House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was street.

Topics

Order in Council Appointments
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table, in both official languages, a number of order in council appointments recently made by the government.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Beauséjour
New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

The Speaker

The Chair has notice of a request for an emergency debate from the hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest.

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Greg Thompson St. Croix—Belleisle, NB

Mr. Speaker, as you know, I hand delivered to you last evening a request for an emergency debate. In accordance with the requirement of the Standing Orders, I will simply step through what that letter stated. I think that will probably abbreviate the issue, so to speak, and hopefully you can quickly make a ruling on this.

The letter that I delivered to you yesterday, Mr. Speaker, reads as follows:

In accordance with the requirement of the Standing Orders, I hereby give notice that I will, at the next sitting of the House, make application for an emergency debate on actions taken by the United States of America that will have long lasting and negative consequences for the Canadian economy. With the potential to create more destruction in our trading relationship than the Softwood Lumber issue or BSE.

Mr. Speaker, I am referring to the Western Hemispheric Travel Initiative (WHTI) often referred to as the passport initiative. This initiative will require the use of passports by all U.S. Citizens leaving and returning to their country, this Mr. Speaker would also require Canadians to have the same form of identification ie passports [for travel to the United States]. Thus far Mr. Speaker, Canada has been somewhat silent on this issue, despite the fact that the economic consequences for our country will be great. As evidenced by the statistical information the various sectors of our economy have stated. (Statistical information on this issue would overburden you...but it is information that has been gathered by the Auto and Trucking Industries, Universities, Banks and Corporate Businesses, Border Commissions and Councils [including, obviously, the tourism council] and Provincial Governments.)

This debate I believe...is critically important because under the American Congressional Rules [and it is important for us to understand this] “there is a period of comment” where Canadians are allowed to comment on the impending legislation. In other words Mr. Speaker, it is an opportunity for Canadians to register their thoughts and in fact, have an impact in the implementation of these new rules. Mr. Speaker this debate would allow all Parliamentarians to register their concerns on this very controversial piece of Legislation. The comment period ends on October 31, 2005 and I therefore submit that the timing is critically important [on this issue]...

The former Premier McKenna, now our Canadian ambassador to the U.S., stated, “this is the sleeper issue that will dramatically affect Canadian business and trade”.

If there is any other clarification required I am prepared to provide it but I believe it is an issue that will affect the Canadian economy in a way that would be catastrophic. I suppose it depends on one's definition of the word “catastrophic” but one example is that the tourism people, associations and councils across Canada suggest that the first year of implementation would cost their businesses $2 billion. In fact, they are suggesting that it has a negative impact today because a lot of Americans chose not to visit Canada this year simply because they believed the legislation was in place and that passports were required to visit Canada. Therefore, it has already had a negative impact.

This year, as we know, a couple of weeks ago in fact, we hosted the Americans on the Canada-U.S. interparliamentary group. We had our annual meeting in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. Every American legislator, senators and congressmen, believes this was poorly thought out legislation and never realized the impact it would have.

I am suggesting we have an opportunity to debate it and add comment and, hopefully, we will have an impact on changing that which would work to the benefit of all.

Request for Emergency Debate
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest has explained his position and perhaps was going on a little long, so it is time to come to a decision on this matter.

I recognize the importance of the issue but I note that in his own letter to me, and as quoted by him in his remarks this morning, the hon. member for New Brunswick Southwest indicated that the comment period ended on October 31. I therefore do not see the urgency for an emergency debate at this point in time but there may come a day in the next few weeks when there would be some urgency and therefore emergency in terms of this debate.

However I would invite him, rather than ask me to order an emergency debate tonight, to have a discussion with his House leader and the other House leaders. They can agree on a take note debate which would satisfy his demands entirely and maybe arrange a date that is convenient for them rather than one that is convenient for him or for me.

Accordingly, I am declining his request at this time. I am well aware of the fact that there is a deadline and he may make a further application should his discussions not bear fruit. I will leave it at that.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Northumberland—Quinte West
Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of the government Bill C-65.

The bill contains a set of amendments to the Criminal Code regarding street racing. It is inspired by private member's Bill C-230, which was tabled by the late Mr. Chuck Cadman, who, until his untimely passing, was the member for Surrey North.

In summary, the government bill, as did private member's Bill C-230 that inspired it, specifies that street racing is an aggravating factor when a court is setting a sentence for certain offences. Also, as with Bill C-230, where street racing is found to accompany the offence, the government bill makes a driving prohibition mandatory. Unlike Bill C-230, the government bill does not call for the system of higher minimum and maximum periods of driving prohibition based on a repeat aggravating factor of street racing. I will speak more about that shortly.

I note that the four offences to which these reforms apply are the same in this government bill as in the late Mr. Cadman's private member's bill, Bill C-230. These offences are: dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm; dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death; criminal negligence causing bodily harm; and criminal negligence causing death.

Some members across might be asking themselves why government members had spoken against Bill C-230 in the earlier iteration of that bill during an earlier Parliament. I can say that the reasons for not supporting the private member's bill were based entirely upon principled objections to important sentencing aspects of the private member's bill and upon the practical difficulties in implementing certain key elements of the private member's bill.

One such principled concern that arises from the private member's bill is that for a first offence involving street racing—and most offenders appear in court for a first offence—the maximum driving prohibition is only three years. The current driving prohibition found in the Criminal Code is discretionary, but where it is imposed, the court may order a period of driving prohibition up to a maximum of 10 years for a case of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death or criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

In the case of criminal negligence causing death, where a court chooses to impose a driving prohibition under the existing provisions found in the Criminal Code, the maximum period is a lifetime ban. The government bill maintains these current maximum driving prohibitions that currently can be used on a discretionary basis, but it does so in the context of a new provision for a mandatory driving prohibition.

Again, the maximum driving prohibition in the government bill for three of the offences is 10 years. With a lifetime driving ban as the maximum prohibition for the offence of criminal negligence causing death that involves street racing, the government bill's prohibition is ever so much higher than the three year maximum driving prohibition that is in Bill C-230 for a first offence of criminal negligence causing death that involves street racing.

For the second offence of dangerous driving causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm that involves street racing, the government bill's maximum driving prohibition is higher by five years than the proposal within the private member's bill, Bill C-230, for a second offence of dangerous driving causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm. The maximum driving prohibition in the government bill for the two offences just named is, once again, 10 years.

The private member's bill, Bill C-230, would have created a scheme of higher minimum and maximum driving prohibitions that are based upon the repetition of the aggravating factor of street racing. The minimum in the private member's bill would have been a one year driving prohibition on any first offence of criminal negligence causing death, dangerous driving causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, or dangerous driving causing bodily harm where there is an aggravating factor of street racing.

On the second offence of dangerous driving causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm with an aggravating factor of street racing, Bill C-230 would have created a minimum driving prohibition of two years. On a third offence of dangerous driving causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm where street racing was an aggravating factor, the private member's bill would have had a minimum driving prohibition of three years. On a second or subsequent offence, if either the first or the current offence involves street racing and a death, the only penalty under the private member's bill would have been a lifetime ban.

Because of very significant practical obstacles, the government bill does not create a scheme that relies upon the prosecution proving a repetition of the aggravating factor for subsequent offences followed by a higher minimum driving prohibition. This is because it would be very difficult to implement a scheme, since aggravating factors are not recorded by the Canadian Police Information Centre. Therefore, the only cases where a subsequent offence scheme could be used would be those cases where the prosecutor is fortuitously alerted to the existence of the aggravating factor of street racing in a prior offence and successfully obtains a certified transcript of the sentence hearing.

This would be difficult in many cases where a prior aggravating circumstance of street racing arose in another city or even in another province. The end result would be an inability to implement consistently the higher minimum and higher maximum driving prohibitions scheme that is envisaged by the private member's bill, Bill C-230.

The mandatory minimum driving prohibition in the government bill for an offence involving street racing equals that proposed for a first offence within the private member's bill, Bill C-230. The minimum driving prohibition in the government bill is also a one year driving prohibition.

In order to be very clear, I wish to summarize that the government bill provides for the following. In every case involving one of the four listed offences with street racing, the offender will have a mandatory driving prohibition. The minimum driving prohibition will be one year and judges will have the discretion to make an order up to the maximum of 10 years' driving prohibition for dangerous driving causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing death or criminal negligence causing bodily harm. In the case of criminal negligence causing death, the judges will have the discretion to order up to the maximum driving prohibition of a lifetime ban.

The government bill on street racing should be supported. It specifies that street racing is an aggravating factor in the four offences already noted and it makes a driving prohibition mandatory for such cases that involve street racing. The minimum and maximum driving prohibitions in the government bill are workable because they avoid the higher minimum and maximum driving prohibition periods for repeated aggravating factors found in Bill C-230.

Again, a system that by necessity requires proof that there was an aggravating factor in a prior offence in order to obtain the higher minimum and maximum driving prohibition leads to inconsistency of application because the police system does not record aggravating factors and show them on the criminal record.

This government bill is, I believe, relatively straightforward, and police and prosecutors will be able to use it in a very easy way. I urge hon. members of the House to support the bill.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will ask a pointed question and I would like to get some answers straight to the point.

Knowing personally what Mr. Cadman's intentions were in regard to solving the problems that exist with these issues, when I look at the legislation I would like to ask the member who just spoke why, when the government is dedicating this legislation to Mr. Cadman's memory, did it go to such effort to water it down from the version that Mr. Cadman presented to the House on a number of occasions?

Just why is it watered down? And I ask the member to please not use the charter excuse.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, clearly the hon. member needs to reflect on the terms of this piece of legislation, I think, because in fact this is not watered down legislation. As I have just pointed out, it does expand the breadth of opportunity to be able to deal with those who would offend.

I think it clearly brings forward the concept that we want to have these individuals brought to justice. We want the court that deals with the matter to be able to find that there is an aggravating factor and to be able to give maximum penalties that could reach up to life, in the case of death.

I believe that the other bill clearly did make an attempt, but I think the attempt failed to reach out and ultimately succeed at the goal, because in fact, as I mentioned, CPIC does not carry incidents of aggravating factors in previous convictions. As a result, the other bill would have been more watered down in the sense that it would have been less enforceable than this bill.

We believe that Bill C-65 in fact is stronger and does put more teeth behind the opportunity for the court to give a sentence that is actually proportional to the crime. I believe that in this particular case the bill certainly does meet that request and need.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to comment on this bill.

It is a regrettable time in the House of Commons. Just a few short days ago, members opposite voted against raising the age of consent from 14 to 16. It is a regrettable time when justice issues are so watered down that in actual fact it renders things very ineffective, especially in memory of the member of Parliament for Surrey North, who spent so much of his time fighting for justice issues.

I listened to the comments by members opposite. They talked about the private member's bill being less enforceable. The comment made by the member who just spoke was that he wants this to be enforceable. I have a problem with that when the gun registry money cannot be shut down to put front line officers on the street. The government is totally out of whack when it comes to the justice issues.

Could the member opposite please comment on, number one, how in the world this enforcement would occur when we do not have the police resources to take care of the everyday things that are happening? Number two, again, why this bill was watered down when the former member of Parliament was so zealous and so adamant about the specific things that needed to be in it?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I have just stated, this is anything but a watered down bill. The reality is that we are trying to make certain that when the police and those law enforcement officers on the street actually catch someone street racing, in particular where there has been bodily injury or death, there will be a successful prosecution, a prosecution that will lead to a higher sentence that is proportionate to that particular crime.

I think the way in which the former member's bill was designed meant that it would not necessarily have that ultimate effect, especially looking at subsequent offences, when in fact we could not track, through the system we have currently in place, prior convictions where street racing was an aggravating factor.

I believe this bill is an appropriate bill. It does bring with it mandatory driving bans and prohibitions. I think that is what most members on the other side have been asking for: that there be mandatory positions taken. In this case, that is within the bill.

I believe that the court then would have the opportunity to assess both the conduct of the offender and any mitigating circumstances and could try to end up with a sentence that would be proportional to the crime committed. I believe that in this case there would be ways and means of implementing this, because if street racing is an aggravating factor it would be taken into consideration at that time. Clearly there would not be anyone falling through the cracks because the system did not report prior indications that street racing had been an aggravating factor in another incident.

I think this bill is an excellent bill. As I say, I think it will give the courts the opportunity to impose sentences that will meet the requirements of the particular crime that has been perpetrated. I believe the courts will take it seriously. I do believe that they will bring along penalties that meet the particular crime.

With respect to these individuals, we absolutely must make sure that they are taken off our streets. There is no doubt about it. I know all hon. members in this place are convinced that we need to take action to make certain that individuals who participate in that sort of conduct are treated with the severity of sentence they deserve. I believe that we are giving the opportunity to the courts to do that with the mandatory sentencing within this bill.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I very much support the bill, but I do have a question about one aspect with regard to linking the street racing activity to a consequence of some aggravating circumstance causing death or criminal negligence.

I think the question that the public may want to address is with regard to the offence of street racing itself, even in the absence of causing bodily harm or some other criminal negligence. I am wondering whether or not the issue of the repeat offender in terms of the street racing issue, which raises a risk to the public at large in terms of the event itself, should not also have been a focus of the bill to the same extent.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I previously stated, I believe street racing is an activity that we are clearly focusing on in the bill. We are trying to find ways and means to make certain that through the process of our existing criminal legislation under our Criminal Code and with this bill it will be more than adequate to meet the needs of the law enforcement officers on the street.

The focus in the bill tends to deal more with the multiple offender. However, within our Criminal Code we have the ability to deal with first offenders. By indicating where this activity is seen in a negative light within our system and by showing and demonstrating that on multiple offences we even take it more seriously with more severe penalties associated with the crime, we are sending a message to our judiciary that we want this treated with the seriousness it deserves.

Clearly, street racing has proven to be a deadly affair within our various communities. None of us wish to see it pursued. There are other ways for people to test their cars such as on lawful tracks where there are opportunities to share in their high performance cars. However, we want to send the message that street racing within our communities is something we will not permit. I believe we are doing that.

It will be dealt with seriously. We hope the courts will deal with it seriously and ensure that the sentences will be proportional to the crime.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand today to speak to Bill C-65 which deals with street racing.

It is a particular honour for myself because I considered Chuck Cadman a friend. The government has introduced Bill C-65 as a bill to honour Chuck Cadman and in his memory. It was just a few months ago when many members of the House were at a funeral in Surrey, British Columbia to remember Chuck and his fight for a safer Canada and for victims' rights.

Chuck spent the last years of his life fighting for a better and safer Canada. During that fight, while he was in Parliament, he introduced Bill C-338 and Bill C-230. The Liberal government opposed those bills. We heard the parliamentary secretary say that the reason for that was sentencing principles. The government does not believe in the principle of mandatory sentencing. It does not believe in creating legislation with teeth. Without consequences and without legislation with teeth, a disrespect for the rule of law is bred.

There have to be consequences built into legislation to be able to respect the law. The vast majority of Canadians do respect the law in Canada, but a smaller group of people do not. That creates huge problems, one being street racing.

What is a street racer? The typical street racer has changed over the generations. Right now street racing involves people with high powered cars. Their hobby is to spend their paycheques on high performance vehicles. They soup them up and then they have races. Sometimes the races are in lonely areas of the communities where there are not a lot of people around. With cellphone technology and through the Internet, they talk to one another about where they will go to race.

They have spotters who watch for police cars. If they see any, they forward a message to the people to scramble. They will have a number of people observing and having fun. There is drinking and partying going on as they are racing down the streets. This has resulted in a lot of people being seriously injured or killed.

Another form of street racing that creates havoc and deaths is the hat race. A hat race is when hot cars gather together. The owners of the cars and some of the passengers throw money into a hat. They will be given a destination and the first person to that destination wins the money in the hat. They disregard stop signs and go as fast as they can, racing through communities so they can win the money. It exciting and exhilarating to them. Their adrenalin flows as they tear through our communities.

Hat races and street races are all part of the street racing phenomenon we have been experiencing with these high performance vehicles and our technology. People are dying . In that vein, Chuck Cadman wanted to do something, so he created these two private members' bills. He fought hard for them in the House.

Canadians grieve still the tragic loss of his life. The Prime Minister spoke at his funeral. I am glad we were there to remember Chuck and acknowledge his hard work. The Prime Minister promised he would introduce bills to remember Chuck. We have Bill C-65 on street racing and Bill C-64 on vehicle theft and changing VINs, which we will speak about shortly. These two bills were really important to him. I talked with Chuck's wife, Donna, and I promised that would speak to this bill. I will report on what she said in a moment.

Bill C-65 is to honour Chuck. Dane Minor also was a very close friend to Chuck. He wrote a letter to the editor of the Surrey Now newspaper in British Columbia. I would like to read it into the record. Dane Minor was Chuck Cadman's former campaign manager who worked for years with Chuck on issues. He was very excited to hear that the government was going to honour Chuck with Bill C-65 and Bill C-64. He read an article of October 1 about “Chuck's Bill likely will be law”. When we saw that we thought maybe the Prime Minister and the government were really going to do something to finally honour Chuck. I and Dane were excited about this.

He writes:

I read [this] article...with a growing sense of disgust. Several weeks ago the Prime Minister announced on the front pages of national and local papers that his Government would pass Chuck's private member bill into legislation as an honour to Chuck. My immediate response was a positive one. It would be a fitting memorial to Chuck. Then the Justice Minister announced his watered down version. This isn't Chuck's bill in either intent or in design. It is a cynical attempt by the Liberals to use Chuck's good name while doing little or nothing to change the existing laws.

One of the things that drew Chuck into the political arena in the first place was a visit by a former Justice Minister to supposedly discuss the Young Offenders Act with Chuck. The man blew into town spent five minutes getting his picture taken shaking Chuck's hand and went back to Ottawa saying meetings with the victims showed his government cared about victims and the faults of the YOA. Chuck was disgusted and it was incidents like these that led him to become an MP to truly change things.

This “new” legislation from the Liberals is the same kind of political stunt. [The] Justice Minister said his government tweaked both bills to comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and to address “operational deficiencies”. [Baloney]. Chuck had one of the best legal advisors in Ottawa on his staff and his bills were well within the Charter. The ultimate ridiculousness of [the justice minister's] version was the reason for removing the penalties for repeat offenders, “because the police across this country don't have tracing and tracking records so we know if it was a first, second or third tracking offence“.

If the Liberals truly want to honour Chuck Cadman I suggest that they pass his laws as written and actually give the police the resources to find out how many previous offences there were. If they don't have the courage to do that, at least have the decency to stop using his name in a self-serving bid to gain political points.

After reading the letter, I talked to Dane. I asked him for permission to present it today. He was glad to have it read in the House of Commons.

I also talked with Chuck's wife yesterday. I asked Donna what she would like me to tell the House. She said that I should tell the government not to water down Chuck's bill. If it did, it would create Mickey Mouse legislation and it would protect the criminals.

I have a background ICBC, as did Chuck. I was in loss prevention. I worked to find out where crashes were happening, why they were happening and where the crime was happening. Chuck and I both had a passion. I feel as though I am carrying on the torch for him to fight for safer communities, particularly regarding automobiles. Chuck wanted to deal with this. It was an important issue to him.

When we talked to the public, we were encouraged to share the three e s: education, engineering and enforcement. When we have a problem in a community through policing, whether we are an engineer, a police officer or politician, if we look at the three e s, that usually will guide us into finding a solution to the problem. Let us apply the three e s to street racing.

The first is education. We educate through the school systems, through the Internet, through movies. Before a movie starts, there are trailers. In the movie theatres we see these trailers warning people that if they drive fast, the forces between 50 k.p.h. and 60 k.p.h. actually double. The impact doubles between 50 k.p.h. and 60 k.p.h.

It is often students who drive the hot cars. Through education we tell them that there are only four little pieces of rubber which hold the car to the pavement and if they drive extremely fast, the forces are tremendous and they could lose control and they could kill themselves and other people. We know that education has worked somewhat.

The second is engineering. Street racing is a problem. Some communities have put in speed humps, bumps and strips on the road. They know of some of the areas where people are racing cars and they wet the streets. They are trying through engineering design to keep street racing to a minimum and to stop it. Through education and engineering we are trying to do what we can to stop street racing.

The third is enforcement. The enforcement aspect of it is our responsibility in the House. We need to have legislation that provides a stop to street racing. It is our responsibility and that is what Chuck was trying to do, the enforcement.

Why are we opposed to it? We are using Chuck Cadman. If we want to have Chuck Cadman's memory on it, then let us have Chuck's bills which include the teeth.

There was a recent announcement on crystal meth, a dangerous drug and is now schedule 3. What are we going to get for it? No teeth. It is a phony announcement.

The child pornography bill, Bill C-2, was passed by the House. Everyone was excited because our children would be protected. Again, it appears it was a phony announcement. It has just been sitting on the Prime Minister's desk for the last five months. I asked the justice minister yesterday why it has not been enacted and why is it not legislation. He would not answer.

We now have more phony bills using Chuck Cadman. It is shameful. We should honour Chuck and pass Chuck's bill. Promises were made by the Prime Minister to honour Chuck.

We need to change this bill. We need to give Chuck's bill the honour it deserves. Chuck wanted mandatory driving prohibitions in the bill, so that if people street race, there will be consequences. He also wanted increased punishment for repeat offenders. If people get caught, there will be a consequence, which is what Chuck wanted. If they do it again, it will be a more severe penalty and a more severe consequence. Each time they reoffend, there will be an additional increasing consequence.

Chuck was right on. We need to honour his bill. Bill C-65 is a phony bill and the Conservatives will be opposing it. Let us honour Chuck and let us oppose this phony bill.