April 26, 2004

LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo (Mississauga South, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to add some input as a non-lawyer on Bill C-15. Members will know that the bill was reintroduced in this session of Parliament from the second session of the 37th Parliament. Formerly it was Bill C-33.

It would be appropriate to remind the House of the purpose of the bill. This enactment repeals and replaces the Transfer of Offenders Act, sets out the principles that govern the international transfer of offenders and authorizes Canada to enter into administrative agreements for international transfers of offenders.

The enactment expands the class of offenders who may be transferred. It expands the class of jurisdictions with which Canada may enter into agreements. It identifies who must consent to a transfer. It sets out how the foreign sentences of transferred young persons are to be enforced in Canada. It clarifies the sentence calculation rules that apply to transferred Canadian offenders and aligns them with those contained in other federal legislation. It also contains transitional provisions and makes consequential amendments to other acts, as is normally the case.

It is interesting that there are very few people who are speaking against the bill. In fact, what is happening is we are having an opportunity to speak about related areas, and that is always a good thing. Members will know that when this bill, formerly Bill C-33, went to the justice committee, it did the appropriate review. The justice committee has a good reputation of being rigorous in its review of legislation. It came back with a report on the bill, Bill C-33, with one amendment to the entire bill after doing a rigorous review.

That amendment was to clause 10 and added one additional clause. I will read that into the record because it touches on an area on which I would like to make a few comments. Clause 10 in the bill as reprinted states:

In determining whether to consent to the transfer of a Canadian offender, the Minister shall consider the following factors--

The first is whether the offender's return to Canada would constitute a threat to the security of Canada. That is understandable.

The second item is whether the offender left or remained outside Canada with the intention of abandoning Canada as his or her place of permanent residence. That is a fairly straightforward criteria.

The third was that the offender has social or family ties in Canada. That obviously is quite relevant.

The last item that was added by the justice committee and is now part of the bill we are debating today is clause 10(1)(d) which states:

--whether the foreign entity or its prison system presents a serious threat to the offender's security or human rights.

All of a sudden the context of human rights has become a matter for consideration. The justice committee agreed that human rights considerations should be taken into account with regard to the transfer.

Members started to talk about cases such as the Maher Arar case in which a Canadian citizen was deported, not to Canada from the United States, but to Syria. It is a very serious situation which occurred. Thankfully, Mr. Arar is now back in Canada and reunited with his family and friends, but very serious questions have arisen with regard to the human rights issues. Members will know that this matter will be before the courts as well. Not being a lawyer, I am not in a position to talk about the elements of the case, but simply from the standpoint of the human rights component which is now incorporated in the bill.

We are in a much different world than we were prior to September 11. There have been an enormous number of changes into how we have looked at our provisions in law, and in fact, the event of September 11, 2001, has spawned a substantial amount of legislation with regard to security and sovereignty issues.

The transport committee visited our counterparts with regard to issues flowing out of September 11. The United States had taken the position that virtually everything that anybody wanted, it was going to put into legislation. It was almost an overreaction and some would question whether or not there was an overreaction which may in fact have lead to not good laws. We say prayers as we start the House each day, that we make good laws and wise decisions.

If we react over the top, as it were, and ask all things that anybody could ever want to increase the safety and security, whether it be of airline travel or border protection et cetera, all of a sudden there are some questions that come to mind. In recent months I had a personal challenge of sorts in terms of my own nomination. During my nomination, one of the issues that came up within the community was in regard to the charter of rights and the human rights provisions provided thereunder, and the need for security concerns to be embraced as well.

We now have a question, when can human rights be discounted somehow by the need to protect the sovereignty or security of a country? I took a very strong position during the last few months. I could not think of an appropriate time when human rights should be somehow discounted or set aside for safety and security reasons. Within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we have wonderful protection that Canadians have earned and that all residents enjoy.

The Maher Arar case was a dramatic example of where a person's rights were set aside under the guise of security reasons. I think that most Canadians, and most observers objectively would say, what happened was wrong.

In this particular bill we are talking about something slightly different. We are talking about the transfer of prisoners who are in one jurisdiction, but under certain circumstances could be transferred back to their own jurisdiction, their own home. What are the rules surrounding that?

There are a number of provisions within the bill. I found it interesting that it dealt with a wide range of items including special treatment for young offenders. It dealt with probation and a number of aspects that I would think that Canadians otherwise would not be very familiar with, but the principles still remain fundamentally sound.

In 2003, when Bill C-33 at the time came forward, the Solicitor General of Canada spoke to the bill. I would like to remind the House of a couple of things that the Solicitor General had to say.

He said:

The Transfer of Offenders Act serves an important public protection purpose. Offenders incarcerated in foreign states may be deprived of the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves in the absence of treatment programs in those countries, in the absence of a structured parole system, and in the absence of direct contact with family and friends in their home community. As a result, the chances of long term reintegration of these offenders, and ultimately of better public safety, are greatly reduced. This holds true even when offenders are incarcerated in a country with social standards and customs relatively similar to Canada's.

I thought that was a very interesting statement. I think that I understand and I am quite sympathetic to the reasons why.

But we can also understand how it is very easy for some to say that we are now talking about the best interests of someone who has been convicted of a crime. Members will, and have, in the debates that have occurred before, and again today, talked about victims. There is no question in my mind that the debate surrounding the rights of those convicted, and the rights of victims and families will always be an issue in Canada.

The Solicitor General spoke of rehabilitation. The previous speaker spoke very well about the need to show a rehabilitation balance so that when people are finished their sentence, they can reintegrate into society.

In some cases, where people are emotional about an event, about a crime that occurred, or about a victim's circumstances, it is really easy to say that we should forget about those who committed the crime, put them in jail, throw away the keys and we do not want to see them ever again. That usually tempers itself down and says the sentence is the sentence. Maybe we ought to consider having harsher sentences or longer sentences.

We can start talking about the faint hope clause. We can start talking about other conditional release programs. We can talk about probationary provisions. We can talk about every case where it is clear that the probationary system has let us down.

The expectations of Canadians should be to the highest possible standard. I wonder whether or not in times of emotion, never mind just the public at large, but even members of Parliament can be objective enough to say that our system should not be totally black and white. There has to be some flexibility built into the system. There has to be principles which allow people to rehabilitate themselves so that one day, once they have served their sentence, they can get back into society, and that they stop being a burden on society.

I heard members in this place argue that it costs so much to have someone in jail. This is awful. That is a problem. But the very next debate, we will have someone saying they are not away long enough. So how do we balance this?

The issue or the concept of public good has come up. Unfortunately, even that terminology has been jaundiced somewhat because the concept of the public good has been talked about in legislation dealing with child pornography. Is there a public good which is served by someone being in possession of child pornography? I would say absolutely not.

I have said it in many speeches in this place that the existence of children pornography must necessarily mean that a child has been abused and, therefore, by possessing child pornography, whether one is the creator or the perpetrator of it, one is a participant. Public good gives me some difficulty.

However, we do have a criminal justice system. There are people who do things which are wrong and contrary to our laws, some of them very heinous. We have just had the case of the young girl who was killed by her parents. They were found guilty of killing and dismembering the body of their child. The father has been sentenced to 25 years, without chance of parole. I think the mother has been sentenced to second degree murder, with a 10 or 15 year sentence.

Is it enough? Should those persons ever come out of jail? For some, I am sure that the answer will always be no. They took a life. They should never be able to enjoy what we have here in Canada.

However, what is the humane thing to do with people who commit crimes? For some, it is hard to understand and have compassion for them, other than the fact that they are human beings and as human beings we are all vulnerable. We are all weak by our very nature. We want our sentences to be tough; we want them to be fair, but we also want to deal with the situation about what happens once a sentence is finally discharged.

In the absence of capital punishment, which we do not have here, that means that members are either going to have to argue in favour of capital punishment and let us go that way, and see whether or not there is an appetite in Canada. If not, there must be a justice system which is based on rehabilitation, which acknowledges that people eventually come out of jail and that rehabilitation is better than simply incarcerating them and letting them rot in a cell until their time is done, and then throw them out into society without the tools that prepare them to be able to integrate and be safe themselves, and safe for others to be back in society.

This is a very difficult question. It is a question that I think will always be with us because there will always be heinous crimes. There will always be bad people out there out there who do bad things. However, should our laws continue to be directed at those who commit the most serious of crimes?

I recall that some years ago I gave a speech related to the crime of murder and sentencing. I do not remember the statistics specifically, but the incidents of murder committed by a family member against another family member was very high.

Murder is murder, but now we have to look at what happened and why, and what are the other reasons why things occurred. Those are taken into account by the courts and by the justice system as to what is an appropriate way to handle things.

Sometimes there are circumstances which take some understanding. I do not think very many people in this place have the training that people have in being judges, people who are involved in the parole system, and people who are lawyers and argue these cases and have eminent experience in how to deal with them. However, if we were to put all that wisdom together, I doubt it would be found in any one person in this place.

We acknowledge that. That is why we will be bringing in and discussing points on legislation, just as with this one, which are elements of a much broader picture.

What does our criminal justice system look like? I have looked at some of the debate that occurred back about a year ago, last April. I believe one of the points put forward by the member for Crowfoot when he was talking about clauses 13 and 14, concluded by saying:

--a Canadian citizen can go to another country, commit a crime, for which there could be a much more substantial penalty, and be transferred back home here to serve a much lesser sentence

I suppose technically and mathematically that may be the case where the sentencing provisions in one jurisdiction might be different than another. However, the principle of the law in this bill is that the sentence will be the sentence had the crime been committed within Canada. That is the principle, notwithstanding what the other jurisdiction may have.

Members must keep in mind that it will be very difficult to balance or to understand and equate two systems of justice, how they are arrived at and what the provisions are, whether or not there is any chance of parole, whether there is any chance of rehabilitation, et cetera. The systems are very different. I am sure we could think of many countries where in fact the provisions of the criminal justice system are quite different.

I am confident that the justice committee has done its job with regard to this bill and that there was the one amendment to clause 10(1)(d) that would provide this humanitarian element, which I think has been very appropriate.

Having listened to members, I have been reminded about their concerns and about the criminal justice system generally. However, with regard to the principle of the bill to permit where a sending country, a receiving country and the person who has been convicted of a crime and is serving a sentence all agree that this is an appropriate thing, and takes into account existing treaties, it would probably give us a better opportunity to expand those treaties to other countries where we have Canadians abroad.

I understand others have given the numbers. Generally, from what I have heard, the House believes that the principles are fundamentally sound. For that reason I will also be supporting this bill.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
Permalink
CA

Brian Fitzpatrick

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick (Prince Albert, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I must confess--and maybe I am misinterpreting the government members--that I am getting a mixed message about which sentence would be imposed, the foreign jurisdiction's sentence or the Canadian standard for that offence. I am given to understand from a previous speaker that we would respect the sentence imposed by the foreign jurisdiction, but if I correctly understand the member for Mississauga South, we would be using the Canadian standard. There seems to be some ambiguity about that.

I have another concern that I think is very, very important to consider and I would like the member to respond to it. We have the British criminal justice system process in Canada. We bend over backwards to make sure that people are not going to be incarcerated without having a very fair trial. We must prove every element of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before we convict. We have a very elaborate appeal process to correct errors and mistakes in the process.

Despite that, let me say that I have a penitentiary in my riding of Prince Albert and I do talk to inmates from time to time. A large majority of them say they are victims of the justice system, that they are innocent, that they have been falsely convicted. I have often thought that for true rehabilitation one has to take responsibility for one's actions. One has to look in the mirror and say, “I did something wrong and I have to do something to change my ways”. However, I find that a large majority will not accept responsibility, even under our system.

There are a lot of countries with criminal justice systems or processes that are very different from Canada's. They have no concepts like the right to counsel, a fair trial, reasonable doubt and all of the rest of it. However, people are convicted under those systems. I wonder about them coming back to our Canadian system. Will our courts and our system start reviewing the process employed in those other jurisdictions to determine that these people were guilty of an offence? Will we be saying that they did not get charter protection, that they did not have a right to counsel, that they were not presumed innocent before they were found guilty and so on?

There are a whole lot of differences in the justice systems around the world. I just wonder what this act does in this area. When they come back here, are we going to use the Canadian standard to evaluate the process that these people were convicted under in other jurisdictions or are we going to accept it?

I would like to have clarification on the first point too, if I may.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
Permalink
LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo

Mr. Speaker, I think the member has raised a good question. On the first one, let me quote from the Solicitor General's speech when he said:

When Canadian offenders are transferred to Canada to serve the remainder of the foreign sentence until warrant expiry, they arrive here under the supervision of the Correctional Service of Canada or of provincial correctional authorities who oversee their gradual and controlled reintegration into society.

I believe the question is--or at least between the speakers--about what happens in the case where there are not the same kinds of probationary provisions, let us say, or early release programs, et cetera. I think that to the extent there is still something going on, it may not be full incarceration for the full period; that may have been prescribed in another jurisdiction, so it is simply period. Even someone who has a life sentence, even in Canada, may not be in jail for life, but the provisions or the controls regarding them still continue for the rest of their lives. The member is quite right, though: it is the sentence as prescribed in the foreign jurisdiction, but it may not be in precisely the same form, i.e., incarceration.

As for the second part, this is, as I indicated in my speech, the whole question of whether we are preoccupied with the rights of an offender as opposed to the rights or the interests of victims and victims' families. I think the member will know that this bill in fact deals with the treatment of those who are convicted of crimes, either in Canada and who are going to be transferred back to their own home country, or vice versa.

However, should there have been in clause 10 an additional provision with regard to taking into account, let us say, a victim impact statement or victims' rights considerations? I think that is a very good question. The justice committee did in fact review the bill in its totality and came back with one amendment, which is simply with regard to whether or not the human rights of the offender were being appropriately protected.

At this point, I am not exactly sure why an amendment with regard to victims' considerations was not considered--if it was not--in justice committee. All I can say is that I understand the point. I cannot explain why it was not dealt with.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
Permalink
LIB

Sarkis Assadourian

Liberal

Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, on December 12, when the new government took over, one of the offices established by the Prime Minister was that of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs with special emphasis on Canadians abroad. As hon. members will recall, I and the member of Parliament from Ottawa West went to Damascus to bring Mr. Arar home.

My question for the hon. member is, what impact will this have on the office of the parliamentary secretary, a job now being done by our colleague from the Pickering area? I wonder if there is any relationship he can see there with regard to transferring a prisoner here from overseas or from here to overseas. What job does he see for this new position established last year by the Prime Minister?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
Permalink
LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo

Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary position referred to is with regard to Canadians abroad who are in jeopardy or difficulty in another jurisdiction. As the member will know, there are cases where someone has been abducted or somehow or other taken into incarceration perhaps without having all the facts known by those who have taken them. I think that in the last case it was not even clear to the abductors what the nationality was of the person who was abducted. I think there was another case where it was not clear whether or not it was citizenship by landed status as opposed to born in Canada status and what the relationship was.

When there are questions--which can be very simple questions--that may affect the lives of individuals, it is very important that this position exists. I know that the parliamentary secretary has hopped on a plane and flown to Syria on a moment's notice to go there to advocate on behalf of Canadian citizens who have been in difficulty. I do not see any implications with regard to that position and the importance of that role with regard to the act. The act is with regard to those who have had due process of law in another jurisdiction and have been convicted of crimes. We are talking about where they serve their sentences.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
Permalink
CA

Brian Fitzpatrick

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick

Mr. Speaker, the more I think about this bill, the more questions I seem to come up with. There are things that happen in Canada that we do not consider crimes, while in other countries they are considered crimes. There are nations in the world where adultery is a serious offence or consumption of alcohol is a very serious offence. As well, participating in an abortion would be a very serious offence and one would be looking at serious jail time.

How does the bill deal with these sorts of offences for which somebody is serving a jail sentence for something that we would never consider a criminal offence in Canada? If the offender is transferred back to a Canadian prison, to our system, is the hon. member telling me the bill would still impose that sentence on a person? Let us use the example of somebody who is serving five years for committing adultery somewhere and is transferred back to Canada? Would we honour that sentence from that jurisdiction, that full five years or whatever it was?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
Permalink
LIB

Paul Szabo

Liberal

Mr. Paul Szabo

Mr. Speaker, one of the features that I identified in reviewing some of the debate on the bill, and even within the bill itself, is the element of flexibility. As I said in my speech, to compare the laws of the criminal justice system in another jurisdiction to those of Canada and the Criminal Code would be an enormous task. It would be an enormous task to somehow find that simple formula that is going to translate things.

I take some heart from the member's question. I would simply refer back to the representations of the Solicitor General when he spoke to Bill C-33, the predecessor bill of this one. He closed by saying:

...there is a clear need for legislative flexibility in Canada to further the humanitarian objective of transfers. There is a clear need for international cooperation in matters of criminal justice and there is a clear need for public protection with the safe and gradual reintegration of offenders into society.

In the minister's remarks, he goes on to enunciate that the process involved here with treaties, et cetera, has to do not so much with swapping identicals but rather with looking at and investigating and negotiating transfers that make sense from the standpoint of a humanitarian objective.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
Permalink
LIB

Clifford Lincoln

Liberal

Mr. Clifford Lincoln (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate my support of Bill C-15, the International Transfer of Offenders Act. The amendments it contains will modernize the legislation in order to reflect the numerous changes that have taken place since it was enacted back in 1978.

The provisions of Bill C-15 will allow Canada to negotiate the transfer of offenders in a manner consistent with current international standards, and will provide a mechanism for cooperation in criminal justice cases.

In short, the International Transfer of Offenders Act will enable Canada to enter into treaties with other countries for the transfer of offenders. Under the terms of such treaties, Canadian citizens convicted and sentenced in another country may serve the rest of their sentence in Canada, while foreign nationals convicted and sentenced for crimes in Canada could return to their country of origin to finish serving their sentence.

I must point out that the provisions of the International Transfer of Offenders Act would apply only to those persons actually convicted of a criminal offence, and not to those in preventive detention awaiting trial or appeal.

As well, I should point out that transfers under this act would require the full consent of the offender, as well as that of the receiving state and the sending state. Without the full consent of those three parties, an international transfer cannot proceed.

Some people may wonder why we ought to be concerned about Canadian citizens who are incarcerated in a foreign jurisdiction. Why not leave them there to serve their sentence? Why not let them learn a lesson from their experience, and serve as a warning to others tempted to commit crimes while abroad?

To answer that, I would draw attention to two interdependent objectives of the International Transfer of Offenders Act: the humane treatment of offenders and public safety. The purpose of these objectives is to ensure the human rights of the incarcerated offender, as well as to confirm the concepts behind Canada's criminal justice policy.

These objectives recognize that the vast majority of offenders will eventually be released back into the community and that the best way of ensuring public safety, in the long term, is to prepare them for their eventual return to society as law-abiding citizens. I am well aware that there are some who would challenge the notion that Canada's approach to criminal justice, generally, and corrections, specifically, is effective in protecting Canadians from crime.

In this regard, I would point to public records showing a steady decline in crime rates across most of Canada. In addition, the success rates of offenders released from our penitentiaries while under supervision are available and speak very positively for themselves.

The International Transfer of Offenders Act would ensure that Canadians who are sentenced abroad and who elect to return to Canada while under sentence would be managed in accordance with the policies and programs proven to reduce the long term risk to the Canadian public.

During the debate on Bill C-15, we have become aware of the issues facing Canadians sentenced abroad, often under difficult conditions. I am referring specifically to factors relating to human rights, sanitation, health care and nutrition.

I am also referring to the added burden associated with the differences in culture and language and to the hardship of being far removed from friends and family. The International Transfer of Offenders Act would take into account these humanitarian considerations, while also protecting public safety by addressing the offenders' criminogenic factors before sentence expiry.

Nevertheless, we must be very clear. The International Transfer of Offenders Act is not based solely on humanitarian intentions. The treaties enabled by this act do not allow offenders to somehow evade justice. These treaties stipulate that the receiving state shall neither interfere with the finding of guilt nor lessen the sentence handed down by the sentencing state.

I noted earlier that the Transfer of Offenders Act dates from 1978, which is some time ago. Principles of good governance require that legislation be reviewed from time to time in order to evaluate its continuing relevancy and effectiveness.

Consequently, the Transfer of Offenders Act was the subject of broad consultation, which included over 90 private and public sector agencies. This consultation revealed strong support for the Transfer of Offenders Act. However, the consultations also revealed that the act could benefit from some amendments, which are included in Bill C-15.

The amendments introduced in Bill C-15 can be placed in one of three categories. The first type are amendments that reflect the traditional treaty principles that have developed over time. The second, are those that address the gaps in the Transfer of Offenders Act. Finally, the last category of amendments contains the proposals that would contribute efficiencies to the current process.

I would now like to cover the main points covered by these reforms in Bill C-15.

First, the purpose and guiding principles of the act are identified. This is an important feature of modern legislation, and it helps promote consistency within Canada's body of criminal law, namely the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. Specifically, the purpose of the new international transfer of offenders act is to, and I quote,“contribute to the administration of justice and the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community by enabling offenders to serve their sentences in the country of which they are citizens or nationals”.

Second, the international treaty obligations and principles considered legally essential are included. These principles include those that ensure offenders have access to processes consistent with natural justice and due process. Enshrinement in the act of legally sound principles is necessary to ensure that the courts do not strike down the transfer process that could result in the unsupervised release of an offender into the community.

Third, eligibility criteria have been broadened to permit an increased range of Canadians to be transferred. Presently, young persons under probation, children, and mentally disordered persons are ineligible for transfer under the Transfer of Offenders Act. Amendments introduced in Bill C-15 would make these individuals eligible for transfer. This proposed amendment is in line with the humanitarian objectives of the new international transfer of offenders act.

Fourth, clarification on the decision-making provisions have been included where provincial consent is required for the transfer of offenders on probation, provincial parole, provincial temporary absence and for offenders under a conditional or an intermittent sentence.

Fifth, updated provisions are included that would result in the consistent and equitable sentence calculation for transferred offenders and would ensure the equitable treatment of transferred offenders when a pardon is granted or when a conviction or sentence is set aside or modified.

Sixth, reforms have been introduced to allow the negotiation of transfers on a case by case ad hoc basis between Canada and states with which Canada has no treaty or jurisdictions, or territories that are not yet recognized as a state, or other entities such as Hong Kong or Macao. In light of today's rapidly changing political landscape, this is a particularly relevant feature.

There is one last point related to the reforms introduced by Bill C-15. Most states are convinced in today's global climate of the need to work multilaterally and bilaterally to address criminal conduct in a way that is in harmony with longstanding principles of territoriality.In the absence of an instrument to enforce foreign laws, crime could be encouraged rather than prevented.

By working together through the transfer agreements enabled by the new International Transfer of Offenders Act, Canada would have the flexibility to work with a broad range of countries and other entities in matters of criminal justice in a way that would lead to public protection through the safe and gradual reintegration of offenders into society.

In conclusion, and for all the reasons I mentioned here, I ask my colleagues from all parties in this House to fully support this legislation.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
Permalink
LIB

Paul MacKlin

Liberal

Mr. Paul Harold Macklin (Northumberland, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, in listening to the hon. member, it sounds like we are taking a very progressive step but we seem to not necessarily include all the countries of the world in this process.

Does the hon. member have any suggestions as to what we might be able to do to further advance the cause as it relates to other countries in the world that may not be specifically included through an international treaty?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
Permalink
LIB

Clifford Lincoln

Liberal

Mr. Clifford Lincoln

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, the bill provides for flexibility in regard to territories and places that have not signed definite treaties with Canada so that there could be negotiations for their inclusion within the framework of the legislation as it evolves.

I gave the examples of territories such as Hong Kong and Macao that are now being included within the Chinese sphere versus their previous status as a British colony on the one hand and a Portuguese colony on the other. We have provided for the gradual inclusion of countries and territories that are not specifically bound with Canada by treaty.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
Permalink
?

The Deputy Speaker

After question period, the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis will have approximately eight minutes left in the period of questions and comments.

The Chair will now proceed to statements by members.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   International Transfer of Offenders Act
Permalink
LIB

Peter Adams

Liberal

Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, last summer was a difficult tourism season in Ontario because of SARS. On top of that problem, the people of Lakefield had their main dock closed while the township and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans negotiated over the cost of repairing it. I have received petitions from many residents about this.

I urge the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to continue to negotiate with the township of Smith-Ennismore-Lakefield. The dock must be refurbished and reconstructed so that it will last for many decades to come.

In the meantime, I urge the minister to have the dock tested immediately and, if it is safe, have it opened as is for this important tourism season. Let us do all we can to help the people and businesses of Lakefield now.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Lakefield Marina
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CA

Deepak Obhrai

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Calgary East, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, on the eve of our own federal election, the Conservative Party and Canadians would like to congratulate the people, election organizers and the elected governments of Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Austria and Russia for having successful elections.

We would also like to congratulate those countries either undergoing elections or about to have them in the near future, such as India, the Philippines, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Malawi. These countries are fast closing the democratic deficit in their respective countries. The Liberals need to take notice of this trend.

Canada sends our best wishes.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Elections
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LIB

Charles Caccia

Liberal

Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister of Spain, Jose Luis Zapatero, has made a decision of great political importance by deciding to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq.

He has at the same time put into question the assertion by the U.S. and U.K. governments that the basic mission of the coalition troops is to bring democracy to Iraq. The question is, can western democracy be imposed with armed forces?

Mr. Zapatero's decision is based upon impeccable logic. Governments of countries, such as Denmark, Italy and Poland, may well wish to reflect on and adopt Spain's sensible decision. Parliamentarians in Denmark, Italy and Poland may well decide to press their governments because it is becoming more and more evident that the presence of foreign troops in Iraq is not helping the cause of democracy.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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LIB

Sarmite Bulte

Liberal

Ms. Sarmite Bulte (Parkdale—High Park, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the government recognizes how vital women-owned businesses are to the Canadian economy. The fact is there are 821,000 women-owned businesses in Canada which contribute in excess of $18 billion every year to our economy, quite a significant sector of our economy.

The government has a proven track record in supporting the growth of small businesses. Our five year tax plan helps them retain more of their earnings and enhances opportunities and incentives for investors.

The report of the 2003 Liberal task force on women entrepreneurs contained recommendations that were in fact included in budget 2004: accelerated initiatives to provide more quality child care; working to update labour market programming to better reflect the realities of work in the 21st century; and announcing venture capital investment programs through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Farm Credit Canada, totalling $270 million.

The government is proud to help women business owners across Canada scale new heights.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Women Entrepreneurs
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LIB

Janko Peric

Liberal

Mr. Janko Peric (Cambridge, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, Run for Life Inc., a non-profit organization promoting grassroots running and fitness programs, is hosting the first annual Cambridge Classic Mile Run for Life on June 18 at Galt Collegiate Institute.

Hundreds of children and adults of all ages will participate in a day-long series of one mile races, with elite runners competing in a special invitational race to climax the event. The event marks the 50th anniversary of the historic breaking of the four minute barrier at Oxford University.

Special guests will include two-time Olympian Grant McLaren, and Dave Bailey, Canada's first sub-four minute miler. A GCI teacher, Bryce Macey, and his grade 11 leadership class will resurface the track with the same material used 50 years ago.

I am pleased to join the House in wishing Run for Life chair, John Carson, and all participants and volunteers every success as they compete and raise greater awareness about lifelong fitness.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Cambridge Classic Mile
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CA

Jim Abbott

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Jim Abbott (Kootenay—Columbia, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, over the weekend I had the privilege of meeting hundreds of my constituents at the Cranbrook Trade Fair. It was very gratifying to get their positive response to me and to our new party but members should have heard what they had to say about the federal Liberals.

They cannot believe the way the Liberals squander taxpayers' hard-earned income. Incompetence, arrogance, waste and downright criminality are only what I can repeat in the House. However the number one issue on their hit parade, and I mean hit parade, was the breathtaking conceit of the Prime Minister as he toys with setting an election date. This is in stark contrast to the leader of the Conservative Party who is committed to establishing fixed election dates, thereby putting Canadians and Canadian interests first and foremost.

Canadians are truly in tune with what we are saying: demand better, vote Conservative.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Elections
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LIB

Georges Farrah

Liberal

Hon. Georges Farrah (Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-de-la-Madeleine—Pabok, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I was delighted last week to be able to announce, on behalf of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, an investment of $275,000, which must have also delighted the fishers of the Gaspé Peninsula.

This investment, within the Small Craft Harbours Program, will be used for dredging at the fishing harbours of Gascons, L'Anse-à-Beaufils, Cloridorme, Saint-Godefroi and Sainte-Thérèse-de-Gaspé.

As I have pointed out before, this investment is vital to the fishing communities of the Gaspé Peninsula. Local fishers require a well-maintained, operational harbour in order to successfully undertake their fishing season.

The dredging to be undertaken with the funding from our government will ensure that vessels have adequate water depth for safe navigation.

Dredging will begin in May, and harbour authorities should shortly be receiving work schedules so that they may inform the fishers of the expected dredging dates.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Small Craft Harbours Program
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BQ

Michel Guimond

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Michel Guimond (Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île-d'Orléans, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the recently announced closures at Whirlpool in Montmagny and Abitibi Consolidated at Port-Alfred are sad examples of the importance and urgency of restoring POWA, the program for older worker adjustment. This program helps such workers live decently when they lose their jobs in circumstances beyond their control.

Often such workers have paid into EI for years, and never benefited from it. Quebec has seen its share of plant closings in recent years, with major lay-offs, and each one of these has been proof that a permanent support program like POWA is essential. These closures have affected thousands of older workers who have suddenly found themselves looking for work.

In the past, POWA has proven highly successful and the Liberal government ought to understand that additional employment insurance benefits are needed if older workers are to be able to make ends meet until they start receiving retirement benefits or find another job. Action must be taken now, as time is running out.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Older Worker Adjustment Program
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LIB

Sarkis Assadourian

Liberal

Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to join with Sikhs in Canada and throughout the world in marking the celebration of Vaisaiki .

From its origin in the Indus Valley, the Sikh faith has spread throughout the world, including Canada where the first Sikh pioneers settled over 100 years ago.

Over the past two weekends I joined with many of my Sikh constituents in a wonderful celebration of faith and pride in their culture. Congratulations to the Canadian Sikh community on the celebration of Vaisaiki .

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Punjabi]

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Vaisaiki
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April 26, 2004