June 16, 2015

CPC

Corneliu Chisu

Conservative

Mr. Corneliu Chisu (Pickering—Scarborough East, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the budget implementation act passed its final vote, which included new benefits and tax cuts for veterans and their families.

Could the Minister of Veterans Affairs please give us an update on what our government is doing for veterans and their families?

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Veterans Affairs
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?

Hon. Erin O'Toole (Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Pickering—Scarborough East for his support for Bill C-59, which passed this House yesterday.

That bill includes the new retirement income security benefit for veterans over 65, the critical injury benefit, the family caregiver relief benefit, all new benefits to help veterans and their families. This is on top of our expansion of the permanent impairment allowance, reserve force fairness, and the hiring of tactical teams of caseworkers to deploy across the country.

The sad reality is that even though the parliamentary committee fully recommended many of these new benefits, the New Democrats and the Liberals voted against them.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Veterans Affairs
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LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, Tina Fontaine was a young teenager. She was murdered and found in the Red River. She was under the NDP foster care system at the time. In April of this year, yet another young girl, left under the Manitoba foster care program once again, was sexually assaulted and beaten almost to death. There is a foster—

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Social Development
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CPC

Andrew Scheer

Conservative

The Speaker

Order. I am not sure which federal government department is responsible for Manitoba's foster care system. I did not hear anything in the preamble there.

The hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Social Development
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NDP

Raymond Côté

New Democratic Party

Mr. Raymond Côté (Beauport—Limoilou, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, the air pollution problem in Limoilou is far from being resolved. An access to information request has revealed that the Minister of the Environment did not see fit to verify whether Quebec Stevedoring had to submit a report to the National Pollutant Release Inventory. Nothing was done before 2014, even though this has been a problem since 1979 and has been in the media since 2012.

Can the minister finally tell us whether Quebec Stevedoring will have to report its dust emissions to the National Pollutant Release Inventory?

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Health
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CPC

Lisa Raitt

Conservative

Hon. Lisa Raitt (Minister of Transport, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I heard the question from the hon. member. I will find out from the Port of Quebec, which is an arm's-length entity from the Canadian government, whether or not it has some information from its tenant.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Health
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CPC

Wai Young

Conservative

Ms. Wai Young (Vancouver South, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, there are now even more marijuana stores in Vancouver than ever before, many located near our schools and community centres and playgrounds. Some have even been caught selling marijuana to children.

Could the Minister of Health please give this House an update on the serious research-based health risks from smoking marijuana?

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Health
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CPC

Rona Ambrose

Conservative

Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Health, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government is going to continue to stop kids from smoking marijuana, because we know it has very serious and lasting health effects for youth. In fact, the former president of the Canadian Medical Association was clear when he said, “The health risks of smoking marijuana for youth are irrefutable”. He said that marijuana is dangerous for kids. It leads to increased risks of mental health issues, including psychosis and schizophrenia.

While the Liberal leader and the New Democrats support making marijuana use an everyday normal activity and having it available in storefronts like Starbucks, our government will continue to protect young people from marijuana.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Health
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BQ

Louis Plamondon

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Louis Plamondon (Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the government introduced bills this week for the sole purpose of building its election platform. While it is at it, why does the government not introduce bills in response to Quebec's expectations, such as a bill to comply with environmental measures in relation to pipelines, a bill in line with Quebec's expectations as regards foreign workers, or a bill in line with Quebec's expectations as regards firearms?

As long as it is using public funds, it should be using them to further Quebec's interests as well.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Intergovernmental Relations
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CPC

Peter Van Loan

Conservative

Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, we are very proud of our agenda that we have delivered on, and also of the agenda that we are laying out. The work of this government continues and includes important bills, including on gun crime.

We have a bill that has been introduced by my colleague, the Minister of Justice, that would deal with the question of mandatory sentences for possession of illegal handguns, a response to the court decision but a critical piece of legislation to respond to.

It is the right thing to do to tell Canadians how we are going to make them safe and how we are going to combat gun crime. That is important for the people of Quebec and the people of Canada.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Intergovernmental Relations
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IND

André Bellavance

Independent

Mr. André Bellavance (Richmond—Arthabaska, Ind.)

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons said so himself: the only reason they are introducing so many bills these days is to win votes.

Having touched on numerous subjects, the government is nevertheless avoiding the subject of medical aid in dying even though there has been consensus on this issue in Quebec since the end-of-life care act was passed a year ago.

The Minister of Justice promised that a consultation process would be launched by the end of the session, which we know is just a few days away.

Will he keep his promise?

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Justice
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CPC

Peter MacKay

Conservative

Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, we intended to launch a consultation process in Canada. We made that promise.

This is a very important issue, an issue that touches lives in communities across this great country. We intend to have a very inclusive consultation. We expect to say more about this in the very near future.

I thank the hon. member for his interest in this important issue.

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Justice
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The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill S-7, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Civil Marriage Act and the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the third time and passed.


CPC

Blake Richards

Conservative

Mr. Blake Richards (Wild Rose, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, with the passage of Bill S-7, Canada would join the growing list of like-minded countries criminalizing forced marriage.

Moreover, the proposed maximum sentence of imprisonment of five years lies within the average range of penalties of the countries I outlined just prior to question period. Some have claimed that these offences have no impact because there have been few convictions. I completely disagree, and for several reasons.

First, as the RCMP pointed out in their written submission to the citizenship and immigration committee, criminal law is not only about punishing violations of agreed-upon social codes of conduct, but it also serves to clearly establish the limits of acceptable social conduct. The criminalization of forced marriage has a symbolic function. It sends out a public message that forced marriage is socially unacceptable.

Second, a specific criminal offence of forced marriage can empower victims by allowing them to clearly articulate that it is a crime to force them to marry against their will. In fact, this very point was raised in the testimony of Lee Marsh, one of the committee's witnesses and a victim of a forced marriage who indicated that if she had known forced marriage was against the law, she might have been able to refuse the marriage.

Third, enhancing victims' awareness of their rights can lead to an increase in reporting, both to the police and to victim service agencies. For example, a Copenhagen-based organization reported a surge in victims coming forward to seek help after Denmark criminalized forced marriage. The threat of criminal sanction coupled with awareness-raising and prevention measures, can help reduce these practices rather than drive them underground, as some would claim.

Fourth, forced marriage constitutes a distinct violation of the human rights of the victim that is of sufficient gravity that it should be considered as a crime separate from existing criminal offences. The proposed new offence in Bill S-7 focuses on the point where the harm of forcing someone into an unwanted marriage crystalizes, namely the marriage ceremony itself. It addresses the unique harm associated with community endorsement of the creation of an unwanted legal bond within which sexual assaults are expected to occur. This new offence is also required because forced marriage is not a subcategory of existing general offences.

Fifth, a specific criminal offence will permit victims and the authorities to prevent the forced marriage ceremony from taking place by using the preventive aspect of the criminal law. Bill S-7 is structured precisely so that victims can benefit from the specific forced and underage peace bonds to prevent the ceremony from taking place. Moreover, Bill S-7 provides law enforcement with the tools to stop the removal of a child from Canada for the purposes of a forced or underage marriage abroad.

Finally, the criminalization of forced marriage serves to dissuade and deter people from violating the fundamental rights of the victim. As many families who force their children into unwanted marriages may otherwise be law-abiding, the very existence of these specific offences may be sufficient to dissuade them from proceeding with the forced or underage marriage ceremony.

I would like to end my speech today by saying a few words about the proposed amendments to the defence of provocation in the Criminal Code. The defence of provocation applies only in cases where murder is actually proven. If successful, it results in a verdict of manslaughter, which has no mandatory minimum sentence, instead of murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison and strict parole ineligibility rules.

Currently, the defence will be successful where the murder was committed in response to a wrongful act or insult from the victim that would be sufficient to deprive an ordinary person of the power of self-control, and where the accused acted suddenly before there was time for his passion to cool.

Provocation can be established even where the victim's conduct was perfectly legal or lawful. The defence is, in fact, raised in cases of spousal homicide against women where the alleged provocation was lawful conduct such as leaving a relationship or insulting the perpetrator's virility.

Historically, the provocation defence was the original honour defence in our common law tradition. It was limited to certain categories of conduct related to a man defending his honour, such as when finding another man committing adultery with his wife, which was viewed as the highest invasion of property. The defence was correctly criticized for decades for excusing male violence against women on the basis of outdated notions that have no place in contemporary Canadian society.

The proposed amendment in Bill S-7 would limit provocation so that it could only be raised where the alleged provoking conduct by the victim would amount to an offence punishable by five years in prison, or more.

In my view, it is entirely appropriate that Canada amend a defence that originates from a time when women were legal property of their husbands and when defence gave men latitude to kill in response to conduct that insulted their personal sense of honour.

Our Conservative government is taking steps to strengthen our laws to help ensure that no young girl or woman in Canada becomes a victim of early or forced marriage, polygamy, so-called honour-based violence, or any other form of harmful cultural practice.

I urge my colleagues to support the bill and align Canada with like-minded countries that are grappling with similar forms of violence against women and girls.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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NDP

Raymond Côté

New Democratic Party

Mr. Raymond Côté (Beauport—Limoilou, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech.

As is now Conservative tradition, every NDP amendment, and there were only two in this case, were defeated during consideration of the bill by the committee in question. We have very serious concerns about the bill, including the fact that the unfortunate victims of forced or polygamous marriages could be deported from Canada and be victimized yet again. That is one of the unintended consequences of this bill.

I would like to know whether my colleague is open to considering amendments to prevent the deportation of women who unfortunately were victimized by their particular situation.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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CPC

Blake Richards

Conservative

Mr. Blake Richards

Mr. Speaker, there are two parts to my response to the member's question.

The first is that this seems to be a typical approach that we see from both the NDP and the Liberal Party in this House of Commons, in this Parliament, to claim they support the intent of a piece of legislation, then propose a number of amendments that would obviously change the legislation, and then claim that they cannot support the legislation because their amendments were not accepted. Frankly, we know their intention all along was to simply not support the legislation.

It is really shameful that the NDP does not want to, for whatever the reasons might be, support the principle of protecting women and girls from the practice of the early and forced marriages, as I discussed in my speech, or other types of violent behaviours, honour killings, and these kinds of measures.

The other part I want to quickly address, in response to the member, is that one of the intentions that would occur from this piece of legislation is the idea of being able to prevent these kinds of things from happening in the first place, that preventive effect of a Criminal Code offence.

I certainly hope the NDP would have another look at this and determine that it should be trying to protect women and girls from these kinds of instances.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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NDP

Raymond Côté

New Democratic Party

Mr. Raymond Côté

Mr. Speaker, I am obviously not satisfied with my colleague’s answer.

It is rather disturbing to see him impugning our motives instead of being open to a dialogue to protect victims. The phenomenon exists. And yet, instead of preventing injustice, the government insists on entrenching it, which is a problem. Furthermore, and let us not kid ourselves, the bill’s approach reeks of racism, which quite frankly is very troubling.

I would like to know how the government is going to manage deporting unfortunate victims of situations that are unacceptable in our society.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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CPC

Blake Richards

Conservative

Mr. Blake Richards

Mr. Speaker, the member claims to have a desire to be open to ideas that would protect women and girls from these kinds of practices, things like early and forced marriages, polygamy, and so-called honour killings. If he and his party are really and truly open to ideas that would protect women and girls from these kinds of barbaric practices, then what I would suggest he do and what I would suggest his colleagues do is to stand up and support this piece of legislation because it would do exactly that. It seeks to protect women and girls from these kinds of barbaric practices and set the tone that those things are unacceptable in Canada. It would help to prevent these practices and ensure we protect women and girls in Canada from them.

I certainly hope that the member and his party would choose to have another good look at the bill and stand up in favour of protection of women and girls from these kinds of barbaric practices in this country.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act
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LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order, reflecting on what took place earlier today in question period. I seek the advice and guidance of the Chair regarding the question that was put forward.

When we come up with a question, all members are very much aware that we have 30 seconds in which to express the question. When we pose the question, there is often a significant preamble to it.

The Speaker knew that I might have been 10 or 15 seconds into the question, so I was not sure why he was standing up. I had to sit down, and I was a bit surprised by the Speaker determining that the topic of the question might not have been the federal government's responsibility.

I can appreciate that the Speaker will be able to review the Hansard, but I thought that this information might assist him in providing a comment on the question that I posed. As I am sure the Speaker is aware, foster care is in a very serious situation. The wording that I chose to use in my preamble about it being a crisis situation is the way it is being labelled in the province of Manitoba today. We are talking about how indigenous people of first nations and aboriginal heritage make up in excess of 90% of the more than 10,000 children who are in foster care. That is then a crisis situation.

My question, which I was not afforded the opportunity to ask, was related to the importance of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development indicating to the House what the Government of Canada is doing about the crisis situation, given that we are talking about around 90% of children in foster care having a first nations or aboriginal background. That is the federal government's responsibility.

I was 10 or 15 seconds into the question, and I suspect there was quite a bit of heckling on the other side. In fairness to the Speaker, perhaps he did not hear all of the comments. I appreciate that he is looking into it, but I am looking for his guidance and some sort of indication as to what I did wrong. Had I been able to finish the question, I would have made reference to the 10,000-plus children, of which 90% have a first nations background. It is very similar to the question I asked yesterday, so I would ask the Speaker to take the point of order as notice so that he can reflect on it.

He indicated to me earlier that he would review what was said, so this is just more add-on information in the hope that we will get some sort of clarification.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Points of Order
Sub-subtopic:   Oral Questions
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CPC

Peter Van Loan

Conservative

Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I will just answer that briefly. From what I heard of the question, the member was asking about the foster care system in Manitoba and then he started speaking about the incompetence of the provincial New Democratic government in Manitoba.

I do not want to reflect on whether that might or might not be accurate. I would not go there, but I think that was what provoked a response from the other side here. I think that was the cue to the Speaker, in his defence, that the question that was being asked was about the provincial government, since it sounded as if the member was asking about its incompetence.

If the member wishes to ask questions about federal administration, he should be clearer about it.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Points of Order
Sub-subtopic:   Oral Questions
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June 16, 2015