Gerry Ritz                         
Member of Parliament for Battlefords-Lloydminster      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 


    2003 Archived Speeches


Choose from the list of speeches below or scroll the entire page ...

P.C. Motion,  Multi-Party Delegation to Washington - Sept 23, 2003 
C-24 Fundraising for Political Parties, June 9, 2022
Act to Amend the Criminal Code of Canada - May 6, 2022
Parliament of Canada Act - Ethics, May 2, 2022
Child Protection - March 31, 2022
Sex Offender Registry - March 31, 2022
Election Financing, C24 - February 17, 2022
Human Reproductive Technologies - February 11, 2022
               

P.C. Motion Requesting Multi-Party Delegation to Washington
September 23, 2021

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today and speak to the motion put forward by my colleagues from the Tory Party. I certainly agree with it.
    The motion came before the agriculture committee in an emergency meeting this summer. I think it was July. It was unanimously passed. It was a non-partisan push, that we need to do everything and anything to get back to normalcy in the livestock industry.
    It is not just beef at this time either. We talk about beef because that is the key but it is the livestock industry as a whole. Every facet of it is facing crisis and needs to be let out.
    I will be splitting my time with the member for Medicine Hat who just reminded me of that. Of course he is very much into the beef industry as well.
    It is not just a photo op. The minister talked about that. It is fine to have all these folks go down to Washington and so on but Washington alone is not the answer. It is part of the answer but it is not all of it.
    We have interventions from other countries saying that they are ready to get back into the Canadian beef trade. Who is over there talking to them? All members of the House who have been in sales know that if they get a lead on something they follow it up. They get over there, do their job, make the sale and then they are done.
    The Prime Minister has led team Canada initiatives all over the world. At the drop of a hat, he is away. If he is looking for a legacy here is a chance. He can take a beef sample kit, hit the skies in his fancy new Challenger jet and get the job done. However he is not doing that. Where the heck is he? Neither one of the so-called leaders are showing leadership on this file.
    We have the minister stumbling around saying that he talks to Ann Venamen on the phone and that he does this and he does that. I have a lot of constituents who will talk to me over the phone but a lot of people want a face to face meeting when it is a real crisis situation. I think this is and I think it requires a trip to Washington. We need to talk to the folks down there and show them the human side of this, show them the people who are in crisis out there.
    In his intervention with the minister, the member for Crowfoot mentioned that we were not seeing a strategy now. We saw the CFIA do its job. We saw the trace-out working properly. They came back to a farm in my riding, McRae at Baldwinton. They are still questioning whether it was even their cow. There is a lot of concern out there that in their hurry to find the right animal they glossed everything over and, boom, we were done. They have some lawsuits pending and they are talking about going after the CFIA, the government and so on, because of the way they handled that particular farm. Others are looking at that too. That is something else out there on the radar screen, along with 3,500 people at CFIA who are poised to go on strike. Right in the middle of all of this, we may finally get some beef moving again and these guys will be off the job. The minister will have his hands full in the next little while, and rightly so.
    We saw this develop into a crisis because they would not implement a floor price on sales right after the BSE incident happened. The minister talked about his round table and the beef industry, and so on. That recommendation came right from those folks. We picked it up as a political issue here and talked about a floor price. Let us not let it drop to the bottom. What is hurting cull cows now is not allowing the feedlots to restock and so on. People are not selling their cattle. The price is not back up.
    We are starting to see it move. We are seeing some strength in grassers coming off, the six and seven weights, that the price is coming back, but a lot of folks out there who back-grounded over the summer are stuck with oversized cattle that will not fit into the feedlot situation. What do they do?
    We have cow-calf operators, a lot of them up in my country, who do not winter their calves over. They do not even have the infrastructure to do it. No penning. No water bowls. Nothing. We are facing another year, in a lot of western Canada, with a lack of feed. We need feeding programs. We new a cull cow program. We need some leadership and some strategy from the government. We are not seeing it. It has dropped the ball right there at centre court.
    We still have containers that were locked overseas when this hit 120 days ago. They are still sitting there now. The Beef Export Federation cannot get anybody to address the situation and get these containers home so we can start addressing some of these markets that will be coming back on stream.
    The Alberta government announced $4 million to bring back a few from Japan and Korea specifically for some of their shippers but we do not know what the federal government has done.
    According to the Beef Export Federation and the folks who do this, the government has done nothing. Those containers are still over there. We do talk about the future of the industry but we are not taking care of the ABCs to get us there. Again, it is that lack of vision and planning.
    We do need a transition. We did not see one at the start of the BSE crisis and we are not seeing one now; a transition that will give the industry strength and something to hang on to and hang on for.
    The banks and lending institutions have been very good. They have all restructured. Guys have gone in and renegotiated and done a great job at that. We have seen the PFRA, which falls under the minister's purview, demanding cash before cattle is released out of pasture. That is unprecedented.
    The federal government's own agency is demanding cash from cash-strapped farmers when they cannot access all this APF money and transition money that the minister talks glowingly about. How do farmers get at it? Now he is saying that he will allow some advances to provinces that have signed on, which really puts pressure on provinces that have not signed on. The specific reason they have not signed on is that it will not work. There is less money in the system now for primary production of agriculture than there ever has been. The agri-food side of the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food has always done very well and continues to do very well, but the primary producer on the agriculture side is getting short-changed again.
    The federal government is trying to pull out of companion programs. There goes the farmers' crop insurance program, the drought and trade subsidies and so on. The feds are going to pull out. They are putting less money in. In the middle of all of this, the federal government announces that it will backstop Bombardier for $1.2 billion in loan guarantees for the purchase of Bombardier products. Where is the backstop for agriculture products?
    The fiscal capacity seems to be there because the Liberals have money to stuff in all their pet pigeon holes, but they cannot backstop primary producers. What is wrong? Agriculture is the third largest contributor to the GDP in this country. Some 200,000 jobs revolve around agriculture on the in and the out. How come these guys cannot get that?
    The member for Crowfoot asked: If there is a strategy, who designed it? That is a pertinent question because we see more and more of these flawed agricultural programs coming out of the ivory towers here from guys who have never seen a cow, never seen a dusty piece of ground, do not even know what wheat or durum is, or canola for that matter, and they are designing the programs. No wonder they are doomed to fail. The Liberals are going for the public relations spin for the people who eat in Canada but not for the guy who produces the food.
    If we look back over history at any third world country, we see that they became third world countries because they could not feed themselves. We are facing that same situation because the Liberals do not take the production of food in this country seriously. A lot of money is going into food safety, biometrics and all sorts of fancy stuff out there but not into primary production, not to the guy on the ground, the family farm, the guy raising the cattle, the guy raising the sheep, hogs, or whatever it is. The Liberals do not take it seriously.
    We are seeing supply management going into a tailspin because every time we have trade talks the Liberals start talking about dismantling supply management because they do not have the power anymore on the world stage to keep things up. We are seeing trade challenges to our Canadian Wheat Board again and again. Whether one likes the board or hates the board, the farmer pays the bill. It comes out of their pooling accounts.
    Every time we turn around the primary producer is getting whacked between the eyes and the government is sitting back and saying it has all kinds of money to backstop producers but they have to make a deal with the devil to get it.
    A lot of folks in western Canada are starting to wake up and say that they will not go that way. They are saying that they cannot be bought. Ontario is saying the same thing. The Ontario minister is saying that farmers in Ontario cannot be bought. Even through an election she is standing solid because her production groups are saying that this is not a good deal and that we should not buy into it. Once a province is locked in it is locked in for five years.
    The minister has said that he will do an annual review. He is missing one little word in that phrase. It should be a mandatory annual review. We have seen annual reviews on a lot of things that Treasury Board has done and the reports get shelved, never get looked at, disappear from the light of day and are never scrutinized.
    Looking for an annual review does not mean a thing. It is a hollow promise unless he puts it in the legislative portion of it that it is mandatory and has to be done. In that way the provinces would have some clout and could come back after the minister.
    Where is the plan? Where is the strategy? We have a processing shortfall in Canada, an infrastructure that is sadly lacking. We need to do something with our culled cows. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 300,000 to 400,000 head of cattle by the end of the year have to go somewhere. A lot of things could be done with those cows but we do not even have the processing to do it because we have let that go.
    This all comes down to one mad cow and 100,000 mad farmers. I think the minister would be much better off to start recognizing these farmers.
    Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I followed the hon. member's comments very carefully.
    My riding of Brampton Centre, like most ridings in the Toronto area, does not have any cattle farmers. However they continually ask us what has happened to supply and demand. I want to tell my colleague about the Chrysler Corporation in my riding. Every time there is an over supply of cars it reduces the price of its vehicles. If someone buys a car, it gives $1,000 rebates, reduces the interest rate or makes the purchase interest free.
    Most consumers in my riding have been asking me why they have not seen a drop in the price of beef for consumers to encourage them to buy Canadian beef when the price of a cow has gone from $500 or $600 to $60 or $70.
    Mr. Gerry Ritz: Mr. Speaker, that really is not hard to explain. He is saying that his people do not understand farming, and so be it, but they have the safest, most secure food supply in the world, bar none. During and even before the crisis our grocery bill is still one of the cheapest in the world.
    There are reasons that we did not see a change in beef and other livestock products over the counter. For one, we still have our NAFTA imports and in southern Ontario, and Toronto especially, a lot of American beef is coming in. It is not western beef. It is not even Ontario beef because it goes south to be processed. We have that inventory in the mix, roughly two months, at all times.
    The problem we had was with the supplementary quotas, the Oceanic beef, Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, the grass fed beef that feeds into the fast food chains. Again, that is in play and there is two months booking ahead of time. We have that kind of inventory in the cycle before we can start to see savings from domestic raised beef.
    On top of that, the packers during the summer cycle were into the hamburger and barbecue cuts, so they could use about 25% of the carcass, that is all. The rest of it is sitting in freezers from coast to coast to coast until we finally get a lot of this offshore stuff going.
    The minister talked about 10 million pounds crossing the American border. That market is usually 880 million pounds a year. Ten million is a drop in the bucket. We are starting to roll but not to the degree that we need to do.
    We do not have Mexico on board yet. It takes some of the lesser cuts, which will relieve some of the strain back to the packers. That is, in a nutshell, why we did not see a lot of change over the counter.
    We also have the argument that if they lowered beef, pork would suffer, lamb would suffer, chicken, turkey and so on would suffer. There are always those arguments. The retail associations that came before the committee did a great job of outlining that. They print their flyers with pricing in them two and three months ahead of time. A lot of those things go into the mix.
    We are seeing some cuts where prices have been lowered, such as hamburger. I know Rick Paskal from Alberta brought six semi-trailer loads of hamburger into Toronto. He was practically giving the stuff away just to prove that the product could be moved.
    The right things were done without a plan from the government.
    Mr. Gary Schellenberger (Perth--Middlesex, PC): Mr. Speaker, yes, I feel that the border is open but only a slight bit. We are talking about 10 million pounds of boxed beef having been shipped to the United States. I calculate that to be, and I am using a Liberal calculation here, about 1,000 head per million, so 10 million is 10,000 head.
    One particular farm in southwestern Ontario, not out west, has 8,000 head of cattle. It did not even look after one farm. If we do not get these doors opened wider I think we may have to go to a domestic market instead of being an export market?
    Mr. Gerry Ritz: Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely right. That is the type of thing we are not seeing at the federal level. We are not seeing any sort of leadership that says that if it is going to be solely a domestic market, here are the changes we need to make to make that happen. Tell us. Show us the light at the end of the tunnel so that we can start making plans accordingly and cull accordingly.
    We have a glut of culled cattle in this country and no place to go with them. We know they are safe. We know it is good beef. We just have no processing in play that will handle that type of a glut.
    The member makes an excellent point. We are starting to get the border open. We have to have live cattle moving. We know that Mexico, Russia and a lot of other countries are looking at us and saying that it is safe and secure. Let us get it moving. Let us get it going.


C-24 Fundraising Bill for Political Parties
June 9, 2022

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join the debate on Bill C-24, the new fundraising bill for political expenses that will again be incurred by the taxpayers of the country. We seem to see a common thread here.
    The concern from the Canadian Alliance standpoint is that this again misses the target. We see a lot of different bills come to this place that, politically, look like they would be a good thing but when we skin that animal out we realize that it does not go anywhere near what needs to be done.
    We have seen a huge problem here. The Prime Minister himself was quoted in the Toronto Star. He said there is a perception that money can unduly influence the political process. He said in the House earlier that there is a perception that corporate and union contributions buy influence.
    It is not the donation to a political party that in and of itself is the problem. The problem is when we see things like the sponsorship fiasco that rocked the government a year ago or when donations follow a political package to a friend of someone.
    The bill in no way addresses the types of political patronage and the abuse of power by mostly frontbench cabinet members. They have the discretionary funding. We have also seen the Prime Minister being a good little MP and making phone calls to folks who are outside of Treasury Board rules and guidelines. We saw the public works minister and one after another as they fell by the wayside rocked by these scandals. We saw the government struggle to come up with more rules. What is the good of having all these extra rules if nobody follows the darn things anyway? We keep rewriting the rule book, but everybody throws it aside and does their own thing.
    Again, we see that in Bill C-24. The relevance of this does not remove the underlying problem of kickbacks, handouts, and donations to the Liberal Party. It is almost proceeds of crime. I am sure that if the RCMP were to dig to the bottom of all of this it would find out the percentage that was required back. It is almost a tithing system the way this was done. Money went to certain parties to perform jobs that were questionable, whether they needed to be done or were done, and then the money was back in Liberal coffers. It is a terrible way to run a government, but that is what is done.
    The bill in no way addresses the patronage and kickback problems or even these huge trust funds that certain MPs have developed over the years. It does not address any of those types of situations.
    There has been a myriad of articles written on this and I know we stand alone as a political party in saying this is not the right thing to do. We have the Secretary of State for Amateur Sport over there yammering away, but he does not understand what is happening outside the Ottawa bubble. We give these guys a bigger job, a car and driver, and they forget what their folks at home are saying. They will pay the price in the next election. We saw it in the byelection just a short time ago.
    Professor Ken Carty is Canada's leading academic analyst to party leadership and electoral process. He said:
 
    Freeing parties from the resources of their members and their supporters will leave them as instruments for professional politicians to mobilize and control voters rather than tools for citizens to direct their public life.
    He has some major concerns and I think he hits it right on the head with that statement. This is all about long term political control. These fellows are very good at that as has been demonstrated in the years that they have controlled the country. They have waited for the long term spin to be to their benefit. They are more than happy to take a little short term pain in order to gain some long term control. We have seen that time and time again.
    There are a lot of special interest groups out there and a lot of them put pressure on MPs, but mostly cabinet ministers, because they have the resources to change any sort of legislation that comes down here. As backbenchers or opposition members, we do not have a lot of influence in what a final bill will look like. We see that time and again. Members from all sides of the House do great work in committees, and when a report finally gets here, where does it go? It goes into a dustbin. It is gone. Nobody ever picks up some of the amendments and they are good amendments. Some come from this side and some actually come from Liberal backbenchers. These are good, solid, and sound amendments that would make legislation better. However, we see them tossed aside because cabinet ministers have a certain idea where they want to go and they will not deviate from that. They will not rewrite a clause or change a thing in those bills. That is a real frustration.
    We have other folks like Errol Mendes, who is a law professor at the University of Ottawa. He is an expert in ethics and human rights. He is troubled by the bill and he is speaking out too.
    Professor Mendes has a lot of education along these lines and has sound logic and good thinking. He is saying that there are violations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms right here in this piece of legislation. We had the House leader rise and say he does not believe any of that, that it is all hooey and it will end up in the courts and the lawyers will sort it out. There we go again: a piece of legislation that will make a lot of work for lawyers and the courts, and we are already overburdened with courts.
    Professor Mendes is the editor-in-chief of Canada's leading constitutional law journal, the National Journal of Constitutional Law. He has written numerous articles about this and has some major concerns, none of which are even close to being addressed by a couple of the amendments that have squeaked through. The problem with those amendments is it makes this package richer, not more accountable. He is saying that this is being ratcheted up.
    As a constitutional lawyer, Professor Mendes has some grave concerns. He said that this “subsidy scheme” violates the charter. That is what he calls it, a subsidy scheme, and that is more or less what it is. It is taxpayers' money being subsidized back into political parties which they may or may not support.
    Professor Mendes says that under section 15 of the charter, which is designed to protect minorities who have traditionally been blocked out of the system, this goes even further and blocks them some more. The bill does not address the 50 seat rule that we have and so on. Anyone trying to start a political party or maintain a smaller political party will have a terrible time under this bill. Again this is part of the long term benefits the Liberals are looking for. The government House leader writes it all away. Part of his quote was that it may keep a lawyer busy, but it is not going to convince him that it is not good. That is a sad situation and a sad commentary from the House leader, who is more intent on ramming the legislation through as part of the existing Prime Minister's legacy than anything that deals with common sense.
    There are a lot of other things that come up in our day to day work here and one I have always questioned is these trade missions, team Canada, led by our all star Prime Minister. In fact, I saw a newspaper headline a while ago, a dated issue that showed the leaders of China and Britain at the time, Bill Clinton from the United States and our illustrious Prime Minister. They are all standing in a row in China. The newspaper article identified the first three, but said when it came to our Prime Minister “man at right unidentified”. That was our Prime Minister, who has been a great friend of China and supports that country every way he can. The paper did not even know who he was and he was there on a trade mission.
    There are a lot of questions about that. In fact, when we study it, with the exception of China, for every other country to which we have had a team Canada trade mission, our trade has gone down, not up. And for the one country that we do the majority of our trade with, we did not send trade delegations there and our trade went up. So we have to question the validity of some of these trade delegations.
    In the study that was done, the findings were that one-third of the businesses on trade missions donated to the Liberals. The author raises his eyebrows and says it was either a hand picked delegation or they were converted on the road to Damascus and started to make donations to the Liberal Party after they were included in one of these trade delegations. There is some huge lobbying that can go on there and there can be contributions back to a governing party outside of anything this law covers. There are grants and contributions and all sorts of good things that go on. It is a huge double standard.
    Another thing that speaks to this is that the government now will review the freebie ticket policy. We had the Ottawa Senators go another step up toward their goal of the Stanley Cup this year. Unfortunately the team did not make it, but they did play well, and lot of folks from this House got free tickets. That does not show up on anyone's list because it is under a certain value and so on, but that is preferential treatment. The Prime Minister can even golf with Tiger Woods and that is supposedly worth $50,000. The Prime Minister's lapdog, the ethics counsellor, said it was just a great thing that the Prime Minister was able to talk to Tiger about American and Canadian relations, but the Prime Minister will not even talk to the president, so I do not think he will get very far through the back door with a golfer like Tiger Woods. In fact, Tiger Woods' comment was that the Prime Minister does some creative accounting when he is keeping his own score.
    There are these tickets that slip under the wire and there are these trade missions that slip under the wire, and the Bill C-24 legislation is a terrible way to try to slam the door on this. It does not address the fundamental problem. It is the back door deals we have a concern with, not this.
There is talk from the other side that we on this side will take the money and be hypocrites, but this is called the law of the land. We have no choice once it is in legislation like this, and as much as we detest it we are going to have to live with it. All the extra bookkeeping that is going to be required for our constituency associations and all of that is going to be a terrible workload. A lot of people will throw up their hands. There will less people voting in the next election because they are just walking away from this type of legislation.


An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms Act
May 6, 2022

    The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-10, an act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and firearms) and the Firearms Act, and of the amendment, and of the amendment to the amendment.
    Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, again we are having some interesting debate here on the firearms legislation. It just keeps coming back to haunt the government and rightly so, because the government is now saying that Bill C-10 in this form is the panacea. It does not matter how it brings it back in here, either in through the Senate, or through the back door or the front door: the government says this is going to make everything better.
    As for the $1 billion the Auditor General found, whether we say it is a full billion or only $680 million, she did not have time to go to the well again and get all the numbers because she had to report to Parliament on a given day. She got up to $680 million and said they knew it would be a lot worse than that, that they knew it would be $1 billion within a year.
    Another little factor has come to light, too, and perhaps Mr. Speaker will correct me if I am wrong, but the dollars that went to Quebec to implement its own registry are not reported in the same way. Quebec does its own thing in a lot of instances and this is one of them. The cash transfers that are done in the political envelope to that province are not reported in the same way on this bill. The numbers could actually be higher yet. That may bear some looking at.
    Bill C-10 is supposed to be the panacea. It is supposed to make everything better. The government claims it will streamline things and pick up on the errors and omissions. The government is saying this will all be cleaned up under this one bill. That is a big job.
    We have heard a lot of arguments from Liberals on the other side today trying to justify what has been done, how it has been done, and how they can go home and sell it to their folks. They are claiming that it is all about public safety and then they cancel the training. If this is about public safety, those types of things have to be done.
    Canadians are a common sense people. We just do the right things. We do not have to be told again and again. We do not need legislation telling us to store our firearms safely. We do that as a matter of course because it is common sense to handle firearms safely. These guys seem to think they need more rules and regulations.
    Here is what amazes me. We have seen what happened with the SARS outbreak in the last little while, but Bill C-68 created this monster today. As a result of the over-production of that bill, the overreaction to a situation that happened in Montreal where they politicized the heck out of it, the government came out with Bill C-68. But then we had a SARS outbreak and the government would not do a thing; it procrastinated to the point where it got totally out of hand. So we have two ends of the spectrum here. The government overreacted with Bill C-68 and under-reacted with the SARS crisis. We have to try to justify one to the other and I do not think the Liberals can do that; they are found lacking at both ends.
    The Liberals have talked about streamlining this registry and saving $3 million a month. They say they are going to save that but they still will not tell us what the cost is. They are saving $3 million of what? Is it $100 million a year or $200 million a year? It is going to be a five year cycle now, so for anybody who is in the system, when their five years are up they will not know what it is going to cost them to re-register the guns they have already registered for $10 or whatever today; maybe the fee was waived. They do not know what it is going to cost, so maybe we will start to recoup all of that money, but it will be solely on the backs of firearms owners. Those owners who have more than one firearm could be hit hard. We do not know, but we do not trust these guys.
    The member for Mississauga South talked earlier about this huge 90% error and omission rate. He was talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in those errors and omissions. No one from outside the CFC has had a look at the errors and omissions other than those cards, the PALs, the POLs and the little registration cards themselves that my guys are getting back. The errors and omissions I have seen are committed not by the gun owner or the gun but by the CFC.
    One fellow I know received 12 cards back because he registered 12 long guns, twenty-twos, shotguns and rifles. Every one of those cards was identical. Every card indicated “unknown” under barrel length. The serial number was unknown. The make of gun was unknown. The action was unknown. He did not send in the card like that. It would not have been entered like that. The officials would have gone back to him right away. I have seen PALs with somebody's picture and somebody else's name on them. Nobody sent them in that way.
    So as for the errors and omissions, the member for Mississauga South said it was those terrible gun owners who subverted the government. He said it was a protest. What a load of hogwash. It did not happen that way at all. Yes, there were people who waited until the bitter end. People do that every year with Revenue Canada; I have been one of them. We do not want to send in that money because we do not think we are getting any bang for our buck. The member said these serious errors and omissions are all because of gun owners. That is hogwash. That will not fly at all. As for the whole idea that this will streamline things and save money, that there will be more done on the Internet, as members well know, the e-mails we all receive and the work that is done on the Internet now is prone to error. People do have to type it in. The best way to say it is garbage in, garbage out. The gun control registry system is still going to be prone and susceptible to errors. It is bound to happen when we are talking about makes of firearms and serial numbers of firearms. A lot of them have no serial number. This has to be entered; the system has to come to grips with this. This is where the problem started and the bill will in no way ease any of those facts or figures. It will continue being a huge, dark money loss.
    There is another side of the argument. My colleague from Yorkton—Melville has done a tremendous job on this file. He has been light years ahead of everybody on this one and it turns out that he was right in a lot of his submissions. He also talks about how enforcing the firearms bill could be a huge black hole. Let us look at convictions and tracking people down and so on; it would not be hard to spend another billion dollars enforcing it, simply against people who had no intention of going against the law but who, because of the way this thing is written, implemented and enforced, become criminals.
    There are a lot of us who find ourselves in that situation. There were things we thought we had registered, but now it turns out the government has lost them. So now we are criminals and we have to try to fight our way out of that bureaucratic malaise there.
    I have had some discussions with some CFC officials on one piece that I own. When I explained everything that was wrong with the way the registration did not carry through, the guy said I had two choices. He said I could weld it shut and keep it or I could turn it in. Those were my two choices.
    I said that neither one of them was acceptable to me. I talked to the RCMP. The officer said they could not even take it in because it is considered prohibited at this point. He said, “Sir, maybe the best thing I could do is say that we never had these discussions”. He was ready to sweep it under the rug. That is public safety: just ignore it and it will go away.
    The bill started out as a combination of a cruelty to animals bill and some changes to the Firearms Act and what it came back as is cruelty to firearms owners. That is really where we are at this point.
    Mr. Speaker, in your riding you know there are hunters up there. I have been through your riding and it is a beautiful piece of Canada, beautiful country, and there are a lot of hunters and fishermen and so on. You probably enjoy that yourself, Mr. Speaker, so I know you are going to have some problems with this in trying to justify where this has gone.
    If the government were really and truly concerned about public safety and felt that this was the right way to go, why have we had six amnesty periods since 1998? Why is it taking that long to implement the bill? We have seen bills come to the House and slam-bam they are gone.
    The majority government brings in a bill that it wants. It has what is called a majority. It has control of the schedule and the planning. It decides what is up on a given day and how long it will stay up. It can push through the bill, but with this we have seen them test the waters and pull back, test the waters and pull back, which has a lot more to do with backbench solidarity over there. We have seen some comments from a lot of these folks over there who say, “Oh, this is terrible. We should not vote in the $59 million that they wanted at the end of the year. We should not”. But they all stood up today and invoked closure. A Liberal is a Liberal. They just cannot help themselves. They have to be there when their government comes knocking and calling.
    There is another huge thing. The government talks about streamlining and being more cost effective, yet the Liberals are adding millions more people and firearms to this list with Bill C-10, such as all the pellet guns and anything with certain muzzle velocities and so on. A lot of them have never been tested for a decision on what they are; a lot of them have been modified and so on.
    We have a lot of kids who are 8, 10 or 12 years old, especially out west, who use pellet guns to control varmints around the farmyard. These kids are not criminals. They cannot vote. They are not old enough to vote out this piece of junk, but they are criminals because their pellet guns are over the muzzle velocity that some Liberal member decided on. How ridiculous. There are millions of kids out there with pellet guns. They are not hurting anyone. They are plinking sparrows and crows and so on. For all we know, maybe they are helping us control the West Nile virus every time they shoot a crow.
    There is also another big problem. Some of the members on the other side have said that public support is at 74%, that the public just loves the bill, but that is until people find out what it costs. If those polls are really accurate, can anyone explain to me and the people of my riding why eight provinces and three territories are dead set against this? Five provinces and three territories will not administer it. They will take no part in it. If the polling numbers are accurate, why are the provinces not on side? They are the same people, the same constituents. It does not make any sense to me at all.
    Then there are the police chiefs. Some of them have been politicized. We have certainly seen that in the way they handle it, but a lot of them are now saying to their police forces, “Please do not arrest the guy because we are not going to do the paperwork. We cannot make it stick. We have an unenforceable law. Even though the Supreme Court loved it, we cannot implement this on the ground”.
Whether we streamline this through Bill C-10 or ignore it for another five years and try to bring it back, nothing will change here until we change the government on the other side.
    Mr. Geoff Regan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the comments of my hon. colleague. He mentioned polls. I think numerous polls have shown that the Canadian public support the gun registry.
    If his party says that it supports gun control but not the registry, how does he square that with the fact that his party has always talked about following the popular will of the public, doing what their constituents say and following their wishes, when they know that poll after poll says the same thing, and that as recently as January of this year an Environics poll said that the majority of Canadians, 74%, support the program and its elements, including licensing and registration? How does he square that circle?
    Mr. Gerry Ritz: Mr. Speaker, that is not hard to do. I have seen some of the survey questions. I would have to say yes to some of the questions and be part of that 74% because that same survey talks about safe handling, safe storage, training and screening. I have no problem with any of that. None of us do. That was all done before under the old FAC process that we had for 15 or 20 years before the Liberals twisted it around into this particular procedure.
    The government has claimed that the Firearms Act under Bill C-68 would have more effective screening, and the member for Mississauga said that same thing today. He went on about percentages of rejections, that 9,000 people have been denied a firearm.
    The screening under the old FAC was twice as stringent. More people were denied a licence at the FAC process from 25 years ago than are rejected under the Bill C-68 screening that we see now. We had a good system in place. It was working. Why did we have to change it? Nobody knows. It became a political football.
    Let us look at what happened when this type of registration was introduced around the world. Great Britain banned all private ownership of handguns in 1997. Violent crime rose 10% the next year and then doubled up to 2000 again. In Australia, stringent new gun control laws were introduced again in 1997. Homicides involving firearms have doubled and armed robberies have increased 166%. New Zealand had it in 1983 and killed it. The police over there declared that the policy was a complete failure.
    It has been tried in jurisdictions all around the word and has proven to be an utterly disastrous situation. Yet those guys go merrily down the road, saying stats this, numbers that, but they pervert them and twist them to make their point. It is not factual. It is not accurate. It is just off the map and they’re playing politics with the situation.  

Parliament of Canada Act – Ethics  
May 2, 2022

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Madam Speaker, what we debate here briefly today and what the committee will study indepth is more Liberal smoke and mirrors, touchy-feely stuff that is supposed to make some public relations spin very positive out there and it is not going to happen.
    We have studied this proposed legislation very carefully and it is more Liberal litter scattered down a very long and twisted trail of broken promises, right back to the first red book in 1993.
    The problem seems to be that the Liberals have no grasp of the meaning of the word ethics or any understanding of what constitutes ethical behaviour, bottom basic stuff in politics. If they knew the meaning of the word ethics or practised ethical behaviour, there would be no GST today and there would not have been $1 billion lost in the HRDC boondoggle or another $1 billion flushed down the gun registry.
    If Liberals had a grasp of what ethics means to ethical people, there would not be a long page filled with the names of disgraced cabinet ministers who had to be fired for unethical behaviour and there would be no new ambassador to Denmark who was sent into hiding in that country.
    We know the Liberals hate to be reminded of all their scandalous betrayals of Canadians' trust. We know there are even some over there who profess to be embarrassed by the antics of their frontbench colleagues. However professing embarrassment and resigning in disgust are two different matters. The former is smoke and mirrors. The latter is what Canadians expect of hon. members, especially frontbench government members.
    When the Liberals in the 1993 election made the promise of an ethics commissioner, Canadians took that to mean Parliament would have an independent overseer of the ethics of members of Parliament, including those frontbench cabinet ministers. What they got was a dependent business counsellor answerable only to the Prime Minister and serving at the pleasure of that same Prime Minister. If Canadians who care about the ethical behaviour of members of Parliament, including the Prime Minister and his cabinet, were disappointed, we on this side can certainly understand why.
    The bill is part of the Prime Minister's so-called ethics initiative first announced a year ago, right in the middle of a lot of his trials and tribulations. As is the case so often with Liberals, the right words are used but in such a way as to confuse Canadians and lull them into believing that the Liberals have finally seen the light; a false sense of security.
    There will be no “independent ethics commissioner” because the Prime Minister will make the appointment. As many Liberal backbenchers will attest, this Prime Minister might consult but he does not listen and does not take advice, nor does he ever change his mind.
    We know when the Prime Minister's choice for another lapdog ethics consultant is announced, no matter what other party leaders say, the whip will be cracked and the majority Liberal government will vote in favour of the Prime Minister's chosen candidate. This is the Liberal track record and that is how the Liberals operate.
    Surely if the promise of last year and the promise of 1993 are to be honoured, the Liberals would grant the House the authority to seek out and nominate a truly independent ethics commissioner. The ethics commissioner would report to the House as a whole either through a select committee or an appropriate standing committee. That would remove the influence of the Prime Minister and his office.
    We know that British Columbia has the best process for selecting an ethics commissioner and cannot understand why the Liberals would not use the same process. They profess that they are picking this up from the provinces, but we do not see that mirrored in what they are proposing.
    In that ethically advanced legislature members are directly involved in the selection process. An all party committee makes the selection and the recommendation to the premier. The premier, in turn, must obtain a two-thirds confirming vote in the assembly to make the appointment. Alberta is also an ethically advanced province, except the two-thirds majority is not a requirement there.
    It should be noted that in British Columbia everyone knows that any person considering accepting the ethics commissioner position would not likely accept the appointment with a mere two-thirds vote of confidence. Here in this House members will have no real involvement in seeking out an appointment of that ethics commissioner. In the end the will of the Prime Minister and the government majority will prevail.
    One has to wonder if an ethical person would accept such an appointment by the Prime Minister if all parties in opposition voted against that particular appointment. It really puts that person between a rock and a hard place. The bill, without amendment, does not meet the concerns of the standing committee because it does not provide for a meaningful role or involvement of all of the members in the selection process.
    As it stands, the bill allows the ethics commissioner to wear two hats. He or she will continue to serve as a confidential adviser to the Prime Minister on the conduct of cabinet ministers. It would probably be more accurate to call this individual an ethics consultant. Much like the person holding the position now, the new candidate could very well wind up serving as a consultant to the member for LaSalle—Émard.
If Canada Steamship Lines dumps some bunker oil in the Canadian harbour, will it be the responsibility of the newly appointed ethics consultant to call the member for LaSalle—Émard with a heads-up to a potentially embarrassing business problem?
    Let me reiterate. The method of recruitment and appointment of a truly independent ethics commissioner is the key to a guarantee of dependence. This is important because unlike other officers of Parliament, the ethics commissioner reports on the conduct of members, not the government.
    Total faith in the total independence of the commissioner is critically important if Canadians are to truly believe that their Parliament takes the matter of ethical behaviour seriously. Canadians will have the right to be disappointed and cynical if Parliament's ethics watchdog turns out to be just another Liberal lapdog.
    Members should also be wary of the fact that it is not clear in the bill that a minister of the crown or state can be held accountable under the same rules that apply to ordinary members of Parliament. That is a double standard. There is the possibility of two sets of standards, which is not surprising considering this is coming from the Liberals. That party is, after all, widely known as the party of double standards, the party that says, “Don't ever do as we do, just do as we say”.
    The possibility of two sets of standards is assumed but not specific. The bill should be amended to make it specific. It is simply not safe to assume anything when Liberals hold a majority in Canada's Parliament.
    Canadians made an assumption in 1993 when they hard the Liberals promise to scrap, kill and abolish the GST. They assumed the Liberals were telling the truth at that time.
    They made an assumption when the member for LaSalle—Émard said that registering guns would only cost a couple of million dollars. They assumed he was a straight shooter and telling the truth.
    They made another assumption when the Liberals promised them that the only highest ethical behaviour of cabinet ministers would be accepted in the Liberal government. Does the name Alfonso Gagliano ring any bells? How about that long list of ethically challenged cabinet ministers perched off like crows to the right and left of the frontbench ministers?
    It is unwise, dangerous and always costly to assume the Liberals mean what they say and will do what they had promised.
    Parliament and the committee should be prepared to approach this bill with healthy cynicism. History shows us again and again that if we accept what Liberals say at face value, we are in for a major disappointment.
    If they promise a program will not cost much, the best advice is to put our money in a vault, lock it and throw any the key. Then we should bury the vault 20 feet underground and put tons of cement on the surface. They will still get our money, it will just simply take them a little longer to find it.
    What I say makes Liberals wince. I understand that our grannies always told us the truth hurts.
    In conclusion, the bill is a disappointment. It is a cynical attempt to use smoke and mirrors to convince Canadians that the Liberals finally looked up and understood the definition of ethics. They did not because why waste time on such trivia, they decided.
    Instead, they give us a bill that is so full of holes it makes a joke of the Liberals promises of independent ethics commissioners from 10 years ago. It does not deserve support as much as it deserves critical study and thoughtful amendments. Hopefully those will happen at committee.

 
Child Protection  
March 31, 2022

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak today to Bill C-20. The title of the bill, the child protection act, does not really cover what is in the bill. The speakers before me have pointed out the flaws in the bill.
    There has been a huge outcry in my riding over these situations that have occurred that have brought about the genesis of the bill, Bill C-20, child protection. With the advent of the Internet and the world becoming a smaller place we are starting to see more and more abuses.
    The concerns that my constituents have is that they are seeing more and more that Canada is becoming a safe haven for the perverts of the world because we will not stand up and protect our children.
    There has been this huge public outcry that we need to go further, faster and really put something on the books that protects our kids. This bill does not do that. Unfortunately there are a few things missing.
    The government and other governments before it always have these code words that such and such is a priority for the government. We have heard that time and time again.
    We only have to go back to 1989 and the Conservative government at the time when child poverty was a priority for the government. It went on and it has been a priority for the Liberal government as well. Guess what? It is worse, not better.
    Whenever we hear these code words that it is a priority, citizens beware. Somewhere in there someone will get left out which is what we are seeing in the bill.
    There is an accompanying bill that we will be debating later this afternoon I am sure, Bill C-23, the sex offender registry. We see the same underlying so-called priority and direction of the government not really covering the fatal flaws that we have in our legislation now. The biggest concern with Bill C-23 is that it is not retroactive. It will not go back and address the folks who have committed these offences, are habitual criminals and who will reoffend. It does not go back and put them on the list because of privacy and constitutional challenges which is what the Solicitor Generals tells us he is concerned with. However that flies in the face of protecting someone.
    Canadian parents are concerned. They have read the articles on Canada becoming a safe haven. They have seen the court cases that have not been heard, or have been adjourned, or have been thrown out or whatever. Because of the way our laws are written they will not protect our kids. The bill seeks to address some of those missing elements but it does not.
    We still have a version of the outrageous argument that there is artistic merit somehow in child pornography. The Liberals have recognized that is not the right way to write that down so they changed it and put in some fuzzy words. Now they call it public good. How can it be for the public good when we label it as pornography and it involves kids?
    We have heard arguments from some members of the House. My counterpart, the member for Palliser, stood up and said that there was no victim here. Well, there certainly is. The last speaker, the member for Cumberland--Colchester, made the point, and I agree with him, that there was long-lasting psychological damage. Certainly there is a victim in a sense.
    Artistic merit, public good or whatever we want to call it, leaves a huge loophole for these worldwide offenders to come to Canada and say they are artists. Now the member for Dartmouth wants to give them a tax credit. That is how ludicrous some of the arguments are on this example.
    We see these types of offenders, the lowest of the lowest, being given community arrest. They are put back into the very community where the crime happened and where the victim lives. There is an instance of that right now in North Battleford. A fellow named Gladue has just been given a conditional release and he is out in the community. The police are not supposed to say anything because of his privacy but, thank God, they have come forward and told the people about the problem. They put forward the usual rules, that he cannot go near a park or talk to kids, but how do we enforce that when he is dropped back into a community where kids live on every block and are on every corner? They walk past the buildings. How do we enforce those types of things? It is an anomaly that my constituents cannot get their minds around. We release this guy because statutory release says that we have to do it.
    He has taken no psychological analysis or any programs while incarcerated that say it is safe to release him but they are saying no. His chances of repeat offending are like 80% to 90%. He is a time bomb waiting to go off but he is out in my community. At least the police have acknowledged that he is there and have told people to watch out for him, and rightly so.
 The other loophole in the bill is that we do not see the age of consent moved from 14 years old. Canadians have said that their kids up to age 16 receive a government cheque called a child tax credit. Under the tax system children up to the age of 16 receive a tax credit but at 14 they can have sex? It just flies in the face of any rational thinking that the government would not move that age to 16, and it makes no attempt in the bill to do that.
    I remember one day in question period that exact question was put forward by my colleague from Provencher, the former attorney general of Manitoba. The parliamentary secretary stood and said that the government could not make that move because there were cultural groups in Canada that required that age. Can anyone believe that; cultural groups in Canada that insist that 14 remain the age of consent? That is ridiculous. This is Canada. We have our own rules and regulations. We do not need a cultural group dictating that the age of consent stay at 14. It is absolutely ridiculous. It is not in here.
    I know some amendments will be brought forward by my colleagues from Provencher and from Crowfoot, our justice critic, to this very bill. We know the chances of those amendments getting through are slim to none but we have to try. People are requesting it.
    The police associations were here last week for the lobby day on the Hill. The government made a big hue and cry about how the CPA was all in favour of Bill C-68, the gun registry, and that we should spend the money because it was a useful tool. However it forgot to tell us that on that very same day the CPA said that there was not enough money for child pornography and that it needed more cash and more police officers on the line to fight it.
    The criminals who perpetrate this type of thing have gone on the Internet, they have gone global, and our police officers have not been given the resources to fight it. The Liberals forgot to mention that little flaw in their thinking the other day.
    It is fine to support Bill C-68. Everybody is welcome to do that in a democracy. However there are two officers in Toronto who have been forced to sit and watch this stuff through their whole shift to prove there is criminal intent here. How perverse is that? They have a psychiatric review themselves after six months but there is no psychiatric review for the people they arrest for this thing. It is craziness. We do a psychoanalysis on the policemen but not on the bad guys. We just shake our heads at how these type of things get in here. Court cases are tossed out. They are unenforceable.
    The bill would increase the maximum sentence. It sounds great that the maximum sentence for doing something will be increased. Whether we use that or not has no bearing on the fact. It is the minimum sentence that needs to be increased. If the minimum sentence is 4 years now, let us make it 10 years. It does not matter if we make the maximum sentence 20 years because nobody qualifies for the maximum anyway. There are weasel words right in the bill that say it is protecting our kids by increasing the maximum sentence. It is the minimum that we need to increase, not the maximum. This really fails any kind of a test. There are so many things that are required that are just basic.
    What about conditional sentences and the idea of community arrest? Prison time is called for so criminals can get the counselling and the psychiatric care they need if and when they ever do get released.
    We have a lot of concerns with the bill. There is no truth in sentencing when we see the maximum increased, not the minimum. Nobody really tells us that the victims have no rights at all, that the criminals have all the rights. He can be statutorily released into the same community in which he committed the crime. These poor kids who are victims of this are stuck living with this person right in their midst.
    This whole idea of minimum sentences not being increased and psychological assessments and analyses not being done on these perverted people in our society just flies in the face of anything called child protection. There is no possible way that my colleagues and I can support a bill like this. I know the committee worked very hard on this. It heard from a lot of community groups and lot of parents who said that these things needed to be in the bill. However we have seen no movement by the government to enforce tougher and harder penalties on these criminals.
    We are not able to support the legislation simply because the government will not broaden out the scope of who will be covered, how they will covered and why they will be covered, and stop this whole influx of the global perverts who come to Canada because it is a free ride. That is not acceptable.


Sex Offender Registry
March 31, 2022

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today. I spoke earlier on Bill C-20, the child protection bill, and I talked about a parallel bill that would come in later today. Bill C-23 is that bill.
    Bill C-23 would put in place the national sex offender registry. The national sex offender registry has been called on for a long time in the country. There have been several different stabs at it. However it has never really happened. I guess the genesis of this came out of a Canadian Alliance supply day motion put forward by my good friend, my colleague from Langley—Abbotsford. On March 13, 2001, over two years ago now, the House of Commons voted in favour of that motion. The motion, which was very simple, read:
 
    That the government establish a national sex offender registry by January 1, 2002.
    We have missed it by a year and some. It did not happen. The Liberals ignored it. At their own peril, they walked away from it, yet there was a groundswell of petitions and support. People from our ridings across the country questioning what had happened to it. They asked where had it gone because they had not seen it this place. Finally the Liberals were pushed to act, and we have Bill C-23. Unfortunately, as many of my colleagues have pointed out, it is a half measure. There are some terrible flaws in this legislation as well.
    A lot of it started back in 1988 when an 11 year old boy was murdered by a convicted pedophile who was out on statutory release, another wonderful thing that needs to be changed. The Liberals at that time started thinking about a national sex offender registry. That was 15 years ago. There have been a lot of problems and a lot of convicted felons since that time. A lot of folks who have been released on statutory release back into the very communities have reoffended and gone back to prison.
    It is timely that we are finally getting around to this legislation. However there is a huge flaw. It is not retroactive. As my colleague from Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar pointed out, it starts off just like that, a white, blank sheet of paper. There is nothing on it.
    How can that be when our prisons have these types of people incarcerated now? They are being let out. I had one on the streets of my riding a week or two ago. I have talked about this a couple of times in the House but it bears repeating. A fellow who is a multiple convicted felon, been away many times, keeps getting out and doing the same dastardly deeds. His victims are young girls ranging in age from 11 to a one and a half year old. How bad is that? Yet his name will not show up on that registry. He is a multiple convicted child predator.
    There is a huge hole in this type of a document. That alone has called for amendments to make it retroactive and the government will not go there. There have been questions in the House to the Solicitor General and the Minister of Justice and they say that they cannot make it retroactive because of privacy concerns.
    How much privacy do the victims have? They wake up screaming at night. These nightmares will continue on for their life. Yet the legislation, which is supposedly there to protect them and to help them get past this, is not retroactive. It does not take that burden away from them. It keeps them reliving those problems every time this clown is released back into society to reoffend.
    Other colleagues have touched on the rate of recidivism. It is huge and unbelievable. These people do not even take any kind of counselling while they are incarcerated. They can say that they do not need it and walk away. They cannot be forced to take counselling. Their constitutional rights supercede the victims and the nightmare they continue to leave. It is absolutely upside down and backwards here.
    The government says that it cannot make it retroactive because of privacy concerns and it will be constitutionally challenged. My good colleague from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough who used to be a public prosecutor in Nova Scotia said that any new law would be challenged. They always are to test how strong it is.
    Our courts need to have the backbone, and maybe we need to put it there from the House of Commons. It is the top court on the law. Maybe we need to inject that backbone into our judges right from here, with the toe of our boot if need be, and say, “ Here is the crime and this is the time that they need to do”. Get on with it.”
    We see maximum sentences being extended and enlarged. However maximum does not mean anything. It is the minimum time that they serve that counts. It does not matter that the maximum is doubled, or tripled or maybe it is 16 life sentences. Nobody serves those sentences. They go to the minimum term. They get statutory release. They are up for parole at two-thirds of their time and all sorts of things. There is a huge amount of work that needs to be done on our whole justice department. This retroactivity totally negates the whole purpose of the bill.
The government will not implement retroactivity on the sex offender registry. It will not implement retroactivity on the DNA database. It will not go and get DNA from a lot of these bad guys because of their constitutional rights and the privacy laws. Then it implements something like Bill C-68, a firearms registry, which has forms that really invade my privacy. It set up a database that is a shopping list for every other criminal in the world who wants to find out what I have and where to come and get it, and my constitutional rights are challenged.
    A good friend of mine, Dr. Ted Morton, has done an indepth study on the constitutionality of Bill C-68. He said that the government did not have a leg to stand on in regard to that bill, and he has listed it out. This fellow is a constitutional lawyer. He knows about what he is talking. That really starts to ring true when we see the people who have tried to become arrested under Bill C-68 and the government will not charge them because it knows it will get thrown out of court and totally destroy the whole premise of this public safety Bill C-68 hides behind.
    We see those type of things implemented in here.
    Even if a sex offender is put on the brand new list, there is another loophole. Through the courts, he can apply to not have his name listed if he feels that it would be detrimental to his health and safety. How absolutely ridiculous is that? Nobody in any court of law or at any kitchen table would ever agree with the premise that a criminal, a convicted felon, can apply to not have his name on there because it is injurious to his own privacy and safety. That is a loophole that nobody can believe.
    Provinces have started to develop these registries. They have had to do it ad hoc because the federal government will not come forward with the proper legislation and funding to help them out. We can have pedophiles listed in Ontario who move to Saskatchewan and we lose them because there is not that continuity. This would address that if it were done properly, but we do not see that here. The big problem is the funding.
    As I mentioned in a question to my colleague, the Canadian Police Association was here on Hill the last week and it probably lobbied him like it did everybody else. Its stand supposedly is pro Bill C-68. Maybe at the top end it. However ordinary folks who came to see me said that it was not a good thing. They want to see a DNA database. They want to see a sex offender registry that is retroactive. The government tends to not mention the CPA stand on those issues but it will give the CPA credit for being in favour of Bill C-68, at the upper end.
    There are a lot of things wrong with this. The biggest issue that we take umbrage with is the retroactivity. To that end, I would like to propose a motion. I move:
 
    That the motion be amended by replacing all the words after the word “that” with
 
 
“this House declines to give second reading to Bill C-23, an act respecting the registration of information relating to sex offenders, to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other acts, since the bill fails to require retroactive registration of sex offenders who have a 40% recidivism rate in order to avoid needing another offence before a repeat sex offender is added to the registry”.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair): Debate is on the amendment.
    Mr. Jay Hill (Prince George—Peace River, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to listen to my colleague from Saskatchewan lay out a representation of the concerns of his constituents with Bill C-23. I am struck with the fact that it does not seem to matter in what area of criminal law the Liberal government finally is pushed to react, it invariably does a half-assed job of bringing forward the legislation. Bill C-20, which it brought forward to deal with the issue of child pornography, is very similar to Bill C-23. It tries to do half or less of the job.
    I cannot imagine the Liberals would bring forward legislation that would not make it retroactive to ensure that existing sex offenders would be included on the registry. Good grief, what good will the registry be if all the hundreds of sex offenders, who are currently incarcerated, will not be on the registry? It just boggles the mind.
    I know in conversations that I have had with constituents from one end of Prince George—Peace River to the other, they are appalled that the Liberals take years, not weeks, not months, to react to the pleas of Canadian citizens to protect our children, the most vulnerable people in our society, and then they bring forward legislation that will not do half the job.
    I represent a huge rural riding which covers over 200,000 square kilometres with about 10 communities, from Prince George in the south to Fort Nelson in the far north, getting up close to Yukon, and I have heard it in every community big and small. Is my colleague from Saskatchewan hearing similar concern being expressed by constituents in his riding?
 Mr. Gerry Ritz: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Prince George—Peace River for his summation and his great question.
    He is absolutely right. This is one of the issues that people rally around. I know his e-mails have lit up. I know the petitions alone, which have been presented in this place, should convince the folks on the other side that this legislation does not go half far enough. There are too many loopholes built into it. It is bound to fail from the way it is done.
    I know my colleague's riding and mine are very similar. We have been back and forth in each other's ridings speaking. What is lacking in this legislation is common sense. Our folks out there can see through this and say that it is a smokescreen. It is never going to hold up. We are designing laws for lawyers and constitutional challenges. It does not help victims in the least. As I said, there is no common sense.
    Even if the registry does get up and running, there may never be a name placed on it. There is no retroactivity and there is no guarantee that all sex offenders will not apply for the loophole that says that it will be harmful for them to be on the list and win that argument, or tie it up in court for so long that people finally throw up their hands and decide this is not the way to go. It will never work.
    It has been over two years since our colleague brought forward the motion and counting, and we still do not have anything on the books. Even when we do get this one, it in no way resembles what that motion intended to do. We are getting a half measure.
    Now the government is in a hurry. It has to win the political spin war out there that somehow public safety is paramount but people see through this type of legislation. They know this will in no way address any type of public safety.
    Mr. Werner Schmidt (Kelowna, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the comments that my colleague made with regard to the registry. If this was some sort of hypothetical, alleged infringement of the law that these individuals had perpetrated, that would be one thing. However we have people who have been convicted of a sexual offence. We know what kind of people they are.
    I remember so clearly that one of my colleagues in the Rotary Club came to me one day. He told me that he and his wife knew there was a sex offender in their community who had been convicted. They wanted to know why they could not know where that person was. It is absolutely ridiculous that we should have some kind of a provision that makes it impossible for a young mother and her husband, the father, to protect their children.
    Is that not what this is all about?
    Mr. Gerry Ritz: Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Kelowna is absolutely right. That is what this should be all about. If we were working in this place to that end, I would not feel as frustrated as I do now. I know my colleague from Langley—Abbotsford has torn his hair out literally trying to come to grips with not being able to put this type of safe legislation out there on the streets for people.
    An hon. member: Is that what is happening to you too?
    Mr. Gerry Ritz: It is happening to me, too. This place is frustrating at times. Mr. Speaker, I know you wring your hands too.
    We do not see the end result matching anywhere near the need that was driving it from the end.
    My colleague is absolutely right. People see right through this as they look at their daily lives and say, “There is no safety here. There are too many loopholes. The bad guys still get away with things. Are their rights taking precedence over ours?” Yes they are and it is very unfortunate.

  
Election Financing, C-24
February 17, 2022

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords—Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance): Mr. Speaker, this is another interesting debate today. It is a bit of a change of pace. Everybody came rushing back to this place this morning all intent on a closure motion that was to have been brought down on Bill C-10, the bill coming back from the Senate on firearms and cruelty to animals.
    The government threw us a curve and pulled that one off because it was having trouble lining up the backbenchers on that side, not just the opposition but its own backbenchers, who were saying that they would not support that. It is a bit of an unprecedented thing when we see a closure motion rescinded. It was a bittersweet victory that brought us to Bill C-24 today, the election financing bill.
    I watched with some interest as the government House leader threw the curveball, the knuckleball, the Nerfball, the spitball, or whatever it was today, that got us over to this bill. Then he stood up and did a tirade, reminiscent of the old rat pack, of how it was everybody's fault but his. The last time I checked he is the leader of the government that has a majority. He controls the agenda totally and completely. It is at his beck and call, and the cabinet that he serves.
    How in any way could it possibly be the opposition shanghaiing this place or withholding this or doing that? How could that possibly be? Yet he stood there sanctimonious as anyone could believe, as hypocritical as anyone could believe--and I see you chuckling, Mr. Speaker. You saw the same act I did.
    It would have been a great act to have at a circus. He would have had people coming in and paying money to see that. Without a tear in his eye he was able to do that; without a smile on his face. I guess that is a great attribute that he has after all these years in this place. But it is certainly nothing to do with the opposition.
    This particular bill, whether it gets shanghaied or not, has more to do with what backbench members do or not do over on that side and the leadership contests, and problems that they have at this time.
    Having said that, I look at the bill and think, here we go again. Regarding the last number of bills that I have spoken to in this place, the direction might be right but the focus is off, this might be right but this is missing, and there are all these loopholes. I see that again in Bill C-24. I see the public disengaged. There is a huge disconnect now between what government says and does in this place, and what the taxpayers who are paying the bills and for whom we are doing this are actually asking for.
    We are asking taxpayers to totally fund the political system in this country. They do to a great extent now, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40% to 50% with tax rebates and different things that go on. However, we are looking to take that to an unprecedented level with this bill. If taxpayers had a disconnected appetite for politics before, they certainly will have a larger disconnect once they start to analyze what the bill is all about.
    This is all about public money, taxpayers' money, paying for the political habits of parties. We are seeing things in the bill that are not covered under allowable expenses at this point. I wish to mention one thing that is inappropriate.
    Candidates who ran in an election, and I will use my riding as an example from the 2000 election, who received 15% of the popular vote received their deposit back. It was basically called that. A candidate received half of the allowable expenses as a rebate from the taxpayers. We have all been through that, Mr. Speaker, and you have too. However I see the threshold being lowered to 10%. I think it should go the other way; it should go to 20%. We are talking about public money here. Someone who cannot get 20% of the popular vote in a riding is missing out.
    I know the House leader made a comment that none of the Liberals missed by more than 10% so it would not affect them at all. However, in reality, the Liberal candidate got 17% in my riding because 3% belonged to the aboriginal vote. There were aboriginal folks with whom I had become very friendly with who phoned me and said that there was a problem. The polling booths had my picture up with a big X through it along with signs saying “Don't vote Canadian Alliance” and all these wonderful things, which are not allowed but it was done. That is what gave the Liberal candidate the 3% to get above the 15%. It is a dirty way to get it. He will need that money a lot more than I will next time around if he decides to run again because he is fighting an uphill battle with gun control and all sorts of different things that have helped us out in that part of the country.
    However, the bill does not in any way address the fundamental problem with political contributions.
There is an unappetizing flavour in the electorate that we are corrupt. We saw that through the HRD scandals, and the advertising and sponsorship fiasco that is still under investigation. There is hardly a file that public works has touched in the last two or three years that is not before the RCMP or that the Auditor General will not have a look at. Everything is suspect. The bill does not address any of that.
    We saw polls at the height of the fiasco last spring that two-thirds of Canadians thought that government was corrupt. They labelled us all together and that was unfortunate. We are all here doing a job at, of course, different levels of our capability, but we are still doing a job on behalf of our constituents. We answer to them, not to the public purse, but to our constituents. I do not see the bill addressing that type of fine tuning.
    It is all about corruption and kickbacks that we saw throughout the whole sponsorship fiasco. The bill in no way would stop that. It may stop the numbers at times, but it would not limit it and it would not halt it in any way.
    We have a majority government that is having a real problem with a corruption label, and an unethical conduct label for some of the frontbench folks. They have the discretionary money and hundreds of millions of dollars that they can put into their pet projects and say that is what government will do because that is what people want, and so on, because it has done some polling. Even the polling would be covered under the bill. We saw the polling cut out of sponsorships and rightly so, and here it is put back into the bill.
    We have a backdoor deal going on to put that polling cost into the bill because it is a significant factor. There is no doubt about it. Good polling costs good money. It is being slipped back in at public expense because the government can no longer do it under the sponsorship file because people are looking over its shoulder. There is a bit of sleight of hand which is part of that circus act that the government House leader was doing before.
    I cannot see anything but more apathy and low voter turnouts continuing because people are feeling disconnected and asking, how relevant is this place?
    There are many days when I have that same concern. I sat in on a committee meeting this morning and I wondered what the heck we were doing. It is just busy work. We get a few people in behind closed doors and let them listen to this, that or whatever. We are not here to be entertained. We are here to do a decent job and I do not need that busy work. I have constituents that I need to call and work on their files because they are having a tough time with Revenue Canada, the GST, or things like that. I do not need that busy work.
    There is a member screaming over there to let legislation go through the House. I say to that member to bring forward something worth voting on and we will do it. The Liberals have a majority. They ram legislation through using closure. This is not legislation; this is ripping off the public. It is all about money. It is all about cashflow for political parties. That is what it is all about: $1.50 per vote. I would do very well because I get lots of votes.
    It is all about paying off party debt, bringing it forward, and letting the public pay for it. I do not think Canadians want to do that. They are very critical of bills like that.
    There are things that are roadblocks to good legislation coming through the House, but not very often are they caused by the opposition parties. A lot of it is the result of the government not being able to get its own house in order. It has very little to do with us. There are so few tools that we have at our discretion to slow things down from the runway that happens here all the time.
    The Senate is not sitting right now. The member says it is because we are halting legislation. We did not pull Bill C-13. The government House leader did. We did not pull Bill C-10 today. The government House leader did. Bill C-20, the child protection bill, has been shanghaied for a little while.
    We have seen a long term calendar that might go a week into the future and it is subject to change. Let us see some good legislation that we can put through. Let us see a schedule that the government sticks to. Let us see some dates that are locked down so we know what we are working toward, and we can get in here and speak to that legislation.
    We spend so much time, two steps ahead and three steps back, and then we get legislation like this that is so full of holes that Canadians do not understand it. They are concerned about big business and unions taking over the political parties. Good and rightly so, but this bill does not address that in any way at all. It would limit the numbers, but it would change them around and would put them in from a different way.
    It is more smoke and mirrors. It is legislation that I certainly cannot support and I know my folks at home would expect me to stand up and say this is not good.

  
Human Reproductive Technologies
February 11, 2022

Mr. Gerry Ritz (Battlefords--Lloydminster, Canadian Alliance):
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to join my colleagues in speaking to Bill C-13 on human reproductive technologies. It is one of the most controversial pieces of legislation that we will deal with in this session of Parliament, and my colleagues have touched on that point. It really does divide Canadians on the direction we should take. What can be more important than how Parliament approaches the subject of science and human reproduction on behalf of our constituents, Canadian society as a whole? There is a fine line between those.
The Alliance supports some of the aspects of the bill. As in any Liberal legislation that I have seen in the two terms I have been here, there is always a bit of good mixed in with a lot of bad. The trick always is to try to separate the wheat from the chaff and come up with legislation that is in the best interest of Canadians.
We fully support, for example, the ban on human and therapeutic cloning. I think everyone across he country wants to feels the same. On animal-human hybrids, why would anyone want to go there? Sex selection, germ line alteration, buying and selling of embryos and paid surrogacy are the types of things that people are e-mailing my office about, by the hundreds. Our e-mails are lighting up.
The petitions I have seen tabled in the House in regard to this legislation rival other issues such as the young offenders bill and things like that when Canadians leapt to their feet and said that they wanted changes. They are trying to get changes to this legislation before it becomes law.
Work has been done with non-embryonic adult stem cells. When we talk about adult stem cells, we are even talking about cells from an umbilical cord. A lot of people would thank that it is part and parcel of the embryo but it is not. It is considered to contain adult stem cells. There have been tremendous advances made in research along that line and tremendous good has been done. They are finding less rejection with adult stem cells as opposed to embryonic cells. It is a tremendous dilemma.
We also see in the legislation a huge flaw. We see it again and again in some of the legislation that the government brings down. It is a failure to look after the best interests of children as its first priority. The government talks the talk but it does not walk the walk. We saw that in Bill C-20 that was tabled recently. The legislation is meant to protect children but a clause on artistic merit on child pornography has been left in the legislation and the age of consent has been left at 14 years of age.
Part of the situation we find ourselves in with a lot of what is out there is that we have been talking about this for 10 years. In that 10 years a lot of people have questioned if we have got it right. I quoted some of the comments of the Catholic bishops. Many people from my riding and across the country have written me and have said the very same thing. They have asked if we have got it right? I guess at this point I would have to say we do not.
When we look at the number of amendments that have come forward on this bill, and a lot of good points in those amendments, will they be taken seriously? Will the minister, in her monopoly on handling this, take a look at those amendments? Will the minister agree that they strengthen the bill and make the bill better? Will she agree to vote those amendments through?
Madame Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise again to speak to Bill C-13. We face a huge dilemma as parliamentarians on issues of this type that come before us. I guess the bottom line question on Bill C-13 is, when is it okay to use cellular material? There are huge ramifications if we do not get this right this time around.
This particular bill would allow for experiments on human embryos under four conditions. First, only in vitro leftover embryos from the IVF process could be used for research. Second, embryos cannot be created for research with one exception. They can be created for purposes of improving or providing instruction in assisted human reproduction technology. Third, written permission must be given by the donor, although donor is in the singular, and for research on a human embryo if the use is necessary. Necessary is undefined in the legislation so it kind of leaves the door wide open to abuse. Fourth, all human embryos must be destroyed after 14 days if not frozen.
The same situation applies in this legislation where the federal government becomes over and above everyone else. It is provincial legislation that we are trampling on here. The problem we can have with it being provincial is the concern of the ability of children conceived through these artificial means to find out about their heritage. Some provinces would allow it and some would not. Therefore there would be a huge mishmash of problems across the country. Some people could be born in Ontario, move to Alberta, or vice versa, and in one province they could find out their lineage but not in another. There are some huge problems with this.
Motion #103 attempts to delete the grandfather clauses that might allow undesirable lines of experimentation to carry on. Parliament would decide against them in this bill. Motion #104 and 105 are related to this. The grandfathering must be limited in time and require licensing, otherwise we open up a huge problem with everybody leaping into these activities before the bill becomes law, and we are not there yet, this is report stage.
Cabinet could exempt certain activities through regulations. Basically it is a get out of jail free card before this becomes locked down in a legal situation. We have some serious, dangerous subclauses. We saw that with the Kyoto protocol, an accord that we ratified that has not been implemented yet, where the auto sector received an exemption. We would see the same type of thing there: politics at its worse. That is what we have seen in other legislation and it does scare us a bit.
Members of Parliament and people who have made representations on this do not have to have a religious agenda. A lot of that is thrown back at us that it is our conscience not that of our constituents. However, I have had hundreds of interventions, e-mails, letters and calls from constituents. I know everyone has. I have seen some of the headings on the e-mail lists.
Canadians are deeply concerned about where society and our economy is going. They are concerned with chemicals in the environment. They are concerned with genetically modified foods, government secrecy, and with the huge databases we are developing. Canadians need to be reassured that we can take a thoughtful, insightful look at legislation like this and come out with the best for Canadians.
The problem with some of the sections of this bill, that the Liberals have rejected, would make the advisory council less political. They have shied away from that, and we see hat as a huge problem. Politics has no business in this type of legislation, , but here we see it again and again. The Liberals even rejected a recommendation to ensure that the board members of the new assisted human reproduction agency would not have conflicts of interest. They have left that out.
Therefore, at the end of the day we have some huge problems with this legislation. The Prime Minister must allow a free vote on legislation like this in order to best serve the interest of our constituents.

 

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