House of Commons Hansard #82 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ocean.

Topics

Cyprus
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Jan Brown Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present this petition on behalf of constituents in New Brunswick who are concerned for our efforts to create a national pedophile registry.

The petitioners whom I represent are concerned about making our streets and homes safer, and in particular for our children. They are opposed to the current status quo in the screening of pedophiles within our communities.

The petitioners pray that a federally implemented pedophile registry be established in order to help better protect our children.

Cyprus
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Okanagan Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition from 200 people across Canada, most of them from Kelowna. They pray that the government, without delay, provide for the fluoridation of water supplies in all Canadian cities to protect the health and welfare of all Canadians.

Cyprus
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have four petitions to present today. The first group of petitioners request that Parliament pass legislation to strengthen the Young Offenders Act, including publishing the names of young offenders, lowering the age of application and transferring serious offenders to adult court.

Cyprus
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second group of petitioners request that the Government of Canada not amend the human rights act to include the phrase sexual orientation. The petitioners are concerned about including the undefined phrase sexual orientation in federal legislation. Refusing to define this statement leaves interpretation open to the courts, a very dangerous precedent to set.

Cyprus
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the third petition concerns the age of consent laws. The petitioners ask that Parliament set the age of consent at 18 years to protect children from exploitation and abuse.

Cyprus
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Ed Harper Simcoe Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the final petition is on the subject of Bill C-205, the private member's bill presented by the member for Scarborough West. The petitioners request that the House enact Bill C-205 to prevent criminals profiting from their crimes.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

October 7th, 1996 / 3:15 p.m.

Fundy Royal
New Brunswick

Liberal

Paul Zed Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Is it agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I wish to inform the House that because of the ministerial statement, Government Orders will be extended by eight minutes.

The House resumed from October 4 consideration of the motion that Bill C-55, an act to amend the Criminal Code (high risk offenders), the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Criminal Records Act, the Prisons and Reformatories Act and the Department of the Solicitor General Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Reform

Philip Mayfield Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and comment on Bill C-55, an act to amend the Criminal Code.

Before I begin, I want to tell the House a story about what happened not long ago in my hometown of Williams Lake, a city of about 20,000 people in the central interior of British Columbia. On July 16, 1996 a wife and mother was innocently riding her bicycle in a wooded area near the city one afternoon. When she did not come home that night, police were called to investigate. Two days later they found her body. She had been sexually assaulted and murdered. To this day her killer has yet to be found despite the outrage in the community and the thousands of dollars which have been put aside as a reward to those who might point to the killer.

I tell this story to the House today, not to sensationalize another murder case, but to give an example of what people in the Cariboo-Chilcotin, and all Canadians I might add, live with every day. People do not know who or where this murderer is and they worry about their safety.

How does this deep concern that Canadians have for their physical safety relate to Bill C-55? The bill deals with changes to the criminal justice system and Canadians want criminal justice reform. They want to be safe. They want to feel safe in their homes. They want to walk down their streets without fear and they want their neighbourhoods restored for themselves and their children to places of peaceful activity.

Will this legislation restore people's basic freedoms and allow Canadians to experience greater freedom from fear? This is the test we place on the legislation as we consider it today.

Let me briefly outline the contents of the bill. Bill C-55 consists of three components: first, a dangerous offender provision; second, a long term offender provision and, third, a judicial restraint provision. I want to examine each of these in turn.

First, let us look at the dangerous offender provision. Bill C-55's dangerous offender provision would give the crown a window of six months after conviction to bring a dangerous offender application based on newly received information. Presently a dangerous offender application must be made at the trial. This new provision does not go far enough in protecting people from dangerous criminals.

As the proposed dangerous offender provision now stands, the crown could find evidence to support a dangerous offender application after the six-month period, but the crown would be unable to bring an application against the criminal because the six-month time period had expired. Consequently, a dangerous offender could still be back in society too soon, still a threat, still causing fear and concern. This provision does not go far enough to protect Canadians and provide them with the safety they seek.

Therefore, Reform proposes that Bill C-55 be amended to allow the crown the right to seek dangerous offender status for persons convicted of crimes causing serious personal harm at any time during that offender's sentence.

To offer Canadians even greater protection from violent criminals, Reform also proposes that Bill C-55 be amended to require the courts to automatically place a dangerous offender finding on any person who commits on two or more separate occasions an offence constituting a serious personal injury offence. I refer to Criminal Code section 752.

Under the present system, the crown has the option to bring a dangerous offender application against a criminal after any number of offences. This Reform amendment would give Canadians greater confidence that all violent criminals would be incarcerated for an indefinite period of time or until that person poses no danger or threat to anyone else.

I want to consider the long term offender provision. The second component of Bill C-55 would create a new class of criminals called long term offenders. These criminals would be supervised by the justice system for up to 10 years after their sentence and the completion of parole. They would be designated long term offenders if it can be determined among other criteria that there is a substantial risk that the offender will reoffend. They must also be convicted of sexual assault, sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual exploitation, exposure, aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm.

This provision does not go far enough in protecting society against these very brutal crimes. To help Canadians feel and be safe in their homes, in their neighbourhoods and in their communities, long term offender status must be broadened to apply to a wider range of offences committed by sexual predators or pedophiles.

Reform proposes that Bill C-55 be amended to include under the proposed section 753.1(2) an offence under any of the following provisions of the Criminal Code: householder permitting sexual activity by a child relating to section 171; living off the avails of prostitution by a child, subsection 212(2); obtaining sexual services of a child, subsection 212(4). I could mention a number of other offences but I list these to make the point that Bill C-55 could be amended to go much further in protecting society from persons convicted of sexual crimes.

The third component of Bill C-55 is the judicial restraint provision. This provision would add to the Criminal Code a process that permits provincial attorneys general to apply to a judge when they have reasonable grounds to believe that an individual will commit a serious offence, a violent crime. The judge would have the power to place those individuals under police supervision, prohibit the possession of firearms, ammunition and firearms acquisition certificates and require them to wear electronic bracelets so that their movements can be monitored.

The Canadian people cannot accept this provision of Bill C-55 because it makes the wrong approach in attempting to reduce crime. The judicial restraint provision can be applied to people who have no criminal record or even to people who have been acquitted of any criminal charges.

I believe that greater physical security can be ensured through deterrence but I certainly do not believe that deterring crime means constituting a broad, indiscriminate and unreasonable infringement of a person's right to a fair trial before his peers.

The minister's proposal is tantamount to conviction without trial and Canadians want nothing reminding them of star chamber proceedings in our judicial system. Monitoring innocent people will not reduce crime. In fact, are we not innocent until proven guilty and not guilty until proven innocent?

This is not the first time we have seen such legislation from this justice minister who is so willing to disregard civil liberties. The first instance of his willingness to ignore Magna Carta civil liberties was Bill C-68 calling for universal gun registration. This legislation penalizes law-abiding gun owners and users and could mean the future confiscation of their firearms. This bill also moves against ancient rights preventing unwarranted search and seizure and the right of a person to not give evidence against himself.

Why does the justice minister distrust law-abiding Canadian citizens so much? How can the government punish people for something it cannot prove or punish them for something someone might do in the future? This judicial restraint provision would be a violation of fundamental human rights and would further break down the trust level between government and law-abiding citizens.

When introducing this legislation last month the justice minister told the House: "We are taking steps to prevent crime before it happens". The way to do this is not by monitoring innocent people but by getting tough on criminals who have committed serious violent crimes. This means bring in truth in sentencing for violent, repeat serious offenders. Bring in tougher sentences. By this I mean sentence every criminal who is convicted a second time for a violent crime to life imprisonment without eligibility for early release or parole. Make prison time hard time, no free time, no law libraries, no holiday pay, no fun experiences at all.

The judicial restraint provision of Bill C-55 must only be contemplated in matters where individuals have been convicted for offences under the Criminal Code of Canada. Clause 9 of Bill C-55 which allows for the surveillance of innocent Canadians must be struck in its totality from the bill.

In closing, I want to re-emphasize that the Canadian people are concerned about their physical security. They want criminal justice reform. They want to feel safe in their homes. They want to be safe in their homes. They want their streets free for their children to play safely and they want their communities restored to them without fear.

Bill C-55 does not go far enough in protecting people's basic freedoms and allowing Canadians to experience greater freedom from fear. However, if the amendments I suggest to the dangerous offender, long term offender and judicial restraint provisions were made to Bill C-55, I would not oppose passage of this legislation.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to speak today on Bill C-55, another attempt by the government to deal with dangerous offender legislation.

As many in this House know, over the past three years that I have been a member of this Chamber I have spent a lot of time and energy dealing with the aspect of dangerous offender legislation. In April 1994, over two years ago, I introduced a private member's bill that dealt specifically with the items that Bill C-55 is trying to deal with.

That piece of legislation has been before the justice and legal affairs committee for well over two years. Had this government really wanted to do something for Canadians in the aspect of dangerous offender legislation, it should have seen to the immediate acceptance of that private member's bill in this House. What the government has done over the past two years has been to introduce legislation that has dealt with partial elements of my private member's bill.

In the last session the solicitor general introduced Bill C-45 which saw the wisdom of taking a section out of my private member's bill dealing with the crown having to prove serious harm or death would be done to a child in order to keep somebody who was likely to reoffend incarcerated. My private member's bill suggested that it was a very difficult thing for a child to express the harm that was done and that it should not be a requirement and only the likelihood of an offender reoffending against the child should be taken into consideration. The government saw the wisdom in using that aspect in Bill C-45 in the last session.

Now Bill C-55 has been introduced in this session. It also is taking a part of my private member's bill which dealt with long term supervision for people who are deemed to be dangerous offenders or likely to reoffend. That clause, adding up to a 10-year supervision at the end of the sentence, comes directly from my private member's bill.

I have to give credit to the government for seeing the wisdom in those aspects of my private member's bill. I would still suggest that had the government been serious it could have enacted and brought into law Bill C-240, which is now Bill C-254 which sits in committee and deals with these aspects plus others.

As with Bill C-45 in the last session and now Bill C-55 in this session, the government is still falling short of providing that kind of protection to Canadians, that people who are likely to reoffend, to cause serious harm or death to an individual are going to be dealt with in a serious manner. Our party is planning a number of amendments which it is hoped will fill those loopholes the system will still have.

This legislation has not dealt with the time frame. Presently a dangerous offender must be designated at the time of sentencing. If for whatever reason the information is not there, the assessments are not done at the time of sentencing, one cannot deem an individual to be a dangerous offender.

This legislation is opening the window to a six-month period of time. What it does not deal with is that in that six months there is one month when the offender will likely be in a provincial remand centre waiting for his appeal to be heard. Then the offender will spend two months in an assessment centre having various tests and information collected. It will be three months into the six-month window before the offender is even incarcerated in his place of residence for the next number of years where he can be supervised and where his behaviour and attitudes can be monitored.

It certainly does not allow the offender any opportunity to take part in counselling to see whether counselling and treatment will be of any benefit to him. It does not allow any possible rehabilitation for the offender. It does not allow any possible length of time for the people who must make these kinds of determinations to review the individual and see whether he is likely to cause serious harm or death upon release.

The concept of six months will not do anything. I would suggest that the government go back to my private member's bill and have a good look at the reasons why it points out that the time to do this kind of assessment or reassessment is in the last year of this individual's incarceration. They can then monitor what kind of treatment this individual had, whether he refused treatment, whether the treatment did any good, whether there has been any effective rehabilitation, whether the individual has had a lousy attitude in the prison system where he has been constantly supervised and monitored. Six months will not allow the people working with this individual any opportunity to make those kinds of assessments.

We see once again the inability of the government to look at the options and alternatives that have been presented by other members of the House which may bring some solution to the problems at hand. We see the inability of the government to go beyond a limited response to the demands of Canadians.

Canadians whom I have talked to want some commitment from the government that it will make sure that known dangerous offenders who wander the streets, people who they know will likely reoffend and cause serious bodily harm or death to an individual are not out there on the streets. They want to know that when their children walk from school or a workplace that they will not become the victim of a person known to those who had them in their care

that they were likely to cause serious bodily harm or death to an individual.

Canadians are looking to their government for assurances that they will be safe on the streets. Once again the government has fallen short. Yes, it is a good step in the right direction. Yes, it is taking some aspects that are likely to work better than what we have now. But there is a refusal to make those decisions that will give the kind of guarantee or commitment by the government to Canadians that the government takes the risk seriously and that it will make those tough decisions to keep somebody incarcerated because it knows they are likely to cause serious bodily harm or death to an individual.

This legislation still will not help the Melanie Carpenters. Auger, her killer, would not be caught under this legislation. Mr. Auger who ended up killing a young Canadian girl who was in her workplace would still be out on the street able to find a victim. That is what Canadians want the government to protect them from. The government has an opportunity to do just that. I would suggest it is not too much for Canadians to ask of their government.

If we can lock up people because they do not pay their bills, or if we can lock up people because they abuse a substance, surely to God we can lock up people who are likely to kill innocent Canadians when we know they are likely to kill innocent Canadians. Surely Canadians can expect their government to bring in legislation which allows them to keep those dangerous offenders off the street.

Why is the government once again coming up short of the mark? Why is the government going part of the way and bringing in another aspect of supervision or another aspect of identifying dangerous offenders but not doing the right thing? When the system that deals with the care and the concern of these individuals is saying that we cannot afford to put these people back out on the street, why is the government not listening to it?

Six months will not do the job. It needs to be done the year before they are released. Only then can the decision be one based on fact and not just on what might or might not happen.

I would like the government to seriously consider the amendments which will be proposed by my party. I would like the government to seriously look at amendments which will make the legislation the best piece of legislation it can be in order to protect Canadians and to ensure there will be no Melanie Carpenters in the future.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Reform

Grant Hill Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I read an interesting editorial on this particular bill entitled: "Allan Rock in Wonderland". I chuckled-

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I would remind all members to refer to each other in the traditional manner of the House, which is by ministry or by riding.