House of Commons Hansard #65 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was offences.

Topics

Sex Offender Information Registration Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, my thanks to you and all colleagues in the House for assisting with the disposition of important business of the House.

Presently we are dealing with Bill C-23, an act respecting the registration of information relating to sex offenders, to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other acts. It is a very important bill: “The enactment requires that certain information about sex offenders be registered in a national database. This database is part of the automated criminal conviction records retrieval system maintained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It is intended to serve as a tool that will help police investigate crimes of a sexual nature by providing them with access to current and reliable information related to sex offenders”.

The enactment also amends the Criminal Code “to enable the Crown to apply for an order to require an offender who is convicted of, or found not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder for, certain offences to report regularly to the designated registration centre and provide information”. It also creates a new Criminal Code offence “for failure to comply with the order, as well as an offence for providing false or misleading information. The enactment regulates access to, and the use and disclosure of the information contained in the database and includes an offence for contravention of those provisions”.

We have spent time in this place discussing important matters related to children. Certainly Bill C-20, with regard to child pornography, and this bill are related in many regards. As hon. members know, this is an extremely important bill. It is a bill that deserves our utmost attention, as it deals with improving the safety of our children and other vulnerable Canadians. I am confident that this is an objective shared by all parliamentarians, both here and in the other place. Moreover, the bill responds to the resolution passed by the premiers in August 2001 calling for a national sex offender registration system.

Further, the minister told the House that his department would begin evaluating potential improvements to the CPIC system in the specific area of sex offences. CPIC is the Canadian Police Information Centre. That database includes substantial information which the law enforcement authorities use for assistance in the conduct of their work. CPIC did not routinely contain up to date information on sex offences. It is one of the reasons why this bill is being brought forward.

In a very short time, the minister fulfilled his commitment when he announced to provincial and territorial ministers on September 11, 2001, that a new database within the CPIC system was to be created under the sex offender category. Further, he announced that this database would be “address searchable”, which is one of those Internet terms, and we are getting there, I think. It could be up and running within a year, funded completely by the federal government. I am pleased to note that the development of this new sex offender database has been completed and is now ready for implementation upon proclamation of Bill C-23.

At the same time, it was recognized that to create a truly national system, national legislation would be required. I know that many hon. members have risen in their places time and time again to bring a focus to the need for this national registry. There have been disagreements with regard to whether CPIC, even with the new category added, would be adequate to support law enforcement agencies in the discharge of their duties as they relate to sexual offenders and the offences by those persons.

In February 2002 all federal, provincial and territorial ministers agreed to work together to develop a legislative package that all could support. Ten months later, we have that legislation before us and a national consensus that it should be enacted as quickly as possible. I am confident that we will see that representatives from all parties and from all walks of life in this country will be supportive of the establishment of this registry.

During the 10 months of discussion, the Solicitor General and justice officials of all jurisdictions have worked together to fully explore the whole aspect of the registry, to determine what works and what does not and to agree on what is and what is not feasible. It is one thing to have a registry. It is quite another to have a registry that works and helps our law enforcement officers and agencies to do the job they are supposed to do on behalf of all Canadians.

If we are going to have a registry, we want to be certain that it will work and that it is efficient and affordable. We all know that Canadians expect us to be open, transparent, accountable and fiscally responsible with regard to legislation and actions taken on behalf of Canadians.

We want to ensure that it respects and guarantees the protection of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that it is not in breach of federal or provincial privacy laws. I do not know how many times we have bumped our heads up against privacy issues in balancing the rights of individuals to privacy against the issue of the rights of others. We certainly saw that in Bill C-20 dealing with child pornography when we were talking about the rights of someone to possess child pornography on the basis that it was an expression of artistic merit, as opposed to the rights of the common good of Canadians and to societal values that the existence of child pornography means that children must have been abused. We can see this is a very important determination: to respect the provisions of the charter and at the same time ensure that the rights and the freedoms provided by the charter are not going to be violated in a manner which would not be consistent with Canadian values.

We are going to have this registry and we want one that the local police agencies also can administer in a consistent manner while at the same time allowing enough flexibility to respect diverse values and resources among provinces. Most important, we want an approach that will help police solve crimes and will not drive convicted sex offenders underground with changed identities and no hope for rehabilitation.

This has to be a very difficult challenge for any country to deal with. To the extent that we make laws, that we close in, tighten the ring and close the net, it makes people flee, it makes people go underground. It takes them out of an environment in which they can get the help and the rehabilitation they need. This is extremely important.

The sex offender information registration act would establish, as I have said, a national sex offender database containing information on convicted sex offenders. This database would be maintained by the RCMP and would contain information provided by local police across the country. This would be an integrated database, partnering with law enforcement right across the country. It makes a great deal of sense that it should operate in this way.

It is intended to assist police in investigating crimes of a sexual nature by providing them with rapid access to current vital information about convicted sex offenders. The new national registration system would enhance public protection by helping police identify possible suspects known to reside near an offence site and it would enable an officer to instantly obtain a list of sex offenders who are registered and living in the area where the offence occurred. It is no guarantee and there is certainly no certitude that a sex offender who may be in the proximity of another crime is responsible for that crime, but the evidence is clear, particularly as it regards recidivism on sex offences, that there is a much higher likelihood of past offenders to repeat. This would be another tool to complement the tools that our law enforcement agencies already have.

Re-registration would be required annually and within 15 days should convicted offenders change their address. Offenders would be required to provide the local police current information, such as addresses and telephone numbers, names and aliases, as well as identifying marks and tattoos. Penalities of up to two years in prison and $10,000 in fines would be levied for failing to comply with the registration order and for not giving truthful information.

Other notable features include the sentencing judge or Crown application imposing an order unless the offender is able to demonstrate that it would be grossly disproportionate to the interests of the administration of justice. There would be no public access and strict privacy controls would be placed on day-to-day access, even by law enforcement personnel.

Provinces would have specific regulatory abilities to tailor operational aspects to their particular needs. Again, the partnering and ensuring that all agencies, at all levels, have the tools that they need to do their job the best that they can.

Offenders would be required to register for periods of 10 years, 20 years or life, depending on the maximum penalty of the predicate offences for which they were originally convicted.

All registrants would be able to apply for a judicial review of their status at the halfway mark of the registration. Offenders who receive a pardon would be able to apply for judicial review of their registry status, based on the grossly disproportionate test. Young offenders would not be subject to a registration order unless sentenced as an adult, consistent with the current and pending young offenders legislation.

A number of prescribed non-sexual offence convictions would also be subject to a Crown application for a registration order where it can prove an intent to commit an offence.

In closing, no measure within the criminal justice system exists in a vacuum, sex offender registries included. The task of preventing recidivism by sex offenders needs an effective, multi-faceted approach. Bill C-23 provides us with an instrument which we can work with to ensure that happens.

The Environment
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government's commitment to sustainable development in this week's budget is something both sides of the House should applaud.

To begin with, the budget provides $2 billion to help implement our climate change plan. Future generations will benefit from this knowledge that we are making these commitments in order to pass on to them an environmental legacy that is sustainable and healthy, and provides a better foundation upon which they themselves can build.

The budget also provides another $1 billion for environmental priorities, such as water and waste water systems on first nations reserves, the cleanup of federal contaminated sites, improving air quality, assessing and managing toxic substances, protecting species at risk, and creating 10 new national parks and 5 new national marine conservation areas.

But what is most significant is that all of these commitments and others have been done and presented within a balanced budget. Not only are we providing a sustainable and healthy environment for--

The Environment
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Calgary East.

Volunteers
Statements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, thousands of Canadians across this country contribute silently to the well-being of their community. Our country is blessed with these individuals. I am lucky to have these dedicated Canadians living in my riding of Calgary East.

Today, I would like to acknowledge their contributions to strengthening the communities in my riding.

I wish to congratulate and thank the presidents, past presidents, executives, past executives, board members, past board members and thousands of volunteers of the following community associations: Abbeydale, Albert Park, Applewood, Dover/West Dover, Erinwoods, Forest Heights, Forest Lawn, Inglewood, Lynnwood Ridge, Marlborough, Marlborough Park, Mayland Heights, Ogden, Penbrooke Meadows, Radisson Heights and Southview

We all appreciate their contributions to Canada's well-being.

The Budget
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Guy St-Julien Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik, QC

Mr. Speaker, during the throne speech, the Government of Canada announced initiatives to improve the quality of life of aboriginals and Inuit in Canada.

The 2003 budget provides for significant investments, among other things, for the needs of aboriginals and Inuit in urban areas; for education, training and employment opportunities; for initiatives supporting aboriginal cultures and languages, and health care for first nations and Inuit; for the improvement, maintenance and monitoring of sewer and water systems on first nations reserves; for the first nations and Inuit police program; and for initiatives supporting the creation and operation of a new aboriginal cultures and languages centre that will be run by the aboriginal community.

These Government of Canada initiatives will enable aboriginals and Inuit to play a direct role in their community and to obtain a better quality of life.

Once again, the Government of Canada has delivered on its promises.

The Budget
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Serge Marcil Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to rise in the House and congratulate the Government of Canada for its innovative budget for 2003.

Businesses fared well in this budget. One of the measures announced is improved access to venture capital, in the form of a $190 million cash injection to support new or growing companies.

Also in the budget was a $25 million a year investment in the National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program, $20 million for Aboriginal Business Canada, $20 million for Farm Credit Canada over the next two years and a 12% cut in employment insurance premiums.

I applaud these Government of Canada initiatives, which will help our businesses contribute to Canada's economic prosperity.

Housing
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate the Minister of Labour and Federal Coordinator on Homelessness, an outstanding citizen and one of the finest ministers. She is, simply put, a great leader.

As we know, the highly successful Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative was renewed for another three years. Under the leadership of our great Prime Minister, budget 2003 provides another $1.1 billion to the government's affordable housing and homelessness initiatives. In addition, the budget also renews the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program and increases funding to our affordable housing initiative.

Simply put, not only have my constituents of Ottawa Centre benefited from all of these initiatives, but countless Canadians across the country have also.

Human Rights
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Betty Hinton Kamloops, Thompson And Highland Valleys, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have stood in the House on numerous occasions to speak out about the human rights violations in Iran.

The Iranian government continues to refuse to sign the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. Canada and the European Union will hold consultations this March in Geneva. This will be a turning point in deciding Canada's involvement in this important human rights issue.

I will be hosting a meeting next week with the former UN representative on human rights in Iran, Mr. Maurice Copithorne, and the committee for defence of human rights in Iran. This is a time sensitive issue. We cannot continue to condone the violence and discrimination by keeping silent. Every day that passes is another day of suffering.

I wish to invite all colleagues in the House to join me at the meeting on February 25, in Room 104 of the Justice Building at 1 p.m. I wish to raise their awareness and ensure their support.

The Budget
Statements By Members

February 21st, 2003 / 11 a.m.

Liberal

Bryon Wilfert Oak Ridges, ON

Mr. Speaker, budget 2003 builds the society Canadians value by making investments in individuals, families and their communities.

These include: a 10 year infrastructure program that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities has been seeking for a number of years; a down payment of $1 billion plus an additional $2 billion for the Strategic Infrastructure Program that will enable our towns and cities to better plan for long range development; $1 billion to environmental priorities that directly affect our cities, including the clean up of federal contaminated sites; targeted investments in affordable housing and the homeless; a three year extension of the RRAP program with $128 million per year; $2 billion over five years to support actions such as environmental technology and partnerships in areas such as sustainable transportation; $1.7 billion invested over three years to build on previous investments in innovation and skills development; $46.6 million over two years to continue the integrated proceeds of crime initiative; and continued support to entrepreneurs and small business.

We will continue to work with our counterparts toward a sustainable future for all of our cities, towns and rural communities.

Estates General on the Reform of Democratic Institutions
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, over the coming days in Quebec City, the estates general on the reform of democratic institutions will provide an opportunity for hundreds of citizens to examine the meaning of democracy.

Our institutions date back several hundred years, and for the first time in our history, we are embarking on a collective reflection that will set into motion a process of change in our institutions. The emphasis will be on fairer representation, with citizens being encouraged to take an active role in defining major socio-political challenges.

Democracy, as we know, is fragile and precious. In these turbulent times the world is experiencing, this message is clearer than ever.

The Bloc Quebecois hopes that the estates general on the reform of democratic institutions will help us turn over a new leaf by collectively taking charge of the society we want to live in, a society that is open, generous, fair and respectful.

We would like to thank Claude Béland, the chair of the steering committee, and its members for their important contribution to launching a debate essential to the quality of our democracy.

Pink Salmon Action Plan
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Georges Farrah Bonaventure—Gaspé—Îles-De-La-Madeleine—Pabok, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced a Pink Salmon Action Plan. The purpose of this plan is to protect the pink salmon resource in the Broughton Archipelago, off the northern tip of British Columbia's Vancouver Island.

The 2002 decline in the pink salmon run is of concern to the department, and we plan to determine the factors that may have contributed to that decline. The department's approach supports the measures taken by the aquaculture industry and complements the British Columbia Government's Action Plan for the Broughton Archipelago announced earlier this month.

The Fisheries and Oceans broad pink salmon action plan reflects a number of the recommendations contained in the January 2003 Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council report.

The action plan has five components: a freshwater monitoring program, a marine monitoring program, an active salmon farm management approach, a long term research plan and a public consultation and dialogue process.

The department has made a firm commitment to determining the risks to which wild salmon are exposed, including the impact of sea lice.

Scouts and Guides Week
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, international scouting calls tomorrow “Thinking Day”. It was established in 1926 by girl guides and boy scouts to think about the goals for the youth of Canada and the world. It is also the birthday of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of scouting.

I believe it is important that “Thinking Day” reflect the positive values of scouting. Scouting promotes personal character, love of learning, self-reliance and pride in country. Scouting gives our youth the opportunity to build strong bodies and minds, and respect for our traditions.

That is truly something to think about as we salute our girl guides and boy scouts of Canada today.

Black History Month
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the birthday of the renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass falls on February 14. This is one reason that we observe the month of February as Black History Month.

I had the honour of welcoming Frederick Douglass II last year when he came to celebrate with the community of Windsor the establishment of the underground railway monument on Windsor's riverfront. This symbol is a celebration of the vital underground railway connection that exists in Windsor and Essex County.

On Saturday I will have the honour to share with members of our local black community the 90th birthday of Mother Sylvia Harrison. Born in 1913, mother of 15 children, Mother Harrison was the first lady of Bishop Arthur Thomas Harrison. She assisted the homeless, seniors and those in need.

Black History Month provides us with a time to learn about the experiences of blacks in Canadian society, including Mother Harrison.

La Maison de Lauberivière
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, on February 14, 1983, la Maison de Lauberivière began operations in Quebec City, feeding 23 homeless people. Thirteen men had already spent the night there. Since then, this organization has provided thousands of men and women with warmth, comfort and a meal.

Lauberivière is a combination soup kitchen, shelter, detox centre and social reintegration service, and has become an indispensable resource and referral point for our community.

On the occasion of its 20th anniversary, I wish to pay tribute to the many volunteers and workers whose commitment and devotion have helped improve the lives of their fellow citizens.

I congratulate you and thank you all for your generosity.

International Mother Language Day
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Carole-Marie Allard Laval East, QC

Mr. Speaker, today is International Mother Language Day. UNESCO proclaimed this special day in November 1999.

The purpose of this day is to celebrate linguistic diversity and to raise our awareness of the wealth of languages. There are over 6,000 languages spoken in the world. Languages are a means of communication, but they also express our culture and identity. As the Director-General of UNESCO said, “They are the mirror of the souls of the societies in which they are born and they reflect the history of their contacts”.

To mark this important day, I invite Canadians to reflect on the importance, history and wealth of their own mother tongue and on the meaning it has in our life.