House of Commons Hansard #75 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sexual.

Topics

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Introduction Of Private Members' Bills

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 101
Introduction Of Private Members' Bills

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Delta—South Richmond, BC

With regard to Indian fisheries policies and the effect of the government’s responses to the Marshall decisions, the van der Peet decision and the Sparrow decision of the Supreme Court of Canada regarding special aboriginal rights to fish: ( a ) what Indian Bands and other related organizations have been authorized to undertake a so-called Sparrow food fishery in each of the years 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002; ( b ) what were the species and quantities authorized for each such fishery named in (a) and what was the value of the fish harvested for each year; ( c ) what was the amount of the grant or contribution to each Indian Band or other related organization in each year for the fishery named in (a); ( d ) what were the costs or expenditures by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to manage and monitor the fisheries named in (a); ( e ) which Indian Bands and other related organizations and which fisheries identified in (a) meet the test established in Sparrow and van der Peet for the recognition of such an aboriginal food fishery; ( f ) which Indian Bands, communities and other related organizations have received fishing licences, vessels, other equipment and grants and contributions as part of the government’s response to the Marshall decisions in each of the following years, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002; ( g ) what were the species involved and what were the quantities harvested by each Indian Band, community or related organization in (e) and what was the value of fish harvested for each species in each year; ( h ) what was the cost of licences transferred to each Indian Band, community and related organization in (e); ( i ) what was the cost of vessels transferred to each Indian Band, community and related organization in (e); ( j ) what was the cost of other fishing and related equipment received by each Indian Band, community and related organization named in (e); ( k ) what was the value of all grants and contributions to each Indian Band in (e); and ( l ) which Indian Bands, community and other related community organization named in (e) meet the tests established by the Marshall decisions (for example, having regard to having signed a treaty in 1760-61, having a traditional fishing area, having fished these species in their traditional fishing areas prior to or at the time the so-called Halifax or Marshall treaties were signed in 1760-61, and that such a fishery was in the reasonable contemplation of the parties that signed the treaty)?

(Return tabled.)

Question No. 132
Introduction Of Private Members' Bills

12:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

For each year from 1993 to 2001 what was the total amount billed to the government and it agencies by EKOS Research Associates?

(Return tabled.)

Question No. 132
Introduction Of Private Members' Bills

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Bras D'Or—Cape Breton, NS

Madam Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 132
Introduction Of Private Members' Bills

12:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is that agreed?

Question No. 132
Introduction Of Private Members' Bills

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Introduction Of Private Members' Bills

March 21st, 2003 / 12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, discussions have taken place among the parties and there is an agreement pursuant to Standing Order 45(7) to further defer the recorded division scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 24 on second reading of Bill C-26 until the end of government orders on Tuesday, March 25, 2003.

Business of the House
Introduction Of Private Members' Bills

12:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Is it agreed?

Business of the House
Introduction Of Private Members' Bills

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-20, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, in February 2002, Mr. Justice Shaw of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, using whatever logic or rationale that may have prevailed on that particular day, ruled that the written works of acknowledged pedophile Robin Sharpe, which depicted young children in various sexual poses, depicted young children as victims of sexual violence, and depicted young children being brutally exploited sexually by adults, “had artistic merit” and acquitted Robin Sharpe of the charges of possession and distribution of child pornography.

This came as an absolutely unbelievable court decision to millions of Canadians. It fuelled the fires of doubt about whether their justice system was working for society. It fuelled the storm of protests over the decisions that we see coming out of our justice system. It fuelled the storm of protests over the mounting judicial activism that has been happening in our country for the last 10 years because governments, such as the Liberal government, do not have the guts to make controversial law and legislation in this Parliament, but rather they would take the cowardly way out and leave it to the judges to make these decisions and expect Canadians to just sit back, abide by some very sick decisions, such as this one here, and accept that because it came from the courts it must be right.

This has not happened by accident. I believe that the push to get controversial or publicly sensitive legislation out of Parliament started way back when Pierre Elliott Trudeau was the Prime Minister of Canada. He and his government put through legislation and he led the charge through the Charter of Rights and Freedoms so that Parliament would never have to make controversial decisions that would make it uncomfortable or nervous. It would be left in the hands of the courts to decide.

The government now brings in Bill C-20 that is supposed to fix this. The defence that it is trying to fix is that the representation or written material has artistic merit or is for educational, scientific or medical purposes. It was certainly the defence used in the case of Robin Sharpe, which Chief Justice Shaw accepted, for whatever insane reason, and certainly, not for the good of society.

Now instead of using the artistic merit, educational, scientific or medical purposes defence, the new bill, which is supposed to fix this thing, proposes that this defence be repealed and replaced by the defence that the material alleged to constitute child pornography serves the public good. This is amazing.

Every sane person in the country could understand that we simply could not attach the phrase “serving the public good” to materials that depict the sexual exploitation of children or the brutality of children by sexual predators either in drawn form or written word. My God, how can we imagine that Canada could accept that a defence could be used that could describe child pornography as serving the public good?

Only a Liberal government that has failed Canadian on so many justice issues since 1993, could come up with a bill like this.

They are not alone. The Liberals on the other side who support the bill, will stand up and say that we have to be careful and that we have to try to determine that maybe there might be some public good in child pornography. They will stand up and vote for the bill. They will be joined by their friends in the NDP party. The member for Palliser has already given notice on this. January 27, the member for Palliser said, and he believed that his colleagues shared his opinion, that:

--if it has not specifically hurt a minor in the production of it, if it is created by people's visual imaginations and if the main purpose of it is not simply about pornography and sexual exploitation, then under the laws people do have a right to their own imaginations and thoughts, however perverse...

That reflects the opinion of the member for Palliser and as he said, “I believe it will be shared by a majority”, of whom, I do not know. It is certainly not rational thinking Canadians but maybe that does not include supporters of the NDP party. However it will shared by a majority if not all of his colleagues. Therefore we are talking about not rationally thinking Canadians.

Mr. David Matas of Winnipeg wrote an opinion on child pornography and artistic merit. Apparently this person is a Winnipeg lawyer. He argued the Sharpe case in the Supreme Court of Canada for an organization called Beyond Borders, which is a leading fighter against child pornography in Canada. He is a very knowledgeable person.

Mr. Matas said that the defence of artistic merit, which is in the legislation now and in the court system now, needed to be narrowed so that only in the case of police officers using child pornography that was drawn or written as evidence in a case against the child pornographer or cases like that could it be allowed. Certainly not the possession by some of these perverts that are running around our country preying on our children.

I am absolutely disgusted at the lack of knowledge that the Liberal government has about how society feels about child pornography. It is a disgusting lack of leadership by the government and we certainly cannot support the bill.

Speaking of disgusting acts, I cannot sit down before I tell the House about something that happened the last two nights in the Bell Centre in Montreal. Some of the fans were booing the American national anthem and booing the presence of American based teams playing in Canada. This as one of the most disgusting and embarrassing things I have ever seen Canadians do. One has to wonder where their priorities are--

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I apologize to the hon. member but 10 minutes does go by fast.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Madam Speaker, I am delighted to speak to Bill C-20. I want to thank my colleague from Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough, our justice critic, for his help on this issue. As members know, he is now campaigning to become leader of our party, which I hope he does. I do want to put some comments on the record on his behalf and on behalf of my party.

Bill C-20 is basically the Liberal answer to the John Robin Sharpe case, the pornographic case which became famous in Canada.

There are some aspects of the bill which we take some comfort from in terms of what it will do. For example, clause 5, which amends section 161(1) of the Criminal Code to expand the definition of those convicted or discharged on the conditions prescribed in a prohibition order, can be seen as a positive step. We do not dispute that.

We also believe that positive amendments have been brought forward with regard to sections 151 and 152 maintaining the indictable offence maximum of 10 years while increasing the level of punishment under summary conviction by directing the court to incarceration not exceeding 18 months.

Fundamentally, this debate and this legislation must centre around the harm caused to those most vulnerable in our society, our children. Underlying this, we must give thought to the role of the court in the context of judicial policy making as it pertains to the supremacy of Parliament. We must show how this new legislation will eradicate child pornography. It is our belief that the new legislation will not do that.

We are talking about eradicating child pornography within the context of the artistic merit defence. Unfortunately for Canadians, the legislation does not go far enough and could once again be subjected to judicial interpretation putting our children at risk. There will definitely be constitutional challenges under Bill C-20 if it is passed.

There is an inherent danger to society as a whole when we fail to recognize the detrimental effect child pornography can have at a base level. No one is suggesting that the literary works of Nabokov, who is the author of Lolita or Plato's Symposium , be removed from circulation based on the promotion of sexual contact with minors. Indeed the charter of rights provides sufficient protection for freedom of thought and expression. However the question of what constitutes a reasonable limit is central to this debate and to Bill C-20.

Clause 7(1) of Bill C-20 amends subsection 163(1) of the Criminal Code, defining child pornography to include any written material, the dominant characteristics of which is the description for a sexual purpose of sexual activity with a person under the age of 18 years of age.

While the addition of a clearer section for the purpose of specifically defining what constitutes child pornography is welcome, I suggest that the definition be altered to remove foreseeable subjectivity.

As a definition, child pornography should not be open to interpretation through intent or any other means. The thought process behind the writing and whether or not the work was produced for a sexual purpose should be of no consequence. We need simply state the definition of what is acceptable and what is not. With this clear definition, the judiciary is removed from the public-private nature of the debate. As a remedy to that, a clause was placed in the bill, within section 163, saying that:

No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section if the acts that are alleged to constitute the offence, or if the material related to those acts that is alleged to contain child pornography, serve the public good and do not extend beyond what serves the public good.

We understand the intent of the minister's legislation. I fear the manner in which it is presented will not be sufficient to protect the abhorrent creation of pornographic material depicting children. The public, along with child advocacy groups and members of the House, have called upon the government to produce a clear, concise piece of legislation which would remove completely the chance that materials of this nature would see the light of day. Once again the minister has left open to interpretation by the courts a matter that strikes at the very heart of our democracy.

The intent of this bill is to protect children from all forms of exploitation, including child pornography, sexual exploitation, abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, the definitions of public good will be vague and no level of objectivity exists which will allow a court to decide what is pornographic and what is not. Once again it will be a question of acceptability to the individual. Obviously, an argument as to what constitutes the public good will predominate leaving our children once again vulnerable.

We ask the minister why it has taken so long, and how the legion of lawyers has produced yet again an obviously flawed piece of legislation. This bill has been laying around this place for a long time but they have yet to get it right.

The overall effect of the Sharpe decision by Mr. Justice Shaw had many in society recoiling with dismay. We have heard that today in the House. That a learned judge would in fact open the door to potential pedophiles and those who take advantage of youth, who denigrate images and engage in writings that have a very corrosive effect on social norms, is a travesty.

Works of this nature go against the very fabric of what is acceptable in a moral and just society. There can be no denial that a direct correlation exists between the fantasies of sick individuals and the harm created to children. Why risk the potential danger, when the collective will of the people would see this material stricken from existence?

In handing down the Sharpe decision, Justice Shaw effectively broadened the interpretation of the current exemption or defence of artistic merit.

To remind members, section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms, “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”. The contention that section 1 limits are justifiable in this case are correct when weighed against the potential harm to children and the intent of Parliament to protect the rights of those most vulnerable. Simply put, it is my belief that the Supreme Court erred when it favourably interpreted the Shaw decision. Unfortunately I do not think the minister's lawyers understand that.

The Progressive Conservative Party has been supportive in the past of the law enforcement community victims' groups and child advocates who are constantly tasked and constantly struggling with a lack of resources available to them. We desperately need legislation that will protect children. We believe that this legislation is not strong enough. I urge the government and the minister to consider some of the arguments being put forward in the House today.

Again, the objective of this new bill is to protect children. It does not do that. Please allow some of the amendments suggested by this side of the House to be considered by the government. Do not just categorically deny the opposition that simply because we are the opposition.

The Government of Canada is here to protect children and that is what we want it to do.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, I have a couple of things to say on the bill. I think it would be appropriate for me to begin by making a very important announcement.

One hundred and seventy-five hours ago we saw another Epp baby come into the world. I am a grandfather for the fifth time. I will use a term which is unparliamentary but not offensive, it is my name. In the Epp tradition, the baby came into the world just perfectly. He even had a little hair over his ear to match grandpa's, which was very nice.

This grandchild is little Micah. He is the baby brother of Noah and Hannah. When I see him and his older sister and brother I cannot help but think how totally deplorable and depraved it would be for anyone to engage in any activity of a sexual nature with these innocent, young, beautiful children. Nor can I can understand how anyone would get any pleasure whatsoever from depicting, either by written words, by pictures. cartoons or whatever, that type of activity.

I find that totally deplorable. In fact, I do not know of any words in the English language or in either of my other two languages that come anywhere close to describing the absolutely horrific nature of such an activity.

Along come the Liberals and they say that they will introduce Bill C-20. It is a Criminal Code amendment designed to safeguard children from sexual exploitation. It is a very hapless title. It reminds me of the days when I drove a truck. I used to haul big loads with a big rig on the highway. Every once in a while we did not have a back haul. I would be driving the big truck empty simply to get to another destination. I had no load.

That is what the bill is. It has a fancy title but the bill is empty. It does not begin to address the issues that are before us as a society and as lawmakers in this country.

I want to be very specific because I know this is actually a bill that was brought forward to make political hay. The Liberals brought forward the bill with nothing in it to protect children so that we in opposition will have no choice but to vote against it. We will vote against it because it is ineffective. The bill does not do anything to protect children.

In the next election we probably will have brochures in our ridings asking why people would vote for that Canadian Alliance member when he voted against the protection of children. That will be the Liberals' messaging. I find that almost as offensive as the bill itself. I have seen this happen in previous election campaigns.

For the Liberals to use children in such a blatant way shows how really empty they are of any principles at all. I am really distressed about this.

We have, for example, in the bill a move that is supposed to make it easier to actually convict child pornographers. How will we do that if we stand in front of the same judges trying to make the case? In the past we went there and said that something was bad that the person should be convicted of a crime. The defence would argue, no, that this was in keeping with community standards.

It turned out that community standards basically allowed almost anything to go through because it is very difficult to define community standards. They changed that in the bill calling it “public good”. That may be a little more difficult to prove. Maybe community standards sometimes are contrary to public good but, as I see it, they are almost identical in the eyes of a judge in a law court.

The public good could be argued to be served if we simply fail to stop somebody from writing this junk. They would say “that is the public good”, and they would be arguing free speech. I am not against free speech but limitations to a certain degree are valid. In my humble opinion, when it comes to protecting our beautiful, innocent, young children, we stop at nothing.

I would be totally content to say that to depict child pornography in any form whatsoever, written, hand drawn, definitely photographs or films or videos, but even the written stuff and the hand created cartoon stuff, if it depicts children being abused, it is wrong.

We ought to have a law in this country that says that no one can do it. I would even go so far as to write into the legislation “notwithstanding anything in the charter” so that defence could not be used. I would say “notwithstanding anything in the charter, this bill provides that no one may produce or possess, in any form whatsoever, any form of child pornography”. Then perhaps we could stand tall and say that we are doing something tangible to protect our children.

I cannot let my time slip by without making a comment on a glaring omission in the bill, and that is the age of consent. I do not know how it happened in our country that we allowed the age of consent to slip down to 14.

Our goddaughter had a birthday yesterday if I am not mistaken. I know she just turned 12 but that means she finished her twelfth year of life and she is into her thirteenth year. Again, there is absolutely no justification anywhere, anytime for anyone to talk a child of that age into sexual activity. It just is wrong.

Here we have a bill that says we are going to protect children but does nothing with the age of consent. I need to explain this for anyone who may not know what it means. It means that an adult cannot stand up in court and say “I am innocent because she agreed to it”. That is all it means. No one cannot persuade a 13 year old in this country to have sex and get away with it because that is not permitted, but if she is 14, they can. I say that is way too low. The very serious omission in the bill is that it does not address that problem.

We could talk about many other things in the bill but I guess I will have only time for one more in my last minute and that has to do with minimum and maximum sentences.

In the bill the maximum sentences have been increased. Fine, but will the courts use them, or will they continue to give continual sentences?

I had a letter from an individual who actually chastised me for calling for minimum sentences. She said that she did not want minimum sentences for those creeps. She said that she wanted maximum sentences. I wrote to her and told her I understood what she was saying. She wants to punish them to the max, which is right, but, unfortunately, if a maximum sentence is given in the law it prohibits a judge from giving any sentence greater than that. A minimum sentence means that a sentence must be given of at least a set amount.

We should have minimum sentences in a bill that purports to protect children but it is not in the bill. Therefore I will be voting against the bill and my reason is that I truly want to protect children.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

I am sure that I speak on behalf of all members in congratulating the hon. member for Elk Island for his new grandchild. Thank you for letting the House know.