Bill C-303 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (child pornography, child prostitution and child corruption)
This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.
Richard Marceau Bloc
Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)
Introduction and First Reading
(This bill did not become law.)
May 17th, 2007 / 9:45 a.m.
Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC
Mr. Chairman, if we've dispensed completely with BIll C-303, I'd like to come back to a topic we discussed at the last meeting, namely the Summer Career Placements Program. If we're done studying this bill, then I'd like to move a motion, as I announced at our last meeting.
Private Members' Business
March 8th, 2005 / 6:20 p.m.
Richard Marceau Charlesbourg, QC
Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to rise in this debate on Bill C-275.
I too would like to preface my remarks by saying that in no way does my position and that of my party mean that we condone implicitly or explicitly the criminal behaviour of individuals who leave the scene of a car accident. Such behaviour is unacceptable and reprehensible, and it should be severely punished.
On November 15, 2004, the bill entitled an act the amend the Criminal Code (failure to stop at scene of accident) was introduced by the Conservative member for Cariboo—Prince George, who spoke earlier. The bill was put on the priority list on the same day. This was the third time that this bill was introduced, because the same enactment had been introduced in the second and third sessions of the 37th Parliament by the Conservative member for Abbotsford over there, as Bill C-453, which never made it past the first reading stage.
I would like to read at this time the summary of the bill. It reads as follows:
This enactment amends the Criminal Code to provide that an accused who has control of a vehicle, vessel or aircraft and who fails to stop at the scene of an accident is guilty of an offence for which the minimum punishment is seven years’ imprisonment and the maximum is life imprisonment, if another person suffers bodily harm and dies as a result of the accident.
If another person suffers bodily harm but does not die as a result of the accident, the accused who fails to stop at the scene of the accident is guilty of an offence for which the minimum punishment is four years’ imprisonment and the maximum is life imprisonment.
These provisions apply whether or not the person knew that another person had suffered bodily harm or had died as a result of the accident, and whether or not the person had the intent to escape civil or criminal liability.
A prosecutor may not make, to an accused charged with leaving the scene of an accident, an offer allowing the accused to plead guilty instead to an offence with a lesser penalty.
Let us analyze this. Bodily harm is defined in the Criminal Code as meaning any hurt or injury to a person that interferes with the health or comfort of the person and that is more than merely transient or trifling in nature.
If the victim dies as a result of bodily harm, what recourse is allowed under the current legislation? Currently, under the code, the maximum sentence is life imprisonment ,and there is no minimum sentence for a person who fails to stop his vehicle that is involved in an accident,with intent to escape civil or criminal liability, and that “person knows that another person involved in the accident is dead” or that “person knows that bodily harm has been caused to another person and is reckless as to whether the death of the other person results from that bodily harm, and the death of that other person so results”.
The intent to escape civil or criminal liability is presumed once it has been proven that the person failed to stop their vehicle.
Bill C-275 proposes adding a minimum sentence of seven years' imprisonment and eliminates the requirement regarding the intent of the accused, meaning that, if the bill is adopted, it would no longer be necessary to demonstrate that the accused knew the victim would die from his injuries or was reckless in spite of that knowledge.
What does the legislation say if that victim suffers bodily harm but does not die? Subsection 252(1.2) of the Criminal Code provides for a maximum sentence of 10 years for an accused who failed to stop his vehicle involved in an accident with the intent to escape all civil and criminal liability, knowing that bodily harm has been caused to another person involved in the accident. Here, the code makes no mention of presumption. The crown must, therefore, first prove the intent of the accused to escape his criminal liability and prove that the accused knew the victim had suffered bodily harm.
Bill C-275 proposes the addition of a minimum penalty of four years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment if another person suffers bodily harm but does not die as a result of the accident. The crown would no longer have to prove the intent of the accused to escape his criminal liability nor that the accused knew the victim had suffered bodily harm.
The Bloc Québécois believes that the provisions currently set out in the Criminal Code are reasonable. We consider it dangerous to eliminate, with regard to this offence, the need to prove the intent to escape criminal liability.
We believe the current system is adequate in that it facilitates the work of the Crown by presuming that the accused had the intent to evade criminal responsibility, because he did not remain. The presumption is, in our opinion, reasonable, since it affords the accused an opportunity to present evidence that he did not intend to evade responsibility and that he left the scene for other reasons.
In fact, taking the accused's intent into account makes it possible to take special circumstances into account, thus reducing the risk of injustice. We must not forget that in the case at hand, a person risks losing his freedom for a number of years. Removing the criteria of intent to evade responsibility may make the crown prosecutors' task easier, but at the same time, once it is proven that the person left the scene, it removes the judge's discretion to decide, in a particular case before the court, whether the accused person should be found guilty.
Moreover, the Bloc Québécois also thinks that the minimum sentences proposed in Bill C-275 are exaggerated and out of proportion. The Bloc Québécois is not opposed to minimum sentences in principle: we have proposed them in Bill C-303 for persons convicted of sexual crimes against minors. Still, we feel that minimum sentences should be used with caution because, in the end, they tie judges' hands and too often complicate their task.
Sometimes minimum sentences can also have a perverse effect. That is, when a judge thinks a minimum sentence is inappropriate in a particular case, he might prefer to find a person not guilty even though that individual might have deserved a prison term of a few months.
The position of the Bloc Québécois on Bill C-275 can be summed up simply: the Bloc believes that the judge is in the best position to analyze the individual's reasons for leaving the scene and determine the appropriate sentence. Consequently, Bloc Québécois members will be asked to vote against Bill C-275, while maintaining that leaving the scene of an accident should and must be severely punished. Nevertheless, we believe that the current provisions in the code are sufficient to achieve this goal and objective of our society.
Private Members' Business
February 14th, 2005 / 11:30 a.m.
Richard Marceau Charlesbourg, QC
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak on Bill C-215 to amend the Criminal Code in order to impose consecutive sentences for the use of a firearm in committing an offence. This bill was introduced by the member for Prince Edward—Hastings.
As you know, the bill was introduced by my colleague from the Conservative Party of Canada and was put on the priority list on November 15, 2004. The purpose of our colleague's bill is to require that a sentence for the commission of certain offences be supplemented if a firearm is used. The additional sentence is to be served consecutively and is to be a further minimum punishment of five years imprisonment if the firearm is not discharged, ten years if it is discharged, and fifteen years if it is discharged and as a result a person, other than an accomplice, is caused bodily harm.
I can understand our Conservative colleague's intent. He has told me that he was a military police officer for many years. It is understandable that he would want more severe punishments for certain types of criminals who too often victimize people in Quebec and in Canada.
We feel, however, that minimum sentencing must be used sparingly, because it ties the judge's hands. If memory serves, it is used at the present time for 29 Criminal Code offences. Some feel that minimum sentences have harmful effects on the work of judges, because they are the people best placed to determine the appropriate sentence.
I would, however, like to add a cautionary note. We do not share the aversion to the very idea of minimum sentencing some, too often on the government side, suffer from. The Bloc Québécois has introduced Bill C-303 setting minimum sentences for sex crimes involving minors.
We feel that children are the most fragile members of our society and those who are dearest to us, and when minors are preyed on by a sexual predator there must, in our opinion, be a minimum sentence in order to ensure that children are protected and that the perpetrator receives a mandatory prison sentence.
As the parliamentary secretary is well aware, the debate on the protection of vulnerable persons legislation will afford us an opportunity to bring in the essence of my bill, C-303, and integrate it with that bill.
Thus, we are not opposed in principle to the establishment of minimum sentences. Nevertheless, they must be used sparingly. We believe that, in the case of the clause in Bill C-215, the sentences the hon. member proposes are disproportionate, all the more so because they are added to the sentence already stipulated for the crime. In establishing minimal sentences, the use of a firearm has already been considered and increases the length of a prison sentence.
The sentences proposed in Bill C-215 are even more problematic when there are accomplices. As the House knows, the Criminal Code states that an accomplice may be given the same sentence as the perpetrator of the crime. Let us imagine, in the example already given by my hon. colleague, an 18-year-old, easily influenced, whose friends get him involved in a robbery. This young man, being reticent, agrees to stand lookout at the door of the store. His friends have not told him they intend to use a gun in their crime. During the crime, a shot is fired and a clerk is slightly injured. In such a situation, the young man would automatically be sentenced to 15 years in prison, in addition to the minimum sentence for robbery, which is four years.
A judge will be forced to sentence this young man to a minimum of 19 years of prison for what is certainly a reprehensible act, but one that is certainly not serious enough to deserve such a sentence.
Sentences that are too harsh can also have a negative effect. Rather than handing down a sentence that is too severe, judges might simply try to acquit the accused, in order to avoid imposing a sentence they think too harsh.
In short, this means the Bloc Québécois will vote against Bill C-215. We admire the desire of the hon. member for Prince Edward—Hastings to fight crime more effectively. We believe that the proposed sentences are disproportionate and that minimum sentences must be used specifically and selectively. We also believe they must be used in certain cases, including, as I mentioned, sex offences against children, a subject we will be examining again, either in committee or in this House, when Bill C-303 comes before us.
November 30th, 2004 / 10:05 a.m.
Richard Marceau Charlesbourg, QC
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-303, an act to amend the Criminal Code (child pornography, child prostitution and child corruption).
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to again introduce a bill I had introduced in the previous session. Its purpose is to provide for a minimum punishment of imprisonment for offences relating to child pornography, child prostitution or child corruption. This is a follow up on the commitment made by the Bloc Québécois during the last election campaign.
I trust that I will have the support of the House to move this bill through as quickly as possible.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)