House of Commons Hansard #173 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was mace.

Topics

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, since I spoke earlier on a different section of the bill I have had a lot of entertainment come my way. It is not all sadness in here. I boarded the plane yesterday to fly back and I always get on at a small airport where everyone knows me. One of the security officers said, “Check that man for gophers”. Everybody knew that one.

There is a lot of humour coming from the phone calls and the letters that I have received. I want to share some of that with the House because it shows that people living between the Red River and the Rockies do not understand the problem. One kind lady phoned me and asked what those gophers eat. I told her they eat grass and they love crops. I said they really like chickpeas. She said that was the answer. All we had to do was sew chickpeas around each field and herd all of the gophers over there. I thought to herd gophers would be like trying to herd a bunch of cats. Herding gophers gives the House some idea as to what people know about the events that are taking place.

The most interesting comment came from an e-mail from a chap in Vancouver. He said those gophers do the people out there a lot of good as they loosen and aerate the soil. I said, “Are you kidding me?” He was dead serious about it.

When I was driving to the airport I heard that somebody at the University of Manitoba said that these pesky critters do a lot of good. Someone said that they eat mice. That may be true, I do not know. I will tell the House that I rode hundreds of miles on horseback with a horseback view of gophers and mice out in the grass and I have yet to see a gopher eat a mouse. I rode miles and miles around fields on a tractor. I have watched gulls and different things pick up mice but I have never seen a gopher eat a mouse. I have pulled those old wooden granaries with a tractor and underneath were mice and gophers living in good friendship with one another. After arriving this morning I decided to phone people who are older than I am and I could not find anyone who could ever remember seeing a gopher eating a mouse.

Everyone agrees that people who do things like my hon. colleague talked about, such as dropping a cat out of a window and so on, should be punished. The problem with the bill is who is it that would determine what is wilful and reckless. Who would determine that?

On the weekend we had a trade show. I had walked around for a while and a former student of mine related an incident. The raccoons have moved into our area. I guess I should have known but I was not aware that they could entice a dog down to a pond or a dugout and could drown the dog. They do that by attacking and turning the dog over so that it cannot swim. The raccoon is a beautiful swimmer. I asked what he did. He said that he was not too far for a shot and let one go. He got one raccoon and the dog freed himself and then he got the other one. Was that a wilful and reckless act? Someone will have to determine whether it was or not? Someone will have to determine if a man trying to save his dog should be charged with a wilful or reckless act. I am not stretching the point here. I am not taking something totally out of context.

We talk of any animal having the capacity to feel pain.

Alberta is the only province in Canada that brags that it is rat free. How does it keep itself rat free? It uses a poison. That poison causes the animal to literally bleed to death internally. Are we going to take away the most effective poison we have ever had? That is a good question.

A call came in from a lady who had a 4-H goat problem. She was at the 4-H day at the fair in Armstrong, B.C., where she was giving a demonstration of trimming the goats' hooves. When I was a boy I used to like to watch the farriers trimming the horses' hooves. Every once in a while they would get too close and they would draw blood. That is what happened this day. The lady was showing them how to trim the hooves. The goat moved a bit and she got a little into the meat and drew blood. She was just swarmed by people saying “Look at that. Trimming the hooves is cruelty to animals”.

This wide open bill has gone too far. I would like to quote what has been said in the House by members opposite:

--what is lawful today in the course of legitimate activities would be lawful when the bill receives royal assent.

I would like to believe that, I really would, but if that is the case let us not be saying “read my lips”. We must put those words into the bill. Every agricultural organization, from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture right down the line, would drop their defence. That is what they want to hear but it is not in the bill.

I ask this question: who decides what act constitutes cruelty? Many people have seen horse pulls. Some would say that is cruel. Some say that the rodeo activity of roping a calf is cruel. Some say bulldogging is cruel. Who will make those decisions? Is it going to be written in the bill or is a lobby group going to decide?

I want to close with these words that I hope will be forever ingrained in the members who vote for the bill. Criminal laws in the hands of special interest groups, to destroy legitimate farming and related food production, is the entire fear of the industry. Let me repeat that if members are going to allow the whims of the animal rights groups to decide the penalties and decide what is cruel, members are putting in jeopardy the entire industry, from ranching to furs and everything else.

It must be put in the bill. It must be put in the bill that those things which are legitimate and used in animal husbandry now will not be changed with the bill. If it is put it in the bill, the entire agricultural industry will support it.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to speak on the subamendment brought forward by the member for Selkirk--Interlake and seconded by the member for Medicine Hat. I think the amendment is realistic. It is a good amendment. There are substantial issues that need to be discussed in the course of bringing this back to the committee, but I think in fairness there needs to be some time limit on this issue.

Every day new issues arise in respect of the bill which warrant the committee looking at this offence. One of the matters that was just raised with me, and I think it is a very significant issue, is the issue of rights of private citizens in respect of initiating prosecutions. As we know, through Bill C-15A there will be a new system. This new system will set up a screening mechanism before a judge. A judge will determine whether the offence in fact should be brought forward to the court.

It has been said by members opposite that the whole nature of the hearing that takes place is that it will be just a summary hearing. It will be a complainant going before a judge to show the evidence. As members know, that kind of arrangement would violate not only our charter of rights but even our basic rules governing natural and fundamental justice. We cannot go into a hearing and say to a judge that we believe there is sufficient evidence in order for this matter to go to hearing. It is the same way that a preliminary hearing used to take place or still does. An information is sworn. The matter is brought before a judge. A judge, on hearing from both the prosecutor and the defence, if the defence wants to submit evidence although there is no requirement for it to do so, will make that determination.

What we have now is a brand new preliminary hearing process that will complicate this proceeding. Those who say that this proceeding will now act as an effective screen to prevent people from having to go to court do not understand the nature of this process, nor do they understand the determination of radical animal rights groups to prosecute individuals.

We must remember, with all respect, that these groups do not have to worry about whether or not there is a conviction. A farmer in my riding, a hunter and a fisherman and others involved in these businesses are under a lot of stress. I think is simply unfair for them to have to face a criminal prosecution.

The other interesting point that now has been drawn to my attention is that we want to make sure that criminal cruelty is treated very severely in respect of animals. I think everyone agrees with that. The Canadian Alliance does not, nor do any of the other opposition parties, I believe, have an objection to the increase in penalties. What we saw the other day in Toronto was quite a surprising decision. I do not know if anyone has had an opportunity to review that decision, but we had a judge commenting on the skinning and otherwise mutilating of a cat over a period of time. He indicated that this was not the worst way in which a cat could die. I am just wondering if that judge could tell the House, in further written reasons perhaps, what he thinks is the worst way a cat could die. I think this shows part of the problem. The problem is not that we do not want stiffer penalties for genuine acts of cruelty, but that the courts today are not imposing the sentences that are already available. In this case the court could have imposed a sentence of two and a half years. Essentially it was time served, and I believe it was house arrest.

What we are going through here is an exercise in futility if the courts themselves do not recognize the seriousness of this offence. If the government wants to get serious about penalties and genuine cruelty penalties, it must put in minimum sentences. However, all that is happening here is that this is just a political statement designed to placate the animal rights organizations, to say, look, we are increasing the penalties, we are taking this more seriously. Everyone involved in the courts knows that is simply a fiction. It will not happen. We have seen it in the case of impaired driving. We have seen it over and over again. Unless there are minimum sentences imposed, the courts do not respond to increases in penalties. It is as simple as that.

The more troubling thing, even more troubling than this decision that came out of Toronto from the judge who felt that being skinned was not the worst way for a cat to die, is what happens now when we create not just a summary conviction offence but a hybrid offence. Is this in fact an indictable offence, then, such that now a private citizen perhaps can arrest a person for walking a dog wearing a choke collar? Can the private citizen saying that this looks like cruel and unusual punishment for the dog, that there is no legal justification for using a choke collar? If the person is placed under arrest, what are the consequences?

I see that my time has almost expired. I will leave it at that for now.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member will have approximately three minutes remaining upon the resumption of this debate.

National Volunteer Week
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, this is National Volunteer Week. This is a special time set aside in April each year to honour the people who donate their time and energy to their fellow citizens.

In our constituencies and across Canada, much of our quality of life depends upon the commitment and service of volunteers. They are people of all ages helping their fellow citizens. Each individual volunteer makes a difference in Canadian lives. The importance of volunteers cannot be overstated.

Now more than ever, Canadians feel a need to strengthen their sense of community. Volunteering demonstrates the importance we place on communities, sharing and mutual responsibility, core Canadian values.

Experience matters. That is the theme for National Volunteer Week 2002, highlighting volunteering as a way to gain and give the benefits of experience. National Volunteer Week will conclude with the worldwide celebration of global youth service days from April 26 to 28.

Organ Donation Awareness Week
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is Organ Donation Awareness Week, a time to reflect once again on the gift of life and how we can share that gift with others.

Four thousand Canadians are on waiting lists for organs and tissues, each one with their own hopes, dreams and fears. Many will die unless Canadians do their part and sign their organ donation cards. One donor with healthy organs can save the lives of nine people.

The need for organs and tissues is expected to increase manyfold over the next two decades. The supply will not keep up unless Canadians rally to the cause. All of us should do our part, if only because we never know when we could need a transplant. The lives saved by increasing the number of organ and tissue donors in Canada could be our own.

I would ask members to wear a green ribbon, attend the celebration on the Hill on Wednesday afternoon and, most important, sign up for the gift of life.

Infrastructure
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Friday the Secretary of State responsible for Economic Development Canada announced financial assistance in excess of $1.6 million from the Government of Canada for urban infrastructure projects in the new city of Gatineau.

This assistance will make it possible to carry out phase one of the revitalization of the Connor Building, which has been vacant since 1995. It will be converted to a multisport and cultural centre for the Hull sector of Gatineau.

This project will greatly improve local, even regional, recreation infrastructures, because there is no building in the Outaouais region at the present time where soccer can be played year-round.

After the renovations, the Connor building will be able to accommodate numerous competitions,on the regional, provincial and Canadian levels, international as well. As well, a number of educational institutions will be able to use the building facilities for school and extracurricular activities. It will also be able to accommodate major events, such as the Salon du livre de l'Outaouais.

This is one more practical example of our government in action to enhance the quality of life of Canadians.

The Environment
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Paddy Torsney Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is Earth Day, a day when all Canadians can take up the challenge to reduce their impact on the environment. Each of us can take a look today, and during this week, at our own personal actions, perform a little audit and make some positive changes. The sum total of all of our human activities combined will have a major impact on our environment.

In the last few decades many of us have at one time or another reduced our waste and reduced the energy we consume as gas prices rose. In the last few years we have thought more about our influence on the quality of the air we breathe and the water we so desperately need for sustenance.

We are the ones who can make a difference. We must all make some effort by continuing to reduce, reuse and recycle, use composters, walk, ride and turn off the tap while we brush our teeth.

Many Earth Day events have taken place across the country over this past weekend. In Burlington some 250 people picked up litter and made a difference in their own local environment. Let us think globally, act locally and we can all get there.

Skills Canada
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, on April 12 I had the pleasure of attending the annual Skills Canada Yukon competition in Whitehorse. Young people of Yukon gathered to demonstrate their skills in competitions related to careers in trades and technologies. Trades and technologies are instrumental for the future of our nation.

Skills Canada, a non-profit volunteer organization, is fulfilling a critical role in promoting career choices for young Canadians whose skills and talents will be so important to our workforce and economy. To the hon. Minister of Human Resources Development and the department I offer my congratulations and enthusiastic support for the sponsorship of Skills Canada.

I extend my best wishes to all the provincial and territorial teams who will be joining team Yukon for the annual Canadian skills competition in Vancouver on May 30.

The Environment
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gary Lunn Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, today is international Earth Day. How is our government responding?

The Liberal government's response to environmental issues is to pursue photo ops that ultimately do nothing. Our Prime Minister sent negotiators to Kyoto to beat the Americans. They were not there to get a workable deal. They were there only to one-up Uncle Sam. The environment and the economy were both secondary.

Kyoto's effect on the environment and on the economy is unknown. The minister's own estimates have gone from $5 billion to $15 billion. Industry suggests the number is likely $60 billion. The Canadian Alliance is committed to preserving our natural environment and a healthy economy. We can achieve both.

According to the OECD the most prosperous countries have the highest degree of environmental sustainability. Our government needs to stop pursuing cameras and start pursuing solutions.

Billy Green
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Tony Valeri Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, recent polls, studies and articles have illustrated the lack of historical knowledge in Canada. It has been disappointing.

I would like to share with the House the remarkable story of Billy Green, an unknown to some but an important hero from our past. At the age of 19 Green played a crucial and central role in the battle of Stoney Creek during the War of 1812. After coming across a camp of American troops in June of 1813 he ran many miles to inform the British at Burlington Heights. Green then led the British ambush, routing the Americans and forcing their retreat.

I believe that it is the role of the national government to support the promotion of Canadian history. Sadly, obstacles still remain in the way. It is time for the national government to fund the production of stories like Billy Green's. It is time to embrace our unknown past.

Earth Day
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, today is the 32nd Earth Day. Celebrated by 500 million people every year, this year Earth Day is placed under the sign of water in keeping with the United Nations, which declared 2003 International Year of Freshwater.

It is believed that by 2025, two thirds of humanity will be in a situation of moderate or severe water scarcity.

The Bloc Quebecois' youth forum held a conference on sustainable development entitled “Cap sur l'avenir” two weeks ago, which was a great success. There were some wonderful ideas, and a number of possibilities for solutions were discussed. The Bloc Quebecois is committed to translating it all into real solutions.

As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “We have not inherited the world from our parents, we have borrowed it from our children”.

Marion Cunningham
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to belatedly congratulate a constituent of Ottawa--Vanier who recently celebrated her 100th birthday.

Marion Cunningham was born on April 10, 1902, in Ottawa where she spent her entire life. She grew up on what is now known as Laurier Avenue and moved a few times within Sandy Hill. She attended the Ottawa Ladies College in the Glebe. She raised five children, Ed, Claire, Corinne, Bill and Diane, and has 10 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. She has been a long-time member of St. Joseph's Parish.

Her career was spent in the federal public service, during which time she worked as an administrative officer within the Indian and northern affairs department. She also worked at the time as a secretary to the deputy minister. She retired in Canada's centennial year 1967 and 35 years later we celebrate another centennial, hers.

It is my great pleasure to belatedly wish Mrs. Cunningham a very happy 100th birthday.

Firefighters
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in the House of Commons to offer my most sincere appreciation to the firefighters in my riding of Skeena.

Last week the city of Terrace and district of Kitimat honoured those firefighters who have faithfully served their communities for many years. We all owe firefighters a great debt of gratitude and it is only in light of the events following September 11 that many have come to truly appreciate the full scope of what their jobs encompass.

As with most smaller towns and cities, many firefighters in my riding are employed at other full time occupations and are called upon to put their own safety aside to respond to life threatening fires and accidents.

It is with extreme pleasure that I acknowledge those individuals honoured with the award for longstanding service, for their dedication, strength, courage and professionalism as they serve and protect the public with honour and pride. On behalf of the residents of the riding of Skeena I offer them our thanks.

Armenia
Statements By Members

April 22nd, 2002 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Brampton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, in an article in The Globe and Mail on April 18, the Turkish government has threatened legal action against the producers of world renowned Canadian film director Atom Egoyan's film Ararat if the film asserts that Turkey was guilty of genocide against the Armenians that commenced on April 24, 1915.

The House has dedicated the week of April 20 to April 27 of each year as the week of remembrance of the inhumanity of people toward one another, in honour of the victims of the Armenian genocide as well as all other victims of crimes against humanity.

I call upon all members to join me in condemning any attempt by any government to control the freedom of artistic expression of a Canadian artist in general, and more specifically in this case relating to the historical facts of the first genocide of the 20th century.

The Environment
Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today on Earth Day to congratulate to all those people who dedicate their lives to the protection of our environment. I think of people like Monty Hummel of the World Wildlife Fund, David Suzuki of the David Suzuki Foundation, and Elizabeth May of the Sierra Club of Canada.

I am sure if those three people were sitting here right now they would advise the government of three things it can do right now to protect our environment: first, stop clear-cutting our forests; second, stop dragging the life out of our oceans; and third, clean up the Sydney tar ponds now. I would like to add my own on behalf of the New Democratic Party, ratify the Kyoto protocol and sign the law of the sea.

I wish to congratulate the hon. member for Windsor--St. Clair who has done yeoman's work on the environmental file. If it were not for people like him and the New Democratic Party our planet would be in even worse shape.

I congratulate all those people who celebrate Earth Day. Let us keep up the great work.