Bill C-59 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (unauthorized recording of a movie)
This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.
Rob Nicholson Conservative
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.
This enactment amends the Criminal Code to prohibit the unauthorized recording of a movie in a movie theatre (camcording).
November 30th, 2007 / noon
Bruce Stanton Simcoe North, ON
Mr. Speaker, in the last session the government passed Bill C-59, which makes the unauthorized recording of a motion picture in a movie theatre a criminal offence.
The bill was passed at record speed, just before last summer's blockbusters came out. This was in an effort to protect the Canadian and U.S. motion picture industry from suffering any significant financial losses.
Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada update us on how these new Criminal Code provisions have been used so far?
Tackling Violent Crime Act
October 26th, 2007 / 12:35 p.m.
Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC
Mr. Speaker, today we are debating what the government considers to be the most important component of the throne speech presented a few days ago, Bill C-2.
First of all, there is a myth that I would like to dispel. On several occasions the members on the government side have unfortunately taken some liberties with the truth. They have suggested that, in this Parliament, the opposition parties—the official opposition, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP—did not cooperate, that they acted like spoilsports and had unduly and excessively delayed passage of the justice bills. We need to set the record straight. This presentation of the facts is false, dishonest and, at the very least, misleading.
Since coming into power in January 2006, the Conservative government has tabled 12 justice bills. They were studied by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the legislative committee and six of them have received royal assent. Therefore, since the government came into office in January 2006, six bills have been adopted and received royal assent.
I will mention them quickly, for information purposes: Bill C-9, on conditional sentencing; Bill C-17, on the salaries of judges; Bill C-18, on the DNA data bank; Bill C-19, which was meant as a tribute to a Conservative member who unfortunately passed away, and which makes street racing a new offence under the Criminal Code; the fifth bill, namely Bill C-48, on the United Nations Convention against Corruption and on international crime, was fast-tracked and supported by all opposition parties and the government; finally, the sixth one, is Bill C-59, creating a new offence, under the Criminal Code, for the unauthorized recording of a movie in a movie theatre. That legislation was quickly passed, at the request of the Bloc Québécois, which had enlisted the support of the official opposition and of the NDP.
Again, of the 12 bills introduced by the government, six received royal assent. That left six, with four of them being in the Senate. That was the case for Bill C-10, on minimum penalties for offences involving firearms, and for Bill C-22, on the age of protection. The Conservatives proposed to raise the age of protection from 14 to 16 years. As mentioned earlier, opposition parties requested that a close in age provision be included, to provide for a difference of five or two years, depending on the age being considered.
As I just mentioned, Bill C-10 and Bill C-22 were before the Senate. Bill C-23, which is a rather technical bill on the language used during a trial before a jury, was also before the Senate, as was Bill C-35, dealing with the reverse onus, at the pre-trial hearing, for a number of very serious offences. The committee was told that this was already the usual practice, and that a justice of the peace or a superior court judge very rarely grants bail at the pre-trial hearing, when the individual is accused of murder, assault or sexual assault. This was already an established practice.
In summary, six bills have been passed and have received royal assent, and four had already gone through third reading in the House of Commons and were in the Senate. This left us with two bills: the dangerous offenders bill, Bill C-27, which I will address later, and Bill C-32 dealing with impaired driving.
Could the Prime Minister and the Conservative team be asked to be a little more relaxed and show a more nuanced and respectful attitude toward the opposition?
We are going to do our job. In the past, we have given the government our cooperation when that was necessary, but we have introduced amendments because, unfortunately, an entire segment of the Conservative caucus has no idea of nuances. I will give examples. Had Bill C-32 been passed as written, without amendments, anyone driving his or her own car with a passenger on board who was in possession of a small amount of marijuana could have faced prosecution or arrest.
Was that the purpose of the legislation? This bill was intended to address a public safety issue, recognizing that no one should be operating a vehicle on public roadways while under the influence of drugs, and to allow for drivers to be subjected to standardized tests known as standardized field sobriety tests. The intention certainly was not to pass legislation to target drivers carrying drugs without their knowledge. That could happen. I could give three people a ride to my cottage without knowing that one of them has marijuana in his or her pocket. This would have made me liable to prosecution.
This is the sort of excess the Conservatives are guilty of, when we are talking about a bill, a motivation, and an intent that are utterly defensible in terms of public policy. But when the Conservatives are left to their own devices, when they are ruled by that extreme wing of their caucus and blinded by the idea of law and order, they come up with bills that have to be amended.
Conditional sentencing has been mentioned. When we began looking at Bill C-9, the first justice bill the Conservatives introduced—the member for London West will recall—we were told that conditional sentences represented only 5% of sentences.
If you look at all the sentences handed down in all the courts in Canada in recent years for which records have been kept, you see that conditional sentences, which allow offenders to serve their sentence in the community under supervision, represented only 5% of sentences.
If we had adopted the bill as introduced by the Conservatives, all offences punishable by more than two years in prison might have been excluded from this tool judges have for determining how a sentence can be served in the community.
I repeat that I am extremely disappointed with the attitude of the Prime Minister, who asks the opposition to vote for bills, but will not tolerate any amendments to those bills. How can anyone be so authoritarian? How can anyone be so cavalier? How can anyone be so disrespectful of Canadian democracy and tell the 57% or 58% of Canadians who did not elect Conservative members that if their representatives do not fall into line with the Conservative platform, they cannot introduce amendments in this House?
I assure my colleagues that we are going to consider the issue and that we will work very quickly, with all due diligence. And we will introduce amendments if we feel that they are in the interest of the people we represent.
The government wants this bill to go to committee quickly. The leaders have agreed on this. Later today, the whip will introduce a motion, and once again we have offered to cooperate.
Next week, we will have this bill before us, but we will not allow ourselves to be led by the nose by this government. When the Conservatives were in opposition, they were intractable and often mean-spirited. They constantly, systematically filibustered. Never have I seen such filibustering. Sometimes it went on day and night.
The current Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food did the filibustering. He led this House in circles regarding employment equity. At the time, I was a young, naive and vulnerable member. I had just been elected and was experiencing my first filibuster. Furthermore, the current Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development was uncompromising on the issue of employment equity, which was under the responsibility of the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
They cannot have it both ways. A person cannot say that it is fine to filibuster when they are in opposition, only to turn around, once they are in the governing party, and refuse the opposition's right to present amendments. This is irresponsible and disrespectful.
Bill C-2 merges five pieces of legislation. Of those pieces of legislation, the Bloc Québécois supported four of them, with amendments. In committee, of course, we will not ask to repeat the work that has already been done.
However, we have a problem with Bill C-27, concerning dangerous offenders. As we all know, the Criminal Code has included provisions on this matter since 1947. In the past, we did not use the term dangerous offender, but rather habitual criminal. I wonder whether certain members, those who have been practising law for some time, remember that expression. The Liberals already changed those provisions by creating a new category of dangerous offenders—long-term offenders—in Bill C-55.
What is our line of questioning? I would like to be clear. I am telling the government that the Bloc Québécois would like to see three main groups of witnesses. First, we would like to hear constitutional experts on the constitutionality of the reverse onus principle, in the same terms in which this bill was presented.
We would then like to see a second group of witnesses. I would remind the House that when the Minister of Justice appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, he was unable to tell us what it is about the administrative and judicial process for dangerous offenders that is not working.
Currently, a person can be labelled a dangerous offender after committing a first serious offence. Section 753 of the Criminal Code is very clear. If there is any reason to believe that that an individual is likely to cause a death, is out of control, or is likely to reoffend, that person can be declared a dangerous offender after a first offence. I am not saying that this is what usually happens. We are not talking about a large number of people here. About 350 people have been declared dangerous offenders, and some of them have been released under mandatory supervision. Of course, most of them are inside federal prisons.
We will run this by constitutional experts. It is our responsibility to ensure that this bill is not unconstitutional. We will ask people who make their living dealing with this issue before the courts to explain to us which parts of the current legislation are not working.
We will also ask a third group of witnesses about the list of offences. In the bill before us today, five types of offences would result in an individual being declared a dangerous offender. Naturally, most of them are serious crimes, such as attempted murder, murder, homicide and serious sexual crimes.
The government wants to expand this list to include 42 offences. The preliminary list includes 22 offences, one of which is assault. I do not wish to downplay the importance of assault. However, should an individual who has been convicted of assault three times be put on a list of dangerous offenders, with all of the consequences that entails?
There is a list of designated offences, which, I agree, are offences generally punishable by a sentence of more than five years. The question is, do we need to take this further? Is it important to have these two lists of offences?
Why ask this question? We are not questioning the fact that we need provisions in the Criminal Code for people who are so dangerous and present such a risk of recidivism that they need to be designated long term offenders, or dangerous offenders. A dangerous offender is someone who can be imprisoned for an indefinite period. Obviously, they are denied their freedom and denied eligibility for parole. Certainly—and I am not afraid to say so—this is justified in some situations. We understand that for some individuals there is no chance for rehabilitation and they have to be imprisoned for an indeterminate period.
Nonetheless, it is our responsibility to ensure that if we are going to pass legislation that considerably broadens the scope of this rule—which is in fact an exception to the general rule—then we have to be able to verify the facts in committee in order to make sure there is no risk of abuse or excess.
As hon. members know, the Conservatives are driven by partisan political considerations. That is “partisan” with a capital “P”.
As it stands, the crime rate has gone down in Canada. In any event, the homicide rate has gone down. The incidence of violent crime has gone down. I am not saying there has not been a worrisome increase in property crime in certain communities. However, generally speaking, we know full well that for a number of years now, major crime, such as homicide—crimes involving violence—has gone down year after year.
Criminologists who have studied these issues are saying that there is no correlation between a reliance on imprisonment and lower crime rates in a society. We do not live in a safer society and the communities are not safer because of widespread prison sentencing.
We know that the United States has an incarceration rate seven times greater than Canada's. In Canada, there are 132 or 134 prisoners for every 100,000 people.
Tackling Violent Crime Act
October 26th, 2007 / 10:35 a.m.
Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB
Mr. Speaker, on Bill C-2 and justice issues in general, I heard just recently in the House the term “a revolving door”. The only revolving door is the justice minister and officials in the Conservative Party going in and out of press conferences announcing and reannouncing the same bills on which they pulled the plug.
With respect to Bill C-2, I have reviewed all the material. I sat in on all the committee hearings. What I have recently discovered, through obtaining a bill briefing, is a note from the Prime Minister about Bill C-2, in that it regurgitates all the bills we dealt with in the last Parliament. The message from the Prime Minister is that he is sorry that he pulled the plug on Parliament and flushed all the good work of the justice committee down the drain.
That is what happened. All these bills were well on their way. They were going through the due process of Parliament, which followed the rules of parliaments before, and they were on the way to being in effect.
The reason we are here today is that the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament and those bills were killed in their tracks. It is not true that perhaps that is why the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament but I think it is. In fact, I think that is why we have a new session.
I may be new and I may be in the back row but I read the papers and I know what is going on. Parliament was prorogued and all legislation was stopped in its tracks.
What is important to remind ourselves, and the Canadian public will want to know, is that there were 13 bills in the justice dossier and 7 of them were passed and are now the law of Canada.
As a member of the justice committee, I would expect all parties to tell all members of the justice committee that it was a job well done, that seven out of thirteen justice bills that affect the citizens of Canada are now law. Five of those bills are currently the subject of Bill C-2, which I will turn to, and one, mysteriously, of the thirteen bills, the criminal procedure act, which all parties agreed to unanimously, was a creature of a previous Parliament and which all prosecutors are waiting intently for. These prosecutors are the people who are on the front lines, as well as the police officers, in the criminal justice system. I suppose they are wondering why, despite the offer to fast track the bill by this party and despite the unanimous support by the justice committee, Bill C-23 has not been moved up. Perhaps in the government's haste and the revolving door of the press circle and the press club, it forgot to bring along an important bill.
Overall, the 13 bills, the 7 passed and the 1 dropped by an incompetent justice minister and the parliamentary secretary for forgetting that, and the 5 we are about to discuss, all of these bills need to be enforced. Each police officer, prosecutor, probation officer and corrections official, all those people in the system need to know that if there are 13 new laws, 12 because 1 was dropped by the incompetent ministry, but if there are 12 new bills we need to know we have the resources to put them into effect.
It is urgent for the public to know that despite a promise by the government, the law and order government, the tough on crime government, it is toothless without following up on the promise of 2,500 new police officers and the false promise in the Speech from the Throne for 1,000 new RCMP officers when the RCMP cannot recruit 1,000 officers. It is behind in its recruitment. It is a meaningless, toothless promise to the people of Canada but, even worse, it takes away the hope of the Canadian Police Association, the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs, the prosecutors and the probation officers, all the people who must put into effect, on a daily basis, the laws of the justice system.
I want to emphasize that the party on this side of the House is not so fickle. We support our justice system. We support our judges, our prosecutors, and all of the police officers who are responsible for protecting Canadians.
Over the past 18 months, the Liberal Party has undertaken a thorough review of the legislation pertaining to crime while the Conservatives have been busy playing political games. The Prime Minister put an end to this Parliament's activities and committee work, thereby throwing out the amendments that this bill sought to make to five acts. It is his fault that these five acts have not yet been amended.
We on this side of the House have faith in our justice system and are convinced that it will keep the peace in our communities.
I say that because it should be a non-partisan issue that we all believe in a safe community. We are all here as parliamentarians, surely, to ensure that we have a safe community. We may differ on the avenue to get there, but how much did we, the Liberal Party of Canada and its members on the justice committee, really differ from the plan of the Conservative Party in general and, more importantly, in the organic process which is called the development of criminal law through amendments to the Criminal Code?
I say to the House and to the public: not much.
There were 13 bills proposed. Seven passed and there are five in Bill C-2 that we are substantially in agreement on because they would have been law by now had Parliament not been prorogued, and I must say for the record that there is one that has been dropped by the government and that we are also in favour of.
So how is it that we, in trying to keep the community safe, are against the elements in Bill C-2 and the elements in these bills? I will repeat them: Bill C-9, on conditional sentences; Bill C-18, on DNA identification; Bill C-19, on street racing; Bill C-25, on proceeds of crime; Bill C-26, on criminal rate of interest; and just to add two others that were not part of Bill C-2, Bill C-48, on the implementation of a UN convention against corruption, and Bill C-59, on the unauthorized recording of a movie. These have all been supported.
But there is more. I hear members on the opposite side talk about 13 years of inaction with respect to criminal justice and I think the Canadian public would be interested to know that these laws, while continuing on the evolution of our criminal law and making our community safer, are but part of the Criminal Code of Canada.
On the Criminal Code of Canada, I might say this in a moment of non-partisanship and to congratulate a Conservative politician, albeit a dead one.When Prime Minister John Thompson, a Conservative prime minister, was minister of justice he essentially created and adapted the criminal law of Canada into a code that we would follow in this country. I want to get credit for giving plaudits to a Conservative in this place.
A principal part of the Criminal Code of Canada, which we have been talking about since I have been in Parliament, is sentencing. What is sentencing? The purpose and principles of sentencing are set out in section 718. I hear very often in this place and at the revolving door of the press conference centre for the Conservative Party of Canada that there is but one principle in sentencing, that is, to put the bad guys away.
I know this is a novel concept for those who are directing the Conservative justice agenda, but why do we not refer to what the law says about the purpose and principles of sentencing? They are set out in section 718. I am not going to read this word for word because it tends to be bogged down in particularness and assuredness and literal things that, again, the Conservative justice team really knows nothing about, having adopted and written such sloppy legislation that it had to be sent to committee to be fixed.
However, in general, there are six important factors or principles in sentencing. It is the reason we have sentences for people who have committed crimes. One principle is to denounce unlawful conduct. That is the one I hear about most often from the Conservative justice team. That is a valid principle, but it is one of six.
What are the others? One is to deter the offender from doing it again. That is another one I hear a lot about. The point over here is that those two of the six are very important. We are not shirking the importance of those. The law does not say that any one is more important than the other. It is a guidepost to judges who make our law pursuant to what they read here. It is a guidepost to say that we will denounce unlawful conduct. Yes, we will, by bringing in this sentence. We will deter the person or any person in the public from doing it again. They are two very important objectives.
However, that is where the Conservative justice team stops most of the time. The Conservatives forget that they must separate offenders from society when necessary and that they must assist in rehabilitating offenders. This is not to mean that the criminal gets more justice than the victim. What it means is that if there is a chance to rehabilitate an offender before that offender is reintegrated into society, or after, we ought to take that chance. Society is not safer, and let us remember that this safety is the principal goal of all parliamentarians here, by sending a more dangerous person back into the community after his or her sentence is served. It is a very important principle, as important as deterrence and as important as denouncing unlawful conduct.
The fifth aspect is to provide reparations for harm done to victims. That is very key. I will get into speaking about Bill C-9, which was a failed bill and flawed until it was amended at committee by all parties. One of the key aspects of Bill C-9 was to amend it to allow some white collar criminals, for lack of a better term, who had done a very denunciatory offence, which should be deterred, such as acts of stealing money through a breach of trust from someone, say, the option of a conditional sentence. It was to allow them to make reparations and restitution during the term of their sentence when it might mean the difference between an aged person with a stolen RRSP account getting that money back or not.
It gave back discretion to the judge, which he or she had in the first place, and it was a very necessary amendment to a flawed and hasty bill to make sure that this principle of sentencing, that is, to provide reparation for harm done to victims, was put in place. It was made better law by the intervention of the committee.
The final principle is to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, an acknowledgement of the harm done to victims and to the community. What that is about is making sure that these offenders are not so divorced from the community in which they live, so that they know when they have done wrong that they have a responsibility to that community to be remorseful, to make amends and, I think very importantly, to reintegrate into that community if possible. We should never forget that.
The overall principle, and it is written as the fundamental principle in section 718.1 of the code, is that of the proportionality, of the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender. This is a very important principle, which judges rely on all the time.
I hear members speak about 13 years of Liberal inactivity. Actually I was not here for any of those 13 years. I was on the outside looking at all of the criminal justice bills that had been brought in during that time. I remember that it was a Liberal minister of justice who brought in the whole concept of mandatory minimums, which at the revolving door of the Conservatives' press circle was as if it was invented by them. I wonder if they invented the laws of gravity and found the North American continent. I suspect not, Mr. Speaker, and I do not suppose you could answer objectively if they say they have somewhere else, but I am not sure that they would not stand here and say that they have.
They did not invent mandatory minimums. The other sentencing principles in section 718.2 were brought in, in successive Liberal governments, by amendments in 1995, 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2005. All of those amendments in section 718.2 were brought in to recognize the changing nature of our society and to allow judges for the first time in the history of the Criminal Code to take into account these factors when sentencing, either in increasing or in decreasing the sentences, and I am very proud of that.
These factors include evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate. It is the first time that it was codified that a judge should take into account hate crimes when sentencing. For any crimes committed based on someone's ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation and other factors, is it not correct, right and fair in this society that those sentences were brought in and that judges should be told to take into account those factors in section 718.2, or whether the violence was against a spouse or common law partner?
Is it not important, for instance, that a judge be given that discretion to increase a sentence if the crime was against a spouse or a common law partner, or if the crime was done to a person of tender years under the age of 18? Is it not important that this be taken into account?
Is it not important, as it says in subparagraph 718.2(a)(iii), whether or not the person who committed the crime “abused a position of trust or authority”, or also whether the person was a member of a criminal organization, or that the offence was a terrorism offence?
All of these factors were in judges' hands before 2005. These were not invented by the Newtons over there in the last 18 months. They were there, it was Liberal legislation, and I presume it had all party support because it makes such sense.
Finally, in the principles of sentencing categories, paragraph 718.2(e) has the all important factor of recognizing that if an offender is of aboriginal origin or from a first nations community special circumstances should be put in place. We found during much of the deliberation at committee that this sentencing principle was often ignored.
I look at the amendments in place with respect to Bill C-10 and Bill C-9. It is a particular affront to this established sentencing principle, and it seems to have been completely forgotten by the Conservative government, that these two important sections of the code had existed before the Conservative government took place and certainly will exist when it moves on into the sunset.
About the laws in Bill C-2 and why it is so easy on this side for us to say we support the bill, it is important to remember that we on this side, and the members of the justice committee from the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois will vouch for this, and the members of the justice committee had made Bill C-10 and the mandatory minimum aspect a better bill when it left committee. Arrogantly, and without respect for the work of the all party committee, the Conservative justice team, coming yet again from the revolving door of the press club, suggested that it would put in at report stage the entire bill as it was before.
However, over the summer I think the Conservatives had blueberry festivals and strawberry festivals and must have eaten some humble pie at some festival, as they decided that they would accept the amendments as they came from the committee, reintroducing Bill C-2 with the Bill C-10 amendments to make our community a better place and enlarge upon the mandatory minimums that were already in place under the Liberal justice program before the Conservatives took office.
The other bill that needs clarification on why it is an acceptable bill now, and why it was never acceptable when the amateur Conservative justice team brought the topic up before, is Bill C-22, the age of consent bill.
I have heard well-meaning, honest and forthright members of the House, such as the member for Wild Rose, say that he and his colleagues could never get an age of consent or age of protection bill through the Commons. I was disturbed by that. I asked why we would not protect our young persons. Why would we not get in line with many of the communities around the world which recognize that consent may not be freely given by a 14 year old when the world has become smaller and the age of the predator is upon us?
I looked into it. There were two very fundamental flaws with all bills that were presented as part of a justice package by an opposition entitled the Conservative opposition. They are as follows.
There was absolutely no close in age exemption. This bill, Bill C-22, contains a close in age exemption, making it flexible enough to recognize that not every relationship that is separated by a number of years is a relationship between an innocent young child and a sexual predator.
Finally, as I wrap up, age of consent as presented previously would have criminalized normal adolescent sexual activity which, whether the Conservatives like it or not, is out there, and 14 year olds and 15 year olds having relations are protected by this. It does prevent sexual predators from preying on the young. It is good legislation.
In summary, the five bills in Bill C-2 are good law because the committee made them so. I encourage the Conservative justice team, the Prime Minister and all Conservatives out there to watch what they write, to watch what they present to Parliament, and to not keep going through that revolving door called the press circle to give press releases without having done their homework to ensure that they are passing good laws which will make Canada safer.
Tackling Violent Crime Act
October 26th, 2007 / 10:05 a.m.
Rob Moore Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to join in the debate on Bill C-2, the tackling violent crime act.
As the Minister of Justice noted when he spoke in reply to the Speech from the Throne, safe streets and secure communities are the Canadian way of life. This is what I would like to focus my remarks on today, how we are building a stronger, safer and better Canada, beginning with Bill C-2.
I have had many opportunities, as probably all members in the House have had, to talk with my constituents, parents, community leaders, police, lawyers, and many others about their concern with crime and what we should do about it.
What I have heard has likely been heard by all hon. members as they have travelled throughout their ridings and indeed across Canada. Canadians are clearly expecting their government to take concrete and effective action to tackle crime.
Unlike previous governments on this issue, the current government listens. We share these concerns and we have made tackling crime a key priority for our government. We have made it a key priority for our government because it is a key priority for Canadians, but there is so much more that needs to be done.
We know what crime looks like in Canada. Crime statistics have been recorded since 1962 so we have 45 years of information. Statistics Canada reported last July that the overall national crime rate has decreased for the second year in a row.
We all want to see a lower crime rate. So this is the good news. But the national crime rate is an average and does not tell us about some of the more serious problems or localized problems.
The long term trends over the last few generations show us what we all know in the House, that crime has increased drastically. Since the 1970s, for example, the violent crime rate has increased 98%, but the national crime rate does not tell us what may be going on in individual communities. Community leaders, victims groups and law enforcement know their particular challenges, and we are listening to them.
Many Canadians have lost confidence in the criminal justice system and question if it is doing enough to protect them. They know that violent crime is all too common. They dread hearing statistics like those released on October 17 by Statistics Canada.
Those statistics tell us that 4 out of 10, or 40% of victims of violent crimes sustained injuries. They tell us that half of violent crimes occurred at private residences. They tell us that firearms were involved in 30% of homicides, 31% of attempted murders and 13% of robberies committed. They tell us that one out of every six victims of violent crimes was a youth aged 12 to 17 years old and children under 12 years of age account for 23% of victims of sexual assaults and 5% of victims of violent crimes.
Canadians are looking to the federal government to work with them to restore community safety. The government understands the need for leadership in criminal justice and this is what our tackling crime priority, and our commitment in this regard is all about. It is about reducing all crime and providing an effective criminal justice system. Our plan is ambitious, but Canadians can count on us to get it done. As they have seen on other issues, we have been able to get things done for all Canadians.
In the last session of Parliament the government tabled 13 crime bills. This is proof of our commitment to address crime and safety issues in our communities. It is interesting to note that it was 13 crime bills as it was 13 years of Liberal governments that have left us with a revolving door justice system in which Canadians have lost faith, a justice system that Canadians feel puts the rights of criminals ahead of the rights of everyday, law-abiding Canadians. This is what our government is going to address.
Six of these crime bills, of the 13, received royal assent and are now the law or will soon become the law. For example, one of the government's first bills and first priorities was to curtail the use of conditional sentences or house arrest for serious violent crimes.
We all know the issue of house arrest. In all of our ridings we have heard cases where someone has committed a very serious, sometimes violent, crime and there is an expectation in the community that there will be a severe consequence for someone who commits a severe crime. All too often the community is outraged when it hears that criminals will be serving out their sentence from the comfort of their own home.
Bill C-9, which received royal assent on May 31, 2007, and will be coming into force on December 1, 2007, makes it clear that conditional sentences or house arrest will not be an option for serious personal injury offences, terrorism offences, and organized crime offences where the maximum term of imprisonment is 10 years or more.
This change was a long time coming. It is well past due and Canadians will be better served by a justice system that does not allow, for these serious offences, criminals to serve a sentence in their own home. Canadians wanted this change.
Bill C-18 strengthened the laws governing the national DNA data bank. This will facilitate police investigation of crimes. Bill C-18 received royal assent on June 22, 2007. Some provisions are already in force and others will soon be proclaimed in force.
Bill C-19 made Canada's streets safer by enacting new offences to specifically combat street racing. These new offences built upon existing offences, including dangerous driving and criminal negligence, and provide higher maximum penalties of incarceration for the most serious of street racing offences.
As well, mandatory driving prohibition will be imposed on those convicted of street racing. In the most serious cases involving repeat street racing offenders, a mandatory lifetime driving prohibition can now be imposed.
We also took concrete steps to protect users of payday loans. Bill C-26, which received royal assent on May 3, 2007, makes it an offence to enter into an agreement or an arrangement to receive interest at a criminal rate or to receive payment of an interest at a criminal rate. The criminal rate of interest is defined as exceeding 60% per year.
We also took further measures to combat corruption. Bill C-48 enacted Criminal Code amendments to enable Canada to ratify and implement the United Nations convention against corruption on October 2, 2007. By ratifying the convention, Canada has joined 92 other state parties committed to working with the international community to take preventative measures against corruption.
Our bill to stop film piracy or camcording, Bill C-59, received widespread support. It was quickly passed and received royal assent on June 22, 2007.
Unfortunately, none of our other important crime bills progressed to enactment before Parliament prorogued. That is why the tackling violent crime act reintroduces the provisions of the following bills that died on the order paper.
Bill C-22, which increased the age of protection against adult sexual exploitation, has been included, as passed by the House of Commons.
Bill C-32, addressing drug impaired driving and impaired driving in general, has been introduced as amended by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and reported to the House of Commons.
Bill C-35, imposing a reverse onus for bail for firearms offences, has been included in this new bill, as passed by the House of Commons. This bill will make it tougher for those who have committed a firearms offence to received bail and be back out on the street.
Bill C-27, addressing dangerous and repeat violent offenders, as originally introduced, is included in this bill, but with some further amendments, which I will elaborate on shortly.
The tackling violent crime act respects the parliamentary process and includes the bills as amended by committee or as passed by the House of Commons, and in the same state that they were when Parliament was prorogued. As a result, these reforms are familiar, or should be familiar, to all members of this House, and so I would call on all hon. members to quickly pass the tackling violent crime act.
Indeed, many hon. members have already stated that they support these reforms. There is therefore no need to further debate these reforms or for a prolonged study of the provisions that Parliament has already debated and committees have already scrutinized. It is time for us all to demonstrate our commitment to safeguarding Canadians and for safer communities, and to quickly move this bill forward.
For those who need more convincing, I would like to reiterate that the tackling violent crime act addresses a range of serious issues that put Canadians at risk: gun crimes, impaired driving, sexual offences against children and dangerous offenders.
We know that Canadians expect their government to take action and to protect them from these crimes. To do so, we need the support of all hon. members, as well as Canadians, our partners in the provinces and the territories, and law enforcement and community groups.
Time does not permit me to address each of the equally important elements of Bill C-2. I know that other members will rise to speak to the reforms that are of most concern to them. I propose to highlight a few of the issues that have been raised repeatedly with me by my constituents, and I am sure by constituents in ridings held by all hon. members, in particular, about impaired driving, the age of consent and dangerous offenders.
Alcohol and drug impaired driving have devastating effects for victims, for families and for communities. Impaired drivers are responsible for thousands of fatalities and injuries each year, not to mention billions of dollars in property damage.
Once the tackling violent crime act is the law, impaired drivers will face tough punishment, no matter which intoxicant they choose, and police and prosecutors will have the tools that they need to deal with these offences.
Although drug impaired driving has always been a crime, until recently, police have not had the same tools available to stop those who drive while impaired by drugs that they have to address alcohol impaired driving. Under this bill, they will.
The tackling violent crime act strengthens the ability of police, prosecutors and the courts to investigate, prosecute and sentence those who endanger the safety of other Canadians through alcohol or drug impaired driving. I know that all hon. members recognize the pressing need to ensure the safety of our streets, highways, communities and our schools. By giving police the tools they need to combat impaired driving, we are doing that.
These reforms were applauded by the stakeholders and supported in the House of Commons. I am sure every member of Parliament in the House has received correspondence urging them to support the bill. There should be no impediments to making progress on this part of the tackling violent crime act.
The act also reintroduces the reforms to raise the age at which young people can consent to sexual activity from 14 to 16 years of age. The bill takes away the ability, and let us be clear on what the bill does, of adult sexual predators to rely on claims that their young victims consented.
Again, these reforms were welcomed by child advocates and supported in the House as part of former Bill C-22, so there is no need for further debate. We can move ahead.
It is worth spending a few moments to focus on the dangerous and high risk offender provisions of former Bill C-27. Some of these provisions have been modified and, therefore, hon. members may want to scrutinize these aspects more than the other reforms included in the tackling violent crime act.
The dangerous offender reforms in Bill C-2 respond to the concerns highlighted in the debates and before the justice committee, and by provincial attorneys general. I am sure that all hon. members will agree that these modifications are welcomed.
As members will recall, former Bill C-27 was tabled in the House last October. That bill included dramatic enhancements to the sentencing and management of the very worst of the worst, those offenders who repeatedly commit violent and sexual crimes and who require special attention, because it has become clear that the regular criminal sentencing regime simply cannot effectively manage the small but violent and dangerous group of offenders.
The tackling violent crime act includes all of the original amendments to the Criminal Code from the former Bill C-27, as well as two important changes which will go further in protecting Canadians from dangerous offenders.
First, let me provide an overview of the provisions brought forward into the House under Bill C-27. It includes the requirement in dangerous offender hearings that an offender be presumed to meet the dangerous offender criteria upon a third conviction for a primary designated offence. In other words, an offence that is on the list of the 12 most violent or sexual offences that typically trigger dangerous offender designations.
Second, the bill would also place a requirement on crown prosecutors to inform the court that they had fully considered whether to pursue a dangerous offender application. This is to prevent these applications from falling through the cracks. This would occur in cases where an offender had been convicted for a third time of a relatively serious sexual or violent offence.
The declaration is intended to ensure more consistent use of the dangerous offender sentence by the Crown in all jurisdictions. Although the Crown must indicate whether it has considered bringing a dangerous offender application, we are not dictating to it that it must do so. We are not attempting to arbitrarily fetter the discretion of the Crown or of the court. Rather, we are providing a way to make sure that the Crown turns its mind to the issue of a dangerous offender application.
Third, Bill C-2 would also bring forward the very significant reforms to the section 810.1 and 810.2 peace bond provisions that enable any person to apply to a court to ask for stringent conditions to be imposed against individuals who are felt to pose a threat of sexual or violent offending in the community.
We have all heard the horror stories from one end of the country to the other of someone who is known to be a threat to commit a sexual or violent offence against an innocent member of the community. There is often great frustration among Canadians at the perceived inability for government, for officials, for police, to act to protect the community from a subsequent violent or sexual offence.
Specifically, we are doubling the duration of peace bonds from one year to two years. We are also providing specific authority for the court to impose conditions regarding curfews, electronic monitoring, treatment requirements and other prohibitions as well as making it very clear that the court may impose any conditions it feels are necessary to ensure public safety.
Since the tabling of the former Bill C-27 last October, provincial attorneys general have raised concerns about violent offenders who are found to be dangerous offenders, but are not receiving indeterminate sentences. This is due to a finding that they could be managed under the long term offender designation.
The long term offender sentencing option currently in the Criminal Code allows a court to sentence an individual to a regular sentence of imprisonment, but add up to 10 years of intensive community supervision to the sentence.
Based on the interpretation of the lower courts of the 2003 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Johnson, many individuals who fully meet the designation of a dangerous offender have nonetheless been given long term offender designation instead. The Crown has been unable to convince the sentencing court that the offenders could not be managed under the less severe sentence option.
The big concern is that some of these individuals may not in fact be suitable for community supervision sentences. Yet, until they commit another violent sentence, their status as a dangerous offender cannot be reviewed by a court. I should mention, and it should be obvious, until they commit another violent offence, then it is too late for the community, for innocent victims and for families.
Given the concerns expressed since former Bill C-27 was tabled, the government has been examining the scope of this problem and developing potential solutions. It is clear that a large proportion of the individuals who meet the dangerous offender criteria, but have been given a less severe sentence, have demonstrated that they simply refuse to cooperate. The majority eventually breach one or more of the conditions of their long term supervision order. This is a clear indicator that the original sentence was based on a flawed presumption that the offender was manageable. As such, there is a real need to revisit the original sentence in order to stop the reoffending right then and there before another tragedy occurs.
The tackling violent crime act addresses this problem and includes new provisions that were not included in the former bill.
First, the tackling violent crime act makes it clear that from now on if offenders meet the dangerous offender criteria, they will always be designated as a dangerous offender first, and that designation is for life. The court must then determine the appropriate sentence, either an indeterminate sentence or a determinate sentence, with or without the long term offender supervision order. Critical to this scheme is that from now on the court must impose an indeterminate sentence unless it is satisfied that the offenders can be managed under a less severe sentence.
Second, in cases where dangerous offenders are able to satisfy the court that they can be managed under the lesser sentence and are subsequently charged and convicted with a breach of a long term supervision order, they can be brought back to the court for a new sentencing hearing. At the new hearing, dangerous offenders will have to satisfy the court once again that they can still be managed under the lesser sentence. If not, the indeterminate sentence must be imposed.
The government believes that the impact of these new reforms will be significant. Because of the clarification to the sentencing provisions, fewer offenders will escape the dangerous offender designation. In addition, for the few offenders who are declared to be dangerous offenders, but given a long term offender sentence, they will know that if they do not abide by the term of their supervision orders once released, they will be returned to court for a new sentencing hearing and an indeterminate sentence will be the likely outcome.
It will not take a second sexual assault or a second violent offence to bring the offender back for a new dangerous offender sentence. This new provision would be available, for example, even if the violation were simply that the offender failed to return to his residence before curfew or consumed alcohol or drugs in violation of a long term offender supervision order.
Our government remains committed to ensuring that all Canadians live in safe and secure communities. The tackling violent crime act will protect Canadians. It is fulfilling our commitments to Canadians. The government is committed to taking action, acting on behalf of the safety of all Canadians. I urge all members to support the tackling violent crime act.
Message from the Senate
June 22nd, 2007 / 12:20 p.m.
The Speaker Peter Milliken
I have the honour to inform the House that when the House did attend Her Excellency the Governor General in the Senate chamber Her Excellency was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill S-6, An Act to amend the First Nations Land Management Act--Chapter 17;
Bill C-277, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (luring a child)--Chapter 20;
Bill C-18, An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identification--Chapter 22;
Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (adoption)--Chapter 24;
Bill C-47, An Act respecting the protection of marks related to the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games and protection against certain misleading business associations and making a related amendment to the Trade-marks Act--Chapter 25;
Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Quarantine Act--Chapter 27;
It being 12:23 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 17, 2007, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
The first session of the 39th Parliament was prorogued by royal proclamation on September 14, 2007.
Message from the Senate
June 22nd, 2007 / 12:05 p.m.
The Speaker Peter Milliken
I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing this House that the Senate has passed the following bills:
June 13th, 2007 / 4:55 p.m.
The Acting Speaker Royal Galipeau
Pursuant to order made earlier today, Bill C-59, an act to amend the Criminal Code (unauthorized recording of a movie) is deemed read the second time, referred to a committee of the whole, reported without amendment, concurred in at report stage, read a third time and passed.
(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time, considered in committee of the whole, reported, concurred in, read the third time and passed)
June 13th, 2007 / 4:30 p.m.
Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
First, I believe the bill that we are now discussing deals only with the Criminal Code. There are some clauses that create two new infractions: the first being recording of a film without the consent of the theatre manager, and the second being, seeking to distribute that film for commercial purposes without consent. That is the objective of Bill C-59.
Obviously, I understand the question from my colleague. For example, the Bloc Québécois, through our spokesperson, the member for Saint-Lambert, has expressed concern over the disengagement at the start of the year by certain cablevision distributors who refused to make their contributions to the Canadian Television Fund. The balance that my colleague spoke about is certainly in the facility that we must afford to international distributors, but also in the encouragement that is necessary for Canadian internal, domestic production.
As I stated in my remarks, producing a film requires millions of dollars. Therefore, if we want to see cultural products that reflect Quebec and Canada, with domestic producers, it is obvious that some public funds have to be made available to producers. I must congratulate the Minister of Justice for his diligent work. However, I have very great concerns about the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Status of Women.
In all friendship, I must say that two ministers in this government make the opposition break into a cold sweat. First, there is the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Status of Women. I confess that she is rather hard to understand. In terms of policies, we have no idea where she wants to go and she has caused great concern over the whole question of festivals.
The Minister of the Environment is another case. He is a likeable person, but with regard to Kyoto and our international commitments, we also have grounds for concern.
So, I congratulate the Minister of Justice and I ask the two other ministers to come to their senses. I have a great deal of respect for the Minister of the Environment. I am told that he was one of the youngest ministers in the Mike Harris government. I invite him to come to his senses and become the champion of the environment. The member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie is available, at any time, under any circumstances, to meet with the Minister of the Environment. He will always find an informed member, moderate, balanced and knowledgeable of the issues, in the person of the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.
June 13th, 2007 / 4:15 p.m.
Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC
Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the government for responding to the requests made by certain parliamentarians who, I acknowledge, are from all parties in this House. Congratulations for responding to the presentations by the film industry.
I am a member from Montreal. You know that Montreal, Old Montreal, Saint-Joseph's Oratory, the Olympic Park and the major tourist areas of Quebec are sites often used by producers for filming. For example, Château Dufresne is located in my riding. I do not know if some of you have visited this middle-class residence that is open to the public.
Maisonneuve was an independent city annexed by the City of Montreal in 1918. The Dufresnes were philanthropists to some extent. They held various positions, including that of city engineer. They played a very important role in the development of what was a working class city. Maisonneuve was deemed to be the Pittsburgh of Canada, as industry was very prosperous, particularly what we would call traditional industries such as footwear and clothing manufacturers and the Vickers shipyard.
Thus, given that Hochelaga-Maisonneuve is a popular location for filming, we had to respond to the industry's concerns, especially since movies first and foremost require financial arrangements. There is perhaps a tendency to overlook that fact. It costs millions of dollars to make a movie. Producers receive support from public organizations; however, private capital is also invested. Therefore, in cinematography, in the film industry, the issue of intellectual property is important.
I will digress briefly. Counterfeiting, not just of movies but of other products, is a reality that should concern us. I see my colleague from Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, who was on the committee. Last night, I was rereading the Report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security tabled a few days ago. This committee carried out a brief but rather interesting review of the entire issue of counterfeiting, including the issue of movie pirating. I will read from page six of the report:
To date, Canada has no comprehensive independent study of the impact of counterfeiting and piracy. That being said, the Manufacturers and Exporters of Canada estimate the economic impact of these activities to be between $20 and $30 billion a year. Chief Superintendent Mike Cabana (Director General, Border Integrity, Federal and International Operations, RCMP) for his part said that “[w]hile the RCMP are not prepared to give exact figures […] I'm comfortable stating that the impact [of these activities in Canada] is easily in the billions of dollars, and it is growing.”
Why read this excerpt from the report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security that has roughly 14 recommendations? Because, of course, this may seem trivial, but everyone has a responsibility, as parliamentarians, citizens or consumers, to ensure that the products we consume are not counterfeit. We have to be careful not to encourage the counterfeiting phenomenon.
This reality applies to the film industry, for which Montreal is a major centre. Distributors come to shoot scenes at the St. Joseph Oratory, at the Château Dufresne, in Old Montreal or at Olympic Park. The industry has rallied together.
The Canadian Film and Television Production Association has made representations to the minister and all the opposition parties. It was these representations that prompted me to propose a motion in March in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
The motion received almost unanimous support. All the government members supported the motion, and I thank them for that. All the Liberal colleagues supported it as well, with the exception of the hon. member for Scarborough Centre, who felt there was duplication—which was not the case. Of course, the Bloc Québécois supported the motion, as did our NDP colleagues.
My motion was the following. I will read it to remind everyone of its importance and how it responds to a concern felt by a number of parliamentarians. I proposed that the committee consider the following:
Whereas since the discovery of the first case of camcorder piracy in Canada in 2003, more than 90 films have been copied in more than 40 different movie theatres in Canada;
Whereas in 2005, the counterfeiting attributable to copies made in Canadian movie theatres accounted for roughly 20% of all copies recorded in a theatre on a camcorder;—
According to the American Film Distributors' Association, Canada was responsible for 20% of international film pirating. It is even reported that Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Prime Minister discussed this when they met. Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie career is well known. Some people even joke that he is my double.
I will now read the second part of the motion:
It is moved:
That the Standing Committee on Justice devote a sitting to analysis of the problem of pirating of films in Canada, and that representatives of the industry and of the Department of Justice be invited to appear before the Committee;
That this sitting be held no later than the Committee’s last sitting in June.
I withdrew my motion because the government introduced its bill, which all the House leaders agreed to fast-track. This House could dispose of the bill today.
What was the issue? What was the problem? Unauthorized reproduction of movies or cinematographic works is prohibited. The Copyright Act provides for a fine of $1 million or up to five years in prison. The problem was this. According to the manager of the Star Cité movie theatre on Pierre-De Coubertin Avenue in Hochelaga, people would come into the theatre with miniature camcorders or similar equipment and, using the appropriate technology, would reproduce any popular movie that was in demand. When the manager called the local police, they refused to intervene, for two reasons. First, unauthorized recording violates the federal Copyright Act, which the RCMP is responsible for enforcing. Not all communities have a unit that is available to take action against movie pirating. Second, the police said that it was necessary not only to catch the counterfeiter in the act, but to prove he or she was reproducing the film for commercial distribution. Neither was easy to do.
This is why the industry has asked for an amendment to the Criminal Code. When a provision is included in the Criminal Code, local bodies responsible for upholding the law—the local precinct in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, for example—can intervene and arrest individuals who violate the Criminal Code.
Once again, I am very happy that the voice of the industry, to which the opposition had lent its support, has been heard by the government. I hope that this House will quickly dispose of Bill C-59, that we will send it to the other place and that our colleagues will act quickly, because there are billions of dollars at stake here.
It is important to send a clear message to the international community that we will not tolerate what is going on now. We are concerned about protecting intellectual property and we want large film distributors to keep seeing Quebec and Canada as places where movies can be filmed, where they can be screened and where they can be premiered.
An American production company has already refused to hold advance screenings in Canada. This situation had to be fixed, since this industry is important to the economy, and impacts a number of different ridings.
I will conclude by congratulating the government for having listened to the industry and the opposition parties.
June 13th, 2007 / 4 p.m.
Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC
Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell you how happy I am about the tabling of Bill C-59. For those who do not know—in addition to what the Minister of Justice said in his speech—two parties worked hard to get the government to finally table such a bill: I worked on behalf of the Liberal Party in my role as official justice critic, and the member for Hochelaga worked on behalf of the Bloc Québécois.
On March 2, I sent instructions to legislative services for drafting a private member's bill to amend the Criminal Code to include criminal offences, as in the government's Bill C-59.
Moreover, my Bloc colleague filed a notice of motion on March 13, 2007, with the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights regarding movie piracy in Canada. The notice of motion asked the committee to devote a sitting to analysis of this problem and to invite representatives of the industry and of the Department of Justice to appear before the committee. It also asked that this sitting be held no later than the committee's last sitting in June.
The minister could have recognized the hard work of my colleague from Hochelaga and of the Liberals on this issue. But he did not, and I do not know why.
The issue of movie piracy is a serious issue for the Canadian industry, the film, movie production, movie distribution industry, as my colleague from North Vancouver mentioned.
I draw the attention of the Speaker to the fact that I will be splitting my time with the member for North Vancouver.
I can give just one example. In 2006 there was a camcording illegally made of a film in a Canadian theatre. That illegal pirated copy went to Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Fiji, the United States, elsewhere in Canada, Peru, Venezuela, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, the U.K., the Ukraine, Hungary and Russia. Copies of the DVDs are made, bootlegged and then sold. That is not all. It was also released on the Internet by 11 different pirate groups. There were streaming sites, new groups, auction sites and P2P networks.
It is a serious problem. The Canadian Motion Picture Distribution Association estimates that in 2005 its members lost $180 million U.S. due to movie piracy in Canada.
Unfortunately, while Quebec is the heart of Canada's cultural industries and has a vibrant film production industry, it has also, via Montreal, become the place for movie piracy.
I have had cinema theatre owners meet with me in Ottawa from Montreal and describe specific events where individuals were illegally camcording. The police were called and the police refused to come. As the Minister of Justice mentioned, the RCMP has experience in applying the Copyright Act, but not the local police.
Let me just give a couple of facts. The Canadian Movie Picture Distribution Association and some of its members has already estimated that the source of illegal camcording of certain blockbuster films, came primarily from Montreal. Those films were Borat, Eragon and Night at the Museum.
Mr. Snyder, who is Twentieth Century Fox's Hollywood based president of domestic distribution, said that at one point in 2006, Canadian theatres were the source for nearly 50% of illegal camcordings across the globe.
For the third year in a row, the U.S. government has placed Canada on its watch list for a lack of intellectual property rights enforcement. As the minister mentioned, that puts our country, Canada, in the same country as notorious film piracy hubs like China, Lebanon, the Philippines and Russia.
That is not all. In the United States the government acted in 2005. The U.S. President signed the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, which made camcording in a theatre, without the consent of the owner, a federal felony. Now 38 of 50 states have specific state laws that impose criminal sanctions against camcorder pirates with both fines and jail time.
Here in Canada we do have the Copyright Act and under the Copyright Act, exhibitors have the ability to lay a criminal complaint before the police and to have that person charged criminally. The problem is, in order to charge someone under the Copyright Act, we have to prove that the individual camcording in the theatre not only does not have consent of the owner but also is doing it for distribution purposes. That is virtually impossible.
In order for the RCMP and local police to be able to do that, they have to mount and invest serious human resources, serious financial resources, and sometimes those kinds of investigations can take several years in order to be able to make that kind of proof before a criminal court.
Let me give the House an example of one of the few film pirates that Canada actually arrested and prosecuted. Several months ago, the police in Richmond B.C. raided a small business in a strip mall, seizing thousands of counterfeit DVDs. The owner, 46 year old Chiu Lau, was arrested and fined for his third time in three years under the Copyright Act. Last Remembrance Day, Lau pleaded guilty to 83 counts under the Copyright Act. What was his sentence? He received a $5,000 fine and a 12 month conditional sentence. He was confined to his home from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. It is ridiculous.
The Liberals will be supporting Bill C-59. I am proud that by the actions of this Liberal Party, this Liberal caucus, by my actions as the justice critic for the Liberals, and by the actions of my colleague of the Bloc Québécois, the MP for Hochelaga, that we were able to bring pressure to bear on the government, which appeared to not be doing anything for some time, and finally did in fact decide to move forward on this.
I would like to congratulate the government for moving forward on this legislation. I would like to congratulate my colleague from the Bloc, the MP for Hochelaga. I would like to thank my Liberal colleagues, who will be supporting this bill.
We do wish to see this bill fast tracked. In fact, we had even offered not to have any speakers if the government would also have no speakers. The government decided, in its wisdom, that it did want the Minister of Justice to speak to it, and therefore Liberals will be speaking to it, and I assume the Bloc and the NDP.
Kudos to the movie industry here in Canada for bringing this to our attention. Kudos to the members of Parliament who will be supporting this bill.
June 13th, 2007 / 3:40 p.m.
Rob Nicholson Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
moved that Bill C-59, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (unauthorized recording of a movie), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to open up the debate on Bill C-59, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (unauthorized recording of a movie).
Camcording is the most significant threat facing the motion picture industry. One good camcorder can trigger an avalanche of illegal downloads and result in bootleg copies in street markets around the world.
In recent months, there has been well-publicized criticism of Canada from some in the United States film industry claiming that Canada is a haven for illegal camcording. For example, in January of this year the Globe and Mail reported that the Hollywood-based president of domestic distribution for one of the major U.S. movie studies had sent a blistering letter to the chief executive of Cineplex Entertainment, Canada's biggest cinema chain.
The letter identified Canadian theatres as a source of illegal camcording and threatened to stop sending copies of all its films to 130 Cineplex movie houses or push back Canadian release dates.
It is also true that the United States trade representative and other American politicians have expressed concerns about Canadian camcording.
Last Thursday, after the government gave notice that it would be introducing anti-camcording legislation, an article entitled “Ottawa muscles in on video piracy ” appeared in the Globe and Mail. The article recalled that Canada was placed on a United States government watch list for a lack of intellectual property rights enforcement, along with the notorious film piracy hubs such as Lebanon, China, the Philippines and Russia.
It might be argued that we are responding to the United States motion picture industry to take action against camcorders, but I would like to emphasize that this issue is important to Canadians as well. The motion picture sector is an important component of Canada's cultural industries. Canada not only has a vital domestic film industry creating films by Canadians for distribution domestically and internationally, but it is also an important part of the U.S. film industry which locates much production in Canadian locales.
Canada is also part of the U.S. domestic market for film exhibition with Canadians enjoying the first release of major motion pictures at the same time that they are released in the United States.
Unfortunately, this makes Canada an attractive venue for camcording: the making of unauthorized copies of first release films that are in high demand around the world where these films have yet to be released.
Digital technology and the Internet have facilitated the illicit reproduction and distribution of films.
Canadian films are also subject to piracy as the notorious example provided by the pirated version of the Canadian blockbuster Bon Cop, Bad Cop available before its official release on DVD.
A decision by Warner Bros., announced on May 8, to cancel all preview screenings in the country out of concern over piracy further illustrates the impact that this problem is having, and the problem is growing.
I do not want to leave members with the impression that under present Canadian law it is open season for camcording in Canada. I have pointed out on a number of occasions that there are provisions within the Copyright Act of fines up to $1 million and imprisonment up to five years for anyone who copyrights material with intention to commercially use that.
However, we are responding to a growing problem, one that I believe has international repercussions since Canada is seen as a source for providing illicit copies of films for the worldwide market.
It is for this reason the government feels it is necessary to act. We are not in the business of facilitating this type of activity.
There is broad-based support from across the film production, distribution, and exhibition industry in Canada for an explicit legislative measure to stem the flow of illicit copies of films that are made and put into circulation. Accordingly, the government has taken decisive action that would make camcording movies in theatres illegal.
In doing so, Canada is joining in international efforts to protect the intellectual property interests of the film industry in Canada and abroad from those who would make unauthorized copies of newly-released movies either for their own use, with or without participation of others, for the purpose of selling, renting or other commercial distribution of pirated films.
In the time left to me today, I would like to say something about the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code contained in Bill C-59.
The proposed legislation is aimed at deterring unauthorized camcording activities in movie theatres in Canada. Our main purpose in amending the Criminal Code instead of the Copyright Act is to ensure that local police and not merely the RCMP are engaged in an effort to stop camcording.
At present local police forces are not accustomed to enforcing the Copyright Act and therefore are reluctant to respond to calls from theatre owners. They are also reluctant to respond because of the difficulty in obtaining the evidence to prove the intent of camcording for commercial gain, as I indicated. That is a deficiency in the current law.
Currently, the Copyright Act only provides offences against camcording when it can be linked to copyright infringement and that is not what happens in these cases. They get these individuals, slip them a couple of hundred dollars to do the job, and they are not in the business of commercial redistribution, so that is what the bill takes aim at.
It would amend the Criminal Code to create two new offences; first, which we can call simple camcording that would prohibit the recording of a movie in a movie theatre without the consent of the theatre manager; and second, we can refer to as camcording for the purpose. That would prohibit the recording of a movie in a movie theatre without the consent of the theatre manager for the purpose of selling, renting or other commercial distribution of a copy of the recorded movie.
Simple camcording would be a hybrid offence punishable on indictment by imprisonment for not more than two years or on summary conviction by six months imprisonment or a fine of $2,000, or both. It would establish a clear prohibition on conduct which is a precursor to the more blameworthy criminal activity of camcording for the purpose, or camcording as part of the DVD piracy operation under the Copyright Act.
Camcording for the purpose of sale, rental or other commercial distribution of a copy of the motion picture is a more serious offence. In addition to proof that the accused engaged in the unauthorized recording of a motion picture in a movie theatre, it requires proof that the individual did so for the purpose of selling, renting or other commercial distribution of copies of the film.
Camcording for the purpose would also be a hybrid offence but would be punishable on indictment for not more than five years imprisonment.
Bill C-59 would also provide the court with the authority to order the forfeiture of anything used in the commission of these offences such as the camcorder itself.
Camcording may constitute the first step for both copyright infringement and fraud, and in this context a person engaging in such activities could be found to be engaging in conduct that constitutes a criminal organization offence.
Criminalization of this activity in the Criminal Code could enhance the capability of Canadian law enforcement to combat transnational organized crime activities pertaining to the fabrication and trafficking of pirated videos. The enforcement of these new Criminal Code offences would primarily be the responsibility of the local police who are better positioned to respond to calls from local theatre owners and would be prosecuted by provincial prosecutors.
It is worth noting that on May 24 Japan's parliament passed legislation which criminalizes the camcording of motion pictures in theatres. Scheduled to go into effect in August of this year, the legislation prohibits the use of any recording device in cinemas and is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.
Mr. Speaker, I will end my remarks by thanking my colleagues, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister of Industry for their assistance, and of course the Minister of the Environment who was good enough to second this piece of legislation because I know of his concern in this particular area, as well as in many others. I know that all members of the House will want to support this piece of legislation.
Bill C-59 and Bill C-51
Business of the House
June 13th, 2007 / 3:15 p.m.
Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform
Mr. Speaker, I move:
That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of this House, after no more than one speaker per party and provided that the members may be permitted to split their time by so indicating to the Chair, for the second reading stage of Bill C-59, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (unauthorized recording of a movie), and Bill C-51, An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, Bill C-59 and Bill C-51 shall be deemed to have been read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole, deemed considered in Committee of the Whole, deemed reported without amendment, deemed concurred in at the report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.
Extension of Sitting Hours
June 11th, 2007 / 4:20 p.m.
Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB
Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member for Joliette's comments about Catherine, who works in the lobby for the Bloc Québécois. I would like to say that she really worked professionally with all the political parties. I would like to wish her good luck.
I have a question for the Bloc Québécois. The House Leader of the Bloc Québécois talked about many important bills. I know that the budget is very important to him since he is voting with the Conservatives on it. This is very important for the Bloc members. But my question is about the other bills, such as Bill C-30.
I know that the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie worked very hard on environmental issues. The government could introduce a motion to adjourn the House before June 22. Even though the calendar shows that the House can sit until June 22, it could be done pursuant to Standing Order 56.1. We need to have 25 members here. Since the Bloc Québécois is very disciplined, it will have no problem keeping 25 members in Ottawa. Will the Bloc members work with the other parties to ensure that there will be 25 members in the House of Commons so the Conservatives will not be able to adjourn before June 22?
It is all well and good to extend the number of hours per day, but if we adjourn on Wednesday, it will not do any good. Bill C-30 will be gone, Bill C-59 as well, and Bill C-29 will no longer be there. There is also the bill for workers.
Can we have a guarantee from the Bloc Québécois that they will keep 25 people in the House of Commons to ensure that it will not adjourn?
Extension of Sitting Hours
June 11th, 2007 / 4 p.m.
Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC
Mr. Speaker, we have before us a motion which asks, pursuant to Standing Order 27(1), that commencing on Wednesday June 13, 2007, and concluding on Thursday June 21, 2007, the House shall continue to sit until 10 p.m.
The Bloc Québécois will support this motion because we are determined to see Bill C-52, the budget implementation bill, passed before we adjourn for the summer. As you know, this bill contains some significant transfers for Quebec. They do not correct the fiscal imbalance, but they will make it possible to relieve the fiscal and financial pressures Quebec is experiencing.
The Bloc Québécois set the bar at $3.9 billion in additional transfers to Quebec, the third year, to be satisfied with the budget. As you know, there is $3.3 billion. More remains to be done, especially when it comes to post-secondary education, but we think that with $3.3 billion for Quebec in the third year, an important step has been taken to relieve Quebec's financial pressures.
Once again, this does not correct the fiscal imbalance. A solution to the fiscal imbalance will take negotiations to transfer tax points equivalent to the transfers for post-secondary education and health care to Quebec, to prevent Quebec from being at the mercy of unilateral decisions by the federal government. In the mid-1990s, for example, when the former finance minister and former Prime Minister decided unilaterally to cut transfers to the provinces in order to solve the government's problems, this created problems for the provinces. It is therefore extremely important to us that the budget be adopted before the summer recess.
In addition, I do not completely share the opinion of the House leader of the official opposition that we are referring to 2006-07 when we are talking about closing the books. It is true that when the books are closed in September, they will be the books for 2006-07. But if we have not disposed of the budget surplus, if we have not decided how the surplus is to be used before the books are closed, that money could well be used simply to pay down the debt.
I have an opinion here from the Library of Parliament that supports what I am saying. I would like to read a short excerpt from it:
If the budget were adopted before the end of the fiscal year but the Budget Implementation Act creating the trust [we are talking here about the Canada ecotrust] were adopted later in the 2007-08 fiscal year but before the government's books were closed, for reasons related to the parliamentary calendar, a portion of the 2006-07 surplus could no doubt be deposited in the trust.
It is very clear, then, that if we do not dispose of the budget before the House rises for the summer, that money will no longer be available for the Canada ecotrust, because the books will be closed in mid-September. This is also true of certain amounts for the health trusts.
We cannot take that risk. That said, the Bloc Québécois had another extremely serious concern. When the government talked to us about the possibility of introducing this motion, we indicated that what was important to us was the budget—and we are going to work to get it adopted as soon as possible—but that we also wanted an amendment to the notice of ways and means motion concerning the Bankruptcy Act and protection for workers' salaries when their employer goes bankrupt. We told the government that this was imperative for us.
As I was saying, we will support this request for extended hours. It is a priority not only to ensure that the notice of ways and means is tabled and corrected by taking into account the unanimous motion of the National Assembly, but also that the government agrees to fast tracking this bill to amend the Bankruptcy Act so that wage earners are protected—which is what all parties in this House now want—and that the laws of Quebec and the Civil Code of Quebec are respected.
Earlier, in response to a question that the Bloc Québécois asked and that I myself asked the Minister of Labour, we were assured that sometime tomorrow an amended notice of ways and means, taking into account the unanimous motion of the National Assembly, would be tabled with a bill. I think we will have the unanimous consent of all the parties in this House. I do not see why the New Democratic Party or the Liberal Party would oppose the will expressed so many times by the government and the Bloc Québécois
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my colleague for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, who worked so hard on this and who never stopped hounding the entire Conservative government—especially the Minister of Labour—to achieve today's result. With these two guarantees, we feel comfortable knowing that Bill C-52 will be adopted before the summer break. This will ensure that Quebec receives the transfers it needs even though this bill does not close the debate on the fiscal imbalance. This will also put workers in Canada and Quebec on the list of preferred creditors, thereby giving them new protection when businesses go bankrupt. The creation of a wage protection fund will give them a chance to be compensated should their employers be unable to pay their wages. We think that this is extremely important.
As my colleague mentioned earlier, one of our priorities is Bill C-51, which would cede certain islands that are currently the property of the federal government back to Inuit nations. This is a request that dates back a long time, and it seems that everyone is in agreement. That is also the case for Bill S-6, An Act to amend the First Nations Land Management Act. We think it is very important that this bill be passed to bring justice to the first nations of Quebec. There is also Bill C-59, which would make using digital cameras to make unautorized recordings of movies a new offence under the Criminal Code. Unfortunately, Canada, Quebec and even Montreal have become hotbeds of this kind of piracy, which is a threat to the development of the Montreal region's very prosperous film industry.
This idea has already been raised in committee by the hon. member for Hochelaga. If my memory serves correctly, he also introduced a motion adopted by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. We feel it is important that this bill is passed before we break for the summer, which, incidentally, is not all vacation time. We have many appearances and meetings planned in our ridings. It is, however, a time for festivals, and we have many in the Lanaudière region. I invite all members to come and enjoy them. Furthermore, I would like to take this opportunity to once again ask the government and the Minister of Canadian Heritage to unfreeze the money, to ensure that these festivals can continue to provide relevant programming, not only this year, but also for years to come. She does not seem to be conscious of this. If, for financial reasons, one festival or another shows a deficit, that would jeopardize the survival, the development and the future success of that festival or those festivals. In that regard, it is very important that the government unfreeze the money immediately. I also think that common sense dictates that we focus our attention on bills, such as Bill C-47, for instance.
The Olympic Games will be held in my former riding of Vancouver. I think it is important to cover all aspects dealing with the legitimacy of all trademarks surrounding these Olympic Games.
For all these reasons, we support the government motion to extend the sitting hours to 10 p.m., beginning on Wednesday until Thursday, June 21.
I will close on another note, because I have not often had the opportunity to speak in this House, since I became the House Leader of the Bloc Québécois. Indeed, I had more occasions to address this House when I was the Bloc Québécois finance critic.
I would like to thank Catherine Lacroix, who works in the whip's office, here behind the scenes. She will be leaving us a few days from now, after working here with us for many years. All the members of the Bloc Québécois—and I am sure this is also true for many members of all the parties—have appreciated her finesse and her ability to work well under pressure, while always keeping a smile on her face. She plans to travel for a few months, in Europe, particularly.
Like Ulysses in Homer's The Odyssey, I hope she gains wisdom and fulfillment from her travels. I have no doubt that she will always be successful in all areas of her life. I would like to thank her and wish her all the best.
Extension of Sitting Hours
June 11th, 2007 / 3:10 p.m.
Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform
Mr. Speaker, I move:
That, pursuant to Standing Order 27(1), commencing on Wednesday June 13, 2007, and concluding on June 21, 2007, the House shall continue to sit until 10 p.m.
He said: Mr. Speaker, this is a motion that can be made one day a year, not on Christmas Day or Ground Hog Day, but this day, the 10th sitting day before June 23. It is a motion that can be made to allow the House to sit late into the evening.
I know that many members, when they look at that portion of the calendar and they see possible extension of sitting hours, they think that means we get to leave early for summer vacation, but that is not what it means. What it means is that under the Standing Orders of the House we can potentially sit and work late to get as much of the people's business done as possible because there are very important priorities for Canadians.
I will bear my soul here and say that it was not always my intention to move this motion. It was my hope that it would not be necessary. I was hoping that we would be making good progress.
For example, Bill C-52 in particular, the budget implementation bill was a bill which we believed we had an understanding with the other parties; in fact it had been shaken on by the member for St. Catharines, the member of the Liberal Party for Scarborough and others that it would be over to the Senate by June 6. Somewhere along the way the Liberal Party sought to treat it a little bit differently and as a result we are still debating it here almost a week later than the date we thought it would be over at the Senate. As a result of course we have lost considerable time to deal with other priorities for Canadians.
I want to talk about what those other priorities for Canadians might be, but first I want to focus on that number one priority which is Bill C-52, the budget implementation bill. As we have heard from many people in the House today, if that bill does not pass by the time the House rises for the summer, if that bill has not been dealt with, there are a number of financial priorities on issues that are very important to Canadians that will be lost, because it is a bill that reaches back to the previous fiscal year to spend funds. Those funds have to be allocated. The bill has to be passed and receive royal assent in order for those funds to be available in that fashion. If not, they are lost.
Some of those examples are ones which we have heard about today. The one that is at the top of my personal list is the $620 million in the budget for the patient wait times guarantee trust. This is money that is allocated to assist provinces in addressing what is one of our number one priorities—actually one of our top five priorities; I should put it that way—from the last election. That priority is to achieve a patient wait times guarantee, to help people get the kind of health care they need on a basis that is reasonable, that is practical, that is clinically sound.
For too long we saw patient wait times under the previous government actually double in length. We have this much vaunted Canadian health care system that we all purport to believe in, but if we really believe in it, we have to see that it works. An important part of it working is that Canadians should receive the health care that they need on a timely basis. That is what the $612 million is specifically aimed at.
The provinces are very anxious to receive these funds. It means a great deal for a lot of provinces. In my own province of Ontario that means $200 million plus of real money that Ontario needs for its health care system. The same thing, together with other elements, will mean for the province of Nova Scotia for health care $639 million including the transfer there. There is similar money throughout the country.
We are talking of significant funds. There are other elements in the budget. Much of that transfer will not be lost, as I said, because it is in the main budget funds, but the patient wait times guarantee money, that $612 million, is money that will be lost if we do not deal with that on a timely basis.
Another one that is very important is the $1.5 billion for the clean air and climate change trust. That is to help the provinces implement their plans to reduce greenhouse gases. It is very important.
On January 4 of this year, the Prime Minister addressed Canadians and identified what our priorities would be in government this year. One of those major priorities was to take real action on the environment. We have just seen that at the G-8 summit. In the summit declaration Canada's approach is an approach that is drastically different than it was for 13 years under the previous government when greenhouse gas emissions rose dramatically regardless of the commitments it took on. Now we have a national plan that results in real reductions, an actual plan that does that in both the short and medium term but also very importantly in the long term.
It is that approach by the Canadian government that was hailed as an example not just by world leaders, by other G-8 leaders, but by journalists from around the world, by special interest groups. The World Wildlife Fund, for example, issued a statement heralding Canada's approach as a model. The reason it is held out as a model and an example is it is an approach that can be used regardless of how lousy one's track record may be. This is important for a lot of the major emitters that had not been part of the arrangements up until now or did not have obligations under Kyoto to implement, major emitters like China, India, Brazil and the United States, to get them to the table and realize that if we are going to take on the challenges of addressing greenhouse gas emissions and turning around the risk of climate change and what it can potentially do to our world, we are going to have to take action in the long term. That is the approach of Canada that is being held as a model.
An important critical component of that approach is to engage and involve the provinces and ensure that they have in their hands the resources they need to be able to deliver. A big part of that is that $1.5 billion of ecotrust money, the clean air and climate change trust money. I underline that if we do not get Bill C-52 passed in time, that money will be lost.
This is where the delay and obstruction that the Liberal Party in particular has been conducting has been very harmful to the interests of Canadians who care about the environment, and in fact even those who do not care about the environment, because even if people do not care about it, it does affect them. It is important for all Canadians that they have that healthy environment.
Another example of the money that could be lost if Bill C-52 is not approved, if the Liberal obstruction is successful, is the $400 million for the Canada Health Infoway project. This is state of the art technology so that people can have better health care, taking advantage of technology to improve our health care system. This is something that is very important for the provinces to be able to deliver on the health care for Canadians, for their residents. Again if the Liberals are successful in their delay and obstruction plan this is something that will be lost if the bill is not dealt with and does not receive royal assent in the near future.
There is another one that is of particular of interest to me because it does affect residents in my part of Ontario. In fact the announcement was made in York region where I live and where my constituency is. That is the $225 million to protect endangered spaces, working in conjunction with groups like the Nature Conservancy of Canada to acquire sensitive lands that otherwise might be lost to development, or if not to acquire them, to put in place the kinds of conservation easements to ensure that they will be protected in their natural state for the foreseeable future, for as long as our legal regime remains in place, which is basically for as long as life continues as we know it. That money is very important but that money and the potential to protect those endangered lands will be lost if we cannot get the budget implementation bill passed in the appropriate time.
I also want to talk about the $30 million going to the Rick Hansen Foundation. Rick Hansen is the man in motion, a great Canadian who rolled his wheelchair around the world. He is a very strong personality and a great activist for his cause of spinal cord research. He suffered an injury but he showed that it did not hold him back and he did his around the world tour. I think it was in 1984 when he started his tour, which was an inspiration to all of us. The ongoing work of the foundation from the money he raised then is important. There is $30 million that we would like to see dedicated to that foundation. That $30 million would be lost if the Liberals have their way and they delay and obstruct this bill past the deadline we are dealing with.
For all of those reasons, the budget implementation bill is very important, not just because we want to see it passed, and that is a good reason, but there are actual, real consequences with a ticking clock, because of the fact that a significant amount of the funds are anchored in the previous fiscal year before March 31. That means we have to pass it before the books are closed. Basically we have to get royal assent. We have to get it all the way through before the folks here on Parliament Hill go home to their ridings for the summer. In order to do that, we want to see the potential to deal with this bill for as long as we need to.
I might add that we had hoped to be debating many other bills but the Liberals have chosen to delay this budget implementation bill in every way possible and for as long as they can, as we have seen in the House today and as we saw last Friday and so on. We have tried other measures to speed things along but they have stepped in to block them every time.
The other important bill that we need to deal with is Bill C-23, a Criminal Code amendment. Our justice agenda is very important, and Bill C-23 is a bill to update the Criminal Code provisions. It has come back to the House from committee and it is now at report stage. We would like to deal with that quickly but we will need some time in the House.
Similarly, we are expecting to see Bill C-11 on transport come back from the Senate with amendments. We will need to see whether this House agrees with those amendments or not. Bill C-11 is an important bill that has been around a long time, as members can see by the number, and we have been waiting for about a year to deal with it.
We also have Bill C-31, the election integrity bill. It is in the Senate and the Senate has indicated a desire to make some amendments to the bill. We and, I think, all parties would like to see that bill in this place, or at least three of the parties in the House would. The bill was amended at committee and we, as the government, accepted the amendments proposed by the Liberals and the Bloc.
Unfortunately, the Liberals in the Senate had a very different view of how the bill should work from the Liberals in the House of Commons. The Liberals in the Senate are actually getting rid of the House of Commons Liberal amendment on how to deal with the lists and the disclosure of information to political parties. They actually changed it to a position that was identical to what the Conservatives had originally proposed at committee.
As a result of the Liberals in the Senate deciding that they do not agree with the Liberals in the House of Commons, it means that we as the House of Commons need to deal with that bill one more time once the Senate has dealt with it.
We are waiting for that little ping-pong game between the Liberals in the Senate and the Liberals in the House of Commons to come to an end. When it does end, hopefully we can achieve a resolution on which we can all agree to ensure that future elections will proceed with a greater degree of integrity and probity, something that is very important to all parties and all members of this House.
Another bill that has come back after a long stay at committee is Bill C-42, the Quarantine Act, a very important bill on health matters and something we would like to deal with.
I know of one bill that the opposition House leader, the member for Wascana, has been very generous in showing a willingness to fast track and deal with very quickly and we are hoping to have it at report stage in the House very soon. I think we are in a position where we can do that very soon. I know other parties want some level of scrutiny so the very generous offer of the opposition House leader was one that we took up, but not everybody did. We can seek to get it passed through as many stages as possible in the House as quickly as possible. The bill I am talking about is the one dealing with Olympic symbols. I would like to see it dealt with on the House of Commons side and then go to the Senate.
That is an important bill for the folks who are putting together the 2010 Olympic Games in Whistler and Vancouver. It is important because it deals with copyright, trademarks and the like. We all know how challenging it is to put on these kind of games in this day and age and the ability to protect copyrights, to deal with merchandise and to generate that revenue to support the athletes, the games and the legacy venues that will be constructed as a result of that is important to the people who are involved, whether it be the athletes, the organizers or the people in those communities who will benefit from the legacies.
We are also waiting on other bills, such as Bill C-51, the Nunavik Inuit land claims, and Bill C-59 on video piracy. Bill C-59 was just introduced but the newspapers are saying that it is an important bill because it would create some meaningful consequences for people who engage in the illegal video taping of major films with the ultimate objective of putting them on the black market to sell them illegally without the copyright rights to it. That is something that has been hurting the film industry.
In places like Vancouver and Toronto, in fact all across the country, the film industry has become very important, but those places in particular. It is important that Canada maintains its credibility within that industry and that we support our artists and the people who give value to that intellectual property and that we show leadership as a country in protecting it.
In the future, as we move away from manufactured goods and products to the kinds of services that have more to do with intellectual property, we need to be seen as real leaders in that regard. As I said, media reports are suggesting that all parties actually support Bill C-59, which is why we would like to move it quickly.
Another bill that we recently introduced would support the Red Cross/Red Crescent in the adoption of a new symbol. We need to do that here in Canada through legislation because of a charter that exists. The bill would create an additional non-denominational symbol, which is the Red Crystal, that can be used through ratification of a treaty. If the Red Crescent symbol or the Red Cross symbol creates some discomfort with the local population, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Society would be able to use the Red Crystal symbol as an alternate symbol, which is why as a country we need to recognize and ratify that it would have all the protections under the Geneva convention so that anyone would respect it. However, there would be consequences if people misused the symbol in trying to conduct an offensive military operation. The symbol would need to be used for the purpose intended, which is to protect and save lives in difficult scenes around the world.
All of the bills I have spoken about are on the House calendar. Some are in front of us and we would like to deal with them but others are still at committee.
I did not even speak to the first nations land management, which is a bill that was launched in the Senate.
We would like to see the passage of some bills that are still in committee and which we would like to see back from committee. We thought some would come back a little bit sooner, such as Bill C-6, the amendments to the Aeronautics Act. The committee has been doing clause by clause on Bill C-6 for almost a month now. I am glad to see that the committee is being that attentive but it is a bill that is important and we would like to see it.
The bill that I hope the committee deals with soon is Bill C-32 on impaired driving. I have spoken about the importance of justice and making our streets and communities safer. It was one of the five cornerstone priorities of the Conservatives when we ran in the last election. It was restated on January 4 by the Prime Minister as another priority.
I should acknowledge that we have had some good progress on getting some of those justice bills through the House but it was not easy. Some of them, like Bill C-10 dealing with mandatory penalties for gun crimes, stayed at committee. If one were to listen to politicians speak, one would think there is a consensus on the importance of mandatory penalties for gun crimes. Even the Liberal Party in the last election had that as one of its key elements in its platform.
However, when it came to committee, things were a little bit different. The Liberal Party actually gutted the meaningful parts of the legislation and it held up the legislation at committee for 252 days. Fortunately, that time is past and, thanks to the support of the New Democratic Party, we were able to put some teeth back into that legislation and make it meaningful. The legislation now contains some meaningful mandatory penalties for those gang members and crooks who want to terrorize our communities with guns and commit violent acts. They will face real consequences. When they commit an offence like that they will go to jail. There will be no more “get out of jail free” card and no more house arrest as a solution. They will actually serve real jail time for some of those offences. Where there already were mandatory penalties, they will be tougher and stronger mandatory penalities so that we can take real action.
I know these are important justice issues for Canadians, and that the gun legislation is a part of it, but the other bill that we are waiting for from committee is Bill C-32 on impaired driving. It is very easy to deal with impaired driving on alcohol right now because we have breathalyzers and standards. However, a much more difficult element is driving impaired through the use of other illegal substances, such as controlled or narcotic substances, or, in simple terms, drugs. People who use and abuse drugs and then proceed to drive a vehicle are just as impaired, if not more impaired, as someone who has consumed excessive alcohol. The consequences in terms of the risk to other drivers on the road are just as great. It can change the lives of a family if someone were to die or become injured. The lives of a family could be absolutely shattered when an accident occurs because of that kind of behaviour.