House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was park.

Topics

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to present this petition on behalf of some 30 citizens of the riding of Champlain, asking parliament to enact a legislation making mandatory the labeling of all food products which are genetically modified in whole or in part.

I take this opportunity to underline the excellent work of our colleague, the member for Louis-Hébert, on the issue of GMOs.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions signed by hundreds of constituents and people from all over Manitoba. They are very concerned about the state of our health care system and the lack of action on the part of the Liberal government to address the crisis that has now befallen our universal public health care system.

The sentiments of the petitioners were given some validity yesterday with the results of the byelection in Alberta where voters overwhelmingly said yes to the NDP and no to bill 11. The petitions that I table today say the same thing, that we should stop the cutbacks to health care, stand up against bill 11, save the Canadian public health care system, and stop the slide toward a two tier American style health care system in Canada.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Jean-Guy Chrétien Frontenac—Mégantic, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition urging the House of Commons to take a stand in order to bring an end to the dizzying increases in the price of gasoline.

The report on Radio-Canada, last night, proves without any doubt that the major refineries in Canada are abusing their monopoly position.

Therefore, it is my privilege to table this petition signed by a great number of citizens of the town of Thetford and the surrounding area.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to submit the following petition, signed by 381 citizens from Quebec, in particular from the riding of Verchères—Les-Patriotes, which I have the honour and the pleasure to represent in this House.

The petitioners point out first that it is impossible for consumers to protect themselves against the dizzying increases in the price of gasoline at the pump. They also point out that they are a captive clientele for oil products, since no alternative source of energy is presently available at a reasonable price.

Therefore, the petitioners urge parliament, as a first step, to pass a resolution to put an end to the actions of world petroleum cartels and, as a consequence, bring down the excessive prices of gasoline.

Finally, the petitioners ask parliament to invest sufficient money in research on alternative sources of energy, so that consumers will no be longer dependent on oil as their main source of energy.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the same vein, I would like to table a petition signed by hundreds of Quebecers asking that Parliament take action in order to counter excessive gas pricing.

Among other things, those Quebecers ask that adequate funding be allocated to research into alternative energy sources so that, in the near future, Canadians are no longer forced to turn to oil as a main energy source.

Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Lorne Nystrom Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition to present which was sent to me by people in Brandon, Manitoba, and a few folks in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. They ask the House to abolish the unelected Senate.

They say that the Senate is undemocratic, unelected, not accountable, costs Canadian taxpayers around $50 million per year, and undermines the authority of members of parliament. Therefore they ask us to begin the process of abolishing the Senate. Of course that is supported by my friend, the Liberal member from New Brunswick.

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

June 13th, 2000 / 10:15 a.m.

Scarborough—Rouge River
Ontario

Liberal

Derek Lee Parliamentary Secretary to Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

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

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions On The Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-18, an act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving causing death and other matters), as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

There is one motion in amendment listed in the notice paper at report stage of Bill C-18.

Motion No. 1 will be debated and voted on.

I will now put Motion No. 1 to the House.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Pierrette Venne Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-18 be amended by deleting Clause 2.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this amendment is to make the government realize that the Bloc Quebecois is opposed to Bill C-18. This bill will increase the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing death from 14 years to life imprisonment.

The Bloc Quebecois feels that the 14 year sentence currently provided under the Criminal Code is adequate and reflects the seriousness of the offence. We are simply proposing to delete clause 2 of this bill, which changes the penalty for that crime.

Bill C-18 gives us an opportunity to reflect on the appropriateness of a jail sentence. In doing so, we must first ask ourselves about the needs of the victim, of the offender and of the community once a crime has been committed.

Victims need to express what they went through and to receive compensation for the harm caused to them. They also need to have their rights upheld.

Offenders, on the other hand, need to understand their actions and to take responsibility for them. They should be given the opportunity to explain their action to the victim and also to change their behaviour.

The community also has needs that must be met. Those needs are more abstract, but they are just as important. The community wants to be protected from crimes. Sometimes, a token bid of restitution is necessary to repair the harm caused to the community. Doing community work is a good example of a measure that makes up for the prejudice caused by the offender to the community.

Are these needs met by imposing a jail sentence? I am tempted to say that they are not entirely met under the existing system and that they are sometimes not met at all.

The main reason for this situation is that the system pays more attention to the fact that a criminal act is perceived as a violation of a law, rather than as an action that causes a prejudice to the victim and to the community. Within this view of criminal justice we are seeking to punish the offender instead of trying to remedy the harm he has done to the victim.

The preferred way of punishing criminals these days seems to be imprisonment. We are stuck in our present approach for determining sentences and the reason we are is that we have no other means for responding to the needs of the community, the victim and the perpetrator.

The Bloc Quebecois does not see any way in which increasing to life imprisonment the 14 year sentence for impaired driving causing death can meet the needs of the community, the victim and the perpetrator.

The message the Bloc Quebecois is attempting to deliver here is not that imprisonment must never be used. We know that, under certain circumstances, there is no other solution but imprisonment to meet the needs of victims and the community.

The criminal code provides a maximum sentence of 14 years for impaired driving causing death, and we do not feel that increasing this to a life sentence will do anything more than punish for the sake of punishment.

As we have said on a number of occasions, the rate of imprisonment in Canada is the highest of all democratic countries in the west, with the exception of the United States. It has, moreover, been proven that not only do incarceration rates and sentence lengths do nothing to improve the rate of recidivism and the crime rate in general, but they sometimes have the opposite effect, and make it worse.

Nevertheless, we continue to incarcerate people and the federal prison population is increasing at a rate that points to a 50% rise within the next 10 years.

The adult correctional system cost some $2 billion in 1992.

It cost about $52,000 a year to keep one offender in prison, whereas it would have cost $10,000 to supervise an offender in the community. Where are we going with Bill C-18?

The minister is not addressing the problems coherently and is proposing a simplistic solution to the scourge of impaired driving.

I would like to conclude with an example to illustrate my remarks. I refer to the case of Kevin Hollinsky of Windsor, Ontario. The events of which date back to 1994.

This young man went with friends, as many adolescents will do, to a bar in downtown Windsor. On his way back, at the wheel of his 1985 Firebird, he and his friends tried to catch the attention of a group of girls in another car. Kevin Hollinsky was driving too fast and lost control of his car in a dangerous curve.

The consequences of these acrobatics were disastrous. Two of Kevin's friends died in the accident, two others were injured. Kevin himself was not hurt.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of dangerous driving causing death. For dissuasion purposes, the crown prosecutor sought a sentence of 8 to 14 months imprisonment, in order to teach a lesson to other young drivers.

Local police who worked on the case felt that a very clear message needed to be sent that impaired driving causing death would carry a jail sentence.

Kevin did not go to jail. This was because of the extraordinary actions of the parents of the two boys who were killed and a courageous and innovative judge, who dared to hand down a community service sentence instead.

Here is what was decided. With the co-operation of the Windsor police, a program was set up whereby Kevin would visit schools with what remained of his car to speak to students about the events of that tragic evening.

Kevin Hollinsky was sentenced to 750 hours of community service and met with 8,300 students in the course of this innovative program.

For anyone doubtful about the effectiveness of this sentence, I should mention that, during the summer following Kevin's presentations, no secondary school students were involved in any serious or fatal car collisions in the counties of Windsor or Essex.

A secondary school principal told the police that he was sure that this initiative would save lives. During his 30-year career as a teacher, he had never heard a talk that had such a powerful impact on students.

Admittedly the dissuasive effect would not have been the same if young Kevin had been given a jail sentence.

This case was appealed by the crown prosecutor. Let us not forget that the appeal courts have established that a jail sentence is appropriate in almost all cases of death resulting from a highway accident caused by gross negligence. In November 1995, after deliberating half an hour, three appeal court judges confirmed the initial sentence.

There are many people who have committed a serious crime for which jail is not necessary and could even be ineffective for the offender and for the real needs of the community. That is why the Bloc Quebecois is vigorously opposed to Bill C-18 and is proposing that clause 2 simply be dropped from the bill.

I urge all members of the House to reflect on the consequences of tougher sentences for impaired driving offences. I hope that the example I have given will convince them to support the Bloc Quebecois amendment.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Pat O'Brien London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I wonder if I could ask for the indulgence of the House to revert to routine business to allow me to present a unanimous committee report from the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there unanimous consent to revert to presentation of reports from committees?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.