House of Commons Hansard #233 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was victims.

Topics

Points Of Order

10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Before we begin the day's proceedings I would like to rule on the point of order raised by the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough on May 27, 1999 concerning the extension beyond the normal date of expiration of the consideration of the main estimates referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

I wish to thank the hon. member for raising the matter and I also want to acknowledge the contributions made by the hon. member for Vancouver Island North and the hon. government House leader.

For the benefit of all members and for the listening public, the point of order raised deals with a specific aspect of the business of supply. Supply is the process by which the government asks parliament to appropriate the funds required to meet its financial obligations and to implement programs already approved by parliament.

On or before March 1 of the fiscal year that is coming to a close the main estimates to cover the upcoming fiscal year for every department of government are referred to specific standing committees for scrutiny. Once that consideration is complete a committee reports its estimates back to the House. Committees that have not reported by May 31 are deemed to have done so. The only exception to the May 31 deadline first implemented in 1986 is by virtue of Standing Order 81(4), which reads in part:

(a) not later than the third sitting day prior to May 31, the Leader of the Opposition may give notice...of a motion to extend consideration of the main estimates of a named department or agency and the said motion shall be deemed adopted when called on “Motions” on the last sitting day prior to May 31;

It is evident from the text I have just quoted that there are no provisions in the standing orders to allow anyone other than the Leader of the Opposition to propose this extension.

Furthermore, the standing order does not require that such a motion be proposed. The text is merely permissive.

I must acknowledge the ingenuity of the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough in suggesting that an analogous situation exists in citation 924 of Beauchesne's sixth edition which discusses the division of allotted days among opposition parties. However, I must agree with the hon. government House leader when he concludes, on the issue of extension, that the standing orders leave the Speaker no discretionary power at all. Thus, I cannot grant the hon. member's request to allow his motion to proceed in the absence of a motion by the Leader of the Opposition.

That being said, the challenge of making the supply process more effective continues to bedevil many members of all parties. If members have suggestions and concrete proposals that will enhance the quality of the work of the House and its committees, then I would encourage them to bring these ideas forward, notably to the attention of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs which has the ongoing mandate for scrutiny of our procedures and standing orders.

I thank the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough for bringing this matter to the attention of the House.

Points Of Order

10:05 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I appreciate your ruling. If I might, given the fact that the Leader of the Opposition has not availed himself of Standing Order 81(4), and as a result, all opposition members, and I would suggest even members of the government, cannot avail themselves of this extended period of time for examination of the main estimates, I seek unanimous consent, as House leader of the fifth party in the House, to avail ourselves of that motion.

Points Of Order

10:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

As the Speaker's ruling very clearly indicated, the standing orders are permissive in that it is a responsibility which lies with the Leader of the Opposition.

I will consult with the clerk on the request for unanimous consent before I ask the question.

Even though the Speaker has just made the ruling that it is out of order, the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough is perfectly within his rights as a member to request the unanimous consent of the House to proceed as he has suggested. Therefore, the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough has requested the unanimous consent of the House that his motion stand in the place of that of the Leader of the Official Opposition. Is there unanimous consent?

Points Of Order

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Points Of Order

10:05 a.m.

An hon. member

No.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-79, an act to amend the Criminal Code (victims of crime) and another act in consequence, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

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10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

We will introduce the amendments as they are on the notice paper and then, when it comes to reading the amendments to the House, we will make the changes that have been requested.

There are five motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-79, an act to amend the Criminal Code (victims of crime) and another act in consequence.

Motions Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 5 will be grouped for debate and voted on as follows: a) Motions Nos. 1 and 4 will be voted on separately; b) the vote on Motion No. 2 will apply to Motion No. 5.

Motion No. 3 will be debated and voted on separately.

I shall now propose Motions Nos. 1, 2 and 5 to the House. I will not be proposing Motion No. 4.

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10:10 a.m.

Reform

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, would you please clarify the status of Motion No. 3?

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10:10 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Motion No. 3 is part of another grouping. When we get to that grouping we will deal with Motion No. 3.

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10:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-79, in Clause 18, be amended by replacing line 33 on page 14 with the following:

“offence, where a victim exists, whether the victim or victims have”

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10:10 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Cadman Surrey North, BC

moved:

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-79, in Clause 20, be amended by replacing lines 11 and 12 on page 15 with the following:

“section 730 of an offence under this Act, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act or the Young Offenders Act shall”

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-79 be amended by adding before line 17 on page 19 the following new clause:

“28.1 On the later of the day this Act comes into force and the day Bill C-68 introduced in the first session of the thirty-sixth Parliament and entitled An Act in respect of criminal justice for young persons and to amend and repeal other Acts is assented to, subsection 737(1) of the Criminal Code as enacted by section 20 of this Act is replaced by the following:

  1. (1) Subject to subsection (5), an offender who is convicted or discharged under section 730 of an offence under this Act, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act or the Youth Criminal Justice Act shall pay a victim surcharge, in addition to any other punishment imposed on the offender.”

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10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Lynn Myers Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to an issue of concern certainly to the residents of Waterloo—Wellington, but also to the people of Canada and all members of the House. It is the issue of addressing the needs of victims of crime within the criminal justice system.

Bill C-79 is an act to amend the Criminal Code (victims of crime) and another act in consequence. It was tabled by the Minister of Justice on April 15, 1999. The bill has been widely supported by the public, by victim advocates, by service providers and by members of all parties in the House.

The history of Bill C-79 predates its introduction in April. The amendments to the Criminal Code were shaped by the work of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights which thoroughly reviewed the role of the victim in the criminal justice system.

It is important to note that the recommendations for Criminal Code amendments were unanimous. These recommendations were based on the submissions of victims of crime, victim advocates, victim service providers and many others who were actively involved in and knowledgeable about our criminal justice system.

These amendments demonstrate the commitment of the Government of Canada to engage the people of Canada in discussions on important issues. It also demonstrates how parliamentarians can work together collaboratively to achieve shared goals and to work together in the interests of all Canadians.

Over the past decade we have witnessed many improvements to the criminal justice system to ease the burden of victims and witnesses. Clearly there remains room for further improvement. While laws, policies, programs and services are available, Canadians are largely unaware of the current initiatives.

The standing committee, in its wisdom, in its review of the victim's role in the criminal justice system, carefully examined the current legislation of both the federal and provincial governments before identifying gaps and recommending change. The Criminal Code amendments in Bill C-79 build upon the existing provisions regarding the victim impact statement, the victim surcharge and the various provisions to make it easier for victims and witnesses to provide their testimony.

The amendments also enact new provisions to address the concerns of victims regarding their safety, to enhance and expand the opportunities for their views to be considered and to encourage the provision of information to victims.

Before highlighting the key provisions of Bill C-79, which I am certain all members are familiar with, I would emphasize that the Government of Canada regards a response to the needs and concerns of victims of crime as an ongoing process. Bill C-79 amendments are part of that process, not the beginning nor the end.

As I indicated, many initiatives have been taken to reform our laws to improve the situation for victims of crime, including the sentencing amendments in 1996 which required judges to consider victim impact statements, and the amendments in 1997 to govern the production of personal records of sex offence complaints and complainants.

The government will continue to be responsive to the needs of victims of crime. We will be looking to all members of the House for their continued support for current and future initiatives.

Bill C-79 amendments will implement the unanimous recommendations of the standing committee. They will improve the existing provisions and enact new reforms. While these amendments will enhance the voice of victims of crime in our criminal justice system, they will not, I repeat, will not in any way infringe on the rights of persons accused of crime.

The provisions have been carefully drafted to ensure that all rights are respected. Moreover, the preamble emphasizes that the rights of both victims, witnesses and accused persons are to be accommodated and to be reconciled where possible.

The amendments deal with several needs identified by victims: the need to enhance the victim impact statement provisions; the need to expand protection for victims and witnesses to facilitate their participation in the process; the need to ensure that the concerns of victims and witnesses regarding their safety and security are taken into account when determining whether an accused person should be released on bail and the need to revise the victim surcharge provisions.

These are important changes and certainly worthy for the House to note. The victim impact statement amendments further expand the current regime which provides that the judge consider any impact statement prepared at the time of sentencing the offender. As a result of the amendments where the victim wants to read the statement to the judge at the time of sentencing they shall be permitted to do so. This opportunity to present their statement will ensure victims that in addition to the requirement that the statement be considered it will be listened to by the judge and anyone else present in the courtroom at sentencing, including the accused.

The amendments will also address a significant concern of victims that they did not now know about the opportunity to make an impact statement. I think that is also important in terms of its change and what it represents.

The code will now require that the sentencing judge ask whether the victim has been informed of the opportunity to prepare and submit a victim impact statement. The judge may adjourn the sentencing hearing to permit a victim impact statement to be prepared in appropriate circumstances.

I also want to point out that the victim surcharge provisions will be significantly reformed to place the obligation to pay the surcharge squarely on the offender as a consequence of conviction. The amount of the surcharge will be fixed at a mandatory minimum amount. The judge, however, will have the discretion to impose an increased amount in appropriate circumstances or to waive it completely where the offender establishes that a payment of this additional penalty would cause undue hardship.

The new surcharge regime will result in a significant increase in the revenue available to provinces and the territories to help victims. Moreover, the victim surcharge is a way for offenders to account to victims of crime as a group and to acknowledge that victims need assistance and services.

The amendments will also address the need for the victim's safety to be taken into account when an accused person is being released on bail. As a result of these amendments, the responsible judicial officer, whether it is the officer in charge, a justice of the peace or a judge, may then consider the safety and security of the victim in any decision about an accused's bail.

In addition, where an accused is released pending trial, the judge must consider including as a condition of bail that the accused abstain from any direct or indirect communication with the victim. Any other condition necessary to ensure safety and security of the victim can also be specified.

To address the difficulties faced by certain witnesses during their testimony because of their age, disability, the nature of their victimization, amendments have been included to do the following: to extend to the victims of sexual or violent crime up to 18 years of age protections which restrict personal cross-examination by self-represented accused persons, by providing for the appointment of counsel to conduct the cross-examination. It also permits a victim or a witness with mental or physical disability to have a support person present while giving testimony. Finally, it permits a judge to restrict publication of the identity of a wide range of victims or witnesses where the victim establishes a need for the order and where the judge considers it necessary for the proper administration of justice.

This provision will codify the prevailing common law and procedure as established by the Supreme Court of Canada and will fully respect the need to balance the rights of the victim, the accused and the public.

These amendments will significantly improve the experience of victims of crime within the criminal justice system. We know that our work is not over and that much more can be done to encourage the expansion of services for victims, and to encourage the provision of information to victims of crime and to all Canadians about our criminal justice system, and to bring forward necessary reforms where needed.

Bill C-79 amendments are necessary and reasonable reforms. For the 10 years that I sat on the Waterloo regional police service as chairman, we very much valued the importance of victims and the role they play in the criminal justice system.

I view these amendments to Bill C-79 as a great improvement in this area, and I do so on behalf of the residents of Waterloo—Wellington and all Canadians. I thank all hon. members in the House for their support of these amendments and for their concern for the victims of crime. This is a very important issue that we must deal with expeditiously.

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10:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am also very pleased to take part in the debate. I noted the comments of the member opposite and I echo much of that sentiment having worked in the court system as well. I know there has been an ongoing need and a need that continues with respect to the recognition of victims and the need to give them the dignity they require after having been victimized.

Sadly, time and time again in the country there have been occasions where victims have felt the wrath of the criminal in the community in the first instance, and then once again felt victimized by a system that was sometimes not sensitive to their needs and their overwhelming feelings of loss after having been victimized or preyed upon.

There is a great deal of positive impact that will be felt from the implementation of Bill C-79. I had the pleasure of participating in the round table that was referred to by the member opposite. We had an incredible representation of stakeholders from across the country from victims' groups. I am very proud to say that from the province of Nova Scotia we had tremendous participation, some might argue disproportionate participation, but it speaks well to our justice system and the sensitivity of my home province of Nova Scotia toward this need and this problem.

The victim impact statement is a matter of law that has been around for some time. It is, for those who might be unfamiliar with the concept, an opportunity for a victim to speak directly not only to the court but to those assembled and, perhaps most importantly, to the offender. It is an opportunity for victims to voice the feeling they might have encompassed as a result of what the offender had done to them personally, to their property or to a loved one. The expansion of the victim impact statement in its use and in its utilization within the courtroom is a very important step forward.

The knowledge that victims have of these processes that are available to them is something that is equally important because those tools, if not made familiar to victims, will not serve the purpose for which they are set out.

Victim impact statements are a very important aspect of the healing that has to take place subsequent to the commission of a crime and subsequent to the often arduous process that victims experience in the court. That includes the delay, the appeal, and often the very rigorous cross-examination and rigorous examination of circumstance that occurs in a courtroom. This is part of our legal system. It is part of the need and necessity to observe principles such as the presumption of innocence. Due process has to run its course, but the victims are often left feeling that this sterile process does not show enough compassion to the pain, not only the external pain but the internal pain that comes about as a result of criminal activity.

Through heightened awareness of the use of victim impact statements and the necessity now of the codification of the requirement that a judge inquire of the crown prosecutor, the victim or their representative as to whether they have availed themselves of a victim impact statement is an important step forward. I do have some reservations as to the broad application of this.

That matter was also raised by provinces, particularly New Brunswick. It brought forward a concern about the current wording of the sections in Bill C-79 which requires that a judge must make these inquiries of the prosecutor. It would be left open to interpretation by the judge in all instances or cases including victimless crime. I am speaking of a situation where damage is done to public property or an impaired driving case, which sadly still remain very prevalent in terms of the caseload in the courts.

When we have the requirement or the necessity for a judge in every instance, including victimless crimes, to make such an inquiry, my submission to the justice department would be that this will cause further delay because of the volume that exists in the courts. Although it may seem momentary in a single case that a judge makes this request or inquiry, when it is done time and time again it will result in a massive amount of wasted court time. Sadly we simply do not have the luxury to waste court time in this day and age.

My amendment is aimed specifically at denoting in a very straightforward way a suggestion to streamline this section that a judge must make these inquiries when a victim exists. I believe the language is such that it is made very clear.

Sadly we have seen time and time again legislation being drafted in a cumbersome and onerous way and being left open to all sorts of judicial and legislative interpretation that what is intended in the legislation is often misdirected and often misinterpreted. This does not serve the purpose the legislative drafters would hope to accomplish. It certainly would not serve the purpose that members of parliament who are involved in this process want to accomplish. We need streamlined, tight legislation, particularly in criminal law where there is a tremendous amount of problems and a tremendous backlog in courts throughout the land.

That is what lawyers do. Lawyers look for an interpretation that would be advantageous to their clients. That is part of the process. It will always be implicit in our legal system. However, common sense is something that should prevail. I believe it should begin at the very first instance, in the drafting process.

I am suggesting that through this amendment we can accomplish more because we can remove some of the delay that will flow from this current section of Bill C-79.

To speak to the larger issue of the impact of the bill, we have seen some very positive legislative initiatives which will touch upon some of the shortcomings that have existed prior to this time and will exist for some time until the actual implementation of Bill C-79 takes place.

One of those initiatives has been mentioned. It involves the use of victim fine surcharges. I have some reservations as to the actual practical application. I hope the revenue that will be generated by the application of victim fine surcharges will find its way into the hands of victims who are feeling aggrieved.

We all know it will not be possible to put victims back into the situation which existed prior to their victimization. We will not be able to remove the bruises, to unviolate a sexual assault victim. We will not be able to erase from their memories or remove the injurious effects which flow from an assault.

At least with some monetary compensation there is an attempt and a recognition. Oftentimes I would suggest strongly that it is recognition victims are looking for, a respect from not only the system but to some small degree perhaps from the accused, from the offender. Monetary compensation for personal damage to property or personal damage to clothing in some small way is a recognition.

I hope the victim fine surcharge will be administered properly. I hope it will not be used for administrative purposes as opposed to the intent, which is to put money or compensation into the pocket of the victim.

I am very pleased to have been a part of the process that brings us to this stage, the deliberations that took place in the justice committee. I was very pleased to see the positive and non-partisan approach taken by all members of the committee. That is very apparent in the House today and we will see it again when it comes time to vote on this legislative initiative.

I congratulate members of the committee. I have no reservation in acknowledging the Minister of Justice and her commitment to this issue. I must recognize as well the late Shaughnessy Cohen as having played an integral part in getting this piece of legislation to the point where we see it today. It is a very fitting tribute to her memory that these implementations will be coming about, to use the minister's words, in a timely fashion.

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10:35 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Cadman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be quite brief and restrict my comments to the Group No. 1 amendments.

I have no problem with Motion No. 1 of my colleague from Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough. It simplifies the intent of the section. I appreciate his foresight in addressing this issue. To those of us with no legal training it seems rather inconsequential, but I understand that the hon. member, with his experience in the courts, knows how things can fall apart and why one would want to propose this amendment. I certainly have no problem with it.

As for Motion No. 2, we are adding the Young Offenders Act to the list of statutes for which the victim surcharge will apply. The reason for that is that the amendment follows Recommendation No. 13 of the justice committee in its report “Victims' Rights: A Voice, Not A Veto”. The committee actually reported and recommended that victim fine surcharges should apply to young offenders.

The federal-provincial-territorial working group also recommended permitting the surcharge against young offenders. Alberta, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and Ontario are on record as supporting victim surcharges applying to young offenders.

Young offenders create victims in similar ways as adult criminals do. A victim is a victim is a victim, regardless of who is the perpetrator of the offence. As such, young offenders should be held responsible to provide assistance to the victims of crime in a similar fashion as adults do.

During the 1994-95 fiscal year there was a total of 4,472 cases across Canada whereby a fine was the most significant disposition by the youth court. The vast majority of these fines were between $50 and $500. If these young offenders can pay those fines, a minimum surcharge scheme as laid out in Bill C-79 should not prove to be any great problem for them.

Motion No. 5 merely applies the same line of reasoning to the proposed youth criminal justice act, if it ever in fact sees the light of day.

I will finish my comments there. I will have more to say at third reading on the main body of my thoughts on this bill.

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10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, we will not support the amendments brought forward by the Reform Party, but we will support the one brought forward by the House leader for the Progressive Conservative Party. We are generally in favour of this bill because we think it gives victims of crime the increased protection they need, particularly in the case of sexual offences.

We know that the members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights have worked constantly in a spirit of co-operation on this issue. I think we must give them credit for that.

Crime has been a concern of mine for a long time. It is an issue of great interest to me as the member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve.

Members will certainly recall that, in 1995, I tabled a bill that was called, wrongly perhaps, an anti-gang bill, when in fact it was an anti-mafia bill.

There are different levels of crime. There are lower levels of crime, which exist within the communities and for which we, on this side of the House, have always thought the rehabilitation process was possible.

Then there are higher levels of crime, which require more drastic measures.

We think that one of the ways to reduce crime would be to withdraw the $1,000 bill from circulation, a proposal the member for Charlesbourg himself has on several occasions made to the House. Canada is the only country with a $1,000 denomination and we know who benefits.

If we were to conduct a test and ask how many members in the House had $1,000 bills in their possession, I think the answer would be very few, with the notable exception of yourself, Mr. Speaker.

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10:40 a.m.

An hon. member

The Minister of Finance.

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10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Perhaps the Minister of Finance, someone is telling me.

The reason we will not be able to support the Reform Party amendments is not because we are against the principle of victim fine surcharges.

On the contrary. We know that they are a feature of the Criminal Code and that they are also used in connection with certain provisions of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, but we do not see any need to extend the principle to the Young Offenders Act, as the Reform Party would like.

Just now, our colleague rose and reminded us that young offenders can create victims. That is very true. A criminal act remains a criminal act. However, we believe that resources and hope must be put into rehabilitation. Sentencing someone who is 14, 15 or 16 years of age is not the same as sentencing someone who is 40 and who has risen through the ranks in the underworld. These are two very different situations.

As regards the victim surcharge, we believe that, in the case of young offenders, there is a requirement that would not be met because of a lack of financial resources.

We must never forget that there are a number of prerequisites for organized crime to flourish. These are the conditions that we as legislators must take into consideration. The fact that criminality is most prevalent in large cities is no coincidence.

At least three conditions must be present for organized crime to exist. First, organized crime emerges in places where there are communications facilities. Highway, port and airport networks are necessary, because organized crime members must be in contact with various continents and countries. Organized crime is very much a global reality.

There is a second prerequisite. Organized crime exists in highly bureaucratized states. It cannot flourish in third world countries. Some types of crime exist in these countries, but we cannot talk about organized crime as we know it in the United States, Australia, Canada and other developed countries.

Organized crime needs a bureaucratic system with charters to make it possible for criminals to invoke a number of rights.

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10:40 a.m.

An hon. member

And for victims.

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10:40 a.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

And for victims. We must also talk about this side of the issue.

The third condition for organized crime to flourish is, of course, the degree of wealth in a society.

In conclusion, we support the amendment proposed by the Progressive Conservative Party. We also support the bill, because we believe that greater protection ought to be afforded to victims, particularly victims of crime. However, we cannot support Motions Nos. 2 and 5, or the amendments proposed by the Reform Party.

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10:45 a.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-79 at report stage.

I commend the member for Surrey North for the leadership he has taken to ensure that victims have a right and a say within our justice system. They have been ignored for too long. As the member is often prone to say, victims need a voice, not a veto which is unfortunately what has happened.

I want to focus on Motion No. 2. It deals with the issue of victim surcharges. This is innovative. Not only will it help victims, but it will also help those who have committed offences.

Essentially it asks that a young offender who has been convicted of a crime provide restitution to the victims. Why is this important? For one thing from a victim's perspective, too often victims have been ignored in our criminal justice system. They have been shunted to the side. I could give countless examples of victims who have received less help than the criminals who have committed the offences.

There are countless cases of children who have been abused, women and men who have been raped, people who have been assaulted. They have sustained long term ongoing devastating psychological trauma from what they have endured, yet after all is said and done within the justice system, the criminals have received more help than the victims. That simply is not fair.

My colleague from Surrey North is trying to add some balance and fairness so that victims get the help they require through our system. It also places the onus upon the criminal. If a person commits an offence, they will pay a price not only to society, but also to the victim. There are some innovative ways of doing this.

In my province of British Columbia there are some innovative ways in which the convicted person can, if the victim is in agreement, pay restitution directly to the victim. The convicted person can also say that he or she is sorry and pay some visible and vocal emotional restitution to the victim.

The benefit is it enables the victim to understand that the person who has been convicted is genuinely sorry. It also has been found to diminish the number of times the convicted person commits future offences. In other words, it breaks the cycle of crime and punishment we have found in our society. So often it goes around and around in a circle.

Motion No. 2 is very important from a restitution perspective. It is important to give victims rights. It is important from the convicted person's perspective to show that if a person commits an offence, there will be a penalty to pay. In the long term it has been shown to decrease the amount of times the person reoffends. It decreases the reoffence rate. It also decreases the costs to the taxpayer in that it diverts the convicted person from the expensive incarceration in juvenile institutions. It costs $95,000 a year for a juvenile to be incarcerated in an institution.

If we could divert those convicted to do other things such as making restitution to the victim and society and working for society as part of the penalty, then the criminal would actually learn some very useful skills. It would be beneficial to the criminal from a societal perspective, from a professional perspective and would decrease the number of times the criminal would reoffend in the future.

It is a win-win situation. We applaud this motion and support it. We look forward to speaking again at the third reading stage of Bill C-79.

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10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Stan Keyes Hamilton West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough seeks to amend Bill C-79, in particular the proposed section 722.2, which is found in clause 18.

This section in issue will require the judge before sentencing to ask the prosecutor, a victim or any person representing a victim whether the victim has been advised of the opportunity to prepare a victim impact statement. This provision is exactly what the standing committee unanimously recommended. It is based on concerns raised by victims and victim advocates, and these are persons and organizations with strong roots in and around my hometown of Hamilton, that victims often do not know about the opportunity to make a victim impact statement.

The hon. member's motion would reword the provision so that the judge would make this inquiry only where the victim exists. Let us be clear about this, only where the victim exists. I plead with the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough to think through the purpose of this amendment.

Surely where there is no victim, the judge will not waste his or her time asking whether the victim has been advised of the opportunity to make a victim impact statement. For example, in sentencing an accused for impaired driving where no one is injured, there is no property loss, no victim other than society, the judge would not make this inquiry. Clearly there would be no victim impact statement where there is no victim.

By inserting the words “where the victim exists” we are suggesting that for example in the case of a murder where the victim is deceased the survivors would not be considered as victims in order to make a victim impact statement. While I do not think this is really the hon. member's intention, this would be the result of this particular amendment.

The family members of homicide victims are indeed victims in their own right and the Criminal Code recognizes them as victims for the purpose of submitting victim impact statements. The proposed amendment would only cause confusion and concern among surviving family members that they would be denied both information and the opportunity to prepare a victim impact statement.

Whatever the purpose of this amendment is, let us be clear, it is not necessary. The Criminal Code does not define victim. Rather Bill C-79 clarifies that victim includes the victim of an alleged offence. Common sense and understanding dictate who is a victim. Where there is no victim of an offence, there will be no need or obligation on the judge to inquire whether the victim has been informed.

If this motion is intended to restrict the obligation on judges to make this inquiry for only certain crimes or certain types of victims, it does not achieve its objective.

The amendment clearly cannot be supported. One, it does not reflect what the standing committee recommended unanimously. Two, it does not reflect what victims of crime and victim service providers have told us. Three and maybe most important, it does not achieve any valid purpose and it will cause confusion in the interpretation of this provision ultimately at the expense of victims of crime. I am certain that the hon. member does not want to see that happen.

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10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is the House ready for the question?

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10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The question is on Motion No. 1. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:50 a.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Criminal Code
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10:50 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare the motion defeated.

(Motion No. 1 negatived)

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The next question is on Motion No. 2. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

An hon. member

On division.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare Motion No. 2 defeated. I therefore declare Motion No. 5 defeated.

(Motion No. 2 negatived)

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

There is one motion in Group No. 2, Motion No. 3, standing on the notice paper. I have been advised that the member for Surrey North does not wish to proceed with the motion. Is this correct?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Cadman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is correct.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that the bill be concurred in.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to)

Criminal Code
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10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I declare the motion carried. When shall the bill be read the third time? At the next sitting of the House?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe you will find there is consent in the House to proceed to third reading. We could resume the debate after question period.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The deputy whip has asked for the unanimous consent of the House to proceed to third reading. Is there unanimous consent?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

We will return to the debate after Oral Question Period.

Jack Wells
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Charleswood—Assiniboine, MB

Mr. Speaker, an institution was buried in Winnipeg yesterday. Cactus Jack Wells, a voice in Winnipeg sportscasting for 58 years, died Monday at the age of 88. His death ended a remarkable relationship between the famed sportscaster and his audience.

He called himself a true and unbiased reporter but he was the first to admit he often did not get his facts straight. And oh how he could flub names that were difficult to pronounce. But that did not matter to his legion of fans. They loved him for what he was, a larger than life personality who brought fun and joy and a whole lot of colour to his work.

One of his buddies, John Robertson, said, “I defy anyone not to smile when he came on the air or when they met him”.

Jack Wells was truly one of a kind and a Winnipeg treasure. He will be long remembered and greatly missed. He leaves his wife, Flicka and three children. To them I extend sincere condolences.

Nanoose Bay
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Reform

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, for years the government has bragged about its improved relations with the provinces, but actions speak much louder than words. Let us examine the recent actions in British Columbia.

Two years ago when the B.C. government announced that it would not be renewing the lease for Nanoose Bay, the federal government immediately launched a lawsuit against the province. However, when the federal government found it did not have a legal leg to stand on, it quietly dropped the lawsuit and finally started negotiations two months ago.

After three weeks of negotiations both parties signed an understanding on May 5, but less than 10 days later the federal government proceeded with expropriation.

The B.C. government may have made a dumb decision on this issue, but if dumb decisions lead to expropriation, then this Liberal government would have been expropriated years ago.

Lord Strathcona Horse
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Monday one of Canada's proudest regiments celebrated its rich history. The Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) marked Strathcona Day, the anniversary of its crossing of the Melfa River during the Italian campaign of 1944.

The western based regiment's illustrious history began during the Boer War under the command of Sam Steele, the famous policeman of the Klondike Gold Rush. In fact, Canada's first Victoria Cross of the Boer War was awarded to Strathcona Sergeant Arthur Richardson.

The regiment served with distinction in the Great War before trading its horses for tanks in the second world war. Their successful crossing of the Melfa River was an important contribution to allied success in Italy.

Now based in Edmonton, the Strathconas have also served in Holland, Korea, the Sinai, Cyprus and Bosnia. The regiment is now deploying to Kosovo where they will once again serve Canada in the international community.

I am sure all members of the House join me in wishing them God speed as they head once again to the Balkans.

Medical Research Council
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Beth Phinney Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, in a partnership with Wyeth-Ayerst and universities, the Medical Research Council announced recently the funding of four professional clinical research chairs in women's health.

They are some of the largest endowed clinical research chairs in Canada. I congratulate the Medical Research Council and its partners for the groundbreaking research they are setting in motion.

These chairs will facilitate or lead multidisciplinary approaches to study the critical issues in women's health, stimulate research and develop standards for clinical excellence in the study of women's health issues and champion women's health as a field of medical research.

One of those chairs will go to Dr. Harriet MacMillan. She is an associate professor in psychiatry and pediatrics at McMaster University in Hamilton.

Dr. MacMillan is a fine example of the excellence and innovation that exists in the scientific community in Hamilton and indeed right across the Canada.

The Family
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the supreme court M. v H. decision this week is another example of an unelected, unaccountable body redefining the family, the cornerstone of Canadian society.

The Liberals are totally abdicating their responsibility. Why do they not engage in a debate in the House and with the Canadian people on this important issue?

The Reform Party stands alone in this place to defend the family. We stand alone in defending the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a women.

I long for the day when only elected, accountable representatives of the people can change the definition of the family. I long for the day when this totally unprincipled Liberal government is replaced by a governing party which will make these decisions by a free vote, reflecting the will of the people.

Canadians are sick and tired of judge-made law. They are sick and tired of this vapid, cowardly Liberal government.

School Bus Safety
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Ian Murray Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday morning this week my younger daughter was waiting for her school bus to take her to Huntley Centennial School in Carp. The bus never arrived.

We learned later that a truck had crashed into the school bus, the driver of the truck had died and several students had been airlifted to hospital.

Among those students was 11 year old Sandrine Craig. On Wednesday we heard the painful news that Sandrine had died as a result of her injuries. Her fellow students and the teachers at Huntley Centennial are grief stricken and our whole community is mourning the loss of this high-spirited young girl.

The tragedy was compounded by the death of the driver of the truck, Mr. Walter Kavanagh of Stittsville. Mr. Kavanagh was well known and highly regarded throughout the Ottawa valley as an honest businessman and tireless volunteer.

I want the families of Sandrine Craig and Walter Kavanagh to know that many, many people share their grief. These were two people who, in the time they had with us, brought joy to those fortunate enough to have known them.

One student, Katie Milliken, remains in hospital with serious injuries. Our thoughts and prayers are also with her and her family as we hope for a full recovery.

Our sympathy goes out to all who have been touched by this tragedy.

Astronaut Julie Payette
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Odina Desrochers Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, like many Quebecers, it was with much pride and emotion that I watched the space shuttle Discovery head skyward yesterday with Quebec's first female astronaut, Julie Payette, on board.

Space has fed the imaginations of many adolescents. Like many others, I dreamed of seeing a launch.

By taking her place on board Discovery , the astronaut from Quebec is not just realizing her dream, but is ensuring that her name will go down in history.

Over the next ten days Julie will help to assemble the international space station.

Yesterday morning, I relived the strong emotions I felt 17 years ago, on June 27, 1982, when I had the opportunity of being at the Kennedy Space Centre for the launch of the fourth Columbia mission.

Bravo Julie. All of Quebec is behind her and our thoughts are with her in this adventure which transforms imagination into reality.

Windsor And Essex County
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Rick Limoges Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to tell everyone a little about Windsor and Essex county. We are the automotive capital of Canada and the birthplace of Hiram Walker's and Canadian Club whiskey that has made Canadian distillers respected the world over.

We boast the busiest border crossing in North America and enjoy a larger GNP than seven of Canada's provinces.

Casino Windsor has not only turned into one of the area's largest employers, it is also Canada's biggest tourist attraction.

Visitors can enjoy a “Two Nation Vacation”, by taking the 10 minute drive across our friendly border. Visitors can experience major league sports or world class arts and entertainment and easily return to Canada for an evening stroll in our lovely riverfront parks or a meal in one of our numerous and delightful restaurants and bistros.

I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that we welcome visitors from all over to join us in Windsor and Essex County for a vacation they will not forget even if they do not win big at the casino.

Port Authority Boards
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, patronage appointments to the new port authorities are getting completely out of hand. We are not naive on this side of the House. We do expect a little bit of this stuff. However, there must surely be somebody out there, who is not a Liberal, who could chair one of the new port authorities. He does not have to be a well known Liberal operator like Mel Woodward or Merv Russell for example.

I have a news flash. Patrick Wong, former member of the Fraser River Harbour Commission and an executive of the B.C. Liberal Party, has been appointed to the Fraser River Port Authority Board and is now the chairman. In 1996 and 1997 he and his accounting firm donated $5,380 to the Liberal Party.

The creation of new port authorities was supposed to take politics out of the ports, but the slimy dance continues.

Riding Of Brome—Missisquoi
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Denis Paradis Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, big things are happening in Brome—Missisquoi.

In the last election campaign, I made a commitment to promote cross-border shopping in our area by our American neighbours. A new magazine, The Shopper , will be distributed in Vermont twice a month to encourage shoppers to come to Brome—Missisquoi.

Vermont, which is located right next to my riding, offers a highly attractive market for our businesses. I thank Economic Development Canada for its contribution to this extraordinary project.

Congratulations to all the people in Magog, Bromont, Farnham, Bedford and Knowlton who have made this shopping guide possible. It will be launched officially at the end of this month.

Welcome to all the U.S. shoppers who will be coming into our area. Welcome to Brome-Missisquoi, fellow Americans.

The Balkans
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, the humanitarian crisis in the Balkans has escalated to the breaking point. In recent days the Yugoslav army has stepped up its cleansing activities and ethnic Albanians are again flocking to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.

I have just returned from Macedonia where as many as 10,000 people a day, 500 people per hour, are flooding across the border and into refugee camps that are already bursting at the seams. Imagine a fenced gravel compound no bigger than the parking lot of a shopping centre housing 30,000 people or more with no cooking facilities, the barest of sanitation and as many as 20 people to a tent.

The very old and the very young are already at risk from the extreme heat of the summers in that region and relief workers are even more concerned at the prospects this winter.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees is calling for donor countries to host many more of these refugees in a humanitarian evacuation program. Canada is hosting 5,000 currently. There is an urgent need in the Balkans to do much more. I believe we could double or triple our commitment.

The Environment
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, we now have the first portrait of the agro-environmental situation on Quebec farms.

The participation rate of 88%, representing 20,360 operations, makes it an extensive and valuable survey. This project, an initiative of the Union des producteurs agricoles made possible through the co-operation of many partners, is a first in Quebec and in North America.

The high rate of participation by farmers is an indication of their wish to help protect the environment and to make changes in their daily practices.

The next step will be to analyse the data collected and produce regional and sectoral portraits, which will give us a baseline and help identify future priorities.

I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate the agricultural sector and all stakeholders in Quebec's agri-food sector on this initiative aimed at building a healthy environment for sustainable growth.

Premier Of Ontario
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Eugène Bellemare Carleton—Gloucester, ON

Mr. Speaker, with an election campaign in full swing, Ontario's premier, Mike Harris, says that Franco-Ontarians in the Ottawa region are living in the past in their efforts to keep the Montfort hospital open.

This is the same Mr. Harris I ran across in Montreal during Quebec's last referendum. He was there to show that he cared about Quebec's francophones. Today he is bent on destroying the only French language teaching hospital in his province.

This is a strange way of promoting the future of Franco-Ontarians and Canadian unity.

Industry Canada
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, HRDC is not the only department running afoul of the information commissioner. For over three years Industry Canada has refused to explain why it ignored its own published rules in the awarding of digital PCS licences.

One of the unsuccessful bidders, TeleZone Inc. of Toronto, tried to find answers through the Access to Information Act. Industry Canada's stonewalling led the information commissioner to conclude that the department had wrongfully denied TeleZone's request for information.

Consequently, the Federal Court of Canada is now reviewing the industry minister's refusal to act upon the recommendations of the information commissioner.

Meanwhile TeleZone has launched a $250 million civil lawsuit against the Government of Canada which will no doubt result in lengthy litigation.

If PCS licensing decisions in 1995 can bear public scrutiny, why is the Minister of Industry refusing to listen to the information commissioner? Is there a political angle? Will taxpayers be left holding the bag for Liberal incompetence again and again?

Gasoline Pricing
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, constituents of mine are contacting me to complain about gasoline prices and their wild fluctuations in our region.

Earlier this month, the people of Ottawa went to bed with gasoline retailing at 46.9 cents a litre. The next morning when they woke up pretty well every station was retailing gasoline at 57.9 cents a litre, an increase of 11 cents overnight.

Good morning, Ottawa, compliments of your favourite retail or wholesale gas company.

What on earth could possibly happen during the night to cause all gasoline retailers in this region to increase overnight their prices in the same amounts? With examples such as this one, how can one not think that they are on the losing end of unsavoury practices?

My constituents and I would be curious to hear the explanations of the gasoline retailers or the large gasoline companies. How do they explain these overnight massive increases?

Public Works Canada
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, in my riding of Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca Public Works Canada, through this Liberal government, is ripping off the taxpayers of Esquimalt.

Public Works has deliberately changed the values of government lands causing them to be undervalued deliberately. This is causing a great deal of problems in my riding. They are saying that CFB Esquimalt is going to be closing in three years. That is news to everyone but the people in my riding.

This has resulted in an increase in municipal taxes of 8% within one year by virtue of the government yanking away grants in lieu of taxes, which it did within a couple of months. This is grossly unfair. It has resulted in an 8% increase in municipal taxes. The municipality cannot balance its budget in that period of time.

The feds need to give the municipalities at least a one year notice. It needs to value the land fairly on the basis of what the B.C. assessment has done and stop trying to rip off the taxpayer in another way.

Centre De Recherche En Infectiologie
Statements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Bloc

Hélène Alarie Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw attention to the excellent work done by the Quebec research team under Dr. Michel Bergeron, the director of the microbiology division, and the Centre de recherche en infectiologie at Laval University.

Through recent discoveries, such as DNA based tests permitting the identification of bacteria in under an hour instead of 48 hours, we have entered a new age in medicine.

We are therefore now able to process in record time and very precisely a vast number of analyses and create new, very specific tests.

By way of example, in veterinary medicine they are now able to identify very quickly the bacteria causing mastitis in cows, do transgenic tests and xenogeneic grafts. In the near future, a standard kit that will quickly indicate whether an infection is of a bacterial origin will be one of the instruments developed by this team.

Congratulations to all the researchers and to the directors of the Centre de recherche en infectiologie at Laval University, a real jewel in international medicine.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, evidence continues to pour in that Canadians are getting to keep less and less of their hard earned income. Today Statistics Canada says once again this year that their take home pay has been reduced because the finance minister continues to gouge more and more tax dollars out of their pockets.

It is even worse when we compare it to an American family. The average Canadian family takes home $28,000 less than its American counterpart. Why does the finance minister think that he has the right to demand more from Canadian families than ever before?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, again one might ask the Reform Party member to quote from the entire study.

It also showed that average hourly earnings for employees is up 1.4% from last March. It showed that employment increased this March as employers added 38,000 additional workers to their payrolls. I would suggest that the whole study be examined.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wish we could get some good news from that, but regardless of those facts average families get to take home less money than they did a year ago. Their savings accounts are cleaned out. They are cashing in their RRSPs. They do not get to take home as much money as they used to.

The president of the chamber of commerce says that politicians have a keen interest in muddying the debate on tax relief just to justify their increased spending. That is what the finance minister is doing.

Why do the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance think the money of Canadian families is better off in the government coffers than in their own pockets to look after their own families?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, in his preamble the hon. member said that Canadians want some good news. Well, let us give them good news.

Retail sales in the month of March were up 1.1%. Nominal merchandise exports are up. The fact is our trade surplus is up. The OECD expects Canada to have the second highest growth in 1999 and the highest growth of all G-7 countries in the year 2000.

I will go on, but I know you may cut me off, Mr. Speaker. Manufacturing shipments were up 2% in March. There is a whole list of good news and that is a—

The Economy
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The hon. member for Fraser Valley.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, are the statistics not warming the heart of the statistician over there?

The fact is when average families pick up their paycheques and look at the bottom line, they say that although statistics mean a lot they get less money this year than they had last year under this tax and spend Liberal government. That is what it amounts to. That is the bottom line. Families spend more on taxes than they do on food, clothing and shelter combined under this government's system.

Why does the government not understand that it needs to give tax relief to these families, that it needs to give it now, and that those statistics do not mean a pinch of snuff compared to what families see as their bottom line on every paycheque?

The Economy
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly glad the hon. member said a pinch of snuff after what we have heard this week.

Unfortunately the member is quoting from outdated statistics, those that began during the period of recession in the nineties—

The Economy
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

They released them today.

The Economy
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Martin LaSalle—Émard, QC

No, no. Today's statistics in terms of today's numbers are very different. As an example, consider individual income. Personal disposable income growth strengthened to 3.5% from only 1.1% in the first quarter.

The fact is there was a decline in the early part of the nineties when the Tories, the Reform Party's friends, were in power. However, in the last year and a half it has stabilized. Personal incomes are now up. The personal disposable income left in people's pockets is now up. The fact is that we have turned it around.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians regret this week's military skirmish in Kashmir, just one year after the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan. When I accompanied the secretary of state to the region last week, Pakistan asked Canada to mediate. Indian authorities asked for our participation in trade talks between these two countries to start relieving the tension.

Why will the government not exercise leadership and respond to what these officials have asked Canada to do? Why is it sitting on its hands?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Winnipeg South Centre
Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, there is a clear contradiction in what the hon. member just asked. He admitted that he had accompanied the secretary of state for Asian affairs who is directly engaging the India and Pakistan governments.

He says that we are not doing anything. The hon. member was part of an engagement program that the Canadian government initiated last week.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, Pakistani officials told me they would welcome Canada's participation in mediating. Indian officials complained because the government has been turning its back on them for one year. They have not had any contacts with the government or this country.

The government imposed sanctions. It froze ministerial contact and it has turned its back on them since the nuclear tests. What is the government doing to relieve tension? What is it doing instead of doing nothing? What did it do in one year?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Winnipeg South Centre
Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I suppose the definition of doing nothing is sending the hon. member over to India and Pakistan. I happen to place more value, however, on the initiatives of the hon. gentleman and on the other initiatives we have taken on.

I remind the hon. member of something very important. Just about one year ago, India and Pakistan both engaged in nuclear tests which broke the fundamental principles of nuclear non-proliferation.

As part of the G-8 membership, which includes all major countries and where Canada has taken a lead against non-proliferation, it was up to us to try to tell India and Pakistan that they should not be testing nuclear weapons and helping the spread of those horrible weapons.

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, we learned this morning that the Americans are reacting rather curiously to the allegedly extraordinary agreement the Minister of Canadian Heritage negotiated with them on magazines.

In fact, they claim, according to a senior official in the American government, that publishers will have to have access to the Canadian government's subsidy program.

How does the Minister of Canadian Heritage explain, barely two days after announcing the Americans had agreed to honour the agreement without problem and without further action, the abrupt change in the American point of view? Is it not that she and her colleague in international trade had assumed that what they wanted was reality?

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I am confident that the American government will not react, because it has in fact put this promise in writing to Canada with respect to this agreement.

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Gauthier Roberval, QC

Mr. Speaker, not only has the minister given up a large part of the Canadian advertising base to American publishers, but, what is more, they are now threatening to take us to the WTO if they do not get access to the Canadian subsidy program.

Has the Minister of Canadian Heritage not started singing her own praises too early in light of the weak results of her brilliant negotiation?

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the Americans did sign the agreement.

This agreement is called the WTO agreement on subsidies and countervailing measures. The Americans signed that agreement and I expect that they intend to respect it.

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Maurice Dumas Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, we find it very hard to understand why the Minister of Canadian Heritage is so excited about the agreement reached regarding the magazine issue, considering that Canadian publishers are disappointed while their American counterparts are elated.

How can the Minister of Canadian Heritage claim that the Americans backed down from anything on this issue, since the Washington Post sees the agreement as a precedent that could be useful in the campaign led by the United States to eliminate every barrier to trade in the cultural industry?

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether the hon. member read the article in the Washington Post , but it says that, for the first time in the history of the United States, the Americans have acknowledged that culture can be treated differently.

What the article says is totally contrary to what the hon. member is claiming in this House.

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

Maurice Dumas Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage does not seem to realize that she and her Liberal colleagues are the only ones who are elated in Canada.

When she looks at the reality, does the minister not get the impression that the saying “she has been hoisted with her own petard” perfectly describes the situation in which she finds herself, with all the resulting negative impact for the Canadian publishing industry?

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:20 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, again, I would ask the hon. member to think about what he supposedly read in yesterday's edition of the Washington Post .

That newspaper clearly says that, for the first time in the history of the United States, the Americans agreed that culture should be treated differently than other trade issues.

We have always said that one of the great gains made in this agreement is that, for the first time in history, culture is recognized as being different from any other type of trade.

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, Kosovar refugees continue to flood across the border into Macedonia. The camps are bursting at the seams. Conditions are terrible and the humanitarian crisis is threatening to turn into a humanitarian tragedy.

To relieve the pressure on the camps and the entire region, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is asking donor countries to escalate the evacuation program, the airlift out of the area. Canada has provided sanctuary for 5,000.

Will the government commit to providing sanctuary for a greater number of Kosovar refugees, doubling or even tripling the current level?

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Winnipeg South Centre
Manitoba

Liberal

Lloyd Axworthy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I had occasion last week to meet directly with Mrs. Ogata, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. At that time I specifically asked if she would like Canada to accept more refugees. She said no, that she would like to see Canada help in terms of the ongoing resettlement program in the region and in terms of reinforcing the ongoing work in the camps.

I can report to the hon. member that in direct discussions with the high commissioner she did not request that. In fact she said at this point in time she would rather have us look at alternate ways of helping in the camps in Macedonia and Albania.

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, as recently as Wednesday a parliamentary delegation from the House met with the program director of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Macedonia. The message then was an urgent need to escalate the evacuation program.

Another situation arises. Those refugees who are settled here or have sanctuary in this country are faced the prospect that if they choose to become landed immigrants they will be charged a head tax, a $975 landing fee.

The government has indicated it may waive that landing fee for Kosovar refugees. Will it commit to abolishing the racist head tax completely for all new Canadians who seek refuge in this country?

Immigration
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Kitchener—Waterloo
Ontario

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, let me be clear. There is no head tax in Canada. The hon. member opposite trivializes a dark period of this country's history when a head tax was used to keep people out based on race, ethnicity and religion.

Having learned from history, we now have one of the best and most generous refugee immigration policies in the world. The hon. member opposite should applaud that and recognize that.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, the atrocious Airbus investigation makes the Canadian justice system the laughing stock of the international community.

The government continues to waste millions of taxpayers dollars on an investigation where the supposed prime suspect has not even been interviewed. The Liberals continue to find money for this investigation by cutting the RCMP, limiting the fight against organized crime and importation of drugs.

How can the Liberal government call itself accountable as it sits back and allows a foreign country to embark on an unlawful exercise of search and seizure when it knows full well that the exercise is not permitted under Canadian law?

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the only cases that I am aware of where the legislative branch tells the judicial branch what to do are in banana republics. I do not think Canada qualifies as a banana republic.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, this debacle continues and the Department of Justice continues its attempts to cover its tracks in what could go down in history as the biggest political witch hunt of all time. It is an international embarrassment.

While the astronomical costs of this ridiculous, ill-founded investigation and litigation continue to mount, the Minister of Justice sits idly by, as did her predecessor.

When will the government cease and desist in its malicious and vindictive obsession to besmirch a former prime minister, from whom it plagiarized most of his policy initiatives?

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Party may have interfered with police investigations. That may have been its approach. I do not know if it was, but in any event it is not our approach. We do not intend to have political interference with arm's length police investigations.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the last chief of defence staff warned the government that the Canadian forces was undermanned, underequipped and not able to fight a war.

The current chief of defence staff is warning the government that our forces are stretched to the limit and that we are unable to increase our personnel in the Kosovo mission. The Minister of National Defence, however, is saying that he is still prepared to commit troops to the former Yugoslavia. Why is the defence minister ignoring the advice of his own chief of defence staff and the last chief of defence staff in wanting to send more troops to the former Yugoslavia?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in his press conference the chief of defence staff was asked this question: “Is it possible to increase our contribution to the peace force in the Balkans without cutting elsewhere and do we have the appropriate type of equipment?” His answer was as follows: “The answer is yes to both of your questions”.

I think the hon. member misunderstood what the chief of defence staff actually said.

Obviously we have made no decisions as yet on expanding our participation in the peace implementation force. If we want to make such a decision we will obviously have to take into account the financial resources required and the advice of General Baril as to the most appropriate use of the men and women in our Canadian armed forces.

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I suggest that the hon. Deputy Prime Minister look at the auditor general's report which excoriated the government for underfunding the military.

If the government continues to underfund the military, what it will do is compromise the lives of the brave men and women who are in Yugoslavia right now and the ones who may go there in the future. From the Griffon helicopter to the Coyote armoured personnel carrier, the equipment is not good enough to protect our troops.

I ask again the hon. Deputy Prime Minister, will the government send troops to the former Yugoslavia when our troops may be putting their lives in danger through the government's actions?

National Defence
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I repeat, we have made no decision to expand our existing commitment to the peace implementation force. If there is such a decision, obviously it will be based on providing appropriate resources, financial and otherwise, to our men and women in the Canadian armed forces.

What we should have from the Reform Party is a vote of confidence in the skill and professionalism of our troops, instead of trying to undermine them by these unnecessary questions.

Tainted Blood
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, when questioned yesterday about his apparent conflict of interest in the tainted blood matter, the Minister of Finance hid behind the ethics counsellor so as not to answer our questions.

The ethics counsellor responds solely to the Prime Minister, however, and not to this House.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Is this sudden desire of the Minister of Finance to consult the ethics counsellor not simply a pretext to buy some time until the end of the session, to put a lid on this because it is somewhat of an embarrassment to the minister?

Tainted Blood
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, there is no embarrassment.

The ethics counsellor has already looked at this matter after the NDP asked a question about a week ago. I myself have spoken to him and indicated my great interest in having him look at the situation.

Tainted Blood
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, since the members of this House do not have access to the ethics counsellor, in light of the good faith shown by the Minister of Finance, can the minister commit right now, out of a concern for transparency, to make public the entire report of the ethics counsellor concerning his apparent conflict of interest in the tainted blood matter?

Tainted Blood
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Windsor West
Ontario

Liberal

Herb Gray Deputy Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the matter is being looked into by the ethics counsellor. The release of his report is a matter for the ethics counsellor and the Prime Minister. I am sure they will carry out their duties in the most appropriate and complete way.

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, this has been quite a week. We have a government claiming it won the trade war. That is a rather premature claim. We are not out of the woods yet, and we all know that.

What we witnessed this past week was a face-saving exercise for the heritage minister. The fact is that she was the one who created this mess. Now even the Americans want a subsidy.

How much will this face-saving exercise cost the taxpayers?

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I would hope that the hon. member in examining this dossier would understand that the fight around Canadian magazines is a fight that has existed in this country for many years.

In fact, Bill C-55 was passed through the cabinet and will be amended and passed through the House as a result of the WTO decision which preceded my term as minister.

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:30 a.m.

Reform

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party was the only party standing up for Canadian jobs over this mess.

It is time for a reality check. The government went to bat for the magazine publishing industry over this bill and at the same time it excluded the advertising sector. Is that fair?

What kind of deal was struck with the magazine publishers and how much will this cost the taxpayer?

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, my only comment would be, thank God the Reform Party was not doing our negotiations.

Tainted Blood
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is still maintaining that he does not recall discussing the Red Cross's contract with Connaught, a subsidiary of the Canada Development Corporation, on whose board of directors he sat at the time. However the minister's name appears at the end of the CDC's 1984 annual report.

Does the minister still stand by his statement that he does not recall discussing blood, Connaught, and its contract with the Red Cross when he was a CDC board member?

Tainted Blood
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I stand fully by the position I have stated this week and last week in the House.

Tainted Blood
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Monique Guay Laurentides, QC

Mr. Speaker, we will refresh the minister's memory.

The CDC's 1984 annual report mentions the expiry of a Connaught contract with the Red Cross representing 14% of its sales. An annual report always mentions the year's highlights, as well as being approved by the board of directors.

Does this not shoot the minister's defence all to pieces?

Tainted Blood
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, no. The member should read the report. The report mentions all the activities of the CDC, including Connaught, which was a subsidiary, but a subsidiary with its own board of directors.

It should also be mentioned that the CDC mainly focussed on mining, chemicals, and the provision of services to companies. The involvement of Life Sciences, Connaught's parent company, was truly minimal in the overall picture. In fact, CDC did not own 100% of its assets.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister in charge of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

ACOA has been noted for handing out its largesse to losers. It picks losers very carefully. Now we have an example of a bankrupt recipient coming back for a refill. Heritage Woodworks, an ACOA beneficiary in Eastport, Newfoundland, went belly up a few years ago. Now its offspring, Heritage Manufacturing, operating out of the same building, with the same machinery—

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The hon. the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

An hon. member

He was not done yet.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

According to the timer I have, the hon. member was over his 35 seconds. I will double check with the clerk.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

St. Catharines
Ontario

Liberal

Walt Lastewka Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should know that the two companies are not related. The former company did go bankrupt, but the new company has all new people. It just happens to be in the same building. All new people are running a new company and the member should know that. Perhaps he should learn a few more details before he asks a question.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

Reform

Lee Morrison Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, no legitimate financial institution would even consider giving a refill to a company that has already stiffed it once. When will this minister take some responsibility? When will he decide that the taxpayers' money should be guarded and not handed out to friends of the government?

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Oral Question Period

11:35 a.m.

St. Catharines
Ontario

Liberal

Walt Lastewka Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member makes a number of accusations which are totally wrong. When a firm gets changed over to another, brand new firm, I do not think the policy of the Reform Party would be to tear down the building. I am sure the member does not want that to happen. This is a new company, with new management, a new business plan and new products to make things happen for the Atlantic provinces. We want to create more jobs in the Atlantic provinces under new management.

Radio-Canada
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the CRTC wants to force Radio-Canada to reduce its advertising revenues.

However, the vice-president of the CBC's French network clearly said that any reduction in advertising revenues without equivalent compensation from the government would necessarily result in a loss of services to the public.

My question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Considering that the government has already significantly reduced its subsidies to Radio-Canada, will it now let the CRTC deprive that network of its separate revenues without compensation?

Radio-Canada
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, when one looks at what the public expects from Radio-Canada, one realizes that there is a consensus on the quality of radio programming.

There is currently no advertising on the radio. Therefore, why does the hon. member claim that the quality of the programming is dependent on advertising revenues? I do not agree with that claim.

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

John Finlay Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

This week the minister used Canadian Bride as an example of a magazine that calls itself Canadian but contains very little Canadian content. The National Post , the Financial Post and the Ottawa Citizen all attacked the minister, saying there is no such magazine. This proves how little the minister knows about Canadian magazines.

Who is right, the people at Conrad Black's newspapers or the minister?

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I have never accused the National Post of letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

Yesterday it said “There is no such magazine as Canadian Bride ”. I have here a copy of the magazine that does not exist. The magazine that does not exist asks readers who have questions about Canadian Bride to direct their questions to its office in New York City.

With the consent of the House, after question period I would be very happy to table a copy of this non-existent magazine.

Customs Act
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, in 1996 the government passed an order in council to close a loophole in the Customs Act that led to the acquittal of David Sawatzky for exporting his own wheat into the U.S. without a wheat board export permit.

Crown prosecutor Clyde Bond categorically stated that the crown would have to appeal the decision in order to prosecute the other 100-plus farmers for the same violation. The government lost that appeal.

Why is this government still prosecuting these 100-plus farmers?

Customs Act
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, to be certain of the facts as alleged by the hon. gentleman I would need to check the course of the various legal proceedings.

I can assure the hon. gentleman that this government in no way interferes in the appropriate administration of justice. That is entirely an arm's length process and is administered without any involvement by me or any other minister of this government.

Customs Act
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, the minister knows very well that I am not asking him to comment on individual cases. I am asking him whether the crown prosecutor is above the law. If not, why is he still prosecuting these farmers?

Customs Act
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. gentleman would care to give me the specifics of the cases he is referring to I will refer them to the Minister of Justice for a complete answer.

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, two days ago the heritage minister said “For the first time in history the U.S. has recognized our right to promote Canadian content”.

The minister insists this means majority Canadian content. Today's Inside U.S. Trade quotes the written agreement as stating “a substantial level of original editorial content”.

Which is it? Was the minister's parliamentary secretary just confused yesterday when he said that the deal specified majority content? If not, will the minister table that signed agreement with the U.S. along with that bride magazine in the House today?

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, the regulations that accompany the package that was distributed yesterday, the draft regulations, specify majority Canadian content.

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, the minister has told Canadians that the U.S. has agreed not to pursue Canada in any trade forum for any measures Canada takes that are part of this deal to assist Canadian industry. Today we find out that not only does the U.S. not agree with this interpretation, but her pal, the Minister for International Trade, disagrees with her.

Now U.S. trade officials and publishers say that they have the right to access any subsidies Canada makes available to our publishers.

How does this minister intend to stand up for Canada on this one?

Publishing Industry
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to underscore a comment that was written not in a Canadian newspaper but in the Washington Post yesterday when it said in a line story:

—for the first time the United States was forced to accept the principle that, even in a free trade environment, foreign countries could take steps to limit access to their markets by American firms in an effort to protect the viability of local culture, in this case the Canadian magazine industry—

That precedent could eventually come into play as the United States continues its campaign to tear down barriers—

This is a first not only for Canada but it is a first in international agreements. The U.S. should respect the agreement that it signed on subsidies and countervailing duties which specifically denies national treatment in the area of subsidies. It is as simple as that.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, the minister of agriculture has acknowledged that there is a disaster taking place in southwestern Manitoba. We have much too much water, two million acres are in jeopardy of not being planted and the possibility of a $400 million loss in the economy in the area.

In 1998 the government rightfully put forward a compensation package for farmers during the ice storm in Ontario and Quebec. Can the minister tell me please what kind of compensation package will be put forward for disaster assistance in Manitoba and Saskatchewan?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, we assisted producers in Manitoba at that time as well. They were assisted through the disaster funding assistance agreement with the provinces which, if requested by the provinces, deals with the loss of assets.

In this case I am certainly not happy with the fact that there is that much land which is being flooded. Hopefully the weather will clear in order to allow the farmers to seed as much of that as possible.

I will be having discussions as early as today with the minister in Manitoba to discuss how we can assist through existing programs to help those farmers.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's comments about assistance. An emergency request was made by the province of Manitoba just yesterday to the PMRA to have aerial spraying take place as opposed to land spraying because obviously they cannot get on the land.

My question is for the Minister of Health. What is his department prepared to do to help these farmers who in fact may get some of those acres planted but they need an emergency registration?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre
Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the member was kind enough to raise this issue with me yesterday directly. After our conversation I learned that the application will be considered on its merits.

As the member knows the PMRA has to balance public safety and environmental concerns against the needs of producers and growers. We will do the very best we can and the agency will respond as soon as possible.

Finance
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, as you may know, there is no international standard for public accounting. When the Government of Canada issues its financial statement, tangible assets such as properties are not included in the balance sheet.

Can the Minister of Finance tell the House if he is concerned about the lack of standards? Would he support the efforts of the public accounts committee in this area?

Finance
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

LaSalle—Émard
Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, given the hon. member's great experience in this area, he is fully aware that transparency in financial statements by governments and indeed by private sector corporations is essential if we are going to have a sound international system.

As a result of this, consistent accounting standards have to be consistently applied. Therefore we certainly support the role of the public accounts committee in this area and certainly support the efforts of the hon. member in this area.

I am delighted to see that the International Accounting Standards Committee is going to report on this very soon, but this is something in which Canada will certainly take a lead.

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Cadman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, once again Canadians are outraged by the ease with which our laws allow people to escape accountability for their actions.

Bert Stone killed his wife because she insulted him. Yesterday the supreme court upheld his lenient sentence and in effect accepted his provocation defence. A discussion paper on this issue was distributed a year ago. The Stone case was not the first and others have occurred since.

The provocation defence is archaic. Canadians want it eliminated entirely or at the very least severely restricted in its use and they want some action now. Will the Minister of Justice act immediately to put a stop to these travesties?

Justice
Oral Question Period

11:45 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I want to clarify for the hon. member that the Supreme Court of Canada in Stone as I understand it did not deal with the defence of provocation. However the hon. member is right that we are consulting on the defence of provocation as well as the defence of self-defence. I hope to be able to release the results of those consultations and proposals for changes to the law in the coming months.

Water Contamination
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Bloc

Ghislain Fournier Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is the third time that I rise in this House to talk about the terrible problem of water contamination by the Department of Transport around the beaches of Sept-Îles.

The Secretary of State for Economic Development for the Regions of Quebec came and promised residents of Sept-Îles that the Minister of Transport would meet them.

My question is for the Minister of Transport. Considering that mothers must wash their babies with bottled water, does the government not realize that mere talking is no longer enough and that immediate action is required to repair the damage it has caused?

Water Contamination
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Hull—Aylmer
Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, water contamination in Sept-Îles is a very important issue into which our government is looking.

I will relay the hon. member's question to the secretary of state responsible for economic development and to the Minister of Transport, to see if they can provide him with a more detailed reply.

Canadian Grain Commission
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

NDP

Dick Proctor Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food knows that the Canadian Grain Commission has existed for decades to serve prairie grain farmers. Now however the commission is running a $10 million deficit and many farmers are concerned that on-site grain inspection will be a victim of this financial shortfall. Farmers fear cost cutting would do real harm to Canada's excellent reputation as an exporter of top-notch grains.

Given all that, could the minister assure all Canadians that our reputation as a world class supplier of grain will never be compromised?

Canadian Grain Commission
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, I will definitely assure Canadian farmers as well as those in the international community who buy our excellent product that our reputation will be maintained.

The Canadian Grain Commission is having some stress financially, I agree. It has carried out a thorough set of consultations. My officials and I are meeting with the commission. Any changes and improvements that are made will in no way, shape or form jeopardize the quality of its work.

Devco
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Northside Futures Group states that since 1968 a 25 cent per tonne royalty has been set aside on every tonne of coal mined by Devco. These moneys were set aside to benefit workers upon eventual closure of the mine.

My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. What has happened to these millions of dollars? Were these millions of dollars included in the package offered to the Devco miners?

Devco
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Wascana
Saskatchewan

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Minister of Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the specific point the hon. gentleman refers to, I will have to double check that proposition to determine exactly the truth of that matter.

I can assure him that all factors were very carefully taken into account by the government in arranging the final package with respect to the Devco situation. It includes very generous provisions with respect to human resources issues as well as a further package for regional economic development to find alternatives in the area.

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Ovid Jackson Bruce—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, over the past year farmers in my riding of Bruce—Grey have suffered a tremendous reduction in their incomes due to drought.

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has secured $900 million from the Government of Canada. Can the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food inform the House as to what the current negotiations are with the provinces? When and how quickly will that money flow to the farmers in my riding?

Agriculture
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Prince Edward—Hastings
Ontario

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, a goodly number of farmers have already applied. Certainly one of the challenges we had was getting agreements with all of the provinces so that both the federal and provincial portions of the money could flow in all of the provinces.

Today I have signed all of the federal and provincial agreements. They are being sent to the provinces. I assume that they will all sign them very quickly so that now in all provinces both the interim portions for the provincial and the federal moneys will flow to the farmers.

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Reform

Mike Scott Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development is preparing ratification legislation for the Nisga'a treaty. She knows full well that the Gitanyow and Gitksan band in northern B.C. have claimed essentially the same territory that the Nisga'a are receiving under this treaty, 84% of the same territory. By ratifying this treaty now, the minister is giving the impression that she is taking sides with the Nisga'a.

Does not the minister have a fiduciary obligation to the Gitanyow and Gitksan as well as the Nisga'a and is it not irresponsible to proceed with ratification until this very serious question has been addressed?

Aboriginal Affairs
Oral Question Period

11:50 a.m.

Provencher
Manitoba

Liberal

David Iftody Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is clearly aware of the negotiations and the claims by the Gitanyow to the northern portion of the land claimed by the Nisga'a. We are currently in negotiations with the respective parties.

I was in British Columbia last week to meet with our negotiators and the Nisga'a. I raised these particular questions and we are satisfied that an agreement will be worked out to the satisfaction of all parties.

Universities
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

Hélène Alarie Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs appeared to be showing some remorse at belonging to a government that, over two mandates, will have cut more than $33 billion from transfer payments to the provinces, in particular to university funding.

Can we have the intergovernmental affairs minister's assurance that his crusade within cabinet to help the universities will not lead to a new program along the lines of the millennium scholarship program, with all of its attendant problems, but will instead use the more normal channel of transfer payments to the provinces?

Universities
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Mr. Speaker, in 1993 the federal government deficit was $42 billion, and all the provinces had deficits.

Today the Government of Canada is in the position of having a surplus, as are all provinces, with the exception of Ontario, which has opted for lowering taxes more quickly.

We have the possibility of helping our universities. The future of the country depends on it. This is a very important issue, as everyone realizes.

Last year it was important to do something for health, and now it will be important to look at what we can do for the universities. A fair bit has already been done, particularly in the field of research, and particularly in Quebec, which receives 28% of R and D spending for universities.

Pensions
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, this Liberal government is like a gang of schoolyard bullies shaking down Canadians every day for their lunch money. Twenty-six billion from the employment insurance fund, thirty billion swiped from the public service pension funds. Many of the public servants who have had their pensions raided are the same ones who have been fighting almost 15 years for pay equity.

I have a very simple question for the President of the Treasury Board. Now that he has taken $30 billion from the pension funds of these employees, would it be too much trouble to give a fraction of that back in pay equity?

Pensions
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Hull—Aylmer
Québec

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I am very glad to underline that the taxpayers are going to get back the $30 billion that rightfully belongs to them.

The civil servants in the process have had their rights and their benefits not only guaranteed by law, not only confirmed for the future, but also increased. What I hear from quite a number of civil servants is that they are happy to see that the government has made its pension plan clear, secure and permanent, that it has guaranteed and increased their benefits and that the $30 billion is going back to those to whom it belongs, the taxpayers.

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, Canadian oysters are presently being exported to Europe and stored for sale. The European Union is now asking area specific oysters to be sold on a same day basis. This would be a blatant non-tariff trade barrier and could spread to other shellfish. What is the minister of fisheries doing to ensure a continued European market for Canadian oysters and all other Canadian shellfish?

Fisheries
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Malpeque
P.E.I.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, the minister of fisheries is always very interested in securing markets for fishermen and in ensuring that we have a good quality product. He will continue to do that and to ensure the Europeans abide by all trade agreements.

National Revenue
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, my constituents are impatiently waiting for their tax refunds. Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue inform this House of whether the PSAC strike developed a backlog in the processing of the 1991 T1 income tax returns and when Canadians can expect their own money back?

National Revenue
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Hamilton Mountain
Ontario

Liberal

Beth Phinney Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, over 20 million T1 income tax returns have been received by Revenue Canada since the beginning of the 1999 filing season. Over 16 million returns have been processed to date. As of May 20, 10.4 million Canadians had received income tax refunds totalling over $11.2 billion. Those Canadians who used either e-file or telefile and who asked Revenue Canada to deposit their funds directly received them within two weeks. It is anticipated that all returns filed by April 30 will be processed by mid-June.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service
Oral Question Period

11:55 a.m.

Reform

Bill Gilmour Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian spy agency CSIS has come under criticism on several instances over the past few months, yet the inspector general position, the watchdog who oversees CSIS, has been left vacant for over a year. When will the government fill this post so Canadians can see that CSIS is not left to do just what it pleases?

Canadian Security Intelligence Service
Oral Question Period

Noon

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the inspector general is appointed by the governor in council. The governor in council will make a decision in due course.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Oral Question Period

Noon

Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Canadian Heritage has, in a sort of a way, just confirmed that the government is preparing to leave the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation at the mercy of the constraints imposed by the CRTC, which may well seriously compromise production quality.

How could the minister claim that a cut in revenues will not mean a cut in quality, whereas Michèle Fortin, vice-president of the CBC's French network, who knows television, claims exactly the opposite?

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Oral Question Period

Noon

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I hope that the hon. member does not want me to intervene with the CRTC.

The role of the CRTC is to regulate on, in a quasi-judicial fashion, decisions regarding broadcast licence renewals. I hope that she will respect this quasi-judicial process.

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

Noon

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, in light of reports this morning that confirm, or seem to confirm the government's intention to send a significantly larger force of ground troops to the Balkan region, will there be any indication from the government House leader, or from the government to the House, when parliament will be debating this decision and when there will be a vote on the commitment of further troops prior to the House recessing for the summer?

Points Of Order
Oral Question Period

Noon

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

That is not a point of order. Therefore, we will not be addressing it as such.

Land Claim Agreements
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Provencher
Manitoba

Liberal

David Iftody Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, under the provisions of Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, copies of the following three reports: the 1995-96 and 1996-97 annual review of the implementation of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement; the 1997-98 annual report of the implementation committee on the Gwich'in Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement; and finally, the 1997-98 annual report of the implementation committee on the Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreements.

Government Response To Petitions
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to eight petitions.

Canadian Brides
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Hamilton East
Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a copy of the cover page of Canadian Brides , the non-existent magazine.

Canadian Brides
Routine Proceedings

Noon

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The hon. Minister of Canadian Heritage has asked for the unanimous consent of the House to table the non-existent magazine. Is it agreed?

Canadian Brides
Routine Proceedings

Noon

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the 75th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the selection of votable items.

Pursuant to Standing Order 92, this report is deemed concurred in on tabling.

Committees Of The House
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Health on the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2000.

In accordance with its order of reference of Monday, March 1, 1999, your committee has considered Votes Nos. 1, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 under health of the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2000, and reports the same.

A copy of the relevant minutes of proceedings and meetings Nos. 82 to 85 is tabled. It is respectfully submitted by the Chair on behalf of all committee members.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I wish to present petitions on behalf of the urban native housing groups within Ontario and a number of people who are in urban native housing who are extremely concerned over the government's devolution of urban native housing to the province.

The petitioners want to bring attention to the fact that the government is reneging on its fiduciary responsibility to aboriginal people.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to present three petitions. The first petition is from my constituents and others in British Columbia.

Because of poor decision making by the government, which often disrupts the peaceful nature of Canadian society and financially encumbers the average Canadian, the petitioners call upon parliament to enact legislation that gives voting Canadian citizens a citizen initiative referendum system by which they can vote on major issues that may affect the well-being of the nation.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition concerns the definition of marriage.

The petitioners pray that parliament enact legislation, such as Bill C-225, so as to define in statute that a marriage can only be entered between a single male and a single female.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, my third petition concerns the Nisga'a treaty which has been proposed and supported by the provincial and federal governments.

The petitioners pray and request parliament to reject the Nisga'a treaty as it may divide Canadians forever. I honourably submit these petition on behalf of my constituents.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to present a petition that requests parliament support the immediate initiation and conclusion by the year 2000 of an international convention that will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, they just keep pouring in. I have another 60 names on a petition that says that the government should take action on providing fair tax benefits for families who chose to have one of the parents stay at home and raise their own children instead of having others raise them.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the next petition has to do with divorce and access to parents and grandparents.

The petitioners, mostly from my riding, are asking that the access be increased.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the last petition I am presenting is from petitioners mainly in my riding but also from Edmonton, a suburb of Sherwood Park.

Forty-one petitioners are asking for parliament to enact legislation to define in statute that a marriage can only be entered into between a single male and a single female.

It is a very fine petition and I am proud to present it.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I present a petition from many hundreds of Canadians in my riding who are concerned about the continuing threat that is posed by nuclear weapons, both to the health and survival of human civilization and to the global environment.

The petitioners request that parliament support the immediate initiation and conclusion by the year 2000 of an international convention which will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present a second petition signed by many Canadians with respect to the concept of marriage as being the voluntary union of a single, unmarried male and a single, unmarried female.

The petitioners urge that parliament enact legislation such as Bill C-225 so as to define in statute that a marriage can only be entered into between a single male and a single female.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Portage—Lisgar, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of over 400 Manitobans who pray that parliament will take the necessary measures to ensure that the possession of child pornography remains a serious criminal offence.

The petitioners pray that federal police forces be directed to give priority to enforcing this law for the protection of our children.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, today we will answer Questions Nos. 204, 207 and 228. .[Text]

Question No. 204—

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Reform

Eric C. Lowther Calgary Centre, AB

With respect to Chapter 17—National Parole Board—of the 1994 report of the Auditor General of Canada: ( a ) what measures of performance has the National Parole Board, NPB, adopted, as recommended in paragraph 17.68 of the above report; ( b ) has the NPB developed any of the performance measures suggested by the auditor general in paragraph 17.65 of the above report, and specifically, has the NPB developed any performance measures which can indicate; (i) recidivism rates for the first year after release; (ii) recidivism rates by type of revocation; (iii) recidivism rates by category of offender; (iv) recidivism rates by region; (v) recidivism rates for cases where the NPB releases an offender though the Correctional Service has not recommended release; (vi) the number of violent crimes committed while offenders are on release; (vii) the number of successful completions of release; and ( c ) if any of the above performance measurements were not developed, please state the reasons why they have not been developed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Cardigan
P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Solicitor general of Canada

The National Parole Board has responded to Chapter 17 of the 1994 report of the Auditor General of Canada regarding performance measurement as follows:

(a) The National Parole Board has established a performance measurement regime to ensure that management has the information required to monitor and assess its performance. The key component of this regime over the last three years has been the annual statistics package. This package provides detailed information on the performance of the board's conditional release and pardons and clemency programs over a five year period. As well, this package currently includes over 650 tables of statistical information on everything from crime in Canada and offender population to more specific information on parole grant rates, parole and statutory release success rates and charges for serious offences. This information is also included in other publications such as the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics' annual report on adult correctional services in Canada and the Department of the Solicitor General Canada's annual statistical overview on corrections and conditional release. The board is developing a new statistical information retrieval system, SIRS, which is scheduled to be available on the Intranet by the fall of 1999. In addition to the annual statistics package, the board also produces two yearly performance monitoring reports that identify developing trends and possible areas for improvement.

(b) The National Parole Board has developed most of the performance measures suggested in paragraph 17.65 of the 1994 report of the auditor general. Specifically, the board now measures:

(i) See (c) (i).

(ii) Recidivism rates by type of revocation;

The success tables present the information based on the four ways that conditional release supervision periods end;

Successful completion—releases in which the offender remains under supervision in the community from release date to the end of the period of supervision—warrant expiry date for full parole and statutory release;

Revocations for breach of conditions—these revocations have been defined as positive interventions to reduce risk to the community in that the offender is removed from the community to prevent recidivism;

Revocation with non-violent offence—any conditional release that results in revocation for a new non-violent offence—recidivism;

Revocation with violent offence—any conditional release that results in revocation for a new violent offence—recidivism.

(iii) Recidivism rate by category of offender.

(iv) Recidivism rate by region.

(v) See (c) (v).

(vi) Violent crimes committed while offenders are on release—the board measures charges for serious offences by offence type, for example, murder, sexual assault, major assault, robbery, et cetera, by release type—day parole, full parole or statutory release—and by region.

(c) (i) The board does not specifically measure the recidivism rate for the first year after release. An inter-departmental committee is currently working to develop a recidivism rate formula based on the date of release, which would not be limited by the warrant expiry date. This rate would provide information on recidivism for any number of years after release, for example, one year, five years, ten years after release, et cetera, including post-warrant expiry recidivism. Once developed, the new recidivism rate should provide better information on the success of treatment and reintegration programs and on the overall performance of the correctional system.

(v) The board does not measures the recidivism rate for cases where the board releases an offender though the Correctional Service has not recommended release. While the Correctional Service recommendation is an important part of all conditional release reviews, board members make independent decisions, based on the risk factors presented by the offender during the review, and the board's performance measurement regime provides information on the quality of these decisions. That said, the board does monitor how often board decisions are in concordance with the CSC recommendation. This measure is called the concordance rate.

Question No. 207—

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

With respect to the employment insurance fund: ( a ) what was the accumulated surplus in the fund as of December 31, 1998; ( b ) has this surplus been used for purposes other than paying employment insurance benefits; ( c ) if so, how much of the accumulated surplus has been used to fund the debt and the deficit; and ( d ) what government programs have been funded out of the surplus and how much of the surplus has gone to each of these programs?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

(a) The accumulated surplus in the employment insurance, EI, account as of December 31, 1998 was $19,042 billion.

(b) The balance in the EI account can only be applied to the payment of EI benefits, employment benefits and support measures and administration costs as authorized under the EI act.

(c) The EI account is consolidated with the central accounts of the Government of Canada. Any EI surpluses or deficits are included in the overall balance of operations for the government and thus in its annual deficit or surplus as well as in its accumulated debt.

(d) As noted in (b) above, programs other than employment insurance cannot be funded out of the EI account. The cumulative EI surplus is temporarily available to the federal government for any other use, but the government credits the EI account with interest in the interim.

Question No. 228—

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

With regard to the shutdown of operations at La Nationale mine in the Thetford Mines, Quebec, area in November 1985; ( a ) what kind of assistance was granted to the workers affected by the closure; ( b ) what was the name of the program put in place; ( c ) what was the amount of money put into the program by the federal government; and ( d ) what conditions did the workers have to meet in order to benefit from the program?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Papineau—Saint-Denis
Québec

Liberal

Pierre Pettigrew Minister of Human Resources Development

The former Department of Canada Employment and Immigration Commission provided assistance to affected workers of La Nationale mine in Thetford Mines through the former labour adjustment benefit, LAB program. The successor to LAB was the program for older workers adjustment, POWA, program, which came into effect on January 1, 1988.

The LAB program legislation became effective on May 1, 1982. The purpose of LAB was to assist Canadians in four industries within 21 designated regions by providing workers with adjustment benefits. Benefits were and are paid through the employment insurance payment systems. Benefits were provided to laid off workers at the following mines: La Nationale, Bell, Carrie Canadian and Lac D'Amiante.

A total of 3,751 workers were accepted under the LAB program who have been paid a total of $105,778,923 as of September 30, 1998.

In order to qualify for benefits, an individual had to:

(1) be at least 54 years of age on the effective date of layoff;

(2) be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada;

(3) have been employed in a generally designated industry or industries for at least 10 of the 15 years preceeding the layoff, and have been paid for at least 1,000 hours of employment in each of those years;

(4) have claimed or exhausted all employment insurance benefits; and

(5) have no present prospects of employment or have accepted employment with earnings less than average weekly insurable earnings prior to layoff.

In cases of financial hardship, benefits could be payable to individuals whose age plus years of service, as previously defined, equaled 80 or more.

In order to assure that benefits were maintained, in the spirit of a last resort income maintenance measure, the Canada employment centres, CECs undertook to review the recipients' circumstances at least every six months to re-examine their prospects for employment.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

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

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Reform

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I asked the hon. member earlier today if he could report on the status of Question No. 232. Could I have a report on the status of that question?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member asked if that question was to be answered before a possible adjournment in June. The answer to that is yes.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Shall the remaining questions stand?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-79, an act to amend the Criminal Code (victims of crime) and another act in consequence, be read the third time and passed.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Halton
Ontario

Liberal

Julian Reed Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to once again reinforce some of the aspects of these amendments that we believe will enhance the justice system in the country.

Bill C-79 amendments will enhance and expand the opportunities for victims of crime to make a victim impact statement and will address the manner in which the statement can be made.

When determining the appropriate sentence to impose on an offender, the judge takes into account a range of considerations related to both the particular offender and to the offence, and is guided by the purposes and principles of sentencing set out in the code and the penalties set out in the code, including any applicable mandatory minimum.

The victim impact statement must be considered by the sentencing judge along with all other relevant information. The statement is a description of the harm done or the loss suffered by the victim. In other words, the impact from their personal point of view.

Bill C-79 makes several important changes to the impact statement provisions. For example, the amendments will make it clear that it is the victim's choice whether to read his or her victim impact statement. Note that the current code provisions require the judge to consider the written victim impact statement which has been prepared and filed.

This will continue to be the case. In other words, when a victim does not choose to present the statement orally, the judge will still be required to consider the written statement. It is always the victim's choice whether to prepare a victim impact statement and some may not wish to do so.

There may be situations where the victim seeks to present his or her statement in another manner, for example by video or audio tape or through a third person. In these situations the judge will determine if that type of presentation is appropriate.

The amendments will also require that a judge make inquiries after a determination of guilt and before sentencing as to whether a victim has been informed of the opportunity to prepare a victim impact statement. In most cases the judge will direct the inquiry to the crown attorney, who should be aware of the prevailing policy in the jurisdiction for advising victims about victim impact statements. For example, in some jurisdictions the police may provide a card to all victims they come into contact with which refers victims to victim witness services and/or which refers to the victim impact statement program, or the crown may have a notation in the file that the victim has indeed been advised.

The amendment is intended to provide one last check on the information a victim should have received. The ability to prepare and submit a victim impact statement is of little benefit to a victim if the victim is not aware of these provisions. We note that it is always the victim's choice whether to prepare an impact statement. Some victims will be advised of the opportunity and may choose not to prepare such a statement. However, the choice cannot be made without adequate information. In some cases an adjournment may be necessary to permit the victim to be notified and a statement prepared. The amendments will specifically authorize such adjournments.

Victim impact statements will also be available to victims where the offender is found not criminally responsible for the offence committed. Currently, when an accused person is found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder, there is no opportunity for the victim to describe the impact of the offence. This is because a mentally disordered accused is not sentenced because they are not criminally responsible.

The current victim impact provisions only apply at sentencing proceedings. The reality, though, is that victims of mentally disordered offenders are victims of crime and should have a similar opportunity to describe the impact. The amendments will therefore provide that, following a verdict of not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder, a victim may prepare and file a statement. The statement will be considered by the court or by the Criminal Code Review Board when making the initial disposition regarding the mentally disordered accused.

The Criminal Code includes a complete part dealing with mentally disordered offenders and sets out criteria for making dispositions. The victim impact statement shall be considered in the context of those criteria and, in the case where a conditional discharge is appropriate, the statement shall be considered in determining the appropriate conditions.

Another significant development that has emerged from the growing acceptance of the principle that offenders should acknowledge the harm done to victims and the community is the emergence of community impact statements. Community impact statements, although not legislated, are gaining acceptance as a means by which the community has a voice in the criminal justice system. This concept grew out of the increasing acceptance of victim impact statements as a valid and worthwhile role for victims to play at sentencing proceedings.

The amendments to enhance victim involvement at sentencing through the victim impact statement recognize that crime has an impact on real people. Community involvement in crime prevention, victim advocacy and, as mentioned, community impact statements demonstrate that the people of Canada are committed to improving the justice system. Bill C-79 demonstrates that the government shares that commitment.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Reform

Chuck Cadman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to speak to this bill today. After years of frustration on the part of victims of crime all across Canada, after years of promises, after years of pressure from the Reform Party and after repeated failure of the government to properly address its supposed priority of the issue of victims rights, we appear to be on the home stretch.

We are now at third reading and hopefully we will be voting on Bill C-79 before the government decides to break for the summer recess. Hopefully this legislation will pass from this place to the other place, which hopefully again will give it a high priority and pass it in relatively short order.

As I have stated, victims have been waiting for years for the formalization of legislated rights for their interests. As I have also stated, we are almost there, but each and every day that Canadians are deprived of the effect of this legislation means that victims are continuing to be deprived of specified rights. Each and every day victims are continuing to be disregarded and abused by our justice system. It is a travesty that victims of crime are further victimized by the very system supposedly designed to bring and maintain justice in this country. Until effective rights are provided we will continue to witness instances of further injustice.

I will not be critical of the entire process. I acknowledge and I appreciate the work of my colleagues on the justice committee. While we do not always see eye to eye, we did recognize and accept the necessity to expeditiously prepare the committee report entitled “Victims Rights'—A Voice, Not a Veto” which formed the basis of this legislation.

The report and the subsequent legislation are a tribute to Shaughnessy Cohen who chaired the committee and created the spirit of co-operation to achieve this objective. I must add that I first met Shaughnessy long before I was elected to this place, at a time not long after my family became unwilling participants in the criminal justice system. Although we differed on some things, I hold nothing but the deepest respect for Shaughnessy's compassion and her commitment toward this issue. The committee expedited the process once Bill C-79 was passed at second reading and referred for review.

I would also be remiss if I did not thank all witnesses who appeared before the committee and the individuals and organizations that provided written submissions.

I would also like to thank all those individuals who participated in the national forum on victims' roles in the criminal justice system held in Ottawa in June 1998. All of those individuals and organizations were invaluable in helping the committee to form a consensus on many of the shortcomings which exist in our justice process with respect to victims of crime.

So that the Liberal government does not get too complacent, I will move back to the area of criticism on the shortcomings of this legislation.

First, as stated previously, it is unfortunate that the government did not see fit to address the recommendations of the justice committee concerning amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. A number of important rights for victims need to be addressed in the area of corrections and parole. This has not been done and there is little indication that the issue is on the government's immediate agenda. It is difficult to understand why it has to be continually pressured and pushed into amending our laws to provide for the interests and rights of victims of crime.

The government has used the excuse that the justice committee is currently undertaking a review of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. That is just a red herring. There is absolutely nothing to deter the government from incorporating changes to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act within Bill C-79.

As a result, one must ask whether victims rights are really a priority to the government. The government only did what it had to do. The government had to respond to the committee report, but it did so no more than it had to. For some unfathomable reason it has decided to put off victims rights in the corrections and parole fields until another day, another year, or possibly even another decade. Hopefully it will at least be a millennium project. This delay is most unfortunate.

Second, this legislation fails to apply the victim fine surcharge to the Young Offenders Act. Why? I certainly do not know. The justice committee report recommended that young offenders be included within the victim fine surcharge scheme. The federal-provincial-territorial working group recommended permitting surcharge orders against young offenders. Alberta, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and Ontario are on written record as supporting victim fine surcharges for young offenders. However, the government chooses to ignore all of this strong support.

During fiscal year 1994-95 there were a total of 4,472 cases across Canada where a fine was the most significant disposition by our youth courts. Some 87% of these fines were between $50 and $500. Surely, if these young offenders can pay these fines, they can pay the minimal surcharge as laid out in Bill C-79.

Young offenders create victims in the same way as adults. It is indeed puzzling why the government seems to feel that young offenders should not be held to the same level of responsibility toward providing assistance to the victims of their crimes as anybody else. It is no wonder that Canadians are losing faith in our justice system.

A third aspect that I wish to discuss happens to involve the highly inflammatory issue of subsection 745.6, the faint hope clause. Once again the government is amending section 745. Instead of scrapping it entirely, it continues to tinker with the provision of our law that appears to be only acceptable to murderers and members of the Liberal Party.

I will admit that the provisions in Bill C-79 improve this situation somewhat. Clause 21 finally forces the justice process to be a little more honest or upfront with victims and the Canadian public. Judges will be required to pronounce at the time of sentencing that a sentence of imprisonment for life may not necessarily be just that. Now everybody in the courtroom at sentencing will know that, in the case of first degree murder, the supposedly mandatory 25 years before parole eligibility could be significantly reduced at a time in the future when everybody but the family members have forgotten about the crime.

Why does this government continue to try to make essentially a silk purse out of a sow's ear? Subsection 745.6 is bad law, plain and simple, but instead of scrapping it altogether, every year or two the government tinkers with it some more in an attempt to make it more palatable to Canadians.

Just a couple of years ago, with Bill C-45, the government changed this section in an attempt to limit and restrict multiple murderers from benefiting from this faint hope provision. Now, in Bill C-79, after some 20-odd years, it has decided that the practice of telling Canadians that murderers are sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 25 years has not been entirely upfront. Victims will now at least be informed of subsection 745.6 which permits early parole for our most serious offenders. However, anyway we cut it, it is still bad law.

I will now take a few moments to sum up this legislation. It is a good start, but it is just that, a good start. Our justice system falls over backward to ensure and protect all the rights of all our criminals and that is fine. It sets Canada apart from most other countries of the world and reflects the fairness and equity of our society. Having said that, we can also say that we have been woefully negligent in ensuring and protecting the rights of the victims of crime. We have been too quick to use the excuse of the division of powers between the federal government and the provinces to rationalize these deficiencies. Hopefully Bill C-79 will see the beginning of co-operation between the two levels of government so that victims of crime do not continue to fall through the cracks.

As I have indicated, I am disappointed with the government for its failure to address the justice committee's recommendations concerning the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. With a little intestinal fortitude the government could have easily incorporated those recommendations within this legislation. As a member of the official opposition I will continue to pressure the government to fulfil its promises in this regard.

The government's failure to include young offenders within the victim fine surcharge scheme makes absolutely no sense. The government appears to view victims of young offender crime as being somewhat less significant than other victims.

The faint hope clause still lives. The tinkering continues but the primary problem still remains. Hopefully one of these days the government will get tired of skating around the issue and will instead send it off to the scrap heap where it belongs.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Bev Desjarlais Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join in this debate at third reading on Bill C-79, an act to amend the Criminal Code respecting victims of crime.

There is no question that the loss and financial hardship suffered by victims of violent crime can be crushing. Often insurance, unemployment, pension or welfare plans, or court ordered restitution or damages are unavailable.

I want to mention that in 1970 Manitoba's New Democrats introduced one of Canada's first victim compensation programs and it has been considered one of Canada's fairest. However, victims of crime have looked to the federal government to further ensure that their rights be recognized.

This bill and the amendments are without question supported and have been requested for some time by victims of crime as well as the large majority of Canadians. It is my hope as well as that of my caucus colleagues that the Minister of Justice along with her government do not delay in implementing this bill as they have done with so many others.

The justice committee has recommended credible changes on this bill. With regard to the delays by the justice department I want to note that the joint Senate and House of Commons committee on custody and access has made important and credible recommendations and it is unconscionable that the Minister of Justice has made the statement outright that it will take three years before there is any kind of implementation of those recommendations.

It is time the Minister of Justice recognized that Canadians no longer have faith in our justice system. The defence of provocation that came up in the discussions earlier today is another issue that is on the block for the Minister of Justice to look at. We can only wonder how long it is going to take for action in that area.

I want to summarize the amendments to ensure that Canadians really know what this bill entails. They provide that all offenders must pay a victim surcharge of a fixed minimum amount except where the offender establishes undue hardship and provide for increased amounts to be imposed in appropriate circumstances. This will increase provincial and territorial revenues to allow them to improve services currently provided to victims.

It is absolutely important that the provinces follow along in this light. What has happened since the Conservative government in the province of Manitoba took office some years back, it has literally gutted the dollars that have gone into the program. As well its failure to follow through on collecting the fines has left that program terribly short of the funds it needs to provide victims with the services that should be there.

The amendments ensure that victims are informed of their opportunity to prepare a victim impact statement at the time of sentencing. This seems pretty straightforward but it is one of those things that so often is failed to be followed through on, a simple statement of letting the victim know.

Amendments also ensure the victims have the choice to read the victim impact statement aloud. They require the impact statements to be considered by courts and review boards following a verdict of not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder. They extend to victims of sexual or violent crime up to age 18 protections that restrict personal cross-examinations by self-represented accused persons. There is no question that this is a very important amendment. We have seen numerous instances where the victim is once again victimized by their perpetrator and they have to go through the anguish all over again.

Police officers and judges will be required to consider the victim's safety in all bail orders. That is extremely important. The amendments clarify that at court proceedings to determine whether an offender who is sentenced to life should have his or her parole eligibility reduced, the information provided by the victim may be oral or written at the option of the victim. This allows them the opportunity not to be victimized again.

Another amendment would allow victims and witnesses with a mental or physical disability to have a support person while giving testimony. This is something a lot of Canadians thought automatically happened but that has not been the case.

The amendments will make it easier for victims and witnesses to participate in trials by permitting the judge to ban publication of their identity where it is necessary for the administration of justice.

My party supports the overall intention of this legislation as it will give victims and witnesses of crime a much greater role in the criminal justice system and will increase safeguards of protection. While that is very important, it is also important for us that it will not infringe on the rights of the accused to have a fair trial. We are convinced that these amendments in the legislation will not infringe on those rights.

With that in mind and with the number of comments that have been made here today, I think it is extremely important that we follow through on this legislation. We must also be vigilant in ensuring that the Minister of Justice, her department and this government as a whole do not continually shirk their duty to the people of Canada and put in place laws that truly reflect and represent all Canadians.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in this debate and to follow the remarks of the hon. member. She obviously has a great deal of insight into this issue.

It is fair to say it is a very significant and timely issue when we are speaking of victims rights. Sadly our news is often filled with tragedies involving victims. I speak of most recently the Kosovars who find themselves displaced because of an extremely cruel and malicious government. I speak of the victims in the Littleton, Colorado tragedy and those in Taber, Alberta. I speak of victims like Sheldon Kennedy. I speak of victims like those in the Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens scandal.

Our news is often filled with heart-wrenching tragedies that surround victims and their lives. There is certainly a highlighted need for legislative initiatives that address these types of issues.

As is stated in the report itself and in its title which is quite appropriately “A Voice, Not a Veto”, victims are not looking to upset the balance that has to exist and the implicit degree of fairness that the scales of justice represent. The victims are not looking for an ability to overturn the rights of presumption of innocence or in any way to offset the entire justice system in terms of how they deal with an accused person in the first instance.

There is a need however that victims have to seek recognition and at times retribution from those who prey upon them. I feel this legislation moves forward but does not go as far as it possibly could or should. However it takes a significant step forward and there is that recognition that is ever present and ever important in our justice system.

We have seen in many instances the prosecution of cases that take a tremendous amount of time. Delay is often described as the deadliest form of denial. Victims need to have an assurance that justice will be done in a timely fashion and in such a way that they feel the state has intervened appropriately and in a way that is compassionate and understanding not only of the strict, sanitized, sterile legal necessities, but of those humane aspects that are involved in criminal activity and victimization. There is a need to give that assurance and the legislation makes strides in that direction.

The Progressive Conservative Party wholeheartedly supports this legislation. We were active in the round table that took place last summer. We were active at the committee with respect to the study of this legislation. Numerous witnesses gave their testimony in a very forthright and succinct way. They cried out for change and cried out for a law that will perhaps streamline our justice system.

There is the ever present need to get away from lengthy bureaucratic and sometimes cumbersome language that pollutes our Criminal Code and much of the legislation we deal with particularly when it comes to matters of criminal justice. Because of the lengthy delays that are often involved, justice in the end is denied if it is not brought forward.

That is what members of the opposition and members of the Progressive Conservative Party were trying to do when amendments were moved this morning. I resent in some way the suggestion that it was anything other than a sincere attempt to improve this legislation. There was no disingenuous intent whatsoever in trying to define the language that will eventually be in the hands of the courts and the prosecution and the defence. It was simply an attempt to simplify and to put a more succinct definition forward when it comes to the implementation of some of the changes we will see as a result of Bill C-79.

There is one other glaring omission that I have to point out with respect to Bill C-79. It is the refusal of the Minister of Justice and the government itself to acknowledge the need for a victims ombudsman office. The office would be modelled on that of the correctional investigator.

I find it more than perverse that we have an office budgeted for the sole needs and protection and furtherance of criminals who are currently paying their debt to society incarcerated behind bars. I am not saying they do not need that protection at times, but we do not have a similar office set up for those who are victimized by those same individuals who are currently incarcerated. I find that an affront to everything that is true about our justice system.

There has been some discussion about the need for this and although I believe the Minister of Justice does have some sensitivity and fairness to this and although I believe the late Shaughnessy Cohen also supported the government's moving in this direction, we have not reached that point. I believe it was a missed opportunity under this legislation.

Politicians sometimes get bogged down with the legalities and politics of an issue and forget the human side. As an overall statement it is fair to say that the debates surrounding this legislation both in committee and here on the floor of the House of Commons have been fairly non-partisan in nature.

Bill C-79 is an attempt to give recognition to and to change and enhance some of the current laws, particularly when it comes to issues such as victim impact statements. As has been previously enunciated by other members, these statements are a very important part of the healing process and a part of the codified recognition victims play in a courtroom. It is an opportunity for them to speak directly to the judge, to all present, and equally important, to the accused. At the end of the day when a conviction has been rendered on the perpetrator in the matter, it is an attempt for the victim in some small way to put into words what the victim's ordeal has been. I suspect that for many this is a very important part of the healing process.

With all of that said, there are other problems in the justice system we are currently aware of that impact directly on victims. Some of those problems stem from areas outside of this particular legislative scheme.

I am speaking now of the difficulty within Correctional Service Canada. We know a very dangerous and insidious plan has been put forward and perpetrated on an unsuspecting public. I am talking about the 50% release plan that was dreamed up by some genius to see that 50% of the current inmate population is released back into society by next year.

It is a very dangerous thing when quotas are put in place and targets are put forward. One would suspect this to override the existing legislative safeguards, the existing criteria to be met in the decision on whether a person will be released from incarceration, particularly when one looks at the degree of violence and often the lengthy accumulation of a violent record that it takes for a person to eventually be found incarcerated in a federal institution.

I realize that is somewhat outside the gamut or the scope of what we are discussing today but it is something I find to be extremely alarming. It impacts on victims. We know the victim's plight does not end after a conviction has been rendered. It does not end after the person who has preyed upon the victim has been incarcerated. It continues.

Unfortunately there is an unbreakable link between a victim and the person who has perpetrated violence or some form of an injustice upon them. That link remains. It is not one the victim asked for or certainly desired but it is there and it is often lifelong and life altering.

Victims are spouses, children, parents, siblings and those not only affected in a direct physical way by the violence but the members of a family who are often left suffering in the wake of a direct attack on a loved one. They can also benefit from victims services and improvements in legislation that can impact directly on the delivery of victims services.

I refer to my comments about the need for a victims ombudsman office where direct information could be disseminated to victims, to those persons in need of information. It has been pointed out time and time again that one of the real downfalls of our justice system is our inability to get this information into the hands of those who need it most and those who wish to be informed and those who wish to be forewarned of the release of a person from incarceration.

With proper amendments, improvements could be made to this bill. However because of the need to bring it forward with the steps that have been taken, the Conservative Party will be supporting this bill when it comes to a vote in the House.

Our party certainly supports the entrenching of the victim surcharge that will be brought about as a result of this legislation. The fact that there will be financial compensation will never fully compensate a person for a crime that has been perpetrated, but it will at least be some recognition that a crime has been committed which has impacted upon a person. Although it does not compensate for the emotional and sometimes physical harm, it is a recognition that there is a loss. Sometimes a dollar figure will not be adequate but at least it is a recognition.

It is the hope of the Conservative Party, in fact I suggest the hope of all members, that this money will not be eaten up or misdirected in terms of cumbersome administration, but that the legislation will ensure that the money is in the hands and the pockets of those directly affected by criminal activity.

There is much to talk about in the area of victims and victims rights and the ability to bring victims into a system that is often very insensitive and sometimes very sterile when it comes to the approach taken to those who are most directly affected. However, in the interest of balance and the interest of protecting the integrity of the system, one has to be very leery of putting too much in motion. I am sometimes reticent to say that because this is a very emotional issue.

We heard testimony time and time again before the committee from victims themselves, from parents, and from those affected by the perpetration of crime. There is no denying that it is a very emotional issue. However, in the courtroom there is an attempt to sometimes remove or ignore the emotion in the interest of getting to the truth of the matter and moving a case through the court in perhaps a more timely fashion.

I would not say the bill was the brain child of any one particular person or any one party, but Shaughnessy Cohen's name is very closely associated with this government initiative, and rightly so. She worked as a crown prosecutor in the city of Windsor and was obviously an advocate of victims. It is very important that her name be inextricably attached to this legislative initiative.

The position of my party with respect to victims has been unwavering. In 1997 the election platform of the Conservative Party proposed the creation of a victims charter of rights. This is again not a new initiative, not something that one party can claim ownership of, but it is a recognition that certain inalienable rights have to be entrenched in our law to ensure that victims are protected.

There are very positive aspects of the bill with respect to the publication of the name of a victim or witness. Those initiatives are there for the protection of identity. They make very clear that victims oftentimes are in great jeopardy if their names are known publicly or published through some form of media. Protection and the ability to put into the hands of the court the tools to protect those whose names if published would be vulnerable is a very important initiative.

There is a great deal of jargon associated with the practice of law. Victims need information, particularly in matters such as parole ineligibility or eligibility and court proceedings. There is a significant effort now to ensure that the victim is given basic information on where they sit in a courtroom, what the proceedings mean, and what certain references and legal terms mean.

Victims services throughout the provinces will be enhanced by some of the initiatives in Bill C-79. In the constituency of Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough in my home province of Nova Scotia there are those who are currently involved in victims services. There are working very diligently and will be very thankful for this legislation. I am speaking of individuals like Judy Whitman, Coreen Popowich and many others involved in the furthering of victims rights.

This evening in Nova Scotia I am attending a fundraising event for the Tearmann society located in New Glasgow. It is a home for battered women. Once again I will be very pleased to bring word on the bill moving forward through the House in the fashion we have seen.

I do not have any further negative comments to make other than the fact that the legislation before us today is long overdue. The provinces have some concerns with respect to the consultation process, but we understand like others and like those who have spoken previously that any step forward is seen as a positive step. It is something that we do not intend in any way to hinder. We are trying to move it forward as quickly as possible.

Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario have increased the funding to victims services. If there is any other shortcoming it would be that the government has not necessarily provided the significant resources required for the implementation of some of the programs that will stem from the legislation. As well, the federal government should now be perhaps looking specifically at funding some of these programs and avoiding duplication with the provinces, which is again something that all of us would be very reticent if we did not point it out.

The Young Offenders Act has been revised and the new youth criminal justice act will be coming into effect at some point, I suspect in the fall of the coming year. It is very important that there be an attempt made to ensure that these two pieces of legislation work in unison. I am speaking now of the areas of victims services and their administration and the costs associated with victims who are preyed upon by violent youth.

Sadly, without getting into a long diatribe about the new youth criminal justice system, I am reticent to say that much of the need that has been identified time and time again in the shortcomings of the old youth justice act will not be met by the new legislation.

With respect to victim surcharges and with respect to the identification and protection of victims, these legislative initiatives will attach to the new youth criminal justice system and must be viewed in a positive light.

We have heard a number of graphic examples not only in the House but through the media. At committee level we have heard horror stories about individuals who were crying out for the attention and protection of this place through legislation: the courts that inevitably interpret and decide much of the law and our law enforcement agencies and our frontline workers like children's aid and social services, those tasked with the very weighty and sometimes extremely difficult task of delivering services. It is somewhat sad that we do not see a greater emphasis and a greater amount of priority placed on individuals on the frontline and in the trenches of the administration of laws such as Bill C-79.

To its credit the government has brought forward the legislation through the co-operation of members of the House and members of the committee. There are very positive initiatives that come from it. I know that victims advocates and victims themselves will be benefiting from the legislation when it becomes incorporated.

The Conservative Party of Canada continues in its commitment to furthering the rights of victims, to furthering the rights of those who are downtrodden in our justice system generally and are looking for positive change, in a non-partisan fashion.

I congratulate all those who have been involved in moving the legislation forward. We look forward to continued attempts to bring forward these types of positive initiatives. I caution the government that if this is not happening, through the diligence of this party we will try to bring these matters forward to ensure that Canadians get the protection they need, deserve and should expect from their government.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the people of Surrey Central and in fact all Canadians to speak to Bill C-79, the government's proposal to change the Criminal Code to accommodate the rights of victims of crime.

I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca who is also equally keen to speak to the bill.

The victims bill of rights only came about because of the pressure and input of all members of the Reform Party. In the last parliament the hon. member for Langley—Abbotsford pursued a victims bill of rights. A Reform supply day motion was successfully passed in 1996 to cause the government to review and introduce legislation to improve federal laws to consider and recognize the rights of victims of crime. The hon. member for Surrey North was also responsible for many of the committee recommendations.

The bill does not go far enough. It is not what Canadians wanted. Obviously victims were not a priority to the Liberal government of the 36th parliament. The justice minister listed victims rights as one of her three top priorities, but despite that she has been stalling any action under the pretext of timely fashion.

Any time we ask her to take any action, or she is supposed to take any action, she has been using the excuse that she will be doing it in a timely fashion. I do not know how long the victims can wait for her timely fashion while the minister is sitting on her hands doing nothing.

Even though the bill does not go far enough we will take it. It is not what Canadians wanted but still we will take it. At least it is a start. The bill has not been changed since it was introduced by the government. Up until now it has yet to accept any amendments to the bill.

The government has dug in its heels and said the bill includes all the rights it is prepared to grant the victims of crime. That is not enough. We will continue to talk to the government until it places the rights of victims above the rights of the criminals in our criminal justice system.

The government has not done enough. Let us see what the government has not done in the bill. It has not incorporated changes to the corrections and parole systems which are quite important. Victims will still not have the right to participate in release hearings, be advised of escapes from custody, temporary absences and other important information that a victim of crime, particularly violent crime, would want to know in order to remain safe.

What about the people who have had to appear as a witness in a prosecution that resulted in a jail term for the guilty party? Let us say that an elderly person testifies that a certain person was the one who robbed him or her at knifepoint. Would that Canadian not be very concerned about when the aggressor is out of jail? Maybe the accuser would be afraid and would appreciate being alerted to the fact that the person who assaulted him or her was now out of jail.

Let us imagine that. Maybe the accused even threatened the accuser at the trail. We should protect the victim. It is not so difficult, as the amendments proposed by my colleague from Surrey North have demonstrated. Let us see some of the initiatives included in Bill C-79.

Victims are to be informed of their right to prepare a victim impact statement at the time of sentencing. That is good. Victims will have the choice to read the victim impact statement in court. Victims of sexual assault or violent crime up to the age of 18 years are to be protected from personal cross-examination by self-represented accused persons.

Another initiative included in Bill C-79 is that police officers and judges are to consider the safety of victims in all bail decisions.

These are some of the initiatives in the bill. There are some more that I will not elaborate on but probably I could mention one or two. Judges are required to inform the public of the possibility of section 745 applications for early parole for those who receive life sentences. I understand in private members' hour today we will be talking about consecutive sentencing. I will elaborate more then.

Victims and witnesses will have protection through banning publication of their identity where it is necessary for the proper administration of justice.

Some of the concerns have been taken care of in this bill. However, we are concerned about the definition of victims within the Criminal Code. We intend to pursue broadening the definition.

There is room for improvement. There is room for amendment. At least this is a step forward by the government in recognizing the rights of victims.

In conclusion, the government has done only half the job in looking out for the victims of crime. However, I will support this bill in the end and I will limit my comments so that I do not delay its passing one more minute.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, what initiatives does my colleague feel can be taken to ensure that victims have a greater say within our justice system? Does he feel the federal government should move away from focusing on the rehabilitation of criminals to protecting innocent civilians?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question. There is a broad outlook of issues which are not included in this bill.

Particularly, the government has not incorporated changes to the corrections and parole system, as I mentioned. Also the victims will not have the right to participate in the release hearings. That is very important because there is information on temporary absences and other important information that a victim of crime, particularly violent crime, would want to know in order to remain safe.

There are a whole host of issues which I believe this bill should have included, but I am glad that it is a step forward. We will take the view that at least we are stepping ahead and this is a step forward toward achieving what we want to achieve.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my hon. colleague allowing me to share his time.

Again I would like to compliment the hon. member for Surrey North on all the hard work that he and my colleagues have done in trying to change the justice system to make it a more realistic, pragmatic and effective justice system to ensure that there will be a balance: those people who are a danger to society will be dealt with strongly and forcefully so they will not be able to victimize innocent civilians again and new initiatives can be utilized to prevent crime from occurring. That is something in which my colleagues and members of other political parties have been taking a leadership role. I hope that one day the government will listen.

Bill C-79 has some very important points in it in terms of ensuring that victims have rights. It ensures that we will be able to make a change to reverse what a Liberal government did some years ago. I want to bring to the attention of members that in the early 1980s the justice minister of the then Liberal government said “From now on we are going to change our justice system from one of protecting society to one of rehabilitating the criminal”. As a result, we have seen the faith of the public and the police forces in the system substantially eroded. It is our job to change that; not to do it in a grossly punitive and blind fashion, but to do it in a manner which strikes the balance that I spoke of earlier.

We have to ensure that victims have a greater role within the justice system than the convicted. In many cases we have seen convicted criminals who have greater access to social programs, rehabilitation and care than the people they victimized. I can tell members of some tragic cases of families, adults and children who have been victimized and left out in the cold alone with little or no help, while the person who victimized them receives the lion's share of the help.

We believe that should change. The first priority of the justice system should be the protection of innocent civilians. The second priority should be to ensure that those who have been victimized are taken care of and get the help which they require. The third priority should be to ensure that rehabilitation takes place so that we can break the cycle of crime, punishment and incarceration that we have been unsuccessful in accomplishing in so many unfortunate cases.

The other side of the coin is how we deal with people who are in the justice system now and what we can do to prevent these situations from occurring. I draw the attention of the House to the National Crime Prevention Council. This council was enacted by edict from the justice department. It has done excellent work in looking at ways in which we can prevent crime. I want to outline a pragmatic way of doing it, which is to implement a national headstart program.

This program was in a motion that was passed in the House last year. The motion was based upon existing programs that work, such as the Hawaii healthy start program, the Ypsilanti Perry preschool program and the Moncton headstart program which the Minister of Labour and her husband took a leadership role in constructing in 1974.

These programs are modelled under the premise that if we can ensure that children have in the first eight years of life their basic needs met, then those children have a greater chance of developing a normal psyche than those who are subjected to child abuse, violence or more subtle negative factors such as improper parenting.

If we ensure that children have their basic needs met, if we also ensure that parents have the parenting skills to be able to do the job, to raise their children in a well defined system with boundaries and good discipline, where their children are in a caring, loving and secure environment and where they have proper nutrition, then those children have the greatest opportunity of being well adjusted, productive, integrated members of society.

That is the model and the basis of the three programs that I mentioned. Do they work? Let us take a look.

In the Hawaii healthy start program the child abuse rate dropped 99%. What they did was very innovative, which I think we can do in our country. They brought mentors, women who had children and good parenting skills, and they linked them up with parents who had children at risk. By engaging in this mentoring program, by developing a trusting and secure relationship with these families, we saw a 99% reduction in child abuse, massive drops in drug abuse rates and an improvement in the socioeconomic welfare of these families. It was a huge saving for the taxpayer.

In the Perry preschool program, which has been in existence for some 30 years, there has been a $6 saving for every $1 invested. There has been a 50% reduction in youth crime. There has been a 40% reduction in teen pregnancy, which, as we know, unfortunately is usually a one-way route to poverty for both the mom and the baby. We have seen children stay in school longer, with less dependence on welfare, which again results in savings to the taxpayer of $6 for every $1 invested.

The Moncton headstart program, which the Minister of Labour championed with her husband, has shown similar effects. All three of these programs are based on the premise that if we work with parents and families, if we ensure that their basic needs are met and if we encourage them and teach them how to do this for their children, we have a better, more integrated, safer and productive society because individuals are able to develop their psyches in a normal fashion.

It is not a guarantee that this is going to happen by any stretch of the imagination, but the cold, hard facts prove that headstart works. If this government is serious about preventing crime, it can do this.

I am calling for over 70 groups in the country to put pressure on the federal government to enact a national headstart program using existing resources. We can use the medical community at time zero, because every pregnant woman goes to the doctor to have prenatal exams, and then we can address issues such as drug abuse. Hopefully by doing that we can prevent the devastating effects that fetal alcohol syndrome have on our society.

Secondly, we could use the mentoring programs in the middle years, from the time the child is born until about age four, and then use the school system between the ages of four and eight.

The Moncton program was ideal in that it brought parents into the school system. Parents came to the classroom once a week to learn basic essentials, such as proper discipline, setting boundaries and proper nutrition. They would learn that a bag of chips and Coca Cola is not dinner and is bad for the child.

That is what we are asking the federal government to do. That is what we are pushing for. We started a massive campaign last week to push the government to pursue this. It is a win-win situation for everybody.

I will digress a little on the issue of victims. As we said before, victims need rights. Victims need to be appropriately represented within the justice system. They do not at the present time have official status. My colleague from British Columbia, our House leader, has put forth a victims bill of rights that would entrench the rights of the victim. I hope the government pursues this because it is an act of fairness.

I also want to ensure that the government listens very clearly to us to ensure that victims get the care which they require because they are not getting it now. They are being excluded from the social services that they need to patch up the sometimes extraordinary damage that has been inflicted upon them through assault, rape, battery, abuse and so on.

We have an opportunity to truly put balance into the justice system. I hope the government takes it. I also hope that it listens to our judiciary. I hope it listens to the police departments who are saying very clearly, as the police chief from Vancouver said as a parting shot before he left, that we have a revolving door justice system. Criminals come into the justice system who have made some serious errors. Some of the hardest criminals go into the system and are tossed out the other end as quickly as they came in. Justice is not being served.

If we separate those high risk criminals who are dangerous to society and put the full force of the law against them, we will be saving people's lives. If we take the rest who are low risk people and try diversionary tactics, diversionary methods through the justice system, if we try alternative methods to ensure that they pay back and engage in restitution with their victims and society, we will have a chance of building a safer, fairer society for all.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is the House ready for the question?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-64, an act to establish an indemnification program for travelling exhibitions, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

There is one motion in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-64, an act to establish an indemnification program for travelling exhibitions.

Motion No. 1 will be debated and voted on separately.

I shall propose Motion No. 1 to the House.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Saint-Laurent—Cartierville
Québec

Liberal

Stéphane Dion for the Minister of Canadian Heritage

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-64, in Clause 5.1, be amended

(a) by replacing lines 28 and 29 on page 3 with the following:

“Act, be reviewed by the parliamentary committee that may be designated or”

(b) by replacing lines 36 and 37 on page 3 with the following:

“within any further time that may be authorized, submit a report to”

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Reform

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to debate Bill C-64 at report stage. I am very disappointed the government has put forth an amendment to the bill. The official opposition certainly cannot support it and therefore I would like to move an amendment:

That the motion be amended by inserting after the word “committee” the words “of the elected House”.

I know that time is of the essence so I will be brief. We believe this act should be reviewed by a House of Commons committee and not by just any committee of either House. The authority to legislate for the people of Canada rests with this House and not the other place.

I really do not have a lot to say about the bill. We have debated it in depth at committee stage. If my memory serves me right, my understanding coming out of committee was that all parties agreed with the unamended Bill C-64. Bill C-64 is important and necessary. It certainly will encourage the travel of historical exhibits around the country.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The amendment as moved by the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River is in order. Debate is on the amendment.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Reform

Inky Mark Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, the bill without any amendment is certainly a first step. There is a lot of agreement with that statement. Hopefully the legislation is not written in stone and that changes can be made down the road.

The amendments put forth by the government have slowed the process down considerably. As the opposition we want to see the bill pass all stages before the summer recess and will certainly support it in its unamended form.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Bloc

Maurice Dumas Argenteuil—Papineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-64, an act to establish an indemnification program for travelling exhibitions, at report stage.

This program will save museums several hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance. The Bloc Quebecois supports the bill in principle, but regrets that the amendments it suggested were rejected.

In fact, the Bloc Quebecois agrees with the idea of supporting museums by relieving them of some of the financial burdens they face.

In passing, I might mention that, right now in Quebec, from May 16 to 30, there is a festival focusing on Quebec's museums called Musées en fête. Today's topic is therefore very apt.

I would like to point out, as my colleagues did earlier, that Canada already had an indemnification program for exhibits. It was introduced in 1985 and eliminated in 1995 under program review.

The Bloc Quebecois feels that the motion moved by the party in power provides the federal government with a propaganda opportunity. The assessment criteria for indemnification agreements set out in the bill include the educational and professional quality of the exhibition, as well as the significance and relevance to Canadians of the exhibition's theme and contents.

These two criteria are purely subjective. As a member of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, I wish to cite an extract from the testimony by Michel Perron, CEO of the Société des musées québécois, on this topic.

At the committee's May 11 hearing, which I attended as a member, Mr. Perron said as follows:

Should it be necessary, we suggest that peer committees be used to help the minister decide and make the most appropriate choice.

The energy required to set up a travelling exhibition, the costs involved, the impact for visibility of the institutions involved means that the museums already exercise a great deal of judgment in making decisions relating to public interest, intellectual value and ethical considerations before getting involved in such projects.

The Bloc Quebecois agrees with Mr. Perron. Museum curators are competent people with good judgment. Unlike the minister, they are not out to propagandize. One of the finest examples of good management is the arts council.

The Bloc Quebecois is also opposed to the motion proposed by the government which involves the Senate in a parliamentary committee. We are, however, in agreement with the opposition amendment to the motion, because it is along the lines of what we ourselves want.

People from the community are needed here, including the museum curators. In connection with the other place, incidentally, the 1991 auditor general's report made 27 recommendations for corrections to the way the other place operates.

Like our colleagues across the way, we want to see this bill go through as quickly as possible, because its economic repercussions, for the arts community, among others, are huge.

In my riding of Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, there are several really interesting museums. I take this opportunity to congratulate their administrators on the highly professional job they are doing. I encourage people to visit these museums.

In the amendments proposed by the Bloc Quebecois we tried to include the small museums, so that there would be a greater selection of museums with more modest insurance risks.

In conclusion, the Bloc Quebecois is in favour of Bill C-64 in principle, but against the motion proposed by the government. We are in favour of the amendment to the motion by the opposition, because we do not believe that the Senate ought to play this role for all of the reasons I have already set out.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise before the House to discuss proposed amendments to Bill C-64, the Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act.

I speak to these amendments on behalf of our heritage critic, the member for West Nova, and on behalf of museums in Nova Scotia, many of which are in the riding I am fortunate enough to represent: Ross Farm Museum, small museums like DesBrisay Museum in Bridgewater and the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg.

As we discuss these amendments to Bill C-64 let us keep in mind the importance of this piece of legislation to our museum community. Let us focus some attention on the reasons why the legislation has become so necessary.

Ever since the Liberal government discontinued its cost sharing insurance arrangements with our Canadian museums, curators across the country have been calling for some kind of federal government assistance to help offset the huge costs associated with insuring travelling exhibitions.

What is the indemnification for travelling exhibitions? In essence, it means that the Canadian government will assume all financial risks for damages to contents contained within travelling exhibitions. Not only will this indemnification program relieve some of the financial burden that is affecting most of Canada's museums, but it will help them to negotiate the loan of other prestigious foreign exhibitions.

In 1972 the initial budget for the museum assistance program hovered at around $8 million per year. By the early 1990s the budget was increased to a maximum of $15 million, despite a Canadian Museum Association recommendation for a budget of $25 million annually.

Last year the Liberal government reduced this amount to a paltry $6.5 million, leaving the museum industry reeling to find alternative financial resources. The Minister of Canadian Heritage has since announced subsequent increases to the MAP of $2 million and $1 million respectively, putting the 1999 budget at $9.4 million.

This amount does not come close to responding to the grave concerns expressed by museum representatives. As it now stands our museum directors barely have the resources necessary to maintain present exhibits, let alone to expand their collections.

Museums are more than just an historic account of time and place in Canadian history. Museums contribute enormously to our local economy. According to Mr. Robert Janes, president and chief executive officer of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta, museums in Canada contribute $1 billion annually to the gross domestic product which includes 35,000 jobs, directly and indirectly, as well as $650 million in labour income. These figures suggest that this cultural industry is a very significant contributor to Canada's economy.

The Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act could be a very effective tool in helping Canadian museums bring in more attractive exhibitions, enticing a greater participation from both Canadian and foreign audiences.

Already current statistics indicate that over 55 million visitors a year enter Canada's approximately 2,000 museums. This is a very impressive number of visitors. The credit for this success belongs to our dedicated museum staff along with the over 50,000 volunteers who devote their time and energy toward helping maintain an important element of Canadian history.

As I mentioned previously, the bill responds to certain needs within our museum industry. Therefore I believe we should proceed with the passing of this piece of legislation as quickly as possible. The proposed amendments will not weaken the bill but instead will open the door to greater participation and greater input from all parliamentarians.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief, if you will permit me, and merely thank the hon. members who took part in the review of this bill, particularly the hon. member for Dauphin—Swan River, the hon. member for Longueuil, the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, the hon. member for Dartmouth, and the hon. member for West Nova.

I sincerely thank them for their co-operation throughout the review of this bill.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is the House ready for the question?

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Canada Travelling Exhibitions Indemnification Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the recorded division stands deferred until Monday, May 31, 1999, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

It being 1.30 p.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-251, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (cumulative sentences), as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

There are three motions in amendment on the notice paper for report stage of Bill C-251, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (cumulative sentences).

Motions Nos. 1 to 3 will be grouped for debate and voted on as follows. The vote on Motion No. 1 applies to Motions Nos. 2 and 3.

I will now submit Motions Nos. 1 to 3 to the House.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Albina Guarnieri Mississauga East, ON

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-251, in the title, be amended by restoring the title thereof as follows:

“An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (cumulative sentences)”

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-251, in Clause 1, be amended by restoring Clause 1 thereof as follows:

“1. Section 271 of the Criminal Code is amended by adding the following after subsection (1):

(2) A sentence imposed on a person for an offence under subsection (1) shall be served consecutively to any other punishment imposed on the person for an offence arising out of the same event or series of events and to any other sentence to which the person is subject at the time the sentence is imposed on the person for an offence under subsection (1).”

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-251, in Clause 2, be amended by restoring Clause 2 thereof as follows:

“2. Section 120 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):

(2.1) The portion of a sentence of imprisonment for life that a person who has been convicted of first degree murder or second degree murder must serve before the person may be released on full parole is, subject to subsection (2.2), that provided for in section 745 or 745.1 of the Criminal Code and, in addition, where the person is under another sentence of imprisonment in respect of another offence arising out of the same event or series of events or under any other sentence at the time the sentence of imprisonment for life is imposed on the person, the lesser of one third of any other sentence of imprisonment and seven years.

(2.2) Where a person is sentenced to a term of imprisonment for life for first degree murder or second degree murder after being sentenced to a term of imprisonment for life in respect of another first degree murder or second degree murder not arising out of the same event or series of events, the portion of the sentence that the person must serve before the person may be released on full parole is that provided for in section 745 or 745.1 of the Criminal Code and shall be added to the portion of the sentence that the person must serve under that section in respect of the other conviction for first degree murder or second degree murder.”

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to restore a private member's bill that seeks consecutive sentencing for multiple murderers and rapists.

For months and years I have been working with colleagues from all parties to demonstrate to parliament and to the public at large exactly how our rampant system of concurrent sentencing deprives Canadians of justice.

We know that 90% of Canadians polled by Pollara last year agreed that multiple murderers and multiple rapists should receive consecutive rather than concurrent sentencing. I believe that Canadians support consecutive sentencing because Canadians think that every victim should receive some measure of justice and that every victim should count in the sentencing equation where rape or murder is involved.

It is because of those victims and the many, many families of victims I have met over three years that I have chosen not to accept the dismissal of Bill C-251 by any committee or subcommittee without a final vote in the House of Commons.

I have also been encouraged by the continuous support of so many members who have shown that they care most about the impact of laws on victims and families. They have proven that it is possible for members from all sides of the House to put partisanship aside and work together to achieve a real improvement in our justice system.

I must also thank the many members of my own party who have gone to great lengths to support this initiative in the House and in caucus. Without their efforts this bill would have died long ago.

I have listened carefully to the advice of my colleagues who support the bill but I have also listened just as carefully to colleagues who do not support my bill. I have listened and I have learned that there is indeed a virtual consensus among MPs on one point, that being that the current system of automatic concurrent sentences for murder and virtually automatic concurrent sentencing for rape is wrong and must be changed.

What remains is a debate on the extent of judicial discretion. I have heard colleagues say that they are not against consecutive sentencing but they are against mandatory consecutive sentencing, that they want to let judges decide what sentence should be imposed.

As all members well know, judges have no discretion to impose consecutive sentencing for murder. A concurrent sentence must always apply no matter what the circumstance. So we have no judicial discretion in the courts today on this point. The law is that the second murder victim does not count regardless of what a judge may think.

I believe that the second murder or sexual assault victim should always count. We should not continue to send a message to multiple murderers and rapists that the number of victims does not matter. That is wrong and dangerous.

However, in my estimation, our priority must be to change the current system and its mandatory bulk rate for murder to provide at least for a judge to be able to impose consecutive sentencing for murder, something that they cannot do right now. I have agreed to support an amendment to my bill to provide the judicial discretion sought by my colleagues.

The amendment submitted by the member for Leeds—Grenville will provide full judicial discretion as to whether a concurrent or consecutive sentence should apply for murder. This will give a judge the latitude to give the next Paul Bernardo a sentence that denies him parole for 25 years for the first murder and up to 25 years for the second murder.

The alternative is to maintain the current system where multiple murderers face not even the possibility of an incremental sentence for additional murders. The status quo is not acceptable to the majority of Canadians

In terms of sexual assault, even the most prolific multiple rapist of the 1990s received concurrent sentences. These discounts were given because concurrent sentencing has become the norm from which judges are shy to deviate. A second amendment to my bill also submitted by the member for Leeds—Grenville proposes to maintain judicial discretion but present consecutive sentencing as the standard.

Under this provision judges must provide oral and written reasons based on a set of criteria as to why they offered concurrent rather than consecutive sentences in a particular case. I believe this is a significant and positive change from the current law and one which will provide more justice for women and children who fall victim to sexual predators in this country.

With these amendments, Bill C-251 boils down to one single question. Do members of this House support the status quo of automatic concurrent sentences for all multiple murderers and virtually automatic concurrent sentences for all multiple sex offenders?

I ask members to end the hopelessness of that injustice and the anguish it causes to the victims and the families of victims. I ask members to look on the amended Bill C-251 as a measured advance toward fairness and proportionality in sentencing with all the safeguards that complete judicial discretion can offer.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Jordan Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the tremendous amount of work she has done on this bill. Although she spoke very eloquently on the emotional side of this issue, I am going to speak on the technical side and it will not be quite as interesting.

I want to move the following amendments. I move, seconded by the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough:

That Motion No. 2 be amended by replacing subsection (2) with the following:

Sentences to be served consecutively

(2) Subject to subsections (3) and (4), a sentence imposed on a person for an offence under subsection (1) shall be served consecutively to any other sentence for an offence under subsection (1) or section 272 or 273 to which the person is subject at the time the sentence is imposed on the person for an offence under subsection (1), unless the judge who sentences the person is satisfied that the serving of that sentence consecutively would be inconsistent with the principles of sentencing contained in sections 718 to 718.2 of the Criminal Code, in which case the judge may order that the sentence be served concurrently.

Factors to be considered

(3) In deciding whether to make an order under subsection (2) the court shall have regard to:

(a) the nature of the offence;

(b) the circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence;

(c) the degree of physical or emotional harm suffered by the victim arising from the commission of the offence;

(d) whether the offender abused a position of trust, power or authority in the commission of the offence;

(e) the criminal record of the offender; and

(f) the attitude of the offender respecting the offence committed by the offender.

Reasons

(4) Where the court makes an order under subsection (3), the court shall give both oral and written reasons for that order.

That Motion No. 3 be amended by replacing subsection (2.2) with the following:

Subsequent murder conviction

(2.2) Subject to subsections (2.3), (2.4) and (2.5), where a judge sentences a person to a term of imprisonment for life for first degree murder or second degree murder and the person is at the time the sentence is imposed, subject to a sentence of imprisonment for life for another first degree murder or second degree murder, the judge may order that the person shall, in addition to the parole ineligibility period referred to in section 745 or 745.1 of the Criminal Code to which the person is subject in respect of the conviction for the other first degree murder or second degree murder or the remaining portion of that period, as the case may be, serve on the expiry of that period or remaining portion of that period, a further period not exceeding twenty-five years in respect of the first degree murder or second degree murder for which the judge is sentencing the person.

Further periods to be served consecutively

(2.3) Where a person is required to serve more than one further parole ineligibility period referred to in subsection (2.2), the periods shall be served consecutively, but in no case shall total period of parole ineligibility exceed 50 years.

Factors

(2.4) In deciding whether to order a further period of parole ineligibility under (2.2) and in deciding the length of that period, the sentencing judge shall have regard to whether the total period of parole ineligibility would adequately denounce the murder and whether it would adequately acknowledge the harm done to the victim.

Reasons

(2.5) Where the court does not make an order under subsection (2.3), the court shall, orally and in writing, explain why it did not make that order.

I think the amendments bring in the judicial discretion that was one of the hurdles to this bill. Hopefully members will find that they adequately bring balance to this bill and that they can support them.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Debate is on the amendment.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Reform

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-251 calls for anyone convicted of sexual assault to serve that sentence consecutively to any other sentence. It also calls for consecutive parole ineligibility periods for those who commit multiple or serial murders.

The current discretion judges have to impose consecutive sentences for sex offenders is unacceptable. Consecutive sentences for these offences should be mandatory. One of my motions in the House as a new member of parliament was along the same lines as Bill C-251.

My motion M-23 calls for the House to provide that in cases where an accused person is convicted of multiple criminal offences, that person should receive consecutive sentences. My motion at that time was even broader and tougher than the scope of Bill C-251.

We on this side of the House have been calling for truth in sentencing for many years. Without truth in sentencing we lose confidence in our criminal justice system, and the justice minister admitted that in this House.

Bernardo brutally killed two people. Clifford Olson committed multiple murders. We feel that these individuals should serve multiple consecutive sentences. Justice must be done and seen to be done.

Today with the passage of this bill, criminals would know that when they commit crimes they will serve the time. We must hold criminals accountable and punish them for all the crimes they commit. We must make a difference in the punishment for one murder versus more than one murder.

We should all support the bill for at least it is a start. It is a long way from providing sufficient protection within our communities.

We should be looking through the lens of issues and not through the lens of political stripes. We should support any member of the House when he or she is doing the right thing. On this side of the House we are allowed to do that and we expect the same courtesy from the government side as well.

Today, I was pleased to swap my speaking spot with the hon. Liberal member so he could move the amendment on this important bill.

My will end my comments now because my constituents of Surrey Central do not want to hold this bill up for one more minute. The people who elected me to represent them in the House want me to do everything I can to get tough on crime. We believe that consecutive sentences for consecutive crimes is very fair. If they do the crime, they will do the time.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in the debate. I am also very pleased to support the efforts of the hon. member who moved this particular motion and who has been so diligent in her pursuit of this particular issue. Her perseverance is certainly noted by Canadians, by victims and by those who work closely in the justice system.

There are a number of quick facts that I want to bring to the attention of members present and the Canadian public with respect to the effects of consecutive versus concurrent sentencing.

After being convicted of a savage and sadistic murder of three teenage girls in the 1990s, Mr. Bernardo was sentenced to receive three concurrent life sentences. This individual, although subject to dangerous offender provisions, under the old sections could apply for judicial review of his sentence in the year 2008. He would be eligible for day release in the year 2015, after taking three lives.

Clifford Olson is currently serving 11 concurrent life sentences. He will not spend one extra day in jail than if he had taken only one life.

Pedophile John Roby had been convicted of 35 counts of sexually abusing children. The victims' families were shocked to learn that, after being convicted to 27 counts of sexual assault on children, Mr. Roby was sentenced to a two year prison term. After several other victims came forward, the Ontario Court of Appeal, in its wisdom, did increase the sentence but only to five years.

In 1995 serial killer John Martin Crawford was charged with three counts of first degree murder and he will be eligible for parole after 15 years under the old faint hope clause, again, an abominable section of our Criminal Code.

In 1977 there were 296,737 violent crimes committed in Canada. Included in that number were 581 homicides. These are telling statistics. Just imagine if these murderers realized that they could continue to take lives of victims without any fear of a stronger punishment, which is the current situation. Parliament is ultimately encouraging, as the hon. member has repeated time and time again, volume discounts with respect to the most high end, most serious and heinous crimes in the country.

To that end, the perception is what is sometimes most important, the feeling among the criminal element that the justice system will not react in an appropriate and proportional way.

In 1994 a top Italian judge made this commentary on Canada's justice system. He stated that Canada is becoming a haven for organized crime due largely to Canada's lenient judicial system.

Bill C-251 passed second reading by a vote of 81 to 3 in the House. This is an overwhelming majority with respect to a piece of legislation such as this. This particular bill then proceeded on to the justice committee where it was gutted by the Liberal majority on that committee. I would suggest that this is an affront to parliament because certainly this shows a lack of respect for the original will that was passed in the House.

The Department of the Solicitor General has released statistics that show that a released child molester who targets male victims had a 77% recidivism rate. For 100 of those largely repeat offenders who are released that is 77 more young lives that could be shattered as a result of repeat offences.

This particular debate taking place today is the third incarnation of what have been many years of diligent effort and perseverance on the part of my hon. colleague from Mississauga East. The House has displayed in the past a lack of courage to approach this type of legislation. The House can be assured that it will be proposed again and again unless the House fulfils its responsibilities to the victims of repeat offenders.

Many critics of the bill will look south of the border, point to the United States and say that consecutive sentences do not reduce crime. However, many will also recognize, including the hon. member opposite, that crime rates will go down with respect to the perpetration of crime by those specific individuals who would be sentenced to longer periods of incarceration if the bill were to pass.

Canada's obligation is to ensure the protection of its citizens first and foremost. The rudimentary principles of justice dictate that a judge take into consideration issues such as general and specific deterrents. Reformation and rehabilitation, of course, always play a part of it. Deterrents and denunciation is often whispered in the halls of justice. It is not something that individuals seem quick to discuss. However, the protection of the public is the primary duty and obligation of those tasked with enforcement of law in the country.

The rate of violent crime has increased by an average of 4% every year from 1978 to 1993. It is now 400% higher in the country than it was in the 1960s. There has, however, been a slight decline of 3% between 1993 and 1994. According to victimization studies undertaken by Statistics Canada, in 1993 24% of all adult Canadians were victims of at least one criminal act within the preceding 12 months. Canadians are 50% more likely than Europeans and 500% more likely than Japanese to be victims of burglary, assault, sexual offences or robbery. This comes from Statistics Canada, 1993, CCJS, Juristat , Vol. 14, No. 17, 1994 edition.

According to a 1996 Pollara survey which was conducted independently by the hon. member for Mississauga East, 90% of Canadians support this legislative initiative in some incarnation. That number also includes the support of the Canadian Police Association, the victims resource centre spokesman Steve Sullivan and other interested groups.

The entire issue of consecutive versus concurrent sentencing has received a great deal of debate in this place. The principle is quite simple. There are very strict guidelines that direct judges in the country currently with respect to the imposition of sentencing. Proportionality is something that must always be kept in mind. Judges do not have a cookie cutter approach when they are faced with the imposition of a sentence.

The hon. member in this legislation has increased discretion on the part of a judge. A judge is not mandated by this legislation to impose a consecutive sentence; a judge is however in extremely aggravated circumstances in a situation at the high end of violence with repeat connotations of sexual assault or violence. In those instances why would we hesitate to put into the hands of a judge the discretion to respond in a more appropriate and proportionate fashion? Why would we shirk that responsibility?

The hon. member has brought this matter forward. She has been extremely patient with her own government in putting water with the wine when it came to amendments to this bill. She does have the support of many on the opposition side and I suggest many on the government side. She has also expressed quite fairly and accurately in her statements here today that this is a matter that should be put to a vote.

The democratic will should be expressed on an issue of such great importance. A vote would be the expression of the democratic will of parliament. Without it, it will not reflect the democratic will of the people of Canada.

Concurrent sentences ignore the individuality and the pain and violation that is suffered by victims of crime. A specific recognition of each crime, of each victim is what this legislation seeks to achieve. Violence must be met by the state with strength. This bill allows the state to respond appropriately in very limited circumstances where high end violence is at the centre of the court proceedings.

That is what this bill seeks to do. It puts greater discretion forward. Why would we not want to put the trust in the hands of our judiciary to exercise that discretion appropriately? We are infinitely aware in this place of the checks and balances and the safeguards that do exist with respect to courts of appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. Let us not miss this opportunity today to bring this legislation to a point where a vote will occur, where the expression of the people of Canada will be heard.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

1:55 p.m.

Brossard—La Prairie
Québec

Liberal

Jacques Saada Parliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, this bill has some extremely important human implications.

I would like to begin by reading a very short quote from a brief presented to the committee studying Bill C-251. It says, in substance:

“We cannot rely exclusively on the sentence in finding just the right number of years to satisfy what can never be satisfied fully and certainly not in a courtroom or a penitentiary. No number of years, be they 25, 50 or 150 or more can return a loved one nor restore innocence”.

This quote is from the Church Council on Justice and Corrections.

Having said that, the amendments we are discussing today came along very late, and we could have done with a little more time to examine them in depth in order to make informed decisions.

I would prefer to speak, if I may, of the underlying principles that guide me, as well as of certain myths that need to be done away with. Then at the end I shall indicate my support or non-support of this bill.

First of all, let us deal with the myths. We often hear it said that life sentences are not life sentences. This is false. A life sentence means that the inmate will never again be free in his entire lifetime.

There is much reference made to the Bernardo and Olson cases. People seem to forget that there have already been amendments made to the Criminal Code to deal with this type of problem. Section 745.6 of the Criminal Code does not authorize a judicial review for such cases.

Obviously, the present Criminal Code allows judges to impose consecutive sentences. They have that latitude. Judges already take recidivism into account. Do they take it sufficiently into account? Should they accord more importance to it? Are there messages that should be sent? All this is possible, but, technically, these tools are already in the hands of the judiciary.

Another popular myth is that the Canadian justice system is not very tough. Our justice system is the toughest, after the United States, of all comparable nations. I am thinking of France, Great Britain, Japan, Australia, and so on. We have the second toughest justice system of all these countries.

For example, the average time someone sentenced to life spends incarcerated—meaning behind bars—is over 28 years. This puts us second behind the United States.

I am not passing a value judgment. I am not saying that this is good or bad. I am merely pointing out the facts. This is how it is.

In the United States, mandatory consecutive sentencing is not working. Like me, members have probably read the article in Time magazine. This was not for sex-related crimes. It was for drugs in particular. The principle was the same.

The title in question is “A get tough policy that failed”. Mandatory sentencing was once America's law and order panacea. Here is why it is not working.

I am pleased to see that the amendments proposed today include a return to judicial discretion and a departure from this kind of automatism. I would like to explain why I think this is important.

First, I will speak to judicial discretion. Canada's first Criminal Code, in 1892, already gave judges discretionary power. This power still exists today. I am referring to section 718.3(4) of the Criminal Code.

Judges must give reasons for their decisions. This means that the public has access to the reasons on which the judge based his or her decision whether or not to impose consecutive sentences. It is important to maintain judiciary discretion because, if judges do not want to do it, it will be done by the crown attorneys, who are not required to make their reasons public. Therefore, it is important that judiciary discretion be maintained.

Automatic sentences would be more or less like having the sentence determined by a computer. A person would feed all the data regarding the circumstances of a crime into the computer and it would indicate what sentence must be imposed. That is why I am against automatic sentences. I believe an amendment was put forward to change that. I am looking forward to reviewing it in detail.

Before deciding whether I will support this new version, I will need to make sure that nothing will get in the way of judiciary discretion.

I will need to make sure that nothing in this bill will perpetuate the myths I mentioned a few moments ago.

I will need to make sure that this bill is consistent with the charter as well as with the decisions already handed down by the supreme court with regard to offences to which this bill applies.

In short, I will need to make sure that this bill is consistent and that it is fair to victims while recognizing the fact that justice does not mean revenge, but correction and justice.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Mississauga East for bringing such an important question to the attention of parliament.

I believe that parliamentarians should thank her for the way she introduced the debate and presented things. I am extremely happy to say that our colleague did so very subtly and with all the delicacy such questions require.

There is one thing in my career as member of parliament that I will never forget. It was an event that occurred in 1995 in Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, a few feet from my office, when a 13-year old child was killed as the result of an explosion in a car bombing.

I agree with the parliamentary secretary, who said the last thing we need as parliamentarians in considering these issues is to be revengeful or bitter. I do not think that was the case with our colleague when she introduced the bill before us.

She is right to remind us that there are provisions in the Criminal Code—and I am thinking specifically of section 718.3—containing guidelines for the imposition of cumulative sentences.

However, I would like those watching us today to understand we are discussing a private member's bill. It is the prerogative of all members of the House of Commons to initiate debates on issues of concern to their voters.

I hope we have this debate. I have not yet decided whether I will vote in favour or against the bill, but I can tell the member that I am very moved by her arguments. I have in fact asked for a meeting with her in her office next week so we may discuss matters further, and I do not exclude the possibility of supporting her initiative.

I belong to a political party that believes fundamentally in the value of rehabilitation. Clearly, the Bloc Quebecois, its justice critic, the member for Berthier—Montcalm, and all those in the Bloc caucus believe in rehabilitation.

There are times in life when inappropriate behaviour occurs and petty criminals commit offences that must be sanctioned, but at the same time we want the legislator to put resources at the disposal of people who, through a community involvement that begins with the assistance provided by health care professionals, will firmly embark on a rehabilitation process.

I also realize, as the hon. member for Mississauga East pointed out, that there are people for whom rehabilitation will not work. Rehabilitation is not an option in the case of serial killers or rapists.

I am grateful to the hon. member for Mississauga East for reminding us that her bill applies only to a very small percentage of criminals. I believe she said 1%.

Still, it is important to hold this debate, because when some individuals in a community destroy the lives of others through their actions we have a right to expect the judiciary, the various courts of law, including the supreme court, to make fair rulings.

My understanding is that, with her bill, the hon. member seeks to provide greater flexibility to the courts and the judges so that when they deem it appropriate they will have the power to issue a verdict commensurate with the offence that was committed.

I know that my party will discuss these issues. Again, I am grateful to the hon. member for assuming her role of parliamentarian and making us aware of these important issues. I can assure her that all Bloc Quebecois members will give very objective and serious consideration to her bill.

As for what happens later, I am certain that, as a parliamentary team, we will be the most respectful of her intentions and the most respectful of what we are as a party, which is to say a party that is well aware that there is an extremely small number of people for whom rehabilitation does not make any sense. They represent perhaps 1% of those who are criminalized. It is therefore important that judges be able to take this into account in their verdicts.

We will at all times remind others, as the member for Bertier—Montcalm has done, as all of my colleagues who are taking part in the proceedings of the standing committee on justice have done, that the great challenge we face is also to make ourselves available, to call on this parliament and on provincial legislatures to allocate resources for those who stand to benefit from rehabilitation.

In the second hour of debate we will again be able to take a look at this bill. Again, we are deeply indebted to the member for taking her parliamentary duties so seriously.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Is the House ready for the question?

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

I will first put the question on the amendment of the member for Leeds—Grenville to Motion No. 2 standing in the name of the member for Mississauga East and following that I will put the question on the amendment of the member for Leeds—Grenville to Motion No. 3 standing in the name of the member for Mississauga East.

The question is on the amendment to Motion No. 2. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the recorded division stands deferred until Monday, May 31, 1999, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

We will now proceed to Motion No. 3. The question is on the amendment to Motion No. 3. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Criminal Code
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the recorded division stands deferred until Monday, May 31, 1999, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.

It being 2.18 p.m., this House stands adjourned until Monday next at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2.18 p.m.)