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 minimum.

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

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Craig Scott Toronto—Danforth, ON

Okay. It didn't come up on your radar screen with the government as something to discuss at the time and try to build into that project?

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

No, it didn't. Bill C-10 had gone down the road far enough that the inclusion of this would have just muddied the waters, in my opinion. This was something that happened in September, and certainly Bill C-10 was well on its way at that point in time.

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Craig Scott Toronto—Danforth, ON

September 2011, right? Okay. Thank you.

My second question is that I think partly in response to Mr. Cotler's question about the value-added and about, I think, asking you to articulate for us a bit more your principles of sentencing, or let's say, the key principle of sentencing that you embrace. You spoke about sending a message and then you also said that you would not be “looking to that person to get better”.

Do I understand by this that you mean it would be inappropriate in the kind of situation you're talking about—kidnapping of a minor under 16—for a rehabilitation element to creep into sentencing, and that because of the severity of the crime, it's part of what you want to make sure is not there?

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Certainly, rehabilitation is available to any offender, whether it be through the provincial or the federal jail system. Whether people choose to take their rehabilitation is one thing or another.... In the provincial system, it can be forced upon them. In the federal jails, it cannot.

But what I do recognize from my years of police work is that there's a propensity for people in that type of criminal activity to start increasing the severity of their criminal activity. Also, when you get to the point of kidnapping, I believe that you're at the point where.... What form of rehabilitation are we going to provide for someone who kidnaps a three-year-old child?

Because it's beyond the kidnapping, it's “what's the problem?” The kidnapping itself is something that I do not believe can be fixed. If you've gone to the point where you're going to take a two-year-old or three-year-old child with the intent of doing something more, I would suggest that you have some severe problems.

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Craig Scott Toronto—Danforth, ON

Thank you, Mr. Wilks.

Do we have more time?

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

You have a minute and a half.

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Craig Scott Toronto—Danforth, ON

Monsieur Jacob.

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Jacob Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Mr. Scott.

How does the mandatory minimum sentence of five years for kidnapping a person under age 16 compare to other mandatory minimum sentences in the Criminal Code, especially some sexual offences against children?

What other offences have a mandatory minimum sentence of five years?

In your opinion, do the lengths of these mandatory minimum sentences reflect the seriousness of each of these offences?

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Certainly for the conviction of kidnapping of a young child under the age of 16, the five-year minimum is something that recognizes the severity of the crime.

With regard to sexual offences, whether it be sexual assault, sexual exploitation, pornographic material, etc., those minimum mandatories were deemed by other parliaments that were before me. I can't speak to them; I won't speak to them. From a police officer's perspective, sometimes I strongly suggest that we don't go far enough because I've seen things that most people in this room have not seen. I can tell you that there are certain offences that would sicken your stomach. Because we have the latitude in this country to recognize that the offenders are treatable, and in some cases they may be, but in some cases they aren't, and when they're not we need to send the message.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

Thank you, Mr. Wilks.

Thank you, panel.

I think we've run out of time. We ended up having to split the time.

Thank you, Mr. Wilks. The time has elapsed.

We'll take a short break to switch over to have our video conference and we'll be prepared to start over.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

We'll resume the meeting with the video conference with the Honourable John Major.

I understand from the clerk that you do not have an opening address and that you'd prefer that we go right to the panel and ask some questions.

May 15th, 2012 / 12:20 p.m.

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

That's correct.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

Thank you for being with us today.

Madam Boivin.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin Gatineau, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Judge Major, it is an honour to be able to speak to you today.

As always, the Supreme Court catches us with our pants down, if you'll excuse the expression. I had my mouth full and I thought you would start by making your presentation.

I will get right to the heart of the matter. You know we are here to study Bill C-299, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (kidnapping of young person),

12:20 p.m.

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