House of Commons Hansard #41 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sentence.

Topics

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, the more I think about this bill, the more questions I seem to come up with. There are things that happen in Canada that we do not consider crimes, while in other countries they are considered crimes. There are nations in the world where adultery is a serious offence or consumption of alcohol is a very serious offence. As well, participating in an abortion would be a very serious offence and one would be looking at serious jail time.

How does the bill deal with these sorts of offences for which somebody is serving a jail sentence for something that we would never consider a criminal offence in Canada? If the offender is transferred back to a Canadian prison, to our system, is the hon. member telling me the bill would still impose that sentence on a person? Let us use the example of somebody who is serving five years for committing adultery somewhere and is transferred back to Canada? Would we honour that sentence from that jurisdiction, that full five years or whatever it was?

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the features that I identified in reviewing some of the debate on the bill, and even within the bill itself, is the element of flexibility. As I said in my speech, to compare the laws of the criminal justice system in another jurisdiction to those of Canada and the Criminal Code would be an enormous task. It would be an enormous task to somehow find that simple formula that is going to translate things.

I take some heart from the member's question. I would simply refer back to the representations of the Solicitor General when he spoke to Bill C-33, the predecessor bill of this one. He closed by saying:

...there is a clear need for legislative flexibility in Canada to further the humanitarian objective of transfers. There is a clear need for international cooperation in matters of criminal justice and there is a clear need for public protection with the safe and gradual reintegration of offenders into society.

In the minister's remarks, he goes on to enunciate that the process involved here with treaties, et cetera, has to do not so much with swapping identicals but rather with looking at and investigating and negotiating transfers that make sense from the standpoint of a humanitarian objective.

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate my support of Bill C-15, the International Transfer of Offenders Act. The amendments it contains will modernize the legislation in order to reflect the numerous changes that have taken place since it was enacted back in 1978.

The provisions of Bill C-15 will allow Canada to negotiate the transfer of offenders in a manner consistent with current international standards, and will provide a mechanism for cooperation in criminal justice cases.

In short, the International Transfer of Offenders Act will enable Canada to enter into treaties with other countries for the transfer of offenders. Under the terms of such treaties, Canadian citizens convicted and sentenced in another country may serve the rest of their sentence in Canada, while foreign nationals convicted and sentenced for crimes in Canada could return to their country of origin to finish serving their sentence.

I must point out that the provisions of the International Transfer of Offenders Act would apply only to those persons actually convicted of a criminal offence, and not to those in preventive detention awaiting trial or appeal.

As well, I should point out that transfers under this act would require the full consent of the offender, as well as that of the receiving state and the sending state. Without the full consent of those three parties, an international transfer cannot proceed.

Some people may wonder why we ought to be concerned about Canadian citizens who are incarcerated in a foreign jurisdiction. Why not leave them there to serve their sentence? Why not let them learn a lesson from their experience, and serve as a warning to others tempted to commit crimes while abroad?

To answer that, I would draw attention to two interdependent objectives of the International Transfer of Offenders Act: the humane treatment of offenders and public safety. The purpose of these objectives is to ensure the human rights of the incarcerated offender, as well as to confirm the concepts behind Canada's criminal justice policy.

These objectives recognize that the vast majority of offenders will eventually be released back into the community and that the best way of ensuring public safety, in the long term, is to prepare them for their eventual return to society as law-abiding citizens. I am well aware that there are some who would challenge the notion that Canada's approach to criminal justice, generally, and corrections, specifically, is effective in protecting Canadians from crime.

In this regard, I would point to public records showing a steady decline in crime rates across most of Canada. In addition, the success rates of offenders released from our penitentiaries while under supervision are available and speak very positively for themselves.

The International Transfer of Offenders Act would ensure that Canadians who are sentenced abroad and who elect to return to Canada while under sentence would be managed in accordance with the policies and programs proven to reduce the long term risk to the Canadian public.

During the debate on Bill C-15, we have become aware of the issues facing Canadians sentenced abroad, often under difficult conditions. I am referring specifically to factors relating to human rights, sanitation, health care and nutrition.

I am also referring to the added burden associated with the differences in culture and language and to the hardship of being far removed from friends and family. The International Transfer of Offenders Act would take into account these humanitarian considerations, while also protecting public safety by addressing the offenders' criminogenic factors before sentence expiry.

Nevertheless, we must be very clear. The International Transfer of Offenders Act is not based solely on humanitarian intentions. The treaties enabled by this act do not allow offenders to somehow evade justice. These treaties stipulate that the receiving state shall neither interfere with the finding of guilt nor lessen the sentence handed down by the sentencing state.

I noted earlier that the Transfer of Offenders Act dates from 1978, which is some time ago. Principles of good governance require that legislation be reviewed from time to time in order to evaluate its continuing relevancy and effectiveness.

Consequently, the Transfer of Offenders Act was the subject of broad consultation, which included over 90 private and public sector agencies. This consultation revealed strong support for the Transfer of Offenders Act. However, the consultations also revealed that the act could benefit from some amendments, which are included in Bill C-15.

The amendments introduced in Bill C-15 can be placed in one of three categories. The first type are amendments that reflect the traditional treaty principles that have developed over time. The second, are those that address the gaps in the Transfer of Offenders Act. Finally, the last category of amendments contains the proposals that would contribute efficiencies to the current process.

I would now like to cover the main points covered by these reforms in Bill C-15.

First, the purpose and guiding principles of the act are identified. This is an important feature of modern legislation, and it helps promote consistency within Canada's body of criminal law, namely the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. Specifically, the purpose of the new international transfer of offenders act is to, and I quote,“contribute to the administration of justice and the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community by enabling offenders to serve their sentences in the country of which they are citizens or nationals”.

Second, the international treaty obligations and principles considered legally essential are included. These principles include those that ensure offenders have access to processes consistent with natural justice and due process. Enshrinement in the act of legally sound principles is necessary to ensure that the courts do not strike down the transfer process that could result in the unsupervised release of an offender into the community.

Third, eligibility criteria have been broadened to permit an increased range of Canadians to be transferred. Presently, young persons under probation, children, and mentally disordered persons are ineligible for transfer under the Transfer of Offenders Act. Amendments introduced in Bill C-15 would make these individuals eligible for transfer. This proposed amendment is in line with the humanitarian objectives of the new international transfer of offenders act.

Fourth, clarification on the decision-making provisions have been included where provincial consent is required for the transfer of offenders on probation, provincial parole, provincial temporary absence and for offenders under a conditional or an intermittent sentence.

Fifth, updated provisions are included that would result in the consistent and equitable sentence calculation for transferred offenders and would ensure the equitable treatment of transferred offenders when a pardon is granted or when a conviction or sentence is set aside or modified.

Sixth, reforms have been introduced to allow the negotiation of transfers on a case by case ad hoc basis between Canada and states with which Canada has no treaty or jurisdictions, or territories that are not yet recognized as a state, or other entities such as Hong Kong or Macao. In light of today's rapidly changing political landscape, this is a particularly relevant feature.

There is one last point related to the reforms introduced by Bill C-15. Most states are convinced in today's global climate of the need to work multilaterally and bilaterally to address criminal conduct in a way that is in harmony with longstanding principles of territoriality.In the absence of an instrument to enforce foreign laws, crime could be encouraged rather than prevented.

By working together through the transfer agreements enabled by the new International Transfer of Offenders Act, Canada would have the flexibility to work with a broad range of countries and other entities in matters of criminal justice in a way that would lead to public protection through the safe and gradual reintegration of offenders into society.

In conclusion, and for all the reasons I mentioned here, I ask my colleagues from all parties in this House to fully support this legislation.

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Northumberland, ON

Mr. Speaker, in listening to the hon. member, it sounds like we are taking a very progressive step but we seem to not necessarily include all the countries of the world in this process.

Does the hon. member have any suggestions as to what we might be able to do to further advance the cause as it relates to other countries in the world that may not be specifically included through an international treaty?

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Clifford Lincoln Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, the bill provides for flexibility in regard to territories and places that have not signed definite treaties with Canada so that there could be negotiations for their inclusion within the framework of the legislation as it evolves.

I gave the examples of territories such as Hong Kong and Macao that are now being included within the Chinese sphere versus their previous status as a British colony on the one hand and a Portuguese colony on the other. We have provided for the gradual inclusion of countries and territories that are not specifically bound with Canada by treaty.

International Transfer of Offenders Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

After question period, the hon. member for Lac-Saint-Louis will have approximately eight minutes left in the period of questions and comments.

The Chair will now proceed to statements by members.

Lakefield Marina
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, last summer was a difficult tourism season in Ontario because of SARS. On top of that problem, the people of Lakefield had their main dock closed while the township and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans negotiated over the cost of repairing it. I have received petitions from many residents about this.

I urge the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to continue to negotiate with the township of Smith-Ennismore-Lakefield. The dock must be refurbished and reconstructed so that it will last for many decades to come.

In the meantime, I urge the minister to have the dock tested immediately and, if it is safe, have it opened as is for this important tourism season. Let us do all we can to help the people and businesses of Lakefield now.

Elections
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, on the eve of our own federal election, the Conservative Party and Canadians would like to congratulate the people, election organizers and the elected governments of Malaysia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Spain, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Austria and Russia for having successful elections.

We would also like to congratulate those countries either undergoing elections or about to have them in the near future, such as India, the Philippines, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Malawi. These countries are fast closing the democratic deficit in their respective countries. The Liberals need to take notice of this trend.

Canada sends our best wishes.

Foreign Affairs
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister of Spain, Jose Luis Zapatero, has made a decision of great political importance by deciding to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq.

He has at the same time put into question the assertion by the U.S. and U.K. governments that the basic mission of the coalition troops is to bring democracy to Iraq. The question is, can western democracy be imposed with armed forces?

Mr. Zapatero's decision is based upon impeccable logic. Governments of countries, such as Denmark, Italy and Poland, may well wish to reflect on and adopt Spain's sensible decision. Parliamentarians in Denmark, Italy and Poland may well decide to press their governments because it is becoming more and more evident that the presence of foreign troops in Iraq is not helping the cause of democracy.

Women Entrepreneurs
Statements By Members

April 26th, 2004 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Sarmite Bulte Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government recognizes how vital women-owned businesses are to the Canadian economy. The fact is there are 821,000 women-owned businesses in Canada which contribute in excess of $18 billion every year to our economy, quite a significant sector of our economy.

The government has a proven track record in supporting the growth of small businesses. Our five year tax plan helps them retain more of their earnings and enhances opportunities and incentives for investors.

The report of the 2003 Liberal task force on women entrepreneurs contained recommendations that were in fact included in budget 2004: accelerated initiatives to provide more quality child care; working to update labour market programming to better reflect the realities of work in the 21st century; and announcing venture capital investment programs through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Farm Credit Canada, totalling $270 million.

The government is proud to help women business owners across Canada scale new heights.

Cambridge Classic Mile
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Janko Peric Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, Run for Life Inc., a non-profit organization promoting grassroots running and fitness programs, is hosting the first annual Cambridge Classic Mile Run for Life on June 18 at Galt Collegiate Institute.

Hundreds of children and adults of all ages will participate in a day-long series of one mile races, with elite runners competing in a special invitational race to climax the event. The event marks the 50th anniversary of the historic breaking of the four minute barrier at Oxford University.

Special guests will include two-time Olympian Grant McLaren, and Dave Bailey, Canada's first sub-four minute miler. A GCI teacher, Bryce Macey, and his grade 11 leadership class will resurface the track with the same material used 50 years ago.

I am pleased to join the House in wishing Run for Life chair, John Carson, and all participants and volunteers every success as they compete and raise greater awareness about lifelong fitness.

Elections
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, over the weekend I had the privilege of meeting hundreds of my constituents at the Cranbrook Trade Fair. It was very gratifying to get their positive response to me and to our new party but members should have heard what they had to say about the federal Liberals.

They cannot believe the way the Liberals squander taxpayers' hard-earned income. Incompetence, arrogance, waste and downright criminality are only what I can repeat in the House. However the number one issue on their hit parade, and I mean hit parade, was the breathtaking conceit of the Prime Minister as he toys with setting an election date. This is in stark contrast to the leader of the Conservative Party who is committed to establishing fixed election dates, thereby putting Canadians and Canadian interests first and foremost.

Canadians are truly in tune with what we are saying: demand better, vote Conservative.

Small Craft Harbours Program
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I was delighted last week to be able to announce, on behalf of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, an investment of $275,000, which must have also delighted the fishers of the Gaspé Peninsula.

This investment, within the Small Craft Harbours Program, will be used for dredging at the fishing harbours of Gascons, L'Anse-à-Beaufils, Cloridorme, Saint-Godefroi and Sainte-Thérèse-de-Gaspé.

As I have pointed out before, this investment is vital to the fishing communities of the Gaspé Peninsula. Local fishers require a well-maintained, operational harbour in order to successfully undertake their fishing season.

The dredging to be undertaken with the funding from our government will ensure that vessels have adequate water depth for safe navigation.

Dredging will begin in May, and harbour authorities should shortly be receiving work schedules so that they may inform the fishers of the expected dredging dates.

Older Worker Adjustment Program
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Beauport—Montmorency—Côte-De- Beaupré—Île-D'Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, the recently announced closures at Whirlpool in Montmagny and Abitibi Consolidated at Port-Alfred are sad examples of the importance and urgency of restoring POWA, the program for older worker adjustment. This program helps such workers live decently when they lose their jobs in circumstances beyond their control.

Often such workers have paid into EI for years, and never benefited from it. Quebec has seen its share of plant closings in recent years, with major lay-offs, and each one of these has been proof that a permanent support program like POWA is essential. These closures have affected thousands of older workers who have suddenly found themselves looking for work.

In the past, POWA has proven highly successful and the Liberal government ought to understand that additional employment insurance benefits are needed if older workers are to be able to make ends meet until they start receiving retirement benefits or find another job. Action must be taken now, as time is running out.

Vaisaiki
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Brampton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to join with Sikhs in Canada and throughout the world in marking the celebration of Vaisaiki .

From its origin in the Indus Valley, the Sikh faith has spread throughout the world, including Canada where the first Sikh pioneers settled over 100 years ago.

Over the past two weekends I joined with many of my Sikh constituents in a wonderful celebration of faith and pride in their culture. Congratulations to the Canadian Sikh community on the celebration of Vaisaiki .

[Editor's Note: Member spoke in Punjabi]