
    With this bill, the government seeks to put up barriers to an innovative solution that would enable our cities and the rest of Canada to make a meaningful effort to tackle the problem of addiction to hard drugs. This solution would offer people with addictions a safe place where they can receive services that would help them. We must acknowledge this fact. This bill seriously hinders the establishment of supervised injection facilities.
Mr. Marc-André Morin (Laurentides—Labelle, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, when my colleague talks about people who suffer from addictions, I note that she refers to them as if they were persons. They are indeed human beings.
    On the other side of the House, it appears that they wish to take away their status as human beings by using terms such as “addict”. If we can show compassion for a mayor who smokes crack and gets drunk on bourbon at City Hall, we should also show a little bit of concern for people who have taken a wrong turn somewhere in their lives and who perhaps really want to overcome their drug addiction, instead of just giving press conferences.
Ms. Hélène LeBlanc:  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments.
    I want to point out that InSite is recognized internationally. My colleague from Vaudreuil—Soulanges called this facility a safe point of contact. The facility will then make it easier for us to understand this very complex issue.
    We would rather not see people addicted to hard drugs. However, it is a reality, and InSite helps us to better understand this reality. This is how we will be able to find long-term solutions.
    This bill will prevent us from better understanding how this problem develops and will prevent more sites like this from opening in Canada. It will prevent us from answering the call for help from individuals and families struggling with an addiction to hard drugs.
    [Disturbance in gallery]

  (1335)  

[English]

Mr. Peter Julian (Burnaby—New Westminster, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, the gentleman in the gallery was saying “save Canada Post”. I can tell the House that at the town hall meeting I had last week, a hundred citizens in my riding were saying exactly the same thing. A lot of Canadians are very concerned about the government's mean-spirited destruction of Canada Post—
    [Disturbance in gallery]
    Mr. Peter Julian: Mr. Speaker, citizens are concerned about Canada Post—
    [Disturbance in gallery]
Mr. Peter Julian:  
    Mr. Speaker, for those citizens concerned about the Canada Post closures and Canada becoming the only G7 country without home mail delivery, the NDP is putting forward a motion that every MP will be voting on later this week, asking the government to maintain home service delivery. It is in the interests of Canada and communities across this country. However, we will be speaking about that in question period and in the days to come.
    Today, we are called upon to speak on Bill C-2, which is called an act to amend the controlled drugs and substances act, but should more rightfully be called an act to shut down InSite. Members will recall that the Conservative government wanted to shut down InSite. The Supreme Court justices, who are appointed to maintain the rule of law, said no, that it was not in the public interest.
    Now we have Conservatives coming back with a mean-spirited bill that attempts to do exactly the same thing. On this side of the House, within the NDP caucus, we say no to that. We stand with most British Columbians, who believe that InSite should be maintained. Why? Because the scientific evidence very clearly points to the importance of InSite.
    I grew up in the Lower Mainland. I can recall a time in the early 1990s when we saw a tragic skyrocketing of overdose deaths to over 200 people a year. That is 200 individuals. Conservatives might call them addicts, but many Canadians knew them as fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. These family members were passing away at an alarming rate. InSite was a reaction from the community to put in place a controlled injection site so that we could bring down the number of tragic overdose deaths.
    InSite has succeeded remarkably. The number of overdose deaths has decreased by more than 35%. That is an extremely important statistic to know. More importantly, InSite is keeping heroin off the streets and keeping it in a controlled injection site. Study after study has pointed out very clearly that the number of discarded syringes has decreased in the Downtown Eastside and in parts of the Lower Mainland as a result of InSite. Studies show that over 2,000 referrals to addiction counselling are being made every year. In fact, the rate of those who are looking at addiction treatment and who go to InSite is more than twice the average of those who do not go to InSite. What this means, in a very real sense, is that InSite is the first door and the first hallway into addiction treatment programs.
    The Conservative government has been equally irresponsible when it comes to addiction treatment and crime prevention programs. What we have seen under the Conservative government are severe cutbacks in addiction treatments and crime prevention programs. What we have is a Conservative government that just does not seem to get the importance that communities place on putting in place effective crime prevention measures and effective addiction treatment measures. InSite is part of that process of finding solutions.
    Many of my colleagues in the NDP caucus have spoken very eloquently. We have yet to hear from a Conservative on this issue, at least this year. The Conservatives will ask questions designed to take us away from this issue of InSite, for the simple reason that most British Columbians support it. They have yet to comment on the very compelling statistics and evidence of the success of InSite.
    A very compelling result of the success of InSite is the fact that we are now talking about dozens of similar sites around the world, particularly in places like Australia and Europe. There we are seeing the model of InSite, which of course was modelled on other similar facilities, going into other communities. Why is that happening? It is happening because of what comes from having that type of controlled injection facility.

  (1340)  

    As I mentioned earlier, there are fewer addicts. I go through the Downtown Eastside and past InSite regularly, including last Saturday. So I can see first hand, as a resident of the lower mainland and someone who grew up there, the difference it has made to the Downtown Eastside. There are fewer addicts shooting up in the streets around the area in the Downtown Eastside. There are fewer discarded syringes.
    What this has done is to take heroin off the streets to a certain extent. Instead of trying to shut down InSite, many cities in Canada are looking at the possibility of establishing an InSite-type facility. Because of Bill C-2, they cannot seriously look at doing that because, very clearly, the Conservative government, instead of looking at solutions and harm reduction and at expanding addiction treatment and crime prevention programs and allowing, as the Supreme Court very clearly said, a controlled injection site like InSite to exist, is endeavouring instead to shut down InSite by bringing forward Bill C-2.
    Canadians, certainly in my area of the Lower Mainland, who have followed the debate, very clearly express support for InSite. Polls show that over 80% of the residents of the Downtown Eastside support InSite. They are the ones who are closest to it. A few minutes ago my colleague from Vaudreuil-Soulanges very eloquently mentioned that the Conservatives need to understand the neighbourhood and the situation before they start putting forward legislation based purely on ideology. There is no doubt about that. The reality is that those closest to InSite support it, some 80%. Most British Columbians support it.
    That is not all. Let us look at some of the world's most prestigious medical journals that have looked at the issue of InSite and controlled injection sites and have seen the medical benefits and the harm reduction benefits that come from having a site such as InSite: the New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, the British Medical Journal. This is not a question where one member of Parliament should express his or her personal opinion compared to another member of Parliament's. All members of Parliament are called upon to look at the evidence, to look at the medical professionals and what they say. When the New England Journal of Medicine, the British Medical Journal and The Lancet all say there is real merit in the harm reduction approach embodied in facilities such as InSite, one would think that the Conservatives would be willing to listen, rather than pushing forward what is a very narrow-minded ideology and attacking addiction treatment programs and crime prevention programs. Those things are terrific investments of taxpayer money, because if we spend one dollar on crime prevention or addiction treatment programs, we are saving six dollars later on in policing, court, and prison costs. So it makes a lot of sense from the taxpayers' standpoint to put in place a process and a philosophy where we are saving taxpayer money and stopping the crime from occurring in the first place.
    The Conservative government has gutted crime prevention and addiction treatment, and now we see it attacking InSite. It makes no sense at all, except when we look at what the Conservatives have done since they introduced the bill. My colleague from Halifax was very eloquent in this regard: “Keep heroin out of our backyards”. The Conservatives have been using this as a fundraising tactic, which is absolutely reprehensible. The reality for anyone who knows the issue is that what the government is doing in shutting down InSite is putting heroin back on the streets of the Downtown Eastside. By shutting down InSite, there would be more syringes in children's playgrounds throughout the Downtown Eastside and throughout the Lower Mainland. There would be more overdose deaths as a result of the current government's mean-spirited drive to shut down InSite. The reality is that there would be fewer addicts looking for addiction treatment programs, because one thing that is clear from every study that has been done on InSite is that addicts are more likely to go into addiction treatment and counselling if they can go to a supervised injection site. It is a two for one proposition: there is twice the possibility they will look for treatment.
    That is why, on the basis of evidence, the NDP is voting against this bill.

  (1345)  

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on a point with regard to InSite.
    Stakeholders from all areas became engaged in developing and promoting and putting this program in place, whether the national government back in 2003, provincial governments, municipal governments, local police forces, first alert attendants and users. A strong push was made for it. The community itself was consulted.
    InSite has been in place for over 10 years now and the results have been outstanding in their positive impact. The very same stakeholders who helped put it in place are now saying that it has really saved lives and added value to the community in many different ways. Surrounding communities are finding fewer needles on the street and the community is safer. It seems to be an all-win proposition.
    In listening to some of the Conservative debate the issue, it would seem to me that they are opposed to safe injection sites period.
Mr. Peter Julian:  
    Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt that the Conservatives are now making a concealed attempt to shut down InSite, having seen how they have acted in the past in trying to shut it down and when the Supreme Court of Canada clearly said that it would be irresponsible to do so.
    I cannot tell the House what a difference InSite has made to the Downtown Eastside. Being a long-time resident of the Lower Mainland, I will go back in history. It was when the former Liberal government callously destroyed the national housing program that we started to see overdose deaths skyrocketing in the Downtown Eastside. We have seen under both Liberal and Conservative governments very meanspirited policies that have helped to contribute to what has been an appalling abuse of the public.
    The reason we are opposing Bill C-2 and are promoting such things as housing being put back in the hands of the public is that we understand that we have to build stronger communities to tackle issues like drug addiction.

  (1350)  

[Translation]

Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have a two-part question for my colleague.
    The first part of the question is a little sarcastic. I would like to know whether the roles have been reversed in 2014. Since we have resumed debate on Bill C-2, we do not seem to be hearing the Conservative government's position, even though it introduced this bill. On a few rare occasions, a Conservative member rises to ask a question about our suggestions to support an organization like InSite. I get the impression that we are ready to govern and they are ready to cede power.
    More seriously, does the member think that an organization like InSite is the first step towards rehabilitation and, eventually, reintegration into the workforce for drug addicts?
Mr. Peter Julian:  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Trois-Rivières for the question. He exhibits considerable leadership by saying that the NDP is ready to take up the reins of government. In fact, our party is proving itself up to that task every day by its statements in the House.
    The truth is very clear. On looking at the statistics, we note that in a one-year period, over 2,000 users of InSite were directed to counselling services. This has already made a difference. In the case of persons with access to InSite, twice as many addicts go on to follow a drug treatment program as compared to those without access. There is no question that this program is working.
     What I find interesting about the last comment by my colleague from Trois-Rivières is that the Conservatives do not have the guts to rise and defend their bill. This bill is indefensible. It is a bad bill.
Ms. Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe (Pierrefonds—Dollard, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to categorically voice my opposition to Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. That is what the bill’s title says, but if we read a little further, we see that this bill is really a completely incredible ideological stand against supervised injection sites. In fact, this is not the first time the government has tried to abolish this sort of site.
    InSite is one such site that currently exists in Canada. Much has been said about InSite during the course of this debate. In 2008, it was denied, to some extent, the right to exist because of legislation governing drugs and other substances.
    The government tried to put InSite out of business. The matter ended up before the Supreme Court, and InSite was ultimately granted the right to operate. The court recognized that it provided valuable services and called on the government to relax the rules to allow sites such as this to operate and provide much-needed services to the public.
     Today is a sad day because we are reopening the whole debate. This bill is nothing short of another attempt to shut down facilities such as InSite. By calling for incredible regulations and requirements, it attempts to discourage people who might want to open this kind of site or offer these kinds of services. Instead of making it easier for sites that have proven their worth to operate — and I will talk more about that later — the Conservatives have decided to hold obstinately to a certain ideology and to try once again to shut down this debate and dismiss such options.
     I have listened to several of my colleagues’ speeches, and I have heard some rather absurd comments. One Conservative parliamentary secretary expressed concern about the market value of buildings in proximity to any supervised injection sites that could open. If this is the government’s main priority, then we can understand their ideological opposition. Never mind that property values may be affected. We are talking about services that save lives. That is the priority. Quite frankly, if our focus shifts to matters like property values, we are all losers and it is clear that we are not on the same page.
    I would like to talk about something that happened in my riding and that is reminiscent of the kinds of arguments I heard from the parliamentary secretary. An agency was providing care for people with intellectual disabilities, and not just care, but supervised apartments. The agency had to rebuild completely after there was a fire and the site was inadequate. It faced opposition from the people in the neighbourhood. When the plan was announced, the neighbours were worried that people with mental health problems would be moving in. They were afraid for the value of their homes and the safety of their children.
     The city could very well have cultivated their fear to show them it was on their side and could have banned any initiative to provide supervised apartments for these people.
     In politics, of course, the easy option is always to use, foster and inflame people’s fear in order to prove them right and put an end to a plan, without even examining the facts and the benefits.
     Instead, these people sat down, they knocked on doors, and they talked to the residents with reservations to try to change their minds, to provide them with the right information and the facts. Finally, after much consultation and consensus building, the Centre Bienvenue opened its doors. It now provides services for dozens of individuals who need care. People were able to work together to implement these essential services.
     Surely members can see the parallel I am drawing with this debate on Bill C-2. The Conservatives could have given information to the people who are afraid of having supervised injection sites in their neighbourhood and shared with them the facts, the statistics, the successes and even neighbourhoods’ level of satisfaction with having a supervised injection site close by. Instead, the Conservatives are taking the easy way out, the cowardly way out, if I may say. They are cultivating people’s fear and supporting their ideological opposition by putting forward draft legislation like Bill C-2.

  (1355)  

     I heard another peculiar argument during this debate: according to many Conservatives, supervised injection sites encourage the use of hard drugs. It is unbelievable that we hear these kinds of comments even though there are many studies, whose validity has been proven, that show the opposite is true. The people who go to these sites will go on to detox and are followed by social workers who try to help them reduce their drug use.
     When we help school dropouts by providing them with services, are we encouraging students to drop out of school? Of course not. Nobody would say that, because it has been proven and it has been accepted for a long time that young people have problems in school. Rather than ignoring them and throwing them out of our school system, we involve them and offer them appropriate services.
     I could give a number of other examples of agencies in my riding, such as the À ma baie youth centre and the La corde centre, that offer motivation and support programs. They do an exceptional job, and I would like to commend them for it.
     I heard another strange comment: that safety would be at risk in these neighbourhoods. Some Conservatives on the other side of this House believe that supervised injection sites jeopardize the safety of children and the safety of the neighbourhood. Once again, the opposite is true and it has been proven.
     I will continue my speech after question period, and I look forward to it.

  (1400)  

The Deputy Speaker:  
    The hon. member will have three minutes and twenty seconds to finish her speech.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

L'Isle-Verte

Mr. Jean-François Fortin (Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, when we experience a tragedy like this, there are simply no words. All we can do is lean on one another and know that we are not alone. Tragedies have a strange way of bringing us closer together. When our constituents suffer, we do as well. Every week, as I return to my riding, I go through the tiny town of L'Isle-Verte, along the lower St. Lawrence. There, you can smell the salty air and breathe it in. It really is beautiful.
    I find it hard to accept that now, as I go through this town that was struck by a horrible tragedy that no one should ever have to experience, I will be thinking about this terrible event that has wounded and left a mark on this beautiful community.
    No, when people think of L'Isle-Verte, I do not want them to think of this fire that caused the death of far too many seniors who did so much for Quebec society. I want them to think of the solidarity, friendship, dedication and courage of the women and men who, day after day, are trying to clean up the devastation, console others, mourn and pay tribute to the missing. That is what I will think of as I go through L'Isle-Verte.
    On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I offer my condolences to all of the families affected and to the entire community of L'Isle-Verte.

[English]

John Ross Matheson

Mr. Gordon Brown (Leeds—Grenville, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am saddened today to note the passing on December 27 of the hon. John Ross Matheson, retired judge and former member of Parliament for the riding of Leeds, which is now part of my riding.
    Born in 1917 and injured in World War II, Mr. Matheson became a respected and successful lawyer in Brockville. He was elected to the House of Commons in 1961. Three years later, his knowledge of heraldry landed him an important role on the flag committee. It was his introduction of the red maple leaf with two bars, an idea that was presented to him by Royal Military College Dean of Arts George Stanley, and his insistence on the precise colours of red and white that gave us the flag we so proudly fly today.
    Called the father of the Canadian flag, John also played a key role in the establishment of the Order of Canada and saw many other accomplishments in his careers and personal life.
    On behalf of all members and all Canadians, I extend the deepest condolences to his surviving family.

[Translation]

Family Literacy Day

Mrs. Sadia Groguhé (Saint-Lambert, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to speak on this Family Literacy Day, which is a Canada-wide initiative that has been going on for 15 years now. It is an excellent opportunity for parents to introduce their children to the pleasure of reading and writing.
    Let us not forget the democratic aspect of teaching these fundamental skills. Everyone must have the opportunity to understand the world and form their own opinions. I urge all Canadian families to take some time today to visit a library or a literacy organization to promote reading in their community.
    I also want to acknowledge the volunteers who are devoted to the cause of literacy across the country, including in French Canada. I thank the Fédération canadienne pour l'alphabétisation en français, the Table des responsables de l'éducation des adultes et de la formation professionnelle des commissions scolaires du Québec, and Collège Frontière for their hard work. I invite all my colleagues to promote literacy in their ridings.

[English]

Evelyn Onofryszyn

Mr. Blaine Calkins (Wetaskiwin, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a community leader who will be greatly missed. Evelyn Onofryszyn passed away peacefully on December 20, 2013, surrounded by her family.
    I came to know the passion Evelyn had for the Eckville community as we crossed paths at various events and functions. In fact, during my first trip through Eckville in my first campaign, I was taken straight to meet Evelyn at Blindman Valley Propane Co-op, a place she managed for 40 years, retiring just last year at the tender age of 78.
    Evelyn was a dedicated member of the Eckville Hospital Board, Eckville Manor House Board, the local 4-H chapter, the Eckville Chamber of Commerce; a passionate member of the St. Paul's Presbyterian Church and so many other community groups and initiatives. In fact, if there was something going on or a need in Eckville, one only had to go to Evelyn to get things started.
    Evelyn gave her best to her community. Unlike most people, she wanted all the benefits to go to those around her. She kept none for herself. Her daughters wrote in the obituary that Evelyn was known to be gracious, diligent, capable, ambitious, wise and a role model for many.
    I want to extend my deepest condolences to Evelyn's daughters, Elaine, Sharon, Noreen and Karen; her brothers, Jack and Mark; her sister, Helen; and all of the grandchildren and great grandchildren; our best.

  (1405)  

Douglas Sheppard

Mr. Scott Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House of Commons to pay tribute and to recognize an outstanding citizen, Newfoundlander and Canadian, Douglas Sheppard of Gander, who passed away on December 25, 2013, at the age of 86.
    Doug was a very well known, well respected member of our community, who will be forever remembered for his commitment and dedication to the town of Gander. He was first elected to council in 1969, serving as councillor and deputy mayor. In 1981 he was elected mayor and served until 1993. He served on many boards and committees, including the Gander and Canadian chambers of commerce, the Gander International Airport Authority and Gander Lodge 16.
    Doug was presented with a lifetime achievement award from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2003.
    Doug loved playing cards, especially with his grandchildren. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and dear friend. In a word, he was a gentleman, a kind and giving person who was always there to lend a helping hand to those in need.
    Doug Sheppard was a man who will be dearly missed by us all.

Business

Hon. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, Bloomberg has just released its ranking of the best countries in the world for doing business, and it is big news for Canadians. Our country jumped from sixth place to second. Canada is now challenging Hong Kong for the top spot.
    Canada's total business tax costs are the lowest in the G7. In fact, they are more than 40% lower than in the U.S. Why is this big news for Canadians? It is because businesses are a country's job and wealth creators. The more we leave in the hands of entrepreneurs, investors, business people and workers, the more they can create economic growth and jobs that benefit all citizens.
    The economic action plan introduced by our first-class Minister of Finance is opening the way to tremendous opportunity for Canadians. It is a blueprint for our long-term prosperity and for maintaining our enviable quality of life.
    The world recognizes our success.

Employment

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I and my constituents were deeply concerned to learn of the closure of the Kellogg's cereal plant in London. This is yet another devastating blow to the community and will result in another 550 jobs lost from the area.
    The Conservative approach to the manufacturing sector is broken. That is confirmed by the abysmal job numbers. Londoners know this first-hand, especially when we look at the government's own data. Since November 2006, there are 11,300 fewer manufacturing and food processing jobs in London and 2,600 more unemployed workers.
    As with the Heinz factory, set to close later this year, we are placing families, our farmers and our cities in a precarious position. Farmers produce the food, and people in the cities manufacture it. When we lose the manufacturing plants, we put everyone at risk. It is an economic and food security gamble that benefits no one.
    We need a government willing to protect the jobs of our citizens, whether they live on a farm or in a city. Only then can we ensure a strong rural and urban Canada.

Winter Olympic Games

Mr. Dan Albas (Okanagan—Coquihalla, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, in less than two weeks' time, the world will be going to Sochi for the Olympic Winter Games.
    Among our contingent of proud Canadian athletes will be three Olympians from my riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla. Competing in both the two-man and four-man bobsleigh event is Justin Kripps, from Summerland, B.C. I also congratulate Justin and his brakeman, Bryan Barnett from Edmonton, for winning their first world cup two-man bobsleigh event in Germany this past weekend.
    Also competing in Sochi is Matt Margetts from Penticton, who will be competing as a freestyle skier in the halfpipe event.
    Finally, Penticton's very own Duncan Keith will return to the blue line as a member of our national hockey team for the second time.
    These young athletes are great role models for our future leaders and I ask all members of this House to join me in wishing our athletes the best of success in Sochi.

  (1410)  

International Day of Commemoration of the Holocaust

Hon. Peter Kent (Thornhill, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to mark international Holocaust memorial day and to commemorate the victims of the Shoah.
    Last week I had the honour of joining the Prime Minister on his historic tour and visit to the Middle East, where he laid a wreath at Yad Vashem in memory of the six million men, women and children brutally murdered simply because they were Jewish.
    I reflected again on the dangers of such hatred and the importance for us and future generations to draw lessons from this dark chapter of world history. I am proud that Canada has become a global leader in Holocaust education, culminating in a successful chairmanship year of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
    I especially want to note the good work of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center. I encourage everyone to visit the centre's Tour for Humanity mobile tolerance education centre here on the Hill.
    Through remembrance and reflection about the tragedy of the Holocaust, we commit ourselves to fighting all forms of hatred and to fulfill our promise: “never again”.

International Day of Commemoration of the Holocaust

Mr. Wayne Marston (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, on this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom Hashoah, we join Canadians in paying tribute to the millions of innocents who died during this dark chapter in history. We remember not only those whose lives were so brutally taken, but we remember and pay tribute to the survivors. Equally important is to remember and honour those who helped save lives during this massive-scale human tragedy.
    Today as we remember, we must remind ourselves of our duty to teach our children and generations to come that it is our solemn responsibility to combat racism wherever we find it. We must fight discrimination whenever and wherever we find it. History tells us those who promote bigotry for political advantage plant the very seeds for the crimes against humanity that in the past led to atrocities of such a massive scale.
    When we say “never again”, that is our pledge to ensure that such seeds of bigotry and hate never, ever flourish again.

Ukraine

Mr. James Bezan (Selkirk—Interlake, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I stand in solidarity with the millions of Ukrainians who have spoken out courageously in support of a free and democratic Ukraine. I condemn President Yanukovych and his regime's heavy-handed authoritarian actions and intimidation of peaceful protesters.
    I was deeply saddened by the news of the tragic deaths of innocent activists last week. All officials who are complicit in this violence must be held responsible.
    I am calling on the Ukrainian government to cease and desist in its oppression of the free citizens of Ukraine, the silencing of critics, and the intimidation of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Ukraine's parliament must repeal its undemocratic and draconian martial law. A true democracy cannot function without dialogue, compromise, the right to peaceful dissent, and a legislature that enjoys the people's trust.
    Ukraine is at a crossroads: democracy, liberty, and independence on one hand, or Soviet imperialistic totalitarianism on the other. If we do nothing, all that Ukraine has accomplished since 1991 will be for naught. Canada and the world will not sit idly by and watch the illegitimate Yanukovych regime destroy Ukraine.

[Translation]

L'Isle-Verte

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Outremont, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday night, in bitterly cold temperatures, a horrible tragedy struck L'Isle-Verte, in the Lower St. Lawrence.
    The fire at the Résidence du Havre seniors' home has deeply affected this tight-knit community. Today, many are mourning a friend, relative, or loved one. L'Isle-Verte is overcome with sadness.
    I do not have the words to express the pain that the residents are experiencing. I am sure that all members of Parliament, from all parties, will join me in expressing our support for the people of L'Isle-Verte.
    I want to commend the dedication of the first responders, who have given their all in these trying circumstances, and I want to offer my most sincere condolences to all the grieving families.
    Our hearts go out to you.

  (1415)  

[English]

Super Bowl XLVIII

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, history will be made this Sunday when, for the first time in history, a Saskatchewan-born athlete will be playing in the Super Bowl. That is right. Regina's very own Jon Ryan, a punter for the Seattle Seahawks will be suiting it up against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.
    Mr. Speaker, I know you understand all of this very well, that Jon Ryan was a superb amateur football player, made it to the pros in 2005 with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and set a CFL record for the longest average punt over the course of the season, over 50 yards. The reason I know that you know this, Mr. Speaker, is that Jon Ryan is your brother-in-law. I know that you and your lovely wife, Jill, who of course is Jon's sister, will be travelling to the New York area this weekend to watch Jon compete in the Super Bowl.
    While I know where your sympathies lie, Mr. Speaker, and who you will be cheering for, I ask all of my colleagues, regardless of their football affiliations, to join with me in wishing Jon Ryan, a true Canadian football hero, all the best this Sunday.
    Go, Jon. Go, Seahawks.

International Day of Commemoration of the Holocaust

Hon. Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul's, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, today Canadians join together to honour the memory of the more than six million lives lost in the Holocaust. We also acknowledge those who survived the unprecedented evil of the Holocaust, including many Jewish Canadians; the importance of their stories; and the many who have endured unimaginable suffering with strength and courage.
    This year marks the 69th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and we pledge that never again will we be indifferent to the incitement of hate or silent in the face of evil.
     In spite of everything we have come to learn of the Holocaust, we as a society must never stop working to educate others and combat hatred and bigotry in all its forms. While this is a day for solemn remembrance, it is also a poignant opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to never again allow such horrors to occur.

Ukraine

Mr. Ted Opitz (Etobicoke Centre, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the situation in the Ukraine is grave, and the slow, insidious creep of tyranny is evident. The elite few subordinate the future of Ukraine for their own selfish interests. These same elites, masters of those members of the regime, repeal democratic laws blindly. Stalin once called people like this “useful idiots”.
    We are witnessing a regressive and brutal regime stripping away the pretense of democratic governance, overlaying Orwellian measures on media, and using cellphones to locate, target, and intimidate individuals. This is right out of 1984. This is no longer just about the rejected EU deal. It is about civil liberties, democratic will, fair and transparent elections, and selective justice through which opposition leaders are not jailed. Most importantly for Ukrainians, it is about culture and identity. Ukrainians are struggling for hope, for a future that they can be proud of, and for a nation that is secure and democratic.
    This Prime Minister and all Canadians stand with the Ukrainian people. Slava Ukraina.

The Economy

Mr. Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, a new budget is only a few weeks away, but the Minister of Finance is busy cleaning up the mess he created in last year's budget. He has admitted that the government was wrong and finally he is reversing the insensitive tax on hospital parking. After a year of targeting credit unions, he is finally planning to clean up the mess the Conservatives made there.
    While the Conservatives are busy trying to fix the messes they created, New Democrats are putting forward ideas that will make life more affordable for Canadians. Canadians continue to get squeezed by unfair banking charges and predatory credit card interest rates, and gouging is still happening at the gas pumps.
    Canadians deserve better. They know that it is only the NDP that will fight for good jobs and a more affordable life.

  (1420)  

[Translation]

L'Isle-Verte

Mr. Jacques Gourde (Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, a terrible tragedy struck the municipality of L'Isle-Verte on Wednesday night and into Thursday morning. Thirty-two people are missing after a fire destroyed the Résidence du Havre seniors' home. The unthinkable has happened. These women, men, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends have left those who loved them, their families and their community, to wrestle with sadness, pain and bewilderment.
    Today, let us remember those founders, the people who spent decades building the municipality of L'Isle-Verte. We must hold on to the happy memories when a tragedy such as this strikes. Together, the people of L'Isle-Verte will get back on their feet, cherishing the memories of their loved ones.
    I would also like to commend the dedication and excellence of the teams of first responders who have been working tirelessly since the fire, despite the cold and the difficult conditions, sifting through the rubble so that families can deal with their grief. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]

[Translation]

New Member

The Speaker:  
    I have the honour to inform the House that the Clerk of the House has received from the Chief Electoral Officer a certificate of the election and return of Mr. Emmanuel Dubourg, member for the electoral district of Bourassa.

New Member Introduced

    Mr. Emmanuel Dubourg, member for the electoral district of Bourassa, introduced by Mr. Justin Trudeau and Mr. Marc Garneau.

[English]

New Member

The Speaker:  
    I have the honour to inform the House that the Clerk of the House has received from the Chief Electoral Officer a certificate of the election and return of Mr. Ted Falk, member for the electoral district of Provencher.

New Member Introduced

    Ted Falk, member for the electoral district of Provencher, introduced by the Right Hon. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Hon. Shelly Glover.

New Member

The Speaker:  
    I have the honour to inform the House that the Clerk of the House has received from the Chief Electoral Officer a certificate of the election and return of Ms. Chrystia Freeland, member for the electoral district of Toronto Centre.

New Member Introduced

    Chrystia Freeland, member for Toronto Centre, introduced by the Mr. Justin Trudeau and the Hon. Carolyn Bennett.

  (1425)  

New Member

The Speaker:  
    I have the honour to inform the House that the Clerk of the House has received from the Chief Electoral Officer a certificate of the election return of Mr. Larry Maguire, member for the electoral district of Brandon—Souris.

New Member Introduced

    Larry Macguire, member for Brandon—Souris, introduced by the Right Hon. Stephen Harper and the Hon. Shelly Glover.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by extending my best wishes for 2014 to you and your extraordinary team, which operates primarily under the guidance of Madam Clerk, who is always there with her staff to make our democratic lives run so smoothly and efficiently.

[English]

    Can the Prime Minister update the House on the deeply troubling situation in the Ukraine and what action Canada is taking to play a positive role in resolving this matter?

[Translation]

    The situation in Ukraine is very troubling. Can the Prime Minister update Canadians regarding the latest developments and tell the House what Canada intends to do to resolve this crisis?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, our government has already condemned the actions of the Ukrainian government.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as you know, this government has been very outspoken with many around the international community in condemning some of the actions of the Ukrainian government. We are very concerned that these actions speak of not moving toward a free and democratic Euro-Atlantic future but very much toward an anti-democratic Soviet past. We will continue to vocalize our concerns to work with the Ukrainian Canadian community and our allies to take all appropriate actions necessary to encourage the government of Ukraine to move in a positive direction.

[Translation]

National Defence

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Prime Minister for his response.

[English]

    Earlier this month I wrote the Prime Minister about the deepening tragedy of suicides in Canada's military. The total number of deaths due to suicide in the last two months alone now stands at eight. That is eight in two months.
    Will the Prime Minister make this growing crisis a personal priority?

[Translation]

    Will the Prime Minister make the suicide crisis among Canadian soldiers a personal priority?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, as I have stated many times, this government has invested record amounts in the mental health of our veterans and soldiers.

[English]

    Canada has some of the most developed programs in mental health for people in the armed forces in the entire world. Obviously, we are concerned about individual cases and express our deep sympathies to those involved.
    What I think remains very important is that our military people should be aware that mental health challenges are very real for people throughout society, including in the military. Supports are there, and we encourage those who need support to come forward.

Consumer Protection

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, with the budget approaching, will the Prime Minister make good on his promise in last fall's throne speech to rein in basic banking fees at ATMs and on credit cards? Will the Prime Minister keep that promise to Canadians, yes or no?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, this government has expressed, on a number of occasions, our concerns with the effect of certain banking fees and practices on consumers and small business. We have taken various actions in the past, and we will continue to work with Canadians to take the appropriate actions in the future.

  (1430)  

Ethics

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, the Privy Council Office, which reports directly to the Prime Minister, has just refused to release 27 of 28 documents about the expenses of Senators Duffy, Wallin, Brazeau and Harb. I have a very simple question. Is the Prime Minister going to release those documents, yes or no? If he has nothing to hide, why will he not release them?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, access to information requests are handled by independent public servants and by lawyers who make those judgments according to the law. Obviously, it is up to them to respond in the appropriate manner.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, the Privy Council Office is under the direct authority of the Prime Minister. Those people can say what he is allowed to not release. They cannot stop him from releasing something in the public interest. Why does he not release them if he has nothing to hide?

[Translation]

    Former Liberal senator Mac Harb is also under criminal investigation for fraud in connection with the sale of 99.99% of the ownership of his home near Ottawa to a diplomat from Brunei, Magdalene Teo. Ms. Teo told the RCMP that she has a personal relationship with the former Liberal senator, but she is refusing to help with the investigation.
    Will the government force Brunei—
The Speaker:  
    Order. The right hon. Prime Minister.
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, just like with access to information, the RCMP has an investigative process. The government does not interfere in that process. We put our complete trust in the RCMP to handle this investigation.

[English]

Intergovernmental Relations

Mr. Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are worried because they know they need training to get good jobs. However, the provinces have rejected the Canada job grant, the signature economic policy of last year's budget. No wonder, the program would cost more money and help fewer people.
    Will the Prime Minister finally listen to the premiers and abandon his failed plan?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, unlike the Liberal Party, we think it is necessary for the Government of Canada to act directly to deal with job creation and a skills mismatch in the labour market. We provide significant support directly to the provinces for post-secondary education and for skills training.
    This government remains absolutely committed to the notion that to address some of these problems we need to get employers and institutions and individuals who are looking for work working together to fill jobs that can be filled.

[Translation]

Mr. Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, each province has its own unique challenges when it comes to the job market. This government came up with an unacceptable policy program that the provinces rejected wholesale.
    When will the Prime Minister drop his paternalistic approach and work with the provinces to help Canadians get the training they need to find work?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, this government has already transferred massive amounts of money to the provinces for post-secondary education and skills training.
    However, there is still a shortage of some skills in the job market, and we have to solve this problem if we want to create jobs. Obviously, our thinking differs from the Liberal Party's. We think that it is also our responsibility to support job creation for Canadians.

[English]

Mr. Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, let us be clear on this. The Canada job grant was the government's signature economic policy of the last budget. It spent millions of taxpayer dollars on partisan ads boosting it, but it is a mess. It was rejected by the provinces. It will cost more and help fewer people.
    Will the Prime Minister listen to the premiers and scrap this plan?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I noted that the Canada job grant was in fact very well received by those in the marketplace, by people who want to upgrade their skills, want to receive more training, want to gain jobs, and by employers who want to create jobs.
    For that reason, we remain fully committed to ensuring we do everything we can to build upon the very good job creation record of this country and to make that record even better.

  (1435)  

[Translation]

Ethics

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, has the Prime Minister had any contact whatsoever with the RCMP since we last met here in the House before the holidays?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, as I and the RCMP have said many times, this government will give the RCMP any information that it requests.

[English]

Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, the RCMP has submitted documents, emails, in Federal Court, where Nigel Wright states that the Prime Minister gave the good to go on the deal with Duffy.
    If that is not true, the question is, did the Prime Minister so inform the RCMP?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, on the financial transaction, the RCMP is investigating. The RCMP itself has been very clear that I had no knowledge of that.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP):  
    Great answer, Mr. Speaker. It just had nothing whatsoever to do with the question.
    There is another Nigel Wright in this whole scandal. It is the Prime Minister's chief fundraiser sitting in the Senate, Irving Gerstein. On page 12 of the RCMP documents, Nigel Wright tells police that Senator Gerstein approved the initial $32,000 payoff to Mike Duffy.
    Why then is Mr. Gerstein still sitting next to the Prime Minister in the Conservative caucus?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the RCMP has made very clear that there are two individuals under investigation. The individual referred to by the leader of the NDP is not under investigation.
Hon. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, he is in the caucus, and here is the problem. Is the Prime Minister's position that giving a $90,000 payoff to sitting Senator Mike Duffy is morally reprehensible, but approving a $32,000 payoff is good to go?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, again, the leader of the NDP knows that those facts are not accepted. As a matter of public record, the individual he is making accusations against is not under any investigation.
Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, in June 2012, Conservatives replaced Arthur Porter, the disgraced chair of the CSIS watchdog committee, with Conservative Chuck Strahl. We were already concerned about CSIS spying on Canadians and environmental charities that had the audacity to be critical of Enbridge's northern gateway pipeline proposal. Then we learned that Mr. Strahl was moonlighting as a paid lobbyist for who? For Enbridge, the same company that this watchdog was meant to be protecting.
    Mr. Strahl was forced to resign. But why did no Conservative recognize this blatant conflict of interest?
Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, Mr. Strahl was not only not forced to resign; the Ethics Commissioner said very clearly there was not a scintilla of evidence that he had done anything wrong whatsoever.
    Chuck Strahl is one of the most honourable and decent people I have ever worked with in the Parliament of Canada. It is a shame that for the sake of his personal reputation, he decided he is no longer willing to provide his services.
Ms. Megan Leslie (Halifax, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, speaking of questionable ethics, recently the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke had the bright idea to campaign against the incandescent light bulb. She tried to turn the light out on her own government's legislation. Not only did she campaign against her own party's policy, if we go to the website, we can donate. Where does it bring us? To a Conservative riding association.
    This clearly breaks the rules. The question is: What sanctions is this member facing for breaking the rules?
Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, of course, the members of this caucus are working day in and day out to represent their constituents. In this particular case, the member wanted to express an opinion that had been brought to her by her constituents.
    As the members opposite know, on this side of the House, we are very free to represent our constituents, as is evidenced by our voting patterns when private members' business comes before the House. Unlike the opposition, which is whipped for every private members' vote, on this side of the House, we consider everything, we vote our conscience, and we do what is right for our constituents.
Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, talk about turning out the lights on accountability.
    The principle of ministerial responsibility is a fundamental of the Westminster system, but the Conservatives have turned this on its head. They give their ministers a “get out of jail free” card any time they need it. The latest to make use of it is the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
    Has nobody told her that she cannot charge admission to the very groups coming to her for grants? What sanctions will the minister face?

  (1440)  

Hon. Shelly Glover (Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, as I have said clearly on a number of occasions, I had absolutely nothing to do with the planning of this event. I proactively and very swiftly took action to address the situation, and I proactively reported it to the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.
    While she is doing her examination, I am happy to help her with her work.
Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, that was great. I think we could get her a third-party manager just to help her in helping the Ethics Commissioner with her work.
    The Conservative government is under investigation for a cover-up in the Prime Minister's Office. On December 19 the Prime Minister was asked about plausible deniability in his office. He said:
    Yeah, well, Mr. Wright knows full well that I don’t believe in that doctrine.
    Can the Prime Minister tell us, when did he made that clear to Mr. Nigel Wright?
Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, as I have said on a number of occasions, and as the Prime Minister has said, the moment he found out about this, he instructed his office to work with and assist the RCMP in an investigation. It is quite clear from the number of emails and the information that has been turned over that we are continuing to assist the RCMP in this investigation.
    I would also like to take a moment to congratulate the member for recognizing all of the investments we continue to make across northern Ontario. Over the holidays, he issued a press release outlining the number of investments we have made in his riding. I congratulate him for recognizing that. Unfortunately, he voted against all of those investments, but we will continue to invest in northern Ontario to create jobs and economic growth in the area.

[Translation]

Ms. Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe (Pierrefonds—Dollard, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday, the NDP received a response to an access to information request regarding the Privy Council Office's documentation on senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau.
    The problem is that the response was a series of blank pages. It is not that the Privy Council Office does not have the documentation, but that it does not want to share it.
    What is the Privy Council Office hiding, and at whose request?

[English]

Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, rules with respect to access to information are handled and requests are made by independent public servants. The information that is required is made by those individuals, following the law.

International Relations

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Wascana, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, there is deep anguish in Canada about the Yanukovych regime in the Ukraine and its attacks on human rights and freedoms.
    Beyond general statements about considering options with respect to Yanukovych, will Canada specifically, one, send official observers to scrutinize what is going on; two, provide expedited visas to any victims who need to leave that country for their own safety; and three, target Yanukovych and his crowd with personal sanctions, asset freezes, and travel bans, for example, to push them to stop their anti-democratic behaviour?
Mr. David Anderson (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, we have been active on this file. I can tell him that the minister has condemned, in the strongest possible terms, the killing of protesters by the Ukrainian police force. He has personally spoken to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara. In addition, the deputy minister has called in the Ukrainian ambassador to express Canada's condemnation of the violence that has occurred.
    We fully support the efforts of the members for Etobicoke Centre and Selkirk—Interlake to bring this issue forward for emergency debate in the House of Commons. We are urging the Ukrainian government to find a political solution by engaging in a real dialogue.
    We stand with the Ukrainian people, who courageously continue to speak out in support of democracy.

[Translation]

Employment

Mr. Emmanuel Dubourg (Bourassa, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, December's disastrous employment statistics should serve as a wake-up call for this government.
    Today there are 275,000 more unemployed Canadians than before the recession.
    The Conservatives' solution is to run an ad campaign to promote an employment program that does not even exist.
    Will the minister come up with a real plan to help unemployed Canadians in his upcoming budget?

[English]

Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his first question in the House.
    Our government is focused on the creation of jobs. In fact, over one million net new jobs have been created in Canada since July 2009, since the end of the recession. Over 80% of those jobs have been in the private sector.
    For the sixth straight year, the World Economic Forum ranked our banks the soundest in the world. As members know, it was just last week that Bloomberg rated Canada the second best place, after Hong Kong, in the world in which to do business.

  (1445)  

Hon. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, in December, young Canadians lost another 12,000 jobs. There are 264,000 fewer jobs for young Canadians today than before the downturn.
    Canadian youth struggle to find work, and Canadian parents struggle to pay the bills. Instead of wasting millions of tax dollars to advertise a jobs program that does not even exist, will the Minister of Finance admit there is a problem and commit to a real jobs plan for young Canadians in the upcoming budget, or is he so out of touch with young Canadians and their struggling middle class families?
Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have triplet young Canadians who would disagree with the member.
    We have a great job creation record in this country, the best among the western democracies since the end of the recession. As I said a moment ago, they are mainly full-time jobs. That is something I think best serves young Canadians well. We also have a good education system. That serves them well as well.

National Defence

Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, we are witnessing an urgent and growing need for better access to mental health services for Canadian Forces members. However, the hiring of mental health professionals was stymied by internal red tape and budget cuts. Under the Conservatives, we are not meeting the needs of the military. This is unconscionable. Military suicides have shocked the country.
    The Leader of the Opposition has asked the Prime Minister to make this a personal priority. Will he now do so?
Hon. Rob Nicholson (Minister of National Defence, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, this certainly has been a priority for this government and our armed forces. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have suffered and to the families who have suffered in these instances.
    With that being said, we do take the issue very seriously. We are reviewing whether further enhancements are needed to ensure that the armed forces are responding to the needs of its members and veterans.

[Translation]

Ms. Élaine Michaud (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, it is a matter of respecting our troops.
    With the current crisis in the Canadian Forces, it is extremely urgent to take concrete measures to address mental health. Our requests are clear, namely to make hiring mental health professionals a priority and to speed up the work of the 50 or so commissions of inquiry into the suicides of Canadian Forces members. We have to give the families the answers they are looking for to help them in their grieving process.
    What is the minister's response to this?

[English]

Hon. Rob Nicholson (Minister of National Defence, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, it is the same answer I just gave to her colleague. We will continue to make this a priority, because that is entirely appropriate.
    What she and the members of her party could do is start supporting the efforts that we have made to support our men and women in uniform and our veterans. That would certainly be a welcome change. I think everybody would appreciate that.

[Translation]

Veterans Affairs

Mr. Sylvain Chicoine (Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, the budget for this is simply inadequate. It is not just the delivery of services to our troops that is affected by the Conservatives' cuts.
    This week, the Conservatives are closing eight Veterans Affairs offices. Many veterans will no longer be able to have their file properly processed in their own community.
    Does the minister realize that these human resources that are being cut absolutely cannot be replaced by voice mail or a website?

[English]

Mr. Parm Gill (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, our government has made substantial investments to support Canada's veterans, including almost $5 billion in new additional dollars since taking office. This funding has been put toward improved financial benefits, world-class rehabilitation, and tuition costs to help veterans transition to civilian life.
    While our government is making improvements to veterans' benefits, the Liberals and the NDP have voted against this new funding for mental health treatment, financial support, and home care services.

  (1450)  

Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, what utter nonsense. The fact is, these offices provide invaluable services to the heroes of our country. Those offices that are closing on Friday will no longer be able to deliver that one-on-one personal care that the heroes of our country so rightfully deserve. The offices are closing on Friday, but the government has a chance to do the right thing. Many veterans are on the Hill this week. Many veterans, RCMP members, and their families across the country are watching the government closely.
    Will the government now do the right thing, reverse that decision, and keep these offices open so the heroes of our country can get the valuable service they so rightfully deserve?
Mr. Parm Gill (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, our government has created 600 new points of service across the country to assist Canadian veterans. Canadian veterans have access to 17 operational stress injury clinics across Canada to help them rehabilitate from service injury. Critically injured veterans do not have to drive to a district office. Our government will send a registered nurse or a case manager to visit them in the comfort of their own home.
    Veterans who are seriously injured can count on their government to shovel their driveways, clean their homes, and cut their grass so they can remain in their homes comfortably, with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

Finance

Mr. Mike Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, since 2006, our Conservative government and our Minister of Finance have brought forward eight consecutive budgets to promote a low-tax plan to create jobs and economic growth in Canada, including over one million net new jobs since 2009. But the economy remains fragile, and Canada is not immune to those economic challenges beyond our borders. We need to move forward with a low-tax plan for jobs and growth, not an NDP plan of higher taxes and massive deficit spending.
    Would the Minister of Finance inform the House as to when our government will present budget 2014?
Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government is focused on what matters to Canadians; that is jobs and economic growth. Economic action plan 2014 will continue our government's focus on keeping Canada's economy stronger by introducing positive measures to grow our economy, create jobs, keep taxes low, and return to balanced budgets in 2015.
    I am pleased to request the designation of an order of the day for the Minister of Finance to present economic action plan 2014 on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 4 p.m.

[Translation]

Ms. Peggy Nash (Parkdale—High Park, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I hope not to have to read the details of the budget in The Globe and Mail this year.
    While the Minister of Finance keeps trying to fix the mistakes in his last budget, Canadians are paying the price. The number of job losses increased in December and the unemployment rate went up.
    Instead of making cuts to employment insurance and announcing measures on the fly, measures they will have to reverse in their upcoming budget, will the Conservatives make helping the unemployed a priority in the upcoming budget?

[English]

Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, that is precisely what was done by this government in January 2009, which resulted in a large deficit but did protect Canada.
    It protected Canada from double-digit unemployment, much better than other western democracies. We have kept our promise to get back to a balanced budget in the medium term, which we will in 2015.
Ms. Peggy Nash (Parkdale—High Park, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, it just shows what an effective opposition can do to force the government to take action. When it is time to act, the only action the Conservatives take is to attack the unemployed as if they were the problem.
    Canadians are unhappy about the mess Conservatives have created with EI. Even the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans recognized that people are angry and are leaving her province because of it.
    Will the Conservatives stop sitting on their hands and do something about the harmful impact of their own actions on the unemployed?

  (1455)  

Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I was here in 2009. I think the hon. member was also.
    She and her party voted against that budget. That was the budget that kept Canada out of double-digit unemployment, which brought Canada out of a recession the fastest of all the western democracies, after only three quarters. How short memories can be.

[Translation]

Rail Transportation

Mr. Philip Toone (Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, given the Conservatives' spotty memory, I think we should remind them about what is happening today.
    The Conservatives have no plan whatsoever when it comes to the rail system and rail safety. Freight transportation is far from safe, and all of eastern Canada is about to lose its VIA Rail passenger service. Gaspé has already lost this service. Now, CN's plans to abandon a rail line in New Brunswick will leave thousands of people without service.
    Will the minister explain to Quebeckers and eastern Canadians why they do not have the right to safe and reliable passenger rail service?

[English]

Hon. Lisa Raitt (Minister of Transport, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, VIA is an independent corporation from the Canadian government, and as such it takes its own decisions when it comes to the provision of services across this great country.
    However, that being said, I am very proud that we do have great outreach, both within Transport Canada and my office as well, in talking to Canadians across the country. I can say one thing, that we do listen and do hear what people are saying.
    However, the fact of the matter is that if people are not utilizing the service, it is not for the rest of the country to supplement it.

[Translation]

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, VIA Rail needs tracks to run on.
    The Conservatives did nothing when VIA Rail dropped Gaspé. The Government of New Brunswick and CN invested $25 million each in the rail line that connects Moncton to Miramichi and Bathurst to Campbellton. When CN abandons the line between Miramichi and Bathurst, all of eastern Canada will find itself in the same predicament.
    The province repeatedly asked the federal government for help to keep this line, but the Conservatives did not provide any financial assistance.
    What will the government do to keep VIA Rail's east-west line through Miramichi and Bathurst? Where are the Conservative members—
The Speaker:  
    The hon. Minister of Transport.

[English]

Hon. Lisa Raitt (Minister of Transport, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that our government supports a VIA Rail system that provides excellent service to passengers, but at the same time is respectful of the efficient use of the taxpayer dollar.
    Unfortunately, VIA has to make decisions all the time when it comes to the provision of passenger service, based upon the volume of people utilizing the service. I encourage the member to talk to VIA about the provision of service, and I would like to thank the member for his question.

Elections Canada

Mr. Scott Andrews (Avalon, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, in November 2010 the Conservatives held a tele-town hall in the tightly contested Vaughan byelection. Once again, the Conservatives are over-spending in elections, since this was never reported to Elections Canada by the now Minister of International Cooperation. Apparently, 15,000 people took part in this town hall. What was the big draw? None other than their buddy, Mike Duffy.
    My question is for the Minister of—
The Speaker:  
    Order, please. I have not heard anything at this point that has to do with government business. The member has a few seconds left. I urge that the question actually touch on the administration of government. I will allow him to finish his question, but I do hope that it actually addresses ministerial responsibility.
Mr. Scott Andrews:  
    Mr. Speaker, yes, my question is for the Minister of State for Democratic Reform. Can he confirm that Elections Canada is actively investigating this breach?
Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, of course Elections Canada governs itself and will make its own determinations.
Ms. Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, Conservative candidates appear to have a big problem respecting election campaign laws. This question will relate to government business.
    There is a long list of Conservatives who have been caught cheating on campaign spending and reporting, and they got little more than a slap on the wrist for it. The Vaughan telephone town hall is just the latest example of systemic campaign rule breaking.
    Can the minister tell us if the long-delayed Elections Act amendments will include serious penalties for those who violate campaign spending limits, finally?

  (1500)  

Hon. Pierre Poilievre (Minister of State (Democratic Reform), CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the bill that the member mentioned will be introduced in time for implementation before the next election.

Government Advertising

Mr. Mathieu Ravignat (Pontiac, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, how much of our money is the current government going to waste? That is the question that people in my riding are asking. They are sick of seeing these non-stop economic action plan ads on TV. Yet, the Conservatives keep spending our money on them. The $10 million that was budgeted to brag about it was not enough. They blew that budget, spending $14.8 million of taxpayer money on blatant self-promotion. When is it going to stop?
Hon. Tony Clement (President of the Treasury Board, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the responsibility of any government is to communicate with the population on the plans and priorities and policies that are actually passed by Parliament. It is our obligation and indeed our pleasure to do so. Of course, we want to inform Canadians about the great economic policies that are found each year in the budgets, and we will do so again I am sure.
    However, the hon. member should look within his own house. Speaking of advertising, the New Democrats had hundreds of thousands of illegal advertising at their last convention. How about that? That is a violation of trust, I would say.
Mr. Mathieu Ravignat (Pontiac, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, we are talking about taxpayer money.

[Translation]

    It is completely ridiculous. The Conservatives are running ads to promote programs that do not even exist. Advertising Standards Canada has indicated that these ads constitute false advertising. The Conservatives have not put a single penny into TV advertising to make people aware of the importance of getting the flu shot, for example. Conservative propaganda is more important than public health. Will the Conservatives stop wasting money on improving their image?
Hon. Tony Clement (President of the Treasury Board, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, as I have already said, the government's responsibility is to make Canadians aware of programs and services that are important to them. In the 2012-13 economic action plan, advertising was an essential means for informing Canadians about the policies passed by this Parliament.

[English]

Foreign Affairs

Mr. Ted Falk (Provencher, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, what an honour this is. Last week, our Prime Minister made history by being the first Canadian Prime Minister to address the Knesset. His trip to Israel reinforced the close friendship between our countries and our partnership and the solidarity that exists between our countries on a range of global issues. Israel has no closer friend than Canada. Our government is committed to advancing a principled foreign policy that is based on the values of freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
    Can the Minister of Natural Resources please update this House on the Prime Minister's recent trip to Israel?
Hon. Joe Oliver (Minister of Natural Resources, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome again the member for Provencher.
    I was honoured to join the Prime Minister on his historic visit to Israel, a friend and ally with whom we share the core values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
    The Prime Minister's extraordinary speech in the Knesset, the receipt of an honorary doctorate, the moving visit to the Holocaust museum in Yad Vashem and the Western Wall were among the memorable visits. I was also encouraged by the potential to build our bilateral trade and co-operation in science and technology and our overall strategic relationship.

Public Safety

Hon. Carolyn Bennett (St. Paul's, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, last month's ice storm was devastating across the whole of the greater Toronto area. Citizens of the GTA are looking to their national government to be there with them in their time of need. GTA mayors and regional chairs voted unanimously to ask the provincial and federal governments to help cover the estimated $275 million cost.
    Will the government confirm it will release the necessary funds through the disaster financial assistance arrangement and support the GTA?

  (1505)  

Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, we have a program that is working with all provinces and territories. It is the disaster financial assistance arrangement. It is a cost sharing program with a threshold that is triggered. This is a non-political program that is working very well for all parts of the country. We will always stand by provinces and territories who need help, while following the rules of this program.

Employment

Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have here a list of 35 qualified construction workers who were refused work at the new women's hospital project in my riding because temporary foreign workers are already doing the job on a phoney permit that they should never have received.
    The Prime Minister says he is getting tough on foreign worker fraud, yet they have known about this situation for more than 10 months. There should not be a single foreign national on that site if there is a single qualified Canadian ready and able to take that work. Why will the minister not stand up for Canadian workers, tear up this bogus permit and let the Canadian taxpayers who paid for this project get the jobs, the wages and the benefits from this project?
Hon. Jason Kenney (Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, let us be clear that it is illegal to use temporary foreign workers to do work that has not been offered to Canadians at the prevailing regional wage rate, jobs that of course receive the same protection and legal framework as jobs available to Canadian citizens. Therefore, I would appreciate receiving information from the member.
    We are bringing forward a regulatory package to crack down with much more stringent sanctions on employers who abuse the temporary foreign worker program, to ensure that it is only and always a last resort and that Canadians always have first crack at available jobs.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Larry Maguire (Brandon—Souris, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege to be able to represent the people of Brandon—Souris, who last fall once again voted for trusted leadership and strong economic management.
    Since being elected I have been meeting with constituents, who all understand that one of the main industries driving our local economy is agriculture. Pork and cattle producers in southwestern Manitoba have been calling for a timely and responsive program to help protect them when commodity prices go down.
    Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture please tell the House about the recent launch of the livestock price insurance program?
Mr. Pierre Lemieux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the new member for Brandon—Souris for taking his place among us here today.
    He is absolutely right. Canadians want a government that puts the economy first. The livestock price insurance program will help protect western livestock producers against unexpected price declines. The Canadian Cattlemen's Association has said the following: “This program gives more producers access to a solid tool to manage price and basis risk”.
    The constituents of Brandon—Souris can rest assured that under our Prime Minister we will continue to give farmers the tools they need to grow jobs and strengthen our economy.

[Translation]

Health

Mr. Raymond Côté (Beauport—Limoilou, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, in mid-January there was yet another incident involving toxic red dust in Limoilou.
    The Quebec Port Authority has acknowledged that the dust came from the port, but the port and the company are hiding behind the federal government to avoid taking action. The federal government, in turn, is hiding behind the provincial government to avoid taking action.
    The people of Limoilou deserve better than to be caught in the middle of jurisdictional bickering simply because no one wants to take responsibility.
    Why are the Conservatives refusing to protect the health of the people of Limoilou?

[English]

Hon. Lisa Raitt (Minister of Transport, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, while the Quebec Port Authority is indeed an organization at arm's length from the federal government, it is my understanding with respect to this emission that the company involved, the tenant, is working with the provincial authorities regarding environmental issues and will continue to do so. Of course, we encourage the court of Quebec to do so as well.

[Translation]

Intergovernmental Relations

Mr. André Bellavance (Richmond—Arthabaska, BQ):  
    Mr. Speaker, not only is the federal government trying to impose a job training program and a securities commission on Quebec—both of which have been rejected by the province—but now it is also trying to interfere in another area of exclusive provincial jurisdiction: education.
    Ottawa wants to decide on the number of foreign students and their countries of origin, without taking into consideration Quebec's unique characteristics, such as its language and cultural ties with other countries.
    The Government of Quebec's position is clear: Quebec, not Ottawa, will make the decisions about recruiting foreign students.
    Will the Minister of International Trade respect Quebec's jurisdiction over education and give the province the right to opt out with full compensation, as it is calling for?

  (1510)  

[English]

Hon. Ed Fast (Minister of International Trade, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, international education is a priority sector and a key component of Canada's new global markets action plan, which seeks to advance Canada's commercial interests in our priority markets.
     International education is a key driver of economic growth in Canada, with over 265,000 students generating over $8 billion a year in our economy. The international education strategy is a product of extensive consultations with the provinces, territories, and stakeholders. We will continue to advance Canada's interests on the international stage by promoting our world-class education system.

Library and Archives Canada

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP):  
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians have been outraged by the dismantling of government libraries, such as those dealing with fisheries, forests, and health. Under the Library and Archives of Canada Act, these materials are protected as the documentary heritage of Canadians. Surplus materials are to be placed in the care and control of the Librarian and Archivist, and materials and records cannot be destroyed without written consent. I have spoken to the current Librarian and Archivist of Canada, and it appears to me the act was not followed.
    Will the Prime Minister commit to immediately investigating whether these acts of closing libraries and casting the materials to the winds, to dumpsters and to looters, are legal, and will he restore and protect the documentary heritage of Canadians?
Hon. Gary Goodyear (Minister of State (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario), CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, nothing of the sort could be any further from the truth. Original materials will be preserved. Duplicate materials that nobody wants will be disposed of in the usual manner. Information that was available in the libraries continues to remain available in the digital world. Welcome to this century.
    I will say that this allows more people to access that information and at less cost to the taxpayers. That is the truth.

[Translation]

Status of Women

Mrs. Maria Mourani (Ahuntsic, Ind.):  
    Mr. Speaker, on December 20, the Supreme Court struck down the provisions on procuring, solicitation and keeping a bawdy house under the existing legislative framework.
    However, prostitution is a system of exploitation and a form of violence against women and girls.
    Does the Minister of Justice plan to propose a new legislative framework to combat prostitution by making it officially illegal and criminalizing the purchase of sexual services rather than prostitutes?
Mr. Robert Goguen (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, clearly, we are very concerned about the Supreme Court's recent decision, which struck down certain provisions of the Criminal Code.
    We are in the process of exploring all possibilities in order to protect women and girls who are vulnerable because of this practice. Unlike the Liberal Party, whose proposal to completely legalize prostitution would put women in more danger, we will be examining the most prudent solutions in order to protect vulnerable women.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1515)  

[English]

Foreign Affairs

Mr. David Anderson (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, five treaties, entitled, one, Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, adopted at Madrid on June 27, 1989, as amended on October 3, 2006, and on November 12, 2007; two, the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, adopted at Singapore on March 27, 2006; three, the Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classifications of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks, adopted in Nice on June 15, 1957, as revised at Stockholm on July 14, 1967, and at Geneva on May 13, 1977, and amended on September 20, 1979; four, the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs adopted at Geneva on July 2, 1999; and, five, Patent Law Treaty, done at Geneva on June 1, 2000.
    An explanatory memorandum is included with each treaty.

[Translation]

Canadian Security Intelligence Service

Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2), I am pleased to table, in both official languages, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's public report for 2011-13.

[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 147 petitions.

Pan-Canadian Strategy on Concussion Act

Ms. Kirsty Duncan (Etobicoke North, Lib.)  
     moved for leave to introduce Bill C-566, An Act respecting a Comprehensive Pan-Canadian Strategy on Concussion.
     She said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present an act representing a comprehensive pan-Canadian strategy on concussion, inspired by three and a half years of work by extraordinary twin sisters in my riding, Sandhya and Swapna Mylabathula. These University of Toronto students, who have won numerous academic and leadership awards for their concussion work, met with top researchers and stakeholders across the country to determine the needs for concussion.
    The bill aims to increase public awareness and education and improve current practices respecting the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of concussion. It would establish a pan-Canadian concussion awareness week and would require the Minister of Health to initiate discussions with provincial and territorial counterparts to develop a pan-Canadian strategy on concussion, including a centre of excellence in concussion research.
    It is my hope that hon. members will support the bill.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Business of the House

Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would simply like to designate Tuesday, January 28, 2014, as the first allotted day.

Ukraine

Mr. James Bezan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, there have been consultations among the parties and if you seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent of the House for the following motion:
    That this House:
    Condemns the draconian law that was adopted in Ukraine on January 17, 2014 that severely limits the right of Ukrainians to peacefully organize, assemble or protest;
    Recognizes that such a law undermines freedom and democracy in Ukraine;
    Condemns the Ukrainian government's use of violence and threats of legal action against the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church for helping peaceful protesters;
    Expresses condolences to the friends and families of those who lost their lives at the hands of the Ukrainian security forces on January 21, 2014;
    Calls upon the Ukrainian government to bring those responsible for these acts of violence and repression to justice;
    Continues to call for Ukrainian security forces and government to refrain from the use of violence and respect the people of Ukraine's right of peaceful protest;
    Urges the Government of Canada, in collaboration with like-minded nations, to consider all options, including sanctions, to ensure that the democratic space in Ukraine is protected;
    And that this House stands united with the Ukrainian people, who believe in freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

  (1520)  

The Speaker:  
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

Petitions

Sex Selection  

Mr. Harold Albrecht (Kitchener—Conestoga, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present two petitions from constituents of my riding and the surrounding area of Kitchener-Waterloo.
    The petitioners ask members of Parliament to condemn discrimination against females that is occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.

Shark Finning  

Mr. Fin Donnelly (New Westminster—Coquitlam, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to wish you and all members of the House a happy new year.
    I have a petition from thousands of Canadians across the country calling on the government to ban the importation of shark fins to Canada. They say measures must be taken to stop the global practice of shark finning and to ensure the responsible conservation and management of sharks. They call on the Government of Canada to immediately legislate a ban on the importation of shark fins.

Dementia  

Ms. Olivia Chow (Trinity—Spadina, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition calling for a national dementia strategy. The petitioners want to draw the attention of the Minister of Health to the fact that the federal government needs a strategy on dementia because of the many Canadians afflicted by Alzheimer's disease or other dementia-related diseases.
    The petitioners want discussions on the strategy to be initiated with provincial and territorial ministers within 30 days after the act comes into force.They want to see an annual report based on an assessment of Canada's progress and to see a round table established to receive advice from Canadians on this strategy.

Privacy  

Mr. Ted Hsu (Kingston and the Islands, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions today on the subject of a U.S. law, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, from my constituents and others throughout Ontario.
    The petitioners are worried about the American legislation that conflicts with Canadian law, in particular the Bank Act and the privacy rights of Canadians.
    Therefore, they ask the Canadian government to assure Canadian citizens and residents that their privacy rights will be respected and that Canadian sovereignty will also be respected as banks are pressured to comply with this American legislation.

[Translation]

Canadian Mining Companies Abroad  

Mr. Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to present a petition from young activists from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
    They work with Development and Peace and are concerned about certain actions and behaviours on the part of Canadian mining companies abroad, particularly concerning respect for human rights and democratic consultation with local communities. The petitioners are calling for the creation of a legislated ombudsman mechanism for Canada's extractive sector.
    Today I present this petition on their behalf.

[English]

Pensions  

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I table a petition today from the residents of Winnipeg North, who want the Prime Minister to understand that people should be able to continue to have the option to retire at the age of 65 and that the government should not in any way diminish the importance and value of Canada's three major seniors programs, the OAS, GIS, and CPP.

Dementia  

Mr. Craig Scott (Toronto—Danforth, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present a petition from Torontonians for the Minister of Health and the House as a whole to support Bill C-356, An Act respecting a National Strategy for Dementia, which was introduced by the hon. member for Nickel Belt.
    Diseases like Alzheimer's take a huge toll on individuals suffering from them and on their families and friends. I know this from the experience of my own aunt and from the experience of friends who just lost their mother, Sylvia Mackenzie, a woman of extraordinary strength and character. She is survived by a remarkable and loving family: David, Dan, Andrew, Lori, Kim, and Stephen. I am sure they would want to join these petitioners.

  (1525)  

Creosote  

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present two petitions.
    Forgive me for taking a moment to tell my fellow members of the House of Commons that the first petition was put together and signed entirely by grade 5 students of Salt Spring Elementary School. They have done their own research. They are terribly concerned about creosote coating on poles and the effect that it has on the herring population. They ask the House of Commons to discontinue the use of creosote in herring waters.
    It is a very impressive petition, and I commend it to the House.

Roberts Bank Terminal  

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP):  
    Mr. Speaker, the second petition comes from more than a thousand residents of Delta, British Columbia, who are very concerned about the expansion of Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank in Delta.
    The Roberts Bank ecosystem could be endangered by this expansion and by human-built extensions into the harbour. At this point, now that there is an environmental review, they are hoping that it will include proper and full public consultation.

[Translation]

Experimental Lakes Area  

Ms. Laurin Liu (Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I wish to present a petition regarding the Experimental Lakes Area. This file has been unresolved for quite some time, and yet petitions continue to come in. The petitioners are calling on the government to recognize the importance of the Experimental Lakes Area in fulfilling its mandate to study, preserve and protect aquatic ecosystems.

[English]

Citizenship and Immigration  

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present.
    The first petition is from concerned Londoners. After a terrible tragedy in London, Ontario, the petitioners are asking that the Government of Canada and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration look at what is happening in our immigration system.
    First and foremost, putting their lives on hold for years to wait for a decision on their status puts stress on families and, second, the staffing in immigration and citizenship offices is continually being reduced, so people are waiting longer and longer.
    The petitioners want the staff to be returned and they want immigration officials to consider all factors with respect to individual applications for status, including humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

VIA Rail  

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP):  
    As members will know, in southwestern Ontario, and indeed across Canada, we are suffering from a terrible loss of VIA Rail service.
    The petitioners ask the Government of Canada to reverse the funding cuts that the government has initiated on VIA Rail, and like every other country in the developed world to invest in rail travel to ensure that Canadians have a 21st century transportation system, a system they absolutely deserve.

Dementia  

Mr. Mike Sullivan (York South—Weston, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition on behalf of residents of the greater Toronto area.
    The petitioners wish to draw the attention of the Minister of Health and the House of Commons to the fact that the federal government needs a national strategy for dementia and the care of persons afflicted with Alzheimer's Disease or other dementia-related diseases.
    The petitioners call upon the Minister of Health and the House of Commons to pass Bill C-356, an act respecting a national strategy for dementia.

Questions on the Order Paper

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 102, 109, 111, 112, 113, 118, 125, 126, 128, 135, 136, 138, 145, 147, 154, 158, 160, 163, 164, 165, 166, 167, 168 and 169.

[Text]

Question No. 102--
Hon. Hedy Fry:
     With regard to the Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-Being (NDPHS): (a) on what date did the government commit to participate in the Partnership; (b) what was Canada’s committed annual financial contribution; (c) has Canada ever made a financial contribution to the NDPHS and, if so, how much; (d) what groups and organizations did the government consult in its decision to withdraw from the NDPHS; (e) has the government received any form of communication from other members of the NDPHS regarding Canada’s withdrawal from the Partnership; and (f) was the Minister of Health ever advised on withdrawing from the NDPHS by her department and, if so, what was the department’s recommendation?
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Health, CPC):
     Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the Northern Dimension Partnership in Public Health and Social Well-being, NDPHS, was established through the Oslo declaration on October 27, 2003. Canada participated in the adoption of the declaration.
    With regard to (b), in September 2004, at the second NDPHS meeting of the committee of senior representatives a voluntary financing model for the NDPHS secretariat was agreed upon. Under this model, Canada was scheduled to contribute 8% of the secretariat budget. As countries--France, Denmark--withdrew from the NDPHS, Canada’s contribution grew to almost 12%, or 38,517 euros in 2011.
    With regard to (c), Canada contributed to NDPHS between 2004 and 2011, with the amounts varying depending on the secretariat’s budget and the percentage requested from Canada. Over the course of eight years, Canada contributed 217,871 euros.
    With regard to (d), Health Canada held interdepartmental consultations with the departments that had been engaged in the work of NDPHS. These included the Public Health Agency of Canada, Correctional Services Canada, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Health Canada also consulted the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, ITK, the national Inuit organization in Canada, as well as the Assembly of First Nations.
    With regard to (e), the response is no.
    With regard to (f), yes, Health Canada’s recommendation was to withdraw from the NDPHS, noting Canada’s limited engagement in NDPHS activities and overlap in programming with other key multilateral organizations that Canada is actively engaged with, including the World Health Organization; the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO; and UNAIDS.
Question No. 109--
Hon. Wayne Easter:
     With regard to the news release dated May 8, 2013, in which the Minister of National Revenue announced “new measures” to fight overseas tax evasion including “An additional $15 million in reallocated CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) funds that will be used to bring in new audit and compliance resources dedicated exclusively to international compliance issues and revenue collection identified as a result of measures outlined in Economic Action Plan 2013”: (a) what, specifically, are these “new audit and compliance resources”; (b) what is each projected to cost; and (c) from where, within the CRA, will the $15 million be “reallocated”?
Hon. Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay (Minister of National Revenue, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the additional $15 million over five years in reallocated Canada Revenue Agency, CRA, funds will be used to bring in new audit and compliance resources to address international compliance issues and revenue collection identified as a result of measures outlined in economic action plan, EAP, 2013. The new audit and compliance resources will be used to hire additional audit staff to target the high-risk workload and to counter international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. The new audit and compliance resources in respect of the additional $15 million in reallocated CRA funds, together with the $15 million that was announced in EAP 2013 in support of the electronic funds transfer measure, will be implemented over time as the EAP 2013 measures come into force.
    The new audit and compliance resources will complement the EAP measures to enable the CRA to more effectively address international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. Specifically, the new audit and compliance resources will be used to undertake the highest risk cases of international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance identified as a result of enhanced business intelligence tools, treaty exchanges, and other information sources; to pursue additional high risk international cases; and to fund other directly related program specific costs, such as appeals and revenue collection.
    These resources will be phased in over the course of the five-year period commencing within the next year.
    With regard to (b), as was mentioned in response to (a), as of the date of the question, new resources will be implemented over time as the EAP 2013 comes into force, phased in over a five-year period. As a result, the CRA is unable at this time to confirm the specific breakdown of the projected cost by audit and compliance resources beyond the $15 million figure cited.
    With regard to (c), the $15 million will be reallocated from within existing CRA funding as approved by Parliament and Treasury Board. It is a common practice to monitor spending across all programs and activities and, where operational efficiencies can be realized, to reallocate savings to high priority activities accordingly.
Question No. 111--
Hon. Ralph Goodale:
     With regard to the Privy Council Office, and to the following documents: the Information to Obtain a Production Order and a Sealing Order, made on June 24th, 2013 by Corporal Greg Horton of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Ottawa, Ontario, before Chantal Dominique Marie Lurette, a Commissioner for the Taking of Oaths in the Province of Ontario, in which he states he has reasonable grounds to believe and does believe that offences contrary to an Act of Parliament have been made by Michael Duffy; the statements made in the Senate by Senator Michael Duffy on October 22, 2013, and statements made to the press on October 21, 2013 in Ottawa by Donald Bayne, a lawyer of that city acting on behalf of Senator Duffy: (a) does the Access to Information Directorate of the Privy Council Office still conclude that no records exist with regard to Access to Information requests A-2013-00231, A-2013-00232, A-2013-00233, A-2013-00075, A-2013-00076, A-2013-00077, A-2013-00080, A-2013-00085, A-2013-00099, A-2013-00101, A-2013-00103, A-2013-00104, A-2013-00105, A-2013-00106, A-2013-00113, A-2013-00114, A-2013-00116, A-2013-00120, A-2013-00125, A-2013-00126, A-2013-00131, A-2013-00132, A-2013-00139, and A-2012-00751; (b) will the Directorate re-examine the handling of those requests in light of the new information outlined above; (c) did the Privy Council Office formerly hold records which would have satisfied one or more of those requests; (d) if so, were the records transferred, removed, or destroyed; (e) if transferred or removed, to whose custody or control were they transferred or removed; (f) if destroyed, when were they destroyed, on what date or dates was the destruction approved, and what is the file number of any order, instruction, directive, or authorization concerning their transfer, removal, or destruction?
Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):
     Mr. Speaker, the Privy Council Office, PCO, offers non-partisan, objective policy advice and information to support the Prime Minister and cabinet. For more information on PCO’s mandate please visit pco.gc.ca.
     Subsection 4(1) of the Access to Information Act states:
    “Subject to this Act, but notwithstanding any other Act of Parliament, every person who is (a) a Canadian citizen, or (b) a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, has a right to and shall, on request, be given access to any record under the control of a government institution.”
    The decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Canada (Information Commissioner) v. Canada (Minister of National Defence) clearly states that the Prime Minister’s Office and ministerial offices are not part of the “government institution” for which they are responsible, thus exempting these offices from the provisions of the Access to Information Act.
     PCO did not advise the Prime Minister on this matter. Therefore, it is not unexpected that records were not found within PCO with regard to access to information requests A-2013-00231, A-2013-00232, A-2013-00233, A-2013-00075, A-2013-00076, A-2013-00077, A-2013-00080, A-2013-00085, A-2013-00099, A-2013-00101, A-2013-00103, A-2013-00104, A-2013-00105, A-2013-00106, A-2013-00113, A-2013-00114, A-2013-00116, A-2013-00120, A-2013-00125, A-2013-00126, A-2013-00131, A-2013-00132, A-2013-00139, and A-2013-00751.
Question No. 112--
Hon. Ralph Goodale:
     With respect to Senate motions No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seeking to suspend Senators Brazeau, Duffy and Wallin without pay: (a) was the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) or the Privy Council Office (PCO) consulted or involved in the drafting of the motions, and, if so, who was involved; (b) what are the details of the emails, briefing notes, reports or other documents that were prepared by, or provided to, the PMO or the PCO for the purpose, in whole or in part, of drafting the motions, specifically the titles or files or reference numbers of those documents; (c) what meetings have the PMO or the PCO had, or been involved in, regarding, in whole or in part, the motions; (d) who attended the meetings in (c); (e) what are the details of the emails, briefing notes, reports or other documents that were prepared for or provided, in whole or in part, at these meetings, specifically the titles or files or reference numbers of those documents?
Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, the Privy Council Office was not consulted or involved in the drafting of Senate motions No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4.
Question No. 113--
Hon. Ralph Goodale:
     With regard to contracts that have been entered into by the government, which require the other contracting party to provide “industrial regional benefits” or other similar offsets across the country, since January 1, 2006: (a) how many have there been; (b)what were the specific commitments made in each case; (c) what is their individual and cumulative dollar value; (d) in which provinces were each of the said benefits/offsets to accrue; and (e) in each case, to what extent have the commitments been honoured?
Hon. James Moore (Minister of Industry, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to contracts that have been entered into by the government that require the other contracting party to provide industrial regional benefits or other similar offsets across the country, since January 1, 2006, Industry Canada reports the following.
     In response to (a), the projects are listed on the Industrial Regional Benefits, IRB, website, www.ic.gc.ca/irb.
    In response to (b), in 54 of the contracts, the contractor’s IRB commitment is 100% of the contract value. In 2 contracts, the IRB commitment is 80% of the contract value.
     In response to (c), the IRB obligation value for these contracts is available on the IRB website, www.ic.gc.ca/irb.
     In response to (d), while there are IRB commitments and activities occurring in all provinces in Canada, provincial statistics are not tracked and reported.
     In response to (e), contractors report to Industry Canada annually on their IRB activities. All contractors are on track to meet their IRB obligations by the end of their contract.
Question No. 118--
Mr. Mathieu Ravignat:
     With regard to pensioners’ contributions to the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) for retired public servants: (a) does the government intend to double or increase plan premiums; (b) is it accurate to say that PSHCP contribution rates (as a percentage for the pensioner and the government) are the result of an agreement between these two parties and, if so (i) when was this decision made, (ii) what is the rationale for this possible increase, (iii) how will the government go about implementing it; (c) what real savings will result from this premium increase; and (d) have studies been carried out in this regard, (ii) what were the findings?
Hon. Tony Clement (President of the Treasury Board, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, budget 2013 identified the Government of Canada’s intention to continue to ensure that the public service is affordable, modern and high-performing. To help do this, the government also indicated that it would examine overall employee compensation and pensioner benefits. Discussions are under way on the public service health care plan in a forum that includes bargaining agents and the National Association of Federal Retirees to ensure that retiree health benefits remain financially sustainable and comparable with other private and public sector organizations. At this time, no specific decisions through this forum have been made.
Question No. 125--
Mr. Justin Trudeau:
    With regard to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office: (a) how many records exist regarding the letter of understanding between the Prime Minister’s former Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright, and Senator Mike Duffy regarding the payment of $90,127 to cover Senator Duffy’s living expenses; and (b) what are the details of each record?
Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, the Privy Council Office, PCO, offers non-partisan, objective policy advice and information to support the Prime Minister and cabinet. For more information on PCO’s mandate please visit pco.gc.ca.
     The PCO has no records of information regarding a letter of understanding between the Prime Minister’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, and Senator Mike Duffy.
Question No. 126--
Mr. Justin Trudeau:
     With regard to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office, what are the details of the letter of understanding between the Prime Minister’s former Chief of Staff, Nigel Wright, and Senator Mike Duffy regarding the payment of $90,127 to cover Senator Duffy’s living expenses?
Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, the Privy Council Office, PCO, offers non-partisan, objective policy advice and information to support the Prime Minister and cabinet. For more information on PCO’s mandate please visit pco.gc.ca.
    The PCO has no records of information regarding a letter of understanding between the Prime Minister’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, and Senator Mike Duffy.
Question No. 128--
Mr. Ryan Cleary:
     With regard to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador: (a) what programs does the Fish, Food and Allied Workers’ (FFAW) union administer for DFO; (b) does the FFAW have any contracts with DFO; (c) does the FFAW administer the Dockside Monitoring Program for DFO; (d) does the FFAW receive any money for administering this contract; (e) does the FFAW administer the Stewardship Fisheries for DFO; and (f) does the FFAW receive money for administering this contract?
Hon. Gail Shea (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, CPC):
     Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the FFAW delivers the cod sentinel survey; the fisheries science collaborative program, FSCP; and post-season snow crab pot surveys, the aquaculture impact on lobsters and crab in Connaigre Bay and Eastport lobster marine protected area.
    The FFAW applied for and received funding under the Atlantic lobster sustainability measures, ALSM, program and administers it on behalf of lobster harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador.
     With regard to (b), while these are not contracts, under the ALSM program, DFO and the FFAW signed contribution agreements. The remaining programs listed above are administered via contracts from DFO through PWGSC.
    With regard to (c), the FFAW does not administer the dockside monitoring program for DFO.
    With regard to (e), no, the FFAW does not administer any stewardship fisheries for DFO.
    With regard to (d) and (f), it is not applicable.
Question No. 135--
Ms. Libby Davies:
     With regard to the Respect for Communities Act: (a) how many of the following were consulted in the development of the legislation, (i) health care providers, (ii) front-line service providers, (iii) medical research professionals specializing in addictions treatment, (iv) medical research professionals specializing in concurrent mental health and addictions treatment, (v) police departments, (vi) police officers; (b) of the organizations mentioned in the answer to (a), who from each organization was involved; (c) over what time period did the consultations take place; (d) which ministries were involved in the development of the legislation; and (e) from those ministries listed in the answer to (d), who from each ministry was consulted?
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Health, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, Bill C-2, the respect for communities act, was developed further to the 2011 Supreme Court of Canada decision regarding InSite.
    In this decision, the Supreme Court of Canada set out five factors that the Minister of Health must consider when assessing any future applications of this nature, including evidence, if any, of the impact of such a facility on crime rates; the local conditions indicating a need for such a supervised injection site; the regulatory structure in place to support the facility; the resources available to support its maintenance; and expressions of community support or opposition. Bill C-2 builds and expands upon these factors, setting out criteria that applicants would need to address when seeking an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act for activities with illicit substances at a supervised consumption site.
    The proposed legislation was designed to allow for a range of stakeholders to provide their opinion on an exemption application for a specific supervised consumption site. For example, letters of opinion would be required from provincial/territorial ministers responsible for health and public safety, local government, the lead public health official in the province, and the head of the local police force.
     Individual Canadians would be engaged directly through the proposed authority to allow the Minister of Health to publicly post a notice of application regarding proposed supervised consumption sites. Once posted, members of the public would have 90 days to provide comments to the minister.
    Applicants would also have to provide a report of consultations with professional licensing authorities for physicians and nurses. The applicant would also have to consult community stakeholders and provide to the minister, among other things, a description of how any relevant stakeholder concerns would be addressed.
    By addressing the criteria set out in the proposed act, applicants would provide the Minister of Health with information needed to balance public health and public safety considerations in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms when assessing such applications.
    In the development of the proposed legislation, Health Canada consulted with Public Safety Canada, Justice Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and central agencies.
Question No. 136--
Mr. Charlie Angus:
     On what date and in what manner did the government receive a payment from Mike Duffy or his associates for expense claims?
Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, the Privy Council Office has no information regarding a payment from Senator Mike Duffy or his associates for expense claims. The Senate would have information about payments it has received.
Question No. 138--
Mrs. Anne-Marie Day:
     With regard to jobs in the public service between May 2011 and September 2013, broken down by department, located in the ridings of (i) Portneuf–Jacques-Cartier, (ii) Charlesbourg–Haute-Saint-Charles, (iii) Louis-Hébert, (iv) Louis-Saint-Laurent, (v) Québec, (vi) Beauport–Limoilou: (a) how many positions were cut; and (b) how many full-time and part-time employees were hired?
Mr. Rick Dykstra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the Public Service Commission does not collect data with respect to how many positions were cut in the federal government.
    With regard to (b), the commission’s information systems do not capture public service hiring information by federal riding.
Question No. 145--
Mr. Sean Casey:
     With regard to the Privy Council Office, and to the following documents: an e-mail, dated December 4, 2012, between Nigel Wright and Senator Duffy, tabled in the Senate on October 28, 2013 as Sessional Paper No. 2/41-112S; e-mail correspondence, dated February 11, 2013, between Senator Duffy and Nigel Wright, tabled in the Senate on October 28, 2013 as Sessional Paper No. 2/41-113S; an e-mail, dated May 15, 2013, between Senator Duffy and Chris Woodcock, referenced on the CBC News Network program “Power and Politics“ on October 28, 2013, and published on the program's Web site; and the statements made in the Senate by Senator Michael Duffy on October 28, 2013: (a) does the Access to Information Directorate of the Privy Council Office still conclude that no records exist with regard to Access to Information requests A-2013-00231, A-2013-00232, A-2013-00233, A-2013-00075, A-2013-00076, A-2013-00077, A-2013-00080, A-2013-00085, A-2013-00099, A-2013-00101, A-2013-00103, A-2013-00104, A-2013-00105, A-2013-00106, A-2013-00113, A-2013-00114, A-2013-00116, A-2013-00120, A-2013-00125, A-2013-00126, A-2013-00131, A-2013-00132, A-2013-00139, and A-2012-00751; (b) will the Directorate re-examine the handling of those requests in light of the new information outlined above; (c) did the Privy Council Office formerly hold records which would have satisfied one or more of those requests; (d) if so, were the records transferred, removed, or destroyed; (e) if transferred or removed, to whose custody or control were they transferred or removed; (f) if destroyed, when were they destroyed, on what date or dates was the destruction approved, and what is the file number of any order, instruction, directive, or authorization concerning their transfer, removal, or destruction?
Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):
     Mr. Speaker, the Privy Council Office, PCO, offers non-partisan, objective policy advice and information to support the Prime Minister and Cabinet. For more information on PCO’s mandate, members may visit pco.gc.ca.
    Subsection 4(1) of the Access to Information Act states:
    Subject to this Act, but notwithstanding any other Act of Parliament, every person who is (a) a Canadian citizen, or (b) a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, has a right to and shall, on request, be given access to any record under the control of a government institution.
    The decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Canada (Information Commissioner) v. Canada (Minister of National Defence) clearly states that the Prime Minister’s Office and ministerial offices are not part of the “government institution” for which they are responsible, thus exempting these offices from provisions of the Access to Information Act.
    PCO did not advise the Prime Minister on this matter. Therefore, it is not unexpected that records were not found within PCO with regard to Access to Information requests A-2013-00231, A-2013-00232, A-2013-00233, A-2013-00075, A-2013-00076, A-2013-00077, A-2013-00080, A-2013-00085, A-2013-00099, A-2013-00101, A-2013-00103, A-2013-00104, A-2013-00105, A-2013-00106, A-2013-00113, A-2013-00114, A-2013-00116, A-2013-00120, A-2013-00125, A-2013-00126, A-2013-00131, A-2013-00132, A-2013-00139, and A-2013-00751.
Question No. 147--
Mr. Guy Caron:
     With regard to the report by Caroline Desbiens, the lawyer mandated in June 2012 by the Minister of Transport to investigate the notices of objection to the proposal to repeal the Laurentian Pilotage Authority District No. 3 Regulations: (a) when is the report scheduled to be released; (b) which groups and individuals did Ms. Desbiens consult as part of her investigation; and (c) how many submissions or written notices have been sent to Ms. Desbiens?
Hon. Lisa Raitt (Minister of Transport, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), Transport Canada is presently studying the report. The release date has not been established.
    With regard to (b), in the framework of the investigation, representatives from Transport Canada, the Canadian Marine Pilots’ Association, the Laurentian Pilotage Authority, the Agence Océanique du Bas-Saint-Laurent, the Agence Marine Montreal Inc., and other individuals were met with or reached by telephone.
    With regard to (c), Transport Canada did not submit any memorandum or written comments to Ms. Desbiens during the investigation.
Question No. 154--
Ms. Libby Davies:
    With regard to the letters that Health Canada mailed to over 40 000 participants in the current medical marihuana access program (MMAP), which disclosed their personal address information on an envelope marked as being from the MMAP: (a) what are the standard protocols governing the communication of changes to medical programs from Health Canada, and what laws or regulations govern these protocols; (b) which branch and department is responsible for mailing out correspondence about the MMAP; (c) how many full-time employees and managers were involved in communicating the MMAP changes in this mail-out; (d) what protocols are followed once a breach of privacy has occurred; (e) what were all of the steps taken when this MMAP privacy breach occurred in November 2013; (f) were the changes that were made to the MMAP subject to a privacy impact assessment; and (g) was that assessment reviewed with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner?
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Health, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), Health Canada is governed by the same communications protocols as other government departments, including the communications policy of the Government of Canada and any directives and guidelines set forth by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, TBS.
    With regard to (b), typically correspondence with respect to the program is mailed out by the Bureau of Medical Cannabis, which is part of the Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, or HECSB, of Health Canada. In the case of this mail-out, considering the volume of letters to be sent and the number of pages per envelope, Health Canada entered into a memorandum of agreement with Canada Post to conduct this mailing.
    With regard to (c), it is not possible to accurately quantify the number of people involved in the mail-out.
     With regard to (d), Health Canada has a comprehensive process that is followed in cases where a privacy breach may have occurred. When a possible breach is reported to the Access to Information and Privacy Division, ATIP, privacy and program officials work together to gather facts and assess next steps. In keeping with the TBS guidelines on privacy breaches and Health Canada’s own process, when the department assesses that a breach may have occurred, the principles of containment, notification, and mitigation are followed. Through this process a review of the incident and all associated events occurs.
    With regard to (e), although it has not been determined by the courts or by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, the OPC, that this incident constitutes a privacy breach, Health Canada has taken the expressed privacy concerns very seriously. The department is taking steps to ensure this does not happen again. Given ongoing litigation and OPC investigation, Health Canada is not in a position to comment further.
    With regard to (f), Health Canada met with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner during the development of the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, MMPR, to review the new framework. In addition, as part of the implementation of the new regime, a PIA process is in progress for the MMPR. Under the MMPR, Health Canada will no longer collect personal information on program participants, who now number over 37,000 Canadians, as it did under the old program. Instead, it will be in receipt of information from those applying to become licensed producers. The PIA is focused on ensuring adequate protection mechanisms for this type of data.
    With regard to (g), once the PIA process is complete as required by Treasury Board policy, the PIA will be submitted to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.
Question No. 158--
Ms. Irene Mathyssen:
     With regard to occupation of the former Embassy of the United States of America, located directly across from Parliament Hill at 100 Wellington Street, and its annex at 128 Wellington Street, which are listed on the Treasury Board of Canada website as “fully occupied”: (a) by whom are the buildings occupied; (b) since when have they occupied the building and annex; (c) how long is the lease for the building and annex; and (d) for what purposes are they occupying the building and annex?
Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the 100 Wellington Street and the 128 Wellington Street buildings owned by the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada are vacant.
    With regard to (b), the buildings have been vacant since the late 1990s.
    With regard to (c), no lease exists.
    With regard to (d), no tenants occupy the buildings.
     Members should note that PWGSC is working with the Treasury Board Secretariat to correct the outdated information in the Directory of Federal Real Property.
Question No. 160--
Ms. Chris Charlton:
     With regard to the City of Hamilton's legal action against the government over the environmental assessment of the Red Hill Creek Expressway: (a) what is the amount of money spent by the government on this action to date; (b) what is the current status of the legal action; and (c) which documents filed with the court from either party can be accessed by the public and made available?
Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), to the extent that the information that has been requested is protected by solicitor-client privilege, the federal crown asserts that privilege and, in this case, has waived that privilege only to the extent of revealing the total legal cost.
    The total legal cost is approximately $2,390,600.61.
    With regard to (b), this action is currently at the oral discovery stage. The plaintiffs have completed examinations for discovery of 11 defendants.
     With regard to (c), all documents filed with the court are accessible by the public.
Question No. 163--
Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault:
     With regard to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority Act (CATSA): (a) how many aerodromes have submitted a request to be added to the schedule of the CATSA Aerodrome Designation Regulations since 2002, broken down by year; (b) which aerodromes have submitted a request to be added to the schedule of the CATSA Aerodrome Designation Regulations since 2002, broken down by year; (c) what criteria must be met for an aerodrome to be added to the schedule of the CATSA Aerodrome Designation Regulations; and (d) since 2002, have there been any changes to the criteria for assessing a request to be added to the schedule of the CATSA Aerodrome Designation Regulations and, if so, (i) what criteria have been added, (ii) what criteria have been removed?
Hon. Lisa Raitt (Minister of Transport, CPC):
     Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), since 2002 there have been 12 requests for aerodromes to be added to the schedule of the CATSA Aerodrome Designation Regulations, most within the last two years. It should be noted that some of these requests were submitted by municipalities or others on behalf of an aerodrome.
    With regard to (b), the aerodromes in question are as follows: Mont Tremblant, Québec, in 2004; Red Deer, Alberta, in 2004; Puvirnituq, Québec, in 2009-2013; Trois-Rivières, Québec, in 2009-2011; Schefferville, Québec, in 2012; St. Catharines, Niagara District, Ontario, in 2012-2013; Bromont, Québec, in 2013; Cold Lake, Alberta, in 2013; Dawson City Airport, Yukon, in 2013; Edson, Alberta, in 2013; Sherbrooke, Québec, in 2013; and Northern Rockies Regional Airport, Fort Nelson, B.C, in 2013.
    With regard to (c), Transport Canada’s security risk methodology is used to determine whether CATSA screening is required at a Canadian airport through the assessment of various criteria including, but not limited to, passenger volumes and threat information. Together the criteria capture the overall risk environment at a particular airport. For security reasons, Transport Canada does not discuss the specific criteria used in the risk assessment.
    With regard to (d), the security risk methodology was established in 2005. There have been no changes to the criteria since that time.
Question No. 164--
Hon. Dominic LeBlanc:
     With regard to the $14 million referred to by Mr. Terrance McAuley, Assistant Commissioner, Compliance Programs Branch, Canada Revenue Agency, in the following comments made at the February 5, 2013, meeting of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance on the case of Canadians with secret bank accounts in Liechtenstein, “That project is virtually complete now… We have gone through the list and we have conducted 47 audits and identified $22.4 million in outstanding tax from a base of approximately $100 million in raw assets. From that, we are now in the process… we have finished collecting approximately $8 million of that. With respect to the balance, roughly $14 million is currently before the courts.”: (a) how many cases does that represent; (b) how many of these assessments were appealed; (c) what are the dates when each appeal was filed; and (d) in what courts were these appeals filed?
Hon. Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay (Minister of National Revenue, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, during a study of tax evasion and the use of tax havens at the February 5, 2013, meeting of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, the following question was put:
    “I understand Project Jade was the ability of the CRA to go after those who came out of the Liechtenstein tax evasion situation in 2008. Apparently, 106 Canadians were involved. It was expected that millions of dollars in back taxes and penalties would result. Could you update us on what happened with respect to that?”
    This question prompted the reply cited in written question Q-164.
    Through its objection process, the CRA provides a fair and impartial administrative process for resolving disputes between taxpayers and the CRA. Filing a notice of objection is the first step in the process of resolving a dispute between a taxpayer and the CRA. If a taxpayer does not agree with the CRA’s decision resulting from a notice of objection, a further appeal can be brought to the Tax Court of Canada, the TCC. The TCC is an independent court of law that regularly conducts hearings in major centres across Canada.
    With regard to parts (a) and (b), members should please note that the stated amount of “roughly $14 million” refers to matters being considered under dispute resolution processes, which include cases under the objection process as well as cases before the court.
    With respect to Project Jade, as of December 4, 2013--i.e., the date of the question--eleven taxpayers have filed objections with the CRA, i.e., its administrative process. Of these, the CRA has reviewed and resolved the objections of ten taxpayers. The objections of one taxpayer are currently under review.
    With respect to the appeal process, as of December 4, 2013--i.e., the date of the question--one taxpayer has filed an appeal with the court.
    With regard to (c), it is possible for taxpayers to each file more than one objection. For example, one could be filed for each tax year assessed. For the eleven taxpayers referred to in part (b), 19 objections in all were filed between May 2009 and March 2013.
    With respect to appeals before the court, court records are a matter of public record and are available for consultation by the public. However, confidentiality provisions of the Income Tax Act limit the information the CRA can provide when the release of that information might lead, either directly or indirectly, to the identification of a taxpayer. With respect to the appeal in court mentioned in part (b), providing the exact date the appeal was filed could indirectly lead to the identification of the taxpayer involved with Project Jade; therefore, the CRA is unable to respond in the manner requested.
    With regard to part (d), the objections referred to in parts (b) and (c) were filed with the CRA.
    The appeal referred to in parts (b) and (c) was filed with the Tax Court of Canada, the TCC. The date the taxpayer’s appeal will be heard will be determined by the TCC in due time.
Question No. 165--
Mr. Scott Simms:
     With regard to (41-2) Q-42, (41-1) Q-1057, and all other Order Paper questions in the 41st Parliament that the government has only partially answered or not answered at all, for the government as a whole and broken down by department: (a) in terms of staff time required to answer a question, does the government consider the following numbers of hours to be higher than the number beyond which it will refuse to answer a question: (i) 1-40 hours, (ii) 41-80 hours, (iii) 81-120 hours, (iv) 121-160 hours, (v) 161-200 hours, (vi) 201-300 hours, (vii) 301-500 hours, (viii) 501-1000 hours, (ix) 1001-2000 hours, (x) 2001-5000 hours, (xi) 5001-10000 hours, (xii) 10001-20000 hours, (xiii) more than 20000 hours; (b) in terms of cost expended to answer a question, does the government consider the following costs to be higher than the number beyond which it will refuse to answer a question: (i) $1-$100, (ii) $101-$500, (iii) $501-$1,000, (iv) $1,001-$1,500, (v) $1,501-$2,000, (vi) $2,001-$2,500, (vii) $2,501-$3,000, (viii) $3,001-$3,500, (ix) $3,501- $4,000, (x) $4,001-$5,000, (xi) $5,001-$7,500, (xii) $7,501-$10,000, (xiii) $10,001-$20,000, (xiv) $20,001-$50,000, (xv) $50,001-$100,000, (xvi) $100,001-$500,000, (xvii) $500,001-$1,000,000, and (xviii) more than $1,000,000; (c) for each Order Paper question that the government has only partially answered or not answered at all, (i) what was the anticipated cost in staff time and money, (ii) by how much did this exceed the tolerance for answering the question in time and money; and (d) for each Order Paper question that the government has only partially answered or not answered at all, (i) how many days did it take for the government to conclude the question could not or could only partially be answered, (ii) how many days prior to the answer being tabled in the House was this conclusion reached?
Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to the preamble to the question as well as the preambles to parts (c) and (d), the government has responded to all questions placed on the order paper during the 41st Parliament with the exception of questions on the order paper when the House adjourned in December 2013, questions withdrawn by the member who asked the question, and questions on the order paper at the time of the prorogation of the first session.
    If a member designates a question as a priority question, the government’s time period to produce a response is limited to 45 days. Except as noted earlier, the government has provided a response on or before this 45-day deadline to every such priority question.
    With respect to parts (a) and (b), the government has not refused to answer any questions on the order paper. A response has been provided to each question, subject to the limited exceptions noted earlier.
    Extensive manual searches, tabulations, and organization of information, which would divert a number of public servants away from their primary responsibilities, are sometimes required for preparing a comprehensive response to a question. If this is required, it may be determined that preparing a comprehensive response to a question, or some part of it, is not feasible. Such a determination is made in view of the resources then available, rather than applying an arbitrary threshold of time estimated for, or cost associated with, preparing a comprehensive response.
    Ministers remain responsible for the content of responses that they sign or that their Ministers of State or parliamentary secretaries sign on their behalf.
    With respect to parts (c) and (d), and despite the earlier response with respect to the preambles to those parts, from the opening of the 41st Parliament until December 10, 2013, Members of the House of Commons have posed some 1,662 written questions, including many questions which each contain dozens of parts or sub-questions. An extensive manual review of each response provided by the Government, together with the processes associated with preparing each response, would be required to provide a comprehensive response in the present case; such reviews are not feasible given the 45-day limit placed on responding to this question.
Question No. 166--
Mr. Scott Simms:
     With regard to the snowmobile protests that took place in Terra Nova National Park between January 2010 and December 2011 and all events and circumstances related to these protests, what are the details of all ministerial correspondence, letters, emails, internal recommendations, internal correspondence, internal action plans, briefing notes, or other written material pertaining to these events, including those relating to any related Access to Information requests?
Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, a breakdown of all ministerial correspondence, letters, emails, internal recommendations, internal correspondence, internal action plans, briefing notes, and other written material pertaining to the snowmobile protests that took place in Terra Nova National Park between January 2010 and December 2011 is as follows:
    Briefing notes, 15; emails, 417; internal action plans, 20; internal recommendations, 3; ministerial correspondence, 22; letter, 1; and other written material, 23.
Question No. 167--
Mr. Denis Blanchette:
     With regard to the legal action taken by the 2005 government against Canadian National (CN) about respecting agreements for maintaining the Quebec Bridge, which has since split into two lawsuits: (a) what were the legal costs, broken down by year, for both lawsuits from 2005 to today; (b) what portion of the amount spent on legal fees for these lawsuits was spent on accommodation, travel and meals; (c) what firms are defending or have defended the government in these two lawsuits against CN; (d) what is the average hourly rate charged by the firms representing the government during the CN lawsuits; (e) what is the total number of hours billed to the government between 2005 and today, broken down by year; and (f) what are the projected annual budgets in the years ahead for the lawsuits against CN?
Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a) and (b), to the extent that the information that has been requested is protected by solicitor-client privilege, the federal crown asserts that privilege and, in this case, has waived that privilege only to the extent of revealing the total legal cost.
    The total legal cost is approximately $381,792.94.
    With regard to (c) through (e), a legal agent was not retained to represent the interests of Her Majesty the Queen.
    With regard to (f), no formal budget has been established.
Question No. 168--
Ms. Yvonne Jones :
     With regard to National Defence, what are the details of the projects which will be funded by the $107 million which has been allocated for planned investments in infrastructure at 5 Wing Goose Bay, as referred to in the government’s response to Q-61 in the current session of Parliament?
Hon. Rob Nicholson (Minister of National Defence, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, on June 4, 2013, the former Associate Minister of National Defence spoke about $407 million in investments at 5 Wing Goose Bay, which included approximately $107 million that was spent or has been allocated for planned investments in infrastructure at 5 Wing Goose Bay. The details of the investments are as follows: central heating plant maintenance, aerodrome main ramp repairs, Hangar 8 repairs, building repairs to replace windows and roofs, infrastructure maintenance to various building and taxiways, conversion of the residential housing units’ heating system from steam to electric heating, and minor projects such as providing a Canex refrigeration system and doors for Hangar 7.
Question No. 169--
Mr. Jean Rousseau:
     With regard to the Canadian Initiative for the Economic Diversification of Communities Reliant on Chrysotile: (a) how many private businesses have applied for repayable loans to date and what are these businesses; (b) what are the amounts of the repayable loans extended to private businesses to date, broken down by business; (c) how many business support organizations have applied for grants to date and what are these organizations; (d) what are the amounts granted to business support organizations to date, broken down by business support organization; (e) how many non-profit organizations have applied for grants to date and what are these organizations; (f) what are the amounts granted to non-profit organizations to date, broken down by organization; (g) how many municipalities and RCMs have applied for grants to date and what are these municipalities and RCMs; and (h) what are the amounts granted to municipalities and RCMs to date, broken down by municipality and RCM?
Hon. Denis Lebel (Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, the Canadian initiative for the economic diversification of communities reliant on chrysotile was launched on June 13, 2013.
    In effect until March 31, 2020, with a budget of $50 million over the next seven years, the Canadian initiative for the economic diversification of communities reliant on chrysotile aims to help communities and businesses in the Des Sources and Des Appalaches regional county municipalities, or RCMs, make the transition to new economic activities, particularly in the secondary and tertiary sectors.
    Managed by the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec through its Quebec economic development program, this initiative builds on the priorities stated in the Government of Canada’s budget 2013, including investing in communities.
    With regard to parts (a) and (b), between June 13, 2013, and December 5, 2013, the agency received seven applications for contributions from private businesses as part of the Canadian initiative for the economic diversification of communities reliant on chrysotile. As of December 5, 2013, the agency has granted three contributions for a total amount of $338,500. The names of the businesses that applied for loans could be considered third party information under the Access to Information Act. As no third party was consulted, the agency will not release that information. Since the agency adheres to the rules and principles governing government grants and contributions outlined in the Treasury Board policy on transfer payments, it will proactively disclose the names of the businesses that received a contribution and the amount awarded on its website at the following address: http://www.dec-ced.gc.ca/eng/disclosure/grant-contribution-awards/index.html.
    With regard to parts (c) through (h), as of December 5, 2013, the agency did not receive any application for contributions from business support organizations, from non-profit organizations, or from municipalities and regional county municipalities as part of the Canadian initiative for the economic diversification of communities reliant on chrysotile.

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC):  
     Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 100, 101, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 110, 115, 116, 117, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 127, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 137, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 146, 148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 155, 156, 157, 159, 161, 162 and 170 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 100--
Hon. Hedy Fry:
     With regard to funds, grants, loans and loan guarantees the government issued through its various departments and agencies in the areas with postal codes beginning in V6B, V6E, V6G, V6J, V5Y, V5Z, V6A, V7Y, V6H, V6Z, V6C, V7X and V5T for the period of January 24, 2006, to May 27, 2013, inclusive, what funds, grants, loans and loan guarantees has the government issued and, in each case, where applicable, (i) what was the program under which the payment was made, (ii) what were the names of the recipients, (iii) what was the monetary value of the payment made, (iv) what was the percentage of program funding covered by the payment received?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 101--
Hon. Hedy Fry:
     With regard to Marchese Hospital Solutions’ (MHS) communications with Health Canada (HC) from January 1, 2010, to May 15, 2013: (a) on what dates did HC receive any form of communication from MHS; (b) what was the subject-matter of each form of communication; (c) did HC respond to each form of communication received; and (d) did MHS request to be regulated by HC?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 103--
Hon. Hedy Fry:
     With regard to the Federal Framework on Suicide Prevention: (a) what actions has the government taken to implement this framework; (b) what groups and organizations have made submissions to Health Canada (HC) or the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC); (c) has HC or the PHAC invited any groups, individuals or organizations to make submissions; (d) what is the department’s timeline to implement the framework; (e) will there be public consultations on the framework and, if so, when will they be held; and (f) what are the departments or agencies involved in the development of the framework?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 104--
Hon. Wayne Easter:
     With regard to imprisonment for life: (a) what offences in the Criminal Code allow for imprisonment for life; (b) how many individuals have been charged with an offence carrying with it a sentence of imprisonment for life, for each of the last ten years, broken down by province and offence; (c) for the individuals charged in (b), how many were convicted; (d) for the individuals in (c), how many received a sentence of life imprisonment; (e) how many individuals in Canada are serving a sentence of “imprisonment for life” and broken down by province and offence, (i) in what year were they sentenced, (ii) how many have been designated as dangerous offenders, (iii) of those designated in (ii), how many have received parole in the last 20 years, broken down by year, (iv) of those designated in (iii), how many have reoffended while on parole; (f) how many prisoners serving a sentence of imprisonment for life applied for parole and how many of them received parole, broken down by year, for the last 20 years; (g) what is the percentage of prisoners sentenced to life whose parole is approved, broken down by year, for the last 25 years, (i) of those sentenced to life, what type of parole was granted, (ii) of the breakdown in (i), how many committed an offence, (iii) what is the recidivism rate of those sentenced for life who are granted parole; (h) what is the percentage of prisoners not sentenced to life whose parole was approved, broken down by year, for the last 25 years, (i) of those not sentenced to life, what type of parole was granted, (ii) of the breakdown in (i), how many committed an offence, (iii) what is the recidivism rate of those not sentenced for life who are granted parole; (i) is there evidence to demonstrate that offenders sentenced to life and granted parole are more likely to reoffend while on parole than offenders not sentenced to life who are granted parole, (i) what evidence has the government sought in relation to this question, (ii) on what dates; (j) what studies has the government undertaken with respect to life imprisonment; (k) is there evidence to suggest that dangerous offender legislation is ineffective, (i) what evidence has the government sought in relation this question, (ii) on what dates; (l) what studies has the government undertaken with respect to dangerous offenders; (m) what evidence has the government sought in relation to assessing the effectiveness of parole; (n) what studies has the government undertaken in relation to assessing the effectiveness of parole; (o) what studies have been undertaken with regard to what effect eliminating imprisonment for life would have on prison violence, (i) on what dates, (ii) with what result; (p) what studies have been undertaken with regard to what effect eliminating imprisonment for life would have on prison overcrowding, (i) on what dates, (ii) with what result; (q) what evidence has the government sought in determining that eliminating imprisonment for life would improve public safety; (r) what studies have been undertaken as to whether removing parole for those imprisoned for life would serve as a deterrent; (s) is there any evidence to suggest that removing parole for those imprisoned for life would serve as a deterrent to criminal activity; (t) has the government assessed the cost of removing parole for those imprisoned for life, if so, what (i) are the figures for each of the next ten years, broken down by province and year, (ii) is the information as to how these figures were assessed; and (u) has the government assessed whether removing the possibility of parole for those sentenced to life would result in any increased cost to the provinces, and if so, (i) to what extent, broken down by province and territory, (ii) for what purpose(s), (iii) were the provinces consulted in this regard, (iv) if so, when and by whom?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 105--
Hon. Judy Sgro:
    With regard to the use of Minister’s Permits by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, how many Minister’s Permits were issued each year from 2006 to 2013?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 106--
Hon. Judy Sgro:
     With regard to government grants, contributions and loans made between fiscal years 2007-2008 and 2011-2012 inclusive to organizations or businesses located in the postal Forward Sortation Areas M8X, M9A, M9B, M9C, M9P, and M9R, what are the details of such funding, including (i) funding program, (ii) date of funding or contribution agreement, (iii) total funding amount, (iv) recipient, (v) nature or purpose of the funding?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 107--
Mr. Scott Simms:
     With regard to government communications, what were the costs of transmitting each of the following press releases using Marketwire (or Marketwired) or Canada NewsWire: (a) “Harper Government continues to engage industry on the Canadian surface combatant project”, issued by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) on March 8, 2013; (b) “Harper Government Invests in Canadian entrepreneurial business in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec”, issued by PWGSC on March 15, 2013; (c) “Harper Government kick-starts entrepreneurial and innovative business in Beaconsfield, Quebec”, issued by PWGSC on March 18, 2013; (d) “Harper Government's ship strategy bolstering Canada's economy”, issued by PWGSC on March 7, 2013; (e) “National Fighter Procurement Secretariat awards contract for next independent cost review”, issued by PWGSC on March 11, 2013; (f) “Work progresses on Harper Government's evaluation of options to replace Canada's CF-18s”, issued by PWGSC on March 3, 2013; (g) “Harper Government and Wounded Warriors Canada Continue to Work Together in Support of the Vancouver Homeless Veterans Project”, issued by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) on March 11, 2013; (h) “Harper Government Commends Queen's University for Offering Priority Hiring to Veterans”, issued by VAC on February 27, 2013; (i) “Harper Government Marks the End of the Italian Campaign”, issued by VAC on February 22, 2013; and (j) “Harper Government Announces Funding to Support Brain Research”, issued by Health Canada on May 3, 2012?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 110--
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay:
     With regard to the consolidation of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' library system, for each of the following locations, (i) the St. Andrews Biological Station, St. Andrews, N.B., (ii) the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre, St. John’s, Nfld., (iii) the Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, B.C., (iv) the Pacific Region Headquarters Library, Vancouver, B.C., (v) the Eric Marshall Aquatic Research Library, Winnipeg, Man., (vi), the Maurice Lamontagne Institute Library, Mont-Joli, Que., (vii) the Mère Juliette Library of the Gulf Fisheries Centre, Moncton, N.B.: (a) how many items from the library’s collection have been retained for consolidation in another regional library; (b) how many items have been (i) deposited in other federal government collections, specifying which collections, (ii) offered to libraries outside the federal government, specifying which libraries and how many have been accepted, (iii) sold, (iv) discarded; (c) for each location, how many items have been digitized, distinguishing government of Canada publications, other government publications and items other than government publications; (d) for each location, what have been the costs associated with discarding surplus items; and (e) what are the file numbers of any contracts or invoices for the removal and disposition of discarded material?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 115--
Hon. Carolyn Bennett:
     With regard to First Nations education: (a) how many First Nations elementary and secondary schools received Instructional Services funding or band-operated funding formulae by the department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development from 2006-2007 to 2012-2013; (b) what is the total amount of Instructional Services funding allocated nationally and by region for each year; (c) what is the methodology utilized to ensure that allocations under the formula respond to actual costs incurred by First Nations schools; (d) how many teachers and teacher aides in First Nations schools were funded, nationally and by region, by the Instructional Services formula; (e) what is the average salary, nationally and by regional breakdown, for teachers and teacher aides in First Nations schools for each year; (f) how are employee benefits for teachers and teacher aides calculated, (i) how much was allocated to employee benefits for teachers and teacher aides, nationally and regionally, from the Instructional Services formula from 2006-2007 to 2012-2013, (ii) how much was allocated to employee benefits for teachers and teacher aides from the Band Employee Benefits program, nationally and regionally, from 2006-2007 to 2012-2013, (iii) how does the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development ensure that benefit amounts available for First Nations to pay teachers and teacher aides are comparable to those benefits available for teachers in provincial schools; (g) how much of the Instructional Services budget is comprised of salaries for teachers and teacher aides; (h) what was the total nominal roll (number of funded students attending First Nations schools and provincial schools but “normally resident on reserve”) nationally and by region for each year from 2006-2007 to 2012-2013; (i) what is the total number of First Nations students ordinarily resident on reserve, age 6-18, who do not appear on the nominal roll; (j) what was the total national allocation to First Nations schools for the following targeted (proposal-based) programs from 2006-2007 to 2012-2013, (i) New Paths, (ii) Parental and Community Engagement, (iii) Teacher Recruitment and Retention, (iv) First Nations SchoolNet; (k) for each program listed in (j), how many recipients were funded; (l) for each program listed in (j), how many First Nations schools belong to the recipient organization; (m) how many recipients of the First Nations Student Success Program were funded and how much funding went directly to a First Nations school; (n) how many recipients of the Education Partnerships Program were funded and how much of the funding went directly into a First Nations school; (o) how many students recipient of the Special Education Program were funded, nationally and regionally, and how many eligible students for the Special Education Program were not funded; (p) how many program applicants of the Indian Studies Support Program were funded, nationally and regionally and how many programs were funded in colleges, universities, First Nations post-secondary institutions and First Nations organizations; (q) for each targeted program (proposal based) listed in (j), (m) and (n) above, how much was allocated internally for departmental use from 2006-2007 to 2012-2013; (r) what was the total amount billed by each province for the education of First Nations students “ordinarily resident on reserve” each year from 2006-2007 to 2012-2013; (s) what are all the required services provincial governments are obliged to provide First Nations students ordinarily resident on reserve in exchange for the government paying the bill for the services; (t) what conditions are put in place to ensure First Nations students ordinarily resident on reserve but attending provincial schools receive instruction in their languages and reflecting their cultures; (u) how does the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development assess programs and services provided by provincial schools for First Nations students ordinarily resident on reserve; (v) what are the federal accountability standards placed on provincial schools for programs and services provided to First Nations students ordinarily resident on reserve; (w) how many First Nations students accessed funding under the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) regionally and nationally for each year from 2006-2007 to 2012-2013; (x) what were the national transfers to First Nations for each year from 2006-2007 to 2012-2013; (y) how many eligible students were not able to access the PSSSP funds from 2006-2007 to 2012-2013; (z) how much was allocated internally to the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development; (aa) what was the national and regional allocation for the University College Entrance Program for each year from 2006-2007 to 2012-2013; (bb) how many students were funded for each year from 2006-2007 to 2012-2013, nationally and regionally; and (cc) what is the total value of the contract numbered #9200-07-0040/04 done by KPMG for the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to study education funding on reserve, (i) how were First Nations consulted in the preparation of KPMG’s resulting report, (ii) how is KPMG’s report being utilized by the Department to improve education funding for First Nations schools, (iii) when will the KPMG report be shared with First Nations, (iv) when will the KPMG report be shared with Parliament, (v) what are the results of the KPMG report?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 116--
Hon. Carolyn Bennett:
     With regard to human trafficking in Canada and the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking: (a) how many individuals were charged with human trafficking, specific offences under sections 279.01, 279.011, 279.02, and 279.03 of the Criminal Code from January 2005 to February 2012 and, in each case, what was the person charged with; (b) how many convictions were there of human trafficking specific offences under sections 279.1, 279.011, 279.02, and 279.03 of the Criminal Code from January 2005 to February 2012 and, in each case, (i) what was the person convicted of, (ii) what was the sentence, (iii) what other offences (if any) in the Criminal Code was the person charged with, (iv) what other offences, if any, in the Criminal Code was the person convicted of, (v) what was the sentence for each conviction for offences in the Criminal Code; (c) was there consultation done with stakeholders, non-governmental organizations or other interest groups in the development of the government’s National Action Plan to combat Human Trafficking and, if yes, (i) with which stakeholders, non-governmental organizations or other interest groups, (ii) did the stakeholders, non-governmental organization or other interest groups make recommendations to the government, (iii) what were these recommendations, broken down by each stakeholder, non-governmental organization or other interest group, (iv) which recommendations did the government incorporate into the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, (v) which recommendations did the government not incorporate into the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and why were they not incorporated; (d) what metrics will the government use to evaluate the effectiveness of the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and who developed these metrics; (e) what are the metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of the Human Trafficking Taskforce led by Public Safety Canada and who developed these metrics; (f) are there reporting mechanisms in place to report on the effectiveness of the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and, if yes, (i) what are these reporting mechanisms, (ii) when is the first report expected, (iii) how often will reports be made, (iv) will these reports be made available to the public and, if not, why not; and (g) are there reporting mechanisms in place to report on the effectiveness of the Human Trafficking Taskforce led by Public Safety Canada and, if yes, (i) what are these reporting mechanisms, (ii) when is the first report expected, (iii) how often will reports be made, (iv) will these reports be made available to the public and, if not, why not?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 117--
Mr. Sean Casey:
     With regard to government institutions within the meaning of the Access to Information Act, for each fiscal year from 2006-2007 to 2013-2014 inclusive, what was or is the budget and total employment, distinguishing full-time and part-time employees, for the Division, Directorate, Office, Secretariat, or other like organization within that institution who are responsible for processing Access to Information requests?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 120--
Mr. David McGuinty:
    With respect to the Canada Revenue Agency lawyers: (a) how many were employed for each of the years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013; and (b) how many were working as tax prosecutors for each of the years in (a)?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 121--
Mr. Ted Hsu:
     With regard to the implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA): (a) what steps has Canada undertaken to complete an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with the United States; (b) with what type of legal instrument will the government enact a FATCA implementation agreement; (c) will the government bring an IGA before Parliament and, if so, in what form; (d) what steps are in place to ensure parliamentary review of an IGA; (e) what studies have been undertaken as to whether an IGA can be implemented as an interpretation of the existing double tax treaty; (f) in what ways will the government involve Parliament in any process to amend interpretation of the double taxation treaty; (g) who is involved in the process indicated in (a); (h) by what criteria is the government evaluating any proposed IGA with the US; (i) who established the criteria in (h), (i) on what date, (ii) under what authority; (j) is a draft IGA currently being negotiated, and if so, what is the status of said negotiations; (k) when will the draft IGA be made public; (l) will the public be consulted for input on any agreement, and if so, by what means; (m) with which specific individuals and groups did the Minister of National Revenue consult regarding FATCA, and on what dates; (n) with which specific individuals and groups did the Minister of National Revenue consult regarding any IGA, and on what dates; (o) with which specific individuals and groups did the Minister of Finance consult regarding FATCA, and on what dates; (p) with which specific individuals and groups did the Minister of Finance consult regarding any IGA, and on what dates; (q) what studies and analyses has the Department of Finance undertaken with respect to FATCA; (r) what studies and analyses has the Department of National Revenue undertaken with respect to FATCA; (s) what analyses and studies have been undertaken as to whether the proposed FATCA regime constitutes an override of the existing double tax convention; (t) what were the conclusions of the studies in (s); (u) what steps is the government taking to ensure that, as a result of FATCA or an IGA, the US will not be allowed to impose higher taxes on Canadian persons than those agreed under the current convention; (v) what studies and analyses have been undertaken to determine whether Canadian citizens and residents are or will be denied financial services in Canada owing to US tax law in general and FATCA in particular; (w) what are the conclusions or recommendations of the studies in (v); (x) what mechanisms are in place to ensure that Canadian citizens and residents are not and will not be denied financial services in Canada owing to US tax law in general and FATCA in particular; (y) what measures will be taken to remedy denial of services to Canadians as a result of FATCA; (z) what studies and analyses will be undertaken to assess FATCA’s impact on the availability of TFSAs and RESPs for dual US-Canada citizens; (aa) what are the conclusions of any studies in (z); (bb) what analyses and studies have been undertaken regarding whether the US definition of “resident” for tax purposes, and its impact on Canadians with dual status, is compatible with Canadian law, including the Charter of Rights and freedoms; (cc) what analyses and studies have been undertaken regarding whether the US definition of “resident” for tax purposes, and its impact on Canadians with dual status, as will be enforced by FATCA or by an IGA, is compatible with Canadian law and, in particular, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; (dd) what analyses and studies have been conducted with respect to FATCA's consequences upon Canadians who believed their US Citizenship had been relinquished; (ee) with respect to the studies referenced in (dd), what particular efforts has the government undertaken to ensure no violation of a Canadian's charter right would be occasioned by implementing FATCA or an IGA; (ff) what studies and analyses have been undertaken regarding the likely cost of FATCA implementation to (i) Canadian private institutions, (ii) Canadian individuals, (iii) the government; (gg) how were the figures in (ff) arrived at, by whom, when, and in consultation with whom; (hh) what studies and analyses have been undertaken as to whether the likely cost of FATCA implementation to Canadian private institutions, Canadian individuals, and the government will be offset by the receipt of reciprocal tax information and Canadian tax law enforcement by the US; (ii) what analyses and studies have been undertaken as to whether the likely costs and benefits described in (ff) and (hh) are likely to be greater, lesser, or the same as under the current tax-information-sharing relationship with the US; (jj) what agencies, boards, tribunals, or commissions of the government have studied, interpreted, analyzed, or commented upon FATCA, (i) to what extent, (ii) on what dates, (iii) with what conclusion(s); (kk) what specific steps has the government taken to assess the privacy implications of FACTA; (ll) on what dates and with respect to what topics has the government met with the Privacy Commissioner to discuss FATCA or the effect of any IGA; (mm) broken down by province or territory, (i) on which dates and (ii) with what individuals in the provincial and territorial governments did the government consult on the subject of FATCA; (nn) broken down by province or territory, (i) on which dates and (ii) with what individuals in the provincial and territorial governments did the government consult on the subject of any IGA; (oo) does the government have the support of every province and territory with respect to any proposed implementation of FATCA, and what evidence does the government have that this support exists; (pp) has the Department of Justice developed any policy relative to the implementation of an IGA and, if so, (i) how was it developed, (ii) in consultation with whom, (iii) to whom was it provided, (iv) who requested it, (v) what were its findings, conclusions, and recommendations; (qq) how will the government monitor and enforce compliance by Canadian institutions with FATCA requirements; (rr) how will the government monitor and enforce regulatory oversight of the bank due-diligence efforts required by FATCA and its implementation, including (i) by whom (ii) how, (iii) using what standards such efforts will be evaluated; (ss) what penalties exist and what penalties does the government intend to establish for failure to adhere to standards indicated in (rr); (tt) has the Department of Justice or the Department of Revenue developed any legislation or guidance relative to the implementation of an IGA or FATCA and, if so (i) how was it developed, (ii) in consultation with whom, (iii) to whom was it provided, (iv) who requested it, (v) what were its findings, conclusions, and recommendations; (uu) has the Department of Justice reviewed any proposed legislation relative to the implementation of an IGA; (vv) with what individuals or groups has the Department of Justice consulted relative to the implementation of FATCA; (ww), what steps have been undertaken to assess regulatory changes to federal institutions at the provincial and territorial level that would be required as a result of FATCA or any IGA; (xx) what steps has the Canada Revenue Agency taken with regard to developing or implementing FATCA or any IGA; (yy) what tax information does the Canada Revenue agency currently share with the US, (i) when, (ii) under what circumstances, (iii) in what form; (zz) has the government assessed whether FATCA and its implementation would require changes to the ways in which tax information is currently shared with the US; (aaa) what has the government sought, or does the government plan to seek from the US, in terms of reciprocal information sharing as a result of the FATCA or IGA negotiations, and what is the current status of negotiations on this point; (bbb) what measures are in place to ensure that no privacy laws or policies are violated in any transfer of information contemplated in (aaa); and (ccc) by what process(es) and on what dates will any IGA and its enacting legislation be vetted for compliance with the (i) Constitution Act, 1867, (ii) Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, (iii) Canadian Bill of Rights?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 122--
Mr. Kennedy Stewart:
     With regard to scientific research and the communications policies of Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada, the National Research Council of Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, for each of these departments or agencies during the years (i) 2000, (ii) 2001, (iii) 2002, (iv) 2003, (v) 2004, (vi) 2005, (vii) 2006, (viii) 2007, (ix) 2008, (x) 2009, (xi) 2010, (xii) 2011, (xiii) 2012, and (xiv) 2013: (a) how many total media inquiries were received; (b) how many total media inquiries were completed; (c) how many media inquiries relating to scientific issues were received; (d) how many media inquiries relating to scientific issues were completed; (e) how many media inquiries relating to scientific issues were completed within 24 hours of the initial request; (f) how many media requests for an interview with scientists were received; (g) how many media requests for an interview with scientists were denied by or did not receive approval from communications, media relations, or ministerial staff; (h) how many media requests for an interview with scientists were instead responded to by communications, media relations, or ministerial staff; (i) how many media interviews were given directly by scientists; (j) prior to how many media interviews in (i) were scientists required, instructed, or asked to use prepared responses or approved lines; (k) prior to how many media interviews in (i) were scientists required, instructed, or asked by communications, media relations, or ministerial staff to omit scientific information; (l) how many media interviews in (i) were also attended, observed, or recorded by communications, media relations, or ministerial staff; and (m) how many media interviews in (i) were completed within the requested deadline of the inquiring journalists?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 123--
Mr. Kennedy Stewart:
     With regard to the subsection of the 2013 Speech From The Throne entitled “Science and Technology”: (a) what accounting methodology was used to determine that, since 2006, the government “has invested more than 9 billion dollars to support science, technology and innovative companies”; (b) was the figure of “more than 9 billion dollars to support science, technology and innovative companies” adjusted for inflation since 2006; (c) was the figure of “more than 9 billion dollars to support science, technology and innovative companies” given in current dollars or constant 2006 dollars; (d) if the figure was given in current dollars, what is the value of the “more than 9 billion dollars to support science, technology and innovative companies” in current 2006 dollars; (e) how much of the “more than 9 billion dollars to support science, technology and innovative companies” was spent during fiscal year (i) 2005-2006, (ii) 2006-2007, (iii) 2007-2008, (iv) 2008-2009, (v) 2009-2010, (vi) 2010-2011, (vii) 2011-2012, (viii) 2012-2013, and (ix) 2013-2014; (f) how much of the “more than 9 billion dollars to support science, technology and innovative companies” was spent as part of the Stimulus Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan between January 2009 and March 2012; (g) what is the complete and detailed spending breakdown of the “more than 9 billion dollars to support science, technology and innovative companies” since 2006; (h) what portion of the “more than 9 billion dollars to support science, technology and innovative companies” since 2006 was invested in basic, fundamental, or pure scientific research; (i) what portion of the “more than 9 billion dollars to support science, technology and innovative companies” since 2006 was invested in applied research, industrial research and development, or commercial applications; (j) what methodology was used to determine that “Canada now leads G-7 countries in post-secondary research investment”; (k) where does Canada rank among the countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in regard to “post-secondary research investment”; (l) has Canada’s ranking among OECD countries for “post-secondary research investment” increased or decreased since 2006; (m) during the most recent fiscal year for which comprehensive data is available, what percentage of Canada’s total “post-secondary research investment” was made by (i) the federal government, (ii) provincial and territorial governments, (iii) municipal governments, (iv) the private sector, (v) charities, (vi) individuals and households, (vii) other sources; (n) what was the government’s total expenditure on “post-secondary research investment,” in current dollars, during fiscal year (i) 2000-2001, (ii) 2001-2002, (iii) 2002-2003, (iv) 2003-2004, (v) 2004-2005, (vi) 2005-2006, (vii) 2006-2007, (viii) 2007-2008, (ix) 2008-2009, (x) 2009-2010, (xi) 2010-2011, (xii) 2011-2012, (xiii) 2012-2013, (xiv) 2013-2014; (o) what was the government’s total expenditure on “post-secondary research investment,” in constant 2006 dollars, during fiscal year (i) 2000-2001, (ii) 2001-2002, (iii) 2002-2003, (iv) 2003-2004, (v) 2004-2005, (vi) 2005-2006, (vii) 2006-2007, (viii) 2007-2008, (ix) 2008-2009, (x) 2009-2010, (xi) 2010-2011, (xii) 2011-2012, (xiii) 2012-2013, (xiv) 2013-2014; (p) what measures or outcomes is the government using to evaluate whether or not the “[t]ransformation of the National Research Council” is effectively “helping to promote greater commercialization of research and development”; (q) what empirical evidence does the government have that the “[t] ansformation of the National Research Council” is effectively “helping to promote greater commercialization of research and development”; (r) what was in the annual budget of the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), in current dollars, during fiscal year (i) 2000-2001, (ii) 2001-2002, (iii) 2002-2003, (iv) 2003-2004, (v) 2004-2005, (vi) 2005-2006, (vii) 2006-2007, (viii) 2007-2008, (ix) 2008-2009, (x) 2009-2010, (xi) 2010-2011, (xii) 2011-2012, (xiii) 2012-2013, (xiv) 2013-2014; (s) what was in the annual budget of the IRAP, in constant 2006 dollars, during fiscal year (i) 2000-2001, (ii) 2001-2002, (iii) 2002-2003, (iv) 2003-2004, (v) 2004-2005, (vi) 2005-2006, (vii) 2006-2007, (viii) 2007-2008, (ix) 2008-2009, (x) 2009-2010, (xi) 2010-2011, (xii) 2011-2012, (xiii) 2012-2013, (xiv) 2013-2014; (t) what measures or outcomes is the government using to evaluate whether or not “doubling the Industrial Research Assistance Program” is effectively “helping to promote greater commercialization of research and development; (u) what empirical evidence does the government have that “doubling the Industrial Research Assistance Program” is effectively “helping to promote greater commercialization of research and development”; (v) what measures or outcomes is the government using to evaluate whether or not “the new Venture Capital Action Plan” is effectively “helping to promote greater commercialization of research and development”; (w) what empirical evidence does the government have that the “the new Venture Capital Action Plan” is effectively “helping to promote greater commercialization of research and development”; (x) on what date does the government expect to “release an updated Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy”; (y) will the government be conducting open consultations with the Canadian scientific, research, and academic communities prior to releasing “an updated Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy”; (z) what commitments did the government make as part of its previous Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy; (aa) which of these commitments in (z), if any, have not been met; (bb) what “targeted investments in science and innovation chains from laboratory to market in order to position Canada as a leader in the knowledge economy” has the government made since 2006; (cc) what measures or outcomes is the government using to evaluate whether or not its “targeted investments in science and innovation chains from laboratory to market” are effectively positioning Canada “as a leader in the knowledge economy”; (dd) what empirical evidence does the government have that its “targeted investments in science and innovation chains from laboratory to market” are effectively positioning Canada “as a leader in the knowledge economy”; (ee) what measures or investments has the government implemented since 2006 to “promote Canada as a world-class destination for international students”; (ff) how many international students have studied in Canada as a direct result of the measures or investments in (ee); and (gg) how many international students were studying at Canadian universities and colleges during calendar year (i) 2000, (ii) 2001, (iii) 2002, (iv) 2003, (v) 2004, (vi) 2005, (vii) 2006, (viii) 2007, (ix) 2008, (x) 2009, (xi) 2010, (xii) 2011, (xiii) 2012, (xiv) 2013?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 124--
Hon. Judy Sgro:
     With regard to the Prime Minister’s undertaking to establish new mandatory reporting standards for Canadian extractive companies: (a) what steps has the government taken since the 39th G8 Summit to develop a comprehensive bill that would require Canadian companies to disclose any payments made to foreign governments; (b) what steps did the government take prior to the 39th G8 Summit to develop a comprehensive bill that would require Canadian companies to disclose any payments made to foreign governments; (c) does the Prime Minister’s commitment, as referred to in (a), apply exclusively to Canadian extractive corporations, (i) does it apply exclusively to Canadian corporations as regards extractive operations in foreign countries, (ii) what is the scope of said commitment; (d) has the government prepared or reviewed any draft bill that proposes to implement such reporting requirements as referred to in (a) and if so, to what extent has it consulted on this issue, (i) with whom, (ii) when; (e) has the government conducted or reviewed any studies regarding the effect of mandatory reporting requirements on increasing corporate accountability and combatting corruption; (f) has the government compiled or reviewed any other evidence regarding the effect of mandatory reporting requirements on increasing corporate accountability and combatting corruption; (g) has the Department of Justice been consulted with regard to the formulation of a comprehensive reporting regime that would apply to Canadian companies; (h) has the government consulted with the Department of Justice, or sought a legal opinion from any other source, as to the constitutionality of a mandatory disclosure regime as referred to in (a); (i) has the government expressed any position, either publically or internally, as to the constitutionality of such a mandatory disclosure regime as applied to Canadian companies; (j) has the government consulted with provincial and territorial First Ministers regarding the Prime Minister’s commitment referred to in (a) and, if so, (i) who were the parties to any such consultations, (ii) what was the outcome of any such consultation; (k) has the government consulted with provincial securities regulators regarding the Prime Minister’s commitment referred to in (a) and, if so, (i) who were the parties to any such consultations, (ii) what was the outcome of any such consultation; (l) has the government consulted with oil, gas, or mining executives regarding the Prime Minister’s commitment referred to in (a) and, if so, (i) who were the parties to any such consultations, (ii) what was the outcome of any such consultation; (m) has the government consulted with representatives of First Nations regarding the Prime Minister’s commitment referred to in (a) and, if so, (i) who were the parties to any such consultations, (ii) what was the outcome of any such consultation; (n) regarding the Prime Minister’s commitment referred to in (a), does the government have any consultations currently planned with (i) the First Ministers of any provinces or territories, (ii) representatives of any First Nations, (iii) provincial securities regulators, (iv) Canadian corporate executives, (v) others; (o) has the issue of a mandatory reporting regime as referred to in (a) been raised in the context of the Canada-European Union (E.U.) trade negotiations and if so, (i) when and with whom was this issue raised, (ii) what was the outcome of these discussions; (p) does the government currently have a strategy in place to develop a mandatory reporting regime as referred to in (a) that is harmonized with such regimes as they exist in either the United States (U.S.) or the E.U. and (i) what are the details of this strategy, (ii) has the issue of a mandatory reporting regime as referred to in (a) been raised with American or E.U. officials at any time; (q) regarding the government’s recently announced extractive transparency partnerships with both Peru and Tanzania, what specific steps have or are being undertaken to ensure (i) the increased transparency of payments by Canadian extractive companies to these governments, (ii) the increased efficiency and transparency of mining royalty management by local and regional governments, (iii) the improvement of living conditions for communities located near extractive operations in foreign countries; (r) has the government begun the process of creating an “action plan on corporate transparency,” as per the Prime Minister’s commitment at the 39th G8 Summit; (s) does the action plan referred to in (p) include any proposed steps to (i) ensure consistent and up-to-date information on corporate beneficial ownership, (ii) prevent corrupt practices with regard to bribes to foreign governments, (iii) prevent money laundering, (iv) prevent tax evasion; (t) has the government conducted or reviewed any studies, or compiled or reviewed evidence from any other source, regarding the effect of corporate beneficial ownership on corrupt practices by Canadian multinational corporations, including but not limited to the paying of bribes by extractive corporations to foreign governments and, if so, (i) what specific studies have been conducted or reviewed and what are their conclusions, (ii) what other evidence has been compiled or reviewed and what does it indicate in this regard; (u) has the government engaged in any consultations or reviewed any relevant evidence regarding possible consequences of the sale of Canadian corporation Uranium One, Inc. to JSC Atomredmetzolo to (ARMZ), a Russian corporation, with respect to (i) any foreign assets previously held by Uranium One, Inc., (ii) the human rights and environmental concerns of populations living near foreign extractive operations previously under the control of Uranium One, Inc., (iii) the possible sale of uranium previously or potentially extracted by Uranium One, Inc. to countries currently within the scope of Canadian, U.S., E.U., or United Nations sanctions regimes; (v) has the government received any communications regarding the sale of Uranium One, Inc., (i) from government officials in the U.S., (ii) from government officials in any other country; and (w) has the government communicated any concerns to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or to any other U.S. government official or agency, regarding the sale of Uranium One, Inc.?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 127--
Hon. Scott Brison:
     With regard to the United States (U.S.) Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA): (a) when was the government first made aware of this legislation and how; (b) what steps has Canada taken since the legislation's introduction in the U.S., broken down by year; (c) during the consideration of this legislation in the U.S., did Canada make any representations to the U.S. government and if so, (i) when, (ii) by whom, (iii) to whom, (iv) on what dates, (v) by what authority (vi) with what desired effect (vii) and with what outcome; (d) how many individuals in Canada will be affected; (e) how was the figure in (d) calculated; (f) how many Canadian citizens residing in Canada are U.S. persons under FATCA; (g) how many Canadian permanent residents are U.S. persons under FATCA; (h) how many applications for permanent residency is Canada currently processing from persons who are or will be treated as U.S. persons under FATCA; (i) broken down by province and territory and status, how many persons in Canada are projected to be affected by FATCA; (j) how was the figure in (l) calculated; (k) how many Canadian financial institutions will be impacted by FATCA; (l) how was the figure in (k) calculated; (m) how many non-financial Canadian entities will be impacted by FATCA; (n) how was the figure in (m) calculated; (o) what consultations has the government undertaken with respect to FATCA's impact on persons resident in Canada; (p) what consultations has the government undertaken with respect to FATCA's impact on financial institutions; (p) what consultations has the government undertaken with respect to FATCA's impact on non-financial entities; (q) what estimates and studies have been undertaken with respect to the consequences of a 30% withholding of U.S. sourced income to financial institutions; (r) when did the studies in (q) occur and what were their conclusions; (s) how much has been spent evaluating FATCA's impact on Canadians; (t) broken down by department, how was the figure in (s) determined; (u) what estimates have been undertaken with respect to FATCA's cost to implement for Canada and with what conclusions; (w) for the five years starting 2014, how much is FATCA implementation expected to cost (i) Canada Revenue Agency, (ii) the department of Finance, (iii) the department of Justice, (iv) other government departments, agencies, boards, or tribunals; (x) broken down by year and cost from 2010-2020, what is the total financial impact of FATCA implementation expected to be on Canadian taxpayers; (y) how were the figure in (x) obtained; (z) what outside legal opinions has the government sought with respect to FATCA's compatibility with Canadian law; (aa) when were the opinions in (z) sought and at what expense; (bb) have unsolicited legal opinions been sent to the government regarding FATCA; (cc) how many opinions in (bb) have the government received, (i) on what dates, (ii) with what conclusions, (iii) with what impact on the Government's actions; (dd) has the government assessed the possibility of not acceding to FATCA in any way and, if so, with what conclusion and with what cost to Canada or to Canadians when compared to accession; (ee) how much has been spent on negotiations surrounding FACTA, broken down by year and expense; (ff) which individuals from the government have negotiated on Canada’s behalf regarding FATCA; (gg) what has the Minister of Finance's personal role been with respect to FATCA negotiations; (hh) what has the Minister of National Revenue's personal role been with respect to FATCA negotiations; (ii) what has the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ personal role been with respect to FATCA negotiations; (jj) what plans or strategies has Canada developed regarding enforcement of any FACTA related agreement with the United States; (kk) what penalties will there be for U.S. failure to meet any of its negotiated obligations; (ll) has the litigation risk regarding any FATCA implementation agreement been evaluated and, if so, (i) how, (ii), when, (iii), by what means; (mm) broken down by department and agency, and with specific record numbers and titles, what briefing materials and files have been developed regarding FATCA; (nn) what measures are in place to assess the lawfulness and legality of any implementation of FATCA in Canada; (oo) have any future public consultations with respect to FATCA implementation been planned and, if not, why not; (pp) what is the projected impact of FATCA on the Bank of Canada; (qq) what efforts has the government made with respect to informing financial institutions of their obligations under FATCA; (rr) what efforts has the government made with respect to informing non-financial entities of their obligations under FATCA; (ss) what efforts has the government made with respect to informing individuals residing in Canada of their obligations under FATCA; (tt) has Canadian non-compliance with FATCA been assessed as a possibility and, if so, to what extent; (uu) has FATCA been raised in discussions between Canada and countries other than the U.S. and, if so, (i) with which countries, (ii) at what level(s) did the discussion occur (iii) on what dates (iv) in what forum (v) and with which individuals from Canada participating; (vv) have any studies or analysis taken place with respect to FATCA’s impact on immigration to Canada by persons subject to this legislation and, if so, with what conclusion; (ww) has the Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. raised the issue of FATCA in any discussions and if so, (i) which discussions, (ii) on what dates, (iii) with what desired goal; (xx) has the American Ambassador to Canada raised the issue of FATCA in any discussions and if so, (i) which discussions, (ii) on what dates, (iii) with what outcome; (yy) has the government considered the correspondence of Peter Hogg regarding FATCA and if so, (i) with what impact on policy development, (ii) with what conclusion; and (zz) what steps will the government take to minimize any infringement of Canadian Charter rights by any implementation of FATCA?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 129--
Mr. Alex Atamanenko:
    With regard to the horse slaughter industry in Canada: (a) what is the government’s policy on requiring medical history on equine identity documents (EID) only for the last six months of a horse’s life, and not for an entire lifespan; (b) does the government have information on what happened to the meat from the racehorse Backstreet Bully, who had been administered several courses of a variety of banned medications throughout its lifetime, prior to being sold into the slaughter pipeline, and what are the details of Backstreet Bully’s EID and all other traceability documents and records; (c) does the government have information on what happened to the meat from the racehorse Silky Shark, who had been administered the drug phenylbutazone prior to being sold into the slaughter pipeline, and what are the details of Silky Shark’s EID and all other traceability documents and records; (d) what system is in place for owners to report the history of banned drugs they have administered to a horse that they previously owned, when they discover that a subsequent owner has sold that horse into the slaughter pipeline; (e) when such instances as mentioned in (d) are reported, and it is found that the meat was sold as human food, what system is in place to recall that meat from domestic and international retailers, (i) how many such instances have been reported, (ii) what were the results of the government’s investigations into these reports; (f) how does the government keep count of the number of horses being imported from the United States (U.S.) for slaughter; (g) how does the government explain the discrepancy between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)/Agriculture Canada and U.S. Department of Agriculture figures; (h) what were the findings of the government’s investigation into the large numbers of emaciated horses arriving from the U.S. in 2011 destined for Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation slaughter plant, and what system has the government put in place to quell these importations; (i) what system has the government put in place to quell the loading and importation of near-term pregnant mares arriving into Canada from the U.S.; (j) what actions or procedures were taken by the government to address the potential biohazard noted in the June 2011 Verification Report by the plant inspector at Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation slaughter plant, namely, that not only was blood visible to the naked eye but that there were improperly cleaned saw blades upon the resumption of horse slaughter following the slaughter of cattle; (k) how many racehorses (thoroughbreds and standardbreds) were processed at Canadian abattoirs in each of the years between 2007 to 2013, and how many of these horses were pregnant; (l) what number or percentage of horses currently being slaughtered have been raised expressly for human consumption, broken down by (i) Canadian horses, (ii) U.S. horses; (m) what is the overall value to the Canadian economy in terms of job numbers and contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by (i) the horse slaughter industry, (ii) the equine industry; (n) is there any regulatory requirement for veterinarians, prior to administering medications to horses, to question owners about the likelihood of them being sold into the slaughter pipeline for human consumption; (o) has the government engaged in discussions with U.S. officials with a view to implementing an equine passport or other system to record the medical history of all U.S horses beginning at birth and, if so, (i) what was the outcome of these discussions, (ii) on what dates did these discussions occur; (p) how many equine fatalities and injuries have occurred during the live shipment of horses from Canada to Japan while loading the animals onto aircraft or in flight, and what were the circumstances surrounding these fatalities and injuries, for the period January 1, 2008 to August 30, 2013; and (q) is it the government’s policy to make publicly available the names of all meat-processing companies that are licensed to export horsemeat, as well as the countries they are licensed to export to?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 130--
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia:
     With regard to rail safety in Canada: (a) for the period of 2006-2012, which railways were permitted to operate with a single operator; (b) for the period of 2006-2012, which railways had permission to leave trains unattended for limited periods of time on main lines with or without an idling locomotive(s); (c) for the period of 2006-2012, which railways had permission to leave trains unattended for limited periods of time on side lines with or without an idling locomotive(s); (d) with regard to the railways in (b) and (c), under what specific conditions could the trains be left unattended; (e) what legislative or regulatory framework governs local emergency preparedness plans in the event of a rail accident; (f) with respect to the plans in (e), (i) who is responsible for creating and executing such plans, (ii) by whom are they audited, (iii) how often are they audited, (iv) against what criteria are they audited; (g) by whom and how often are municipalities through which freight trains pass provided with regular reports on (i) the state of local emergency preparedness in the event of a rail accident, (ii) the state and maintenance record of the railway lines within their borders, (iii) the materials, hazardous or not, that are transported through their jurisdiction; (h) if reports referred to in (g) are not provided, why not; (i) how many of the DOT-111 railway tank cars and the DOD-112 tank cars are in use in Canada, for each year since 2006; (j) for each year since 2006, how many rolling stock and track safety inspectors were employed at Transport Canada, broken down by (i) province of work, (ii) oversight responsibility; (k) for each year since 2006, how many rolling stock and track safety inspectors employed by Transport Canada were responsible for inspections in (i) the Greater Montreal Area, (ii) the municipality of Pointe-Claire (iii) the municipality of Beaconsfield, (iv) the municipality of Baie d’Urfé, (v) the municipality of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue; (l) how frequently are railway tracks inspected in (i) populated areas, (ii) unpopulated ones; (m) since 2006, when have the rail tracks between downtown Montreal and the City of Vaudreuil-Dorion been inspected; (n) does Transport Canada have a system of evaluation in place, based on the results of inspections by its inspectors, that ranks the operational state of different sections of railway tracks; (o) with regard to the system in (n), if it exists, does this system or database correlate with allowable train speeds on each section of track and with which company owns each section; (p) for each year since 2006, how many freight train derailments, minor and major, have taken place in Canada, broken down by province; (q) with respect to the derailments in (p), how many took place on (i) a horizontal track, (ii) a sloping track, (iii) curved track, (iv) straight track; (r) for each year since 2006, how many cases of runaway freight trains have been reported in Canada, broken down by province; (s) for each year since 2006, how many train accidents, derailments or other, involving hazardous materials have there been; (t) how are the contents of rail cargo verified by the government or its agencies to determine if the contents conform to the contents labels/markings on the individual rail cars; (u) what is the process by which environmental risks of the transport by rail of oil and gas or other hazardous material are assessed; (v) what quantity and type of goods that are shipped annually by Canadian National and Canadian Pacific on lines that run through Montreal’s West Island in each of the last 5 years; (w) what are the allowable speeds for freight trains travelling different rail segments in the southwestern corridor of the island of Montreal from downtown Montreal to the city of Vaudreuil-Dorion; (x) with regard to the speed limits in (w), how is adherence to these limits monitored by Transport Canada; (y) with respect to the slowing of rail speed due to poor track conditions, how does Transport Canada verify that rail operators are implementing reduced speeds; (z) what is the slowest speed at which a rail operator will be allowed to operate its trains over a portion of track experiencing poor conditions before all traffic must be halted due to the poor track condition; and (aa) subsequent to the fatal accident in Lac-Mégantic, what plans are in place for reducing the speeds of freight trains passing through Canadian municipalities?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 131--
Mr. Robert Chisholm:
     With regard to the Social Security Tribunal (SST): (a) how many appeals have been sent to the General Division level; (b) how many appeals have been heard; (c) how many appeals have been allowed; (d) how many appeals were summary dismissals; (e) how many appeals were dismissed; (f) how many appeals are pending; (g) what is the average time for appeals to be heard; (h) how many appeals are dealt with per month; (i) what proportion of appeals are heard within the SST's timelines; (j) is there a backlog of cases; (k) how many cases are waiting to be heard; (l) where are cases coming from by rural/urban, or geographic region; (m) what are the common issues being (i) heard, (ii) allowed, (iii) dismissed; (n) how many appellants were granted access to consult their case file ahead of a hearing by the General Division, (i) by number, (ii) as a proportion of all appellants at this level; (m) how many appellants were granted access to consult their case file ahead of a hearing by the Appeal Division (i) by number, (ii) as a proportion of all appellants at this level; (n) how are the cases being heard; (o) how many cases are heard via telephone; (p) how many questions and answers in person; (q) how many questions and answers via email; (r) has there been any feedback from SST members on the process; (s) what kind of training for SST members has been implemented; (t) given that SST members work from home, has any kind of networking system been put in place to support SST members; (u) given that decisions made by the Umpire and higher courts were provided in a jurisprudence library online, will the General Division or Appeals Division decisions be available in the jurisprudence library; and (v) will the more specific “Decisions Favourable to Workers” website be continued?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 132--
Mr. Robert Chisholm:
    With regard to Employment lnsurance (EI) for fiscal years 2006-2007 through 2012-2013 (year-to-date): (a) what was the volume of EI applications, broken down by (i) year, (ii) region/province where claim originated, (iii) region/province where claim was processed, (iv) the number of claims accepted and the number of claims rejected, (v) for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; (b) what was the average EI applications processing time broken down by (i) year, (ii) region/province where the claim originated, (iii) region/province where the claim was processed, (iv) the number of claims accepted and the number of claims rejected, (v) for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; (c) how many applicants waited more than 28 days for a decision and, for these applications, what was the average wait time for a decision, broken down by (i) year, (ii) region/province where the claim originated, (iii) region/province where the claim was processed. (iv) the number of claims accepted and the number of claims rejected, (v)-for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; (d) what was the volume of calls to EI call Centres, broken down by (i) year, (ii) region/province, (iii) for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; (e) what was the number of calls to EI call centres that received a high volume of messages, broken down by (i) year, (ii) region/province, (iii) for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; (f) what were the national service levEI standards for calls answered by an agent at EI call centres, broken down by year; (g) what were the actual service levEI standards achieved by EI call centres for calls answered by an agent at EI call centres, broken down by (i) year, (ii) region/province, (iii) for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; (h) what were the service standards for call backs by EI call centre agents broken, down by year; (i) what were the service standards achieved by EI call centre agents for call backs, broken down by (i) year, (ii) region/province, (iii) for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; (j) what was the average number of days for a call back by an EI call centre agent, broken down by (i) year, (ii) region/province, (iii) for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; (k) for EI processing centres, what was the number and percentage of term employees and the number and percentage of indeterminate employees, broken down by (i) year, (ii) region/province (iii) for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; (l) for EI call centres, what was the number and percentage of term employees and the number and percentage of indeterminate employees, broken down by (i) year, (ii) region/province, (iii) for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; (m) how many complaints did the Office of Client Satisfaction receive, broken down by (i) year, (ii) region/province where the complaint originated, (iii) for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; (n) how long on average did a complaint take to investigate and resolve, broken down by (i) year, (ii) for 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; and (o) what were the major themes of the complaints received, broken down by year?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 133--
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia:
     With regard to subsidies to rail operators for track repair and improvements: (a) what is the process for determining how funds are distributed; (b) for each year since 2006, what is the breakdown of the distribution of such funds, by rail operators; (c) were funds intended for the rail operator Montreal, Maine and Atlantic ever (i) withheld, (ii) reassigned to other operators; and (d) with regard to any funds mentioned in (c), for what reason were these withheld or reassigned?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 134--
Ms. Libby Davies:
    With regard to the Federal Tobacco Control Strategy (FTCS) in fiscal year 2012-2013: (a) what was the budget for the FTCS; (b) how much of that budget was spent within the fiscal year; (c) how much of the FTCS was spent on (i) mass media, (ii) policy and regulatory development, (iii) research, (iv) surveillance, (v) enforcement, (vi) grants and contributions, (vii) programs for Aboriginal Canadians; and (d) were any other activities not listed in (c) funded by the FTCS and, if so, how much was spent on each of these activities?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 137--
Mr. François Lapointe:
    With regard to the Port of Gros Cacouna (QC) breakwater repair: (a) what is the government funding provided, by department or agency, initiative and amount concerning the Port of Gros Cacouna breakwater repair; (b) was there a public tender; (c) what is the project start date; (d) what is the expected project completion date; (e) what is the total project value; (f) what are the specifications for the production of the stone required for the project; (g) who are the bidders for the production of stone; (h) what is the outcome of the tender for the production of stone; (i) what is the complete list of names of all individuals who were at the time of the tender directors of the winning bidder; (j) what is the complete list of names of all individuals who are currently directors of the winning bidder; (k) what are the technical explanations for the decision regarding the lack of stone density in the Cacouna region; (l) further to these investments, will the project to transfer the Port of Gros Cacouna be abandoned; and (m) will Transport Canada give a public presentation on the short-term planning regarding the Gros Cacouna port facilities?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 139--
Ms. Lise St-Denis:
     With regard to Canadian Forces (CF) pensions: (a) for each of the last five years, how many people have been eligible to begin receiving a pension; (b) how many people have retired from the CF in the past year and have become eligible for a pension; (c) for the next five years, how many retirees are projected to become eligible for a pension; (d) what is the average amount of a monthly pension cheque; (e) how much money was spent on pensions for each of the last five years; (f) how much money is allotted for pensions for each of the next five years; (g) what is the process by which one applies for a pension; (h) between the last CF pay cheque and the first pension payment, how much time elapses, (i) what is the service standard for the department with regard to time lapses between the last pay cheque and the first payment, (ii) how is the service standard determined; (i) what are the current delays between the last pay cheque and first pension payment processed, broken down by province or territory; (j) what are the current delays between the last pay cheque and first pension payment processed, broken down by facility; (k) how many retirees have had to wait longer than 12 weeks for their first payment to be processed; (l) how many applications currently remain to be processed, broken down by province or territory; (m) how many applications currently remain to be processed, broken down by facility; (n) what steps are in place to mitigate any delay in processing pensions; (o) what additional procedures will be enacted to mitigate delays in processing pensions; (p) what studies have been undertaken with respect to the effects of delayed pension payment on former CF members; (q) what studies and analyses have been undertaken with respect to ensuring immediate processing and service of the pension payment; (r) with regard to the previously-mentioned studies and analyses, have any budget forecasts been prepared, and if so, (i) on what date, (ii) by whom, (iii) using what standard; (s) who is responsible for the administration of payment of pensions, (i) in what ways is the process reviewed, (ii) at what intervals is the process reviewed, (iii) by what standards is the process reviewed; (t) what is the average processing time per pension claim, broken down by province and territory; (u) what is the defined range of acceptable processing times, broken down by province and territory, (i) how is this timeline determined, (ii) by whom is this timeline determined, (iii) with what metrics is this timeline determined; (v) where is the payment of pensions processed and (i) by whom, (ii) with what qualifications for employment, (iii) how many are employed in said capacity, broken down by facility in the years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013; (w) what consultations have taken place with the Veterans Ombudsman regarding timeliness of payment delivery; (x) what consultations have taken place with veterans groups regarding the timeliness of payment processing and delays; (y) what consultations are scheduled with veterans groups regarding the timeliness of payment processing; (z) with what individuals has the Minister of Veterans Affairs met regarding the issue of payment and processing for veterans pensions; (aa) with what individuals have officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs met regarding the issue of payment and processing for veterans pensions; (bb) what other government departments or agencies are involved with the processing of pensions and benefits and to what extent; (cc) broken down by month, how long on average have individuals waited in the last five years to receive their first pension cheque; (dd) what measures are in place to communicate delays in payment and processing of pensions to applicants; (ee) what specific statistics are tracked by the department with regard to applications for, processing of, and payment of pensions?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 140--
Mr. Randall Garrison:
    With regard to the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee established under the authority of the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Act: (a) what is the current list of committee members; (b) on what date were each of these members appointed or reappointed; (c) what is the term of appointment for each member, including dates; (d) what is the position on the committee of each member; (e) how many times has the committee met since its creation, (i) on which dates, (ii) in which locations; (f) what were the topics discussed at each meeting; (g) which meetings has the minister participated in, by phone or in person; (h) how many departmental staff are assigned to support the committee; (i) what is the budget provided for the committee; and (j) how much has the committee spent on travel and hospitality since its creation, broken down by year?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 141--
Mr. Charlie Angus:
     With regard to ministerial offices using private legal counsel, for each year from 2003 to 2013: (a) what is the dollar figure spent on such counsel per year per ministerial office, including the Prime Minister's Office (PMO); (b) for the figures referred to in (a), what is the breakdown (i) by minister, (ii) by staff member, (iii) by investigation or case; (c) for the investigations or cases referred to in (b), who are the lawyers or firms hired per case; (d) what studies has the government conducted as to what the comparable cost would be per year per ministerial office, including the PMO, if legal counsel were kept in-house, and what are the results of those studies; (e) has legal counsel been retained in the matter of the involvement of ministerial offices (including the PMO) in Senate affairs, and, if so, what is the cost of that counsel broken down (i) by ministerial office (including the PMO) per year, (ii) by minister and staff member, (iii) by investigation or case; and (f) of the investigations or cases referred to in (e)(iii), (i) who are the private lawyers or firms hired per case, (ii) how many lawyers have been retained per office and per case?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 142--
Hon. Gerry Byrne:
     With regard to the loss or theft of “weapons and accessories” in the Department of National Defence (DND) as reported in the Public Accounts of Canada, for each year between 2006 and 2013: (a) which weapons and accessories were lost by DND due to an offense or other illegal act, broken down by (i) weapon or accessory, (ii) individual cost to the government for each item lost; and (b) which weapons and accessories were lost by the DND due to accidental loss, destruction, or damage, broken down by (i) weapon or accessory, (ii) individual cost to the government for each item lost?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 143--
Hon. Gerry Byrne:
    With regard to the government's spending for fiscal years 2008-2009 to 2012-2013, what are the spending levels (i) by program activity, (ii) for each program activity, by standard object?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 144--
Ms. Hélène Laverdière:
     With regard to the government’s policy on fully autonomous weapons and autonomous robotics systems: (a) has the Department of National Defense (DND) provided financing, logistical assistance, or any other means of support for the research and development of fully autonomous weapons; (b) has DND provided financing, logistical assistance, or any other means of support for the research and development of autonomous robotic systems; (c) has DND awarded any contracts to develop or contribute to the development of autonomous robotic systems, and, if so, (i) what is the value of each contract, (ii) what entity was awarded each contract, (iii) what were the objective, terms, and conditions of each contract, (iv) what controls were put in place to prevent the future weaponization of this research; (d) has the government entered into any agreements with universities or research institutes in Canada to study or develop autonomous robotic systems, and, if so, for each respective agreement, (i) what is the value of the government’s contribution, (ii) with which entity was the agreement signed, (iii) what were the objective, terms, and conditions of the agreement, (iv) what controls were put in place to prevent the future weaponization of this research; (e) do DND or the Canadian Forces (CF) have written policies, regulations, rules, or guidelines on the use of robotics by DND or CF, and, if so, what are those policies, regulations, rules, or guidelines; (f) do DND or CF have written policies, regulations, rules, or guidelines on the use of fully autonomous weapons by DND or CFs, and, if so, what are those policies, regulations, rules, or guidelines; and (g) what steps has the government taken in applying Article 36 of Additional Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions (new weapons), in regard to funding, research, developing and testing of new weapons systems?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 146--
Mr. Romeo Saganash:
     With regard to the total expenditure of the government, incurred by all departments, defending against Aboriginal rights claims made against the government, and appealing against case decisions upholding Aboriginal rights in court: for each fiscal year from 2002-2003 to the current fiscal year, (a) what was the actual amount spent on these activities; and (b) what was the amount budgeted to be spent on these activities?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 148--
Ms. Megan Leslie:
     With regard to fast-start climate change commitments made by the government in the 2009 Copenhagen Accord: (a) what analysis does or has the government used to analyze the results of funded projects; (b) when will the government announce its financial plans for fulfilling climate change mitigation and adaptation commitments to developing countries past the 2012-2013 fiscal year; (c) what are the conditions necessary for the government to renew its contribution of public funding in support of the 2020 goal, committed to under the Copenhagen Accord, to mobilize up to $100 billion per year in financing by 2020; (d) what public funds will the government commit to fulfill its climate finance pledges between the fiscal year 2012-2013 and 2020-2021, broken down by year; (e) broken down by year, (i) what amount (in Canadian dollars) and what percentage of the funds referred to in (d) will be delivered as loans, (ii) what amount (in Canadian dollars) and what percentage of these funds will be delivered as grants; (f) has the government done any analysis of the social and economic impacts and benefits of loans versus grants for recipients; (g) what will be the percentage of funds allocated to mitigation, compared to funds allocated to adaptation to climate change, between the fiscal years 2012-2013 and 2020-2021; (h) how will future climate change mitigation and adaptation financing meet the requirements for Canadian official development assistance under the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act, namely with respect to poverty reduction, taking account of the perspectives of the poor, and the promotion of human rights; and (i) with respect to future climate finance funding delivered as loans or grants to multilateral banks, how will the government ensure that projects receiving funds meet the required aid effectiveness principles?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 149--
Ms. Libby Davies:
     With regard to Canada Summer Jobs: (a) for each year from 2010-2013, what have been the criteria used to evaluate applications for Canada Summer Jobs funding; (b) for each year from 2010-2013, what was the total amount of Canada Summer Jobs funding awarded to applications in Vancouver East, listed by organizations; and (c) what is the total amount of funding allocated for Vancouver East applications through the Canada Summer Jobs funding for the summer of 2014?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 150--
Ms. Jinny Jogindera Sims:
     With regard to Service Canada Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan call centres for fiscal years 2006-2007 through 2012-2013 (year-to-date): (a) what was the volume of calls received by these centres, broken down (i) by year, (ii) by province or region, (iii) for the years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; (b) what was the number of calls that received a high volume message, broken down (i) by year, (ii) by province or region, (iii) for the years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; (c) what were the national service level standards for calls answered by an agent, broken down by year; (d) what were the actual service level standards achieved for calls answered by an agent, broken down (i) by year, (ii) by province or region, (iii) for the years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; (e) what were the national service level standards for call-backs, broken down by year; (f) what were the actual service level standards achieved for call-backs, broken down (i) by year, (ii) by province or region, (iii) for the years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; (g) what was the average number of days for a call-back by an agent, broken down (i) by year, (ii) by province or region, (iii) for the years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month; and (h) what was the number and percentage of term employees and of indeterminate employees respectively, broken down (i) by year, (ii) by province or region, (iii) for the years 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, by month?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 151--
Ms. Rathika Sitsabaiesan:
     With regard to government spending on family planning initiatives: (a) what is the total amount of funding that has been disbursed so far as part of the Muskoka Initiative, broken down by specific category or initiative; (b) what is the amount of funding allocated for family planning that has been disbursed so far as part of the Muskoka Initiative, (i) in total, (ii) broken down by specific category or initiative; (c) how will the government spend the $58 million allocated to family planning as part of the Muskoka Initiative between 2012 and 2015; (d) what will be the government's overall spending on sexual and reproductive health between 2012 and 2015; and (e) how does the government intend to meet its 10% Official Development Assistance commitment to sexual and reproductive health, as agreed to at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 152--
Mr. Malcolm Allen:
     With regard to the loss of honey bee colonies in Canada: (a) what are the results of the joint study led by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) under Health Canada; (b) what international partners is PMRA consulting in the re-evaluation of neonicotinoid pesticides; (c) how many currently registered products contain at least one of the three neonicotinoids under re-evaluation by PMRA; (d) what is the volume of neonicotinoids used every year in Canada, expressed in litres, and on which crops are they used; (e) what plans does Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada currently have in place should there be more incidents of mass honey bee losses; (f) how many mass honey bee loss incidents have been reported in (i) 2008, (ii) 2009, (iii) 2010, (iv) 2011, (v) 2012, (vi) 2013 thus far, broken down by province; (g) when is the final joint study by CFIA and PMRA going to be completed; (h) what stakeholders were consulted for the joint study; (i) do Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Health Canada have an official response to the European Commission’s decision to place a moratorium on neonicotinoid pesticides; and (j) what written questions have been asked in Parliament on this issue?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 153--
Mr. Malcolm Allen:
     With regard to imported spent fowl products: (a) how many Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) agents are trained to identify the difference between spent fowl and other chicken products which are imported; (b) how many Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) staff are trained to identify the difference between spent fowl and other chicken products which are imported; (c) what tests do CFIA or CBSA staff carry out to distinguish between spent fowl and imported chicken meat; (d) how many kilograms of spent fowl were imported into Canada in (i) 2009, (ii) 2010, (iii) 2011, (iv) 2012; (e) how many kilograms of spent fowl were imported into Canada, from the United States in (i) 2009, (ii) 2010, (iii) 2011, (iv) 2012; (f) how many kilograms of spent fowl were imported into Ontario from the United States in (i) 2009, (ii) 2010, (iii) 2011, (iv) 2012; and (g) what plans does Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada currently have to change the labelling of spent fowl to distinguish it from other chicken products?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 155--
Mr. Charlie Angus:
     With regard to ministerial offices outside of the National Capital Region: (a) what is the rationale for operating these offices; (b) what criteria are used to determine the location of the offices; (c) what branches or programs are operated out of the offices; (d) what is the name and purpose of each office, broken down by region and province; (e) what is the address and location of each office; (f) what are the annual costs of operating each office for each of the past five years; and (g) what is the number of (i) full-time staff, (ii) temporary staff, in each office?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 156--
Mrs. Maria Mourani:
     With regard to the files of people with cancer who were subject to removal orders, from 2006 to 2013, under the responsibility of Dr. Patrick Thériault, a doctor with Citizenship and Immigration Canada in Ottawa: (a) how many such cases have there been, broken down by year; (b) of the cases mentioned in (a), (i) how many stays of removal were granted, (ii) what were the time frames for these stays, broken down by year, (iii) what reasons were given to justify granting each stay; (c) of the cases mentioned in (a), (i) how many stays of removal were not granted, broken down by year, (ii) what reasons were given to justify not granting each stay; (d) what are the names of the cancer treatment services Dr. Thériault called upon, broken down by (i) year, (ii) date, (iii) method Dr. Thériault used to contact these services; (e) did Dr. Thériault exchange emails with cancer treatment services in Canada regarding the cases mentioned in (a) and, if so, what are the details; and (f) did Dr. Thériault exchange emails with medical services in the country of origin of the cases mentioned in (a) and, if so, what are the details?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 157--
Mrs. Maria Mourani:
     With regard to the files of people with cancer who were subject to removal orders from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), from 2006 to 2013: (a) how many such cases have there been, broken down by year; (b) of the cases mentioned in (a), (i) how many stays of removal were granted, (ii) what were the time frames for these stays, broken down by year, (iii) what reasons were given to justify granting each stay; (c) of the cases mentioned in (a), (i) how many stays of removal were not granted, broken down by year, (ii) what reasons were given to justify not granting each stay; and (d) how many CIC physicians are assigned to this type of file, and what are their names?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 159--
Mr. François Lapointe:
     With regard to the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec and its network of regional offices past and present: (a) how many full-time employees and administrators have worked there in the past 10 years, broken down by year and regional office; (b) how many part-time employees and administrators have worked there in the past 10 years, broken down by year and regional office; (c) how many contract employees have worked there in the past 10 years, broken down by year and regional office; (d) how many days of sick leave have employees taken in the past 10 years, broken down by year and regional office; (e) how many full-time employees and administrators have taken retirement in the past 10 years, broken down by year and by regional office; (f) how many full-time employees and administrators have left for reasons other than retirement in the past 10 years, broken down by year and by regional office; (g) how many part-time employees have taken retirement in the past 10 years, broken down by year and by regional office; and (h) how many part-time employees have left for reasons other than retirement in the past 10 years, broken down by year and by regional office?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 161--
Mr. Ted Hsu:
     With regard to violent incidents related to overcrowding in federal prisons: (a) for each of the ten years from 2003-2004 to 2012-2013, and for each of the nine maximum security Correctional Services Canada (CSC) institutions, namely, Atlantic Institution, Donnacona Institution, Port-Cartier Institution, Quebec Regional Reception Centre and Special Handling Unit, Kingston Penitentiary, Millhaven Institution, Edmonton Institution, Saskatchewan Penitentiary maximum security unit, and Kent Institution, what were the numbers of inmates; (b) for each of the ten years from 2003-2004 to 2012-2013, and for each of the nine maximum security CSC institutions, namely, Atlantic Institution, Donnacona Institution, Port-Cartier Institution, Quebec Regional Reception Centre and Special Handling Unit, Kingston Penitentiary, Millhaven Institution, Edmonton Institution, Saskatchewan Penitentiary maximum security unit, and Kent Institution, what were the rated capacities of each institution; (c) if each of the 90 data points in part (a) is denoted by nij where i=1,10 runs over the ten years and j=1,9 runs over the nine institutions in the order given, and if each of the 90 data points in part (b) is denoted by cij, where i=1,10 runs over the ten years and j=1,9 runs over the nine institutions in the order given, then what are the values of the fractional excess of inmates over the rated capacity of each of the nine institutions, for each of the ten years, namely, fnij = (nij - cij)/cij; (d) for each of the ten years from 2003-2004 to 2012-2013, and for each of the nine maximum security CSC institutions, namely, Atlantic Institution, Donnacona Institution, Port-Cartier Institution, Quebec Regional Reception Centre and Special Handling Unit, Kingston Penitentiary, Millhaven Institution, Edmonton Institution, Saskatchewan Penitentiary maximum security unit, and Kent Institution, what were the numbers of violent incidents; (e) if the 90 data points in part (d) are denoted vij, where i=1,10 runs over the ten years and j=1,9 runs over the nine institutions in the order given, what are the average numbers of violent incidents for each institution, averaged over the ten years, namely, Vavgj =(Si=1,10 vij)/10; (f) what are the values of the fractional excesses of violent incidents for each of the nine institutions, over and above each institution's respective ten year average, for each of the ten years, namely, fvij = (vij - Vavgj)/Vavgj; (g) what is the correlation between the fractional excesses of violent incidents and the fractional excesses of inmates over the rated capacity, for all combinations of years and institutions, for which the inmate population was more than 10% over the rated capacity, namely, the sample correlation coefficient between the set of all fnij such that fnij > 0.1, and the corresponding members of the set of all fvij such that fnij > 0.1; and (h) what is the graph of all the pairs (fnij, fvij) which satisfy fnij > 0.1, plotted with the linear regression line?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 162--
Mr. Glenn Thibeault:
     With regard to Industry Canada’s “More Choices” campaign, relating to the government’s upcoming auction of the 700MHz spectrum, what is the total spending by the government for online or web advertising through (i) Facebook, (ii) Twitter, (iii) Google, (iv) Yahoo, (v) Bing, (vi) Bell-Globe Media, (vii) Rogers Communications, (viii) PostMedia, (ix) Toronto Star, (x) Sun Media, (xi) Shaw Communications, (xii) Huffington Post Canada, (xiii) other websites, broken down by distinct URL?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 170--
Hon. Irwin Cotler:
     With regard to the victims' surcharge: (a) for each of the last ten years, broken down by province and year; how much was collected; (b) broken down by program and service, how was the money in (a) spent; (c) broken down by province and year, in what percent of cases was a surcharge imposed; (d) since the enactment of the Increasing Offenders’ Accountability for Victims Act (IOAVA), how much, broken down by province and territory, has been collected; (e) for the ten years prior to the enactment of the IOAVA, how much money has the government given to victims' programs and services, broken down by program or service; (f) for the ten years prior to the enactment of the IOAVA, how much money has the government transferred to provinces for victims' programs and services, broken down by program or service; (g) for the ten years prior to the enactment of the IOAVA, broken down by year and province, in how many cases did a judge provide more than 20 years for surcharge repayment; (h) for the ten years prior to the enactment of the IOAVA, broken down by year and province, what were the mean, median, mode, and value of surcharges collected; (i) since the enactment of the IOAVA, broken down by year and province, what were the mean, median, and mode, and value of surcharges collected; (j) since the enactment of the IOAVA, how much money has the government given to victims' programs and services, broken down by program or service; (k) since the enactment of the IOAVA, in what specific cases, broken down by province, has a surcharge not been imposed; (l) since the enactment of the IOAVA, in what specific cases, broken down by province, has the collection of a surcharge been delayed more than 20 years; (m) prior to the enactment of the IOAVA, in which specific cases was the constitutionality of the surcharge challenged; (n) prior to the enactment of the IOAVA, in which specific cases did the Crown appeal on a matter solely related to the amount of the surcharge; (o) prior to the enactment of the IOAVA, in which specific cases did the Crown appeal on a matter solely related to the imposition of the surcharge; (p) since the enactment of the IOAVA, in which specific cases did the Crown appeal on a matter solely related to the amount of the surcharge; (q) since the enactment of the IOAVA, in which specific cases did the Crown appeal on a matter solely related to the imposition of the surcharge; (r) prior to the enactment of the IOAVA, in what circumstances did the Crown refer the matter of surcharge collection to a collection agency; (s) since the enactment of the IOAVA, in what circumstances has the Crown referred the matter of surcharge collection to a collection agency; (t) who was consulted with respect to the mandatory nature of the surcharge occasioned by the enactment of the IOAVA; (u) with respect to the IOAVA, were judges consulted, and if so, (i) to what extent, (ii) on what dates, (iii) by whom, (iv) with what outcome(s); (v) with respect to the IOAVA, were defense counsels consulted, and if so, (i) to what extent, (ii) on what dates, (iii) by whom, (iv) with what outcome(s); (w) with respect to the IOAVA, were Crown counsels consulted, and if so, (i) to what extent, (ii) on what dates, (iii) by whom, (iv) with what outcome(s); (x) did the government have any evidence to suggest judges would not delay the collection of surcharges upon enactment of the IOAVA; (y) did the government have any evidence to suggest judges would not reduce fines imposed upon enactment of the IOAVA; (z) since the IOAVA came into force, how many cases is the government currently appealing or did it appeal, broken down by province and with style of cause provided, in matters related to fine or surcharge imposition or collection; (aa) of the cases in (z), what offence was committed; (bb) of the cases in (z), what amount of fine was imposed; (cc) of the cases in (z), what amount of surcharge is to be imposed; (dd) of the cases in (z), what timeline for surcharge repayment was provided; (ee) of the cases in (z), how much is expected to be spent on the government’s appeal; (ff) of the cases in (z), what specific victims can be identified; (gg) of the cases in (z), in what way would victims be aided by the imposition of the surcharge; (hh) for the next fiscal year, how much is projected to be gained through the victims' surcharge, broken, down by province; (ii) for the next fiscal year, how much is to be transferred by the government to the provinces for victims' services; (jj) for the next fiscal year, how much is to be provided by the government directly for the provisions of victims' services; (kk) what are the specific services or programs in (jj) and how were they selected; (ll) what is the projected amount that victims' services will require to be fully funded in the next fiscal year; (mm) what requests for funding for victims' services has the government received for the next fiscal year; (nn) in what form(s) did the requests in (mm) come; (oo) how many of the requests in (mm) have been fulfilled or will be fulfilled, and by what amounts; (pp) what specific measures is government adopting, broken down by province and territory, to ensure fully funded victims' services; (qq) what specific benefits and objectives are sought through the surcharge that could not be sought through direct funding of victims' services or additional transfers to the provinces; (rr) are the benefits in and objectives in (qq) quantifiable, and if so, what are the most recent pieces of evidentiary proof that said benefit or objective is being achieved; (ss) how are the benefits and objectives in (qq) being evaluated to determine the effectiveness of the surcharge; (tt) has any direct correlation between offender deterrence and victim surcharge imposition been observed and, if so, what is it and by what measure was it determined; (uu) has any direct correlation between recidivism and victim surcharge imposition been observed and, if so, what is it and by what measure was it determined; (vv) is there any direct correlation observed between the collection of the victims' surcharge and the rate of victimization and, if so, what is it and by what measure was it determined; (ww) what additional policies are in place to ensure the timely and full funding for the provisions of victims' services; (xx) what measures are in place to ensure the timely and full funding for the provisions of victims' services should the mandatory surcharge be found unconstitutional; (yy) how will it be ensured that no victim will suffer as a consequence of litigation relating to the imposition or collection of the victim’s surcharge; (zz) how will it be ensured that the victims' surcharge is effective and (i) by what measures is it being evaluated, (ii) with what frequency, (iii) by whom; (aaa) what other metrics does the government track with respect to the victims' surcharge; (bbb) how much has been spent on the victims' surcharge program since its first inception; (ccc) during the development of the IOAVA, how was accountability defined and how is it measured; (ddd) does the victim's surcharge increase offenders' accountability for victims, and if so, how and by what measure; (eee) how does the government define “victimless crime”; (fff) is imposition of the victims' surcharge appropriate in cases of “victimless crime”; (ggg) to whom would the victims' surcharge fees go in in cases of “victimless crime”; (hhh) during the policy development of the IOAVA, what considerations were given to “victimless crime” and how was it determined to make the surcharge applicable in such cases?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

Mr. Tom Lukiwski:  
    Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

  (1530)  

Request for Emergency Debate

Situation in Ukraine   

[S. O. 52]
Mr. Ted Opitz (Etobicoke Centre, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the letter I filed with you, it is important that the House of Commons express itself on this grave matter in Ukraine and demonstrate that all the people of Canada, including the Ukrainian-Canadian community, are outraged by the tragic events in the Ukraine. This chamber has one great ability, and that is to speak out.
    Since the House last debated the protests that were taking place in Ukraine in December, the Ukrainian government has imposed martial law and is using lethal force to quash freedoms, violate human rights, and suspend the civil liberties of the people of Ukraine.
    For those reasons, and for those that I have outlined to you in my letter, I urge you to authorize an emergency debate on this topic.

Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
The Speaker:  
    I thank the member for Etobicoke Centre for raising this matter in the House. I am inclined to grant the debate and will schedule it for after government orders today.

Request for Emergency Debate

Mental Health Services in the Canadian Armed Forces  

[ S. O. 52]
Mr. Jack Harris (St. John's East, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, in accordance with my letter to you today, I rise to seek an emergency debate on the question of the chronic shortage of mental health staff currently affecting the Canadian Armed Forces.
    We do know that the number of mental health professionals in the Canadian Forces has remained constant since about 2008, despite the urgent and growing need for mental health services to our Canadian Forces veterans of Afghanistan and other conflicts.
    We have a problem, a bottleneck, in failing to fill these positions. We have had 50 boards of inquiry into suicides in the military that have gone without completion since 2008. We have had a spate of suicides in the last couple of months that have caused shock to the national consciousness. We have further statements on positions that are available to be filled which have not been filled. The current Surgeon General said that in November 2012 over 200 applicants were waiting to fill vacant positions, yet we have seen no action on this.
    The urgency is the fact that we have no allotted days available on the agenda, aside from tomorrow, and it is too late today to give notice for that. Therefore, we want an opportunity for hon. members to speak to this issue and offer their opinions as to what might be done. This is an urgent and serious concern for Canadian Forces members and their families. We need to determine ways to move forward in addressing the mental health needs of the Canadian Armed Forces.
    For these reasons and those outlined in my letter today, I would urge you to allow an emergency debate on this issue.

Speaker's Ruling 

[Speaker's Ruling]
The Speaker:  
    I thank the hon. member for St. John's East for bringing this matter to the attention of the House as well, given that it has been a subject that has been raised several times this session. I understand it is a matter of some importance to many members. However, I do notice that we are into the season of supply days and I am not prepared to grant it at this time.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[Translation]

Respect for Communities Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, be read for the second time and referred to a committee, and of the motion that this question be now put.
Ms. Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe (Pierrefonds—Dollard, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to continue my speech on Bill C-2.
    As I said earlier, despite all the scientific evidence and literature, the Conservatives hold obstinately and unreasonably to a certain ideology by introducing a bill like this.
    I have heard my Conservative colleagues make some incredible arguments in their speeches. For instance, some members believe that supervised injection sites encourage the use of hard drugs. Others feel that neighbourhood safety is compromised if a supervised injection site opens its doors. Those arguments are completely ridiculous and they definitely fly in the face of the evidence available to us.
    I would like to turn briefly to AJOI, a community organization from Pierrefonds—Dollard that does amazing work with street youth at risk of joining street gangs or in very precarious situations. When AJOI was ready to start its activities, people said that West Island had no street youth. It took some time for reality to be accepted and for the organization to be able to take action.
    Does this organization want young offenders to be on the street? No. Is having case workers helping youths in the streets a danger to the community or to neighbourhood safety? Not at all. In fact, the opposite is true. These people provide medical, moral and social support to youth in need to help them get out of that situation.
    The parallel with what we are seeing in this debate on Bill C-2 is very relevant, and it is easy to understand why. I would like to give you a few facts that have emerged from the experiences of InSite in Vancouver.
    Eighty percent of people polled who live or work in downtown Vancouver support InSite. Therefore, these neighbours do not feel threatened by having a site in their neighbourhood.
    The rate of overdose deaths in East Vancouver has dropped by 35% since InSite opened. In one year, 2,171 InSite users have been directed to addiction counselling or other support services. I could go on. The facts speak for themselves.
    I would just like to wrap up by saying that a number of studies have been done in Quebec. A very serious process is under way to support a position for or against supervised injection sites.
    The Institut national de santé publique du Québec stated that sites like these could meet some needs and should be encouraged. They came to a number of positive conclusions after analyzing the facts and the literature.
    This is something this government clearly did not do before introducing Bill C-2, which is unfortunate. It is a completely thoughtless way to act and, I will say it again, it amounts to incredible ideological obstinacy.

  (1535)  

Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Pierrefonds—Dollard for her speech. I have a question for her.
     The majority of studies show that people who have a drug dependency or addiction very quickly become isolated. InSite, like many other organizations, is probably the first step toward finding their way back into society and eventually into the labour force.
     Some of my Conservative colleagues argued that they could not support a facility like InSite because there was no legal way to obtain cocaine in Canada and that since it was a crime, that would be contemptible.
     Is it not true, however, that InSite, as a transition house, could give addicts access to methadone treatments, which are completely legal, and help them gradually find their way back into society?
Ms. Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe:  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Trois-Rivières for his question.
    Quebec's Institut national de santé publique has noted that one of the benefits of a supervised injection site is that it provides a way to reach the most vulnerable members of our society. It is a front-line service for individuals who do not usually turn to traditional health services. To argue that this is impossible is completely false.
    The truth of the matter is that the Conservatives do not want to do this. The Liberals also mounted some opposition to supervised injection sites for many years prior to 2003. The fact is that it is possible to make life difficult for such sites with legislation such as Bill C-2. It is also possible to facilitate the opening of well-regulated supervised injection sites, but that is not what the Conservatives have decided to do.

  (1540)  

Mr. Dany Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her excellent speech, and I would also like to give her some new information.
    Just before the holidays, I spoke to the Standing Committee on Health, on which I sit, about harm reduction, which is part of the government’s national anti-drug strategy. The InSite supervised injection site contributes to harm reduction.
    I asked people from the Canadian Nurses Association, the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Canadian Medical Association if they thought that harm reduction, which includes supervised injection sites, should be part of the government's national anti-drug strategy. This was the case in the past, before the Conservatives changed tack and eliminated this fourth pillar of Canada’s anti-drug strategy. They all said that we should keep harm reduction in Canada’s anti-drug policy.
     Does my colleague also believe that we should integrate harm reduction, to which InSite contributes, into Canada’s national anti-drug policy?
Ms. Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe (Pierrefonds—Dollard, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his comments, and also for his serious work on the Standing Committee on Health. He deserves our congratulations.
    Yes, I agree with him. I will again quote the Institut national de santé publique du Québec. I come back to this frequently because, as a Quebecker, I am very interested in the processes that the Province of Quebec has followed in giving serious consideration to this matter. The institute recognizes that, in the literature, supervised injection sites are seen to have beneficial effects on public order, such as fewer injections in public, fewer syringes discarded in an unsafe manner, fewer fatalities, fewer infections from syringes, and so on. Supervised injection sites are essential for the prevention and enhancement of public order and public health.
    My colleague mentioned a number of important stakeholders who support this type of proposal. I have others here. A number of associations of health care professionals, doctors and nurses, as well as police forces, support supervised injection sites.

[English]

Mr. Mike Sullivan (York South—Weston, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to rise to speak to this bill, an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, or the respect for communities act.
    As man advances in civilization...the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him.
    Who said that? It was Charles Darwin. That was a long time ago, but it is more necessary today than ever. There are some opposite who might not agree with what Mr. Darwin had to say.
    Bill C-2 is, we believe, another example of knee-jerk, mean-spirited, ill-informed, anti-science, anti-evidence, anti-taxpayer, anti-health, Conservative fundraising propaganda disguised as legislation. We, as parliamentarians, are sent here to make the tough choices. We are sent here to make decisions on behalf of all Canadians to advance our civilization forward, not backward. It is really easy to foment alarm and outrage among Canadians who are not generally exposed to the darker side of humanity. This is the choice made by the Conservatives.
    The right choice is to explain to those who might be susceptible to such fomentation that the better path is to create safe places for the darker side that most of us do not see. The explanation that the Conservatives should give would include the science and evidence that providing a safe place for persons who are addicted to drugs, requiring needles, is ultimately making the rest of Canadians safer. It is a win-win. It will not generate a lot of reactionary donations, but it is the right thing to do.
    However, that is not how the Conservatives work. They work through fear, intimidation and keeping their constituents in the dark about the truth as much as possible. Eliminating data such as the long-form census, repressing and firing scientists whose findings may not agree with their point of view and deliberately spreading the falsehood that suggests that denying licences to places such as InSite will make communities safer, are not just the wrong choices; they are chosen for the wrong reasons.
    Canadians expect their government to protect them from harm. This bill would do the opposite, but it is just part of a long line of Conservative actions that make our Canada more harmful to more Canadians. Conservatives got rid of ways for the police to keep track of where guns were. That action will cause harm to many Canadians, including those in my riding of York South—Weston.
    Conservatives cut budgets for the department responsible for meat inspections. This action caused many Canadians to get ill from eating meat. Some died. Are we or our communities safer?
    Conservatives have continued the Liberal practice of permitting the railways themselves to manage their own safety. Clearly, that is not keeping Canadians safe either. The three massive explosions and fires last year, one of which claimed 47 lives and destroyed a Quebec city, are all the evidence Canadians need that the Conservative safety system is not working. Except for a bit of tinkering around the edges, no concrete actions have been taken. Indeed, the present government has consistently ignored the findings of the Transportation Safety Board, and Canadians are no safer as a result.
    Of course, the Conservatives' signature piece of legislation making us less safe was the evisceration of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Now, the impact on human health, which is what we are talking about here, is ignored by environmental assessments. Only a small handful of projects are subject to assessment.
    How are we less harmed by this regime? Add to all of this the changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which removed environmental protection from over 99% of Canada's waterways, including the Humber River, which flows right on the edge of my riding, and we should all worry.
    The present legislation is designed to prevent, not assist, the creation of harm reduction regimes in cities in this country. I will explain exactly how it would prevent it.

  (1545)  

    The new application for a safe injection site must include “scientific evidence demonstrating that there is a medical benefit”. Is this to be new scientific evidence? There is a lot of scientific evidence already out there.
    It also requires a letter of opinion from provincial and territorial ministers responsible for health and public safety, municipal councils, local heads of police and higher ranked public health officials. If a government is already asking that this be put in place, why do we then need that same government to get its own people to say more about what they are asking for? It is just another piece of bureaucracy that the government is putting into place.
    Information is required about infectious diseases and overdoses related to the use of illicit substances. Again, that information is publicly available and is well documented. For an applicant to have to re-demonstrate it is yet another example of the red tape the Conservative government wants to create to prevent these sites going forward.
    A description of available drug treatment services is required. Of course the government has cut back on those drug treatment services, but apparently the applicant only needs to describe what is available.
    A description of the potential impact of the site on public safety is required. Again, all we have heard from all the experts is that these sites actually increase public safety.
    A description of all procedures and measures, including steps to minimize diversion of controlled substances, is required, as well as relevant trends and more information on drug-related loitering, drug dealing and crime rates in the area where the site is located at the time of the application.
    Also required is a report of consultations with a broad range of groups in the municipality, including copies of all submissions received and steps that will be taken to address relevant concerns.
    These hoops that applicants must go through are designed to prevent rather than permit the formation of safe injection sites to deal with what is an ever-growing public health problem in this country, with which we need to come to grips.
    As a result of those kinds of denials and whether they go through all these hoops and the department says yes, the minister is going to say yes or no, as ultimately the minister gets to decide anyway. As a result of that, more addicts will contract contagious diseases and more addicts will die. The needles will be reused and left in parks and other public places. The crime rates related to drug use will increase. Fewer addicts will be exposed to the help they need to beat their addictions. The diseases they contract will be treated in provincially run health centres and hospitals at taxpayer expense. We must remember there is only one taxpayer. This is a federal problem not a provincial problem because it is going to be federal money that is spent. The increase in disease will make Canada and Canadians less safe. More Canadians will be harmed. It is yet another part of the Conservative plan to move Canada backward.
    Apparently no Conservatives are prepared to speak to this legislation, but the questions they sometimes ask speak to the misconception that somehow the victims of these addictions are at fault for their addictions and that any consumption of illicit substances is to be treated with contempt and disgust. The views expressed by those questioners are often at odds with their constituents, who view these individuals as victims needing help, and sometimes among members themselves.
    We have in Toronto a mayor who has admitted to smoking crack cocaine, to driving while drunk and to associating with persons known by police to be at least unsavoury if not criminal. The outward position of the Conservative Party is that all these actions should be condemned, and yet some in that party who are friends of the mayor have expressed the wish that he get help, which is the appropriate response. This brings me back to my initial statement from Mr. Darwin that as man advances in civilization, not retreats, the simplest reason—that is where we use our minds to think—“would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him”.
    The very fact that the Minister of Industry has stated that it is not his job to look after his neighbour's child is an example of the very attitude that prevails on that side of this chamber. Although he has since suggested perhaps that was the wrong thing to say, it is an example of the knee-jerk reaction that goes on in that party, the knee-jerk reaction that creates the kind of sense that we should not be looking after our neighbours and we should not be looking after our neighbours' children. We in this party believe it is part of our job to look after our neighbours, to look after our neighbours' children, and in so doing we will all be the better for it.

  (1550)  

Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, in his speech the member mentioned about the darker side of society. In my previous profession, I worked for 20 years on that darker side of society, as he called it. I would not call it that. I would call it a place where people have slipped into something that I am sure none of us in this House would want them to. However, some do, and as a result of that we have created places such as InSite in east Vancouver. Arguably, whether it does any good is a question to anyone, but the reality of the situation is that it is called a “safe injection site”. And that is what it is: an injection site. There are other opportunities for those who want it.
    My question is again for the member, and I have asked this every time. There is not one gram of heroin that is purchased legally in this country. What do the members of his party think they should do with regard to the safe injection of heroin for those who want it in InSite itself?
Mr. Mike Sullivan:  
    Mr. Speaker, the point of places like InSite is that, regardless of whether the purchase of heroin is legal, it will be consumed by some individuals because there is a thriving trade in drugs that we do not accept, and none of us like it, but it is there. Just as there is a trade in marijuana and a trade in crack cocaine, there is a trade in heroin, and the problem with the trade in heroin is that with it come some very unacceptable consequences of disease and death and the exposure of small children to very dangerous things. That is the type of thing that InSite is attempting to prevent, and that is the kind of thing for which these places need to exist.

  (1555)  

Mr. Frank Valeriote (Guelph, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party of Canada is now fundraising on this issue. The Conservatives are out there telling everybody that these InSite sites are going to sprout up like fast-food restaurants across Canada, alarming people into believing something that simply is not true. There are others who are now convinced that this is like going to a spa, where people go in and are given a cocktail of drugs and a syringe and are made to feel comfortable.
    I am just asking if the member would describe the very unusual circumstances in which a site like this would actually be created, and how desperate people must be to go in and ask for a needle so they are not subjecting themselves to the risk of disease, but are actually inviting the prospect of rehabilitation by those who are at the site to offer that kind of relief.
Mr. Mike Sullivan:  
    Mr. Speaker, at the very core of this issue is the issue of addiction. There are probably several dozen, if not more, members of this very chamber who suffer from addiction problems to tobacco and, because they know it is unhealthy and they know it is something they should not be doing, they wish they could stop it, but they cannot because it is that powerful a force. The same is true of heroin, but on a much larger and more dangerous scale.
    It is on a larger scale in the sense that an individual is more consumed by it than an individual is consumed by tobacco, although having to leave the chamber every couple of hours to go and have a smoke is perhaps being consumed by it. The point is that it is an addiction, and this is but one way to reduce the harm caused to individuals by an addiction. We have done it with tobacco. We have safe tobacco places all over Canada—called “the out of doors” generally. Yet we cannot seem to come to grips with another addiction.

[Translation]

Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-2. Before I go any further, I would like to take some time to put everything in perspective.
    First of all, we need to understand that any bill is a response to a problem. In this case, the problem is injection drug use. I would like to clarify that heroin is a drug that people inject. Unfortunately, there are several other drugs that people inject. For example, some people crush Dilaudid pills, a morphine derivative, and inject them. Heroin is one thing, but people sometimes inject other drugs, such as cocaine.
    Injection drug use is a problem, but it is only part of the problem. There are other parts of the problem related to the sale and trafficking of drugs. There are the many risks related to public safety and the health of users, such as infection and bad lifestyle choices resulting from drug use. There is also an impact on the fabric of our society.
    To tackle problems like this, we need to do several different things. The first is, of course, prevention. The provinces try to reduce drug use by taking preventive measures, identifying people who are at risk and taking action at the school level. They also fight drug trafficking. There are programs and houses where people can wean off drugs and get clean. There are also methadone programs to help people overcome their heroin addiction. There are strategically located needle drop boxes, and clean needles are given out to prevent infection. That practice is becoming more widespread and has its own logo. When we talk about distributing needles for injection drug use, it might seem like this is big-city problem, but what many people do not know is that, unfortunately, people use injection drugs in the regions too.
     In my administrative region, that is, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, which is a little bit different from my riding, from April 2006 to March 2007, 1,333 users came to see the staff and 10,482 needles were distributed. These figures are quite surprising to people who probably did not think that there was so much drug use in Abitibi-Témiscamingue because there is not much talk about it. In the more rural areas, drug use is very localized. It is often apartments that are used for improvised injection sites. This may be less often the case in downtown cores, parks and backyards. Unfortunately, there is still injection drug use.
     This is why action is needed. When we talk about rural areas such as mine and the high number of users there, resources like those in a safe injection site are not going to be effective. The most effective solution involves nurses who take their services to drug users on the ground.
     However, when there are many users, such as in major centres where the problem is widespread, it is more useful to have supervised injection centres because of the volume of work for social workers, doctors and nurses.
     Furthermore, a safe injection site is more than just a place to inject drugs.

  (1600)  

     Clean and sterile injection equipment is provided, and users are shown an injection technique that minimizes cross-contamination. Obviously, the drug itself is not sterile, but an attempt will at least be made to minimize the damage. Blood-borne infections such as hepatitis B and HIV are one thing, but people can also contract skin and soft tissue infections by using the wrong injection technique. The staff try to decrease the risk by showing users the proper technique.
     In addition, action is taken in the event of an overdose. Emergency care is given. Staff connect with other agencies that can deal with other issues. Referrals are given and staff help make contact. For instance, if an addict is a victim of domestic violence and she wants to get out of the situation, she may receive help in resolving other issues with a referral to other health professionals. If a woman becomes a prostitute in order to pay for drugs, she can be referred to other agencies that help women who have turned to prostitution. The needs of the individual are paramount. Over time, the addicts are helped and encouraged to adopt healthier lifestyle choices.
     Clearly, some users have a very long road ahead of them. In the beginning, no one will tell an addict to eat three square meals a day and exercise for 30 minutes. The staff try to give advice that will make a tangible improvement in the user’s situation. They will try to ensure a steady improvement. If the user says that he sometimes eats only every third day, he will be encouraged to have at least one meal a day. Centre staff try to minimize the damage as much as they can.
     The centres also carry out social interventions. For instance, users can receive housing assistance. If someone has no home, he or she can be directed toward the appropriate resources.
     The healthcare professionals at the centre conduct a brief appraisal simply by looking at the person. When they watch a person move around, they may realize that there is a problem. If a person has walked for two days on an ankle that is sprained or fractured, if he or she has an infection or yellow skin, they will be able to take action, provide advice and tell the person where he or she can receive care. This is not the case if a person remains solely on the street with his only contact being the network, if we can call it that, linked to his drug addiction.
     If there were no supervised injection sites, these individuals would only come into contact with other drug addicts and dealers. That would be quite unfortunate. At least while they are at the site, they cross paths with people who are not part of their addict community and who can help them. Often these are the only people they come into contact with outside their network and the only people they can turn to for help.
     Contraception advice is also given at the centres. People are encouraged to use condoms or another form of contraception. Being pregnant is not an ideal situation for a drug addict.
     These centres therefore provide assistance on many different levels.
     Normally, on seeing that such centres are beneficial as part of a comprehensive approach, a government should provide the tools these centres need to operate, all the while conducting reasonable evaluations to ensure that the location is appropriate.
     However, this bill sets so many conditions that it is not even possible to establish these centres. Trying to meet all of these conditions makes no sense whatsoever. The list of conditions is endless. I think it goes as far as the letter “u”. It is truly incredible. Setting up a centre becomes virtually impossible.
     Concretely, this bill provides for the establishment of a centre, provided all of the stated conditions are met. However, the list of conditions is so long that practically speaking, the government really wants no part of this. This is really not a responsible attitude for the government to adopt, given that it should be taking steps to improve people’s health.

  (1605)  

[English]

Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned a few things. She talked about technique. I have never met heroin users who needed to be taught technique. They could probably teach anyone in this House how to properly do it.
    The member talked about sharps disposal units. I agree with that wholeheartedly. I agree with the fact that we need clean syringes. I agreed with all of that.
    She hit the nail on the head with regard to talking about east Vancouver, which has the only safe injection site in all of Canada. Let us not have that construed to mean that they are spread across Canada. There is one.
    The fact of the matter is that they have a lot of nurses who walk those alleys to ensure that those people who want to be taken care of can be taken care of. Not everyone does. Some just do not want to be taken care of.
    There is not one gram of heroin that can be purchased legally in Canada, yet we set up an injection site that says, “Bring your illegal heroin into this safe injection site”.
    My question is for the member's party and the member. What would the member's party do with regard to safe heroin in an injection site?

[Translation]

Ms. Christine Moore:  
    Mr. Speaker, of course I would rather people not use heroin. The problem is that people use it anyway. That is why we are in favour of setting up a supervised injection site. The reality is that this type of drug is still being sold.
    We are not telling people to come and sell their drugs at these centres. That is absolutely not the case. People will get their drugs elsewhere. It is not the role of health care professionals working at centres like this to find out where users got their drugs. Addicts are warned not to engage in buying or selling drugs near the facility. Addicts generally follow this rule to ensure that the supervised injection site remains open. I know that heroin is illegal, and I do not want to encourage people to use this drug, but I also know that people have health problems and may infect other people. Syringes are discarded on the ground. I also know that some people die as a result of this. In my opinion, supervised injection sites can benefit such individuals. For all of these reasons, I think we should support the establishment of such facilities.

  (1610)  

[English]

Hon. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the question from the member for Kootenay—Columbia. We are kind of talking past each other, I believe, in the House.
    In terms of InSite, this is not a question about legality or illegality. The fact is that these products are bought illegally on the streets, and they are going to be used. The real question is how we prevent the further spread of HIV-AIDS and how we protect people's health. The reality is that it is happening, and we need to address the problem.
    In terms of InSite itself, I would say to the member that the real issue is protecting people's health, not just users but others as well, including those who might have sexual relations with somebody who is a drug addict.
    It is about the health of society and preventing further damage to society. That is what InSite is all about, and that is why it should remain.

[Translation]

Ms. Christine Moore:  
    Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we have been talking about from the beginning.
    The purpose of safe injection sites is to protect health and reduce harm. We know that people are using drugs. Now, we want to reduce harm. Can we at least ensure that these people do not contract HIV or hepatitis B? We do not want them to be compromised for the rest of their lives if they do succeed in breaking their habit. Can we ensure that people who have sex with these individuals will not be contaminated and get sick? Can we ensure that these addicts receive appropriate counselling and care? Can we ensure that they do not end up with an unwanted pregnancy while dealing with their addiction? We respond with the tools and resources available.
    Now, the other things are still being done. The police continue to battle drugs and drug trafficking. We are not asking to set up these centres and stop doing all the other things I have just mentioned. It is a question of a comprehensive response. Safe injection sites must be part of that comprehensive response if we want to achieve real success in the fight against drugs.
Mrs. Sadia Groguhé (Saint-Lambert, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have an opportunity to speak on a subject as sensitive as Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. First, we should remember that the government introduced this bill before prorogation. Then, it was Bill C-65; now it is Bill C-2.
    This bill is a clear demonstration of the Conservative government’s methods and intentions with respect to public health. It values ideological prejudice over Supreme Court decisions; cynicism over a search for the common good; and scorn over a helping hand for our fellow citizens in distress.
    Before continuing, I would like to recall some facts that are essential to an impartial debate. The core of the issue concerns the effectiveness of supervised drug use, and the referral of addicts to appropriate care.
     In order to assess effectiveness, let us look at the results achieved by the only safe injection site in Canada: InSite, located in Vancouver’s East Side. It opened in 2003, as part of a public health project undertaken by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and its community partners. The establishment of this safe injection site was a coordinated response to the wave of fatal overdoses hitting Vancouver.
     The annual rate of fatal overdoses had increased 12 times between 1987 and 1993, to some 200 cases. Over the same period, the Vancouver area experienced spectacular increases in cases of communicable disease, such as hepatitis A, B and C, as well as HIV and AIDS. From the beginning, InSite has reported conclusive results in terms of public health and safety. The fatal overdose rate in the East Side district fell 35%, as shown in the study conducted by the prestigious medical journal The Lancet in 2001.
     The main thing, however, is that the centre provides valuable help to addicts by referring them to detox programs. It has been shown that going to InSite increases by 70% the likelihood that an addict will take part in a detox program. Moreover, the benefits provided by the centre have a direct impact on safety and public order in Vancouver’s East Side. Since InSite opened, there has been a significant decrease in the number of needles left in the streets. Drug use in public places has decreased. The impact of the centre is so apparent that 80% of those surveyed who live or work in the neighbourhood support what InSite is doing. Even the local police recognizes its positive impact.
    The success of this centre is recognized not only at the local level, but also at the international level. More than 30 medical journals, including The New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet and the British Medical Journal, have studied the positive impact that InSite has had on health and public safety and published articles about it. This success is not random or accidental. In fact, 70 cities in Europe and Australia have opened similar centres to monitor drug use, and we are seeing the same positive impact.
    Instead of helping InSite help drug addicts get clean, the Conservative government is creating more legal impediments and putting out more ideological propaganda. In 2008, the exemption under section 56 of the act expired. This exemption allowed the centre to exist and operate, but the government refused to renew it, which led to a serious legal battle. The Conservative government went as far as the Supreme Court to oppose InSite's right to provide its services. In 2011, the highest legal authority in Canada issued a very clear ruling on this matter. It called the Conservative government's decision arbitrary and even said, and I quote, “it undermines the very purposes of the CDSA...”.
    The court declared that, in accordance with section 7 of the charter:
    The infringement at stake is serious; it threatens the health, indeed the lives, of the claimants and others like them. The grave consequences that might result from a lapse in the current constitutional exemption for InSite cannot be ignored.

  (1615)  

     The court states that the minister must grant InSite in particular, and safe injection sites in general, the exemption provided for in section 56(d), when such a site “will decrease the risk of death and disease, and there is little or no evidence that it will have a negative impact on public safety”.
     The Supreme Court decision completely repudiated the Conservative government's position. However, not content with having lost, the government is implementing a well-known strategy. Driven out through the door, it comes back in through the window. Having lost in court, it is coming back today with a bill that is contrary to the Supreme Court ruling.
     Communities will now have to show the benefits of safe injection sites in order to obtain an exemption and be able to work. In order to do so, they will have to go through incredibly complicated administrative procedures and ultimately submit to the decision by the minister, who will do whatever he wants in the end. We are awash in arbitrariness.
     The government’s action in the area of public health is based on prejudice, not on fact. The government cannot accept the existence of InSite, even though the benefits of the site have been proven. To support its action, the government is calling on Canadians to support the campaign it calls “Keep heroin out of our backyards”. However, this bill will bring heroin into our backyards, into our neighbourhoods, into our streets and in front of the eyes of our children, because it will be almost impossible to open safe injection centres.
     The NDP has a clear standpoint on this issue. We are sensible and responsible people. We have a clear-eyed view of the situation, without preconceived notions. We can draw the necessary conclusions in order to manage it for everyone’s benefit. Desperate people take drugs. It is a fact. There are solutions that can help them recover from their addiction and preserve their health. These solutions work; let us implement them. We must never forget that the true test of a civilized society lies in how it treats its weakest members. Let us not turn a blind eye to them. Let us hold out a helping hand to our fellow citizens, who have stumbled on their path. Let us help them regain their dignity.
     The NDP believes in these values. The NDP believes that any public health decision must be based on facts and on facts alone. The NDP believes that any bill put forward by government must abide by the rulings handed down by the Supreme Court. That is why I am calling on the honourable members of this Parliament to listen to what I am saying. We must work together to throw out this bill that will undermine public health and safety. Let us turn the page on ideological assumptions; let us look at reality full on and develop a constructive solution that will benefit all our fellow citizens and lead to a more just society.

  (1620)  

[English]

Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, in her statement, the member said that InSite was created for effective monitoring of drug use. She said it was created because of a wave of drug overdoses, which is true. She also said that InSite has reduced deaths by overdose by 35%, which again is true.
    The reality is that InSite was created to monitor those who inject heroin, and for no other reason. Some of the spinoff is the fact that we provide services to help those people get off of these drugs. We do not want anyone on drugs, but the reality is that InSite was created for the effective monitoring of drug use by those who inject illegal substances.
    I will continue asking this question to each person in the opposition. Heroin is an illegal drug, which is normally approximately 65% to 70% pure. However, sometimes it can be 90% pure. That is when there is a problem, and yes, a person had better have someone there to help, because people die if they do not have someone there. How would the member's party control heroin being injected by someone who believes it should be safe?

[Translation]

Mrs. Sadia Groguhé :  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to reiterate what some of my colleagues have already noted: that this is a flawed bill based on a certain ideology.
    As mentioned, we are not talking about legalizing certain drugs. That is not the issue here. The issue here is public health.
    In that respect, I would like to quote from the statement on Bill C-2 issued by the Pivot Legal Society, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, which reads:
    The bill is an irresponsible initiative that ignores both the extensive evidence that such health services are needed and effective, and the human rights of Canadians with addictions....
    It is unethical, unconstitutional and damaging to both public health and the public purse to block access to supervised consumption services...
     This response contains all of the information needed and sums up this bill, which nothing like what we might expect when it comes to public health and safety.

[English]

Mr. Frank Valeriote (Guelph, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the Conservative member for Kootenay—Columbia asks these questions, and in his questions, he gives the very reasons we need a safe injection site: public safety, making sure there are safe needles, and access to help. The fourth, which was couched in his question, was what happens if people take a drug that may kill them. He said that it is a good thing and that they had better have someone there to help them. That is exactly what the site is about. There will be someone there who will help them.
    The Conservatives' answer is to just say no. One cannot just say no to alcohol addiction. One cannot just say no to cigarette addiction. People need help, and they need help here.
    I wonder if the member could offer the House some insight as to the desperation of people who actually go to a safe injection site, which is, by the way, not a spa. It is a place that has a little cubicle where a person gets a safe needle and gets help.
     Could the member answer that question?

  (1625)  

[Translation]

Mrs. Sadia Groguhé:  
    Mr. Speaker, when people talk about drug addicts, it seems as though they lose sight of the fact that we are talking about human beings. We may have the impression that we are dealing with individuals who have been turned into robots. However, in reality, drug addicts are people who have led extremely difficult lives, which, unfortunately, as we know, have led them to use certain drugs.
    I would like to come back to how these supervised injection sites benefit the community. In 2004, a study was conducted by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction that clearly demonstrated that centres like this reach out to the most vulnerable groups and are accepted by communities.
Mr. Hoang Mai (Brossard—La Prairie, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to take part in a debate that we began before the holidays, and are continuing now, on Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
    Let me recap. People usually cannot take drugs—in this case, we are talking about heroin—but an exception was made for a centre in British Columbia called InSite. People can go there and inject drugs under the supervision of health care professionals. That is why they are called supervised injection sites.
    However, for this to happen, an exemption was needed, and the Conservatives decided to take the centre on. The Conservative government clearly intends to close the centre. As a result, it started lengthy legal proceedings that were costly for taxpayers. In the end, the Supreme Court of Canada's decision was unanimous: this kind of centre is permitted. Despite everything, the government is continuing its assault.
    It is important to remember why these centres exist. Contrary to what we are hearing from the Conservatives, who ran a fundraising campaign to take on these centres, it is not a free-for-all, where people take drugs and have fun. No, the idea is to protect them. It is a matter of public health and safety. The goal is to ensure that people who use drugs like heroin do so safely. They rarely choose to take drugs; it is an addiction.
    The idea is to ensure that they are not injecting drugs in the street and that they are supervised in order to prevent overdoses. Overdose deaths have dropped by 35% since the centre opened. In addition, needles no longer litter the streets. Cases of devastating illnesses like AIDS and hepatitis have also decreased.
    Such centres already exist in a number of countries. There are 77 centres around the world: in Europe, in Australia and one in Vancouver. This initiative has also received support from professionals in the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Nurses Association.
    Unfortunately, the Conservatives have an ideological vision, illustrated by the slogan of their fundraising campaign, which says that they do not want such centres in their backyards. Despite the Supreme Court ruling, they are holding up the process and drafting legislation to make authorization from the minister a requirement.
    Their intention is obvious. Clearly, the government is at odds with what 30 or so serious medical studies have shown: these centres save lives. This is a public health and safety issue. The hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia will certainly ask me about the use of heroin in these centres since he has asked all my colleagues that same question. We are well aware that heroin is illegal in Canada. We do not want to promote heroin, quite the opposite. People bring their own heroin to the centre.

  (1630)  

    Unfortunately, some are addicted.

[English]

    It is not a question of choice; it is an illness to be addicted to such drugs. What we are trying to do, and what people from InSite are trying to do, is to help people with addictions. They can make sure that their health issues are taken care of and that there are explanations on how to stop and how to get away from addiction.
    Ignoring the problem does not work. We have seen it time and time again, with all the lives that were lost. The Conservatives are asking us to just go back, but it means that the lives that were saved might be lost again.

[Translation]

    That is why the Supreme Court of Canada was very clear. I find it difficult to accept that the government and the Conservatives do not understand that the Supreme Court rendered a decision on the issue and that the scientific community supports this initiative.
    The government is choosing to act based on ideology. We knew that the Conservatives do not believe in science. They are at odds with what scientists are saying. They are using prejudice and fear. That is most unfortunate.
    I have tremendous respect for my colleague. I know that he worked in public safety before he became an MP. I do not understand why he is opposed to the centre when we know that the decisions are clear and that the centre saves lives, and we can see the whole process that was followed.
    To come back to Quebec, since the Supreme Court of Canada decision, Montreal has decided to develop four injection sites. I know that the members opposite said that there was just one site. They are just trying to remove any possibility of setting up a site; they are trying to ignore the fact that the site works. That means that the Conservatives are not looking at what is actually happening. On the ground, people are still dying.
     I am happy that there has been this support from the people of Vancouver. It was a step in the right direction, and unfortunately, instead of helping the site, the government put obstacles in its path. It took the case to court, even as far as the Supreme Court, let me say again. However, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court told the government that what it is doing makes no sense and is against the law, contrary to the charter and unconstitutional.
     Sadly, the government is persisting in closing its eyes and, in a purely ideological approach, is continuing in a direction that really is contrary to public health and safety.
     I am not the one saying this. If it were me alone, I could understand that the Conservatives might complain. Studies have been done by scientists. However, I am pretty sure that when the question is put to the Conservatives, they will not be able to denigrate that. The facts and the studies are there. Unfortunately, they are coming to us with a bill like this one. According to legal experts, this bill may once again be contrary to the Constitution and thus initiate another legal battle.
     I know they are used to doing this, and it is an approach they follow. Having once been a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, I know that the Conservatives tend to introduce bills without really studying their impact, despite the recommendations of the Canadian Bar and legal experts. They subsequently find themselves arguing before the Supreme Court. This costs money.
     Speaking of saving money or cutting budgets, something the Conservatives are so good at, why do they not bring us more sensible decisions that begin by taking into consideration what is going on in the field, that is, do what is required to save lives, then abide by the Supreme Court’s decision? Why not just move in that direction?
     We know that the heart of the problem is that the Conservatives say “not in my backyard”. They use that to stir people up, whereas in reality we know that this saves lives. Certainly, it is not a good thing, in the sense that we would all like to see no more heroin in the streets or in Canada. We would like people to stop using. The reality is different, though. What we are asking is that the Conservatives face facts, make sensible decisions and do, among other things, what the Supreme Court tells them.

  (1635)  

[English]

Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, some of the points made by the member in his speech are true. We need to have these types of centres available to help those who choose to come off of any type of drug. However, they have to make that choice themselves; no one can force it upon them.
    The member mentioned that there was an exception made for InSite, which there was. There was an exception made for InSite to continue to work. He talked as though the Conservative Party is attacking that site. There was a Supreme Court decision; it is not about attacking a site.
    From the perspective of 20 years of policing, there is a big difference between attacking a site and condoning and enabling people to continue drug use. There is a big difference. I believe that with all of the valuable information that InSite provides for those who want to get off of drugs, there is also an enabling factor. Everyone who walks in there can inject heroin unfettered. There is not one person who will tell them not to do it.
    Again, my question to the member is this. How would he control the type of heroin coming into an injection site so that it can be injected safely?

[Translation]

Mr. Hoang Mai:  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
    When he asks his question and says that no one will tell users not to inject themselves, he is mistaken.
     We know that InSite exists, and so does OnSite, which is there to try to help people to stop using. It would be wrong to say that the goal of InSite is for everyone to have fun injecting themselves. As I said at the start, it is not a free-for-all. The idea really is to do some prevention.
     What the member is saying is equivalent to saying that it would be better not to let people inject themselves at a supervised site and let them do it outdoors. Unfortunately, we know that in that case, people will inject themselves outdoors. That does not solve the problem. We have to realize that there is a problem and determine how we are going to take action. Action includes making sure that the people who go to the site inject themselves safely, but it also includes helping them to get off drugs. That is what the member does not seem to understand.

[English]

Hon. Judy Sgro (York West, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, this is such an important issue. Clearly the member has visited the centre in Vancouver, as have I. I am well aware of the importance of helping people turn their lives around. One way to do that is by having these kinds of clinics. They not only provide a facility, but also education and any other health care that is needed.
    Has the member had an opportunity to visit the centres? I would appreciate his comments.

  (1640)  

[Translation]

Mr. Hoang Mai:  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
    Unfortunately, I have not had an opportunity to visit the site. On the other hand, I have read a great deal on the subject. As I explained, people are also talking about it in Montreal. There is interest in setting up four sites. Practical steps are being taken.
    This is a debate that affects the whole of Canada. I admire those who struggled to set up the InSite clinic in Vancouver, but I believe that the progress that has been made in this area, and the lives that have been saved, can be beneficial for Canada as a whole.
    I believe we have to learn from what has happened, from the experience acquired, and be aware of the problems that exist. We know that we are not going to solve the problem by merely saying, “Say no to drugs”, and everyone will suddenly be able to say no and be cured.
    I am not a professional, but I trust those who are on the spot, I have confidence in the fact that there are people who have struggled and gained experience, and that all the experience gained will benefit Canada as a whole.
Mrs. Carol Hughes (Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, since this is the first time that I am rising in the House in 2014, I would like to offer my constituents, all my colleagues in the House, and all Canadians my best wishes for happiness and especially for health.

[English]

    I wish a happy new year and much health and happiness in 2014 for everybody.

[Translation]

    I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-2. This is a very imperfect piece of legislation that is built on an anti-drug ideology and on unfounded fears about public safety. It is another attempt to rally the Conservative base, as demonstrated by the fundraising campaign called “Keep heroin out of our backyards”, launched only a few hours after Bill C-2 was introduced in Parliament.
    However, by making it almost impossible to open supervised injection sites, the bill will actually bring heroin back into neighbourhoods.

[English]

    Canadians should be concerned with the approach the Conservative government has taken to drugs. This bill is a prime example of how it refuses to deal with health problems it finds distasteful.
    We are told this is a response aimed at shoring up public safety, but the facts do not bear out this claim. Instead, they point to an inevitable return to a situation that places more people at risk than under the current scheme, which actually minimizes the risk to users and society at the same time.
    How do we know this? It is because of the outcomes that have been achieved by InSite, Vancouver's safe injection site, operating since 2003. InSite has allowed researchers to study first-hand what happens when heroin use is treated as a public health challenge, rather than a moral failure on the part of the users. The results must inform this debate.
    Before InSite opened, Vancouver had been through a six-year period that saw a twelvefold increase in overdose deaths. At the same time, there were increases in communicable diseases among injection drug users, including hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, as well as HIV/AIDS. Since InSite opened, Vancouver has seen a 35% decrease in overdose deaths, along with a decrease in crime, communicable disease infection rates and relapse rates of drug users.
    Surely we can all agree that these are beneficial outcomes, yet the government continues to rally against these benefits and prefers to fight for a system that punishes users and the communities they live in, in order to play a wedge politics fundraising game.
    The Conservative government tried to close InSite in 2008, when it refused to extend an exemption to section 56 of the current Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which allowed the safe injection site to operate. That resulted in the Supreme Court ruling that called on the minister to consider exemptions for safe injection sites based on a balance between public health and safety. It called on the minister to consider all of the evidence on the benefits of safe injection sites, rather than setting out a lengthy list of principles by which to apply judgments. Despite the clear instructions from the highest court in the land, the Conservatives' fearmongering on the issues continues.
    I agree with my colleague, the member for Vancouver East, who said that this bill has more to do with creating an environment of fear and division than with creating a system that helps our communities or concerns itself with the safety of users. What is troublesome is that this bill does not match the spirit and the intent of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling. Instead, it is designed to work against that ruling and create a situation where everything would run in the government's favour to not even consider applications or, if it does, to simply turn them down based on the principles it has outlined.
    It is clear that the government wants this fight. One might even suggest it looks forward to the court challenges that would likely follow the enactment of Bill C-2. We have to remember that it is playing with taxpayers' dollars. The government should remember, while it is engaging in this propaganda exercise, that Vancouver's safe injection site has the support of the police, local businesses, the board of trade and municipal politicians.
    While the government is creating a climate of fear based on misinformation, the outcome of Bill C-2 would actually increase the danger to our communities.

  (1645)  

    When we force addicts into the shadows, the outcomes are predictable: more needles on the streets, greater rates of infection as communicable diseases run rampant, broken lines of communication with addicts, as well as more deaths by overdose. Is that what Canadians want? I cannot imagine that we would.
    To help us understand why, we have to ask ourselves who the addicts are who we are discussing. There seems to be a lot of discussion about addicts as if they are somehow second-class individuals. Perhaps we are more informed by television and movie portrayals than we should be, because it is easy to lose sight of the fact that when we talk about addicts we are talking about people. Perhaps it would help to remember that these are our children, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers, not anonymous people. We have to cut through stereotypes and recognize that drug addicts come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life, and how we care for them says much about who we are as a society.
    That begins with the admission that the choice we face with this bill is not between safe communities and safe injection sites; it is between legislating with the benefit of evidence or relying on the rose-coloured glasses of opinion. In fact, as they push this bill through, the Conservatives are disregarding the advice of the Pivot Legal Society, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, along with the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Nurses Association, all of whom have spoken against Bill C-2.
    The Canadian Medical Association tells us that:
    Supervised injection programs are an important harm reduction strategy. Harm reduction is a central pillar in a comprehensive public health approach to disease prevention and health promotion.
    The Canadian Nurses Association stated:
    Evidence demonstrates that supervised injection sites and other harm reduction programs bring critical health and social services to vulnerable populations—especially those experiencing poverty, mental illness and homelessness.... A government truly committed to public health and safety would work to enhance access to prevention and treatment services—instead of building more barriers.
    Despite having the benefit of those who work closest with the population at risk, it is clear the Conservatives want to continue with the failed and costly war-on-drugs mentality. This is at the same time as jurisdictions all around the globe are seeing the benefit of taking a different approach to dealing with drug addiction. Australia, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland are all working with some form of safe injection site and are seeing the same benefits as we have seen in Vancouver. In addition to the reduction in overdose deaths and communicable diseases, safe injection sites also allow for a stronger line of communication with addicts, through which to educate them about options that may be available for those who would like to break their addiction.
    It is obvious what the Conservatives are doing with this piece of legislation. They are whipping up fear across the country at the expense of vulnerable individuals. They are further demonizing addicts to suit their own needs and raise money for political gain. They are dismissing the benefits of InSite and preparing to abandon the project without offering any alternative to deal with the health-related challenges of addiction. This speaks to a willingness on the government's part to see increases in the infection rates of HIV as well as hepatitis A, B and C, as a result of its initiative. The Conservatives are choosing to increase the money spent in our health system dealing with these preventable diseases in order to attack a progressive approach to dealing with addiction. If we were debating this from a purely economic viewpoint, the position of the government would make little sense. This is a case where the Conservatives are showing that their economic management is limited to a narrow band of issues and can take a back seat to the politics of opinion when it suits their needs.
    As the world moves away from the belief that we can wipe out drugs with concentrated punitive efforts focused on users, the current government is moving in the opposite direction.

  (1650)  

[Translation]

    New Democrats would not do that. We believe that harm-reduction programs, including supervised injection sites, should be exempt, not for ideological reasons, but because of the evidence showing that these programs help to improve community health and save human lives.

[English]

    To achieve that, we must defeat this bill and ensure that those communities that want to benefit from safe injection sites are provided with the process to do so—one that is not designed to frustrate them.
Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I want to read what some of the services are that are provided at InSite. It has 12 injection booths where clients inject pre-obtained illegal drugs under the supervision of nurses and health care staff. InSite also supplies clean injection equipment such as syringes, cookers, filters, water and tourniquets. If an overdose occurs, a team led by a nurse is available to intervene immediately. I am happy to hear that if there is an overdose, they intervene immediately. I think that is a great thing because I have seen enough overdoses in my life to know that no one likes to get Narcan once. Do not get me wrong, but providing these things for the people who are very vulnerable is not about whether they think it is right or wrong. They are just trying to get a fix. That is what they are trying to do.
     I truly believe that these types of sites condone and enable. We cannot do that. We have methadone clinics they can go to if they want to. It is an illegal drug and no one knows its purity. What is the party's take on trying to ensure that the heroin is safe?
Mrs. Carol Hughes:  
    Mr. Speaker, I know my colleague knows a little about law and justice. He is absolutely right: it is not about what is right or wrong; there is an addiction. How do we deal with that addiction? We know addicts are going to get a fix no matter what, so we need to make sure we protect the public. Protecting not only the users but the public is through these safe injection sites.
    Let us look at the statistics. The rate of overdose deaths in east Vancouver has dropped by 35% since InSite opened. Those who used InSite services at least once a week were 1.7 times more likely to enrol in a detox program, and that is the whole goal. We know people are going to use, no matter what, but let us make it safe for the people who are on the streets as well as for the people who are off the streets.
    For our children's sake and for our future, we need to make sure we do this right, and this is the right way to do it.
Mr. David McGuinty (Ottawa South, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, could my colleague comment on some of the cost implications? In my home city of Ottawa, several years ago there was a very powerful debate about a site where we could deal with addiction. I would like to remind my colleagues on the other side of the House that being addicted is the antithesis of being free to make choices, because people are actually addicted.
    In our hometown of Ottawa we realized that the cost of treating, for example, one HIV patient over a lifetime was somewhere around $600,000. Maybe my colleague could explain to Canadians why this is an important feature of having a harm-reduction site that minimizes infections and reduces health care costs for the country.

  (1655)  

Mrs. Carol Hughes:  
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from my colleague. Health care costs are extremely high. As we know, having this type of program in place has proven to alleviate the use of emergency services, and for overdoses, it has reduced deaths as well.
    When we remove the ability to have such a service available, we actually increase the costs in health care, not to mention the costs in our justice system, as well, because we find a lot of people before the courts because of addiction, having been arrested for using.
    We have to look at the global aspect: the costs of the courts and health care. Also, there has been a Supreme Court decision on this, and we wish the government would abide by it and not waste taxpayers' dollars on challenges to this type of legislation that it is trying to put in, which does not work, over and over again.

Ukraine

Mr. Rick Norlock (Northumberland—Quinte West, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There have been some consultations with all parties in the House and I think, if you seek it, you will find unanimous support for the following motion. I move:
    That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, during the debate pursuant to Standing Order 52 later today, no quorum call, dilatory motion or request for unanimous consent shall be received by the Chair.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin):  
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?
     Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

     (Motion agreed to)

[Translation]

Respect for Communities Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the motion that this question be now put.
Mr. Robert Aubin (Trois-Rivières, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, this will be my second time taking part in our debate today on Bill C-2. This allows me to make an initial comment about the very concept of the debate. I have been in the House since early this morning and, from the moment when we began this debate on Bill C-2, it seems to me—unless I slipped away for a few moments—that I have not heard one Conservative member make a single remark about the validity of their own bill. This clearly raises questions as to the very concept of the debate. In a chamber where we should be sharing ideas and finding solutions, I get the impression that the members of the NDP have been on the same wavelength for hours but the other members are not even listening.
    In my first speech on the same issue, just before the holidays, I relied extensively on facts, statistics, studies and scientific articles published in newspapers or medical journals to show the facts. Unfortunately, there seems to be a tendency in Canadian, Quebec and even municipal politics—at every level—to have debates that are based more on opinions than on actual facts. I believe that science and objective facts should still be the basis of our discussions. This does not mean that, because the facts are specific, we must necessarily share the same view at the end of the debate. However, it seems to me that we should at least agree on the basic facts.
    For my second speech, I intend to use a more empathetic approach. Let us set aside statistics and studies and try, for a few short minutes, to put ourselves in the shoes of an individual—one of our constituents—who, for one reason or another, has tried hard drugs and is now struggling with a severe addiction.
    It seems quite inappropriate to paint society as black and white, or as good and bad, as several Conservative bills try to do, and say that an individual who is addicted to hard drugs is living with the consequences of his behaviour, that it is his fault and that he has only himself to blame. Even if it were true that this individual has only himself to blame—and I do not agree with that—it does not mean he is not entitled to get help from society to get out of his predicament. When an individual is suffering from this addiction, several others who are close or not so close to him also suffer. Therefore, we should rely less on perception and more on reality.
    I remember that my late mother—may God rest her soul—was convinced at one time that a young man who tried smoking a marijuana joint would definitely end up a wreck. Even though she and I did not do drugs, we had many discussions on this issue, and I tried to prove to that she was wrong. However, her perception went beyond the scientific facts that I could show. This revealed something even more extraordinary: the fear of the unknown and the fear of something we do not know how to fight. Well, it seems to me there is only one effective way to fight fear, and it is called education.
    Looking at Bill C-2, I see that it covers everything but education. If we were to talk about education in reference to a centre like InSite, we should also talk about the neighbouring parks in the community, but I am thinking mainly of the parks that have been made safer because needles no longer litter the park.

  (1700)  

    Moreover, what is true for Vancouver is also true for Montreal, Trois-Rivières and all small cities, not just the major centres.
    InSite is a successful formula that helps reduce crime. If we are really concerned about heroin use—and there is every reason to be, of course—we should also be able to recognize initiatives that reduce crime rates. InSite is one of them.
    InSite also helps reduce infections. Addicts can get an infection through injection drug use, but others can get infected entirely involuntarily by stepping on a needle thrown away in a public park.
    InSite also helps reduce the relapse rates for drug users. In other words, when addicts choose to go clean to overcome their addiction, organizations like InSite help them and let them reach their goal with a better success rate.
    I have some examples from my own riding. They are not injection sites, but agencies that do street work with people suffering from addictions, often multiple addictions, people thought to be hopeless who, for just a few dollars, managed to reintegrate into society and the workforce.
    This hardly ever makes the headlines. The government probably prefers photo ops with big cheques announcing that it has funded such and such a program that creates jobs. It seems to me that bringing people back to life also deserves a photo on the front page of the newspapers. Some people might not be as socially sensitive as they should be.
    Support is the key to everything. When people decide to inject drugs at a place like InSite, they are no longer alone. They are back in contact with society and agencies that can help them overcome their addiction.
    What better way to combat illegal drugs than to eliminate drug users by rehabilitating them. We all know that organized crime is behind the drug industry. Since the crime is highly organized, we have no choice but to organize the resources that will help victims overcome addiction. InSite is one such resource.
    I was talking about an agency back home called Point de rue that works with young people dealing with all kinds of problems, including addiction. I had a minor hand in two projects that have restored hope and life to many of those young people.
    There was a project back home by an artist named Jean Beaulieu, a world-famous painter and stained-glass window maker. He put people to work 40 hours a week making stained-glass windows (cutting, polishing and soldering) while sticking to the plan. Each piece honoured a celebrity, and at the end there was a public exhibition. More than 90% of the addicts who took part in this program reintegrated into society.
    This agency, which enjoyed extraordinary success, has unfortunately closed its doors because the Conservative government stopped subsidizing such agencies. With that attitude toward fighting homelessness, soon Point de rue will also be closing its doors, not just Jean Beaulieu's stained-glass-making project. For a photo exhibit project that was held at the office of the member for Trois-Rivières, young people from Point de rue went to South America as part of an international support project and took that opportunity to launch a photo campaign.

  (1705)  

    Unfortunately, since time is short, I will simply say that the values of every parliamentarian here today, whether they are religious or humanist, should instill in us the duty to overcome our prejudices, face reality and do the work entrusted to us—to serve Canadians.

[English]

Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the member said a couple of things in his speech that stuck out. First he talked about the merits of our bill on this side of the House, which I will speak to in a second.
    However, he also brought up something very interesting about what is taking place in his own riding that does not have an InSite. He said that in his own riding there are people who work with addicts on the street and understand how they cope from day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute. I remind the member opposite that InSite was created as a safe place for someone to inject heroin. Other people have talked about other drugs. This is heroin, not cocaine or methamphetamines, but heroin. We have to clearly understand that.
    The member has a valuable point. There have to be street workers to ensure these people get the message that there is hope for them. They do not need to walk into InSite to find that out; they need street workers to find that out. Again, I emphasize to the member and all other members that heroin is an illegal drug that is obtained illegally anywhere in the world.
    There have been well over 1,200 overdoses. My question about InSite is, how do we control the purity of the heroin coming into the site?

[Translation]

Mr. Robert Aubin:  
    Mr. Speaker, if I led anyone to believe that I agree with Bill C-2 through anything I may have said, I would like to set the record straight right now: Bill C-2 is a bad bill. I decided to instead talk about empathy.
    My colleague wants to know how the Point de Rue organization works. The organization has street workers who are the point of first contact with vulnerable individuals. That is essential.
    However, the problem is not solved in the streets. Solutions are found when we convince people living in the streets to visit an organization such as Point de Rue. Point de Rue is not an injection site, but rather an organization that helps the less fortunate. Once these people are persuaded to come in, we can help them regain their humanity and tell them that we will support them in their decision to overcome their addiction. There is much to be done.
    Time and space are required to build relationships with these individuals. It is important to provide a physical location where they can feel that they belong, that someone is listening to them and that they have a network of people to help them overcome the feelings of isolation that are unfortunately often associated with drug use.

  (1710)  

[English]

Mr. Frank Valeriote (Guelph, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, I do not know if you know this, but there is a Conservative website that has been fundraising on the issue of InSite. I cannot believe it, but it is alarming people into thinking that InSite is going to be like a spa where cocktails of drugs are available for people to take, and that these InSite locations are going to sprout up like fast food stores across Canada. That is clearly not the case, in either of those instances.
    My question for the member is this. The member for Kootenay—Columbia indicated a few questions ago that it is a good thing that InSite locations exist because if people get too pure of a dose of heroin, or they overdose, then at least they are at a location to be taken care of instead of being left on the street to die. I am wondering if my friend agrees it is a good thing that InSite exists to help people who cannot be guaranteed of the quality of heroin they are getting on the street.

[Translation]

Mr. Robert Aubin:  
    Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely essential that we have facilities such as InSite.
    The most basic reason is that, as soon as people who use drugs, such as heroin, come to InSite, they are no longer anonymous users who do drugs in the recesses of a park or in a dark alley somewhere. Those persons are now known and recognized. They begin interacting with others. At that moment, anything becomes possible in terms of changing the situation.
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre (Alfred-Pellan, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, like the hon. member for Trois-Rivières, this is the second time I speak to Bill C-2. I made a speech before the holidays and, today, I am pleased to voice my opposition to the bill once again.
    To begin, Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome you to the start of the spring session. I would also like to extend my best wishes for a good parliamentary session to your entire team—the House clerks, translators, pages, security personnel and all of the members, regardless of political stripe.
    Today, there are many topics I would like to discuss in relation to Bill C-2. For example, I would like to talk about health and public safety, the Conservatives' fear-mongering campaign surrounding the InSite safe injection site and the Supreme Court decision in 2011.
    I would like to begin by talking about health and public safety. A safe injection site is a sanitary, hygienic location where intravenous drug users can shoot up under the watchful eye of trained staff, such as psychologists and nurses.
    Drugs are not sold there, despite what some might think. It is often the place where support personnel make first contact with a user. InSite in east Vancouver was the first of its kind to open in 2003. Since then, more than 70 cities in Europe and Australia have set up similar services.
    Since InSite opened, Vancouver has seen a 35% decrease in overdose deaths. Furthermore, InSite has been shown to decrease crime, infection rates of communicable diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis C, and relapse rates for drug users.
     Before InSite was set up, the rates of communicable diseases among injection drug users skyrocketed in Vancouver. There was also a 12-fold increase in overdose deaths between 1987 and 1993.
    As a result, community partners and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority decided to set up the InSite project. In addition to a 35% drop in the rate of overdose deaths, InSite had a positive impact on a number of other levels, in public health and safety alike.
    According to a 2004 study by Wood et al, there was a significant drop in the number of discarded needles and injection paraphernalia and in the number of people injecting drugs on the street, just in the year after the site opened.
    In addition, 80% of respondents living or working in Vancouver's downtown east side support InSite. Over 30 studies have shown the benefits of InSite as a supervised injection site. Not one study produced evidence of a possible negative impact of a place like InSite.
    I would also like to briefly speak from experience. As a mother of a young daughter, I am increasingly aware of the potential dangers in our communities. I am seeing public safety in a new light.
    I have already said this in my first speech on Bill C-2, but I think it is worth repeating. Montreal has no injection sites. When I was little, my mom and I used to walk around Montreal. Whenever we walked through a park, my mother would tell me to look on the ground. Whether we were walking on grass or gravel, we had to look down on the ground in case there were syringes or things like that. We had seen syringes before when we were walking in the parks or on the street. I was struck by that. Unfortunately, that is what many people have to do to avoid stepping on a needle, especially in the summer when they are wearing sandals. It is unfortunate and sad, but that is the way it is.
    I am the deputy critic for public safety. I did research on InSite to see whether a site like that actually had a positive impact.

  (1715)  

    Looking at the studies and personal experiences of people, especially those living and working in east Vancouver, there is no doubt that InSite has had a positive impact on people's quality of life and that it has made communities safer, especially in an area like east Vancouver, which, as most members in this House know, is unfortunately a place that is home to a large population of injection drug users. It is a unique little pocket of Vancouver. It is important to be aware of this when talking about InSite.
    I believe in the importance of safe communities and to achieve that, it takes work. As legislators, we have a responsibility to not be complacent when drafting bills and to take action in the best interest of Canadians. This brings me to my second point, which was mentioned in the last couple of speeches, right before I rose to address the House. It has to do with the fearmongering and fundraising the Conservatives are doing in relation to Bill C-2. There is a campaign on the Conservative website called “Keep heroin out of our backyards”. I would like to quote from the text written on that page. It reads:
    Do you want a supervised drug consumption site in your community? These are facilities where drug addicts get to shoot up heroin and other illicit drugs.
    I don’t want one anywhere near my home.
    Yet, as I write this, special interests are trying to open up these supervised drug consumption sites in cities and towns across Canada—over the objections of local residents and law enforcement.
    We've had enough—that’s why I am pleased the [Conservative] government is acting to put the safety of our communities first.
    It goes on to say:
    The...Liberals and...[the] NDP are against us. They want to repeat the experiment of Vancouver’s Insite facility across the country — maybe even in your community.
    This is fearmongering, as my colleague from Chicoutimi—Le Fjord pointed out. It is absolutely unbelievable that they are fearmongering and spreading misinformation about what a supervised injection site like InSite actually does. What bothers me even more is that the Conservatives are using Bill C-2 to raise money. The more they talk about it, the more they create fear among the public, the more they raise money to fund their next election campaign. It is absolutely unbelievable. It is disgusting. I cannot believe that they are using a topic as important as supervised injection sites to try to raise money. This takes the cake. If you do not have good arguments and resort to fearmongering, as the Conservatives are doing with this, I think it means that you have already lost the battle. Not us, but them. This is even worse than electioneering. There are so many adjectives I could use, but I will leave it at that.
    As my colleague from Trois-Rivières pointed out, what happens is that people either start to fear the unknown or are unable to properly explain a subject, or maybe they simply do not understand exactly what a supervised injection site does. They are playing politics here. They are not able to explain why these supervised injection sites are in the best interests of Canadians, in terms of both health and public safety. The Conservatives are trying to convince the public that they are the champions of public safety because of the measures in Bill C-2, but that is not the case. The Conservatives are using these measures to try to win votes. They are also trying to mislead Canadians, and that is sad.
    I would like to take a few minutes to talk about the Supreme Court's 2011 ruling. This bill is contrary to that decision, which called on the minister to consider exemptions for safe injection sites as a way to reconcile public health and public safety issues. The ruling urged the minister to examine all of the evidence in light of the benefits of safe injection sites, not to devise a long list of principles on which to base his decisions. The NDP believes that any new legislation about safe injection sites should respect the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling.

  (1720)  

    That is not what is happening with Bill C-2. The NDP believes that harm reduction programs, including safe injection sites, should benefit from exemptions based on evidence that they improve community health and save human lives, not on ideological beliefs.

[English]

Mr. David Wilks (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, the member mentioned that no one has claimed that drugs are sold at InSite. I do not think anyone has ever claimed that any drugs have been sold at InSite. I do not think that is the case at all.
    InSite, in fact, would probably capture an area of about 10 square blocks in all of east Vancouver. The reality is that anyone who buys heroin in Surrey or Richmond is not going to drive to the InSite site in east Vancouver to inject. It is just too far away.
    Our government has brought forward legislation that clearly indicates and defines, if a city so chooses, how to apply for an injection site.
    From the perspective of applications for injection sites, how many sites does the member or her party believe would suffice for the city of Montreal?

[Translation]

Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre:  
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question suggests to me that he may not know how such sites operate or what measures have been undertaken.
    My colleague from Vancouver may know that Montreal is trying to set up a facility like InSite. We are not talking about some guy trying to set up an organization because he thought it might be nice to have a safe injection site in Montreal. That is not at all what happened. The City of Montreal, community partners, the police, psychologists and nurses have been working together to conduct a major study. We are talking about a whole lot of people who believe they need to find a way to make this kind of system work.
    With respect to public safety, they have achieved something really important. I would encourage my colleague to read this really interesting report because Montreal is trying to set up a safe injection site.
    My colleague opposite asked me a question because I am from the Montreal region. If we had such a site, it would have a significant impact on people who, like me, live in the area surrounding Montreal. Organizations such as Sida-Vie Laval are in favour of that kind of service, with staff who are working toward the same goal. It would have a positive impact on the whole community in Montreal proper and in the surrounding area.

  (1725)  

Ms. Hélène LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her speech and for all the points she raised.
    She mentioned that a number of voices have been raised against this bill, including the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nurses Association and many other experts.
    Last summer, an editorial in the Globe and Mail came out strongly against this approach and the content of Bill C-2. Specifically, it said that, in the clauses and the preamble, there was not one mention of the fact that the supervised injection site was saving Canadian lives. That has been made abundantly clear in a number of ways.
    Could the hon. member elaborate a little more on the opposition to Bill C-2 that has come from various sources?
Ms. Rosane Doré Lefebvre:  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard for reminding us that a whole range of people and organizations are opposed to Bill C-2.
    She rightly mentioned the Canadian Nurses Association. It is important to look at this also from the perspective of health and consider the impact it can have in our communities.
    As I mentioned earlier, all those who are working hard for a supervised injection site or service on the island of Montreal are opposed to a bill like Bill C-2, which could derail all their efforts. We are talking about people in the field of public safety, meaning police officers in Montreal. We are also talking about community organizations, doctors and health care services. That is a lot of people.

[English]

Mr. Murray Rankin (Victoria, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to Bill C-2 , an act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
    I remain very concerned about the government's motivation in introducing the bill in the face of a unanimous loss. The Supreme Court of Canada in 2011 unanimously defeated the government's position on this matter. To read the bill, it would almost suggest that the government has not read the judgment or is flying in the face of that judgment.
    It also causes me great concern that the Minister of Justice would see fit to introduce the bill in the face of his obligation under subsection 4.1(1) of the Department of Justice Act, wherein advice from his officials on the constitutionality of legislation is required. However, we know that the standards of the Department of Justice these days are very low in that regard, having had the benefit of a whistleblower who told us that instructions had been sent to departmental lawyers saying that if there was even a 5% chance of a provision or law passing muster under the charter, then it would be fine to recommend it going ahead as constitutional and to introduce the law.
    I say this by way of preamble, because as a reformed lawyer, I have many friends who were involved in this litigation. Colleagues have told me that this is simply a bad-faith effort, or at least a patently unconstitutional response to the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. They cannot wait to get this in the courts again, not believing that it could possibly pass muster, for reasons I will try to outline in my remarks.
    The Downtown Eastside of Vancouver has disproportionately high levels of illegal drug use, poverty, and homelessness and high rates of HIV and hepatitis C infections. InSite came to the rescue with the approval of the City of Vancouver, the police department, and stakeholders in that troubled community. It succeeded in reducing blood-borne illnesses and in providing access to counselling, detox, and other services that simply were not being accessed by this high-risk population.
    As colleagues have pointed out, studies have shown that InSite contributed to a 35% reduction in deaths by overdose in that troubled area of Vancouver as compared to nearby neighbourhoods. The reduction was only 9% in other neighbourhoods compared to 35% in the Downtown Eastside.
    This is not the report of merely an academic who looked at statistics. This report was co-authored by the world-famous expert Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. In a moment, I will contrast this success rate for the safe injection site with what is happening in my community of Victoria. There is a very troubling difference between the two communities.
    There is a worldwide trend that InSite was part of. It is a trend that was outlined in June 2012 in a report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy. The title of its annual report, “The War on Drugs and HIV/AIDS: How the Criminalization of Drug Use Fuels the Global Pandemic”, I think is provocative. It is a report from world-famous scientists and other public policy experts.
    I found it interesting that in their analysis of places such as the InSite facility, which was referred to in their study, they concluded that criminalization actually encourages unsafe injection procedures, like sharing needles, as addicts hasten to inject in order to avoid detection and law enforcement. That global commission supported InSite and other safe injection facilities.
    As my colleagues have pointed out, this initiative was undertaken, long before it was in Canada, in places like the Netherlands, Germany, all over Europe, and Australia. It seems that the current government simply does not get that the Supreme Court of Canada was looking certainly at public safety and also at public health concerns. The Conservatives do not seem to get that part of the judgment.

  (1730)  

    That is not just me speaking. A number of colleagues, such as Professor Elaine Hyshka, in a 2012 edition of the Canadian Journal of Public Health, concluded that the Conservatives' approach to drug use is “motivated by ideological principles of punishment and retribution towards drug users”.
    It is that part of the Supreme Court of Canada's judgment that I must go back to, because it seems that it has been ignored by the government in enacting Bill C-2 in response to the Supreme Court's unanimous decision:
    The Minister's failure to grant a [section] 56 exemption to Insite engaged the claimants [section] 7 [charter] rights and contravened the principles of fundamental justice...[It is also] grossly disproportionate.... [during its eight years of operation, Insite has been proven to save lives with] no discernible negative impact on the public safety and health objectives of Canada....
    Where, as here, a supervised injection site will decrease the risk of death and disease, and there is little or no evidence that it will have a negative impact on public safety, the Minister should generally grant an exemption.
    Where are we with Bill C-2? How did the government respond to the Supreme Court of Canada's unanimous decision? I say it responded either in bad faith without reading the decision or by ignoring what no doubt was the advice given by lawyers on the constitutionality of this initiative. I say that because of three or four things.
    First, the preamble to Bill C-2 says that an exemption “should only be granted in exceptional circumstances and after the applicant has addressed rigorous criteria”. What are the criteria? Section 56.1, a new section this legislation would introduce, has some 26 conditions that must be met. Actually, there are 30, because of some subsections; they go from (a) to (z). These are conditions the minister must consider when approving an exemption for medical purposes.
    I am not saying that these are illegitimate conditions, but the number of hurdles in the way of a community ever getting a safe injection site are so enormous that it is hard to believe that this is a good faith effort to apply the Supreme Court of Canada's decision. The minister then sent it to the Public Safety Commission rather than to the health committee, again an indication that the public health aspects may not have been taken as seriously as one would have expected.
    All of this information would have to be provided in prescribed form. There is requirement after requirement, and it has to be done in the prescribed form. There is no time limit as to when the application would have to be considered by the relevant minister. It goes on and on. One wonders again whether there really was an effort to allow a safe injection site as per the spirit of this legislation.
    In the time available, I want to contrast the record in Vancouver, with Insite, and what is going on in my community of Victoria. I am finding the following quote from the coroner a shocking one. Last year, the B.C. coroner reported that there were 44 deaths from illicit drug use on Vancouver Island in 2011. Sixteen of those deaths occurred in the greater Victoria area. He noted that Vancouver Island is the region with the highest rate of deaths related to illicit drug use in the entire province of British Columbia.
    The Centre for Addictions Research at the University of Victoria concluded that Victoria's per capita death rate is almost 30% higher than in the Lower Mainland. Just a few kilometres away, a ferry ride away from Victoria, in the community where InSite exists, 30% fewer people die from overdoses per capita than on Vancouver Island, which does not have a safe injection site. All Bill C-2 would do is make it virtually impossible for us to realize the public health benefits that have been achieved on the mainland.
    By way of conclusion, this legislation does not address the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in a meaningful and good faith fashion. It will simply provide obstacle after obstacle to achieving the public health benefits that the Supreme Court of Canada found, on the facts, to exist in InSite.

  (1735)  

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I want to first commend my neighbour and friend from Victoria for an excellent speech.
    This is what has been bothering me about Bill C-2 from the beginning. It is that it is, by stealth, an effort to pretend and feign respect for the Supreme Court decision while, through every aspect of the bill, making it impossible to live up to what the Supreme Court has told Parliament we must do, which is respect charter rights and the evidence that says that InSite facilities are working.
    I have been here for the debate all day. Every comment from a Conservative member of Parliament has not been for defending Bill C-2 for what it pretends to be, a protection of communities act, a consultation with communities, but for what it really is: an effort to defeat the purposes of InSite. Every question from Conservatives has gone to the question of how we can possibly have a facility like InSite without encouraging and participating in the illegal drug trade.
    The questions from Conservatives throughout the day have been honest. They have been from people who really do not want to see InSite facilities operate. They go to the real purpose of and motivation for Bill C-2, which is to defeat the existence of valuable facilities for harm reduction.

  (1740)  

Mr. Murray Rankin:  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague and friend from Saanich—Gulf Islands for her comments. I could not agree more with her comments, which I thought were really appropriate, about government by stealth.
    The most remarkable aspect of the Supreme Court's decision is its findings of fact, the evidence-based nature of its conclusions. Contrast that with the patently ideological position of the Conservatives.
    The Conservatives obviously do not want to do what the Supreme Court unanimously told them to do, so they are saying, “Let us just find a bunch of ways to defeat it through the back door”. That is what is going on, and I think it is patently obvious.
    Who is going to be able to meet the 30 conditions? No one will, and that is exactly what the Conservatives wanted, going to the point of my colleague's comments. The Conservatives are obviously not interested in going ahead.
    They are using this for partisan purposes to attract their base, whereas people are dying in my community for lack of a facility like this. I am ashamed.

[Translation]

Mr. Marc-André Morin (Laurentides—Labelle, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I do not have the knowledge that the hon. member for Victoria does. I am not a lawyer, but I still have questions. Why would a government insist on systematically provoking the courts, scoffing at the Supreme Court and all the other courts that have been consulted in this matter? It makes no sense. Perhaps my explanation is a little cynical, but it is the Conservatives' strategy to undermine the credibility of the justice system because they will be facing other similar cases this year. They will have to follow up on other rulings. Boldly challenging the Supreme Court with a bill that does not work and will again be challenged undermines the credibility of the courts. It creates a sort of permanent crisis in which they can always pass any law arbitrarily, with the minister making the decision at the end of the day.

[English]

Mr. Murray Rankin:  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from Laurentides—Labelle for his observation. I think it is very, if the expression can be excused, insightful.
    I think the reason it is insightful is that the government seems to want to pick a fight with the Supreme Court of Canada. Imagine dropping something into an omnibus budget bill to deal with the appointment of a Supreme Court judge. Why? I do not understand that.
     I was on the finance committee when I had to deal with this position. From watching on CPAC the arguments in the Supreme Court of Canada, it certainly looks like the government deliberately provoked a fight with the court. Of course, as my colleague rightly noted, we are going to see more of that in the future.
    If Bill C-2 is enacted, we will be right back where we started. It is going to cost us millions of dollars in lawyers, and more people are going to die. That is what is going to happen as a consequence of this. The lawyers are all predicting it.
    As I said earlier, colleagues who do constitutional law tell me that they just do not understand how this passed muster with the Department of Justice.

[Translation]

Mrs. Djaouida Sellah (Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, this is the second time I have risen in this chamber to debate Bill C-2, which was introduced as Bill C-65 at the end of the parliamentary session.
    I am still very disappointed with Bill C-2, which I think once again represents what the Conservative government is all about. It governs the country according to its own ideology and not for the benefit of Canadians.
    This Conservative government is ignoring the scientific evidence around the ruling of the highest court in our country. It is absurd. This bill is another thinly veiled attempt to put an end to supervised injection sites, as the government has already tried to do with InSite in Vancouver.
    This government is not hesitating to use taxpayers' money to appeal rulings that do not tally with its ideologies, as it did in 2008. I have a lot of questions. The Supreme Court of Canada recognized the positive impact that a supervised injection site has had in Vancouver East, and its ruling was unequivocal:
    InSite has saved lives and improved health. And it did those things without increasing the incidence of drug use and crime in the surrounding area.
    I would like to repeat that last sentence again: “And it did those things without increasing the incidence of drug use and crime in the surrounding area.”
    The Canadian Nurses Association holds a similar view:
    In Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, where the Insite safe injection site is located, business owners, service providers and residents in the neighbourhood agree that the clinic has had a positive impact on the health of the people who use it and on the health of the community.
    That is a fundamental issue in this debate. The Supreme Court ruling was based on section 7 of the charter and on the constraints imposed by the law, aiming to strike a balance between public health and public safety.
    As a health care professional, I find this bill mind-boggling. I want to add my voice to those of people in the field who have criticized Bill C-2, including the Canadian Medical Association, which fully endorses the existence of harm reduction tools, including supervised injection sites, and believes they should be included in a comprehensive national drug strategy.
    The CMA's position is founded upon clinical evidence and not upon ideology, unlike Bill C-2. The CMA, which represents all of the doctors in the country, is very critical of Bill C-2:
    The unanimous decision was grounded in evidence, not ideology. The overwhelming clinical evidence is that centres like Insite save lives when it comes to some of our most vulnerable patient populations. In its ruling, the Supreme Court stated that “…the evidence indicates that a supervised injection site will decrease the risk of death and disease, and there is little or no evidence that it will have a negative impact on public safety, the Minister should generally grant an exemption.” What we have seen today seems to contradict the essence of the ruling.

  (1745)  

    Harm reduction works. This method has proven to be effective. In Australia, a report on supervised injection sites found that one site had reduced the number of overdoses, reduced the spread of HIV and hepatitis C and alleviated safety concerns related to users shooting up in public places and needle disposal. The report even indicated that the site served as a gateway to addiction treatment.
    If that is not improving safety in the community, I do not know what is.
    Many countries now have supervised injection sites: Australia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, just to name a few. These sites work.
    It is no wonder Montreal's director of public health recommended, in December 2011, that the city establish such a site in the greater Montreal area. He gave a number of reasons similar to the ones I just quoted concerning Australia's experience. Why? Because they are based on conclusive data that the Conservatives and the Minister of Health have patently decided to ignore.
    I would like to quote Montreal's director of public health:
    The reasons that justify implementing SIS in Montréal are very succinct: the epidemic of infections caused by HIV and HCV, and the excess mortality among IDU. Cocaine use, the drug most often injected in Montréal, is a major determinant of HIV transmission, as is sharing used needles. HCV infection is also having devastating effects: 7 in 10 IDU have been exposed to the virus and its transmission does not appear to be slowing. As for excess mortality among IDU, the data on hand indicate that the problem in Montréal is alarming.
    I urge the government to do its job for once in the health field. Since the Conservatives took power, we have seen the federal government disengage from files where Canadians expect it to play a role. This includes the government's refusal to negotiate a new health accord with the provinces, the shortage of prescription drugs, and diluted chemotherapy treatments.
    It is unbelievable and completely unacceptable for a bill such as this, which flies in the face of the Supreme Court ruling, to be introduced.

  (1750)  

Mr. Dany Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her speech. She spoke from the heart.
    I would like to ask her, both as a member of Parliament and as a health care professional, if she really believes that the Conservative strategy to prohibit supervised injection sites in Canada will make those who, unfortunately, are addicted to hard drugs more vulnerable. Will closing this kind of supervised injection sites improve or damage these people's health? I am asking her as a health care professional as well.
Mrs. Djaouida Sellah:  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, who is also a health care professional, for his relevant question.
    It is obvious—and there is irrefutable scientific evidence to this effect—that these supervised injection sites are gateways to health care professionals, whether for primary health care or addiction treatment.
    There is absolutely no doubt about that. What is regrettable is that this government has the audacity to put an end to everything that works or bury its head in the sand. That is the problem. It is better to move forward and try to address the issue, instead of imposing coercive measures.

  (1755)  

Mr. Dany Morin:  
    Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for this opportunity to put another question that I am dying to know the answer to. My question is rather simple. Since the beginning of her term, my colleague has been doing a lot of work on health issues and, over the years, she has had many dealings with the various Conservative health ministers. Unfortunately—and I am asking the hon. member to confirm my point—we notice that the Minister of Health leaves the public to fend for itself, sometimes by punishing certain groups that do not fit into the Conservative ideology. Pleas are made and the government is asked to protect our health care system and everything related to it, but unfortunately, this is like a dialogue of the deaf, because the government does not really listen to the concerns Canadians have about health, which is a priority every year. Supervised injection sites, which, in my opinion, go a long way to helping people who are going through a difficult time, are part of the health file. If my colleague takes a step back and looks at the whole issue of health management, does she think the government lacks leadership in the health sector?
Mrs. Djaouida Sellah:  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his health-related question, which is relevant to our debate. Since we were elected, we have been saying that the Conservative government is not listening to or consulting Canadians. This government refuses to sit down with the provinces and discuss the agreement that is coming to an end in March, just a few months away. We know that this government does not care about the health of Canadians; it cares about the economy. However, without health, there is no economy. That is why we are once again asking the current government to change course and listen to Canadians who are saying, loud and clear, that their top priorities are health and health.
Mr. Hoang Mai (Brossard—La Prairie, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert for her speech.
    The Canadian Medical Association is opposed to Bill C-2 and therefore supports the NDP's position. The Canadian Nurses Association also supports the NDP's position. I would like my colleague, who has plenty of experience in the health field, to tell us why it is important to oppose this bill in order to defend public health.
Mrs. Djaouida Sellah:  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie for his excellent question.
    This is a very important issue for health care professionals. This bill is an attempt to hamper potential applications to open safe injection sites even though the sites have had a positive impact on the health of intravenous drug users and on community safety. That has been proven internationally, and no one is questioning it. This bill, however, focuses on criteria and arbitrary decisions. It is appalling to us that a minister would be given the power to decide whether or not a site can open. For that be happening in this House, under a Conservative government—
The Speaker:  
    I must interrupt the hon. member.
    The hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
Mr. Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, this is my first opportunity in 2014 to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-2, which is an important bill.
    I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you a happy new year, Mr. Speaker. Happy new year to all the members of the House of Commons and all Quebeckers and Canadians.
    What do people wish for in the new year? They wish for good health.
    The government's most important role is to look after the health and safety of its people. We are talking about public health and safety. Here we are again dealing with a Conservative government that has taken an extremely ideological position, a position that may well do away with centres or prevent the creation of more centres that improve public health and safety.
    Instead of moving forward, the Conservative government is backtracking. Why? Because science, reality, facts and research are not important for this government. Indeed, we have seen this with employment insurance. No impact studies were done. The government is gutting everything. We have also seen it with the tax credit for labour-sponsored funds. No impact studies were done. In addition, no rational and logical arguments could explain that decision.
    Once again, when it comes to justice and public safety, the Conservatives are more inclined to rely on fear, on the prejudices and fears of some people, rather than on real results and documented experiments. That is what we are seeing with Bill C-2.
    This is the second time I have had an opportunity to address my colleagues on this bill. I am going to repeat the same arguments and hope that I can hammer them in, like a nail. Basically, Bill C-2 is a thinly veiled and almost crass attempt to put an end to the work and practices of supervised injection sites. Right now, there is only one site in Canada: the site in Vancouver known as InSite.
    The bill would allow the minister to come up with a list of criteria that is so long, detailed and onerous that in the end it would practically prohibit the sites.
    It is odd because this goes completely against the spirit and the letter of the Supreme Court ruling. According to the Supreme Court, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the government was to uphold the exception under the law for maintaining the supervised injection sites, so that people with addictions can get this type of help. It is their right to have access to it. The law must not ban this in any way.
    The government is trying to circumvent the Supreme Court ruling by putting up obstacles to ensure that similar sites are not set up in Toronto, Montreal or other cities, even though public health authorities want to have the opportunity of copying what is being done in Vancouver. Why? Because it is working. Most importantly, it saves lives. We are looking at legislation that might prevent us from saving lives in Toronto, Montreal or other major urban centres in Canada.
    The NDP thinks that facts and studies should be the foundation for public policy making. We cannot play with people's lives by fearmongering. More than 30 studies published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet and the British Medical Journal have described the benefits of InSite in Vancouver.
    I have no idea what it is going to take to convince the government. Thirty studies published in the top international medical journals in the world is not enough. Doctors are unanimous and the Canadian Nurses Association is unanimous. However, the government does not want to hear it and is incapable of listening or seeing reality when it does not fall in line with its regressive Conservative ideology.
    What is more, studies on more than 70 injection sites in Europe or Australia have observed similar benefits to the ones we see at InSite. It is therefore not an exception.
    The NDP believes that other centres can provide similar services. Appropriate supervision would help our constituents.

  (1800)  

    The Conservatives say that it makes no sense to help people to inject themselves with drugs. However, we know where those people are going to do it if they do not do it at a supervised injection site. They are not going to stop doing it. They will go into back alleys and parks. Then our children will be in danger of coming across contaminated syringes, pricking themselves with them and becoming ill, when it all could have been avoided with something quite simple.
    Sometimes, things happen in ways that do not seem to be purely coincidental. For example, last month, the day after the session of Parliament came to an end, Canada Post was announcing all its cuts to services for Canadians. An hour later, the Minister of Transport had already sent out her media release saying that she was in agreement. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but it seems as though a lot of information is being exchanged with a public institution that is supposed to be independent of government.
    What happened after Bill C-2 was introduced as a way to rally the Conservative base? We saw a Conservative campaign called “Keep heroin out of our backyards”. It was launched on their website. It was important to support Bill C-2 because it was going to keep heroin away from our children. However, the opposite is true. The opposite has been proven and documented. We are going to say it over and over again in the hope that the Conservatives will finally listen to reason.
    What exactly has happened in Vancouver since the site opened? We have seen deaths by overdose drop by 35%. That is a direct effect. Why did the authorities in Vancouver decide to open the injection site? They did so because there had been a huge increase in the number of deaths by overdose between 1987 and 1992, a twelve-fold increase. At the time, the Vancouver area was also seeing a dramatic rise in the rates of communicable diseases, such as hepatitis A, B and C, and HIV/AIDS, among injection drug users.
    The centre was opened and we started seeing a tangible change very quickly. The centre has helped reverse the trend of overdose deaths, which had been on the rise. The number is now going down. This is socially accepted in the community, in the area, and by police officers, more than 80% of whom support the existence of InSite. The site does not simply meet the needs of a drug addict. It also tries to help that individual recover from their addiction.
    In 2007, the OnSite detox centre was added to the facility. People who go to the InSite supervised injection centre are nearly twice as likely to enrol in a detox program than someone who uses drugs in the street, alley or park.
    In 2008, InSite's exemption under section 54 expired, and the Minister of Health asked InSite to renew the exemption. This decision triggered a series of trials that must have cost taxpayers a lot of money. The B.C. Supreme Court ruled that InSite should receive another exemption. The federal government took the case to the Court of Appeal, then, in 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that the minister's decision to close InSite violated its clients' rights, as guaranteed by the charter. It also declared that the minister's decision was, “arbitrary...because it undermines the very purposes of the CDSA — the protection of health and public safety.”
    The Supreme Court of Canada based its decision on section 7 of the charter, which states that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person. The court stated:
    The infringement at stake is serious; it threatens the health, indeed the lives, of the claimants and others like them. The grave consequences that might result from a lapse in the current constitutional exemption for Insite cannot be ignored. These claimants would be cast back into the application process they have tried and failed at, and made to await the Minister’s decision based on a reconsideration of the same facts.
    After the court rendered its decision, public health authorities and organizations in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal made plans and asked to open safe injection sites. They know that. Public health authorities in those municipalities are saying that the sites fulfill a need, that they will improve the social fabric and the ties people have with one another, that they will reduce the risk for children and that they will save lives.

  (1805)  

    I have a hard time understanding why the Conservative government keeps going when it is clearly moving in the wrong direction with Bill C-2.
    The Canadian Medical Association said the following:
    Supervised injection programs are an important harm reduction strategy. Harm reduction is a central pillar in a comprehensive public health approach to disease prevention and health promotion.
    The NDP believes that peoples' lives and public safety should be our main concern. That is why we must fight Bill C-2, which is a step in the wrong direction.

  (1810)  

Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague, who has young children, if there are currently areas in Montreal where he does not let his children play at certain times of the day. Does he feel that opening safe injection sites might make those areas a little safer? There could be used syringes in the areas where children might be playing.
Mr. Alexandre Boulerice:  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her excellent question.
    I am lucky to be the father of a blended family that includes four children aged three to 13. Depending on their age, they are sometimes allowed to play in the alley. We do not let the three-year-old play there alone much.
    Obviously it is something we are concerned about. I live in a densely populated urban area where there are problems with drug use and addiction. We have a lovely alley behind our house—it is not green yet, but we will try to work on it—but my partner and I and the neighbours check it out before the kids go play there to make sure there are no needles or broken glass or things like that. We do the same thing when we go to the park. We worry about the sandbox because it could easily hide something dangerous buried under the sand. That is something we worry about.
    If we knew there were fewer needles in public places thanks to a supervised injection site, that would be somewhat reassuring.
Ms. Hélène LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, who once again raised the NDP's concerns about this bill, which would create major obstacles and, like many of this government's bills, would give a single minister powers that would better be shared more democratically.
    These decisions should never be left up to a single minister because, as we have seen, in many cases, that person does not fulfill his or her responsibility and is not accountable. It is always someone else's fault.
    My colleague has brought this issue up in the House many times, so would he care to comment on the fact that this bill once again gives the minister control over a number of decisions, for example the decision of whether to accept or reject applications for safe injection sites?
Mr. Alexandre Boulerice:  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
    Indeed, this Conservative government has an unfortunate tendency to concentrate power in the hands of ministers or of the Prime Minister. That is what is happening here. This leads to a growing number of situations where they can act arbitrarily and say: “I made this decision. That is it and that is all.”
    It is always the same thing. The government avoids consulting, it avoids taking into consideration the views of experts, and it avoids commissioning studies by experts who would inform us objectively and rationally on what should be done.
    In the past, we saw dangerous concentrations of power in the hands of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and, recently, in the hands of the Minister of Labour regarding the definition of danger in the area of health and safety for workers under federal jurisdiction.
    This is a shift toward more powers in the hands of ministers. It is also a shift toward arbitrariness and that is really regrettable.
Mr. Denis Blanchette (Louis-Hébert, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, since we are here for the first time this year, allow me to wish a happy new year to you, to my colleagues, to the staff of the House of Commons and to the people at home.
    At the beginning of the year, we make resolutions. Mr. Speaker, you inspire us with good resolutions every day when you begin with the prayer asking the Almighty to give us the wisdom to make good laws, if I am not mistaken.
    This is what should guide us in this debate and in the debates on every bill. We are only here for a while. What will history remember of our Parliament? How will we have conducted our debates? What legislative legacy will we leave? I would not want people to remember that confusion prevailed, or that we did not act in the best interests of all Canadians. The fact is that everyone wants our society to thrive, to prosper and to be happy. I do not think we wish anything else.
    This brings us to an important question. How do we define public interest in a bill, and in this one in particular? I want to quote American journalist Walter Lippmann, when he spoke about public interest, because the definition of that expression is very subjective. Here is a taste:
    The public interest may be presumed to be what [people] would choose if they saw clearly, thought rationally and acted disinterestedly and benevolently.
    We could add to that the ability to see the long-term results of action taken. Clearly, this is a little utopian and unrealistic. However, that is the direction we should be pursuing when considering a bill like this one.
    This bill clearly shows the tectonic plates that are grinding against one another, in other words, people's values, which are not necessarily the same, and the law, which the Supreme Court clearly defined, when we are talking about the right to life, liberty or security, and the desired result or what we understand of an action, bill or institution.
    Beyond everything else we could say, the real question we should be asking ourselves is this: are we going in the right direction? Will this bill, as it is currently written, allow us to improve the plight of our communities? That is the important question. If we vote for this bill, are we improving the plight of our diverse communities?
    Here on this side of the House, we believe that things can be done differently. It is always a little strange to see such conflicting actions. This government boasts about eliminating red tape, but this bill introduces more red tape. The government is not very consistent. I do not know where it is going with this.
    Is the government using red tape as a smoke screen, to hide its real intentions? I do not know. However, is creating red tape on an issue of public health really the best way to serve Canadians and our communities?

  (1815)  

    However, we have a lot of tools at our disposal here in the 21st century. We have knowledge that our ancestors did not have. We have a professional, coherent and non-partisan public administration to help us in our decision-making. I have the impression that we are taking a step backward, rather than moving forward, when it comes to putting public policy together.
    Let me give you some examples where I think the government is not necessarily moving in the right direction to illustrate what I mean by that because public interest really is at the heart of this bill.
    We have a beautiful bridge in my riding, the Quebec Bridge, that is being left to rust. Is it in the public interest to reduce the lifespan of a metal bridge that is also an image on postcards in my region? Some would say that it is in the public interest to do so, but I do not think it is. Public interest is preserving, maintaining, and taking care of our infrastructure, not being involved in legal wrangling.
    Take funding post-secondary studies for example. We say we want to live in a knowledge society. Are we doing what it takes to make post-secondary education accessible to anyone who wants it, regardless of financial capabilities? The question can be asked now. I would like to know that we are contributing to a society where everyone has the opportunity to grow.
    Here is where I make the link to Bill C-2. We have constituents who have a serious problem with hard drugs. The current solutions are helping those people to get off the drugs. What does the government do? It chooses to forget that, look away, play partisan politics , withdraw into certain values and not accept reality and see what it could do better. I find that fundamentally deplorable.
    Beyond everything we want to do and everything we want, the wisdom to pass legislation in the public interest every day is characterized by the sincere desire to sometimes set aside our own personal perspectives.
    We all have opinions on anything and everything, and our values influence our decisions. However, we are not here to promote our values. We are here to serve the public and to look beyond our own individual thoughts to make suggestions that would improve the life for the Canadians we each represent, in each of our different ridings. The public interest is what should guide our actions here.
    I have serious doubts that we are headed in the right direction in this case, especially since the government is not respecting the spirit of the Supreme Court decision with Bill C-2. I would have liked the government to find a solution within the parameters set by the Supreme Court. However, that is not the case. Did the Supreme Court go against public interest? Is that truly what my colleagues think? I do not think so. I believe that the Supreme Court set parameters in order to determine the direction we should take. Unfortunately, this bill does not contribute to the public interest.

  (1820)  

    I would like to be able to say that this bill may improve public safety, but I am not convinced, since needles will end up all over the place. I would like to be able to say that this bill would contribute to public safety, but the government is throwing people whose only desire is to satisfy a temporary, urgent need out onto the street. I would like to be able to say that this bill is full of wisdom, but is it wise to want to go backwards and to refuse to listen to experts? Is it wise to not do something that is already considered around the world to be a good practice? Unfortunately, I think that the Conservative government got it wrong.
    I thank the public for listening to my speech. I hope that everyone will have the wisdom to vote for good legislation in 2014.

  (1825)  

Ms. Hélène LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for his speech and for reminding us to choose our words wisely. We must think things through before making decisions for the common good.
    I would like to point out that InSite is innovative. It meets the needs of the community and it came out of the Vancouver community. When it comes to health, we have to be more and more innovative. I think that Canada is a country that could be innovative and play a leadership role. What is more, we are not alone. This type of site has been set up in a number of cities in Europe and Australia. These sites have been recognized as helping vulnerable groups. They are accepted by the community because they improve the health of their clients, reduce the numbers of overdose deaths, and reduce drug use in public, open spaces.
    I would like my colleague to elaborate on the innovativeness of a centre like InSite and the importance of it being community-based. It is too bad that a bill like C-2 would eliminate a good initiative.
Mr. Denis Blanchette:  
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her insightful remarks. It goes to show how fortunate our society is.
    In Canada, we live in a wealthy and educated society. Earlier I was talking about post-secondary education. I think that my colleague would agree that we have the means to provide our constituents with all the innovation, technology and cutting-edge knowledge humanity possesses. We are that fortunate. We have the knowledge and the means to show leadership in problem-solving, regardless of the problem. In this case we are talking about addictions and prevention. We want to be able to contain certain unfortunate practices. My colleague is right to say that we must focus more on innovation. She is also right to say that we must move forward and implement modern solutions. She is right to say that we must use our knowledge for the good of the people.

EMERGENCY DEBATE

[S. O. 52]

  (1830)  

[English]

Ukraine

The Speaker:  
    The House will now proceed to the consideration of a motion to adjourn the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter requiring urgent consideration, namely the situation in Ukraine.
Mr. Ted Opitz (Etobicoke Centre, CPC)  
     moved:
That the House do now adjourn.
    He said: Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing this very important debate this evening. It is of urgency, not only and specifically to the Ukrainian people but also to the very strong, committed Ukrainian diaspora here in Canada.
    Our government is very engaged in closely monitoring what is happening in Ukraine. We are consulting with our allies intimately in weighing all options, including sanctions. However, we need to be precise in our actions. That is the most important thing, because if we are not precise, ordinary Ukrainians will potentially be hurt by what we and other governments and our allies do.
    I thank the Prime Minister for supporting this emergency debate. He said recently that Canada stands with the Ukrainian people during this difficult time and will continue to forcefully oppose all efforts to repress their rights and freedoms. In fact, our Minister of Foreign Affairs went to Maidan himself last month as well as speaking to his counterpart in Ukraine, expressing Canada's outrage about what is going on in Ukraine today, the killing, the intimidation of religious groups, the repealing of human rights and the Orwellian imposition of draconian laws.
    I also had the opportunity to be in Ukraine in December, where I was observing the re-run elections and where I also had the opportunity to walk to Maidan on two different occasions. It was a tremendous opportunity to see how peaceful the protesters were, how well organized they were, and what their goals were in relation to the Ukrainian people.
    This is a peaceful group of people who just want to reach out to their government and express the will of the majority of Ukrainians, that they would like to have closer association with the EU, a closer association with Europe. All they are asking for is the ability to choose their own fate, but what has often happened in Ukraine and is happening right now is the insidious creep of tyranny. This is something that concerns me, because we have seen it among repressive and authoritarian governments in other places in the world in the past. Ukraine has endured a bad time.
    Mr. Speaker, I am splitting my time with the member for Selkirk—Interlake.
    The people of Ukraine would like to be able to move in that direction, but these draconian laws are stifling human rights. Following peaceful demonstrations the state is now applying violence where numbers of people, somewhere between seven and ten key leaders of the opposition movement, have turned up dead with evidence of torture on their bodies.
    We have seen all over YouTube the videos of protesters being stripped, humiliated, beaten, shot with rubber bullets. We have seen journalists particularly targeted by rubber bullets to the head. This is an effort to stifle communications and opposition groups' ability to coordinate across the country. This is absolutely horrific, something that we cannot possibly fathom.
    We saw the case of Tetyana Chornovil, someone who was run off the road, beaten senseless until she was believed to be dead and then abandoned. Fortunately, she survived the attack to tell her tale, and of course there is evidence from the webcam she had in her car. People have been arrested in connection with that. This situation is dramatic and ongoing, and we must fight tooth and nail against it and stand with the people of Ukraine, who only desire peace, freedom and democracy, just as any family in Canada would like. They want some prosperity and the ability to have a future, hope and options in their country.
    That is what the EU provides. The EU provides options. It is not one or the other. It is something that is being imposed by external factors.

  (1835)  

    We in Canada have the NAFTA agreement and CETA. We have trade negotiations going on with other nations, and that is only healthy. It provides our nation with job building and economic opportunity and options that help not only to grow our own economy but also the economies of the other nations that we have agreements with. That is all the Ukrainians are asking for. It should not be one or the other, but the situation is being artificially and externally applied to them.
    In fact, we recently saw Russia drop the price of Ukrainian gas dramatically. I said in our take note debate on December 10 that with one word from Mr. Putin the price of gas would drop, and lo and behold a week later it was dropped. That may not have been anything I said but it is definitely curious to me that it happened very quickly. As well Russia propped up Ukraine with the promise of $15 billion for its bonds. This is artificially applied pressure and something that unfortunately has led to a very serious and deteriorating situation in Ukraine, where protestors are now lying dead because live ammunition has been used against them.
    There is also the issue of the repression of religious freedom. We have done something concrete. The Minister of Foreign Affairs dispatched our Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Andrew Bennett, to Ukraine over the weekend for him to investigate. The ambassador has reported back that a tremendous amount of oppression is going on.
    This is a very dangerous precedent. The minister of culture in Ukraine has threatened the Ukrainian Greek Catholic church with dissolution. The last time that happened was in the 1940s when Joseph Stalin also threatened it with dissolution. This is harking back to very dark days that we thought we had moved past in Ukraine. Ukrainians do not deserve the kind of authoritarian template that is being imposed on them today, after two decades of seeking to improve their economy, to strengthen their democracy and to open up their economic options so that all people of Ukraine can benefit from that.
    There is a set of elites in Ukraine dictating policy for their own selfish interests. They are subordinating the will and the prosperity of their fellow Ukrainian citizens to their own selfish interests. They are very few in number in Ukraine. This is a dangerous precedent because this will become a regime and then the benefits for a few will always outweigh the benefits for the majority. That cannot happen. Canada must stand with the Ukrainian people. We support their drive for freedom and democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and balanced justice and gender equality.
    Ukrainians are not asking for much. They are just asking for the same things that we enjoy here in this country and that any western democracy enshrines in its own codes. This is something that the Ukrainian people now deserve and it is something that we have to help them achieve.
    We will always condemn the horrible use of violence against the protestors in Ukraine.
    We also note the crucial role played by the clergy and the faithful in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic church and other religious leaders with whom we are encouraging dialogue.
    We have a lot of work to do, but this is not all bad. A lot of the pressure that we are putting on Ukraine and its leaders right now has had some positive results. Tomorrow, Baroness Catherine Ashton will be working with Ukraine to bring forward a plan. Right now, the government is working with opposition members and is crafting a plan.
     All of that is positive. However, we have yet to see the proof in all of this. We remain somewhat skeptical but optimistic. However, this government will retain its pressure on Ukrainian leaders. We will remain vocal. We will remain committed to the people of Ukraine. We will stand side by side with them until they achieve their goals of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

  (1840)  

Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his intervention. He gave a good overview of recent events in Ukraine. He talked passionately about his own point of view.
    What we are grappling with now, and will be during this debate, is how to respond. Things are changing on the ground. Things are fluid, as was noted, and will continue to change.
    We hope that tomorrow will bring some sort of resolution from the diplomatic efforts we have see by Baroness Ashton and others.
    Last week, I wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and put forward a unanimous consent motion on Friday, which we eventually negotiated and saw the House pass today.
    However, we wanted to see targeted sanctions. I think it is very clear, and I think my colleague will understand, that we really should have targeted sanctions on the leadership or people involved with what we have seen, the draconian laws and human rights abuses.
    I would like to hear his point of view on that. Is it something he could agree to with us, that we have these targeted sanctions put in place?
Mr. Ted Opitz:  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his support for the debate this evening. I think all members of the House are consumed with this. We all have constituents who are very concerned about what is going in Ukraine.
    In responding to the hon. member, as I said in my remarks, our government is working very closely with all of our allies, the Americans, the EU, and others concerned in this regard.
    In terms of targeted sanctions, they are definitely an option that is being considered, in accordance and in concert with our allies.
    However, as I also said, it is crucial that when and if any of those options, including sanctions, are applied that they be applied with precision, so that the leadership and those being targeted are the ones affected and not innocent Ukrainian people.
Hon. Ralph Goodale (Wascana, Lib.):  
    Mr. Speaker, when the House adjourned for the Christmas season, I think one of the very final acts of official business that we conducted in the chamber was to debate the situation in Ukraine as it existed in early December.
    At that time, in the debate, I raised, several times, this issue of targeted personal sanctions against Yanukovych and his inner circle, the need to apply pressure to encourage more democratic behaviour.
    The government was not in a position to respond officially at that time back at the early part of December. However, it is now two months later and the situation has, sadly, deteriorated. The violence has become worse, and as the hon. member noted, even the Catholic Church is being threatened by certain actions by Yanukovych.
    I would like to ask this question, not in any provocative way, but in the sense of building consensus, moving forward and getting ready to deal with the situation, to make it clear to Yanukovych that the world is watching, that we care and that we take this very seriously.
    What specifically has the government been able to do over the course of the last two months to get ready for the application of personal targeted sanctions? For example, have the assets been identified? Do we know where they are? Have we opened a dialogue with European countries and the Americans to ensure that we can act with precision and in concert to make these provisions effective against Yanukovych's inner circle?
Mr. Ted Opitz:  
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question and, again, for his engagement in this issue, which is very important to the Ukrainian community in Canada.
    As I said, we are, and have been for quite some time now, deeply involved with our allies to coordinate all of our efforts to ensure that precise measures are applied.
    Also, a lot has happened in two months. Absolutely. In fact, as late as today, as I have just pointed out, there is dialogue happening between the government and the opposition forces. There is dialogue happening with the UN Secretary-General, who has offered himself as mediator. There is dialogue happening with the EU, with Baroness Ashton, now interacting with Mr. Yanukovych and his government.
    A lot of that has to do with the pressure that we laid on, including the very pointed discussion that the Minister of Foreign Affairs has had with his counterpart in Ukraine , as well from having called in the Ukrainian ambassador and expressing Canada's outrage to him about what is occurring in Ukraine.

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Mr. James Bezan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, CPC):  
    Mr. Speaker, dobry vechir. It is a pleasure to rise today to talk about the concerns that all of us have with respect to what is happening in the Ukraine, and everything that has transpired, especially over the past week.
    I want to thank you for granting the request of my friend and colleague, the member for Etobicoke Centre, to have this emergency debate tonight. We want to make sure we are raising awareness in Canada of the deteriorating circumstances, which we see on the news every minute and hour, of everything that is transpiring on the streets of Maidan in Kiev, and other communities in the Ukraine. We also want to demonstrate to the people and the government of Ukraine that Canada's Parliament is strongly opposed to all of the actions it has taken.
    I want to thank all members in the House for the unanimous passing of the motion that I moved earlier today. It was done with great collaboration and negotiations, amongst all political parties, to come to a resolution that speaks to how we in Canada feel about the government of the Ukraine under the leadership of President Viktor Yanukovych, and the deterioration of civil rights, erosion of human rights, and the continued decline of democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine.
    The motion we passed earlier today is that we condemn the draconian law that was passed on January 17. There was a small opportunity presented in the Ukraine earlier today, and we heard before the debate started tonight that the Yanukovych government is prepared to consider repealing that draconian law. We have to be careful here. Will it repeal the entire law that was passed, or only provide some cosmetic surgery to make it more appealing to us in the west without necessarily changing the way it is behaving, especially the way the Berkut, the riot police, are behaving on the streets of the Maidan. We want to make sure that what will be debated tomorrow in the Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, actually does repeal that entire piece of legislation, from the beginning to the last word in that act. That is what we want to see happen.
    As I said in the motion that we agreed to earlier today, the Government of the Ukraine has to realize that the draconian law, which allows them to move forward with martial law, undermines freedom and democracy in the Ukraine. We must remember that Ukraine has lived under tyranny and dictatorship for most of the past several hundred years. It has only truly enjoyed freedom and democracy since it was able to peacefully proclaim independence in 1991. Here we are, almost 23 years later, and that democracy, which was so fragile, has been ruthlessly undermined by President Viktor Yanukovych and his government.
    I was in Ukraine monitoring the presidential elections of 2010 when President Viktor Yanukovych won. I was back there in 2012 for the parliamentary elections. I can say that the people of Ukraine never voted for this type of governance. They want their voices to be heard. That is what the protests that have been taking place for the last two and a half months in Kiev and other cities are about. They are disappointed in their government. They are disappointed that it walked away from the European co-operative agreement and closer trade relationships with Europe. They are upset that the government of Ukraine continues to slide more and more, that it is becoming entrenched with the Russian government, that it is not acting as a free and independent country, and that it is quashing the civil liberties, rights and freedoms of everyone who lives in Ukraine.

  (1850)  

    Earlier today, we all condemned the violence. We are saddened by the deaths that have occurred. We know there are hundreds of innocent protesters, many of whom have been targeted by using cellphones. Journalists have been specifically targeted, as have academics. As we often see in dictatorships and totalitarian regimes, those who are in power go after the intellects. These people have been imprisoned, and we have not heard from them.
    We know about the people who were killed on the streets. At least two of them were killed by sniper fire. Despite this, we have not heard about the others who have been arrested. There are allegations that they have been tortured.
    We have not heard about what is happening with so many who were arrested in hospital. After some of the riots occurred on the streets of Kiev, people went to the hospital to get treatment. The police came in, arrested them and denied them treatment. Many of them were taken outside the city and dumped in the forest. We know of at least one death that resulted from that.
    We want to express our condolences to the friends and families who have lost their loved ones. We saw one of the funerals yesterday and how everyone rallied around and proclaimed him a hero.
    The Ukrainian government, and probably the International Criminal Court, has to look into what has occurred here. Those who are responsible for the violence and brutality against innocent activists have to be brought to justice. They have to face the consequences and be held to account.
    We are going to continue to call on Ukraine. Tomorrow, in the Ukrainian parliament, MPs will have their debate and hopefully repeal that entire draconian law. However, the Ukrainian security forces have to be removed from the streets. They have to allow the people the chance to take a step back, evaluate the situation, and continue with their peaceful protests until the government respects their wishes. We have to see that happen.
    A lot of questions are going to be asked tonight about what actions we can take as a nation. The Government of Canada is engaged with like-minded nations in Europe, as well as the United States and others, to bring an international resolution, one that can turn the tables on the current government to allow it to make the right decisions and start working toward a new election. It should make sure that the election laws it has been gerrymandering for the last two years are fixed so that Ukraine can have free and fair elections for the presidential elections at the end of this year.
    There is a lot of work to be done. It has to be done on a diplomatic level. We are starting to see some of those diplomatic interventions coming to bear. Our ambassador of religious freedom, Andrew Bennett, is on the ground, looking at the whole issue of the attack on the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and how it has been singled out and threatened for providing pastoral services to its parishioners and others who are on the street.
    I am glad we were able to pass this resolution earlier today. I know that all of us stand united in solidarity with the people of Ukraine. We know that Canadian Ukrainians across the country are watching the events unfold very carefully. I have been providing a lot of advice, and I say to them and the people of Ukraine, Slava Ukraini.

  (1855)  

Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP):  
    Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned before to previous speakers, this is something we want to work together on. We want to see action.
    One of the things I talked about earlier was targeted sanctions. We had hoped to have that in the unanimous consent motion that we passed today. However, we will talk about that further.
    It is not only that we should have targeted sanctions, for obvious reasons, but we want to make sure the government uses the tools it has to get at the problem. The problem right now is that we have certain actors within the Ukraine government who are abusing their power and the monopoly of violence they have at their behest.
    There is one other thing, and I want to put it to my friend. We have been asked by others for travel bans. That is something we called for when we had egregious laws passed by the Duma in Russia, to have targeted and focused visa bans on those legislators who were responsible for those laws.
    I wonder if the member would be in favour of visa and travel bans. Would the government be in favour of working with the Red Cross and using our embassy to help people who have been injured? We know some of the medical facilities have been shut down. Protestors have been hurt; some have been killed. Would the government be willing to look at that as something we could do?