House of Commons Hansard #15 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was system.

Topics

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-15, an act to implement treaties and administrative arrangements on the international transfer of persons found guilty of criminal offences, as reported without amendment from the committee.

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

10 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

moved that the bill be concurred in.

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to Standing Order 45, the recorded division on the motion stands deferred until the usual time of adjournment on Monday, February 23, 2004.

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Deputy Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if you were to seek it, I think you would find consent to further defer the division from Monday until after government orders on Tuesday.

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there consent of the House?

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Bill C-19. On the Order: Government Orders

February 13, 2004--the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness--Second reading and reference to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness of Bill C-19, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Criminal Code.

Corrections and Conditional Release Act
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

moved:

That Bill C-19, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Criminal Code, be referred forthwith to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Mr. Speaker, the success of our system depends on collaboration, on dialogue and on research based knowledge. It is founded on Canadian values, on the rule of law and on respect for human dignity. It is a system that reflects these values.

Respect for human rights as reflected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in the international covenants that Canadians have supported over the years, such as the universal declaration of human rights, and in our adherence to United Nations norms and standards for the treatment of prisoners, represent the fundamental building blocks of our corrections system.

In fact, these principles and values have been enshrined in Canada's Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

The CCRA remains a significant milestone in correctional reform in Canada. It strikes a balance that respects the rights of all Canadians, both victims and offenders. It reflects the fundamental belief in the dignity of the individual. And it reflects the belief that, given the appropriate interventions and supports, the great majority of offenders can change their behaviour so that they may in time successfully re-enter society as law-abiding citizens.

At the same time, the CCRA provides the tools to control those who clearly pose a risk to the safety of our communities. Our system recognizes that the gradual and controlled release of offenders to the community, when safe to do so and with proper supervision and support, is the best approach to ensuring public safety.

The Corrections and Conditional Release Act was proclaimed in 1992. Part I sets out the purposes of the correctional system. It details specific measures governing daily operations of the Correctional Service of Canada in the administration of court imposed sentences of more than two years.

Part II similarly states the purposes of the conditional release system and the principles that guide the National Parole Board.

Finally, Part III establishes and describes in law the Office of the Correctional Investigator.

As many will know, there is a statutory review of the legislation specified in the CCRA. Accordingly, a subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights began its review of the act in February 1999.

The subcommittee travelled throughout the country and visited numerous penitentiaries and correctional institutions. It heard from witnesses involved in every aspect of the corrections system and tabled its report entitled, “A Work in Progress: The Corrections and Conditional Release Act”, in May 2000.

The subcommittee's report concluded that while the CCRA is fundamentally sound, opportunities for improvements exist. It made 53 recommendations for changes to the act and to the practices of the Correctional Service, the Parole Board and the Office of the Correctional Investigator.

The previous government agreed to take action on 46 of the 53 recommendations, and considerable progress has been made through policy and program adjustments. However, a number of legislative amendments are needed in order to fulfill the recommendations that were accepted. By moving forward with Bill C-19, the government is signalling its commitment to the protection of public safety.

The proposed legislative amendments are designed to: tighten up the provisions relating to the accelerated parole review process by adding several new crimes to the schedule of offences which excludes them from the APR; eliminating the presumptive nature of APR release; requiring offenders sentenced to six years or more to serve a longer period before becoming eligible for early release on day parole; and requiring the National Parole Board to apply a more stringent test for reoffending than is presently the case.

We also want to streamline temporary absences to better meet the purposes of the program and expand and formalize victims' rights with respect to National Parole Board hearings.

Other measures include: the review of all statutory release cases before their actual release; the creation of additional grounds for detention of high-risk offenders in custody; and the provision of humanitarian parole for terminally ill offenders. There are also a number of housekeeping measures to amend language and clarify rules.

Let me highlight a few details about the proposed amendments. The proposals would make provisions for the accelerated parole review process, or APR, more restrictive. In addition to offences that currently exclude offenders from consideration, the legislation would exclude those convicted of criminal organization offences, child pornography, high treason, sexual exploitation of a person with a disability causing bodily harm with intent in specific cases and torture.

Further, the amendments would require that the National Parole Board's review of APR cases takes into account an offender's risk to reoffend generally. Currently, the legislation requires that the board consider only the risk to commit an offence involving violence. This would toughen the conditions for release under the APR. Release under the APR would no longer be presumptive but rather, would result from a deliberate decision of the parole board.

Offenders serving sentences of more than six years would face an increased period of day parole ineligibility. This will prevent situations where offenders serving long sentences spend years on day parole as a result of their eligibility for APR. This measure would also emphasize that the purpose of day parole is to prepare the offender for a full parole release, as is the case with all other offenders.

The existing temporary absence program is highly successful in terms of the positive effects on rehabilitation and the very high level of offender compliance with the conditions of this restricted form of release.

Measures proposed under Bill C-19 would give the correctional service sole authority to grant escorted temporary absences. The correctional service would also assume authority over granting unescorted temporary absences to all offenders, except for those serving a life or indeterminate sentence over which the parole board would retain authority.

Moreover, the provisions relating to work release would be moved under the umbrella of the temporary absences program. Release purposes within this program would be expanded to include structured programs for work, educational, occupational and life skills.

I will now briefly address the matter of statutory release. As recommended by the subcommittee, the bill before us would tighten this form of conditional release for offenders who may present undue risk. It would ensure that the correctional service reviews all statutory release cases prior to release to determine whether to refer the case to the parole board for detention review and whether to recommend that the board impose special release conditions.

Referral to the parole board for detention review would be mandatory in the case of all offenders convicted of a sexual offence against a child and who are likely to commit an offence causing death or serious injury. The grounds for possible referral to the board for detention review would be expanded to include child pornography, high treason, sexual exploitation of a person with a disability causing bodily harm with intent and torture.

With respect to victims of crime, the National Parole Board has supported the active participation of victims in hearings for many years as a matter of policy. The present proposals would codify the rights of victims to present a victim impact statement at National Parole Board hearings. To date, approximately 347 such presentations have been made and victims have expressed their satisfaction with their new role in conditional release decisions.

We conclude our proposals with reference to other miscellaneous amendments. In response to the subcommittee's recommendation regarding a parole board structure, the maximum number of full time board members would increase from 45 to 60. The law would also ensure that the annual and special reports of the correctional investigator would include the full responses of Correctional Service Canada.

Finally, other amendments are proposed to correct some minor technical flaws and anomalies in the existing legislation.

This then is a summary of the proposed legislation. I do trust that with the support of the House we will move forward to ensure the changes necessary to keep our correctional legislation up to date and effective.