House of Commons Hansard #150 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was accused.

Topics

Organized Crime
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have been calling for this legislation from the minister for two years now. He should perhaps pay attention and produce more realistic laws.

I would remind the minister that he is the guardian of the Criminal Code and of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that if, with his hundreds of lawyers and the millions of dollars he spends in his department, he is incapable of drafting legislation that passes the test of the charter, the problem lies not with the Bloc Quebecois or the Government of Quebec but with the Minister of Justice.

Since he has just mentioned it, and in the light of the discussions he has had with the Government of Quebec in the past two or three weeks, will he promise that the amendments he is about to table, that he claims to be about to table, will be in line with one of the three scenarios of the Government of Quebec and will incorporate as well the four criteria set by the Government of Quebec to put an end to the bikers' war? In particular, will he promise that this legislation will be approved, passed and in force before the upcoming federal election is called?

Organized Crime
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I have spent a lot of time, since my meeting with Mr. Bégin, meeting with those involved in the matter, that is the mayors of the Montreal and Quebec City regions and the chiefs of police. I have also spoken to the mayors and chiefs of police of other places, because this issue concerns Canadians everywhere. Gangs and organized crime may be found in other cities as well.

I promise today to produce next week this government's proposals and measures, which will be effective as well as valid and constitutional.

Rights Of Victims
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the justice minister.

It has taken a year and an upcoming federal election to get the justice minister to really discover victims' rights. For three and a half years the decisions of the Liberal government worked against victims and their families. Now the Liberals' pollsters are telling them that it is an important issue so the justice minister is all too eager to jump on the bandwagon.

My question is for the justice minister. Why has it taken a year since we first discussed victims' rights in the House and the threat of a federal election for the Liberal government to finally realize that Reform's victims' bill of rights is long overdue?

Rights Of Victims
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is regrettable that after so short a period of time in national politics that the hon. member would have become so cynical. It is also very sad that the hon. member is prepared to ignore the facts on such a wholesale basis.

The hon. member speaks about victims. In June of 1994 when we had Bill C-68 before the House and the victims of crime, children, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers who have been shot to death by firearms, came to this building and asked the Reform Party to join with the government in doing something for victims, to those victims this party turned a deaf ear.

When the government proposed changes to the Young Offenders Act and introduced for the first time victim impact statements in youth court, it was that party that voted against it.

Finally, when the government proposed in Bill C-41 on sentencing to provide true restitution for victims so they could get back what they have lost, it was that party that voted against it. It is the government that stands up for victims in this country.

Rights Of Victims
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, we should forgive him, for he knows not what he is saying.

Section 3 of our victims' bill of rights guarantees the opportunity for victim impact statements at any parole or judicial hearing. The justice minister, who pretends to care so much for victims, slipped the provision into Bill C-45 that takes away the automatic right to a victim impact statement until the year 2012.

How can the justice minister pretend to be a champion of victims' rights when his section 745 early release legislation gives more rights to murderers like Clifford Olson or Paul Bernardo than to their victims? Explain that one.

Rights Of Victims
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is one thing to use rhetoric when talking about a victims' bill of rights. It is quite another thing to produce actual legislation that makes a difference in the lives of victims. That is exactly what the government has done.

There are a dozen examples of concrete ways in which the government has acted to help victims. I refer as an example to Bill C-46, the very intent of which is to assure confidentiality for the private records of victims in cases involving charges of sexual assault.

Let me treat the precise subject the hon. member has raised, which is the role of victims in hearings under section 745. The government believes, and I believe, that victims should have a role at the hearings under section 745. It is for that very reason that three years ago we proposed in Bill C-41 that the right be given.

The hon. member and his party voted against Bill C-41. Since Bill C-41 was tabled, the Supreme Court of Canada released a judgment which according to the common law, recognizes that judges have a discretion to allow victims to participate.

If the hon. member feels that any part of Bill C-45 interferes with the hearings of victims as such proceedings, I am happy to join with him in making such amendments as may be appropriate. In fact, last week-

Rights Of Victims
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Fraser Valley West.

Rights Of Victims
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is nice to get a word in edgewise. Based on that answer, I am convinced the justice minister does not understand this issue.

If the Liberals were serious about victims' rights, they would have acted on the documents we tabled and debated in the House last April 29, or three and a half years ago when they came into office in the first place.

Victims should come first unconditionally. They should come before criminals. They should come before privacy laws. They should come before the freedom of information act. And they should come before the political fortunes of the Liberal Party of Canada.

I would like to ask the justice minister point blank today: Will he put victims first? Will he put their rights ahead of the rights of convicted criminals unconditionally in legislation?

Rights Of Victims
Oral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, not only am I able to say that we are going to do it, I am able to say that we have done it. Time and again when we have brought forward legislation that does it, and the Reform Party for one reason or another votes against it.

As I was saying before the hon.member put further words in edgewise, I have already said to him and to his colleagues that I am happy to participate with them in making appropriate amendments to Bill C-45 if they believe that any such amendment will make it even more crystal clear that victims should have a role at hearings under section 745. Indeed, I wrote last week to the hon. member's colleague making that position clear.

Let us work together. If the hon. member feels that the matter can be made clearer, I am delighted to work with him and with the other parties in the House to achieve that objective.

Let it never be forgotten that time and again the party in the House that stood up for victims of crime, not with rhetoric, not with florid faces-

Rights Of Victims
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The questions and answers might tend to be a little long because you are getting back in shape.

Spending Cuts
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois has been saying for some months now that the government has not cleaned up its own backyard, but has just shovelled more than half of its cuts over into the provinces' backyards.

The cat was let out of the bag, recently, and not just any cat. The President of the Treasury Board was forced to admit in front of a committee of the other House, with all of his habitual candour, that the government would meet fewer than half of the commitments contained in the 1995 budget when it came to reducing the expenditures of federal departments.

My question is for the President of the Treasury Board. Does he finally acknowledge that, based on his own statement that the federal departments' expenditures would be reduced by 9 per cent over three years, instead of 19 per cent as promised, it is the provinces which have done most of the work and have absorbed more than half of his government's cuts through this nice little dumping exercise?

Spending Cuts
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer
Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I have never admitted such a thing.

I have reviewed the transcription of the Senate committee proceedings. What I said, and I repeat it here, is that, based on the period from 1993-94 to the end of the program review, slated for 1998-99, the reduction in government department expenditures is 14 per cent, while the reduction in transfers to the provinces is 9.9 per cent. Consequently, the federal government has imposed upon itself a burden that is 40 per cent greater than what it has imposed upon the provinces.

Spending Cuts
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is not an interpretation of what he said, but an interpretation of what we read. In 1995, the Minister of Finance was talking about a 19 per cent reduction in expenditures, and in the last three years his department has reduced its expenditures by only 9 per cent for this fiscal year. That is what we can conclude.

Now we have a better idea of why the Minister of Finance bought those work boots in 1994. It had nothing to do with creating jobs, it was to be properly dressed to operate a steam shovel for dumping the debt onto the provinces. That is the reality.

I am also asking the President of the Treasury Board whether he acknowledges that his government has acted as a poor manager and whether the Quebec government deficit forecast for this fiscal year would be 60 per cent lower without the federal government's drastic cuts in transfer payments to the provinces?

Spending Cuts
Oral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer
Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé President of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, first of all, the figures in the 1995 budget are totally valid. The reductions in departmental expenditures are exactly as indicated, that is to say close to 19 per cent, and this is the case quite simply because we have taken money away from the departments'

budgets. The cuts have, therefore, been implemented across the board.

When the Minister of Finance and myself issued a press release a few days ago, we indicated exactly how to reconcile the figures contained in the 1995 budget with the present ones. Without a doubt, once again, not only have we made the cuts announced in the 1995 budget, but departmental expenditures have also been cut, as indicated.

Reconciliation of the figures is done via programs approved in budgets brought down after 1994-95. This reconciliation is shown very clearly in the tables released by the Minister of Finance and myself. I hope the hon. finance critic for the opposition can at least check those figures.

Victims Of Crime
Oral Question Period

April 7th, 1997 / 2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, victims of crime claim the justice minister has betrayed them. He betrayed them through Bill C-41 when he denied them the right to make verbal impact statements. He betrayed them in Bill C-45 by denying them the unconditional right to make impact statements of any kind at parole hearings.

I ask the justice minister this. Why has he added to the suffering of these victims? Why did he deny victims, particularly the families of Olson's victims, the automatic right to be heard at section 745 hearings?