November 10, 2006

CPC

Lawrence Cannon

Conservative

Hon. Lawrence Cannon

moved that Bill C-25, An Act to amend the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and the Income Tax Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the third time and passed.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
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CPC

Diane Ablonczy

Conservative

Ms. Diane Ablonczy (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, today we are at third and final reading of Bill C-25. The bill is entitled Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act. The bill proposes amendments to the existing act against money laundering and terrorist financing. These amendments will toughen Canada's existing anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing legislation.

We are aware and we applaud the fact that we are more and more a global economy, that all countries interact together to do what they do best in the global marketplace, and that open borders provide these kinds of opportunities for Canadian businesses to thrive internationally.

However, every upside has certain downsides. This kind of openness in commerce, trade and financial transactions around the world also provides criminals with opportunities. Criminals use these opportunities to launder millions of dollars in illegal cash. The intention of criminal and terrorist elements, of course, is to make these proceeds look legitimate, so they can use them without attracting the unwelcome attention of law enforcement agencies. The funds are also increasingly used to fund terrorist activities. We want to put a stop to this.

Criminal activities, I do not have to remind the House, undermine the reputation and integrity of financial institutions. They distort the operation of financial markets and adequate measures must be put in place to deter this kind of activity.

I want to remind all members, although we have spoken about this issue before, that the proposed legislation is extremely important to our country. I want to take a few minutes to explain briefly what money laundering and terrorist financing is, how it operates, and especially how it can affect our Canadian economy.

Money laundering is the process used by criminals to disguise the source of money and assets derived from criminal activity. This kind of criminal activity is very broad. It runs from drug trafficking, prostitution, smuggling, fraud, extortion, corruption, to criminal activity of all kinds. Most of this activity generates large quantities of cash, untraceable cash, but cash nevertheless, that can raise suspicions of law enforcement agencies. Criminals turn to money laundering and they have to use legitimate financial institutions and systems to do this. This can compromise the integrity of these institutions. It can also facilitate corruption in a country. It can destabilize economies. It is a serious threat to any country.

This kind of criminal activity is nothing new. It has been around for a long time in one form or another. However, there has been a change recently. Money laundering has become an increasingly global phenomenon. This is because of technological advances in e-commerce and the global diversification of financial markets. Because of this, criminals now use very sophisticated techniques to carry out these money laundering activities. These techniques can lead to further opportunities to launder illegal profit and obscure the money trail leading back to underlying crime.

Methods for laundering funds vary considerably and are often highly sophisticated and intricate. However, there are generally three basic stages to the process. I mentioned this before to the House, but some members may not have heard it so I will just repeat it quickly.

First, there is the placement stage. This involves placing the proceeds of crime, usually in small amounts at a time, into the financial system.

Placement is followed by layering. At this second stage, the dirty money is converted into another form through complex layers of financial transactions that disguise the audit trail and disguise the source and ownership of funds. This, for example, can be by buying and selling stocks or by buying and selling commodities or properties. These are some common vehicles for layering.

Finally, there is the integration stage and in this stage the laundered proceeds are placed back into the economy, hidden under a veil of legitimate business activity.

Terrorist financing has an extra wrinkle to all of this because it can involve funds that have been raised from legitimate sources. Unlike organized crime, terrorists can raise funds through legitimate sources such as personal donations, profits from business, or through charitable organizations.

Terrorist financing can also come from funds that have been through the money laundering process that I have just described, that is, it could come from criminal sources such as the drug trade, smuggling weapons and other goods, fraud, kidnapping, extortion, all of these criminal activities in addition to legitimate activities.

Terrorists, like criminal organizations, use sophisticated money laundering techniques to evade the attention of authorities. However, to make the money harder to follow, financial transactions associated with terrorist financing tend to be in smaller amounts than in the case with money laundering by criminal organizations. When terrorists raise funds from legitimate sources, members of the House can appreciate that the detection and tracking of those particular funds becomes very difficult.

To move their funds out of our country or another country, terrorists often use informal money transfer systems such as Hawalas. These exist and operate outside of, or parallel to, what we normally think of as traditional banking or financial channels.

In Canada, in an effort to conceal the final destination of laundered money, FINTRAC is finding that funds suspected of being used for financing terrorist activities are increasingly being moved out of the country through traditional banking centres to countries with major financial hubs.

How big is this money laundering and terrorist financing problem? What are we dealing with? What do we need to be aware of? Because this is hidden activity, it is pretty hard to put an actual dollar figure on it. We do know that this activity involves significant amounts of money. The International Monetary Fund, through its expert sources, has estimated that worldwide the aggregate size of money laundering is between 2% and 5% of the entire global GDP. That is very significant by any standard.

What can we do about it? The bottom line is that criminal and terrorist activity requires money. One of the best ways to put these individuals out of business is to starve them of funds. That is why we are here today with Bill C-25. The bill would improve Canada's ability to act decisively and shut down these criminal operations when they are detected.

We have already taken some steps in this direction. Members will recall that in the recent spring budget there was extra funding for key partners in combating this kind of activity of money laundering and terrorist financing. There is $64 million in additional funding over the next two years for the RCMP, the Department of Justice, the Canada Border Services Agency and FINTRAC.

Just a reminder for those who are wondering, FINTRAC is Canada's financial intelligence unit. It is an integral part of our country's commitment to fight money laundering and terrorist activity financing. FINTRAC gathers information about financial transactions, analyzes it and if it sees something suspicious alerts our security forces to take further action.

As the finance minister said when he introduced this bill that is before us today, “Canada's new Government will continue to be relentless in its battle against money laundering and terrorism financing”.

To build on the measures in the budget to increase funding for these kinds of security activities by the RCMP and CSIS, Bill C-25 will help ensure that Canada continues to be a global leader in combating organized crime and terrorist financing.

It will do that by making our financing regime consistent with new standards that were recently adopted by the financial action task force. Members will know that the FATF is an international standard setting body for developing and promoting national and international policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

We are proud of the fact that Canada was a founding member of this organization. I commend the previous government for the leadership that Canada took in this area.

Canada is committed to implementing the 40 new recommendations of the FATF on money laundering and nine special recommendations on terrorist financing. Canada's response to those revised recommendations have been put into law in the bill we are debating today.

The bill also responds to the Auditor General. In 2004 the Auditor General made some recommendations about how to strengthen our regime. We want to respond positively to her recommendations. In 2004 there was a Treasury Board evaluation of our regime. Treasury Board made some recommendations which we want to put into place as well.

Recently, the Auditor General appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance. The Auditor General has confirmed to the committee, and I would like to let the House know, that this bill in the Auditor General's opinion appears to deal with the key findings in the report from the Auditor General's Office in November 2004.

Not only that, we have recently received a report from the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. The Senate committee undertook an extensive study of this whole area of money laundering and terrorist financing. The report called for a number of tougher measures to deal with these activities.

Those of us in the House want to thank the Senate committee members for the insights that they have provided on this issue. They are satisfied and pleased I believe, although they will be examining this bill in some detail in the days to come, that their proposed recommendations have been enshrined in this legislation and in related regulations.

The following are the key proposals in this legislation. First, there is something new in the area of information sharing. Right now, FINTRAC shares information with law enforcement and other domestic and international agencies. This bill would enhance that information sharing in ways that were recommended by the Auditor General and also requested by law enforcement agencies.

Specifically, this would enhance the information FINTRAC can disclose to law enforcement and security agencies on suspicious and money laundering terrorist financing. It is not much good for FINTRAC to have this information if it cannot alert those who could actually investigate it further and do something about it.

Second, the bill deals with the registration system. It proposes to create a system to register money service businesses and foreign exchange dealers. Previously, these entities were not registered and, because they also have been conduits for money laundering, they will now be brought into the system.

With a federal registration system in place for individuals and entities engaged in money service businesses of foreign exchange, FINTRAC would act as registrar and would maintain a public list of registered money service businesses and foreign exchange dealers.

Third, the bill deals with enhanced client identification measures. It would include requirements for reporting entities, banks, insurance companies, securities dealers and money services businesses to undertake enhanced monitoring of high risk situations. In other words, we are heightening the level of vigilance in our country. This would include the monitoring of transactions of foreign nationals who hold prominent public positions.

The current legislation only allows for serious criminal penalties if the act is contravened. In order to take a more balanced and gradual approach to compliance, the bill would allow FINTRAC to levy fines to deal with lesser contraventions or inadvertent breaches of the act. It would also provide FINTRAC with the ability to create an administrative and monetary penalty system whereby fines can be applied for non-compliance. This would better help FINTRAC to do its work.

For those who have made inquiries about this, the regulations for this bill would also include other reporting entities, such as gemstone and precious metals dealers they deal with, and compliance measures that are appropriate to legal practitioners. Discussions are underway with the building industry.

Not only the government but the entire House is very serious about winning the battle against money laundering and terrorist financing. I would like to commend all members of the House from all parties for their united determination to get behind these measures. There has been a very good level of cooperation from all parties in bringing the bill forward and that will benefit all Canadians. Canadians should commend all parties for this cooperation. As Mr. Speaker knows, that does not always happen in the House but, on important issues, members of Parliament can act in a united way.

For the first time ever, the House should know that Canada has assumed the presidency of the FATF. We are very pleased about the leadership role we will have in this area. Our presidency of the FATF is another example of our commitment to national and international security, to collaborative solutions to global threats and to meeting the need for international cooperation and international institutions to deal with this area.

The bill would make Canada's overall regime consistent with international standards. It would continue to help us keep one step ahead of those who would abuse our system to fund criminal and international terrorist activities.

We appreciate the fact that we have all party support for this. I would tell Canadians that they can be reassured that the government, the House of Commons and Canada's Parliament are dealing with this important issue in an expeditious and effective manner.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
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LIB

John McCallum

Liberal

Hon. John McCallum (Markham—Unionville, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, given the gracious words of my colleague, the parliamentary secretary, not only commending the previous government for introducing FINTRAC but also for praising the unelected Senate for its positive role in this area, I hesitate to ask a question that could in any way be construed to be critical.

However, duty does require me to mention the issue of parliamentary oversight, which, as a consequence of Liberal amendments, supported by the other opposition parties, are now part of the bill, and yet the Conservatives opposed the principle of parliamentary oversight in committee. Once that principle had been passed, we worked together to ensure the appropriate form of parliamentary oversight.

I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary why the government opposed the principle of parliamentary oversight for FINTRAC.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
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CPC

Diane Ablonczy

Conservative

Ms. Diane Ablonczy

Mr. Speaker, the government did no such thing. I am sorry that partisanship must always rear its ugly head. All members of Parliament are very concerned about ensuring that the privacy of Canadians and the accountable operation of these kinds of activities are jealously protected.

There was a proposal for oversight that simply was not workable. It would have substantially changed the operations of some of the organizations that do important work on behalf of Canadians in protecting their security. However, the Minister of Finance put a proposal forward for oversight, through the office of the Information Commissioner, a proposal that had also been brought to my attention by the members of the Bloc Québécois. We were able to achieve consensus behind that area of oversight.

As I emphasized, all members of Parliament and certainly the government are very committed to oversight, which is why we introduced the federal accountability act, an act that would broaden, to an unprecedented degree, oversight of all operations of government.

We are very grateful that there has been consensus behind this important measure in Bill C-25.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
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LIB

John McKay

Liberal

Hon. John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I just want to question the parliamentary secretary one step further.

My recollection of the events was that the opposition introduced the motion and the motion was to the effect that there would be parliamentary oversight. The motion was passed. My hon. colleague asked why the government opposed having parliamentary oversight imposed on a bill that, and pretty well everyone in the chamber would agree, imposes a significant intrusion into the privacy of transactions and affairs of Canadians.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
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CPC

Diane Ablonczy

Conservative

Ms. Diane Ablonczy

Mr. Speaker, I am very puzzled by this line of questioning from the Liberals opposite. The motion, to which both of my friends in the Liberal Party referred, had nothing to do with parliamentary oversight. In fact, the motion would have made oversight by SIRC, which is not a parliamentary body. It is a body that was never intended to do this kind of work. It was intended to have very vigorous oversight over the invasive investigative capacity by entities like the RCMP and CSIS, not an information gathering body like FINTRAC.

The members are well aware that this would have been a serious disruption of SIRC's important work. It would have been inappropriate for SIRC to take on a completely different role in oversight for FINTRAC, which is why the finance minister put forward a more suitable and effective, I might say, method of oversight by Parliament through the Information Commissioner who reports directly to Parliament.

I do not know why my friends over there are being mischievous but I hope the House realizes that any resistance by the government was not to oversight at all. We certainly want oversight and have put a very strong oversight regime in place with the help of all parties.

What was not appropriate was to make SIRC responsible for that oversight and, at the end of the day, I think we would all agree.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
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LIB

John McCallum

Liberal

Hon. John McCallum (Markham—Unionville, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, given that the House had previously agreed there would be one speaker per party on this, I would like to seek unanimous consent to share my time with the member for Scarborough—Guildwood.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
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LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

Is there unanimous consent?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
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?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
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LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

The hon. member for Markham—Unionville will only address the House for 10 minutes.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
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LIB

John McCallum

Liberal

Hon. John McCallum

Mr. Speaker, whether the House has agreed because the members look forward to hearing my colleague or because they have less time to listen to me, either way they have accepted and I thank them all.

We on this side of the House certainly support the bill. Indeed, to a large degree, the bill is based on recommendations by the Department of Finance when we were in government, so we certainly agree with the bill as amended.

It is clear that money laundering and terrorist financing have economic and social costs against which we must remain forever vigilant. It is true that we have to seek out this activity in all corners of the world, because if there are corners that we neglect, that is where the criminals and the terrorist financing people will go.

It is clear as well that this kind of legislation has to be continuously reviewed and updated, because in a sense there is a technological race between the terrorists and the money launderers on the one hand and the government on the other. They, of course, are always trying to be one step ahead of the regulators in terms of the technologies and the techniques they use, so we must be involved in this never-ending racing to be ahead of them. I believe that on the whole the bill does make significant improvements and significant progress to this end, an end which I am sure all of us in this House would share.

I would also like to point out, as the parliamentary secretary did, that we were influenced to a significant extent by the good work in the Senate, led by Senator Grafstein, and its report entitled, “Stemming the Flow of Illicit Money - A Priority for Canada”. It is nice to hear praise from the Conservative Party for the good work of the Senate, so I do thank those members for that, but it is also clear that this report made several excellent recommendations, some but not all of which were included in this bill.

One of the areas where the Senate made a good recommendation, which was not accepted, was that the report urged the government to have precious metal and jewellery dealers report large transactions to FINTRAC. This was not in the original bill. This is an open door. Criminals are not stupid. If the cash is covered but the jewellery or the diamonds are not, they can use diamonds instead of cash. I think this is one of the loopholes that this bill ought to have covered off, but it failed to do so.

Nobody wants to put undue burdens on Canadian businesses, and yes, having to report these transactions to FINTRAC is another burden for the businesses involved, but if these types of businesses are identified by the criminal element as safe places to launder money, then that is where they may choose to go. I do think that this is a significant deficiency.

Indeed, my colleague, the hon. member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel, did propose amendments at committee that would have brought precious metal and jewellery dealers into the legislation. Unfortunately, these amendments were found to be out of order by the chair because they were said to be beyond the scope of the bill. When the bill is updated, I hope that this is one area that will be covered off in future amendments.

There is also the very important issue of privacy and parliamentary oversight. I believe the original bill provided a delicate balance between two good things. On the one hand, the bill has to be tough in its ability to go after money launderers and people involved in terrorist financing. On the other hand, the bill has to protect the privacy rights of Canadians. I believe the original bill had a delicate balance between these two sometimes competing objectives.

The new bill correctly strengthens the enforcement side of this equation. We on this side of the House agreed with those measures, but we also think that in order to retain balance, if we strengthen the enforcement side we should also ask the question of whether the side of privacy or the protection of individual rights should also be strengthened.

That is why, right from the beginning, our party, and I believe the other opposition parties, sought to bring parliamentary oversight into the equation, parliamentary oversight being absent from the original bill and from the bill put forward by the government. Throughout the committee hearings, the government side did not display an interest in any form of parliamentary oversight. It was satisfied with the status quo.

Then, at committee, the Liberal side brought in an amendment, based on the work of the Senate committee, to provide oversight by SIRC, but with annual reports to Parliament, and this is the point the parliamentary secretary neglected . This, for the first time, would have brought in the principle of annual parliamentary oversight, which was absent from the previous bill and absent from the government's bill.

The record will show that four Conservative hands went up to vote against our amendment in terms of whether it was in order. It was only when the opposition together combined to bring forward this amendment that the government accepted the principle of parliamentary oversight.

I repeat the point that I made in my question and comment. The government opposed the principle of parliamentary oversight of FINTRAC. Once we introduced our amendment, we had further discussions and agreed with the government side that its alternative form of parliamentary oversight through the Privacy Commissioner rather than SIRC was acceptable.

The main reason why I agreed that this was all right and an improvement was that I consulted Senator Grafstein, the person who originally had recommended parliamentary oversight through SIRC. He thought this was a reasonable proposal by the government, so we on this side accepted that proposal, as did the opposition parties.

That does not negate my central point that parliamentary oversight is important for FINTRAC. There is plenty of scope for individual privacy to be put in jeopardy. The government side had to be dragged kicking and screaming to accept this principle only after the three opposition parties combined to force the issue.

That having been said, I will say that this side of the House does support the bill. We are certainly the creators of this institution. We believe it is necessary. We believe that it has to be updated continuously. My principal reservations are on the diamonds and the jewellery, which is work still to be done in the future, and the parliamentary oversight that the government was forced to accept is also an important part of this amended bill.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
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LIB

John McKay

Liberal

Hon. John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as my hon. colleague, the member for Markham—Unionville, has said, we on this side of the House will be supporting the bill. It does improve on the work started by the previous government.

There are some things that have been learned over the course of the application of FINTRAC over the past number of years and the bill does address some of the concerns and loopholes identified by the Senate in its very able report under the chairmanship of Senator Jerry Grafstein. I want to start with a review of one of those recommendations, particularly with respect to the legal profession.

When we had witnesses before our committee, Mr. Horst Intscher showed us a chart of the path of the money. Unfortunately, rules prohibit me from showing members this chart, Mr. Speaker, but you would find it incredibly complex and incredibly detailed, following money from one bank account in Kingston. I am sure there are no terrorist or other kinds of suspicious activities going on in Kingston, but it was just a theoretical possibility that there might be. It follows the money from there to other countries, coming back into our country, going off into a country like the United States, then going off to another country, and then ultimately being used for terrorist-like or terrorist activities. Just following the chart was incredibly complex.

The Senate did a very able report on this legislation and, as I have said, made particular recommendations with respect to the legal profession, which was a bit of a gap in the previous legislation. I think that members on both sides of the House are somewhat satisfied that, with negotiations with the law societies of Canada, we have addressed that gap.

I would like to read for members from the views expressed by the senators:

--in their view, solicitors should be subject to the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act. The Department of Finance told us that it “understands(s) (that the absence of coverage of the legal profession) is a serious gap in (Canada's) regime...Certainly the Auditor General has identified it and reinforced that point.

I want to commend the government for working on this issue. I know that in our government we were continuing to work on this particular issue, because it does pit this against a fundamental right of Canadians to assume that when they consult with their solicitor, their barrister or their legal representative they have a confidentiality that cannot be breached.

The Department of Justice told the committee that this was a great difficulty and that the imposition on lawyers would “fundamentally violate the right to counsel, solicitor-client privilege or even fundamental justice”. The RCMP commented that “the exclusion of the legal profession poses a significant gap in Canada's regime”. The Canadian General Accountants Association said “the biggest mistake made was...when the lawyers were not included”.

All members of the committee and all sides of the House actually agreed with those observations, I think, and in some measure the government has actually addressed that issue in the bill. What does concern me is taking it from 35,000 feet down to the average lawyer's office, so to speak. I will use my own community in Scarborough as an example.

As members know, particularly in real estate offices, lawyers flush a lot of money through their trust accounts over the course of a day, particularly over a heavy closing day. There is still some lingering concern. I hope that as this bill gains experience, so to speak, or some precedents, there will be some fleshing out with respect to what constitutes a suspicious transaction.

I do not recollect whether you practised law, Mr. Speaker, but I did. There were times when people would ask me do a particular transaction for them. Frequently, I did not know them, but they could produce identification.

The newspapers have recently reported stories about solicitors who have been taken in by fraudulent mortgage transactions, and it is a relatively easy thing to do. Let me use Mr. Jones as an example.

Mr. Jones gets a commitment from a bank. His lawyer innocently does what the bank has requested him to do. The lawyer prepares the documents, searches the title, gets the insurance in order, checks the taxes, et cetera. Mr. Jones then signs the documents and the lawyer advances the funds to him. A few months later Mrs. Smith, who is the real owner of the house, finds out that Mr. Jones has put a mortgage on her property and she now owes a huge amount of money to the bank. This is a relatively easy fraud to perpetrate upon the real estate system. The solicitor is just as much a victim as Mrs. Smith. There really is no way the solicitor can know who Mr. Jones really is.

The regime for the FINTRAC legislation contemplates that the lawyer knows his or her client. Having practised law for 20 years, that in theory sounds pretty good. At 35,000 feet that sounds pretty good. However, for a solicitor, that will be somewhat more difficult. The way I read the legislation, the lawyer will have a liability for the kind of transaction I just described to the House, which is fraud. It is a very important fraud to the person who owns the property, but there is no necessary connection to terrorist activities or money laundering or things of that nature. The Ontario government has had to move against these kinds of transactions.

I am a bit from Missouri with respect to so-called suspicious transactions. Suspicious transactions will be in the eye of the beholder. Does a law office get into things like profiling? For example, because a person is from a certain area of the world the lawyer should be more suspicious of the transaction that he or she asks the lawyer to do.

Are we going to get into other kinds of client identification? If an individual cannot produce a birth certificate showing he or she was born in Canada but can produce a resident visa or something of that nature, does this constitute a suspicious issue? Will lawyers be required to know their clients even better? Once the cheque is written by the solicitor pursuant to the completion of the transaction, how will he or she know that money will not be used for terrorist activities? How will a lawyer determine that a transaction is suspicious and needs to be reported?

At 35,000 feet, the legislation sounds like a good idea. Our party, the government and the other opposition parties support it. However, I am a little skeptical about how a solicitor in Scarborough, for example, can sufficiently protect himself or herself against the implications of this kind of transaction. How will the lawyer determine whether an individual or a transaction is suspicious? How will the lawyer determine whether the individual has provided real identification that will enable the lawyer to do a proper reporting?

I work on the assumption that if people are admitted to the bar, they are officers of the court and they have a fiduciary duty to not only their clients but a larger duty to society as well. I also work on the presumption that lawyers are not complicit in these kinds of transactions.

Members of the Liberal Party support the legislation. We look forward to the review of it by our Senate colleagues. We thank them for their work, under the chairmanship of Senator Jerry Grafstein, and appreciate any insights they may have with respect to any parts of the bill.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
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BQ

Thierry St-Cyr

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Thierry St-Cyr (Jeanne-Le Ber, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak a second time about the bill that is before us today, which deals with money laundering and financing terrorist activities. The Bloc Québécois will support this bill, as it has indicated and as it has always supported sound bills.

The Bloc Québécois has a history of fighting against crime. Hon. members will recall the work done in 1993 by the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot with regard to people who were growing marijuana in fields in Saint-Hyacinthe and farmers throughout Quebec. It was a tough battle, which the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot led very energetically.

We have also talked about the reversal of the burden of proof with respect to proceeds of crime. This is a great victory by the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc Québécois has also helped toughen anti-gang legislation, making it easier for police to fight organized crime gangs. Our commitment to fighting crime extends to money laundering and international terrorism. That is why the Bloc will support this bill.

When I spoke for the first time about this bill in this House, I said that I would be taking a close look at privacy issues. I am fairly happy with what this bill does. We had discussions earlier in this House, and we also had discussions in committee about how we can fight effectively against crime and terrorist financing and yet protect people's privacy. I want to personally make sure that the bill does not have any loopholes. I am very happy that all the parties have reached agreement on this.

I would like to explain how FINTRAC works. This agency collects financial data on transactions in Canada and abroad and will continue to do so. Under this bill, more data will be collected and more companies will be required to disclose information to FINTRAC so that it can do its job properly.

To understand how this works, hon. members need to know that FINTRAC does not conduct investigations. It is not an investigating body, but an agency that gathers and analyzes information and passes it on to the proper authorities.

With respect to collecting information, the legislation provides that banks and insurance companies, as well as other financial institutions and organizations, must report a certain number of transactions to FINTRAC. Obviously, we are talking about large transactions that involve a lot of money. Any transaction that appears odd or suspicious must be reported and added to the FINTRAC database.

Then the information is analyzed. Analysts look for connections that suggest some kind of fraud has been committed. They use two techniques to do this. The first is searching the data for patterns in the volume of financial transactions, which makes it possible to spot activities typical of people attempting to launder money or finance terrorist activities. Clearly, it makes sense to centralize this information.

It makes sense because a single transaction might appear quite ordinary, but finding connections among series of transactions can alert analysts to suspect illegal activity.

The first way to detect illegal activity is to analyze the data collected in order to identify typical patterns.

The second is voluntary disclosure by entities, police forces or security forces that suspect illegal activity. Voluntary disclosure can happen anytime.

I will conclude my remarks after question period.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
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LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

I thank the hon. member for Jeanne-Le Ber. He will have 14 minutes to continue his speech when the debate on this subject resumes after oral question period.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act
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CPC

James Moore

Conservative

Mr. James Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, across Canada we join in thanks to our veterans. From Vimy Ridge to Passchendaele, to Sicily, Juno Beach, the battle for Hill 355, the efforts in Kandahar and all the countless acts of bravery in battle that are too numerous to list, I say thank you. It is because of their strength, their courage, their sacrifices that we enjoy our freedoms, our democracy and our way of life.

A couple of years ago, I was given a poem that I would like to share with this Parliament. While we politicians have a fault of taking credit for too much, this poem serves to remind us of who truly deserves praise.

It is the Soldier It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves under the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.

On Remembrance Day and every day, let us never forget who gave themselves so we may always be free.

Topic:   Statements by Members
Subtopic:   It is the Soldier
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LIB

Blair Wilson

Liberal

Mr. Blair Wilson (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that the Canadian Association of Broadcasters is inducting Vicki Gabereau into the Broadcast Hall of Fame.

Vicki is one of my constituents and a dear friend. She has had a remarkable career in media. She hosted CBC Radio's Variety Tonight for 12 years and her own TV show for eight years. She is known across Canada for her sharp intellect, her very quick wit and genuine interest in people.

Vicki has contributed immensely to her industry and to our community. I am proud to congratulate her on her achievement.

Topic:   Statements by Members
Subtopic:   Vicki Gabereau
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BQ

Nicole Demers

Bloc Québécois

Ms. Nicole Demers (Laval, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, it is nice to go walking in the winter and enjoy the festive decorations. However, ice and accumulations of snow can be dangerous. Simple rules—such as removing ice and snow, spreading sand, having good anti-slip shoes, and using a cane—can prevent a fall.

Outdoor safety in the winter is the theme of the 18th Seniors Safety Week. A bad fall on the ice can have serious long-term consequences. It can result in chronic pain and debilitating injuries that can lead to loss of independence, isolation and inactivity.

Seniors are the most susceptible to being admitted to hospital with injuries requiring longer stays after a fall on the ice.

More than a third of people hospitalized are between 60 and 79. Their hospital stay on average is 7.6 days, and those 80 and over stay an average of 14.5 days. The safety of our seniors is important if we want them to stay active. They have much to contribute to our society. I wish all seniors a good winter. Be careful.

Topic:   Statements by Members
Subtopic:   Seniors Safety Week
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NDP

Charlie Angus

New Democratic Party

Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, this Remembrance Day is especially poignant because it has hit home to every community in this country that we are no longer simply remembering the past, but praying for those who are right now serving in combat missions.

That is why I am so proud of the efforts of the students at Joseph H. Kennedy Public School in Matheson, who are holding a walk today to support Corporal MacLeod, who is serving in Kandahar. I know the MacLeod family. I have spoken with many families in my region who have young people serving over there.

It is a heavy responsibility we have in this House of Commons. We are the ones to debate the wisdom of putting those young people in harm's way. We are the ones who have to make the decision to send them there, but it is all our responsibility, every single Canadian, to let those young people know that when they come home, they will have the complete support of every Canadian and the full support of the Government of Canada to protect them and ensure they have the proper pensions.

I would like to salute the children for the work that they are doing and the message that they are sending to Corporal MacLeod and other people from my riding.

Topic:   Statements by Members
Subtopic:   Canadian Forces
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CPC

Bradley Trost

Conservative

Mr. Bradley Trost (Saskatoon—Humboldt, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, this year The Atlas of Canada is celebrating 100 years of map making.

The settlement of the west was the theme when the atlas was first published in 1906, and The Atlas of Canada has changed with the times with digital cartography, satellite images and now there is The Atlas of Canada website.

Natural Resources Canada offers the most comprehensive collection of maps about Canada available anywhere on the net. The Royal Canadian Geographical Society was so impressed that it has given these innovative map makers its gold medal. This award is special recognition for all the men and women who have worked on The Atlas of Canada.

Our map makers have charted Canada's ever-changing landscape in six editions of this national atlas since 1906, a feat few other countries have matched.

Congratulations to the people of the Earth Observation and GeoSolutions Division of Natural Resources Canada for winning the gold medal and for their continuing contribution to our mapping heritage. I urge people to go to atlas.nrcan.gc.ca tonight and show their kids this great website.

Topic:   Statements by Members
Subtopic:   The Atlas of Canada
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LIB

Bryon Wilfert

Liberal

Hon. Bryon Wilfert (Richmond Hill, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, on Remembrance Day Canadians join together as a nation to honour the service and sacrifice of our veterans who served our country in two world wars, in Korea, in peacekeeping missions around the world and in Afghanistan.

I want to pay special tribute to my late father who served in the Argyle and Southern Highlanders who landed on the beaches of Normandy in 1944. He suffered severe shrapnel wounds in his legs, lost his hearing in one ear and was briefly buried alive when the tank he was riding on was hit.

It is because of the actions of my father and men and women who have served and continue to serve in our armed forces that we enjoy the freedoms we have today. We can never repay the debt we owe them.

On November 11 we stand to remember the sacrifices and give thanks to the legacy of peace that all Canadians enjoy.

Topic:   Statements by Members
Subtopic:   Remembrance Day
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November 10, 2006