House of Commons Hansard #64 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

An Act To Give Effect To The Requirement For Clarity As Set Out In The Opinion Of The Supreme Court Of Canada In The Quebec Secession Reference
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

An Act To Give Effect To The Requirement For Clarity As Set Out In The Opinion Of The Supreme Court Of Canada In The Quebec Secession Reference
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

All those opposed will please say nay.

An Act To Give Effect To The Requirement For Clarity As Set Out In The Opinion Of The Supreme Court Of Canada In The Quebec Secession Reference
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

An Act To Give Effect To The Requirement For Clarity As Set Out In The Opinion Of The Supreme Court Of Canada In The Quebec Secession Reference
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

In my opinion the nays have it.

And more than five members having risen:

An Act To Give Effect To The Requirement For Clarity As Set Out In The Opinion Of The Supreme Court Of Canada In The Quebec Secession Reference
Government Orders

5:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the amendment, which was negatived on the following division:)

Division No. 1162
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I and other hon. members who stood up and voted twice on that voted in favour of the amendment.

Division No. 1162
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Division No. 1162
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. Could other hon. members who voted twice please let me know who they are.

Division No. 1162
Government Orders

6:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Division No. 1162
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Charlotte, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. For the sake of clarity, I personally voted in favour of the amendment.

Division No. 1162
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the amendment lost.

The next question is on the main motion.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 1163
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

The House resumed from November 26, 1999 consideration of the motion that Bill C-223, an act to to amend the Witness Protection Program Act and to make a related and consequential amendment to another act (protection of spouses whose life is in danger), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Witness And Spousal Protection Program Act
Private Members' Business

March 15th, 2000 / 6:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The hon. member for Calgary Centre has eight minutes remaining.

Witness And Spousal Protection Program Act
Private Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Reform

Eric C. Lowther Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this very important bill, Bill C-223. For the clarification of the House, I want to drive home a point I was leading to when we last debated this private member's bill which was some time ago.

The bill focuses on protecting people who are in relationships when one person becomes violent and puts the other person at risk. The bill is an innovative and very needed approach to better protect spouses who are in abusive situations.

Under the HRDC ministry there is a new identities program. It is intended to give a new identity to a person who was in an abusive relationship so that the person can protect himself or herself and get away from that abusive situation and not be harassed and chased by the abusive partner.

The problem is that the current program in HRDC is on an ad hoc basis. It has been thrown together by some well meaning bureaucrats. It has no real mandate. It actually has no funding. Not surprisingly it has very limited structure. For people who have need of this kind of program, something that would protect them when an abusive partner is putting their lives and health at risk, it is obscure. It is hard to find out about it and to access it. It has had very limited application.

Bill C-223 intends to address the problem by moving the new identities program that is very loosely structured in HRDC over to the RCMP witness protection program. It already exists in Canada and is structured and funded. In a sense it would be a subprogram of the RCMP witness protection program.

By combining the new identities program within the witness protection program, participants would be registered with the police and under the direction of the commissioner of the RCMP. Participants would also benefit from the knowledge and expertise of the RCMP and the witness protection program. We have taken it from an obscure ad hoc program with no funding to something that is structured, already works and has the oversight of the RCMP. This is critical.

I can relate it to a story in my riding which involves a personal acquaintance of mine. We will call her Sally to protect her name. She is the mother of four children. She was married. Early in her marriage she realized that her husband—in this case it was the husband but it is not always the husband but I use this as an example—had become abusive to her. It got worse and worse. It got to the point where her life was literally at risk. Of course she had to remove herself from that situation but he pursued her and actually traumatized the children. It was a tragic story.

Eventually charges were laid. He was out on probation for a while. She lived in fear when she went shopping. Even at home at night sounds in the house would traumatize her because of the abusive nature of this relationship.

She went to the authorities. There was some limited support and guidance but there was not much she could do except sweat it out for well over a year. I think it was almost two years before charges were finally laid, a conviction resulted and the individual was incarcerated for a period of time. During that time she had some relative peace of mind. Of course he will get out one day and she will continue perhaps to live in the fear of being pursued by an abusive mate.

Bill C-223 as put forward by my hon. colleague would give a person like Sally some badly needed peace of mind.

It is essential that we put forward this kind of legislation. There are some statistics that will drive this point home. A simple change like this one would mean so much. It would save lives. Between 1977 and 1996 there were 2,048 spousal killings in Canada. In over 56% of spousal homicides, investigating police officers had knowledge of previous domestic violence between the victims and suspects. In 56% of the spousal killings, the police knew there was a problem.

It is just like the case of Sally to which I referred. She thankfully is alive and well at this point in time. I suggest to the House that she will stay that way, but 2,048 people—and they are not always women because it goes both ways, let me be clear on that—were killed by their spouses and the police knew about the situations.

In situations such as those, Bill C-223 would have allowed the individuals to apply to the RCMP witness protection program which would have under it the new identities program which is currently hard to access. They could have applied to that. They could have taken on a new identity and perhaps could have relocated. Details such as the cost of relocation would be worked out in the regulations, but certainly they could have had a new identity and could have established a life free from the threat of physical violence. Many people have actually died, but we would save lives with a simple fix to the structure that is in place today.

In that light I close by saying that it is time the new identities act be moved under the RCMP auspices. I encourage all members in the House to support this private member's bill. I encourage a speedy passage of Bill C-223.