Evidence of meeting #38 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 children.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

I understand your situation, and we know your story.

When we apply the Criminal Code, we cannot do so for one individual and one situation; we need to think about prevention. Do we need to operate in absolutes? Could we not have situations where this might create other kinds of problems? Perhaps these people could be rehabilitated.

In your opinion, there is no possibility: these people must stay in prison.

11:25 a.m.

Vice-President, Association of Families of Persons Assassinated or Disappeared

Michel Surprenant

It has been proven that sexual predators cannot be cured. As soon as they are released, their only concern will be to find a new victim to satisfy their fantasies.

11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Bourassa, QC

Am I to understand…

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

Ms. Findlay.

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Delta—Richmond East, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I wanted to talk to you, Mrs. Dunahee. My name is Kerry-Lynne Findlay. I am a member of Parliament from British Columbia, and I well remember that fateful day when your son Michael was taken and we all became aware.

I grew up on Vancouver Island, so I know the park you were at that day very well, and I visualized, now as the mother of four, but at the time with two young children.... There were many of us who were identifying with your pain at that time, and I really applaud you for what you've been trying to do for missing children's rights.

Our Conservative government continues to try to address the issue of missing children through a number of initiatives and that includes the RCMP's Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. We have also expressed our support via a website called missingkids.ca, recently launched by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.

Nevertheless, of course we all know and the testimony of Chief Freeman here only underscores that there is so much more we could do for victims and victims of kidnapping, in particular and of course, for our most vulnerable members of society—our children.

Could you please tell our committee today how, in your opinion, Bill C-299, introduced by Mr. Wilks—also a B.C. resident—provides us with an opportunity to do that?

11:30 a.m.

President, Child Find British Columbia, As an Individual

Crystal Dunahee

From what I'm reading and hearing, it sounds as if there is nothing in place at present for a minimum timeline. In Tori's case, if they had been able to stop them before they hit the 401.... Six months is nothing compared to the trauma they instilled in that child in the timeline they had. Because at her age, it would have stayed with her indefinitely; she would have been remembering that constantly.

I don't know if a minimum of five years is enough time, but it's a start. I believe we need to have something in place to get the message across that we will not stand for people taking our children, whether we know them or not. It's deplorable.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Delta—Richmond East, BC

There I'm sure, as are the other witnesses here today, that although it wasn't in the original bill, the government intends to introduce an amendment to make it very clear that we're just talking about strangers who kidnap our children. This minimum would apply to them.

Do you have any other comment on that or even on your thoughts or your feelings on our children being vulnerable to strangers taking them when they're so little?

11:30 a.m.

President, Child Find British Columbia, As an Individual

Crystal Dunahee

Having strangers taking our children is not something that I would like to impose on anybody, as I'm still living that. Our family is still living that nightmare. We continue to do so. Who knows when it's going to end?

So having five years is—

I'm sorry.

Putting five years I think is just.... I don't know how to express that.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Delta—Richmond East, BC

I really appreciate what it means for you to be here today. I really appreciate your courage, and I just want to say that I'm sure everyone here agrees with me as we deal with this very difficult issue. I want to thank you very much.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

Mr. Surprenant would like to respond.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

Kerry-Lynne Findlay Delta—Richmond East, BC

All right.

Monsieur Surprenant?

11:30 a.m.

Vice-President, Association of Families of Persons Assassinated or Disappeared

Michel Surprenant

I heard what you said, and I want to clarify something. Sexual predators do not use firearms, they use ruses. Sexual predators will not commit violent offences during the kidnapping as such. You must also understand that these are life sentences that sexual predators are imposing when they kidnap or assault a child. When you kidnap a child, you are destroying the child's life. How will the child react? How will the child recover from that experience? That is the whole issue. Regardless, it certainly is a life sentence.

Thank you.

11:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Dave MacKenzie

Thank you.

Mr. Côté.

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Ms. Dunahee, I'm Raymond Côté, and I'm the member for Beauport—Limoilou. I would like to thank you immensely for coming and testifying before our committee.

I'm not a jurist, and I have no legal training. However, like you, I have been involved in various organizations, including in the school network. I was the chair of the parents' committee of the Commission scolaire de la Capitale for two years. You said that you have no legal knowledge. That reminded me that several parents I helped as chair were intimidated to represent their school on a body like a school board. So I pay tribute to your presence. Please don't be intimidated by our committee. No, you are really in your element here.

The Criminal Code is a whole, it's an important tool for our justice system. My concern doesn't involve just the section of the act but everything surrounding it, meaning, victim support and all the consequences of crimes.

Given your role as the president of Child Find British Columbia and as a mother who went through this, what can you tell us about the needs of people like you who go through the very trying experience of a kidnapped child? What do you need in the longer term? Tell us about the quality of services and support that are available.

11:35 a.m.

President, Child Find British Columbia, As an Individual

Crystal Dunahee

We did draw on victim services for the emotional support that we needed at the time. Becoming involved with Child Find B.C. brought more support to us, because that wasn't readily available. Of course, over the years, with all the different organizations that have grown because of the abduction of our children, the resources are now there and available.

Having some sort of limit within the Criminal Code gives us that much more of a secure feeling that those criminals are going to be off the street and not released in six months with a rap on the wrist—“don't touch our children”.