Rob NICHOLSON

NICHOLSON, The Hon. Rob, P.C., Q.C., B.A., LL.B.

Personal Data

Party
Conservative
Constituency
Niagara Falls (Ontario)
Birth Date
April 29, 1952
Website
http://www.robnicholson.ca
PARLINFO
http://www.parl.gc.ca/parlinfo/Files/Parliamentarian.aspx?Item=b42374fa-e181-4337-93e9-2a5c41eb5d1e&Language=E&Section=ALL
Email Address
rob.nicholson@parl.gc.ca
Profession
lawyer

Parliamentary Career

September 4, 1984 - October 1, 1988
PC
  Niagara Falls (Ontario)
November 21, 1988 - September 8, 1993
PC
  Niagara Falls (Ontario)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (April 5, 1989 - June 24, 1993)
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (April 5, 1989 - April 4, 1990)
  • Minister for Small Businesses (June 25, 1993 - November 3, 1993)
  • Minister for Science (June 25, 1993 - November 3, 1993)
June 28, 2004 - November 29, 2005
CPC
  Niagara Falls (Ontario)
  • Whip of the Conservative Party of Canada (January 28, 2005 - February 6, 2006)
  • Chief Opposition Whip (January 28, 2005 - February 5, 2006)
January 23, 2006 - September 7, 2008
CPC
  Niagara Falls (Ontario)
  • Whip of the Conservative Party of Canada (January 28, 2005 - February 6, 2006)
  • Chief Opposition Whip (January 28, 2005 - February 5, 2006)
  • Minister for Democratic Reform (February 6, 2006 - January 3, 2007)
  • Conservative Party House Leader (February 6, 2006 - January 3, 2007)
  • Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (February 6, 2006 - January 3, 2007)
  • Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (January 4, 2007 - July 14, 2013)
October 14, 2008 - March 26, 2011
CPC
  Niagara Falls (Ontario)
  • Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (January 4, 2007 - July 14, 2013)
May 2, 2011 - August 2, 2015
CPC
  Niagara Falls (Ontario)
  • Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (January 4, 2007 - July 14, 2013)
  • Minister of National Defence (July 15, 2013 - February 8, 2015)
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs (February 9, 2015 - November 3, 2015)
October 19, 2015 -
CPC
  Niagara Falls (Ontario)
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs (February 9, 2015 - November 3, 2015)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1 of 494)


June 13, 2019

Hon. Rob Nicholson (Niagara Falls, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I have to agree on one point that the Liberals made with respect to the NDP. I do not know if there is any party in any western democracy that has had such a consistent record of opposing trade deals. To be fair, it is not just something recent. This goes back to the 1960s when the NDP did not like the Auto Pact. The NDP did not like the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. The NDP did not like NAFTA. New Democrats do not like CETA or the TPP. They do not like anything, but to be fair, I guess they have supported one agreement.

At least with the Liberals, they support trade agreements when they are in office, but of course not when they are in opposition like they were in 1988. They were passionately against the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. They were going to the wall on that one. They were going to challenge it.

That being said, would the hon. member like a list of all the trade deals that the Harper government agreed to and put into effect? It was a considerable record. I appreciate she is not the trade minister or the foreign affairs minister, but if she likes, I will—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement Implementation Act
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June 10, 2019

Hon. Rob Nicholson (Niagara Falls, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I am rising in the House to speak to Bill S-203. Despite good intentions, this legislation is flawed in its current form. It should come as no surprise that there are many issues with this bill. In the short time it has been before the House for consideration, one of the major problems identified is an English-French language conflict in the text of the bill.

As we all know, Canada is a bilingual country. Our two official languages are French and English, and all legislation drafted and passed in Parliament reflects this. Anyone who has ever read these documents knows that the English text is on the left side, while the French text is on the right. We also know that Canadian laws and legislation must be applied in the same manner for all Canadians, regardless of language. This is fundamental for ensuring a fair justice system, which is key to our democracy. Otherwise, it would be grossly unfair and inhumane for a state to subject its citizens to different laws and penalties based on the language they speak. I hope in this place, and across Canada, we can all agree on that.

That is why I believe the mistake in Bill S-203 was an unfortunate oversight made by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Issues like this are more likely to happen when legislation is rushed through the process without being subject to a thorough study. As members may know, Bill S-203 was given only two meetings before it was pushed ahead without amendment.

It began on March 18, 2019. In a meeting of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, the government member from Miramichi—Grand Lake identified an important and significant language conflict in the text of Bill S-203. The following is a quote from the Evidence, as the member questioned a department official on this issue:

Another thing that would need to be clarified for me is clause 4 of Bill S-203 to prohibit the importation to Canada of living cetaceans as well as cetacean tissue or embryos, subject to a special permit. Apparently the English text of the clause refers to permits issued pursuant to proposed subsection 10(1.1) of WAPPRIITA [the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act] while the French version of the text is silent on the type of importation permit required. That sounds very odd. I wouldn't know of any other piece of legislation in which the French version would be different from the English version.

The departmental official replied, “I am not completely sure about the two clauses you are referencing. I haven't done a comparison of the English to the French so I don't have a response for you on that.” In response, the member asked, “Do you think we should clarify that?” The departmental official replied, “It would be important to make sure that the intent in both the English and the French is the same.”

Interestingly, it was a member of the current government, from a bilingual province, who flagged this critical language concern. It is also interesting how the department official stressed the importance of getting the language right.

The story does not end there. It continues.

On March 26, 2019, the Honourable J.C. Major, a former Supreme Court justice, penned a letter to all members of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. He, too, identified the same language conflict as the member did. However, rather than merely stating his concern, he elevated the issue to be a constitutional matter. In addition to that, he informed the committee that this part requires amendment.

This is what the Honourable J.C. Major wrote to the members of the committee in his letter:

I have reviewed the proposed Section 7.1 which is scheduled as an amendment to Bill S-203 of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection Regulation of International and lnterprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA).

In addition I have reviewed the French to English and English to French review certified by...ABCO International which on review concludes that the wording of Section 7.1 between the French and English version is starkly different. The question raised is whether the difference is so material that compliance is affected. In my opinion the differences are material and confusion is inevitable and an amendment is the only remedy that will clarify the intent and purpose of Section 7.1.

Canada, by virtue of the Federal Government's legislation, confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada and evidenced by the Charter of Rights, is officially bilingual. In addition, under S.18 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Part 1 of the Constitution Act 1982), both English and French are made equally authoritative.

Given that both languages are authoritative and that differences between the French and English drafting of Section 7.1 are materially different, it is apparent that revisions by way of amendment of that section would by its uniformity confirm Parliament's intention as the section would then be clear to parties affected by it and invaluable to the judiciary.

The latter consideration is important as explained below as case law is replete with decisions evidencing the difficulty the courts in all provinces have from time to time reconciling statutory conflicts and either succeeded in doing so or entering an acquittal.

Section 7.1 of Bill S-203 is an enforcement provision under the Act. Given the conflict in the English and French versions of the proposed legislation its passage without a clarification amendment would, in the event of an illegal violation and subsequent prosecution, present a dilemma to the court. An obvious example being that an application under the English version would be required to meet the conditions set out in s. 10(1.1) whereas an application adhering to the French version would not. In the result the same law would be different depending on the site of the application. Should a charge be laid under the proposed Section 7.1 the difficulty described would be left to the court then to attempt a reconciliation of the conflict in the language and if not possible to strike down the section and order an acquittal.

The foregoing is a brief response to the difficulties that are inevitable if there is no amendment clarifying the intent of the legislation.

It is of value to consider the unequivocal recommendation number 35 of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada which concluded “the English and French versions of a bilingual Act must be identical in substance”.

My observation is that the member and the former Supreme Court justice both share the same concern: There is a language conflict in the bill's text. That common ground should be encouraging. However, what happened next in the committee at clause-by-clause was anything but. My party brought forward two amendments. One would make the English text read the same as the French, and the other would make the French text read the same as the English. Both amendments were rejected by the government, and Justice Major's legal opinion was ignored.

My second observation at committee was about the four government amendments that the member for Miramichi—Grand Lake suddenly withdrew at clause-by-clause. The withdrawals came as a surprise to the opposition members, because they were sensible amendments. Their intent was largely to coordinate Bill S-203 with the Liberals' own Bill C-68, which I can understand. Both bills share overlapping objectives, and if both were to pass, their implementation could clash or create confusion. In short, it made little sense for the member to make those withdrawals, especially when the changes were responsible ones that the Conservatives were prepared to support.

Here we are then. This is the second hour of third reading of Bill S-203. This bill is flawed. A former Supreme Court justice was called in. Bill S-203 is a constitutional challenge in waiting, and the scariest thing is that this bill is about to come into force.

This is as good a time as any to remind all members of the House that it is our responsibility as parliamentarians to ensure that the bills we pass are constitutional and legally sound.

Given the government's majority position, this decision ultimately weighs on the Liberal government to do what is right. It must act in the best interests of Canadians. That action is passing legally sound and constitutional legislation.

So here we are, at the second hour of third reading debate. The bill, in its current form, is flawed. A former Supreme Court justice has weighed in on the constitutionality, and those changes needed to be made. Now is a good time to remind all members of the House that it is our responsibility as parliamentarians to ensure that all laws we pass are constitutional and legally sound.

Given these reasons, I hope the government reconsiders its position on Bill S-203.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act
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June 4, 2019

Hon. Rob Nicholson (Niagara Falls, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I too, like all my colleagues on both sides of the House, want to wish all the very best to the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound. I knew him for about six years prior to his election in 2004. We both had the privilege of sitting on the Niagara Escarpment Commission. For the record, we did not always agree on preserving the escarpment commission, etc, but we certainly enjoyed each other's company.

I remember being so pleased and proud when he obtained the candidacy in 2004. I was completely confident, certainly hoped and prayed, that we would have the opportunity to continue to serve together. It has been a great 15 years for me serving with the hon. member, and a great six and a half years on the escarpment commission.

I, too, wish him all the very best.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1
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June 3, 2019

Hon. Rob Nicholson (Niagara Falls, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, it is my great honour to rise in the House today to pay tribute to my constituent, World War II hero Lieutenant Leon Dopke, who passed away on May 4 in Niagara.

Leon enlisted in the army at the age of 14 in response to German troops attacking and destroying the Polish Air Force. He went on to fight with the Allies in Britain, Poland, Italy, Sweden and France, culminating in the liberation of Bologna, Italy, and the capture of Mussolini.

When I was Minister of National Defence, often the topic of medals would come up. I remember bragging about Leon's array of medals. I said that if we spread them out across his chest, they would have stretched down to his elbow.

Freedom is not free, and no one knew that better than Leon Dopke. As we approach D-Day on June 6, in what may be my last S. 0. 31 in the House, I am privileged to pay homage to Leon Dopke.

I thank Leon for standing on guard for Canada. Democracy is indebted to him.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Leon Dopke
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May 10, 2019

Hon. Rob Nicholson (Niagara Falls, CPC)

Madam Speaker, everyone who knows Vice-Admiral Norman knows him to be a respected, dependable and distinguished member of the Royal Canadian Navy. Why is it that the Liberals could not have given him the benefit of the doubt by keeping his job open for him? Why did they not pay his legal fees until three days ago, when they were shamed into doing it?

Topic:   Oral Questions
Subtopic:   Justice
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