Evidence of meeting #37 for Justice and Human Rights in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was kidnapping.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • John Major  C.C., Q.C, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, Retired, As an Individual

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

The crown dropped one of the charges, which is the one—

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

The crown dropped the kidnapping charge to go with the abduction charge.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

You're not afraid that would happen even more if there is a minimum sentence—that there will be more deals between the crown and the defence?

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

I would suggest getting rid of section 281 of the code, and then you solve that.

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

That's not the point of what is in front of us right now.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

I'm sorry, we're out of time.

Mr. Woodworth.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Mr. Wilks, for attending with us today. I know you have a keen interest in the matters this committee deals with and often have volunteered your time to sit and observe and learn, and I appreciate your willingness to do that. I was going to begin by asking what inspired you to make this proposal, but your opening remarks were pretty illuminating on that point, in particular when as a member of the force you have to inform parents about their child's death or disappearance. I can understand that would be moving and difficult and a motivational experience, if I can put it that way, in the context of this bill.

Beyond that, I would expect that you probably drew some inspiration from the effect on your community and your constituents of the Hebert kidnapping. Since your constituents have experienced first-hand and close up the kind of problem your bill attempts to address, could you describe for us the impact of that incident on your community, and how your constituents are looking to your bill to deal with the impact of that offence?

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Thank you very much for your question.

The district of Sparwood, where Kienan was taken from, is a community of 3,800 people who for the most part, like members of most small communities in Canada, understand who is in their neighbourhood and leave their doors and vehicles, etc., unlocked.

Since that event in September 2011, that community has changed. They are much more aware of the circumstances around them on a daily basis. People now drive their kids to school more than they did before. They are much more attuned to locking their doors at night, whether it be their vehicles and/or their residences. They are much more attuned to those who are not familiar to the community, and the police have found that many more calls are being brought to their attention about strangers to the community.

From that perspective, the community has lived in fear to some degree. To bring it one step further, the alleged kidnapper in this case is from the community. We never thought someone from within would do that, and as a result when that did happen, it brought another obstacle to the community—what do we do when it is someone from within whom we know very well, who was born and raised in the community, and who will come back to the community? What do we tell our children about that person?

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

How have your constituents reacted to the bill you've tabled? How has the scuttlebutt affected the situation?

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Certainly people are happy to know, with regard to this bill specifically, if a person is charged and convicted of kidnapping a child under the age of 16, there would be a minimum jail sentence.

I'll be the first to concede that incarcerating a person for a lengthy period of time doesn't necessarily make them a better person, but it provides confidence to the community that the person is not in their community for that period of time.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Kitchener Centre, ON

The second thing I wanted to ask you about I'll just preface by saying that, of course, the government has been addressing the issue of missing children in a number of ways. One of them is the RCMP's Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, which also houses the National Missing Children Services and the National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre.

The government has also supported the recently launched MissingKids.ca website run by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, a non-profit organization, and these measures are both preventive and seeking effective enforcement.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

Thank you, Mr. Woodworth. We're out of time.

Go ahead, Mr. Cotler.

May 15th, 2012 / 11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I also want to welcome Mr. Wilks here. I appreciate your being here to lend your experience to us, on occasion, as a member of the committee. So it's a delight to have you here as a witness.

If I heard you correctly in responding to a question of Madam Boivin, you suggested getting rid of section 281. If that is the case, why would that not have been part of your own original proposal? If the opposition were to offer that as an amendment, would you support such an amendment with respect to your particular bill?

Noon

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Thank you.

To me kidnapping is kidnapping. We seem to muddy the waters from time to time. What I recognize, as a police officer, is that we ended up finding new things in the Criminal Code all the time, and we could never figure out why they were going in there. But we were the enforcers of the law, not the creators of law.

So section 281 was created at some point in time, for whatever reason I don't know. It was created and the wording is quite specific, “not being the parent, guardian or person having the lawful care or charge of a person”. Well to me that just muddied the waters with regard to kidnapping. Kidnapping is quite clear—a person is taken against their will. So why section 281 was brought in and when it was brought in is probably something that someone in this room can answer better than I.

Kidnapping is kidnapping.

Noon

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

This is a not-unrelated issue, but it has to do with the differences between kidnapping and abduction.

Would the differences between kidnapping and abduction justify a mandatory minimum of five years in the case of kidnapping under the age of 16 years, and a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, with no mandatory minimum, in the case of an abduction of a person under the age of 16?