House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was protect.

Topics

Use of the Wooden Mace

11:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Order, please. I invite the House to take note of today's use of the wooden mace.

The wooden mace is traditionally used when the House sits on February 3 to mark the anniversary of the fire that destroyed the original Parliament buildings on this day in 1916.

The House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from October 7, 2002, consideration of the motion that Bill C-214, an act to amend the Criminal Code (dangerous child sexual predators), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Carrie's Guardian Angel Law
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, standing before the House today, I want to inform the House that what we see here is the result of a lot of work by a lot of people dealing with the bill, Carrie's guardian angel law.

I would like to introduce to the House, Carrie Kohan. Carrie Kohan is a fighter. In B.C., Carrie and her two year old child were relentlessly pursued by a pedophile, someone who preys upon children for sexual pleasure, a three time convicted pedophile who, despite his convictions, was out on the street attempting to prey upon children again. She reported him to the police who were powerless because that predator had served his short, full sentence and was, in the eyes of the law, untouchable. As a result of that predation, Carrie did what any mother who had the means would do. She moved her family away to safety.

However she did not stop there. Carrie started a fight; a fight against, not just pedophiles but against the justice system that forces mothers to move or face having their children become targets. Carrie started Mad Mothers Against Pedophiles. Now Carrie is perhaps the best known voice in Canada struggling to protect children from the spreading plague of pedophilia.

The trouble is that her biggest fight is not against pedophiles. It is against the people across the aisle from me today, a party in government that talks a good game about Canadian values, social values that protect the weak from the strong, values that ensure a basic equality and justice and values that ensure that there are governmental systems in place to protect those who need protection. Unfortunately, those values, as high sounding as they are, translate very badly sometimes. Sometimes, as in this case, they translate into protecting convicted pedophiles, even if it means sacrificing some children. That is the road the government has chosen and it has placed the protection of pedophiles ahead of the protection of their victims.

We can look at proof. Some very prominent names have come forward over time and some that are just as serious in their actions against children who most people do not even know about. John Robin Sharpe has been mentioned numerous times and his efforts to bring child pornography into society as an acceptable thing. Edwin Glen Thompson sexually abused his seven year old niece and was spared jail time. There is the case in Victoria of Colin Fuson who was charged 24 hours after being released from jail with a series of sexual assaults on children.

The list goes on and on and culminates with a lot of activity and focus around Karl Toft, a man charged and convicted of 34 counts of molesting 18 boys, a man now eligible, under the government's perverse priorities, for day parole; a man whom experts will agree has a great certainty of reoffending. No one makes any bones about that.

Are those isolated cases? Not at all. The average sentence for child rape in the country is just a few months. The sentence may be a year or two but when we look at actual time served, it is just a few months. One would serve a longer sentence for some thefts than for robbing a child of his or her innocence.

Does the Liberal willingness to release child sexual predators demonstrate a belief that after a short period of incarceration they will have been reformed? Is that the belief? I do not think so, because testimony given recently to the Commons committee backs up what the experts have known for some time, that there is virtually no cure for a pedophile. Once a pedophile, unfortunately, it appears that they are always inclined that way. If released back out on the street they will offend again and again.

I will relate to a personal incident that happened to me when I was visiting one of the prisons. It was pointed out to me that the latest individual who had been placed in the jail was 80 years old. What was he in there for? He was in there for assaulting children.

However that is old news. The government is fully aware of the epidemic of child sexual predation. It is fully aware every time an offender gets released and is back on the street. It is fully aware that there is no basic cure for pedophiles but it will not change the law. In fact, it will not even consider changing the law. That is why my speech is largely a waste of time.

I brought the bill forward to a Liberal dominated committee, a bill that would create a new class of dangerous offender: the serial pedophile. Any pedophile convicted of repeating his crime would be subject to a minimum 20 year sentence. However the committee decided that the bill should not even be votable. The bill was too dangerous to put before the House of Commons for a vote because, if there were a vote, then 301 MPs would have to answer to the media, to their constituents and to Canadians overall. They would have to be accountable for their vote. It is far better to deny a vote. It is far better to let the bill die a quiet death. However that will not happen. It will not happen because the energy behind the bill will not go away.

In response to the Liberal unwillingness to allow the bill to be votable, Carrie Kohan and I have decided to take this issue to the streets. We have founded, along with the Canadian Justice Foundation and the Calgary Police Association, an organization called Project Guardian. The purpose of this organization is to ensure that political pressure is brought to bear from grassroots Canadians on MPs, like those sitting across from me. We will go to every riding in Canada and tell every Canadian willing to listen about the track record of the government regarding the protection of children. We will tell them about the Liberal unwillingness to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16, the Liberal unwillingness to use the notwithstanding clause to make sure no court ever makes possession of child pornography legal and the Liberal unwillingness to keep pedophiles behind bars.

Members across from me do not have to stand up today but they will be accountable in their ridings somehow at some time. They will be accountable because we will make sure there are concerned Canadians in every one of those ridings who will force members to answer for the government record. We will be watching. We will do our best to help facilitate people to keep an eye on the Liberals across the way, just as Carrie Kohan is watching today. She sits in the gallery behind me. She is a mother who just wanted to protect her children and a mother who came here today, despite having a family to raise, despite the sacrifices she has already made fighting the justice system.

Liberal members do not need to vote today because their party got them off the hook by preventing the vote from happening.

Carrie's Guardian Angel Law
Private Members' Business

February 3rd, 2003 / 11:10 a.m.

Northumberland
Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to Bill C-214, an act to amend the Criminal Code, being introduced by the hon. member for Calgary Northeast.

The private member's bill before us today seeks to create a new section, section 273.01, in the Criminal Code that would affect sentencing of offenders convicted of section 271, sexual assault; section 272, sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm; or section 273, aggravated sexual assault.

The amendments would come into play where the victim is a child under the age of 16 and where the offender comes within one of six prescribed circumstances, any of which could result in designation of an offender as a dangerous child sexual predator. If designated under the proposed scheme, the offender would receive an automatic life sentence.

The three existing offences mentioned in the proposed bill currently carry maximum penalties ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment, the most severe penalty known to our law. As well, if firearms are involved, there is a provision for a four year mandatory minimum penalty.

I suspect most Canadians would be surprised that these offences already attract such severe maximum penalties. In fact, surveys conducted by the Canadian Sentencing Commission in the mid-1980s showed that the public had very little knowledge of either maximum or minimum penalties generally and that many were taken aback by the severity of the existing maximum.

The Criminal Code provides that “the fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute... to respect for the law and maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society”. The objectives of sentencing set out in the Criminal Code include denouncing unlawful conduct, deterring the offender and others from committing offences and promoting a sense of responsibility in offenders and an acknowledgement of the harm done to victims and to the community.

The government shares the concerns of Canadians. Courts across the country have been imposing stiff sentences for this type of crime, which address sentencing objectives, such as denunciation and deterrence, and highlight the importance of individuals being able to feel safe and secure.

In addition to providing a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, which the Criminal Code already does for specified sexual offences, Bill C-214 would provide for full parole ineligibility be set at 20 years.

In Canada, we have tried to avoid reliance on mandatory minimum sentences. Our judicial system has always respected the discretion of judges to fashion a sentence that is proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the conduct of the offender. A judge having the benefit of all the facts and evidence regarding the circumstances of the offence and the offender is well placed to determine the appropriate sentence in an individual case.

The September 30, 2002 Speech from the Throne confirmed that protection of children is a key priority of the Government of Canada. Numerous legislative reforms and initiatives have since been introduced to strengthen the criminal law's protection of children against sexual exploitation. For example, Bill C-23, the sex offender information registry act, was tabled in December and would establish a national sex offender registry requiring sexual predators to report to police agencies on an annual basis and which would allow rapid police investigations through an address searchable database. Failure to register under the proposal would be a Criminal Code offence with serious penal consequences.

We also introduced Bill C-20, a comprehensive set of measures to protect children and other vulnerable persons from harm, which includes amendments to the Criminal Code providing for substantial increases in penalties for abuse and neglect, and requirements for more sensitive treatment of children who participate in criminal proceedings.

Other notable features of Bill C-20 include the following: tougher child pornography provisions; a new category of sexual exploitation, increasing the level of protection for young persons between the ages of 14 and 18; tougher sentencing provisions for offences where children are the victims; abuse of a child in the commission of any Criminal Code offence is now required to be considered by a judges as an aggravating factor in sentencing; distributing material knowing that it was produced through a criminal act of voyeurism; and also, the creation of the new offence of voyeurism, primarily targeting Internet activity, capturing those who observe or record others without their knowledge for sexual purposes.

Prior to the current session of Parliament, we introduced a number of other reforms that were also designed to protect children. For example, Bill C-15A, which received royal assent on June 4, 2002, amended the Criminal Code by adding offences and other measures that provide additional protection to children from sexual exploitation, including sexual exploitation involving the use of the Internet. That new legislation came into force on July 23, 2002, and resulted in the following changes: it is now illegal to use the Internet to communicate with a child for sexual purposes, as well as to transmit child pornography; courts can now order the deletion of child pornography that is posted on Canadian computer systems as well as the seizure of materials or equipment used to commit a related offence; and the procedure has been simplified to prosecute Canadians who sexually exploit children in other countries.

In 1997 the dangerous offender provisions of the Criminal Code were amended to toughen up the provisions against the most violent sexual predators. Individuals who are declared dangerous offenders by the courts are now subject to a mandatory indeterminate sentence. The 1997 amendments also included a provision that permits judges to impose a long term offender designation, resulting in up to 10 years of community supervision after serving a penitentiary term.

Police and the courts can also impose strict conditions on the activities of known sex offenders through the use of probation orders, that is, section 810, recognizances, prohibition orders and peace bonds.

Another significant impact in this area was the amendment of the Criminal Records Act to make the criminal records of pardoned sex offenders available for background checks, which greatly reduces the possibility that sexual predators would be employed or allowed as volunteers in positions of trust over vulnerable children.

In 1993, the Criminal Code was amended to create a new prohibition order, lasting up to a lifetime, to ban convicted child sex offenders from frequenting day care centres, school grounds, playgrounds, public parks or bathing areas where children are likely to be found. The order also prohibits convicted child sex offenders from seeking or maintaining paid or volunteer positions of trust or authority over children. Another provision was created to allow a person to obtain a peace bond, a protective order lasting up to one year, if he or she fears that another person will commit a sexual offence against a child.

All of these efforts demonstrate the federal government's continued commitment to protecting children. As such, there is no need to create a minimum penalty for this type of offence given the high maximum penalties already found in the code and sentencing patterns for this offence.

While I recognize the concerns of the hon. member for Calgary Northeast with respect to this type of offence, I do believe that the existing penalty of life imprisonment currently demonstrates our commitment to providing protection for children.

Furthermore, the reforms in Bill C-20, which are currently before the House and being debated, will result in changes to our laws that will be much more effective in ensuring the protection of our children.

Carrie's Guardian Angel Law
Private Members' Business

11:20 a.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on the bill before the House, Bill C-214. This bill is, in fact, a carbon copy of Bill C-396, introduced by the member for Calgary Northeast during the first session of this Parliament.

I speak as a member of this House and, of course, also as a parent. My children are 18, 16 and 12. I am therefore very much aware of the realities that are out there and of parents' fears for their children.

I have also taken inspiration from the former member for Berthier—Montcalm, Michel Bellehumeur, and his highly responsible attitude toward the Criminal Code, as well as from our present critic, the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier.

Obviously, I cannot sanction the position taken by the Canadian Alliance, which is always based on the same logic that toughening up the Criminal Code is the solution. I see this as a simplistic approach that does not address the real issues.

This ideology in favour of extremely harsh criminal justice legislation is, in their minds, the key to controlling criminals in this country. We know that this is not the solution.

We have seen that with the Young Offenders Act. The pressure in favour of toughening up this legislation, coming from the United States and the Canadian west, and espoused by the Canadian Alliance, influenced the government to such an extent that it ended up paralyzing the enforcement of the young offender legislation in Quebec, which was far more practical, realistic and successful at reintegrating young offenders into society.

The bill we are looking at today is a bit along the same lines. The thought is that adding to the length of sentences is automatically going to solve our problem.

I was listening to my colleague opposite a minute ago, and it appears as though judges and the general public may need educating to learn more about the current situation. If judges enforce the Criminal Code properly as it now stands, people would see that significant penalties can be sufficient, especially if they are combined with efforts to systematically create a situation whereby there would be fewer of this type of criminal, particularly if we can succeed in returning them to society if possible. There are cases where it is not possible, but there are measures that can be taken in such cases.

We will not solve anything by sending people to the Canadian correctional system for life. When these criminals are put in Canada's penitentiary system, they wind up dealing with a quite specific dynamic, in sexual terms, that does not necessarily help them. This means that young people would not necessarily be better protected by this type of bill.

In fact, our approach focuses more on rehabilitation and strict supervision to limit the problem. Of course we must not give pedophiles the impression they can perpetrate their crimes without punishment. We must enforce the current provisions in the Criminal Code. There also needs to be sufficient pressure from society and everyone must know the consequences of such acts.

Bill C-214 would amend sections 261, 262, and 273 of the Criminal Code. Under these provisions, anyone having committed an offence would be designated a dangerous child sexual predator.

I must comment on the rather awkward translation of the English expression, “dangerous child sexual predators”, but this debate today is not about that.

The purpose of the bill may well be commendable, and at first glance, this type of solution may seem necessary. However, I believe we must be more responsible as Parliamentarians and realize that this is not the real solution to this problem.

It is as if a bill was being created for a specific case and, each time something horrible happens, the Criminal Code was being amended in an attempt to find a solution for all situations. I think that, in this regard, it is important to consider the big picture, to study things in depth, and to consider the Criminal Code as a whole; this is presently not the case.

The Bloc Quebecois is, therefore, opposing this bill for the simple reason that the approach recommended by the Canadian Alliance is, in our eyes, simply not the right one.

In considering, in a broader context, the problem for which a solution is being sought, passing the bill would mean imprisoning for life any person who has committed sexual harassment in one form or another.

There are different levels of seriousness. I am speaking as a father. Of course, there are things that, in my mind, do not merit life in prison, and certain others that could. People should be able to make the distinction and to understand the situation correctly.

I do not believe that the problem will be resolved by applying harsher sentences. In fact, some sexual offenders are sick. These people have issues they need to work on and a longer sentence will not result in any change in behaviour.

It is a bit like a confirmed alcoholic who has been given every possible chance of a cure. But some of them continue to drive, even if they do not have a driver's licence, even if they have already been convicted; they continue because they are in a situation, in a state of mind where they no longer obey, in any way, the law.

In the case at hand, the same type of situation could exist, and the stated sentence will not necessarily make people think twice.

I believe that the intention of this bill is commendable, but the solution is not the right one.

For example, an unwanted touch, a stolen kiss, if repeated twice with the same person, will automatically be considered sexual harassment. There are things in there that can be resolved much better through education, by working with people properly.

In this House, the hon. members each have a right to their opinion. There are some people who live in society and think there should be maximum punishment all the time to resolve the situation. I want to remind the members of this House that in Quebec, for instance, there is a higher rate of rehabilitation of young offenders and there is less recidivism than anywhere else, especially in provinces where there is an attempt to enforce the Young Offenders Act strictly.

Here there is a different practice and I think people, especially members from these provinces, need to be informed about it. They would perhaps do well to look at the situation in Quebec. This might help them to adjust their thinking and ultimately achieve much better results, rather than coming up with simplistic solutions such as those proposed in this bill.

Quite frankly, this bill seems heavy-handed and not relevant. Rather than attempt to resolve all the problems by amending the Criminal Code section by section, the Canadian Alliance members should try to find a way to overhaul it, and all the members of this House should work with the Minister of Justice to that end.

The Bloc Quebecois is therefore against this bill, which offers unrealistic solutions and ultimately will not allow for adequate corrections to be made in 5, 10, or 15 years.

Carrie's Guardian Angel Law
Private Members' Business

11:30 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Calgary Northeast for bringing this bill forward. He is one of the few in this House who can speak from professional experience because if I am correct, he is a former police officer from Calgary. We respect his opinion and his efforts on this issue. We are very much in support of the bill and what he attempts to do with Bill C-214.

Normally our justice critic, the member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, would be speaking on the issue but he is out campaigning for the future leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party. We have always in the past relied on his advice and expertise in this area because he is a former crown prosecutor. In his absence I have just a few comments on the bill.

This bill would amend the Criminal Code and would deal specifically with dangerous child sexual predators. The bill would establish the offences of dangerous child or sexual predation carrying a minimum sentence of life imprisonment. As well, it would cover the sexual assault of a child involving the use of a weapon, repeated assaults, multiple victims, repeat offences, more than one offender, confinement, kidnapping and those who are in positions of trust. It would also seek to make parole ineligible for those convicted for a minimum of 20 years and they would be ineligible for day parole or unescorted absences for a minimum of 17 years.

Bill C-214, or Carrie's guardian angel law, which it is often referred to as, would amend the Criminal Code by adding a dangerous child sexual predator offence after section 273. Section 273 supplements the definition of consent found in section 265 of the Criminal Code, which defines all assault offences, including sexual assaults.

Cautious estimates note that one in three young women are sexually abused before the age of 18 and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 16. These are startling figures. Even more frightening is that most abused and neglected children never come to the attention of the authorities. A lot of these offences are never discovered or recognized. We have no way of knowing how many of these go unreported. The cases that we do hear of are just a fraction of the real number.

Sexual predators in many cases are never caught. This is a sad reality but it is a reality. There is a serial element to their behaviour. There are no deterrents or consequences for these people. They can be found in every province; it is not a rural or urban issue. It affects all parts of Canada. It is not a case of a higher instance in one province versus another; it is a situation that prevails throughout the country. There is a high rate of recidivism, in other words, repeat offenders.

The life altering and lasting implications for the victims result in shocking statistics for all Canadians. We have heard time and time again of the impact of these types of offences against children.

Clause 2 in the bill introduces the new offence and defines the circumstances under which someone would be charged under this new amendment to the Criminal Code.

This definition of a dangerous child sexual predator would include anyone who has been convicted of such an offence within 10 years; in the commission of the offence commits a sexual assault on more than one occasion or victim; or is in a position of trust or acts of concert with another. In other words, those people who are in a position of trust, like teachers and troop leaders or coaches or whatever. It would address that reality. That person would be guilty of an indictable offence and would be designated as a dangerous child sexual predator.

The intent of the bill is clear. Anyone convicted under this section of the code would receive a sentence of 20 years to life with no chance of parole. We are talking of cases of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault where children are involved.

It would create a separate type of sentence in the Criminal Code. This is quite clear from the wording of the amendment, which would in effect amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to prevent unescorted temporary absences, day parole, full parole or statutory release from being granted to individuals who have committed child predatory offences or have been found to be child predators under the new provisions of the Criminal Code for at least 17 years. With respect to sentencing this bill seeks to ensure that a minimum of 20 years is served in custody in every case in which a child predator offence is perpetrated.

Bill C-214 is about what happens after the fact, after the finding of guilt. In other words, the bill speaks to what happens after the verdict is rendered. This is a very important point. Because of the special nature of the offence and the special type of harm to society and the individual that results from it, we need a change in response and attitude by the justice department. That is implicit in the member's bill.

The bill would amend the Criminal Code and allow the court to find people to be child predators on the basis of having committed offences against children or their inability to control their sexual behaviour. A finding of guilt and a finding of that designation would have certain consequences. We are talking about a type of dangerous behaviour, a dangerous offender application, something that is already permissible under the Criminal Code. We are talking about the worst of the worst.

I shudder to think of it. I know we all get chills when we mention the names Olson and Bernardo in reference to this bill, but these are the types of predatory, sexual and violent offences envisioned by the change in the Criminal Code that the member has in mind. We can talk about rehabilitation in the context of some offenders, but at the upper end of the scale rehabilitation means nothing and is no longer a consideration. Rehabilitation of these offenders is virtually non-existence and cannot happen.

When looking at the intent of our justice system, the protection of the public must be given precedence. This is brought about by deterrence and denunciation. This is why I recognize what the hon. member is trying to do. He is drawing a clear line to distinguish the types of offences that are so horrific and damaging to their victims. The psychological and physical impact on the victims cannot be over-emphasized.

Such offences require special treatment. The offenders should be denied early release or any leniency that could be misinterpreted in the sense of condoning or embracing that type of behaviour.

At a time when the government is trying to remove the artistic merit defence through the introduction of Bill C-20, the vulnerability act, this piece of legislation would seem to fit in with that agenda. We support this initiative because we think it is very important. We hope that the government members will support it.

Carrie's Guardian Angel Law
Private Members' Business

11:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member from the Progressive Conservative Party for his fine speech and also my colleague from Calgary Northeast who, as he mentioned, was a police officer and knows this issue very well.

The first thing I want to address is the speech that came from the government. I cannot believe that the government would have the audacity to put forth such a piece of bureaucratic bafflegab that completely defies imagination. It is a speech that completely flies in the face of the experience of everybody in the House who has seen the effect of child abuse and of pedophilia.

Let me go through some of the comments made by the government. The speech said that the public is taken aback by minimum sentencing for pedophiles. I would like the member to show us one person in this country who is taken aback by minimum sentences for repeat pedophiles.

I want to emphasize that this bill, Carrie's guardian angel law, is not about an individual who has made a single assault on a child, as horrendous as that is. This is about an individual who has not only made multiple assaults and has been convicted once, but this person has come to the attention of the legal department of the police again and again.

In fact, if we look at individuals who have been convicted once for a sexual offence against a child, we know that those persons have not assaulted one child, but that they have assaulted many children. Pedophiles, before they are caught and convicted, have sexually assaulted multiple children before they come to the fore of the legal authorities. Then they come again because they have committed other sexual offences.

At the end of the day, this bill only applies to individuals who have sexually assaulted more than two dozen children. What kind of person does the government want to protect who would sexually assault, sexually abuse, and rape two dozen or more children?

As my friend from the Progressive Conservative Party said, one-third of all girls before the age of 18 and one-sixth of boys before the age of 16 have been sexually abused. They have been abused by individuals who are parasites, who are predators, and who in no way, shape or form should have the protection of the law above the protection of Canadians.

The member also said that Canadians want to feel safe and secure. They want to have high penalties, they want peace, and they want a safe society. That is why my colleague and Carrie Kohan have put the bill forward. That is why I have underneath my hand the names of more than 60,000 Canadians who have signed and supported this initiative. That is why Canadians want the law changed. That is why Bill C-214 should be adopted unanimously by the House.

The problem with the current law for the hon. member and the government is that the law is not protecting innocent people. The sentences are not being applied. Individuals are actually spending only a few months in jail for repeatedly sexually assaulting children. That is the line in the sand and that is the crux of the matter.

This is not like somebody who makes a one-off mistake by stealing something, by committing some offence where the victim is an adult, as horrendous and terrible as those offences are. This is about an entirely different circumstance, where the victim is a child or a baby. The victim is someone who cannot in any way defend themselves and the perpetrator is an adult who has done this multiple times before, two dozen times before the bill would actually come into force. That is what this is all about.

If the members of the Liberal Party do not support wholeheartedly Bill C-214 and unanimously adopt this in the House of Commons, they will pay a terrible price at the election booth. Worse, when they look into the eyes of their constituents and children of those constituents, they will have to ask themselves why they did not stand up to defend those children from sexual predators and from rape.

The gentleman from the Bloc Québécois spoke about rehabilitation. We are all in favour of rehabilitation. I used to be a guard in a maximum security prison, and I am a physician. The problem with pedophilia is that it is incurable. On balance, what we and the justice department have to do for justice to be served, is put the protection of children from pedophiles first and foremost. We have no alternative. That is the line in the sand.

The public may want to ask itself why it has taken so long for this issue to come to the House, why has the government not brought it forward itself and why has the government not made a bill that is patently in favour of the protection of children votable? Why has it prevented that from happening?

Government members were elected 10 years ago. This is not rocket science. As my colleagues have mentioned, a litany of violent pedophiles have raped dozens and dozens of children in our society. As Carrie Kohan would tell us, the justice department and the police are not there to protect them, not because the police do not want to, but because the police do not have the power to do so. Our justice department has not given the police the tools to do the job. Heart-rending as it is for our police officers, they cannot protect those children.

I have known Carrie Kohan for 17 years. She is a fighter. She does not quit. She, my colleague from Calgary Northeast and people across the country, including police forces, want to do something. It is not because they want to be punitive, or unforgiving, or lenient, it is because they recognize that the current state of affairs of the laws do not protect innocent children from pedophiles.

Why should a parent or parents not have information that a pedophile has moved next door to them and is a dangerous threat to their children's lives? Why are pedophiles sentenced yet serve only a third of that sentence? Why are they going on unescorted day paroles when only a fraction of their sentence has been served? Why is the public not informed of this?

This is not an action against an adult. This is an action against a child. I ask the hon. member and the government members who have children to look into their hearts and ask themselves if they were in Carrie Kohan's shoes, where a pedophile moved next door and tried to assault their child, what would they do? Would they still stand up in the House and oppose this bill or would they wholeheartedly support it?

I ask for full support of Bill C-214, and we want this passed for the people of our country forthwith.

Carrie's Guardian Angel Law
Private Members' Business

11:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, we were sent here by the public. We were always taught that one of our foremost responsibilities was to protect those who needed protection at all costs. Nobody needs protection any more than our children. That is a given. As politicians we see every day abuses against the children of Canada. We read about it every day. In some instances we get to meet the parents and also the children. Yet what have we done? I have been here since 1993. In 10 years the same problem crops up year after year, day after day and nothing has been done.

The government members use all kinds of nice soft, kind words. We hear them every time there is a throne speech. One of their foremost priorities is the children of Canada. I have heard it in the House time after time. I hear it every time members on the other side of the House stand to speak. They say that they have these concerns. They tell us they have these concerns. They ask how we can say that they do not have these concerns and that they are parents and grandparents. Then we start to believe that maybe they do have these concerns.

However every time legislation comes before the House in regard to the safety of the children and in regard to giving them the protection they need, where is the government side? It runs, it hides and it disappears. All the good words that government members like to say, all the things that are said in the throne speeches and all the things that it says it is, the great sharing, caring Liberal Government of Canada, disappear. They all go out the window because the government has a conflict within itself. It has a conflict on what are the rights of individuals of Canada.

The Liberals cannot seem to get this straight. If these rights are in conflict with one another, they always take what they think is a safe road. They will go with the rights of the person who has to be incarcerated, instead of the victim. It is so sad, because time after time they say these people can be rehabilitated, but what about the victims? The suffering is with them for their lives and the Liberals do nothing to address that. Instead, they leave our children, those whom the they were sent here to protect, out there on their own.

It is time for members in the House finally to stand up for those who have to be protected the most, our children. They have an opportunity to do that with this bill.

Carrie's Guardian Angel Law
Private Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I join my colleagues and citizens across the country in a shared frustration over the lack of support from government members of Parliament for this bill which has been so properly and appropriately brought forward by our colleague from Calgary Northeast.

That frustration comes from the fact that we are at a loss to understand why there would be a reluctance to do what practically every citizen I have talked to and my colleagues have talked to think is right when it comes to protecting our children. We are at a loss to understand why there would be a reluctance on the part of the Liberal government to put in place a minimum sentence for somebody who has repeatedly violated the most intimate aspect of a child's life, in many cases committing that child to a lifetime of horrendous difficulty because of those incidents.

We see the same reluctance when we have asked in the past that the age limit of sexual consent between an adult and a minor, and we are not talking about between two adults or between two minors, be raised to the age of 16 as it is in many civilized countries. We cannot get the government to agree with that.

Many times the Canadian Alliance and its members stand to defend those who cannot defend themselves because we believe in the value of every life being protected from those who would try to do harsh and atrocious things to human beings, especially to children. Time and again we hear lame, hollow excuses. Sometimes the public, as it watches the deliberations, wonders why the opposition verbally expresses its frustration or why we moan and groan when we hear the government and its members stand up and talk about the importance of children and their rights. We moan and groan because we know what happens when we propose concrete measures to protect our children. The government refuses to do it.

I said this in the past and I will say it again. When the government of the land refuses to protect the children of the land from the predators of the land, it forfeits the right to govern the land.

Carrie's Guardian Angel Law
Private Members' Business

11:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the members who engaged in the debate. We do need to debate this issue because it is one issue that will not go away. It needs a much broader debate than what has been delivered in the House this morning.

I will draw a line. On one side of it are those members who have clearly supported this initiative, having recognized the need to support it. There is a growing number of sexual abusers in our society who need to be put out of circulation. On the other side of that line are members who look at this issue as not being a significant thing and have declared that this kind of legislation is not necessary. Those members are basically the Liberals and the Bloc.

I suggest that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice look at “Juristat”. This Government of Canada document clearly defines how much time a pedophile or a sexual abuser of children will get. The sentence is not even close to life. It is not even a few years. Rather the average sentence served is just a few months. Members should look at this document because it contains the government's own figures.

In the eyes of Bloc members the bill is not the right one. Certain acts do not justify life in prison was a statement made by a member of the Bloc who spoke on behalf of his party. I suggest that neither he nor his party view children as a high priority, pure and simple. The Bloc member said that my bill is an exaggerated one. He used the example of somebody giving a child a kiss. What is more exaggerated than that.

The Bloc clearly stated it is against the spirit of the bill. Unfortunately I think the government is also against the spirit of the bill and does not want to see hard protection for our most vulnerable.

This issue relating to the protection of our children will not diminish as long as there are parents and grandparents and as long as there are those in authority who would stand up and fight against anyone intent on exploiting our children, those most precious little souls that God gave to most of us in this House. On that basis, I appeal to my colleagues in the House and I seek unanimous consent, through you, Mr. Speaker, to accept this bill at second reading and to send it on to committee for further study.

Carrie's Guardian Angel Law
Private Members' Business

Noon

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is there unanimous consent to send the bill to committee?

Carrie's Guardian Angel Law
Private Members' Business

Noon

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Carrie's Guardian Angel Law
Private Members' Business

Noon

Some hon. members

No.

Carrie's Guardian Angel Law
Private Members' Business

Noon

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. As the motion has not been designated as a votable item, the order is dropped from the order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-6, An Act to establish the Canadian Centre for the Independent Resolution of First Nations Specific Claims to provide for the filing, negotiation and resolution of specific claims and to make related amendments to other Acts, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.