House of Commons Hansard #150 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was public.

Topics

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, both the purported quotation offered by the hon. member and the substance of her question represent a marked departure from her usual standard of fairness. I must say that is not what I said at all.

In Victoria when we discussed this issue first we identified changes that could be made to the Criminal Code, upon which we had agreement in principle, changes we will introduce to enhance the existing provisions in relation to dangerous offenders; second, adding new provisions to the code for long term offenders so that we have long term supervision for people who are at high risk to reoffend; and third, we had ministers of health from across Canada present to work with us on those who are mentally ill and who present a risk to reoffend.

We are taking action, very specific action. We understand that going beyond that and into the criminal sphere represents constitutional challenges, but we are committed to looking at those strategies to determine whether there are other steps we could take to enhance the safety of Canadians.

Human Rights
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a third question for the Minister of Justice.

The Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice made a solemn commitment to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. They promised to table a bill by June, then September, then December, when the Minister of Justice told us that we had to wait for the strategic moment.

My question to the strategically-minded Minister of Justice is this: Can the minister tell us if he has completed his strategic calculations and is now in a position to let us know when the bill will be tabled?

Human Rights
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, apart from the way I have distinguished myself for my ability to predict the time at which steps will be taken, I want to emphasize that in this connection the important thing is the commitment of the government to that legislation.

I emphasize for the hon. member, in response to his question, that the government is committed to the amendment to which he refers and that legislation will be introduced.

Human Rights
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebecers and Canadians have been hearing this answer for over a year. Even businesses like Bell Canada, a federal business, has announced today the adoption of an non-discrimination policy.

Why does the Minister of Justice not simply admit that this issue is blocked in cabinet because the government is unable to convince many Liberal caucus members to stand by its election promise?

Human Rights
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, that is not the case. The government's commitment to the amendment is exactly the same. It is unwavering and the legislation will indeed be introduced.

Federal Public Service
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Assad Gatineau—La Lièvre, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the President of the Treasury Board.

In view of the alarming predictions made by the Public Service Commission regarding the numbers of jobs that could be cut in the public sector and, consequently, in the private sector, can the minister tell us what kind of measures he intends to take in order to minimize the impact the re-organization of the public service will have on the national capital area?

Federal Public Service
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

York Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, the assumptions made in the study released by the union are very questionable. The numbers it projects are very much an extreme case. I would caution anyone with respect to looking at that study.

May I say, as I said in the House the other day, that we want to treat people who will be departing because of downsizing in a fair and reasonable fashion. There will be various parts to the departure packages that will help people to re-establish themselves in the private sector.

I met with the mayor of Ottawa this morning to discuss ways in which we could work with the municipal governments to ensure that we minimize the impact on the region. I do note, I might add, that the region within the last year has increased jobs by some 16,000 in number, despite the decline in the federal public service. There is a lot of opportunity now with four out of five jobs in the national capital region being in the private sector to help people move into new opportunities. Certainly we are committed to doing everything we can to help them do that.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Solicitor General.

Once again members of my party have brought to the attention of the House and the minister cases of dangerous sexual offenders who have been released into society only to reoffend, or in the tragic case of Melanie Carpenter to claim the life of an innocent victim.

One such individual, Mr. Harold Irving Banks, was recently transferred to a halfway house in Victoria right next to one of his victims, then transferred to a halfway house in Abbotsford three blocks away from his terrified daughter.

Is it the policy of the government to have dangerous sexual offenders released into communities where their victims reside? Will he take immediate action to have Mr. Banks moved far away from his victims?

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is not the policy to operate in that way as far as I am aware. I will look into this case immediately and I thank my hon. friend for bringing it to my attention.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Solicitor General for looking into the matter.

I have a question for the Minister of Justice. I am glad that he reiterated his commitment to having the safety of Canadian society as his single highest priority.

I have a very simple question. Will the minister immediately bring forth legislation to incarcerate violent sexual offenders beyond their original sentence if they are deemed to pose a risk to society just before their release?

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, part XXIV of the Criminal Code already provides that a person who represents a high risk and can be called a dangerous offender within the meaning of that term in the code can be kept in prison indefinitely.

It is up to the provinces to lay those charges in appropriate cases and to see that any such persons are kept in jail indefinitely. That is already on the books.

In addition, we discussed in Victoria and will be introducing changes to the code to add a category of long term offenders who may not be dangerous as in the meaning of that section, but who pose a threat to reoffend which endangers the public. The court will be enabled in such a case to impose as long as 10 years'

supervision after their release from jail for the safety of the public.

Indian Affairs
Oral Question Period

February 10th, 1995 / 11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Indian Affairs.

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal People finally produced its report on suicide among young natives. The situation is disastrous. Young natives commit suicide at a rate eight times higher than young non-natives. The Pikangikum and Davis Inlet reserves are tragic examples of this.

Does the minister recognize the seriousness of the problem and what drastic measures does he intend to take to deal with this problem?

[English]

Indian Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Vancouver Centre
B.C.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has brought to the attention of the House a very tragic situation that is of great concern to the Ministry of Health and to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

The situation of mental health and suicides as is pointed out in the report has been well-known and is an issue of major concern to our department. Last fall we quadrupled our funding for community mental health efforts among aboriginal communities.

The issues are complex. They not only deal with health, they deal with social problems, housing and economic development. We are going to respond to the report as soon as we meet with stakeholders that understand the issues so we can take the right steps to prevent it.

Indian Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I heard the same speech in the House a year ago.

How can we trust the minister when, a year ago, he had pledged to take positive steps to improve the dreadful conditions of natives in Davis Inlet, and he did not deliver on his promises?

Indian Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Vancouver Centre
B.C.

Liberal

Hedy Fry Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, as is shown in the report, the issue is extraordinarily complex. It crosses a lot of boundaries. There are spiritual issues, housing issues, economic development issues and social issues.

Issues that have gone on for a long time cannot be dealt with in one day. We want to do the right things. That is why we are studying the issue, working with the communities to make the changes necessary.