House of Commons Hansard #38 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was land.

Topics

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

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

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

Tlicho Land Claims and Self-Government Act
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The vote is deferred until the end of government orders today when the other votes will take place.

The House resumed from March 12, 2004 consideration of the motion that Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act, be read the third time and passed, of the amendment and the amendment to the amendment.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Hon. members will recall that, on Friday March 12, 2004, the hon. member for Surrey Central proposed an amendment to the amendment of the motion for third reading of Bill C-12. This called for the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to report back no later than April 5, 2004. The date in the amendment to the amendment having passed, I am obliged to declare that the amendment to the amendment out of date.

Resuming debate on the amendment standing under the name of the hon. member for Lethbridge.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Alan Tonks York South—Weston, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code, which, as everyone knows, is the protection of children and other vulnerable persons, and the Canada Evidence Act.

Bill C-12 proposes a broad package of reforms which seeks to ensure that the criminal law meets the concerns and needs of all Canadians, especially those who are most vulnerable among us, our children.

The bill has five key components. I would like to go through them one by one and give illustrations of how the bill would be implemented.

The first one is strengthening the existing child pornography provisions by broadening the definition of written child pornography and narrowing the existing defences to one defence of public good.

What this means in reality is that the existing defences for child pornography would be reduced to the single concept of the public good. A person would be found guilty of a child pornography offence when the material or act in question does not serve the public good or where the risk of harm outweighs any public good it serves.

The bill now defines the public good as including--and I think this is important--“acts or materials that are necessary or advantageous to the administration of justice or the pursuit of science, medicine, education or art”.

The proposed reforms would also expand the existing definition of written child pornography to include material that is created for a sexual purpose and predominantly describes prohibited sexual activity with children. The current definition of child pornography applies only to material that advocates or counsels prohibited sexual activity with children, and this is strengthening the concept that at the end it is the ultimate public good that must be served.

The second component is the creation of a new prohibited category of sexual exploitation of young persons, as evidenced by the nature and circumstances of the relationship, including: the age of the young person, any difference in age between the young person and the other person, and the degree of control or influence exerted over that young person.

This provision would provide new protection to young persons between 14 and 18 years of age. Under the proposed reform, courts could infer that a relationship is exploitative based on its nature and circumstances, including the age of the young person, any difference of age, the evolution of the relationship, and the degree of control or influence exercised over the younger person. This new category would focus the court's determination on the conduct or behaviour of the accused rather than on the consent of the young person to sexual activity.

The third component is to increase the maximum penalties for offences against children and make the commission of an offence against any child an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

These tougher sentencing provisions include, under the government's reform proposals, penalties for offences that harm children. The maximum sentence for sexual exploitation would double from five years to ten. The maximum penalty for abandonment of a child or failure to provide the necessities of life to a child would more than double from two to five years. The abuse of a child in the commission of any Criminal Code offence would also have to be considered as an aggravating factor by the court and could result in a tougher sentence.

The fourth component is the facilitating of testimony by children and other vulnerable victims and witnesses by enhancing their ability to provide clear, complete and accurate accounts of events while at the same time ensuring that all of an accused person's rights are protected and respected.

These measures to protect children and other vulnerable persons as witnesses involve several reforms which will help ensure that participating in the criminal justice system is less traumatic for the victim or witness. Current Criminal Code provisions would be expanded to allow all witnesses under 18 to benefit from testimonial aids in any criminal proceeding, not only those involving sexual and other specified offences.

These aids include providing testimony from behind a screen or by closed circuit television or having a support person accompany the young witness. Current provisions generally require that the Crown establish the need for a testimonial aid. Given the potential trauma of the courtroom experience for young witnesses, the proposed reforms acknowledge the need for an aid.

For all testimonial aids, the judge retains the discretion to deny the aid or protection where its use would interfere with the proper administration of justice. In addition, the facilities to permit the use of a screen or closed TV circuit must be available in the courtroom before the judge can permit their use. Fundamental rights for the accused are fully respected under the proposed amendments.

These reforms also would allow children under 14 to give their evidence when they are able to understand and respond to questions. A competency hearing, which is currently mandatory, would no longer be required.

The fifth component is the creation of a new offence of voyeurism to criminalize the surreptitious observation or recording of a person in defined circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy.

This new offence of voyeurism is influenced through the rapid technological developments of recent years. They have brought many benefits to Canadian society, but they have also had implications for such basic matters as privacy. Web cameras, for example, which can transmit live images over the Internet, have raised concerns about the potential for abuse, notably where the secret viewing or recording of people involves a serious breach of privacy or is made for sexual purposes.

The proposed offences would make it a crime in three specific cases to deliberately and secretly observe or record another person in circumstances where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists: when the person observed or recorded is in a place where one is reasonably expected to be in a state of nudity or engaged in explicit sexual activity; when the person observed is in a state of nudity or engaged in explicit sexual activity and the purpose is to observe or record a person in such a state of activity; or when the observation or recording is done for a sexual purpose.

Distributing material knowing that it was produced through an offence of voyeurism would also be a crime. The maximum penalties for all voyeurism offences would be five years' imprisonment and the copies for sale or distribution of a recording obtained through the commission of a voyeurism offence would be subject to seizure and forfeiture. The courts could also order the deletion of voyeuristic material from a computer system.

I believe that Bill C-12's objectives are clearly stated and reflected in the preamble. Paragraph one states:

Whereas the Parliament of Canada has grave concerns regarding the vulnerability of children to all forms of exploitation, including child pornography, sexual exploitation, abuse and neglect--

These words are an emphatic statement of purpose in Bill C-12.

Paragraph three of the preamble also notes as an objective that Bill C-12 seeks:

...to encourage the participation of witnesses in the criminal justice system through the use of protective measures that seek to facilitate the participation of children and other vulnerable witnesses while ensuring that the rights of accused persons are respected--

I believe we should all be readily able to recognize these objectives as not only important but fundamental to our collective efforts to provide better protection to our children and other vulnerable persons. I hope that all hon. members will support Bill C-12.

Much of the debate on Bill C-12 has focused on the proposed child pornography amendments. Canada's child pornography laws are among the toughest in the world. Bill C-12 will make them tougher still. I believe this bill's proposed expansion of the definition of written child pornography and the narrowing of the defences to one single defence of public good, now defined in Bill C-12, respond in a very direct and meaningful way to issues highlighted by the March 2002 case involving Robin Sharpe. I hope that all hon. members can support Bill C-12's child pornography amendments. I hope that all hon. members can support the bill.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gerry Ritz Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like at this time to move, seconded by the member for Lakeland, that the amendment be amended by adding “and that the committee report back to the House no later than June 1, 2004”.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It is a matter of procedure, but of course every matter of procedure is important. Just to review where we were, when the hon. member for York South—Weston concluded his remarks, I then called for questions and comments. The member for Battlefords—Lloydminster rose to propose this amendment, which, in terms of substance, is in a correct form, but the Chair cannot accept the proposal at this time while the member gained the floor on questions and comments.

I will have to go back to the House and ask for questions and comments. Then of course subsequently if the occasion arises, the member getting up on debate would have that same opportunity.

I will go back to the previous question on questions or comments. There being no response, we will resume debate with the member for Battlefords—Lloydminster.