Bill C-24 (Historical)
An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (non-registration of firearms that are neither prohibited nor restricted)
This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.
Stockwell Day Conservative
Introduction and First Reading
(This bill did not become law.)
Opposition Motion—Gun Control
Business of Supply
April 21st, 2009 / 1:55 p.m.
Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON
Madam Speaker, as you know, my riding is home to a lot of farmers and hunters. The gun registry is certainly a controversial issue in my area.
When the registry was put in place, had it been clear and simple, everyone would have been happy and we would not be facing the dilemma we are today. It must be said that the Prime Minister was the only Reform member to vote in favour of gun registration when the Liberals first introduced their bill.
My colleague mentioned a few bills.
The hon. member talked about Bill S-5. What is really interesting about the bill is that it is virtually the same as Bill C-21, introduced by the Conservatives in 2006, and Bill C-24, introduced in 2007, and the Conservatives never allowed either bill to come to a vote.
The other point I want to make is that introducing the bill through the Senate is very unusual and that the Conservatives again seem to be playing partisan games with divisive issues. Senators are already signalling that they will amend the bill, so we really do not know what it is going to look like.
So my question for the member is, what are his concerns with regard to Bill C-301 because he also mentioned that bill?
Extension of Sitting Hours
June 9th, 2008 / 4 p.m.
Pierre Paquette Joliette, QC
Mr. Speaker, I will start off by saying that the Bloc Québécois, like the official opposition, and like—I believe—the NDP, will opposed the motion by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to extend the sitting hours, for a number of reasons.
First, it is important to remember—and this was mentioned by the House leader of the official opposition—that the government and the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons have been completely unwilling to negotiate and cooperate. Usually, when Parliament is running smoothly, the leaders meet and agree on some priorities, some items and some ways of getting them done. But since the start of this session, or at least since September, House leaders' meetings on Tuesday afternoons have simply been meetings where we hear about a legislative agenda, which, within hours after we leave the meeting, is completely changed.
That is not how we move forward. Now the government can see that its way of doing things does not produce results. In fact, I think that this is what the government wanted in recent weeks, to prevent Parliament, the House of Commons and the various committees from working efficiently and effectively.
As I was saying, usually such motions are born out of cooperation, and are negotiated in good faith between the government and the opposition parties. But we were simply told that today a motion would be moved to extend the sitting hours, but with no information forthcoming about what the government's priorities would be through the end of this session, until June 20.
This was a very cavalier way to treat the opposition parties. And today, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Conservative government are reaping the consequences of their haughty attitude. As the saying goes, he who sows the wind, reaps the whirlwind. That is exactly what has happened to the Conservatives after many weeks of acting in bad faith and failing to cooperate with the opposition parties.
In this case, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons—and earlier I mentioned his arrogance, which, to me, has reached its peak today with the way the motion was moved—gave us no indication as to his government's priorities from now until the end of the session, despite the fact that he was pointedly questioned about that matter. What we did receive was a grocery list with no order, no priorities. As the leader of the official opposition said earlier, when everything is a priority, it means that nothing is.
That is the current situation: they gave us a list of bills which, in fact, included almost all of the bills on the order paper. Not only were things not prioritized, but in addition, as I mentioned before, it showed a disregard for the opposition parties. There is a price to pay for that today—we do not see why the government needs to extend the sitting hours.
Not only was the grocery list not realistic, but also it showed that the government has absolutely no priorities set. The list includes almost all of the bills, but week after week, despite what was said during the leaders' meetings, the order of business changed. If the order of business changes at the drop of a hat, with no rhyme or reason, it means that the government does not really have priorities.
I am thinking about Bill C-50, a bill to implement the budget, which we waited on for a long time. The government is surprised that we are coming up to the end of the session and that it will be adopted in the coming hours. However, we have to remember that between the budget speech and the introduction of Bill C-50, many weeks passed that could have been spent working on the bill.
As I mentioned, the list presented to us is unrealistic. It shows the arrogance of this government, and furthermore, the order of the bills on the list is constantly changing. We feel this is a clear demonstration of this government's lack of priority.
In light of that, we can reach only one conclusion: if the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform cannot present us with his government's legislative priorities as we near the end of this session, in effect, it means that his government has no legislative priorities. It has no long-term vision. Its management is short sighted, very short sighted indeed. I would even say it is managing from one day to the next. From my perspective, this can mean only one thing: it has no legislative agenda. When we have before us bills dealing with only minor issues, this is what that means.
Proof of this lack of legislative agenda is easy to see, considering the current state of this government's agenda. An abnormally small number of bills for this time of year are currently before the House at the report stage and at third reading. Usually, if the government had planned, if it had been working in good faith and had cooperated with the opposition parties, in these last two weeks remaining before the summer recess, we should have been completing the work on any number of bills.
Overall, as we speak there are just five government bills that are ready to be debated at these stages, in other words, report stage or third reading stage. Among those, we note that Bill C-7, which is now at third reading stage, reached report stage during the first session of the 39th Parliament, in other words in June 2007. It has been brought back to us a year later. And that is a priority? What happened between June 2007 and June 2008 to prevent Bill C-7 from getting through third reading stage? In my opinion, we should indeed finish the work on Bill C-7, but this truly illustrates the government's lack of planning and organization.
As far as Bill C-5 is concerned, it was reported on by the Standing Committee on Natural Resources on December 12, 2007, and voted on at report stage on May 6, 2008. Again, a great deal of time, nearly six months, went by between the tabling of the report and the vote at this stage, which was held on May 6, 2008, while the report was tabled on December 12, 2007.
All these delays of six months to a year force us to conclude that these bills are not legislative priorities to this government.
It would be great to finish the work on these four or five bills, but let us admit that we could have finished it much sooner.
This lack of legislative priority was even more apparent before question period when the House was debating second reading of Bill C-51 on food and drugs. Next on the agenda is second reading of Bill C-53 on auto theft.
If these five bills were a priority, we would finish the work. But no, what we are being presented with are bills that are only at second reading stage. This only delays further the report stage or third reading of the bills I have already mentioned. If we were serious about this, we would finish the work on bills at third reading and then move on to bills that are at second reading.
Furthermore, if its legislative agenda has moved forward at a snail's pace, the government is responsible for that and has only itself to blame, since it paralyzed the work of important committees, including the justice committee and the procedure and House affairs committee, to which several bills had been referred. And then they dare make some sort of bogus Conservative moral claim, saying that we are refusing to extend sitting hours because we do not want to work. For months and months now, opposition members, especially the Bloc Québécois, have been trying to work in committee, but the government, for partisan reasons, in order to avoid talking about the Conservative Party's problems, has been obstructing committee work.
Earlier, the NDP whip spoke about take note debates.
Once again, it is not the opposition that is refusing to work on issues that are important to Canadians and Quebeckers. Rather, it is the government that refuses to allow take note debates, because of partisan obstinacy. In that regard, we clearly see that the argument presented by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform is mere tautology or a false argument. In fact, it was the Conservative Party, the Conservative government, that slowed down the work of the House and obstructed the work of several committees.
Not only is the government incapable of planning, vision, cooperation and good faith, but furthermore, its legislative agenda is very meagre and does not in any way warrant extending the sitting hours. In addition, the Bloc Québécois sees many of the bills that are now at the bottom of the list as problematic, but if we extend the sitting hours, we will end up having to examine them.
Take Bill C-14, for example, which would permit the privatization of certain Canada Post activities. Do they really think that sitting hours will be extended to hasten debate on a bill that threatens jobs and the quality of a public service as essential as that provided by the Canada Post Corporation? That demonstrates just how detrimental the Conservatives' right-wing ideology is, not just to public services but to the economy. Everyone knows very well—there are a large number of very convincing examples globally—that privatizing postal services leads to significant price increases for consumers and a deterioration in service, particularly in rural areas.
I will give another example, that of Bill C-24, which would abolish the long gun registry even though police forces want to keep it. Once again, we have an utter contradiction. Although the government boasts of an agenda that will increase security, they are dismantling a preventtive tool welcomed by all stakeholders. They are indirectly contributing to an increase in the crime rate.
These are two examples of matters that are not in step with the government's message. It is quite clear that we are not interested in extending sitting hours to move more quickly to a debate on Bill C-24.
I must also mention bills concerning democratic reform—or pseudo-reform. In my opinion, they are the best example of the hypocrisy of this government, which introduces bills and then, in the end, makes proposals that run counter to the interests of Quebec in particular.
Take Bill C-20, for example, on the consultation of voters with respect to the pool of candidates from which the Prime Minister should choose senators. Almost all the constitutional experts who appeared before the committee currently studying Bill C-20 said that the bill would do indirectly what cannot be done directly. We know that the basic characteristics of the Senate cannot be changed without the agreement of the provinces or, at the very least, without following the rule of the majority for constitutional amendments, which requires approval by seven provinces representing 50% of the population.
Since the government knows very well that it cannot move forward with its Senate reforms, it introduced a bill that would change the essential characteristics of the Senate, something prohibited by the Constitution, on the basis of some technicalities.
It is interesting to note that even a constitutional expert who told the committee that he did not think the way the government had manipulated the bill was unconstitutional admitted that the bill would indirectly allow the government to do what it could not do directly.
They are playing with the most important democratic institutions.
A country's Constitution—and we want Quebec to have its own Constitution soon—is the fundamental text. We currently have a government, a Prime Minister and a Leader of the Government in the House of Commons who are manipulating this fundamental text— the Canadian Constitution—in favour of reforms that would satisfy their supporters in western Canada.
We do not want to rush this bill through the House by extending the sitting hours. It is the same thing for Bill C-19, which, I remind members, limits a Senator's tenure to eight years.
These two bills, Bill C-19 and Bill C-20, in their previous form, meaning before the session was prorogued in the summer of 2007, were unanimously denounced by the Quebec National Assembly, which asked that they be withdrawn. It is rather ironic that the federal government recognized the Quebec nation and then decided to introduce two bills that were denounced by the Quebec National Assembly.
I must say that the two opposition parties are opposed to Bill C-20, albeit for different reasons. Thus, I do not think it would be in the best interests of the House to rush these bills through, since we are far from reaching a consensus on them.
I have one last example, that is, Bill C-22, which aims to change the make-up of the House of Commons. If passed, it would increase the number of members in Ontario and in western Canada, which would reduce the political weight of the 75 members from Quebec, since their representation in this House would drop from 24.4% to 22.7%. It is not that we are against changing the distribution of seats based on the changing demographics of the various regions of Canada. We would like to ensure, however, that the Quebec nation, which was recognized by the House of Commons, has a voice that is strong enough to be heard.
The way things are going today, it is clear that in 10, 15 or 20 years, Quebec will no longer be able to make its voice heard in this House. We therefore believe we must guarantee the Quebec nation a percentage of the members in this House. We propose that it be 25%. If people want more members in Ontario and in the west, that is not a problem. We will simply have to increase the number of members from Quebec to maintain a proportion of 25%. There are a number of possible solutions to this.
Once again, I would like to point out that we introduced a whole series of bills to formalize the recognition of the Quebec nation, including Bill C-482, sponsored by my colleague from Drummond. That bill sought to apply the Charter of the French Language to federally regulated organizations working in Quebec. That was for organizations working in Quebec, of course. At no time did we seek to control what happens elsewhere in Canada. The bill would have given employees of federally regulated organizations the same rights as all employees in Quebec, that is, the right to work in French.
Unfortunately, the bill was defeated, but we will try again. Once again, the fact that Bill C-482 was defeated does not mean we are about to throw in the towel and let Bills C-22, C-19, and C-20 pass just like that. As I said earlier, we will certainly not make things easy for the government by rushing debate on these bills here.
And now to my fourth point. I started out talking about the government's lack of cooperation, vision and planning, not to mention its bad faith. Next, I talked about its poor excuse for a legislative agenda. Then I talked about the fact that we find certain bills extremely problematic. We will certainly not be giving the government carte blanche to bring those bills back here in a big hurry before the end of the session on June 20. Our fourth reason is the government's hypocrisy, in a general sense.
This has been apparent in many ways, such as the government's attitude to certain bills. I would like to mention some of them, such as Bill C-20. I cannot help but mention Bills C-50 and C-10 as well.
Bill C-50, the budget implementation bill, makes changes to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration's powers, but that is not what the debate is about. Bill C-10, which introduces elements that allow the Conservative government—
December 4th, 2007 / 11:25 a.m.
Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC
I understand your position, but that is not my point. You would not be comfortable with the idea of having maximum, rather than minimum, sentences. Of course, I respect your point of view as sponsor of the bill.
I am very interested in the question of organized crime. The chair will remember that there was a subcommittee on organized crime when we were studying bills C-24 and C-36. What sort of information do you have on the links between organized crime and vehicle theft?
Tackling Violent Crime Act
November 27th, 2007 / 1:50 p.m.
Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC
Youth court. I should have remembered him because of his baby face.
When Justice Bellehumeur was a member of the Bloc Québécois, he was particularly enterprising with regard to the provisions of the anti-gang legislation. He had support in caucus and we convinced the government. We started this battle in 1995 following a very sad incident that I will not forget as long as I live—the car bomb attack that led to the death of young Daniel Desrochers in the Hochelaga—Maisonneuve area.
It was at that point that the public took notice that the existing legislation did not have the teeth to attack organized crime. We were presented with a bill that created the new offence of gangsterism. It was too general. In fact, at the time, it required five individuals who, in the previous five years, had committed an offence carrying a sentence of more than five years. It was the three fives rule. It was too general and the police asked us to review the anti-gang law.
The first Bill C-95 was introduced in 1997 as a result of the Bloc Québécois' hard work. The provisions of the anti-gang law were revisited by Bill C-24 and Bill C-36. It was also the Bloc Québécois that worked on taking $1,000 bills out of circulation, thanks to the efforts of my colleague for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, Richard Marceau. This man has been a great inspiration in justice matters. He stands out in other areas as well, but in justice he has been a true inspiration.
Once again, it was the Bloc Québécois that introduced and ensured the adoption, on the last day of the 2004 parliamentary session, of a bill on reverse onus. The member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue likes bills that address specific issues and distrusts those that are generic.
The bill was very specific because it reversed the onus of proof for proceeds of crime acquired by criminal organizations.
When I hear the Minister of Justice showing a lack of respect by saying that the Bloc Québécois used stalling tactics, I do not see how that applies to me, and I am sure the other Bloc members feel the same way. It is the role of the opposition to keep pushing the government to be better. Obviously, every member of the Bloc leaves Parliament at the end of the day feeling exhausted, since there is so much work to do.
That said, crime is not on the rise; in general, it is going down. I think it would be ill-advised to hold a debate that does not take that fact into account. The Bloc Québécois has always been very concerned about mandatory minimum penalties.
Sure, they have always existed in the Criminal Code. But when we passed the bill to establish the firearms registry, back when Allan Rock was minister, we also decided to add 40 or so mandatory minimum penalties for offences involving firearms.
The hon. member for Berthier—Montcalm, with his characteristic insight, already had very serious reservations at the time. He relied on studies by criminologists, particularly at the University of Toronto, who concluded that there is no link between the availability of mandatory minimum sentences in the Criminal Code and the crime rate in a society, any more than there is a link between the incarceration rate and the crime rate in a society.
Consider, for example, the United States. The incarceration rate there is three times higher than Canada's, but the crime rate is seven times higher. Thus, it is not through reliance on incarceration that we will have a safer society.
Of course, the Bloc Québécois recognizes that incarceration must be used in certain situations. This is why we do not question the need to have certain provisions in the Criminal Code, such as section 753, which talks about dangerous offenders. A very serious offence must be involved in order for an individual to be a dangerous offender. An offender must be convicted of personal injury offences. An offender must present such a high a risk of recidivism that the court must be convinced that the person cannot control himself or herself or has difficulty controlling his or her impulses.
Regarding dangerous offenders, the older people among us—including some members of my caucus—will recall that, in the 1950s, they were referred to as “habitual criminals”. Perhaps some members remember this? Even my mother used this expression, although never about her own children.
I think I am out of time, but I would like to be able to start over again after question period.
November 20th, 2007 / 9:25 a.m.
Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC
Mr. Chairman, the regular members of the justice and human rights committee will recall that we heard from some witnesses—specifically chiefs of police—who made representations when Bill C-95 and even Bill C-24 were adopted. Thirty-day warrants authorizing the use of electronic eavesdropping devices have been extended. Judges can now issue a warrant authorizing the use of an electronic eavesdropping device for a period of one year. However, no similar changes have been made regarding warrants authorizing the use of other investigative tools, such as GPS tracking devices.
Therefore, the Bloc is proposing that, as per the wishes of law enforcement officials, judges be allowed to issue a warrant that is valid for a period of one year, rather than 30 days. Of course, Mr. Chairman, we will respect your ruling.
November 16th, 2007 / noon
Stockwell Day Minister of Public Safety
moved for leave to introduce Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (non-registration of firearms that are neither prohibited nor restricted).
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)