Bill C-23B (Historical)
Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act
An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.
Vic Toews Conservative
In committee (House), as of June 17, 2010
(This bill did not become law.)
This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.
This enactment amends the Criminal Records Act to substitute the term “record suspension” for the term “pardon”. It extends the ineligibility periods for applications for a record suspension. It also makes certain offences ineligible for a record suspension and enables the National Parole Board to consider additional factors when deciding whether to order a record suspension.
Motions in Amendment
Safe Streets and Communities Act
November 29th, 2011 / 11:55 a.m.
Kerry-Lynne Findlay Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today about Bill C-10, the safe streets and communities act, to highlight that this bill is a reflection of our commitment to tackling crime, increasing public safety, and restoring the confidence of Canadians in the justice system.
The people of Canada know they can count on us to deliver on our commitments. Bill C-10 includes nine bills from the previous Parliament. Many critics of the bill argued that the bill was too big and too difficult to understand. I would note that the bill has had a thorough review in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. There has been no difficulty at all in understanding what these reforms seek to do. While not all members share the government's approach, I think all members of the committee would agree that their voices have been heard and we have had a respectful exchange of views.
As has been noted many times, all of these reforms have been previously introduced in Parliament. Many were previously studied and some even passed by at least one chamber. These bills were at various stages in Parliament in the last session, have been debated and studied in this session, and the public and stakeholders as well as members of Parliament are by now very familiar with these proposals.
Despite this familiarity, it is worth noting the elements and the origins of Bill C-10, in other words, the nine bills that were introduced in the last session of Parliament. As the Minister of Justice indicated at second reading debate, some changes have been made to this bill due primarily to the need to co-ordinate the merger of several bills into one and make consequential amendments to effect these changes. In some cases, other modifications were made, all of which are consistent with the objectives of the bill as originally introduced.
The former bills now included in Bill C-10 are the following.
Bill C-4, which proposed to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act to ensure that violent and repeat young offenders are held accountable through sentences that are proportionate to the severity of their crimes and that the protection of society is given due consideration in applying the act.
Bill C-5, Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) Act, which proposed to enhance public safety by modifying the circumstances that would permit an international transfer of an offender.
Bill C-16, which proposed Criminal Code amendments to prevent the use of conditional sentences, or house arrest for serious and violent offences.
Bill C-23B, Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act, which proposed to amend the Criminal Records Act to expand the period of ineligibility to apply for a record suspension, currently referred to as a pardon, and to make record suspensions unavailable for certain offences and for persons who have been convicted of more than three offences prosecuted by indictment.
Bill C-39, Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act, which proposed amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, to support victims of crime and address inmate accountability and responsibility and the management of offenders.
Bill C-54, Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act, which proposed Criminal Code amendments to better protect children against sexual abuse, including by increasing the penalties for these offences and creating two new offences aimed at certain conduct that could facilitate or enable the commission of a sexual offence against a child.
Bill C-56, Preventing the Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation of Vulnerable Immigrants Act, which proposed to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to authorize immigration officers to refuse work permits where it would protect vulnerable foreign nationals against exploitation, including sexual exploitation.
Bill S-7, the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, which proposed reforms to allow victims of terrorism to sue terrorists and supporters of terrorism, including listed foreign states.
Bill S-10, Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act, which proposed amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to provide mandatory minimum penalties for serious drug offences, including when offences are carried out for organized crime purposes, or if they involve targeting youth.
The maximum penalty for the production of some drugs would also be increased. These amendments also proposed to allow a sentencing court to delay sentencing while the offender completed an approved treatment program.
Bill C-10 was studied by the justice committee over several weeks and over 90 motions to amend the bill were considered. While very few were passed and many were completely inconsistent with the principles underlying the bill, each motion was given due consideration.
I would also note that over 80 motions have been proposed at report stage. Many of these motions seek to completely undo or gut the proposed amendments.
As I noted at the outset of my remarks, Bill C-10 reflects our government's commitment to restoring public confidence in our justice system. Clearly, the motions proposed at report stage demonstrate that this commitment is not shared by other members of the House.
There has been a great deal of discussion about the elements of the bill that provide for mandatory minimum penalties and that restrict conditional sentences. The reality is that these reforms are carefully tailored and targeted to offenders who commit the most serious offences.
Should offenders convicted of arson receive a conditional sentence allowing them to serve out their sentence at home under certain conditions? Should an offender convicted of an offence with a maximum sentence of 14 years ever be permitted to serve that sentence in the comfort of the offender's home?
Even under the strictest of conditions I think all Canadians would agree that no matter what the conditions of house arrest may be, it is simply not appropriate for serious offences. Bill C-10 reforms will make that crystal clear.
I would note that motions to amend the proposed reforms to the conditional sentencing provisions were made at committee and again at report stage. Without going into detail, those motions sought to permit conditional sentences to be imposed without regard to any criteria to limit their imposition as long as certain other exceptional circumstances existed about the offender. Such sentences are not appropriate for some offences regardless of the offender's particular circumstances.
Conditional sentences were never intended to be used for the most serious or violent offences. Our reforms will clarify this once and for all and will provide the clear parameters for use of conditional sentences or house arrest.
As I noted, part 2 of the safe streets and communities act includes former Bill S-10, Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act. These reforms have been introduced in three previous Parliaments and have been passed by both chambers but never by both in the same session.
Despite our repeated debates and committee study of these reforms, there still remains much misunderstanding about the mandatory minimums for serious drug offences. As noted by other speakers, the minimum mandatory penalties are tailored to serious drug offences where aggravating factors are present.
Importantly, the amendments include an exception that allows courts not to impose the mandatory minimum sentence if an offender successfully completes a drug treatment program or DTC, as it is referred to. The program works with individuals who have been charged with drug-related offences who meet certain eligibility criteria to overcome their drug addictions and avoid future conflict with the law. It involves a blend of judicial supervision, incentives for reduced drug use, social services support and sanctions for non-compliance.
There are currently six drug treatment courts in Canada. They are located in Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton and Vancouver. The same exception applies for other programs, so that a court could delay sentencing to allow the offender to attend another approved treatment program.
This last point seems to have been overlooked by some members and we all share the concern about the need for mental health resources. However, the Criminal Code already permits a court to delay sentencing to permit an offender to attend an approved treatment program. This could be a program for mental health issues, anger management or other similar issues. This already exists in the code.
I will conclude by saying that the government is committed to public safety and improvements to the justice system, and will continue to deliver on the promises that we have made to Canadians.
October 18th, 2011 / 9:20 a.m.
Kyle Seeback Brampton West, ON
I want to address a comment that was made by Mr. Gottardi, who said that there has been little previous review and that this is undemocratic.
Mr. Gottardi, were you aware that former Bill C-4, Bill C-5, Bill C-16, Bill C-39, Bill C-23B, Bill C-54, Bill S-7, Bill S-10, and Bill C-56, which are the primary components of this legislation, had 49 days of debate in the House of Commons, 200 speakers, 45 committee meetings, and 123 hours of committee study with 295 witnesses who appeared?
Can you square that circle for me, to say how there has been very little study of this legislation?
Safe Streets and Communities Act
September 28th, 2011 / 5:15 p.m.
Ed Holder London West, ON
We all know that the safe streets and communities act proposes a wide range of reforms to strengthen the law's response to several things: child sexual abuse and exploitation, serious drug and violent property crimes, terrorism, violent young offenders, offender accountability and management, and the protection of vulnerable foreign workers against abuse and exploitation.
As many hon. members have noted, the bill brings together in one comprehensive package reforms that were included in nine bills that were put before the previous Parliament and that died on the order paper with the dissolution of Parliament for the general election.
I will itemize these. These former bills are: Bill C-4, Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders); Bill C-5, Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) Act; Bill C-16, Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes by Serious and Violent Offenders Act; Bill C-23B, Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act; Bill C-39, Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act; Bill C-54, Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act; Bill C-56, Preventing the Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation of Vulnerable Immigrants Act; Bill C-59, Abolition of Early Parole Act; Bill S-7, Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act; and finally Bill S-10, Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act.
Many hon. members have participated in several hours of debate today and ongoing debate from the last Parliament to now. It is clear that some do not share the same views as the government about the need to address crime in our society, the need to increase public safety, the need to better balance the role of victims in the justice system and the need to make offenders more accountable.
My remarks here today need not repeat what some of my hon. colleagues have already noted about the key features of Bill C-10 and the importance of these reforms. I propose to briefly comment on the important reforms proposed in Bill C-10 as they relate to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The Youth Criminal Justice Act came into effect in April 2003. The reforms now proposed in Bill C-10, Safe Streets and Communities Act, have been shaped by consultation with a broad range of stakeholders. After five years of experience with the Youth Criminal Justice Act, a review was launched by the Minister of Justice in 2008. This began with discussions with provincial and territorial attorneys general to identify the issues that they considered most important.
In May 2008, the Minister of Justice began a series of cross-country round tables, often co-chaired by provincial and territorial ministers, in order to hear from youth justice professionals, front-line youth justice stakeholders and others about areas of concern and possible improvements regarding the provisions and principles of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Input from individuals and organizations was also provided through the Department of Justice website, in letters and in in-person meetings. The results showed clearly that most provinces, territories and stakeholders believe the current youth legislation works well in dealing with the majority of youth who commit crimes. However, there were concerns about the small number of youth who commit serious, violent offences or who are repeat offenders who may need a more focused approach to ensure the public is protected.
Clearly, the message was to build upon the good foundation of the law and make much needed improvements and the reforms proposed in Bill C-10 reflect this. Although the Youth Criminal Justice Act is working well for most youth, particular elements of the act need to be strengthened to ensure that youth who commit serious, violent or repeat offences are held accountable with sentences and other measures that are proportionate to the severity of the crime and the degree of the responsibility of the offender.
There have been concerns voiced from many sources and this government has responded. The reforms included in Bill C-10, previously included in Bill C-4, known as Sébastien's law, would enhance our fair and effective youth justice system and result in a system that holds youth accountable for their criminal misconduct and promotes their rehabilitation and re-integration into society in order to promote the protection of the public.
In addressing amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, it is important to note that the act's preamble specifically references that Canada is a party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Youth Criminal Justice Act also recognizes that young persons have rights and freedoms, including those stated in the charter and the Canadian Bill of Rights. Nothing in Bill C-10 will impair these rights of young persons.
The Youth Criminal Justice Act provides for a range of responses that relate to the seriousness of the crime. These sentences also address the needs and circumstances of the youth and promote rehabilitation.
Amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act will ensure that young people under 18 who are serving a custody sentence will serve it in a youth custody facility. It will no longer be possible to put young people in adult prisons or penitentiaries, where the correctional regime is more suited to adults and where young people could all too easily become vulnerable to older, more hardened criminals. It is in the interests of the protection of society that young people become rehabilitated, and this amendment is aimed to ensure that this takes place.
While a sound legislative base is an essential part of ensuring that Canada has a fair and effective youth justice system, it is also essential to address the conditions that underlie criminal behaviour if we are to achieve any long-term or meaningful solution to the problem. Conditions such as addiction, difficult childhoods, mental health, fetal alcohol syndrome, or longer-term marginalization will continue to pose challenges to solving the problems of youth offending.
Our government has implemented various programs to assist in addressing these issues. The national anti-drug strategy has a significant youth focus. On the prevention front, the government has launched a national public awareness program and campaign to discourage our youth from using illicit drugs. The government has made funding available under the youth justice fund for pilot treatment programs that will assist with the rehabilitation of youth who have drug problems and are in the justice system, and for programs that are working toward preventing youth from becoming involved with guns, gangs and drugs.
Partnering with health, education, employment and other service providers beyond the traditional system, we can all work together. For example, through the youth justice fund the Department of Justice provided funding to a pilot program called Career Path, which offers a comprehensive specialized service for youth in the justice system who are at risk or are involved in gang activities. The program offers youth educational training and employment opportunities by connecting them with an employer who will also act as a mentor to facilitate making smart choices, foster pro-social attitudes, build leadership skills and gain valuable employability skills as a viable option to gang membership.
The reforms to the Youth Criminal Justice Act are essential and responsive and should be supported as a key part of a broader effort on the part of the government to prevent and respond to youth involved in the justice system.
I would like to bring it a little closer to home, if I may.
This is the story of Ann Tavares, of London, who suffered a huge loss in November of 2004 when Stephan Lee stabbed her son 28 times. Steven Tavares was an innocent victim who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. His death irreparably scarred the lives of those who loved him forever. That loss is what happened.
To compound her tragedy, her son's killer was found not criminally responsible due to mental disorder and sent to an Alberta hospital the following year. He was conditionally released in May 2008 and is now living in Alberta. All of this happened without notification to the victim's family or the public at large.
Suffering such a loss might have destroyed an individual. However, this became an impetus for Ann's quest to make others aware of what happened to her son and the lack of justice for this heinous crime. She has lobbied tirelessly against the inequities of the system, a system the government is trying to fix.
Ann strongly felt that there needs to be a connection between mental illness and crime. Specifically, she felt that the insanity defence needs to be banned. She felt that to say a perpetrator is not criminally responsible is too subjective. Mental impairment is a defence that anyone can claim. If someone commits a crime, that person should be punished.
She believes mental illness should not absolve someone from the crime they committed. The punishment needs to be based on the severity of the crime, and a fixed minimum time needs to be served before they are put back into the community. However, Ann did want good to come of her tragic situation. In addition to the punishment, she felt that the perpetrator should get mental health treatment, and that to protect innocent victims like her son and the community at large, such criminals should not be released into the community until they have been certified as not a risk to others.
I would like to expand on that through the questions and answers, if I might, Madam Speaker.
Safe Streets and Communities Act
September 28th, 2011 / 4:15 p.m.
Dave MacKenzie Oxford, ON
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the second reading debate on Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act
Bill C-10 is a comprehensive bill that brings together reforms proposed from nine bills that were before the previous Parliament. The short title of the bill, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, reflects the overall intent of this comprehensive legislation. It seeks to safeguard Canadians and Canadian communities from coast to coast to coast. This is such a fundamental principle and objective. To my mind, this objective should be unanimously supported by all parliamentarians in all instances and in all cases. While I appreciate there are many issues on which we as lawmakers may reasonably disagree the safety and security of Canadians, including that of vulnerable children, should never be one such issue.
Let us consider this comprehensive bill is. It proposes amendments that generally seek to do the following:
First, Bill C-10, through part 2, proposes to better protect children and youth from sexual predators. These reforms were previously proposed in former Bill C-54 in the last Parliament, the Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act.
Specifically, these amendments would propose new and higher mandatory minimum penalties to ensure that all sexual offences involving child victims are consistently and strongly condemned. They would create two new offences to target preparatory conduct to the commission of a sexual offence against a child. They would also enable courts to impose conditions on suspected or convicted child sex offenders to prevent them from engaging in conduct that could lead to their committing another sexual offence against a child.
Second, through part 2, Bill C-10 proposes to increase penalties by imposing mandatory minimum penalties when specified aggravated factors are present for serious drug offences. Those offences would be the production, trafficking, possession for the purpose of trafficking, importing and exporting, possession for the purpose of exporting of schedule 1 drugs such as heroine, cocaine, methamphetamine, and schedule 2 drugs such as marijuana.
These offences often involve organized crime, including gang warfare over turf, which in turn brings its own disastrous impact on Canadian communities. They also enable and feed drug abuse, the negative impact of which is not only felt by the addicted individual but also by the family of that addict, as well as by the Canadian health system and the economy.
These reforms were previously proposed and passed by the Senate in former Bill S-10, the Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act.
Third, part 2 of the bill includes what was previously proposed in former Bill C-16, the Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes by Serious and Violent Offenders Act to end house arrest for serious crimes.
Under these reforms offences carrying a maximum penalty of 14 years, as well as serious offences that are punishable by 10 years or more and prosecuted by indictment, that result in bodily harm, or the import or export, trafficking and production of drugs, or that involve the use of a weapon, or that is specifically identified, would never be eligible to receive a conditional sentence of imprisonment.
Fourth, Bill C-10, through part 4, proposes to protect the public from violent and repeat young offenders. These amendments include: recognizing the protection of society as a principle in the Youth Criminal Justice Act; making it easier to detain youths charged with serious offences pending trial; requiring the courts to consider adult sentences for the most serious and violent cases; and, requiring the police to keep records of extrajudicial measures.
These reforms were previously proposed in former Bill C-4, Sébastien's law and respond to the Supreme Court of Canada 2008 judgment in Regina v. D.B., and the 2006 Nova Scotia report of the Nunn commission of inquiry “Spiralling Out of Control, Lessons Learned From a Boy in Trouble”.
Fifth, Bill C-10, through part 3, includes proposals to replace the word "pardons" with "record suspensions". It would expand the period of ineligibility to apply for a record suspension and proposes to make record suspensions unavailable for certain offences, including child sexual offences, and for persons who have been convicted of more than three offences prosecuted by indictment and for each of which the individual received a sentence of two years or more.
These reforms were previously proposed in former Bill C-23B, the Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act.
Sixth, Bill C-10, also through part 3, proposes to codify some additional key factors in deciding whether a Canadian who has been convicted abroad would be granted a transfer back to Canada. These reforms were previously proposed in former Bill C-5, the Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) Act.
Seventh, Bill C-10, through part 3, proposes to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to recognize the rights of victims, increase offender accountability and responsibility, and modernize the disciplinary system for inmates. These proposals were previously proposed in former Bill C-39, the Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act.
Eighth, Bill C-10, through part 1, seeks to deter terrorism by supporting victims of terrorism. Specifically, these reforms would enable victims of terrorism to sue perpetrators and supporters of terrorism, including listed foreign states, for loss or damage that is incurred as a result of an act of terrorism committed anywhere in the world on or after January 1, 1985. These amendments were previously proposed and passed by the Senate in former Bill S-7, the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act.
Last, Bill C-10, through part 5, proposes amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to protect vulnerable foreign nationals against abuse and exploitation. These amendments were previously proposed in former Bill C-56, the Preventing the Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation of Vulnerable Immigrants Act.
I have briefly summarized the nine core elements of Bill C-10. All of these proposed amendments seek to better protect Canadians. That is something on which we should all be able to agree. Certainly, we know it is something on which Canadians agree. I call on all members to support the bill at second reading so it can be quickly referred to and studied by the justice committee.
Safe Streets and Communities Act
September 28th, 2011 / 3:50 p.m.
Kyle Seeback Brampton West, ON
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the second reading debate on Bill C-10, the safe streets and communities act.
The bill would fulfill the government's commitment in the June 2011 Speech from the Throne to bundle and quickly reintroduce crime bills that died on the order paper when Parliament was dissolved for the general election.
Integral to this commitment, as articulated in the Speech from the Throne, are two key statements that I want to quote because I think they give voice to what all Canadians firmly believe.
The Government of Canada has no more fundamental duty than to protect the personal safety of our citizens and defend against threats to our national security.
Our government has always believed the interests of law-abiding citizens should be placed ahead of those of criminals. Canadians who are victimized or threatened by crime deserve their government's support and protection--
In my view, this precisely characterizes Bill C-10. It packages nine former bills that, collectively, recognize and seek to protect our vulnerabilities; for example, children's vulnerability to being preyed upon by adult sexual predators, foreign workers' vulnerability to being exploited by unscrupulous Canadian employers, and our collective vulnerability to suffering the harms that go hand in hand with serious drug crimes, such as drug trafficking, production and acts of terrorism.
Knowing this, and knowing as well that many of these reforms have been previously debated, studied and passed by at least one chamber, there is no reason not to support Bill C-10 in this Parliament.
Bill C-10 is divided into five parts.
Part 1 proposes to deter terrorism by supporting victims. It would create a new cause of action for victims of terrorism to enable them to sue not only the perpetrators of terrorism but all those who support terrorism, including listed foreign states, for loss or damage that occurred as a result of an act of terrorism or omission committed anywhere in the world on or after January 1, 1985.
The State Immunity Act would be amended to remove immunity from those states that the government has listed as supporters of terrorism. These amendments were previously proposed and passed by the Senate in the form of Bill S-7, justice for victims of terrorism act, in the previous session of Parliament. They are reintroduced in Bill C-10, with technical changes to correct grammatical and cross-reference errors.
Part 2 proposes to strengthen our existing responses to child exploitation and serious drug crimes, as well as serious violent and property crimes. It would better protect children against sexual abuse in several ways, including by uniformly and strongly condemning all forms of child sex abuse through the imposition of newer and higher mandatory minimum penalties, as well as creating new core powers to impose conditions to prevent suspected or convicted child sex offenders from engaging in conduct that could facilitate or further their sexual offences against children.
These reforms are the same as they were in former Bill C-54, protecting children from sexual predators act, with the addition of proposed increases to the maximum penalty for four offences and corresponding increases in their mandatory minimum penalities to better reflect the particularly heinous nature of these offences.
Part 2 also proposes to specify that conditional sentences of imprisonment, often referred to as house arrest, are never available for offences punishable by a maximum of 14 years or life, for offences prosecuted by indictment and punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years that result in bodily harm, trafficking and production of drugs or that involve the use of a weapon, or for listed serious property and violent offences punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years that are prosecuted by indictment.
These reforms were previously proposed in former Bill C-16, ending house arrest for property and other serious crimes by serious violent offenders act which had received second reading in this House and was referred to the justice committee when it died on the order paper.
It is in the same form as before with, again, a few technical changes that are consistent with the objectives of the bill as was originally introduced.
Part 2 also proposes to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to impose mandatory minimum sentences for serious offences involving production and/or possession for the purposes of trafficking and/or importing and exporting and/or possession for the purpose of exporting Schedule I drugs, such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, and Schedule II drugs, such as marijuana.
These mandatory minimum penalties would be imposed where there is an aggravating factor, including where the production of the drug constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard, or the offence was committed in or near a school.
This is the fourth time that these amendments have been introduced. They are in the same form as they were the last time when they were passed by the Senate as former Bill S-10, Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act, in the previous Parliament.
Part 3 proposes numerous post-sentencing reforms to better support victims and to increase offender accountability and management. Specifically, it reintroduces reforms previously contained in three bills from the previous Parliament: Bill C-39, Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act; Bill C-5, Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) Act; and Bill C-23B, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
Bill C-10 reintroduces these reforms with some technical changes.
Part 4 reintroduces much needed reforms to the Youth Criminal Justice Act to better deal with violent and repeat young offenders. Part 4 includes reforms that would ensure the protection of the public is always considered a principle in dealing with young offenders and that will make it easier to detain youth charged with serious offences pending trial.
These reforms were also previously proposed in former Bill C-4, Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders).
Part 5 proposes amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to better protect foreign workers against abuse and exploitation. Their reintroduction in Bill C-10 reflects the fifth time that these reforms have been before Parliament, with the last version being former Bill C-56, Preventing the Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation of Vulnerable Immigrants Act.
In short, Bill C-10 proposes many needed and welcome reforms to safeguard Canadians. Many have already been supported in the previous Parliament and Canadians are again expecting us to support them in this Parliament.
Safe Streets and Communities Act
September 27th, 2011 / 5:40 p.m.
Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the second reading debate on Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act.
Bill C-10 is comprehensive legislation that addresses a number of serious issues that are in front of mind for this government and for all Canadians.
It proposes legislative reforms to strengthen our existing responses to: child sexual abuse and exploitation as well as serious drug, violent and property crimes found in part 2, clauses 10 to 51; terrorism, found in part 1, clauses 2 to 9; violent young offenders, part 4, clauses 167 to 204; offender accountability and management, part 3, clauses 52 to 166; and the protection of vulnerable foreign workers against abuse and exploitation, part 5, clauses 205 to 207.
There can be no question that this is an important package of reforms. That is why we must take our task as lawmakers seriously, and study and pass these proposals to ensure the safety of all Canadians.
Bill C-10 compiles the reforms that were included in nine bills that were before the previous Parliament which died on the order paper with the dissolution of that Parliament for the general election. Former Bill C-4, Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders) is now in part 4 of Bill C-10. Former Bill C-5, Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) Act is now in part 3. Former Bill C-16, Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes by Serious and Violent Offenders Act is now in part 2. Former Bill C-23B, Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act is now in part 3. Former Bill C-39, Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act is now in part 3. Former Bill C-54, Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act is now in part 2. Bill C-56, Preventing the Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation of Vulnerable Immigrants Act is now in part 5. Former Bill C-59, Abolition of Early Parole Act is now in part 3. Former Bill S-7, Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act is now in part 1. Former Bill S-10, Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act is now in part 2.
Many of these former bills were previously debated, studied and some were even passed by the House of Commons. Therefore, they should easily be supported again in this Parliament.
I would like to focus the balance of my remarks on the proposals in Bill C-10 to better protect children against sexual exploitation, that being those reforms now in part 2 of this legislation that were previously in Bill C-54 in the last session of Parliament.
The reforms build on the government's well-established commitment and track record in delivering concrete measures tackling violent crime, and in particular to safeguard children against violent sexual offenders. For example, the Tackling Violent Crime Act, 2008 raised the age of consent of sexual activity from 14 to 16 years to better protect Canadian youth against adult sexual predators. It also better protected all Canadians against dangerous offenders by providing police, crown prosecutors and the courts with much needed tools to more effectively manage the threat posed by individuals who were at high risk of reoffending sexually and violently.
While it is true that our existing criminal laws addressing child sexual abuse and exploitation are already comprehensive and robust, there is always room for improvement. We should never be complacent in ensuring that we are doing all we can to safeguard such a vulnerable segment of the Canadian population.
This point is underscored by Statistics Canada's Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Juristat article “Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2010”, released on July 21, 2011, which reported increases in the rates of child pornography offences as up 36% and sexual assault as up 5%.
The proposed reforms in Bill C-10 are both timely and welcome. They address clear gaps in our existing laws. The address the gap created by inconsistent penalties for sexual assault offences where the victim is a child and the gap that now exists because some of the preparatory conduct engaged in by child sex offenders is not criminalized. They fill a gap in our existing measures to help prevent known or suspected child sex offenders from engaging in conduct that could facilitate their sexual offences.
The proposals in Bill C-10 seek to ensure that all sexual offences involving a child are treated equally, seriously and consistently. They do so by: proposing to impose new mandatory minimum penalties for offences involving child victims that currently do not carry minimum penalties; increasing the mandatory minimum penalties for some child sex offences that are already imposed; and, by increasing the maximum penalties on some other offences. Once these reforms are enacted, there would be a consistent approach to sentencing in all sexual assault cases involving child victims.
Child sexual assault could be charged under any of the child-specific sexual offences or under the general sexual assault offences that also apply to adult victims. Currently, 12 but not all child-specific sexual offences impose mandatory minimum penalties and none of the general sexual assault offences impose mandatory minimum penalties.
In practice, this means that the overwhelming majority of child sexual assault cases do not carry mandatory minimum sentences. This is because the majority of child sexual offences are charged under the general sexual assault offence in section 271, which does not currently impose a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment. That is 80% of all child sex offences charged in 2008. The source of this information is Statistics Canada's Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, UCR2. It is very current data.
If we take as our starting point the universally shared view that all child sexual abuse must be strongly condemned and that mandatory minimum penalties are exceptional in the Criminal Code and are reserved for those crimes that Parliament determines must be strongly denounced and deterred, it should be obvious to all that the current use of mandatory minimum sentences for some but not all sexual offences involving child victims is just wrong. That sends a message to some victims that their experience of sexual assault is less serious than that of other child victims. It also sends a message to child sex offenders that they should try to plea bargain for charges under offences that do not impose mandatory minimum penalties.
Bill C-10 contains fundamental legislative safeguards for all Canadians. I call upon the opposition members to put an end to their attempts to obstruct the bill and to support our efforts to keep Canadians safe.
Safe Streets and Communities Act
September 27th, 2011 / 12:40 p.m.
Larry Miller Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the second reading debate on Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act. It is a bill that is very important to residents in my riding of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound and certainly across Canada.
The June 2011 Speech from the Throne recognized the government's fundamental duty to protect the personal safety of all Canadians. Toward this end we have committed to reintroduce law and order legislation to combat crime, including protecting children from sex offenders, eliminating house arrest and pardons for serious crimes, and protecting the most vulnerable in society, our children.
Bill C-10 supports this commitment. It is a comprehensive package of law reforms that had been proposed in nine bills before the previous Parliament, but which died with the dissolution of that Parliament for the general election.
Part 1, clauses 2 to 9, of Bill C-10 includes reforms to support victims of terrorism. These were proposed in former Bill S-7, the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act.
Part 2, clauses 10 to 51, proposes sentencing reforms to address child sexual exploitation, serious drug offences, and to eliminate the use of conditional sentences for serious, violent and property crimes. It incorporates reforms that were proposed in former Bills C-54, the Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act, S-10, the Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act and C-16, the Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes by Serious and Violent Offenders Act.
Part 3, clauses 52 to 166, includes post-sentencing reforms to increase offender accountability, eliminate pardons for serious crimes, and revise the criteria for determining international transfers of Canadian offenders. These reforms were proposed in former Bills C-39, the Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act, C-23, the Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act, C-59, the Abolition of Early Parole Act and C-5, the Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) Act.
Part 4, clauses 167 to 204, proposes reforms to the Youth Criminal Justice Act to better protect Canadians from violent young offenders. These had been proposed in former Bill C-4, Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders).
Part 5 of Bill C-10 proposes amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to protect foreign workers against abuse and exploitation, including sexual exploitation and human trafficking. These amendments had been proposed in former Bill C-56, the Preventing the Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation of Vulnerable Immigrants Act.
Many of these proposed reforms were debated and studied in the previous Parliament. I welcome their reintroduction in this new Parliament.
I will focus my remaining time on Bill C-10's proposal to better protect children against sexual exploitation.
As with its predecessor Bill C-54, the objectives of Bill C-10's child sexual exploitation reforms are twofold. First, they seek to ensure that for sentencing purposes all child sexual offences are treated severely and consistently. Second, they seek to protect children by preventing the commission of these offences. Bill C-10 does this by imposing stiffer and stronger penalties.
Bill C-10 proposes numerous amendments to enhance the penalties or sentences of imprisonment that are currently imposed for sexual offences involving child victims. It imposes new or higher mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment as well as higher maximum penalties for certain offences.
Currently, the Criminal Code has an inconsistent approach regarding penalties for sexual offences involving a child victim. For instance, there are 12 child-specific sexual offences that impose a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment, yet there are other child-specific offences that do not impose a minimum penalty.
Similarly, the general sexual offences that apply to both adult and child victims alike do not impose any mandatory minimum penalty where the victim is a child.
As the grandfather of two granddaughters, one six years old and the other three years old, this means a lot to me. The bill serves to strengthen the laws that protect our children and the vulnerable. There should be no question about supporting this bill.
Mandatory minimum penalties are exception In the Criminal Code of Canada. Generally, they have been imposed because Parliament has determined that the nature of a particular offence is sufficiently serious to include a sentence of imprisonment. That sentence was devised to best reflect the facts and circumstances of the case and does not get lost between the mandatory minimum period of time to the prescribed maximum penalty. Where mandatory minimum sentences are imposed, a conditional sentence of imprisonment is never appropriate for the offence.
Given this understanding of mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment, the effect of imposing these in only some but not all sexual offences where the victim is a child suggests that some child sexual offences are more serious than others. It is ludicrous to suggest that some child victims have been less victimized than others. I cannot understand that thought process.
In my view, this contradicts a fundamental value of Canadian society, namely that all children are among our most vulnerable and that all are deserving of equal protection against all forms of child sexual abuse and exploitation. Therefore, I welcome the proposals of Bill C-10 to impose mandatory minimum sentences for seven sexual offences wherein the victim is a child and where currently mandatory minimum sentences are not imposed.
Bill C-10 also proposes to impose higher mandatory minimum sentences for nine offences that already carry a minimum sentence. These increases would ensure that the minimum sentence is not only in line with the offence in question but also is coherent with the minimum sentences imposed for other offences.
As well, Bill C-10 proposes to create two new offences to prevent the commission of a contact sexual offence against a child. Both of these offences would also impose mandatory minimum sentences.
I would also note that Bill C-10 proposes a few sentencing reforms that were not included in Bill C-54. These changes are entirely consistent with the overall sentencing objectives of former Bill C-54 and seek to better reflect the particularly heinous nature of these offences.
Finally, these changes would increase the maximum penalty and corresponding mandatory minimum sentences for four child sex offences. When proceeded on summary conviction, subsections 163.1(2), making child pornography, and 163.1(3), distribution, et cetera, of child pornography, propose to increase the maximum penalty from 18 months to 2 years less a day as well as increase the current minimum sentence from 90 days to 6 months.
In section 170, parent or guardian procuring sexual activity, the bill proposes to increase the minimum penalty from 6 months to 1 year and the maximum penalty from 5 years to 10 years where the victim is under the age of 16 years, and the minimum from 45 days to 6 months and the maximum from 2 years to 5 years respectively where the victim is 16 to 17 years old.
I hope that all hon. members will work with us to support the expeditious enactment of these much needed reforms.
In closing, as members of Parliament we all have a number of issues that come before us. In my seven years in this great place the one thing that I consistently hear from my constituents, especially those with children, young children and grandchildren, is the lack of rights for victims in this country. We worry more about the rights of criminals than victims, which is a sad case. The pendulum has swung too far one way. I am proud to be part of a government that would straighten that out.
I look forward to all hon. members in the House supporting Bill C-10.
Safe Streets and Communities Act
September 21st, 2011 / 5:40 p.m.
Robert Goguen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice
Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise here today to speak at second reading of Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act.
As many of my colleagues know, this government committed to introducing once again—yes, once again—any law and order bills that died on the order paper at the dissolution of the 40th Parliament.
The proposed changes aim, for example, to protect children from sexual crimes, to clarify ineligibility for conditional sentences and pardons, and to protect other vulnerable members of our society.
With all that in mind, the bill before us constitutes a comprehensive bill incorporating all the changes previously proposed in nine separate bills introduced during the previous parliament.
The first part of the bill—clauses 2 to 9—contains the changes suggested in the former Bill S-7, the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act.
Part 2 contains clauses 10 to 51 of the bill, which include the amendments found in former bills C-54, the Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Act, which was designed to protect children from sexual predators and certain sexual offences; C-16 , the Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes by Serious and Violent Offenders Act, intended to limit the use of conditional sentences; and S-10, the Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act, to increase sentences for serious drug-related offences.
Part 3—clauses 52 to 166—includes measures to increase the accountability of offenders, eliminate pardons for serious crimes and modify the factors considered in the international transfer of Canadian offenders. These amendments were contained in former bills C-39, the Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act; C-23B, the Eliminating Pardons for Serious Crimes Act; C-59, the Abolition of Early Parole Act; and C-5, the Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) Act.
Part 4 of the bill—clauses 167 to 204—amends the Youth Criminal Justice Act to better protect Canadians against violent young offenders. These amendments were included in former Bill C-4 , Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders).
The last part of the bill—clauses 205 to 207—proposes amendments contained in former Bill C-56, the Preventing the Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation of Vulnerable Immigrants Act, that would amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in order to protect workers who want to work in Canada and are at risk of being subjected to humiliating or degrading treatment, including sexual exploitation.
In particular, I would like to elaborate on clause 34 of Part 2 of the bill, which seeks to curtail the use of conditional sentences for some property crimes and other serious crimes.
As I mentioned earlier, these amendments were contained in a previous bill, Bill C-16, which died on the order paper with the dissolution of the third session of the 40th Parliament. However, there are some technical differences, which I will discuss later.
Currently, under the Criminal Code, conditional sentencing, sometimes referred to as house arrest, can be imposed when an offence is not punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence and the court hands down a prison sentence of less than two years.
In fact, since December 2007, conditional sentences have no longer been available for indictable offences with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years or more in the case of serious personal injury offences, terrorism offences or organized crime offences.
What is more, the court imposing a conditional sentence has to be satisfied that serving the sentence in the community will not jeopardize the safety of the community and that the sentence is consistent with the fundamental purpose and principles of sentencing.
It is important to note that the fundamental purpose of sentencing, as set out in section 718 of the Criminal Code, is to contribute to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives: to denounce unlawful conduct; to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences; to separate offenders from society, where necessary; to assist in rehabilitating offenders; to provide reparations for harm done to victims or the community; and to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders.
The Criminal Code also informs us that a just sanction is a sanction that is proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender. To achieve this, the courts take into consideration aggravating and mitigating factors in each case. Before describing the key aspects of the proposed changes, I want to provide some background on the provisions in the Criminal Code on conditional sentences.
Conditional sentencing came into effect in 1996, when the government wanted, among other things, to reduce excessive use of incarceration for less serious crimes. I repeat: less serious crimes. Moreover, the information document that accompanied these sentencing reforms states that the addition of conditional sentencing as a new form of sentencing means that offenders who have committed a less serious crime and who otherwise would be incarcerated can serve their sentence in the community under close supervision.
The limits that I mentioned earlier were established in order to guarantee that conditional sentences could be given only for less serious crimes, in keeping with the fundamental principles and purpose of sentencing. However, in the years following the creation of this type of sentencing, there has been a complete lack of consistency when it comes to determining when conditional sentencing is appropriate.
At the time, many court decisions gave a conditional sentence for serious and violent crimes. This contributed to the public's loss of faith in the justice system. Clearly, many people, and some provinces and territories, wondered whether the limits on conditional sentencing set out in the Criminal Code were sufficient.
In order to deal with this lack of consistency in conditional sentencing, this government introduced Bill C-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conditional sentence of imprisonment) on May 4, 2006. This bill proposed the elimination of conditional sentencing for any indictable offence with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years or more. However, Bill C-9 was amended by the opposition parties to limit the ban on conditional sentencing to indictable offences with a maximum prison sentence of 10 years or more that constitute serious personal injury offences, terrorism offences or criminal organization offences. These amendments took effect on December 1, 2007.
The definition of serious personal injury was developed in the context of dangerous offenders, which is why this definition is found in part 24 of the Criminal Code. According to this definition, serious personal injury offences include any indictable offence, other than high treason, treason, first degree murder or second degree murder—punishable by at least 10 years in prison—involving the use or attempted use of violence against another person, or conduct endangering or likely to endanger the life or safety of another person or inflicting or likely to inflict severe psychological damage on another person.
The second part of this definition is clearer, as it lists sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and aggravated sexual assault as serious personal injury offences.
It is important to understand that the opposition parties borrowed a term straight from the dangerous offender regime in order to put limits on a sentence that should only be applied to less dangerous offenders. That created two philosophical approaches for interpreting the definition of serious personal injury in the context of conditional sentencing.
Another issue with the definition of serious personal injury is that it only targets violent offences. The definition of serious personal injury cannot ensure that a conditional sentence will not be used in the case of serious fraud or theft over $5,000.
The amendments in this bill will ensure that certain non-violent serious offences will still be treated as serious offences, thus avoiding the use of conditional sentencing. The amendments to the conditional sentencing regime proposed in this bill aim to establish clear benchmarks to allow for consistent use of conditional sentencing in order to respect Parliament's intention when it created this sentence.
That is why the bill proposes eliminating the reference to serious personal injury offences and restricting the availability of conditional sentences for all offences for which the maximum term of imprisonment is 14 years or life.
The same will apply to indictable offences punishable by a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment when they result in bodily harm, involve the import, export, trafficking or production of drugs or involve the use of weapons.
When an offence is committed under these circumstances, it is even more important to deter the offender and denounce the crime. This justifies restricting the availability of conditional sentences in such cases. It is possible however that the limits I just described do not cover all offences prosecuted by way of indictment and punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison.
Therefore, the bill also proposes limiting the availability of conditional sentences for prison breach, criminal harassment, sexual assault, kidnapping, trafficking in persons, abduction of a person under 14, motor vehicle theft, theft over $5,000, breaking and entering a place other than a dwelling-house, being unlawfully in a dwelling-house, and arson for fraudulent purpose.
As I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, there are technical differences between the changes proposed in this bill and those contained in the former Bill C-16.
For example, Bill C-16 proposed the abolition of conditional sentencing for the offence of luring a child, described in section 172.1. This is no longer on the list of offences that would not be eligible for conditional sentencing, since article 22 of this bill proposes a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year in the case of an indictable offence, or 90 days in the case of a summary conviction.
Another change from Bill C-16 is that the list of offences that are no longer eligible for conditional sentence includes the new offence of motor vehicle theft, described in section 333.1 of the Criminal Code.
The final change would correct an error that slipped into Bill C-16. That bill did not include the offence of abduction of a person under 14 by a parent or guardian. The intent was, however, to target the offence described in section 281 of the Criminal Code, which has to do with the abduction of a person under 14 by a stranger.
I want to reassure my colleagues that even though the reference in section 742.1 to serious personal injury offences is set to be eliminated, the changes in this bill will ensure that those who are convicted of sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and aggravated sexual assault will not be eligible if prosecuted by way of indictment.
Note also that conditional sentencing will no longer be available for persons convicted of sexual assault against a person 16 or under since clause 25 of the bill proposes a minimum sentence of one year when the offence is prosecuted by way of indictment, and 90 days on summary conviction.
This government is addressing the concerns of Canadians who no longer want to see conditional sentences used for serious crimes, whether they are violent crimes or property crimes.
For the reasons I have just mentioned, I urge my fellow members of this House to unanimously support the proposed changes to the conditional sentencing system.
March 24th, 2011 / 9:50 a.m.
The Chair Kevin Sorenson
We'll reconvene our committee as I bring everyone back to order here.
In our second hour today, we will continue our hearings on Bill C-23B, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act.
First of all, as individuals appearing before us, we have Mr. Randall Fletcher, a sexual deviance specialist, and William Marshall, director of Rockwood Psychological Services.
From the Vancouver Police Department, we have Deputy Chief Constable Warren Lemcke.
I know another Warren Lemcke and was thinking that he was going to appear here today, but I see that we have a different individual here.
We certainly welcome you from the Vancouver Police Department.
I also understand that all of you have opening statements. After we hear them, we'll go into the first round of questioning. Our intentions are to suspend approximately 10 to 15 minutes before the end of our time, at a quarter to, as we have some committee business that we must take care of.
Mr. Lemcke, I think maybe you've travelled the furthest to be here, so would you begin, please?
February 17th, 2011 / 10:05 a.m.
Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON
I'm asking on Bill C-4, Bill C-5, Bill C-16, Bill C-17, Bill C-21, Bill C-22, Bill C-23B, Bill C-30, Bill C-35, Bill C-37, Bill C-38, Bill C-39, Bill C-43, Bill C-48, Bill C-49, Bill C-50, Bill C-51, Bill C-52, Bill C-53C-54, Bill C-59, Bill SS-6, Bill S-7, Bill S-10.
What are the costs? What are the head counts? What are the implications? Why won't you give them to Parliament?
Abolition of Early Parole Act
February 15th, 2011 / 5:05 p.m.
Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON
Mr. Speaker, after the last speech, I think we have heard it all now. Apparently England hosted the G20 summit and spent $50,000 for security. That was an exceptional feat. Certainly, if they were able to hold a summit and spend $50,000 on security, then yes we do have something to learn from them.
The victims of Earl Jones in Quebec are calling for action. Victims of white collar crime from coast to coast are calling for action. The victims said yesterday that they are petitioning all political parties in Ottawa to stand up for the victims of Earl Jones and to do the right thing and act now and support the passage of Bill C-59. Those parties even include the Liberal Party and the NDP.
Let me quote a letter that one of Earl Jones victims sent to the NDP member for Outremont:
We don't want to see this man out on parole as early as next December.... Please work with the other parties to come to a good conclusion for all of us that have been victims—
The letter continued that criminals who preyed on the most vulnerable members of our society should not be released just to save a buck. Was the cost of keeping criminals behind bars worth it? Absolutely.
That is an important comment, because we have heard a fair bit from members about costs, but that is a comment by a victim who says that in some cases perhaps the costs of reparation are suited to the victims.
I would not mind commenting on a speech from yesterday given by the member for Ajax—Pickering. In his speech he advocated 10 times for keeping white collar criminals out of prison. He quoted former U.S. congressman Newt Gingrich at least four times. He seems fixated on Newt Gingrich. The member made reference to the U.S. State of California six times. Not surprisingly, he mentioned victims zero times. As a member of the public safety committee, I have grown accustomed to members on the other side not referring to victims.
Another thing that I heard from the last speaker and from others is that we need to get this bill to committee, that we need to have a debate, that we prorogued this and we prorogued that. However, the fact of the matter is that all of these bills that would help victims, that would fight crime, that would get tough on criminals, just like the bill we are talking about today, could have been dealt with long ago.
Bill C-39 had its first reading back in June. It was referred to committee on October 20. We could have dealt with Bill C-39 before Christmas, but the coalition was more intent on a witch hunt against the RCMP, the Canadian Forces and the Toronto Police Service, the men and women who go to work every day to provide safety and security to our families, friends and neighbours. That was the coalition's priority. Last fall that was what it spent its time focusing on, when it could have focused on legislation that would have actually done something for victims. We could have got tough on crime.
We can go down the list of bills before the public safety committee right now. Bill C-5, the bill dealing with the international transfer of offenders, has been sitting in committee since the fall. It has been at committee for months. Bill C-17, the bill dealing with combatting terrorism, has been before committee for months as well. All of these bills could have been dealt with and been brought back to the House and been voted on and gone all the way to royal assent long ago. Bill C-23B, the bill to eliminate pardons for the most serious crimes, is still hanging around. No action has been taken. They are dragging their feet. Bill C-39 would have addressed the very issues we are dealing with today, but has evolved into Bill C-59.
When the opposition, specifically the Liberal Party, start talking about this and that and the other thing, these are the facts. They can be checked. They are all on the record.
The fact of the matter is that Bill C-39 could have been dealt with long ago. It was first read in the House in June. As I said, it was referred to committee in October, and because of the coalition's agenda and the witch hunt against the RCMP, the Canadian Forces and the Toronto Police Service, we have not heard much of these bills at all.
The government is trying to advocate on behalf of victims by pushing this agenda forward. However, it is being roadblocked at every turn and every step of the way .
Another point I would like to come back to is the costs. We have heard questions about the costs of this and the costs of that. I would also like to talk about victims. I have never heard anything from the coalition about costs when it comes to bills. This is the first time. It is great to hear. It is enlightening that it is starting to look at costs. It may want to consider the costs of the tax hikes it is proposing. However, that is a whole other topic for debate.
These schemers and fraudsters are not fools; they are highly intelligent individuals who are lacking moral fibre and who prey on their victims. They realize that if they are caught, they will get out. They know that. Therefore, when we look at costs, we have to complete the loop and follow the full circle and realize that once these fraudsters and schemers know that accelerated parole is no longer available for them any more, they will think twice before they go down the path of Earl Jones. There is no doubt about that.
Unfortunately, the coalition does not want to talk about that, as it does not suit its argument. As with everything else that I have mentioned in debate this afternoon, it does not suit its needs. However, the facts are right here; the facts can be checked. The fact is that when someone like Earl Jones or Lacroix knows that there will no longer be accelerated parole available, they will think twice. The next offender out there will take a long hard look and a second thought.
While we are talking about parole, let us take another look at what some of these changes will do.
Here is the current situation. Fraudsters who fleece hard-working Canadians of their savings are guaranteed to have their cases reviewed in advance by the Parole Board of Canada, so they can be paroled earlier than other offenders. That does not sound fair to a victim. White collar offenders, who might have destroyed the lives of hundreds of Canadians, are not in fact even required to apply for parole.
Can one imagine that? We have members here who are against this and are having an issue with it. We are just trying to say that we should have some fairness, that we should think about the victims before we send someone back out into the public.
The offenders do not need to lift a finger when they are trying to get back into society. Offenders who qualify for accelerated parole are not required to notify the Parole Board of Canada. In fact, the current Corrections and Conditional Release Act requires that the Correctional Service of Canada refer the cases of the offenders who are eligible for accelerated parole to the parole board before their day parole eligibility date so that they will be released as early as possible.
The other tragedy in all of this is that we do not hear one word from the victims. They are not allowed to make impact statements as to the effects of these offenders' actions on their lives, even the ruination or vaporization of their 30 or 40 years' of savings for their retirements with their families. That is shameful.
This bill needs to be passed today.
Abolition of Early Parole Act
February 15th, 2011 / 3:40 p.m.
Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON
Madam Speaker, my question is with regard to the expediency behind moving the bill to committee.
I would like to point out the lack of speed with which the Liberal Party coalition on the other side deals with bills. Bill C-5 has been in committee since the fall. Bill C-17, the terrorism bill, has been lingering in committee, as has Bill C-23B, concerning pardons for offenders. All of these bills have been in committee for months and months and yet there has been no action from the opposition to help us move them along. Instead, in the fall those members spent time going on a witch hunt against the RCMP, the Toronto police department and other good men and women who do a job every day.
I wonder if the member could say why she has not been able to push the law and order mandate to get these things through. That is what we are trying to do and every day we fight roadblocks from her party and the critic for public safety.
Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act
February 14th, 2011 / 7:35 p.m.
Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON
This is striking a chord with them now. They are getting a little agitated.
The International Transfer of Offenders Act is one and combatting terrorism is another. Bill C-23B, eliminating pardons for serious crimes, is another one. The list goes on and on. They could have focused on those bills.
I will say that the members from the Bloc who serve on the public safety committee could have brought their issues in the summer. They could have brought them in the fall. They focused on a witch hunt on the RCMP, the Toronto Police Service, the Canadian Forces, and everything else, instead of focusing on an important issue, which would have been to deal with the legislation. It is a little rich for the member now to stand and say if only this or that.
The fact of the matter is we were ready to deal with our legislation in the fall. You guys were busy focusing on something else.
Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act
February 14th, 2011 / 6:55 p.m.
Alexandra Mendes Brossard—La Prairie, QC
Mr. Speaker, I would like to participate in the debate on the motion to prevent debate on the content and substance of Bill C-59. I find it rather odd that the Bloc has supported the government's attempt to stifle any attempt at debate on the substance of this bill.
No one in the House can accuse the Liberals of not supporting the idea of eliminating parole eligibility after one-sixth of the sentence is served for economic crimes. Two years ago, my colleague from Bourassa, our candidate in Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert and our member for Lac-Saint-Louis participated in a press conference with several of Earl Jones' victims to call on the government to quickly bring forward a bill to eliminate parole eligibility after one-sixth of the sentence is served, especially for criminals who commit major fraud and have multiple victims.
No one can accuse the Liberals of not supporting that idea. I think it is really dishonest of the government to make that kind of accusation when it knows very well what the Liberals' position is. This was pointed out by my colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.
Now I would like to talk about the debate and the fact that the Conservatives and the Bloc members want to limit the scope of the debate. Just seven months ago the members of the Bloc rose in the House to criticize the government for doing the exact same thing it is doing now with Bill C-59. The government moved a motion to block debate.
Last June, the member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain rose in the House to criticize the government for moving a motion to block debate on the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act. The Bloc member for Hochelaga also rose to oppose a government motion to block debate on Bill C-9, the Jobs and Economic Growth Act, by imposing time allocation.
We are opposed to this time allocation motion because we believe that Bill C-59 addresses a very important issue. Furthermore, for two years now, the Liberals have been calling on the government to eliminate parole eligibility after one-sixth of the sentence is served for economic crimes like those committed by Earl Jones, Vincent Lacroix and others.
I think it is a shame that some would have people believe that the Liberals do not want to protect victims. That is simply not true. When the government introduced Bill C-21 on economic crimes and it was referred to committee, the Liberal justice critic proposed an amendment to the bill to eliminate eligibility for parole after one-sixth of the sentence in cases of economic crime. The Conservatives and the Bloc defeated the motion.
Every MP is entitled to his or her opinion on bills that we are called on to debate in the House. It is a fundamental aspect of the democratic process. The operative word here is “debate”, and the collusion between the Conservatives and the Bloc is preventing us from acting as responsible parliamentarians.
We would like to hear from experts. We want to know how this bill will truly address a gap in the law, how it will do justice to victims, how this bill will improve the chances of rehabilitation for those who once lost control of their lives.
Perhaps we should indeed eliminate parole after one-sixth of a sentence for offenders who have committed serious economic crimes and left a number of victims.
However, for non-violent criminal acts that are not fraud, we believe that evidence has shown that parole after one-sixth of a sentence has been very effective and that the rate of recidivism is much lower.
We will never know what the experts might have said since this closure motion eliminates any chance to consult experts. With this government so eager to control everything, it has become somewhat of a tradition to just pass a bill without any idea of the facts that might call it into question.
The Liberals are against this closure motion. It is not justified, and we regret that the Bloc has decided to join the Conservatives to limit the debate on this bill. As far as the substance of the bill is concerned, in the past and still today, no one could accuse the Liberals of not showing their support for eliminating parole after one-sixth of the sentence for economic crimes.
In order to illustrate the government's intellectual dishonesty, I would like to present a chronology of the Conservatives' failures in their so-called fight against crime.
I am referring here to the various bills that have died on the order paper for all sorts of reasons or that have remained in the House or at committee indefinitely.
Here they are. Bill C-15, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued; Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (investigative hearing and recognizance with conditions), died on the order paper before the House had a chance to vote on it; Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime), also died on the order paper. It is certainly not the opposition that forced the government to prorogue Parliament.
Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act and the Identification of Criminals Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, died on the order paper, and Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, on the faint hope clause, died on the order paper before being brought back this session. One committee meeting was held on Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, before it died on the order paper. Bill C-52, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing for fraud), which is related to Bill C-59, the bill we are dealing with today, died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued. Bill C-58, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service, died on the order paper. The prorogation of Parliament killed many bills.
Among the bills introduced by the Minister of Public Safety was Bill C-34, the Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act, which also died on the order paper. The bill to deter terrorism and to amend the State Immunity Act died on the order paper. Bill C-43, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Criminal Code, died on the order paper. Bill C-47, An Act regulating telecommunications facilities to support investigations, died on the order paper. Bill C-53, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (accelerated parole review) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, died on the order paper. Bill C-60, An Act to implement the Framework Agreement on Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America, died on the order paper.
To date, no meetings have been held to discuss Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Criminal Code. Bill C-17, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (investigative hearing and recognizance with conditions), was given first reading 51 days after Parliament was prorogued, and the committee still has not met to discuss that bill.
Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sentencing for fraud), was fast-tracked at committee in just one meeting and still has not reached second reading. Bill C-22, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service, was given first reading 64 days after Parliament was prorogued, and the government delayed it for 26 days at report stage because of the debate on the short title.
Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to the National Defence Act, was given first reading 89 days after Parliament was prorogued, and we are still waiting for the next step. Bill C-50, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (interception of private communications and related warrants and orders), was given first reading after 94 days, and we are still waiting. First reading of An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act took place 243 days after Parliament was prorogued. Bill C-53, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mega-trials), was given first reading and nothing more.
Bill C-54, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sexual offences against children) only made it to first reading. Bill C-5, An Act to amend the International Transfer of Offenders Act was introduced at first reading by the Minister of Public Safety 15 days after prorogation. Two committee meetings were held and nothing has happened since. As for Bill C-23B, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, we are still waiting. After a few meetings on the subject, the minister was supposed to come back with amendments that he felt were necessary in order to make the bill more comprehensive and definitely more respectful. Bill C-39, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts was introduced for first reading 104 days after prorogation and we still have not met in committee to discuss it. Bill C-49, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act was introduced for first reading 232 days after prorogation and there it remains. Bill C-52, An Act regulating telecommunications facilities to support investigations was also introduced for first reading 243 days after prorogation and we are waiting for the next step. The Senate introduced Bill S-7, An Act to deter terrorism and to amend the State Immunity Act for first reading 49 days after prorogation and we are still waiting for the next step. Bill S-10, An Act to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts was introduced for first reading in the Senate 60 days after prorogation. Bill S-13, An Act to implement the Framework Agreement on Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America was introduced for first reading 237 days after prorogation.
I am pointing this out to prove that it is not the opposition parties that are slowing the process down. For all sorts of unknown reasons, the government introduces these bill and then goes no further with them.
To conclude, I would like to question the justification for Bill C-59 and the fact that the Conservatives and the Bloc felt this was urgent enough to warrant this closure motion, which is an affront to parliamentary dialogue.
Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act
February 14th, 2011 / 6:05 p.m.
Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON
Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the comments of the member in this chamber, and I am a bit surprised, because he is actually engaging in substantive debate around the bill to which the time allocation motion applies. However, what is really before us in the House today is the time allocation motion itself and the government cutting off the amount of time for debate on the bill.
We should not be debating the merits of the bill itself at all, yet I just heard the member say that all kinds of crime bills have been stalled at committee.
Let me give the House a number of the bills that have now passed through the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights: C-4, C-5, C-16, C-17, C-21, C-22, C-23A, C-23B, C-39, C-48, C-50, C-51, C-52, S-2, S-6, S-7, S-9 and S-10. Can the member really suggest that the crime agenda of the government is being stalled?
Some of us would argue they are the only bills we have been dealing with in the House. I wish the member would return to what we are really debating here tonight, and that is the time allocation motion, not the substance of the government's crime agenda.