House of Commons Hansard #109 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-42.

Topics

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Privilege
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

The Speaker

I thank the hon. member for withdrawing his words. We are now ready to get down to work.

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am asking the government what is on its legislative agenda for the coming days.

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

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, we will continue this afternoon with the business already listed. Tomorrow will be the day allotted for final consideration of the third reading stage of Bill C-29.

Next week it will be December which means that there are only two weeks until the date on which this House is scheduled to begin its year end adjournment. In order to be helpful to the House, I wish to indicate our priorities for this period.

On Monday at noon the government shall propose concurrence in a number of notices of way and means. It appears that it will be necessary for the House to consider again in accordance with section 47 of the Constitution Act 1982 the resolution regarding the terms of union with Newfoundland. This will be the subject of debate on Monday.

Among the bills to be introduced on Monday on the basis of the notice of ways and means will be the bill regarding sales tax harmonization. It is our intention to commence debate on second reading of this bill on Tuesday.

Early next week we expect the report of the finance committee on its prebudget consultations. As usual we intend to set aside two days for a prebudget debate.

Those are our three priorities for December. As hon. members know, there is a long list of 32 bills awaiting consideration, including 14 bills in committee and nine bills at report stage or at third reading. Whenever we have the time during the next two weeks, we will also attempt to make progress on these measures and we will encourage the committees to attempt to do the same.

I am saying this not as a form of pressure but in order to permit members to make their plans. As matters now stand, it does not appear it will be in the public interest for the House and especially its committees to expect to go from December 13 to February 3 without sitting for legislative work.

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

Lethbridge
Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker Lethbridge

Mr. Speaker, to facilitate our planning in the Reform Party and to assist the government as much as we can, my understanding is that the Minister of Health will be introducing a major piece of legislation on Tuesday, the tobacco legislation.

I would like the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader to indicate whether there is any other legislation like that or major bills yet to be introduced that we are not aware of so that we can work them into the plans of the House and facilitate things the best we can.

Business Of The House
Oral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Zed Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his intervention. I have nothing further to add other than what I said in the business statement.

The House resumed consideration of the motion in relation to the amendments made by the Senate to Bill C-42, an act to amend the Judges Act and to make consequential amendments to another act; and of the amendment.

Judges Act
Government Orders

November 28th, 1996 / 3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

My colleagues, when we broke just before question period, the hon. member for Medicine Hat had the floor. There were still a few minutes remaining, but I presume that he has chosen not to take up those minutes. I am going to go to the next speaker.

Judges Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Shaughnessy Cohen Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the House today on Bill C-42. Before getting to the core of the bill, I would like to say a few words in response to some of the things that were said earlier today by members of the Reform Party with respect to the justice agenda of the government.

It is amazing to me that it does not matter what we are talking about in the House, but the Reform Party always ends up going back to the issue of guns. Bill C-68 is one of our stronger law and order measures. I want to point out that 12 per cent of Canadians oppose that legislation, which is the exact percentage that support the Reform Party nationally, according to the latest polls.

The member for Medicine Hat spoke at length about his perception, or perhaps it was his exaggeration of the way people in Canada feel about law and order. He suggested that the present Minister of Justice has not done enough. Let us talk about his

record and about the Liberal record on law and order issues, on safe homes and safe streets.

Let us talk about the establishment of the National Crime Prevention Council which was announced in July 1994 by the Minister of Justice and the Solicitor General. It will work to unify crime prevention efforts across the country and to provide advice to both the Minister of Justice and the Solicitor General on issues of law and order, in particular on crime prevention. Crime prevention is something which in the words of the member for Burlington who is well versed on these issues will help us prevent there being further victims in our country.

Bill C-68 on gun control, Reform's favourite, strengthens our gun control legislation. It provides for stiff four-year mandatory minimum sentences for the use of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

Really, that is what this is all about. It is about guns. With these boys, it is always about guns.

Bill C-37, the Young Offenders Act. Reform opposed this one too. It establishes tougher sentencing for violent young offenders while encouraging the rehabilitation of young offenders and discouraging the use of prison sentences for non-violent crimes, something Reformers talk about a lot but voted against.

Bill C-41, sentencing reform, is something that really gets them. This one includes principles and approaches to sentencing that consider public safety, the needs of the victims-where have we heard that before-for restitution, principles that serious offenders should be treated differently than minor first time offenders. Because it seeks to protect people that the Reform Party does not want to protect, because of the inclusion of those two little words "sexual orientation", Reformers voted against the whole thing.

Bill C-104 concerns forensic DNA analysis. This improves the investigative tools available to police by clarifying circumstances for which a judge may issue a warrant allowing police and peace officers to obtain bodily samples for forensic DNA analysis. This bill has already done good in terms of criminal investigations in our country.

Bill C-72 amends the Criminal Code so that people remain accountable for violent acts committed while they are intoxicated.

There is the self-defence review. On October 4, 1995 the Solicitor General and the Minister of Justice announced the appointment of Madam Justice Lynn Ratushny to lead a review of cases involving women convicted of killing their abusive partners, spouses or guardians.

Bill C-9 re-establishes the Law Reform Commission.

Bill C-16, the contraventions act, increases efficiency in the justice system.

Bill C-33 is the Canadian Human Rights Act amendment. Of course Reformers are opposed to that one too. One might ask this question of them: By giving rights to others, how could that possibly diminish any rights that they have? But they do not care because there are those words "sexual orientation" again and off they go.

Bill C-17 contains Criminal Code improvements and they are opposed to that. Every attorney general in this country wants Bill C-17. It modernizes the Criminal Code. They need it to help them in law enforcement, but the Reform Party thinks it is important for us not to take advice from attorneys general and instead to cram unworkable and ridiculous procedures down their throats.

Bill C-25, the regulations act, will be reported in the House tomorrow. It reforms and updates the regulatory process to make it more efficient.

Bill C-27 concerns child prostitution, child sex tourism, criminal harassment and female genital mutilation. It amends the code to make sure that those who commit certain violent acts against women and children face tougher penalties.

There are also Bill C-41, child support; Bill C-45, the judicial review of parole ineligibility; Bill C-46, production of records in sexual offence proceedings; and Bill C-55, the high risk offenders legislation.

If that is not enough, there were a few things that we did which were not even in the red book or that were not promised. We launched a national flagging system as part of the Canadian Police Information Centre to help crown attorneys deal more effectively with high risk offenders at the time of prosecution. We established an anti-smuggling strategy to combat illegal trade in tobacco, firearms and alcohol. We continue to implement the war crimes strategy announced in January 1995. We expanded efforts to fight organized crime by seizure and forfeiture of assets and provisions against money laundering, and on and on and on.

Never, I would venture to guess in the history of our country, has there been a more prolific Minister of Justice. Never has there been a government so closely aligned with concern for Canadians and for their safety.

This morning the member for Medicine Hat went out of his way to reinforce what Reform hammers home and that is the scare tactics, the irresponsible creation out of the air of statistics that are not valid. Crime has not increased. Youth crime has not gone up.

Judges Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask about the Reform scare tactics and what part of Bill C-42 does that fit into.

Judges Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

That is not a point of order. The hon. member for Windsor-St. Clair.

Judges Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Shaughnessy Cohen Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, the boys are restless today. In any event, let us get down to the nub of this. The nub of this is that we have responded to Canadian concerns. The 12 per cent solution is unable to respond to those concerns. What do they do? They stir it up and they let it go.

They do that in debate on a bill which is of very great importance. They say it is not important to ordinary Canadians. However, in my riding there are many ordinary Canadians who talk to me on the weekend when I am home and who call my office. They were concerned about what was going on in the former Yugoslavia. They were concerned about what is happening in Africa. They want Canada to participate. They want Canada to do something to make things better. One of the things we can do is contribute the time and the resources of a wonderful Canadian jurist to prosecute for the international war crimes tribunal.

There is a tradition and I am often able to find it linked directly to my home community of Windsor, Ontario. In the fifties, following the second world war, a gentleman by the name of Bruce J.F. Macdonald, who was then a crown attorney and who subsequently became a judge of the court of the County of Essex, as it was then, became one of Canada's prosecutors at Nuremberg. As a result, many Canadians who live in Windsor have a great interest in this. We hear about it from time to time.

One of my constituents has just completed scholarly work, a book, on the history of Canadian involvement in war crimes prosecutions.

The Hon. Madam Justice Louise Arbour of the Ontario Court of Appeal is not someone we have foisted upon the international court. She was chosen by the secretary general of the United Nations, Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, as a result of a recommendation from the outgoing prosecutor, Mr. Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa. She was the first choice of the UN for the position of chief prosecutor.

This does not in any way take away from her ability to continue as a judge in our court of appeal in Ontario when she returns. In fact, I would dare say that the legal community of Ontario and the citizens of Ontario would be well served by having a woman on the bench who will be a heroic figure as a result of her work with the United Nations. She will be a heroic figure who will return to sit on the bench of the Ontario Court of Appeal.

The position that the Reform Party is taking on this bill diminishes her. It is a terrible shame. This woman is honourable. She is distinguished. She is learned in the law. We in Ontario should be and are very proud of her. The fact that she has been asked to assist the world community in a very difficult, high profile task with the international war crimes tribunal is a great honour to us.

For the Reform Party to take the position which is has is shortsighted and obstructionist.

This bill is a small part of the justice agenda of the government. However, it reaches beyond our borders. It is important for the Canadian people to understand and recognize our stature in the international community. It is particularly important that we be allowed to serve, as a country, our friends around the world.

World peace is a very important and precious commodity. This is one small way in which Canada can yet again contribute to a desirable end.

I would like to suggest that the comments of the hon. member for Medicine Hat, in view of the so-called fresh start that the Reform Party is proposing, were unfair to the Minister of Justice, in particular, but in general they were unfair to the government. Making and keeping our streets safe is a very important goal. It takes more than rhetoric to do that.

At a recent address in Toronto, the Minister of Justice said that it takes more than just statutes written in a book on a shelf somewhere in Ottawa. That is insightful. It takes a lot more than that. So while the Reform Party is busy criticizing the government for what it considers to be our inaction in matters of justice, perhaps its members should take a look at their own proposals.

Community safety has to do with the health of those communities and the health of those communities has to do with their levels of economic development and with the type of social safety net those communities have.

We are struggling hard in this government to deal with the deficit which we almost have licked. We are struggling hard to put the country's finances back in order. We are struggling hard to do all these things so that Canada will remain strong, so we will have economic development and jobs, so we will have a good social safety net and so we will have a safe place for our children to grow up in.

I do not believe that giving people a tax rebate that they do not want and that they are not asking for is the way to do that. Our government's approach is a much healthier, much better organized and much more insightful approach to the problems of Canadian society.

But we do not do anybody any good when we get up in the House of Commons and rant and rave about bars on windows, locks on doors and people cowering in their houses. That is not the normal state of being in our country. The Reform Party knows that and Canadians know that. We do not serve them well by suggesting that crime is out of control or beyond the control of our law enforcement agencies. We do not do our citizens any good by simply pandering to the basest fears of citizens who are being misinformed

by politicians who are simply exploiting their fears. We do not do any good when we do that.

As a government we have to do what the justice committee is doing with respect to youth justice, for example. We have to go out there and we have to find out what is going on. When we define the problem and we see what is going on and we see the state of things, then we have to look to those who are involved in the area, to parents, to children who are at risk and who are in trouble with the law, to teachers, to educators, to social workers, to crown attorneys, to police officers and others. We have to go to them and ask them what we have done that is not working. We have to ask them what we can do that will work and what we need to do more of.

I look at the six point plan of the Reform Party. Point number four has to do with making our streets safe again. How do Reformers want to do that? They want to eliminate the Young Offenders Act. There are certain linkages in society. It is very shortsighted to think there is a quick fix. In the Reform lexicon, first they tell people there is more crime and then they tell people that they will have capital punishment to deal with it.

There is a lot that goes between the commission of the crime and the final result. There is an awful lot that goes before the commission of the crime. That is what we have to deal with, crime prevention.

Instead of going on and on about Bill C-42, instead of trying to take up the House's time and the government's time with a bill that simply allows Canada to be honoured on the international stage by having one of our leading jurists go to Europe to prosecute war criminals, instead of worrying about that, why do we not talk a little about what we can do for our children who are at risk to offend, about what misery they are living in, what problems they are having that are putting them in harm's way? Why do we not work on trying to fix that? Why do we not work on trying to find more jobs for Canadians?

Why do we not stop worrying about tax cuts and worry about how we are going to get jobs for those parents so that their children can grow up in safe, economically healthy and emotionally healthy surroundings? These are the important issues that are troubling Canadians.

On the issue of ordinary Canadians, I would like to point out that the House of Commons, quite frankly, is full of wonderful and devoted people on all sides of the House who are ordinary Canadians who have been called to an extraordinary calling and most of whom do a very good job at it. We do represent the views of ordinary Canadians and we represent them very well. Ordinary Canadians put us and our policies here and asked us to follow our agenda.

When it comes to the justice agenda, we have done what we promised. We have delivered on our promises and in a reasonable and productive way which finds a balance between the rights of Canadians who are before the courts and the rights of Canadians who have suffered. We try to take care of our people because that is what we were elected to do. As good Liberals, I would suggest we are meeting those obligations and our promises to the people of Canada.

If along the way a wonderful circumstance arises for our country, a circumstance which allows us to take one of the most prominent jurists in our country and place her in a position of international importance and responsibility, who are we to stand in the way of that? Who are we to fuss over that wonderful prospect for our country?

Madam Justice Arbour is serving Canadians and the citizens of the world. We should be proud of her and help her do that.

Judges Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of quick questions.

I assume the member is a lawyer, which is not too important, but if she is maybe should would understand the definition better than I would. It is my understanding that orders in council were brought into this House for the purpose of emergency decisions, things that come up that are really of emergent nature, like during wartime giving ministers the authority to do certain things that were required because of a very emergent type situation. It has been my understanding and it has been confirmed by other politicians from the past that orders in council were not to be used as they were in Bill C-42.

I think what is in question is that the orders in council were in direct violation of the Judges Act. Since it is in violation of the Judges Act should it not be debated and questioned? We certainly would not want orders in council to start being abused. We know that possibility exists and that is what we do not want to happen.

Second, could the member explain to me why the numbers in the victims' groups such as CAVEAT, CRY, MADD, FACT, et cetera are growing by the hundreds? They are demanding more and more each day that we do something about the problems. If things are so rosy, could the member explain to me why the membership in these victims' groups is growing steady and why we have millions of signatures on petitions that have been tabled in this House demanding that we do something about the crime in this country?

Judges Act
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Shaughnessy Cohen Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did not suggest that things were rosy or that the numbers were rosy. What I suggested was that the Reform Party speakers who have gone before me on this debate, one in particular, the member for Medicine Hat, have exaggerated the state of the Canadian psyche in terms of their fears. Quite frankly, politicians, journalists, commentators and others who do

that are pandering to fear and attempting to create in the minds of Canadians a false impression.

Victims groups have come to the government on many occasions and on many bills. In fact I have met with a great many victims organizations and not part of organizations, in my riding and in my capacity as a member of Parliament and a member of the justice committee.

What is important in dealing with these groups is that we have a full and frank discussion and that we then work toward helping them. What is equally important is to work to prevent crime so that there are fewer victims. On the issue of victims, the government has a good and a steady record of listening, of consulting and of dealing with their concerns.

On the issue of orders in council I am afraid I am not clear on what the hon. member was alluding to, but I would like to suggest it is important for us to get on with Bill C-42. It is important for us to let Madam Justice Arbour know that she has the support of Canadians in the very important work that she is doing.

Judges Act
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Reform

John Williams St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the hon. member a couple of questions.

In her speech she said it was important to get on with this and to pass Bill C-42 because it is important to get on with fighting crime. There are all kinds of crime: white collar crime; violent crime; embezzlement; forgery, you name it. The Criminal Code is inches thick.

What concerns Reform is that on October 7, when the Minister of Justice was before a Senate committee he said, and I am paraphrasing: "There is no provision in the Judges Act for Madam Justice Louise Arbour to accept this appointment with the United Nations". Madam Justice Louise Arbour is already over in the Hague working in this new position. It conflicts with the Judges Act and it conflicts with the minister's actual words. Yet at the same time he puts through an order in council which states that the whole thing is legitimate. Hence, the Reform Party is asking these questions, I believe quite legitimately. I would like to hear the member's comments on that.

Second, she says the justice committee is working hard and doing its job well. We know full well that the hon. member for Wild Rose had to come into the House to get the chairman of the justice committee-the member in question-to do the job that she is supposed to do as chairman of the committee, which is to listen to the Reform members who want to make motions.

Mr. Speaker, you have ruled that the Reform Party's position was perfectly correct. We had the opportunity to make these motions which were ruled out of order by this particular member, who is the chairman of the justice committee. I do not feel that is doing the work in the justice committee.