Bill C-215 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (consecutive sentence for use of firearm in commission of offence)
This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.
Daryl Kramp Conservative
Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)
Committee Report Presented
(This bill did not become law.)
May 2nd, 2007 / 4:15 p.m.
Daryl Kramp Prince Edward—Hastings, ON
It has and the statistics prove it. I ask the hon. member to check the testimony given at the justice committee when Bill C-215 was presented. The verification of those facts came forward from the justice committee as well as all the independent expert witnesses.
The reason I am a little more familiar with Bill C-215 is from having presented the bill which I authored. However, at that particular point it should be noted that the bill passed second reading with the support of a member of the Liberal Party as well. Quite obviously, regretfully, Parliament was dissolved and the bill did not go on.
The member mentioned that everyone was backing away from this. I can assure him that is not the case. A number of people are backing away from minimum mandatory sentences but they are not for violent crime. They are for small summary conviction offences. I totally agree that we should not have minimum mandatory penalties. However, for certain serious violent crimes, where people are threatened with a gun, I ask the hon. member if he has ever looked down the barrel of a gun or talked to the families of the victims that have been devastated by these potentially deadly weapons.
December 6th, 2006 / 3:50 p.m.
Professor, Centre for Criminology, University of Toronto, As an Individual
Thank you very much.
To understand whether increased penalties affect crime, I would suggest that you have to look at the overall weight of evidence. The conclusion that Professor Webster and I came to, based on a thorough survey of the evidence, especially that which was carried out in the last fifteen years, was that variation in the severity of sentences does not affect crime rates.
The reviews that come to different conclusions have generally looked selectively only at the occasional paper that finds some evidence that harsh sentences deter. In other words, for more than 25 years, the overwhelming weight of evidence has been consistent with the conclusions that harsh sentences, in legislation or in practice, will not have any consistent or appreciable impact on levels of crime in the community.
I would now like to turn to two sets of data that have received a lot of prominence here in Ottawa. Each of these has been used to demonstrate that harsh sentences deter. The first example comes from an analysis of a paper that has been referred to in the context of the current bill. It seems that when the deterrent impact of harsh sentences is raised, the name Steven Levitt, one of the authors of the best-selling book, Freakonomics, is mentioned, and his paper with Daniel Kessler, published in 1999, is cited.
On the basis of their evidence of the effects of the June 1982 California initiative, Proposition 8, these two economists concluded that the increase in sentence severity that came into effect in June 1982 was responsible for the reduction in crime in California. As a result of this 1982 change in sentencing laws in California, sentences for certain crimes committed by repeat offenders were made considerably longer. From a deterrence perspective, the change in sentencing laws was seen as a good opportunity to test the deterrence theory, since the change in the sentencing was dramatic, sudden, and well publicized. The typical finding is what's shown here, and it is also shown in the translated document.
These are data from Kessler and Levitt's original paper, and what you see is the timing of the law changes marked by the vertical line. From this graph one could easily conclude that crime was going up until the time the sentencing law in California became dramatically harsher. Crime then dropped dramatically, immediately after the law, one could conclude, and these would obviously be quite impressive results.
The findings are similar for four other crimes that were covered by the change in law. Crime went up before the change in the law, Kessler and Levitt's data would show, and then dropped dramatically afterwards. It's no wonder that the supporters of the current bill have repeatedly cited this single study by a quite famous economist, but I'd like you to look again at these data.
Look at this curve carefully and what you'll see is something that's quite peculiar. Levitt, in the published paper, presented data only for the odd-numbered years. That's what's in the figure; that's what was in his paper.
Let's look at the full set of data that were never publicized and never presented in this very highly cited paper on deterrence. This slide simply adds the even-numbered years. The data for the odd-numbered years is identical to what you saw before. Again, the vertical line is when the law change occurred. Unlike the partial set of data, which Kessler and Levitt relied on, what you see is that crime was going down, and started going down before the law changed. The other offences examined by Kessler and Levitt, which were subject to these especially new harsh sentences, show the same kind of pattern.
On the left of these panels, I've presented the data as published by Kessler and Levitt. On the right panel, all I've done--all, in fact, Cheryl Webster, from the University of Ottawa, and Frank Zimring, from California, and I did--was to add the data for the even-numbered years. By choosing, as Kessler and Levitt did, to present the data only for the odd-numbered years, they gave you a picture of the trends that is completely different from the picture you see when all of the crime rates for all of the years are included.
If you wish, you can look at the monthly data to get a more exact estimate of when the crime drop occurred. We did this as well. Here's one example of it. Again, we marked the time when the law changed by the vertical line, and what you see is that the crime drop started before the law changed, not after, as you would expect if it were the law that was responsible for the change in crime rates.
These graphs are part of a paper that I co-authored with Professor Webster, and Professor Franklin Zimring, from the law school at the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Zimring is one of the world's experts on deterrence, having written extensively on deterrence, beginning with his classic book on the topic in 1972.
As you can imagine, Professor Levitt is not very pleased with our analysis. The best one can conclude I think from Levitt's very interesting, very selective use of data is that it would be risky to base any policy on a study such as this.
About a year ago, in the last session of Parliament, when you were examining Bill C-215, you had a witness before you who indicated that sentence enhancements had helped to drive down the rate of violent crime in Florida. His evidence, like that of your local witness last week, concluded that Florida's 10-20-life law may have sounded convincing. The implication of their statements is clear: tough sentencing regimes drive down crime.
I'm old-fashioned. I think you should look carefully at the data. From the data I presented to you at the outset, you should already be skeptical about such assertions. Crime was already on the downward trend in the United States. Violent crime peaked in the United States and Canada in the early 1990s and then drifted downward.
So let's look at this trend in California. The next two figures show total index crime, which is a measure of the total more serious kinds of crime, and index violent crime for Florida in the 1990s. The timing of the implementation of the so-called 10-20-life law in Florida is marked again by the vertical line.
If you look at this figure, or the next one, which deals with violent crime, the problem with the inference that the law created a change is immediately evident. Crime was going down anyway. If these two figures didn't have a vertical line in them showing where the law change took place, you wouldn't have any idea that anything special was happening. Crime was going down in Florida, just the way it was going down in other parts of the United States and in Canada. There is no evidence that the change in law changed anything.
There are obviously many more studies on this topic. The best research examines more than one jurisdiction and attempts to control for other factors known to correlate with crime rates. Considerably more sophisticated studies have been carried out.
In the United States in the 1990s, largely as a result of the popularity of the so-called three strikes laws, many U.S. jurisdictions brought in very harsh sentencing regimes for at least some offences. Some studies have looked, overall, at the impact of these sentencing changes. One set of investigators, for example, examined the impact of the sentencing changes on seven different crimes in 21 states, using the data from states where no changes were made as a form of a control.
This slide shows you a summary of their findings. The authors report that there were as many increases in crime as there were decreases that followed the imposition of three-strikes sentencing laws. Clearly, it is just as inappropriate to focus on only those changes in the law where crime decreased as it would be to focus on those instances where crime increased after sentencing got tougher. But these findings do show you the dangers of taking isolated findings out of context.
There are two other sets of problems with mandatory minimum sentences that I would like to mention. It is almost inevitable that mandatory minimum sentences will result in disproportionate sentences for at least some offenders. We already have a requirement in the Criminal Code that sentences must be proportionate to the severity of the offence and the offender's responsibility for that offence. It is my impression that most Canadians endorse proportionality in sentencing.
Clearly, Parliament, in attempting to constrain judges with mandatory minimum sentences, is purposefully sending the message that it does not trust judges to judge the severity of offences. But in addition, mandatory minimum sentences almost certainly force judges to hand down sentences that violate section 718.1, the proportionality principle in sentencing.
If the proportionality principle needs strengthening in the Criminal Code--and I, for one, believe it does--then there are ways in which this can be done. But mandatory minimum sentences have been shown repeatedly not to be an appropriate tool to accomplish this goal. There are other harms that can come from proposals such as this one. If the Parliament of Canada were to approve Bill C-10, it would be telling Canadians that Parliament can make our communities safer by increasing mandatory minimum sentences. This is, quite simply, a false promise. If you were to vote in favour of this bill, therefore, you would be, in my opinion, making a promise to Canadians that is known to be false. But it is worse than that. Focusing on such matters as mandatory minimum sentences also distracts you, the Parliament of Canada, from considering approaches to crime prevention that might actually make our communities safer. In other words, by convincing yourselves and others that the proposals such as this one will improve our communities, you necessarily do not adequately consider approaches to crime prevention that would improve our communities.
Thank you very much.
November 27th, 2006 / 3:40 p.m.
Tony Cannavino President, Canadian Police Association
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, committee members, good afternoon.
The Canadian Police Association welcomes the opportunity to present our submissions to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights with respect to Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum penalties for offences involving firearms).
The CPA is the national voice for 54,700 police personnel serving across Canada. Through our 170 member associations, CPA membership includes police personnel serving in police services from Canada's smallest towns and villages as well as those working in our largest municipal cities, provincial police services, members of the RCMP, railway police and First Nations police associations.
The Canadian Police Association is acknowledged as a national voice for police personnel in the reform of the Canadian criminal justice system. Our goal is to work with elected officials from all parties, to bring about meaningful reforms to enhance the safety and security of all Canadians, including those sworn to protect our communities.
Urban violence has been a significant concern for our association. For over a decade, police associations have been advocating reforms to our justice system in Canada, and in particular we've called for changes to bolster the sentencing, detention, and parole of violent offenders.
At our 2004 annual general meeting, CPA delegates unanimously adopted a resolution that includes a call for federal legislation to be introduced to ensure tougher and more adequate mandatory prison sentences for individuals involved in firearm-related crime.
Repeat offenders are a serious problem. There's been considerable debate at this committee about the use of minimum sentences and the frequency of repeat offenders. Make no mistake about it: repeat offenders are a serious problem. Police understand this intuitively, as we deal with these frequent flyers on a routine basis.
Statistics released by the Toronto police homicide squad for 2005 demonstrate this point. Among the 32 people facing murder or manslaughter charges for homicide in 2006, 14 were on bail at the time of the offence, 13 were on probation, and 17 were subject to firearms prohibition orders. The revolving-door justice system is failing to prevent further criminal activity by these repeat violent offenders.
Gun violence requires a non-partisan approach. Support for tougher measures to thwart gun violence transcends party lines. During the last federal election, three major parties promised tougher sentences for crimes involving firearms. The NDP platform promised to “Increase the mandatory minimum penalty for possession, sale and importation of illegal arms such as hand guns, assault rifles and automatic weapons”, and “Add mandatory minimum sentences to other weapons offences”, including a “four-year minimum sentence on all weapon offences, such as possession of a concealed weapons'”.
Former Prime Minister Martin promised to toughen penalties “by re-introducing legislation to crack down on violent crimes and gang violence, by doubling the mandatory minimum sentences for key gun crimes”. Former Liberal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler introduced Bill C-82 in November 2005 to address gun violence. Bill C-82 would include increasing certain minimum penalties relating to smuggling, trafficking in, and possession of firearms and other weapons, and creating two new offences, breaking and entering to steal a firearm and robbery to steal a firearm.
When Bill C-10 was introduced this spring, Premier McGuinty was quoted as stating that the bill will “make a real difference when it comes to promoting safety for our families and our communities”. Last year, Conservative MP Daryl Kramp introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-215, that would require that a sentence for commission of certain serious offences be supplemented if a firearm is used in the commission of that offence.
A justice department survey conducted in March 2005 by Decima Research confirmed that an “overwhelming majority” of Canadians support mandatory minimum jail terms for gun crimes such as robbery with a firearm and criminal negligence causing death with a firearm. According to CanWest news, the poll of 2,343 Canadians revealed that “Support for mandatory jail terms for robbery with a firearm was as high as 82%, compared with 14% who opposed the prospect”.
Similarly, an Ipsos Reid CanWest Global poll conducted December 30, 2005, to January 2, 2006, of 8,336 Canadian voters found that 73% of the respondents supported changing the current laws so that being convicted of committing a gun crime would carry a mandatory 10-year prison sentence with no eligibility for parole or early release.
Clearly, there is broad political and public support for tougher measures to deal with firearm crimes. We urge Parliament to move swiftly to address the areas of consensus as quickly as possible. The CPA supports in principle the measures contained within Bill C-10 with necessary modifications.
On amendments, although the CPA supports the vast majority of proposals contained within Bill C-10, we do have one significant area of concern. It relates to the proposal dealing with the use of firearms in the commission of attempted murder, discharging a firearm with intent, sexual assault with a weapon, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, hostage-taking, robbery, and extortion.
Bill C-10 contemplates a tiered response. Offenders who commit these crimes, whether with a restricted or a prohibited firearm or any firearm in connection with a criminal organization, are subject to escalating penalties—five years for a first offence, seven years for a second offence, and ten years for a third or subsequent offence. Conversely, if the firearm is not used in connection with a criminal organization and the weapon is not restricted or prohibited, the mandatory minimum sentence is only four years, regardless of whether it is a second, third, or subsequent offence.
We find the different treatment for long guns to be misguided, and we are at a loss to understand the rationale for distinguishing the penalty on the basis of the class of firearm that is issued by a person in the commission of a very serious crime. Police officers routinely discover these weapons in firearms seizures, clandestine drug labs, and marijuana grow-ops. Will shotguns and rifles become the weapons of choice for repeat violent offenders? In many situations, a rifle or shotgun is a far more lethal threat in the hands of a criminal than a handgun.
For example, high-powered rifles are capable of shooting through body armour and other protective equipment. Shotguns can be extremely powerful weapons when used at short range. A tragic example is the murder of Constable Valerie Gignac of Laval last fall, who was shot through a wall with a high-powered rifle. Of the 13 police officers killed with firearms in the past decade, only three were murdered with handguns; 77% were murdered with long guns, and it's unlikely that any of the offenders in these cases would have met the threshold for participation or membership in a criminal organization.
This latter threshold of connection with a criminal organization also presents an additional hurdle for prosecutors to prove in order to obtain the higher mandatory penalty. While we applaud measures to deal proactively with criminal organizations, we contend that any person who uses any firearm in the commission of an offence should receive the full mandatory minimum penalty available, and particularly repeat offenders.
The recent tragedy at Dawson College in Montreal has reinforced the need to strengthen Canada's control over civilian firearms possession. To our knowledge, no new firearms have been added to the restricted or prohibited categories in Canada for over a decade, yet many new firearms have been designed that are being offered for sale in Canada and would arguably meet existing criteria. As a consequence, some weapons are being legally sold in Canada despite the fact that they meet existing criteria for restricted or prohibited status and present significant concerns for public safety.
Retailers understand and exploit these loopholes, as demonstrated by the website for Wolverine Supplies in Manitoba. You'll find that in our brief. We submit that further steps must be taken to close the loopholes by updating and maintaining the restricted and prohibited firearms classifications.
In conclusion, I'll say that one of the concerns of police officers across the country is to stop the violence. The solution to this begins with bringing an end to Canada's revolving door justice system. Canada's police officers have lost confidence in a system that sees violent offenders regularly return to the streets. We need to restore meaningful consequences and deterrence in our justice system, which begins with stiffer sentences, real jail time and tougher parole eligibility policies for violent offenders. We need stiffer minimum sentences for offenders who commit crimes with guns, or any type of weapon.
Bill C-10 provides a positive component in an integrated strategy to address current shortfalls, specifically pertaining to the concern with gun violence. We believe that it can provide an effective deterrent against violent gun crimes, and we fully endorse the principle of creating tougher mandatory minimum penalties for the commission of serious offences involving the use of a firearm.
We thank you for your attention and we welcome your questions.
Committees of the House
November 28th, 2005 / 3:20 p.m.
John Maloney Welland, ON
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 18th report of the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
In accordance with the orders of reference of June 7 and June 27, and its mandate under Standing Order 108(1), the committee has established a subcommittee with a mandate to examine the process for appointments to the federal judiciary and make recommendations for reform.
I wish to thank the member for Charlesbourg--Haute-Saint-Charles, chair of the subcommittee, for bringing forward this initiative, and also the members of the subcommittee and the standing committee for their contributions.
I also have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 19th report of the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
In accordance with the order of reference of Wednesday, May 4, the committee has considered Bill C-215, an act to amend the Criminal Code (consecutive sentence for use of firearm in commission of offence), and agreed on Monday, November 28 to report it with amendments.
Business of the House
November 1st, 2005 / 11:15 a.m.
Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON
Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place between all parties concerning the recorded division scheduled to take place on Wednesday, November 2, 2005 on the motion to concur in the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness requesting an extension of the time to consider Bill C-215. I believe you would find consent for the following motion. I move:
That the recorded division scheduled to take place later on Wednesday, November 2, 2005 on the motion to concur in the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, be deemed concurred in.
Committees of the House
October 31st, 2005 / 3:10 p.m.
John Maloney Welland, ON
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Pursuant to Standing Order 97.1(3)(a), I request an extension of 30 sitting days to consider Bill C-215, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding consecutive sentence for use of a firearm in the commission of an offence.
October 27th, 2005 / 2:50 p.m.
Daryl Kramp Prince Edward—Hastings, ON
Mr. Speaker, that is a sad mockery of a response to a very serious question and a shameful denial of responsibility. The Prime Minister is trying to blame American gun smuggling for our lethal gun violence.
I remind the Prime Minister that it is the criminals right here in Canada who are committing these crimes. The present laws are simply not a deterrent. Canadians have a right to live without fear for their safety.
There is a bill before the justice committee right now, Bill C-215, that would strengthen minimum mandatory sentences for violent gun crimes. With all due respect, I ask the Prime Minister, will he or will he not support the bill?
October 24th, 2005 / 4:45 p.m.
Jeff Watson Essex, ON
Mr. Speaker, if the government wanted to do something truly good about protecting citizens, then Chuck Cadman would have been leading debate in the House on his own private member's bill and it would have sought unanimous consent to pass it at all stages so Canadians would have been protected. That would have been a fitting tribute while he was living. That is what it should have done in the House. Instead it brings forward a watered down bill.That is the worst argument I have ever heard over there, that it is somehow doing some on behalf of Canadians to protect them.
I rise on behalf of the people of Essex to speak to Bill C-64. I am here also with thoughts of my former seat mate, Chuck Cadman. I have to be honest, I miss him terribly.
Chuck's brought forward his private member's Bill C-287, on the alteration and obliteration of vehicle identification numbers, because there was no provision for the direct prosecution of a person engaged in the physical act of tampering with a vehicle identification number, a loophole that has been masterfully exploited by organized crime. Instead what we have is Bill C-64, a partial attempt by the Liberal government to address that loophole, which is insufficient.
Also, I am here to talk about what the Liberals have been falsely claiming as a fitting tribute and honour to the late Chuck Cadman, member of Parliament. The only fitting tribute to the memory of Chuck Cadman would be to take his private member's bill, ironically unaltered, and pass it in the House. Instead what we have is the Liberals trying to fulfill a promise they made to Chuck after he gave the government life in that crucial May 19 budget vote.
I was sitting in my seat next to Chuck after that vote. It was interesting to watch the long lineup of Liberal members of Parliament eager to shake Chuck's hand. I thought the most interesting moment of that whole night was when the justice minister was face to face with Chuck. If we can believe it, he looked him in the eyes and said that he did not know why Chuck came to this Parliament, but that he would do something about the issues that were important to him.
It is very interesting that our justice minister did not know that the reason Chuck Cadman came to the House for eight years was because of the death of his son and the fact that the criminal justice system did nothing about it. Shame on the government.
What has the government brought forward instead of bringing Chuck's bill forward and passing? We have a nice little add-on to the bill, and will read it. First I will read the words in Chuck Cadman's bill. It states that every one commits offence who, wholly or partially alters, removes or obliterates a vehicle identification number on a motor vehicle without lawful excuse.
The government decided it wanted to make an ad-on to that. It states, “and under circumstances that give rise to a reasonable inference that the person did so to conceal the identity of the motor vehicle”.
That is a substantial change from what Chuck wanted to achieve. Chuck's intention was that we would have a justice system that would get tough on criminals. He was a tireless crusader of rights for victims over the rights of criminals. Chuck's previous private member's bill on the issue put the onus of proof for lawful excuse on the person indicted, on the accused criminal. That tilts the balance in favour of the Crown on behalf of the victims of crime.
What the Liberals have done with Chuck Cadman's idea is change the onus now to put a double onus on the Crown.
It was Chuck Cadman's intention that someone caught with an altered vehicle identification number would have to explain themselves. It is not a great demand to put on somebody who is caught with a vehicle that has an altered VIN. If I were working at a wrecking yard and, as part of the normal process of business, removed a vehicle identification number, I would have a lawful excuse why that vehicle identification number was altered and removed. That would have sufficed under Chuck Cadman's bill. Now, the Crown, on behalf of the victims of crime, has to prove an additional burden that the vehicle identification number was altered or removed to conceal the identity of that vehicle. I can hear the criminal defence lawyers laughing already. Those are the people who the Liberals consulted, between talking to Chuck Cadman and bringing the bill forward.
I was thinking a little about lady justice earlier today. I think we all remember the lady justice symbol of her holding up the two scales, literally weighing the evidence, with a blindfold across her eyes to symbolize her impartiality in the weighing of that evidence.
Under the Liberals there is a new lady justice. Her arms are thrown up in the air in a show of helplessness as criminal after criminal gets soft treatment, or gets day passes to amusement parks or gets house arrest, while victims in our system get re-victimized.
This new lady justice has dropped the scales at her feet because the evidence seems to no longer matter. Witness a lot of the court decisions. The evidence suddenly does not matter any more. This new lady justice still has her blindfold on, not to reflect her impartiality any more but because she needs to shield her eyes from the injustices that are committed. This new lady justice has been brought on by 12 years of Liberals being soft on crime.
Let the numbers speak for themselves. Already this year there have been 64 murders in Toronto, 44 violent crimes committed with guns. The Liberals say that the gun registry that is supposed to protect people. It is their answer to everything, like Kyoto is their answer to everything in the environment. They have a gun registry to protect everybody. It has not. People are being gunned down in our streets.
James Caza has 42 convictions. He is roaming the interior of British Columbia. I am sure the people in British Columbia feel real safe these days.
Serial rapist Larry Fisher was surprised himself that he was let out of jail so quickly. While out on parole he raped and murdered.
Liberal Senator Larry Campbell wants a soft approach on hard drugs like crystal meth.
Legal counsel from the Liberal government testified before the justice committee that mandatory prison terms for criminals would amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
A parole board handed out day passes to pedophiles to attend children's theme parks. I have four young kids. I will rethink how I spend my summers. Will we go to Canada's Wonderland? I have no idea who will be roaming around there and who will be a threat to my children.
This is wrong. Canadians should not have to restrict their freedom from operating in society because they do not know what criminals are lurking there, criminals that the Liberal justice system has let go.
The Liberal government opposed Bill C-215, a bill sponsored by my Conservative colleague from Prince Edward—Hastings, which proposed mandatory minimum sentences on indictable gun crimes. The bill has gained support from the victims of crimes and from those who enforce the laws in the land, our police. They know the bill makes sense, but the government does not support it.
The Supreme Court of Canada refused to consider the case of Dean Edmondson who was convicted of sexual assault for trying to have sex with a 12 year old girl. Instead of a prison term, he got house arrest.
It brings me to the obvious question. What is the Liberal priority? The Liberals want to solve overcrowding in our prisons. They want to solve our court backlogs, the mountain of cases that have clogged up our courts. They want to do it by making it easier to stay out of jail, even though these people wreak havoc on society. The Liberals want it to be easier to make bail. They want to make it easier for the courts to give the criminal house arrest and to give concurrent rather than consecutive sentences. God forbid if one were convicted of multiple violent crimes that one would have to serve sentence after sentence. Why not get a group discount? That is what the government approves.
The Liberal priority is to make it easier for a Liberal patronage appointee filled parole board to give day passes to fun parks to convicted pedophiles.
With Bill C-64, Liberal so-called justice means to get the handcuffs off the criminal and put them on our crown attorneys instead. That is what the bill proposes to do. Once again the Liberals are siding with the criminals. They are not standing up for victims of crime. They are siding with the criminals and the Liberal defence lawyers who donate to their election campaigns.
I think we all remember that Allan Rock was the Liberal justice minister for a time. He gave us the failed long gun registry on which the government has spent $2 billion. For what? It is not serving its purpose. It is allowing the criminals to continue wreaking havoc on society. It goes after law-abiding farmers and duck hunters instead.
Allan Rock gave us the Liberal policy of conditional sentencing with no direction to the courts as to which serious violent crimes should be exempted from the concept of conditional sentencing. What is the result? Liberal appointed judges rightly interpret that the Liberal government's desire is to let violent criminals get out of jail free. That is the Liberal priority.
Bill C-2, the Liberals so-called child pornography legislation, is sitting on the Prime Minister's desk. It has the legitimate use defence in it. It used to be called the artistic merit defence. We can dress it up, paint it up or call it whatever, but it is a loophole one could drive a truck through. It leaves our vulnerable children unprotected.
The Liberals voted against raising the age of consent from 14 to 16. That is not much to ask to protect our young adolescents. Instead, the government wants to keep it legal for a 40 or 50 year old man to have sex with a young adolescent.
I think it is clear that the Liberals are soft on crime in general and on vehicle crimes specifically. Our Conservative colleague, my seatmate, had his private member's bill, Bill C-293, a bill I spoke in support of in this House, a bill that proposed mandatory minimum sentences for vehicle theft.
The other so-called Cadman bill, Bill C-65, the companion to this legislation, dealing with street racing, does not honour Chuck. The Liberal government this time left out something very important from that legislation, which was the scale that Mr. Cadman had built into his bill of increasing punishment for repeat offenders. Apparently those who continue to threaten the safety of our communities get a discount for their anti-social choices.
Mr. Cadman was on a crusade for eight years to get tougher on criminals in crimes involving vehicles before his premature demise. During those eight years, seven were under Liberal majority governments, not a minority government like it currently is. The Liberals, if they were serious about vehicle identification number alteration, could have passed Chuck's bill quite easily. They could have rubber-stamped it post-haste. They had majorities for seven years in this House and instead they reserved the right to fast-track things for political pork-barrelling to Liberal cronies and friends. The talk of Liberal concern for Chuck Cadman's crusade is hollow, quite frankly.
The least the Liberals could have done this time around, if they truly wanted to honour Chuck's memory, would have been to bring forward his bill unaltered. I find it a curious irony that we are talking about altering vehicle identification numbers and yet the Liberals altered the bill of the late Chuck Cadman, an honourable and distinguished man, for their own political purposes. It is a moral crime, a crime against Chuck's memory, to allow the Liberal government to alter a good bill.
The Liberals can talk about Chuck's memory all they want but they are waxing poetic. They did not listen to Chuck Cadman at all. The loophole in Bill C-64 is proof of that. The Liberal government listened instead to Liberal defence lawyers and now defence lawyers and organized criminals will have a great time watching the crown frustratingly try to prosecute under this legislation.
I would contend that the Liberals, with their loophole in Bill C-64, have dishonoured the memory of Chuck Cadman. I do not say that lightly. I sat next to the man for my short time in this House and I spent my time getting to know him. He was one of the most decent men I have ever known, a good family man, a devoted husband and devoted father. He was not planning on being a member of Parliament. That was not his design, but he made it his crusade because he loved his son that much, to come here and ensure we had the laws and the direction to the courts that society wants criminals to be prosecuted to the fullest, that they should pay for their crimes, that Canadians should be protected and that they should not be revictimized in this process. Chuck was here to do that. I can say proudly that Conservatives have always stood for the principles in Chuck Cadman's original private member's bill.
Conservatives will continue standing up for safe streets, for healthy communities and on behalf of victims of crime and say, “No way”. The rights of Canadians should be respected in this country.
Statements By Members
October 4th, 2005 / 2:10 p.m.
Daryl Kramp Prince Edward—Hastings, ON
Mr. Speaker, over the past year Canadians have watched as families have been torn apart by rising levels of gun violence in our communities. Over the summer, I met with criminal defence lawyers, municipal leaders, heads of national police associations and local law enforcement officials to discuss Bill C-215, my private member's bill, which would introduce mandatory minimum sentences on indictable gun offences.
Support for this initiative is growing in this country, both at the grassroots and among provincial attorneys general. Yesterday I had the opportunity to discuss these and other issues with the chief of the Toronto Police Force, Bill Blair, a man who has had to deal with over 40 gun deaths in his city alone. He joined numerous others in identifying the links among gangs, guns and drugs.
It is time for this government to send a clear message to the criminal element that their actions will no longer be tolerated. The first opportunity to do this is on October 18, when Bill C-215 comes up at the justice committee. I urge my colleagues to demonstrate clearly their commitment to the ultimate responsibility of parliamentarians, which is to provide for the health and safety of their constituents.
Private Members' Business
May 4th, 2005 / 6:30 p.m.
The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-215 under private members' business.
(The House divided on the motion:)