House of Commons Hansard #138 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was vehicle.

Topics

Telecommunications Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Ottawa—Vanier
Ontario

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger for the Minister of Industry

moved that Bill C-37, as amended, be concurred in with further amendment and read the second time.

Telecommunications Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is it agreed?

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12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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12:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed from October 18 consideration of the motion 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.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

October 20th, 2005 / 12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, let me give you my best wishes. I am sure that you will come out swinging in your struggle for your health.

It is my pleasure to speak to Bill C-65, an act to amend the Criminal Code in reference to street racing and to make amendments to another act, which would bring in a stronger punishment, as the government would like to say. We all know about the consequences of street racing. We have seen people lose their lives. Those who do street racing have a complete and total disregard for the safety and interests of others on the streets. All they are concerned about is their own interests.

My dear friend and colleague, Chuck Cadman, who is no longer with us, worked very hard to ensure that the bill was passed. One could say that Chuck Cadman's support of the Liberal government in May prompted the government to come up with the bill. We will accept that. I know Chuck wanted the bill passed and because the bill is before us, we will support it. Even though there is a political reason why this bill is before us, we will support it, but we do have a lot of concerns.

It is a typical Liberal approach to addressing issues that Canadians are always concerned about, specifically on crime. Every time a bill comes before Parliament from the Liberal side, we find that the bill is compassionate. The Liberals are always compassionate for those who have committed the crime. The Liberals say that a mistake was made and there should be rehabilitation and they try to put a face of compassion on all the bills that come before us to show that the Liberal Party is compassionate. The problem with that approach, which time after time Canadians have brought to our attention, is that the tendency of people is to ignore it, when there is no significant punishment.

I have introduced in Parliament three bills on three occasions. My private member's bill on repeat break and enter offenders, asking for a minimum two year sentence, has been defeated by the Liberals because they do not believe in mandatory sentencing. Why did I bring that bill forward? The concern with break and enter is such that repeat offenders find it profitable as a business because the punishment is so low and the rewards are so high. Offenders disregard it and they go do it again. So, what, if they have to go to court? They will get a suspended sentence or a small sentence and they are back doing the same thing. They continue on and as they become more efficient, there are more and more crimes.

The Liberal government will come along and tell us there have been no break and enters. They have declined across the nation. That is not the issue. The issue is that the crime of break and enter may have declined because of higher security or something.

The fundamental issue is when does punishment fit the crime? That is the key point. The bill that is before us has a similar consensus as that of Chuck Cadman. His bill had an escalating scale of punishment clauses to ensure that there was some kind of mandatory punishment for repeat offenders.

Mr. Speaker, you are from British Columbia. There have been recent cases in British Columbia where people have lost their lives and even police officers have lost their lives to street racing. These guys street race because they can get away with it, for the little fun that they get at that given time, with absolute disregard to the consequences it could have. They do not take into account the results and terrible consequences for others.

We talk about the people who have done this crime, but it is only recently, after pressure by the Reform Party of which I was a member, that we started looking at the victims, the terrible tragedy, the terrible consequences of these actions which are not thought of by these street racers, and what happens to the families.

A good example of that is what happened to me with the Ethics Commissioner. These actions and subsequent damage to my family are so severe that today, as I speak to you, Mr. Speaker, he is in front of the procedure and House affairs committee explaining these consequences. He probably never thought of it because he was so blind to the facts. He thought he had to do these things and he never thought of the consequences and what would happen to the family if he did what he did. Now he is in front of the committee to explain that.

I told the committee how these consequences have had an impact, on my sister-in-law, who has absolutely nothing to do with being a member of Parliament, and why her and her son's lives have become a public spectacle. Because Mr. Shapiro decided he wanted to go public and talk about something that was frivolous, this whole issue became public and the next minute everybody was talking.

I am talking about consequences, which are in this bill. The consequences of actions is what I am talking about. I want to tell Mr. Shapiro that the actions can be severe for those who have to pay the price. In the case of street racing, we know that people have lost lives. What about their families? They have voids that will be forever in their lives.

If we want a bill to address an issue, we cannot address issues in small parts. We cannot address a bill by saying one part is wrong and then think about another part. No, we need to understand and give a strong message. This Parliament has to give a strong message to anybody out there that their actions will have consequences, not that their actions will be taken lightly and we will look into the issue.

That is why the Conservative Party is proposing amendments to this bill, to make it tighter, to make it stronger, with the message going out that if street racing carries on and if somebody gets hurt there are consequences.

A couple of days ago, there were newspaper stories about a bus driver in Toronto who was shot in the face and there is the likelihood of losing an eye. He was an innocent bystander. Canadians want their streets safe. That is the issue everywhere, whether it is street racing, whether it is gun violence or any other form out there.

The police forces are asking us to do something. Even in the case of pornography with child predators. We need to send a very strong message about the consequences. When we have bills that have loopholes, or are watered down with the whole Liberal philosophy that they have to be compassionate, it is not sending the right message. The concern of what is happening on our streets, to our homes, is becoming louder and louder for Canadians.

Like me, all my colleagues listen to their constituents. I hope many of them will speak on behalf of the bill to strengthen it. The purpose of strengthening it is not to look as though we are cruel or that we have no compassion. That is not the point. We are all compassionate. The point is that the consequences for one's actions must be stated in the bill. People must know that they will face the consequences.

A bill is passed in the House and the independent judiciary implements the law. I am not saying there is anything wrong with an independent judiciary. I strongly support having an independent judiciary. It is the strongest foundation of a democracy. However, many times we have seen the judiciary send the wrong message. One decision is subsequently picked up by others and it goes on.

On many occasions many members of the judiciary have said that we in this place are the ones who propose the laws. Members of Parliament are the ones who give the directions. There is nothing wrong in sending the judiciary a message about mandatory sentencing. We are telling the judiciary that Canadians want safe streets. We are telling the judiciary that Canadians want people to pay for the their actions. We as lawmakers have to make strong statements, and we should do so in proposed legislation. Bill C-65 is a watered down version of Mr. Cadman's desire.

I was at Mr. Cadman's funeral and I know, Mr. Speaker, that you were at his memorial service. We heard many tributes made to Chuck by politicians and people who knew him very well in his riding. What came out very strong was Chuck's compassionate nature and how hurt he was after losing his son. He galvanized himself into working to ensure that the punishment fit the crime.

Chuck was not interested in throwing people in jail. He was interested in making people understand that there would be consequences for their actions. If we do not do that, then people will not understand, and that is the problem with this bill.

Chuck would go to victim's homes. He understood their pain because of the pain he himself felt. A compassionate man like Chuck would like to see a stronger bill. He would like us to send a stronger message. Bill C-65 does not propose that. While addressing Chuck's concerns, the bill still is a watered down version of what he wanted.

We want to bring in amendments that will leave a legacy for Chuck so people across Canada will get the message and, most important, the judiciary will get the message that the Parliament of Canada is very serious about addressing crime, about making our homes safe and our streets safe.

I again intend to bring my private member's bill on break and enter forward in the House. My bill would ensure a two year minimum mandatory sentence. The purpose is to break the cycle of people repeating these things.

I again intend to bring my private member's bill on break and enter forward in the House. My bill would ensure a two year minimum mandatory sentence. The purpose is to break the cycle of people repeating these things. We talk about compassion. Mandatory sentencing is not being cruel. We are being compassionate by taking repeat offenders off the streets and making them realize this is not a profitable issue.

Grow ops have become a major problem in our cities. In my riding grow ops have become a major issue because housing is cheap. Why? Because we have a problem with legislation. Hence the law enforcement agencies are weak when it comes to this issue.

I have met with law enforcement agencies in my riding. I have met with the local alderman, the local MLA and with local associations to address the issue of grow ops. Grow ops subsequently get into the drug trade and into prostitution. We have discussed how to address this issue. One solution is to put more police officers on the street. That has been our experience when police officers talk to us. They say that if they have more resources, they can put more police officers on the street which is a major deterrent, but we are not doing that. The police officers in my riding in Calgary have identified that there is no strong legislation to help the police to do this.

While the Liberals on the other side will say that this bill will address in the strongest possible terms those issues, another independent body will make the final judgment on how this is done.

Our experience has been that this independent body tends to go in a different direction. We are then doing a disservice to the independent body, the judiciary. We are not taking anything away from it. We are telling it what I want it to do. That is our responsibility. The Parliament of Canada carries the responsibility to make sound laws, laws that protect Canadians. We are elected to do that. We are not elected to create vague bills and then leave it to an independent body to decide what it wants to do.

We are giving our responsibility to it. We have said time after time that on many issues the government refuses to make law. It runs to the Supreme Court of Canada and asks it to make the decision.

It is this Parliament that will make the decisions. We make the laws. Let us give direction. This way Canadians feel confident that we are doing our jobs. The judiciary feels confident that a clear direction has come from Parliament. In this way we follow the direction that Canadians want us to follow. They have elected us to be their voices and their consciences.

We will be proposing amendments to the bill to ensure that people understand the consequences for their actions.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's comments were insightful. We can look at the heroic things Mr. Cadman did to ensure our streets were safe. We will always look up to him. He has left a legacy in Canada and the rest of us need to live up to that.

Yesterday in question period I watched the Deputy Prime Minister smirking constantly at the very serious questions we were asking about crime. It sent chills up my spine to see that. I have seen the refusal to raise the age of consent from 14 years to 16 years. I have seen the refusal to shut down the gun registry and put those resources into front line police officers on the streets. I take a look at all the things that have happened in the House of Commons and the cavalier attitude by the government toward crime. The government has been in power for over a decade, and I find the environment very disquieting.

As a mother of a police officer, I find it very scary. Would the member please comment on the environment that has developed in Canada under the Liberal regime since it came into power? How has affected people on the streets in Canada and what can do to make it better?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague has said exactly what Canadians have said. Being the mother of a police officer, she has first-hand experience of how police officers' hands are tied and how they cannot do their jobs because we have not given a clear answer.

The government makes vague laws, leaving another authority, the independent judiciary, to make the decisions. Many times the decisions it makes are not the will of Parliament.

The prime example is my friend Chuck. Chuck lost a son. That galvanized him to come here. An innocent man lost a son, but it galvanized him to action. I sat with Chuck on many occasion on these benches talking to him. There was a deep void in him with the loss of his son. Although he fought for justice from different angles, his justice was make all Canadians safer and our streets safer. It was that void and pain that brought him here.

There are consequences. People have died because of street racing and their deaths have left a void that remains for a very long time. It is our responsibility to ensure that we make the streets safer.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Kamp Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member knew Chuck Cadman better than me, but I knew him for a number of years as well. He spent considerable time in my riding, in the city of Maple Ridge, helping with our youth diversion program.

The notion that Chuck left a legacy is one with which I completely agree. I assume the hon. member does as well. When the government decided that it would bring forward this legislation, which it had at one point opposed, as fitting tribute to the legacy of Chuck Cadman, we were expecting to see the bill on which he had worked hard, a bill that he brought it to the House over and over. Yet the government left out the one section, as the member pointed out, on the escalating punishment consequences for repeat offenders.

I am curious as to what the hon. member thinks might be the reason for the government leaving that section out of the bill. If the government had put that in, as Chuck had intended, we would all enthusiastically support the bill. It seems to me that would have been a fitting tribute.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, let us be honest about this whole thing. This is the Liberal Party's way of thanking Chuck Cadman for supporting the Liberals and not causing an election. That is why the government brought the bill here. That is all it was.

As was rightly pointed out, Chuck introduced his bill many times but the government did not think it was important then. As I am saying, it was to thank Chuck for voting with the government and keeping it alive. Then it falls back to the same old philosophy that the Liberal Party sets out, that it is compassionate, that it must look after the rights of those who commit crimes and all those things. It followed the so-called compassionate face that the government wants to present. What we see is the watering down of this bill. Let us be honest about it. There is no compassionate face out there. This is politics being played and that is unfortunate.

Chuck's friends know he left a legacy. What Chuck wanted was strong sentencing and that is what we will propose for this amendment.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Oxford, ON

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-65 is purported to be a legacy of Mr. Cadman's, a man whom I did not know, but obviously members on both sides of the House speak very well of him. My understanding is that his intent was to put some teeth into a serious matter, something of which I have some knowledge.

Most, if not all, provincial legislatures have street racing as a provincial offence. Street racing frequently would be looked at as a minor offence. In order to include an offence in the Criminal Code, it must be a very serious event. I can say that these events are serious when they reach this point. Police officers take no pleasure in notifying the family of a victim who may have been a participant in street racing, and even less so when notifying the families of innocent victims.

The real intent of the legislation should be as a deterrent. There are no particular deterrents in the bill, not what we should have and not what Mr. Cadman proposed. There is nothing in the bill that would strike fear in the hearts of those who would take part in the kinds of activities that endanger other people.

There is no question that Mr. Cadman's intent was to raise minimum mandatory prohibitions. Repeat offences would increase the minimum mandatory sentences.

We frequently hear from the other side that it has fixed the laws, that the government has increased maximum potential sentences. There is a total difference between being tough on crime and being tough on criminals. Increasing the maximums does very little if there is nothing at the minimum level.

The bill does not provide us with the kind of deterrence that is required in these circumstances. Deterrents are so important whether they be for street racing, for break and enters, or for drug offences. We do not need to put any water in our wine in these circumstances.

This offence puts innocent civilians at risk. It puts police officers at risk. We are talking of vehicles that are travelling at very high speeds and very likely out of control, although the driver may think he has control of the vehicle. There are no safety factors as there would be at a proper race course. There is no one around to render aid when things go wrong.

The bill adds nothing to Mr. Cadman's original intent. As a matter of fact, it detracts from the intent of his bill. It is a neutered version of what Mr. Cadman brought forward in 2002. Mr. Cadman's bill proposed:

(a) for a first offence, during a period of not more than three years plus any period to which the offender is sentenced to imprisonment, and not less than one year;

(b) for a second or subsequent offence, if one of the offences is an offence under section 220 or subsection 249(4), for life:

(c) for a second offence, if neither of the offences is an offence under section 220 or subsection 249(4), during a period of not more than five years plus any period to which the offender is sentenced to imprisonment, and not less than two years; and

(d) for each subsequent offence, if none of the offences is an offence under section 220 or subsection 249(4), during a period of not less than three years plus any period to which the offender is sentenced to imprisonment.

Those are the kinds of things that deter that type of action. The judiciary will do its job. Police officers across the country are quite willing to do their job. They want to do their job. This would put the tools in the hands of the judiciary to provide some direction as to what society, through its elected representatives, really expects to occur for the most serious of offences.

We are not talking about the minor offences. As a police officer I know there are many cases of street racing that occur at traffic lights, where two people for whatever reason will race away from the light. We are talking about the serious offences. They are planned and premeditated. Frequently the vehicles are out of control. The cars and motorcycles reach excessively high speeds. One hundred kilometres an hour would be a very minimum speed. These are high speed events that have the potential for total disaster, which does occur and has occurred on our streets across the country.

This bill may be a good start, but we need to go back to what Mr. Cadman had originally intended. The bill needs to have some teeth and a strong deterrent effect. These events will occur if there are no deterrents.

In the last few months on one of the television channels there has been a show about racing called PINKS . People lose their ownerships to their cars if they lose the race. The race takes place in a controlled environment on a racetrack where safety officials are present.

We are talking here about street racing where there is no control, where vehicles are on roadways and pedestrians are present. There are any number of situations that lend themselves to total disaster.

As I have indicated, there are provincial laws with respect to racing. These are very serious situations. Why we would think it is necessary to water down what Mr. Cadman proposed defies logic. This bill needs to be passed with amendments that fit what Mr. Cadman had in mind. It certainly would be appropriate.

It is very difficult for me to understand why we would want to back down from what he initially had and why the House would not support what Mr. Cadman brought forward. If we are really going to honour Mr. Cadman and call this part of his legacy, then we need to put it in place just as he had brought it forward.

There are other related offences which by their nature tell us that this is serious. The other Criminal Code offences involved are criminal negligence causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm. These are serious offences. There is no need for us to water it down.

If we do not truly honour what Mr. Cadman brought forward, we are not doing Canadians any service and we are certainly not honouring Mr. Cadman's memory.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the constituents of Newton--North Delta to participate in the debate on Bill C-65, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to street racing.

Bill C-65 defines street racing as “operating a motor vehicle in a race with another motor vehicle on a street, road, highway or other public place”. Under the proposed legislation, street racing would be an aggravating circumstance for sentencing purposes in causing death or bodily harm by criminal negligence or by dangerous operation of a motor vehicle. A street racing offender, when convicted of these offences, would face a mandatory prohibition against operating a motor vehicle on any street from one to ten years and would follow the prison sentence. Currently, offenders face discretionary driving prohibitions if convicted of the above-mentioned offences.

Street racing has been a growing problem in British Columbia's lower mainland and has resulted in numerous high profile tragedies that have caused considerable public outcry.

In June 2000, Cliff Kwok Kei Tang, 28 years old, hit and killed pedestrian Jerry Kithithee, racing a Porsche at approximately 150 kilometres per hour.

In November 2000, Sukhvir Khosa and Bahadur Bhalru lost control of their Camaros while racing at an estimate speed of 140 kilometres an hour, and hit and killed Irene Thorpe on the sidewalk of Marine Drive in Vancouver. Both were given two-year conditional sentences rather than jail time and later Bhalru was deported.

In September 2002, Yau Chun Stuart Chan ran a red light at a Richmond intersection in his speeding Honda sports car and t-boned RCMP Constable Jimmy Ng's police cruiser. The force of the crash sent the 32-year-old constable through the back window of his vehicle, killing him instantly.

In May 2003, another street racer, Ali Arimi, was handed a conditional sentence after being found guilty of dangerous driving causing death.

In March 2004 in Surrey, an 18-year-old lost control of his muscle car at an estimated speed of 140 kilometres per hour. He demolished a bus shelter, critically injuring a 71-year-old woman. Another car was spotted fleeing from the scene.

Those were just a few examples of the many sad stories that have resulted from young people racing on the streets of the lower mainland. In recent years, these speeding cars have claimed nearly 30 known victims. People are outraged, not only by the crime but also by the lenient sentences handed out to the guilty.

Many of us in British Columbia, like my former colleague and neighbouring member of Parliament, the late Chuck Cadman, were outraged at the light sentences given to street racers. Street racing can be compared to waving a loaded gun around while blindfolded and squeezing off shots at random without any regard for other people or property.

Chuck Cadman introduced two bills, Bill C-338 and Bill C-230, dealing with street racing, neither of which went beyond committee stage. The bills were intended to prevent street racing by sending a clear message that those who endanger the public will face serious and long term consequences. As is usually the case, the government was not interested in supporting an opposition MP's bill when Mr. Cadman was a Conservative.

Almost two years ago, in October 2003, when Bill C-338 was debated at second reading, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice spoke in opposition. He claimed that the bill was inadvisable and said that if a court imposes a long period of imprisonment, the court may believe there is no need to have the offender prohibited from driving. The offender will have been off the streets and away from the wheel for a long time.

The problem with the parliamentary secretary's logic is that no one has ever received long jail terms for convictions resulting from street racing. Often house arrest is being used for street racers who kill or injure people.

The government has now turned an about face on Mr. Cadman's street racing bills. This should come as no surprise to members and to the public watching. After refusing to support my bills to protect firefighters and whistleblowers and to recognize international credentials, the government stole my concepts, introduced them in its name and started supporting them. First it criticizes an opposition bill and then it steals its concept, messes with it and then makes it a considerably weaker bill.

Bill C-65, the proposed legislation before us, is a neutered version of Mr. Cadman's past bills. Although it provides for mandatory driving prohibition and the inclusion of street racing in aggravating factors for sentencing, it fails to include the clauses on repeat offenders, which was an essential part of Mr. Cadman's bill.

Amendments to the bill should include reinstating Mr. Cadman's increasing scale punishment clauses replace subsections (a) and (b) in section 259(2.1) with the following:

(a) for a first offence, during a period of not more than three years plus any period to which the offender is sentenced to imprisonment, and not less than one year;

(b) for a second or subsequent offence, if one of the offences is an offence under section 220 or subsection 249(4), for life;

(c) for a second offence, if neither of the offences is an offence under section 220 or subsection 249(4), during a period of not more than five years plus any period to which the offender is sentenced to imprisonment, and not less than two years; and

(d) for each subsequent offence, if none of the offences is an offence under section 220 or subsection 249(4), during a period of not less than three years plus any period to which the offender is sentenced to imprisonment.

Illegal street racing terrorizes our neighbourhoods and kills innocent people. We must put a stop to it. Doing so will require work by all levels of government. Part of the solution may lie in increased impound fees for vehicles involved in street racing; the prosecution of street racing spectators, as has been done in the U.S.; traffic calming mechanisms; and the confiscation of vehicles after multiple violations.

The federal government, in particular, should provide more funding to the RCMP to increase enforcement and allow for the use of high tech surveillance. We must also have laws with teeth that provide a real deterrence to street racers, and steps should be taken to ensure that sentences are actually served.

When will the government realize that people who commit violent crimes should serve real time, not at home but in a prison where criminals will understand the magnitude of their crimes.

The B.C. government is already taking steps to clamp down on street racing. B.C. police seized 60 vehicles and suspended 180 driver licences. The B.C. government is doing its part. It is now time for this weak, Liberal federal government to do the same.

It is time to get tough on street racing. Street racing is something that is absolutely unacceptable and we should have zero tolerance for it. The Conservative Party supports the mandatory minimum prohibition on driving for street racing offenders and the placement of street racing as an aggravating offence.

The Conservative Party has consistently supported the efforts of Chuck Cadman in tackling this issue by supporting him on his bill. The Liberals, on the other hand, did not support his bill when he was a caucus member of the Canadian Alliance and the Conservative Party. They only decided to support legislation after Mr. Cadman voted to save the Liberal government in a confidence vote on May 19.

Bill C-65 is a step in the right direction but the government should honour Mr. Cadman's memory by amending the proposed legislation to more accurately reflect the true intentions of the bill.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the member's riding is right beside the former Chuck Cadman's riding in Surrey North. I know the residents often mingle back and forth. Could the member please tell the House what the constituents say about this bill, Bill C-65? Could he also comment on what they have said about the decriminalization of marijuana, the lack of raising the age of consent and the gun registry?.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, people in my riding and in the neighbouring riding of Surrey North, which was represented by my friend, Chuck Cadman, are disgusted. This is political opportunism demonstrated by the Liberal government.

I have a friend who was also very close to the family of Chuck Cadman and Chuck Cadman himself. His name is Dane Minor. He worked with Chuck Cadman right from the beginning when he founded the CRY organization. Dane wrote an open letter to the newspapers in the riding, which reads as follows:

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 reaction 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 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.

Mr. Dane Minor further writes:

If the Liberals truly want to honour Chuck Cadman I suggest 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.

Dane Minor is not alone. I know Dane well and I have known him for a very long time. He is a good community-oriented person and I give him due credit for the hard work he does in the community. He has spent time with Chuck Cadman. He is not alone. A lot of people who come to my office and initiate discussions about Chuck Cadman's legacy are disappointed with this bill.

The Liberals should listen to this and listen to the Conservative Party. If they want to maintain Chuck's legacy, let us do what Chuck intended to do, not what suits the Liberals and using Chuck's name but watering down the legislation.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Moore Fundy, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak to Bill C-65 on behalf of my constituents of Fundy Royal.

Unfortunately the bill is held out to be an adoption of Mr. Chuck Cadman's previous private member's bills, Bill C-338 and Bill C-230, which he had been trying for years to get through the House. They were common sense legislation that would protect Canadians and innocent bystanders and make our streets safer for everyone.

However, in typical Liberal fashion, the government dragged its heels for too long, and now, insultingly, once again it is offering too little too late.

From the outset, I would like to state that this bill is flawed and inadequate. Countless people have suffered from street racing while the government did nothing. Now the government is responding, but it is responding with a typical Liberal half-baked measure.

It reminds me of a couple of other issues related to the administration of justice, which I will touch on very quickly. One is the sex offender registry. As my colleagues know, victims' groups, the police and the provinces have been calling for a national sex offender registry for years. Unfortunately, the party opposite was ideologically opposed to such a move.

When public pressure became overwhelming in regard to the fact that the protection of children outweighed any privacy rights that sex offenders might have, the government did come up with proposed legislation for a sex offender registry. It was unfortunate and ironic what the bill did in regard to the registry. People were shocked to find out that the registry was not retroactive, which meant that all of the convicted sex offenders and people who had victimized children in the past would not be included in the registry.

It left countless Canadians wondering what was the point of having a registry if it was empty, if it was a blank sheet of paper, if we had to start from scratch when we already had all this information and could protect Canadians. There was a model in Ontario that we could have followed. Ontario had a retroactive registry.

Once again, in a wishy-washy method that was designed to pander to their own ideological bent, the Liberals could not stomach having an effective registry, but because of public pressure they had to come up with something.

The other example is Bill C-2, the child protection legislation. We see this same pattern. They call something “child protection legislation” so that it sounds like a bread and butter issue. It sounds good. We are all interested in protecting children, but what we are left with in Bill C-2 is a hollow shell. We are left with loopholes that people who victimize children could drive a truck through, loopholes that the defence and the bar associations across the country will have a field day with. It is not effective. It is not precise. It does not protect children. It does not go beyond where we are today with our current legislation.

The party opposite suggests that just by throwing a name out there and saying that something is a sex offender registry or child protection legislation or, in this case, a street racing bill, somehow Canadians will be fooled into thinking the government is taking some substantive actions.

Originally Mr. Cadman's bills were tabled to address the rise in street racing. The police tell us that the practice of street racing is becoming increasingly dangerous across the country. It begs the question, then, why now? Why is the government finally wanting to take on the appearance of action? Why was something not done in the past when Mr. Cadman was introducing private member's bills that would have addressed this very issue?

It is important to note the government's earlier response to Mr. Cadman. What was it saying in the past? The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice said:

Unless there is some compelling reason to specify that certain circumstances are aggravating it is better not to multiply the instances where the Criminal Code spells out that a particular way of committing the offence will be an aggravating factor. In my view, we are not seeing any such reason emerging from decisions of the trial courts and the appeal courts with regard to the four offences when street racing is a part of the circumstances of these offences.

There was a reluctance to adopt Mr. Cadman's bill. There was an effort to downplay it, to make it sound like it was not going to be effective. The Minister of Justice said, “Your proposed bill would result in a mandatory driving prohibition”.

That is what the bill called for: a mandatory driving prohibition.

The minister went on to say:

As you are aware, the Canadian criminal justice system is premised on the notion that sentences should be individualized for each offender...Research indicates that mandatory minimum penalties do not work from the point of general deterrence and recidivism.

This is the same line that we hear from the current Minister of Justice. We heard it as recently as yesterday in a response to a question. The Minister of Justice stated that mandatory minimum sentences do not work, yet we see that in other jurisdictions they are effective for serious offences. The Minister of Justice and the government are for some reason ideologically opposed to providing concrete protections for law-abiding citizens and to protecting the innocent in society.

It has been three years since Mr. Cadman first tabled his bills. All along, the government refused to support the legislation because it called for mandatory minimum driving prohibitions and increased the punishment for repeat offenders.

We could ask any Canadian if it makes sense that if someone is a repeat offender there should be an increase in the punishment. If someone is showing signs of recidivism, of being a repeat offender, should there be an increase in the punishment? The average thinking Canadian would say, “Absolutely. That makes sense”. When someone is a more serious offender, there should be a more serious consequence to the offence, yet in the past the government refused to support this legislation. I am pleased to say that the Conservatives have consistently supported these measures.

Bill C-65 proposes to amend the Criminal Code by defining street racing and by specifically identifying involvement in street racing as an aggravating factor during sentencing. That makes sense. The following offences are listed: 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.

Bill C-65 also provides for mandatory driving prohibition orders if street racing is found to be involved in one of those offences.

There we go. On the one hand, yesterday the minister stated that mandatory sentences do not work, yet in an effort to appease Canadians when there is public pressure for something, the party on the other side will do whatever it takes to appease people. So what do we see included in this bill? We see a measure that I support. There is the mandatory driving prohibition, but again it is a half measure because there is no increase for repeat offenders.

There is an irony in debating this bill today, which has the mandatory provision, when we remember that the Minister of Justice stood up yesterday and said in a blustery way that he was opposed to mandatory minimum sentences because they do not work. It just does not make sense.

Despite the positives, and there are some positives in this proposed bill, it is important to note, as I mentioned, that without serious penalties for serious crimes those crimes are going to continue. There will be no effect.

It is important to remind Canadians that in this legislation the severity of the punishment does not increase for repeat offenders. That was an essential aspect of the proposals in Mr. Cadman's original private member's bills. His bills proposed that for subsequent serious offenders there would be more serious consequences.

Bill C-65 is a half measure. After years of the government dragging its feet and speaking out against Mr. Cadman's private member's bills, it has introduced a half measure. It is a half measure that I cannot support.

We should honour the original intent of these bills, which would have been effective and would have provided serious consequences for those people who are serious offenders. We need to have some common sense amendments to this bill.