February 3, 2011

LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

I invite the House to take note of today's use of the wooden mace.

The wooden mace is traditionally used when the House sits on February 3 to mark the anniversary of the fire that destroyed the original Parliament buildings on this day in 1916.


Subtopic:   House of Commons
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CPC

Joe Preston

Conservative

Mr. Joe Preston (Elgin—Middlesex—London, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Orders 104 and 114, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 24th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding membership of the committee to the House.

If the House gives its consent, I intend to move concurrence in the 24th report later today.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Procedure and House Affairs
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NDP

Olivia Chow

New Democratic Party

Ms. Olivia Chow (Trinity—Spadina, NDP)

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-615, An Act to establish a National Public Transit Strategy.

Mr. Speaker, happy New Year of the Rabbit.

Canadians deserve and need fast, reliable, affordable and accessible public transit. However, unlike all other G8 or OECD countries, Canada does not have a national public transit strategy, nor does it have a transit policy or program.

My national public transit strategy act seeks to establish a legislative framework, with the federal government taking a leadership role in coordinating all levels of government in an effort to maintain and expand public transit across the country. Together, a public transit plan would be developed and the plan would establish a clear mechanism so there would be sustainable, predictable and long-term funding for public transit.

The national public transit act or strategy has been long requested by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the big city mayors caucus, the Canadian Urban Transit Association, the urban transportation task force and transit authorities from coast to coast to coast. Together, they point to an $18 billion gap in transit infrastructure needs. They lament that there is a piecemeal approach through various funding sources and that every year billions of dollars are lost due to traffic congestion while, simultaneously, transit authorities struggle to meet demands.

Investment in public transit creates jobs, fuels economic growth and contributes to clean air, decreased congestion and lower greenhouse gas emissions. It is high time Canada had a comprehensive public transit strategy.

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

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   National Public Transit Strategy Act
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CPC

Joe Preston

Conservative

Mr. Joe Preston (Elgin—Middlesex—London, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the 24th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented to the House earlier today be concurred in.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Procedure and House Affairs
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LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

Does the hon. member for Elgin—Middlesex—London have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Procedure and House Affairs
Permalink
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Procedure and House Affairs
Permalink
LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Procedure and House Affairs
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?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Procedure and House Affairs
Permalink
LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

(Motion agreed to)

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Committees of the House
Sub-subtopic:   Procedure and House Affairs
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NDP

Bill Siksay

New Democratic Party

Mr. Bill Siksay (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table petitions signed by a number of people in the Montreal area who are very concerned about the import and export of horses for slaughter for human consumption.

The petitioners point out that horses in our culture are most often kept for sport and companionship and not raised as food producing animals. This means that they are regularly given drugs that are prohibited from being used in any food producing animal. When such animals are sold for human consumption they are, therefore, likely to contain prohibited substances.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to adopt Bill C-544, An Act to amend the Health of Animals Act and the Meat Inspection Act to ban the import or export of horses for slaughter for human consumption.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Animal Welfare
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NDP

Jim Maloway

New Democratic Party

Mr. Jim Maloway (Elmwood—Transcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, my petition calls for the end of Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan.

In May 2008, Parliament passed a resolution to withdraw Canadian forces by July 2011. The Prime Minister, with the agreement from the Liberal Party, broke his oft-repeated promise to honour the parliamentary motion and, furthermore, refuses to put it to a parliamentary vote in the House.

Committing 1,000 soldiers to a training mission still presents a danger to our troops and an unnecessary expense when our country is faced with a $56 billion deficit. The military mission has cost Canadians more than $18 billion so far, money that could have been used to improve health care and seniors' pensions right here in Canada.

In fact, polls show that a clear majority of Canadians do not want Canada's military presence to continue after the scheduled removal date of July 2011. Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Prime Minister to honour the will of Parliament and bring the troops home now.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Petitions
Sub-subtopic:   Afghanistan
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CPC

Tom Lukiwski

Conservative

Mr. Tom Lukiwski (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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LIB
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
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LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

The Chair is now prepared to rule on the point of order raised by the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons on November 2, 2010, concerning the requirement for a royal recommendation for Bill C-507, An Act to amend the Financial Administration Act (federal spending power), standing in the name of the hon. member for Saint-Lambert.

I thank the parliamentary secretary for having raised this important matter. In raising his point of order, the parliamentary secretary set out two separate grounds on which he alleged that Bill C-507 infringes the financial initiative of the Crown. First, he claimed that the bill seeks to alter the terms and conditions of existing royal recommendations which authorize payments out of the consolidated revenue fund to provinces and municipalities for various purposes. This alteration would take two different forms. Where transfers are made conditional upon provinces meeting certain federal standards, these transfers would now be unconditional. Where the federal government provides funds to individuals, agencies or municipalities, these funds would now be transferred only to the provinces.

The parliamentary secretary maintained that this alteration in the way in which funds are transferred violates the terms of the existing royal recommendations on which those transfers depend.

The second cause for concern which the parliamentary secretary highlighted is the effect of the provisions of Bill C-507 on payments to provinces that choose to opt out of federal programs in areas of provincial jurisdiction. These payments would be authorized whenever a province did not delegate its responsibility to the federal government in relation to a federal program in an area of provincial jurisdiction. He claimed that this would result in payments out of the consolidated revenue fund for purposes not currently authorized.

The Chair has examined carefully the provisions of Bill C-507 in light of the arguments presented. The nature of the royal recommendation requirement is explained in the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, at page 834.

A royal recommendation not only fixes the allowable charge, but also its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications. For this reason, a royal recommendation is required not only in the case where money is being appropriated, but also in the case where the authorization to spend for a specific purpose is significantly altered. Without a royal recommendation, a bill that either increases the amount of an appropriation, or extends its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications is inadmissible on the grounds that it infringes on the Crown's financial initiative.

What is at issue in each case is whether the provisions of the bill introduce a new appropriation, increase an existing appropriation or entail changes to the objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications of the existing appropriations to enable these appropriations to be used for a new purpose.

Bill C-507 seeks to amend the Financial Administration Act by proposing new subsections 26.1(1) and (2) which would prevent the federal government from making payments in respect of expenditures in areas of provincial jurisdiction unless the province concerned delegates that power to it. Proposed new subsection 26.1(3) establishes a timeframe for that delegation. While it has been argued that the proposed new subsections 26.1(1), (2) and (3) would have the effect of altering the conditions under which the authorization to spend currently exists, the Chair is of a different view. These subsections in no way enable existing appropriations to be used for a new purpose. Instead, these new subsections would affect whether or not the moneys appropriated are actually spent. The appropriations themselves remain unchanged and such a consideration does not give rise to the need for a royal recommendation.

As for the second issue raised by the parliamentary secretary, the Chair refers honourable members to the proposed new subsection 26.1(4) which requires that payments be made to a province that does not provide a delegation under subsection 26.1(2). In the Chair’s view the effect of this provision would be to allow the transfer of funds without there being any conditions attached. In other words, those funds could be expended for purposes not limited to, or governed by, the conditions—or purposes—of the original appropriation. Obviously, this would be a relaxation of applicable conditions, to say the least, and would necessarily constitute an infringement of the financial initiative of the Crown as the appropriated funds could be used for purposes not approved by Parliament when it made the appropriation.

On this basis, it is my ruling that Bill C-507, in its current form, requires a royal recommendation. Consequently, I will decline to put the question on third reading of the bill in its present form unless a royal recommendation is received.

Today's debate, however, is on the motion for second reading and this motion shall be put to a vote at the close of the second reading debate.

I thank hon. members for their attention.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Points of Order
Sub-subtopic:   Bill C-507 — Speaker's Ruling
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The House resumed from February 2 consideration of Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, as reported (with amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.


LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

When the matter was last before the House, the hon. member for Vancouver East had the floor and there are seven minutes remaining in the time allotted to her for her remarks. I therefore call upon the hon. member for Vancouver East.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Strengthening Aviation Security Act
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NDP

Libby Davies

New Democratic Party

Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to continue my remarks from yesterday. I appreciate the information about the significance of the mace today and the fact that we are remembering the fire of 1916 in Parliament. It is very interesting to be in the House on this historical day. I appreciate that being brought forward.

I want to speak to this bill because there is a lot of concern from Canadians about how so much is being eroded in terms of civil liberties and privacy of information by security measures. Certainly Bill C-42 is a very strong case in terms of a further erosion of privacy of Canadians.

There has been a lot of debate about this bill and certainly our critic, the member for Western Arctic, has done an incredible job of bringing forward information, both at committee and in the House, to show just how dangerous this bill will be. As he said in an earlier debate, Bill C-42 really means stripping away the privacy of Canadians and that is something we should be very concerned about.

Out in the broader community, people are very worried about how much government legislation, whether it is so-called anti-terrorism legislation, no-fly lists, or this bill, is impacting the rights and privacy of Canadians. It is all being done in the name of security. Yet there is no evidence to show that these very broad measures that cast such a wide net over every segment of our society actually do improve our security or prevent terrorism from taking place. However, they do create an enormous chill in our society.

As parliamentarians, we have a responsibility to examine this kind of legislation in great detail to establish whether or not it is warranted and whether or not the legislation goes too far towards invading the privacy of Canadians. I would say for us in the NDP, we have come to the conclusion that this legislation does go too far. We know it will allow airlines to send personal information of passengers to foreign security services.

The information that will be forwarded is determined by requirements that are laid out in secret agreements with other countries. In and of itself, that is a huge problem. There is no transparency. I would note that in 1998, the European Commission put forward six key principles that must be included for this type of legislation. They had a very thorough examination because this has been a huge issue in Europe as well as around the world. I do not have time to go into the six principles, but briefly they outline the purpose limitation principle; the information, quality and proportionality principle; the transparency principle; the security principle; the right to access restitution opposition principle; and restriction on onward transfers principle.

The right to access principle says that subjects of the information should have the right to obtain a copy of all the information relating to them that is processed and the right to restitution of the information which is inaccurate. Further, in some situations people should be able to object to the processing of the data that relates to them.

I want to be very clear that this bill we are debating today does not include any of these protections, so that is a very serious matter.

When the bill was examined earlier by committee, there were some very notable witnesses who came forward. One of them was Dr. Mark Salter of the School of Political Studies here in Ottawa who said:

Governments want this information so that they can build profiles of not just risky passengers but safe passengers as well. Research clearly demonstrates that in the United States and the U.K., government agencies are trying to collect as much data about travellers as possible.

He went on at some length about what that means.

There was further evidence from Nathalie Des Rosiers who is the general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

In her testimony she said:

There's no safeguard that the TSA will not pass information to other government agencies, such as law enforcement or immigration. There is no safeguard that the TSA will not pass this information to third countries. And we know this has been a particularly difficult issue for some Canadians, Maher Arar being a case in point. There's no guarantee that the TSA will not use the information for profiling Canadians, to put them on their watch list or the no-fly list.

We have heard many incredible stories about the no-fly list, about people who are on there by mistake, people who are legitimately and in good faith travelling to the United States or elsewhere who cannot access information regarding why they are on the no-fly list. It is a grievous error and problem we face. We can see that, if approved, the legislation will have an enormous impact on our rights, on our privacy. We are not doing our job properly if we allow the bill to go through, so I am proud that members of the NDP are standing in the House to speak out against the bill and make it very clear that we do not believe it is in the public interest nor in the interest of so-called security. It is simply further integrating us with U.S. policies which people are very concerned about, all in the name of security. There is no transparency and no accountability.

I hope other members will reflect on the bill at this stage and decide that it should not go forward and should not be supported.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Strengthening Aviation Security Act
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NDP

John Rafferty

New Democratic Party

Mr. John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Vancouver East brings up the point that no person may know what information is on the list. Even more egregious is the fact that it cannot be changed. There is no way to correct mistakes on the list.

I wonder if my hon. colleague would like to comment further on that.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Strengthening Aviation Security Act
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NDP

Libby Davies

New Democratic Party

Ms. Libby Davies

Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member raised this point because it is one of the core issues of the bill that we must struggle with and the conflict that it presents. Information is being mined about people and is being stored in enormous data warehouses. Where is the transparency and accountability pertaining to these massive institutions and bureaucracies that develop and control this data?

One of the most fundamental issues is that people do not know what information is being gathered. If they do have a sense that something is wrong because they have been turned away for a flight or they find out that they are on the no-fly list, then under this legislation their ability to get that information is nil. This is why I wanted to draw attention to the European Commission report and the six principles which it claims are fundamental to any legislation such as this. However, Bill C-42 does not adhere to these particular principles. It appears to me that is a serious matter and if we are acting in the public interest and protecting the rights of our constituents, we should not allow this to go ahead.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Strengthening Aviation Security Act
Permalink

February 3, 2011