House of Commons Hansard #139 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was vehicle.

Topics

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, as did a number of others, I listened with great interest as I always do to my colleague from Wild Rose. I would add to his comments that despite his challenge, I did not see any Liberals on the other side rising to defend what we would consider to be the indefensible, or try to defend the indefensible, when it comes to the completely undemocratic actions of the government.

I recently had the opportunity as House leader for the official opposition to write a couple of newspaper columns that were published, in which I declared that I believe that this is the most undemocratic Parliament I have seen in my lifetime and maybe in the history of Parliament itself.

My colleague cited a number of motions that were passed. The reason they were passed is that we are in a minority Parliament. It is not easy to get agreement among the three opposition parties in order to pass something. To get the agreement of the Conservatives, the separatists and the socialists is quite an accomplishment on any given day.

As the member indicated, with our opposition days last winter and early spring we passed a number of motions in the House that we felt were in the best interests of Canadians. They were supported sufficiently, in some cases by the Liberals themselves, to pass in this chamber and they should have been acted upon.

Instead, the government creates this illusion of democracy. As the member indicated at the closing of his remarks, the Liberals have replicated this fall what they did in the spring out of fear that the opposition may use an opposition day to bring forward a motion of non-confidence in the government which, if passed, would cause the government to fall. Out of fear of that the Liberals have postponed all of the opposition days. Normally we get roughly one opposition day every seven to nine days.

The Liberals postponed all of the opposition days until mid-November or later knowing two things. One is who wants an election on Boxing Day? That is what would happen if the government fell after the middle of November. Obviously that is a serious consideration for any party in defeating the government, even though we inherently believe, and have steadfastly believed since late last winter, that the government is corrupt and should be removed from office. We have never deviated from that.

The other reason is what my colleague from Wild Rose alluded to which is if the Liberals can put off the opposition days, they will not potentially be embarrassed, the way they should be embarrassed right now. Opposition days resulted in the passage of some really good motions, which the member listed, which should have been democratically acted upon by the government because the majority of the elected representatives in the House of Commons voted for them. It should be incumbent upon the government to enact those motions, but it is ignoring them.

If the Liberals can push that back until the winter, obviously with an election coming in the spring at the latest, they will not have to act on those. Even if we bring forward more good motions that we believe are in the best interests of Canadians, even if the majority of members crossing partisan boundaries support those motions, the government will not act upon them.

I wonder what my colleague has to say about a government in a minority situation that will use every possible parliamentary procedural tool at its disposal, and actually brag about it, to avoid the challenge of confidence of the chamber. Our parliamentary system is based upon the premise that on any given day the Prime Minister must be able to demonstrate to Canadians that he has the confidence of this place. That is what it is based upon. The Liberal government, more than any in the past, is avoiding that responsibility to prove to Canadians that it has the confidence not just of its own backbench, not just of its own cabinet, but that it has the confidence of the majority of members in this place.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say right off the top that I for one would love to vote on Christmas Day or Boxing Day and give Canadians the greatest gift we could give them, which is to get rid of the mob of corrupt people on that side of the House. I really would not care what day the election was held as long as we got rid of that corrupt, undemocratic mob that has been acting as the government of this country. I do not know how else to put it.

As the member said, it is a minority government. If we as a group give the confidence to the Prime Minister of the day to continue operating as is, that is one thing, but not to even have the opportunity to test that confidence through a supply day motion is as undemocratic as one can get. It is pathetic. The government should stand the test of confidence.

Time and time again the NDP leader has stood up and said, “We must make this work. This minority government will work. We will join the Liberals in decision making so nobody gets defeated and we will make it work”.

I listed a few things that happened. They were pretty good things. I think everybody would agree that they were good things. Is it not a good thing to give the people with hepatitis C compensation? They deserve it. All victims of hepatitis C should be compensated. We made that decision, but it is not happening. It will not happen. There is a group somewhere in that mob over there who hope that it all dies out before the next election so they do not have to implement it. I really find that disturbing.

The leader of the NDP supports that corrupt, indecisive, dithering mob who will not abide by the decisions of the House day after day. The Liberals just will not abide by the decisions that are made here.

I do not want a government that does not do what we decide it should do as members of Parliament. I do not want that government. There are countries that have that kind of government. They are called dictatorships. I do not want that and I do not think my colleagues anywhere in the House want it. I know the residents of Wild Rose do not want it.

Let us have a vote of confidence. Let us give Canadians the best Christmas gift we could give them. Throw the government out of a job. The Liberals need to be on the unemployment line.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

May I remind hon. members to be careful with the vocabulary they use.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Yukon
Yukon

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted the rabble over there is rousing for us to speak. The House leader over there has invited us to speak to the democratic deficit. The member for Prince Albert is encouraging me to get up, so I am delighted to have this opportunity.

Yesterday I gave an interview on the democratic deficit and I explained how this is the most democratic Parliament in history and I outlined a number of reasons. We appointed the first independent ethics counsellor in history. The House of Commons now has its own conflict of interest code. We have added more committee resources so that the committees, where a lot of work is done in Parliament--

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I am just wondering, is there not a parliamentary rule against using this chamber for comedic joke telling?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

The hon. member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park has helped me decide that I will let the hon. parliamentary secretary continue.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, that is a good indication of the level of sophistication of the debate on the other side. Members opposite talk about jokes when we are talking about serious procedures.

I will go on. We have added more resources to the Library of Parliament which does research on issues to ensure that they are properly dealt with in Parliament. We have some nominations for positions, such as the heads of crown corporations, which are sent to committee for review.

The two items that have increased the democratic operation of the House more than anything in history are: first, this is the first time that more bills than ever are being sent to members in Parliament for review after first reading. We can actually change the nature of a bill. When the bill is at second reading, the whole principle or nature of the bill cannot be changed.

Second, the Prime Minister has given this side of the House a three line whip, which means that for most of the votes members on this side are voting more freely than ever. I have voted against the government numerous times because our Prime Minister thinks that members should have that democratic right. The Prime Minister has democratized the House in that respect.

The member believes in democracy. I hope he does not support his House leader's suggestion that our House leader do something in his power that would precipitate an election. He used his democratic right to schedule the opposition days. The opposition is getting all its opposition days.

If the opposition likes democracy, why would the opposition party support going to war with Iraq when most Canadians democratically did not want to go to war with Iraq?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

I am going to ask the hon. member for Wild Rose to respond very briefly please. We are running out of time.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, my comments will be very brief, particularly in response to the member's last comment.

All I can say about the war in Iraq is that the world is sure a whole lot better off without Saddam Hussein. If he thinks that Iraq is not better off and that Hussein should still be in charge, then I am sorry for him because that is the kind of country that I have been talking about.

The member failed to mention all the crony appointments that the government has made, including Dingwall, including Ouellet who still has not produced some millions of dollars worth of receipts for expenses that he made. There are all of these things and the member has not talked about them.

The member failed to mention most of the decisions that were made in this House. The member opposite may have been part of making a good decision that has not yet been implemented. Perhaps the member could stand up sometime and give us some information as to why hepatitis C victims are not compensated. I would like to hear the reason. That was a decision made here. Perhaps the member could explain to this House of Commons why a department was divided and split in two, even though the bill to do so was defeated.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

October 21st, 2005 / 12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to express my support for Bill C-64, a government bill that would provide a new offence for altering, removing or obliterating a vehicle identification number on a motor vehicle. This bill is important as it addresses a gap that currently exists in the Criminal Code.

At present, there are offences in the Criminal Code that can and are being used to address the problem of automobile theft in Canada. These include, notably, the specific offences of theft and possession of stolen property. There is also the offence of taking a motor vehicle without consent, sometimes referred to as the joyriding offence. Also relevant is the offence of fleeing in a motor vehicle to evade a peace officer, an offence that is frequently engaged in by persons who have stolen cars.

However, while these offences can be and are being used, they do not fully address the activity that is proposed to be directly criminalized in Bill C-64. Currently, the activity of altering a vehicle identification number is most closely associated with the offence of possession of property obtained by crime, in section 354 of the Criminal Code.

When people are found to be in possession of stolen vehicles, it is not at all uncommon to find that those vehicles have had their vehicle identification numbers tampered with. Indeed, section 354 already includes a provision with respect to vehicle identification numbers. In particular, section 354 includes a provision stating that evidence that a person is in possession of a motor vehicle which has had its vehicle identification number wholly or partially removed or obliterated is considered to be evidence that the vehicle was obtained by an offence.

Why then is it worthwhile to also provide for the offence proposed under Bill C-64? The answer is that the proposed new offence does not address possession itself, which is already criminalized, but the actual act of tampering with the vehicle identification number.

A further understanding for the rationale underlying the proposed new offence can be found in part in the very placement of the proposed new offence in the Criminal Code. The offence would be added as new section 377.1. It would not appear adjacent to the possession offence at section 354 but rather adjacent to provisions such as the illegal damaging of documents and offences in relation to registers of information. These offences are designed to protect the integrity of certain important documents and registries of information in Canada.

The vehicle identification number system is itself an important record of information. Each vehicle is given a unique number to confirm its identity and origin. This number, properly remaining in place, plays a vital role in respect of detecting and retrieving a stolen vehicle after a theft. In addition, it can also be used to track recalls, registrations, warranty claims and insurance coverage. It has been referred to as the automotive equivalent of human DNA.

The government has a clear interest in protecting the integrity of this system. Therefore, it is proposing the offence under Bill C-64 which would address the altering, removing or obliteration of a vehicle identification number on a motor vehicle without lawful excuse and under circumstances that give rise to a reasonable inference that the person did so to conceal the identity of the motor vehicle.

This proposed new offence would clearly and directly recognize that tampering with a vehicle identification number for this purpose is wrong. The offence would recognize the act as a key and central aspect of a chain of activities involved in the theft of a motor vehicle and the reselling of vehicles or their parts, activities that are frequently engaged in by well organized crime rings.

This chain of activities, that also includes the transportation of stolen vehicles or their parts to foreign countries for resale, generates very considerable profit for organized crime in this country and abroad. It also deprives Canadians of their motor vehicles, which are, of course, extremely significant physical possessions, in monetary and practical terms, for individuals and families.

While insurance can provide compensation for this theft, the amount of theft contributes substantially to insurance costs that are a burden to society at large. The government has a clear and direct interest in addressing this chain of activities and, therefore, indirectly criminalizing one of the central acts that facilitates it.

The additional proposed offence may perhaps be seen as a subtle addition to the already existing offences in the Criminal Code, such as theft and possession of property obtained by crime, but it is an important and justified one for the reasons that I have outlined.

I observe as well that the National Committee to Reduce Auto Theft and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police have called upon the government to pass a distinctive offence of tampering with a vehicle identification number.

It is important to note as well that the creation of a distinct offence of this nature would more clearly help to indicate a perpetrator's potential involvement as part of an organized vehicle theft ring. In this regard, the fact of charges and prosecution under the proposed new offence would be of value to police and the Crown prosecutors in subsequent investigations and prosecutions.

It is also important to observe in this regard that the proposed new offence, with its maximum punishment of five years imprisonment, can qualify as a criminal organization offence under the Criminal Code. Where this is demonstrated, additional criminal law provisions can come into play, including the possibility of an additional conviction for one of the core criminal organization offences found in the Criminal Code, such as participation in the activities of a criminal organization, the possibility of consecutive sentencing for offences arising out of the same transaction, and a deeming of an aggravating factor on sentencing and reduced parole eligibility.

I recognize that questions have been raised as to whether appropriately severe sentences would be available for the proposed new offence where the offence has been committed in connection with organized crime. It should be underlined that this would be available by virtue of these additional criminal organization provisions of the Criminal Code that are designed for this very purpose. I would also underline that another piece of legislation currently before this House, Bill C-53, would provide for aggressive additional proceeds of crime measures in respect of criminal organization offences.

Therefore, these aggressive new proceeds of crime measures, if passed by Parliament, would also be available for the proposed new vehicle identification number tampering offence where it is demonstrated that this tampering was done for a criminal organization.

It must be recognized that not every person who alters, moves or obliterates a vehicle identification number necessarily does so in a criminal context. There may be innocent, lawful explanations for such activity. In recognition of this, the offence criminalizes the act of tampering with the vehicle identification number only where circumstances give rise to a reasonable inference that the person did so for the purpose of concealing the identity of the vehicle. Further, the provision would recognize the possibility of lawful excuse. These are appropriate safeguards in respect of the offence.

I recognize that questions have been asked as to why it was advisable to add the words “under circumstances that give rise to a reasonable inference that the person did so to conceal the identity of the motor vehicle”, if the proposed provision also makes reference to the possibility of lawful excuse. The reason is that in certain cases, like legitimate wrecking of an automobile, VINs are regularly obliterated.

In view of these regular circumstances, it is appropriate to more clearly identify a specific wrongful purpose in the definition of the offence itself. The defence of lawful excuse, as appropriate, would be left for circumstances where persons engaged in the act with the apparent wrongful purpose but nevertheless had an excuse for doing so.

It must also be acknowledged that a private member's bill, Bill C-287, introduced by the late Chuck Cadman, provided a critical part of the inspiration for the current government bill. It contains somewhat different language with respect to the lawful excuse element. In particular, Mr. Cadman's bill proposed including the words “the proof of which lies on the person” in the reference to lawful excuse. These additional words are now part of the government bill.

The inclusion of such words would put a persuasive burden on an accused to prove a defence. This is contrary to general traditions under Canadian criminal law under which the persuasive burden remains on the Crown with respect to guilt or innocence.

This is also, in particular, a concern under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In general, whenever an accused is required to disprove, on a balance of probabilities, any factor affecting the verdict of guilt or innocence, charter concerns can arise with respect to the presumption of innocence.

It is not the general practice under the Criminal Code for reverse burdens to be put on an accused with respect to guilt or innocence itself. Convictions are regularly obtained under existing provisions of the code with the full persuasive burden remaining on the Crown.

This is a normal part of our legal tradition in Canada. The government had no intention of leaving the proposed new measure open to a charter doubt. A reverse burden in this case was considered by the government not to serve any necessary purpose. Defence can be effective without it and so it was not included in the government bill.

This bill is an important addition to the criminal law tool kit. It will fill the gap that currently exists in the Criminal Code of Canada. It will address an activity that is part of the cycle of auto theft for profit, frequently engaged in by organized crime. It provides for an appropriate sentence of a maximum of 5 years' imprisonment for the offence itself. Further, in conjunction with existing and additional proposed measures with respect to criminal organization offences, it allows for the imposition of serious additional consequences where a link to organized crime is shown.

At the same time, the drafting of the offence provides for appropriate safeguards so as to accurately describe the criminal nature of the activity captured and so as not to impose a reverse burden on an accused with respect to guilt or innocence that could affect the charter viability of this particular offence.

The government is confident that this will be an effective and justifiable new provision of the Criminal Code. I call upon members of the House to support it.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dick Harris Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member's presentation conflicts with other areas of the law and I know those members are sticklers for that.

Is he aware that under the Criminal Code possession of a certain amount of marijuana, for example, automatically brings the court charge “for the purposes of trafficking”? It is assumed that the possession of that amount of drugs is for the purposes of trafficking. There is no grey area there.

This member is saying that there is a question as to whether someone who is caught with a stolen vehicle with the VIN removed did it for some legitimate cause or not. I would like the member to stand up and tell me about one lawful, innocent removal of a VIN, as he mentioned in his speech, that is likely to bring a criminal charge against that person. I would like just one example.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

12:55 p.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite had listened carefully, he would have heard the example I listed during the speech, that of auto wreckers. There is great concern in those industries, because through their work they regularly obliterate VIN numbers.

What the fundamental issue is with this bill is the onus of proof and this whole concept of the probabilities: whether or not a person has to prove their innocence or whether it is up to the prosecutor, the Crown, to prove the guilt of a person. That comes back to the fundamental pillars of our judicial system and how our judicial system has been built up over decades and in fact centuries. One of those pillars is an assumption of innocence.

If we were to change this in a case of this sort and say that the balance of probabilities means that if the probabilities are 50% plus one that the person may be guilty, then in fact the person will be sentenced. Fifty per cent is almost fifty-fifty. It is a coin toss. That undermines the very fundamental basis on which our judicial system has been built.

The Crown has tremendous resources at its disposal so that it can in fact prove the guilt of someone who has been convicted. To shift that responsibility onto someone who would have to prove his or her innocence would be incredibly onerous. In fact, it comes back to some of those very democratic principles on which our society is built, which are that government apparatus, government departments and the prosecution have an obligation to prove guilt and that innocent people will not end up in prison.

Of course, as was pointed out, that is not a Conservative principle. I guess the principle of vigilantism, et cetera, is closer to the principles on the opposite side.

Let us return to this whole fundamental principle of institutions of the government and of the Crown not having the onus on them to prove guilt. Let us look at it being up to an individual citizen to have to do it. In fact, we see that in a lot of places in the world. In the former Soviet Union, that is exactly how things worked.

Even in Canada, in situations where the burden of proof lies on the Crown in very serious cases, murder cases, where beyond a shadow of a doubt we have to prove guilt, quite often with new evidence as the years go by we find that people who were convicted and have spent a great number of years behind bars were in fact innocent.

If we shifted to a coin toss, balance of probabilities, 50% plus one—and that is what we are talking about, basically fifty-fifty, a coin toss—that would be a fundamental shift, not just in how our judiciary has been built up but also in our democracy.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Fitzpatrick Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, this individual must have gone to a different law school than I did. If a person is caught for speeding, the Crown proves in court from the reading of the car that the driver was going 80 miles per hour in a 60 mile per hour zone. The Crown sits down, having proven its case. If the accused has a valid reason for driving 80 miles per hour, the defence lawyer introduces a case and makes the argument.

If a person is found with a vehicle on which the VIN has been removed, comes into court and it is proven that the offence has been committed and the VIN is off the vehicle, that has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If the individual feels that he has a justifiable reason for having it removed from his vehicle, it is then up to his lawyer then to discharge his or her responsibility and introduce evidence for why it was justified.

What I have heard in this chamber today is truly astounding. If that is the depth of the intellect that is involved in creating the criminal justice system in this country, we are in for a whole lot of problems in this society, a whole lot of problems, because it is thin soup if I have ever seen it. Any law professor in this country giving the diatribe we heard today would be literally laughed out of the classroom.

The Criminal Code is full of provisions that shift the burden onto the accused at certain stages. That is as old as the hills too. It is old as the common law and the Magna Carta.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

Borys Wrzesnewskyj Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will not get into a game of comparing intellects. I will not take part in that sort of dialogue within this august institution. Members of the electorate can judge on their own the intellectual level of debate that takes place in this forum.

Let me refer to the example used, a conviction on speeding. In most of these cases there is very clear evidence and clear proof. There is a driver who has been stopped. The measurement is by certified radar equipment. That is why the proof in that particular set of circumstances is very clear. The balance of probabilities does not entail that sort of requirement. The balance of probabilities would allow for a case where someone sees someone zip by, says it looks like the person who lives in a house where that car is parked, and convicting on that sort of basis.

We are talking about a very serious piece of legislation. We understand that the legislation would have a very difficult time surviving a charter test. Our judiciary is built upon a tradition that calls upon the Crown to prove its case and on a presumption of innocence.

The balance of probabilities undermines those very principles, so it would not survive a charter test. If it does not survive a charter test, we have in fact defeated this whole exercise. Instead of having a bill that addresses a specific loophole that exists and being able to criminalize that particular activity, we would be passing laws that would be ineffectual and that would, in the worst case, undermine our judicial traditions.

Criminal Code
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1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member across the way had been allowed a little more time for questions and comments I would have asked him if he knew about the change the government made in Bill C-64 from Mr. Cadman's bill, to place the offence under rights of property, under section 377.1, as opposed to what Mr. Cadman intended which was to put it under fraudulent transactions in section 397. By moving it to an offence against rights of property, the government removed all charter provisions as a mitigating factor. However that was the argument he was just resorting to so obviously he has not read the bill and does not understand the bill.

I wish to notify the Chair that I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley.

We have spoken at some length here today to why we find ourselves in opposition to Bill C-64. Obviously the intent to bring down legislation that alters our justice system and holds those who would alter or obliterate a vehicle identification number is something we support. However, as has been pointed out by a number of my colleagues, the legislation is not in the form intended by the original sponsor, our colleague, the late Chuck Cadman.

We have been through that in a number of speeches today that we believe this has been watered down. We were into a debate with a Liberal colleague a few moments ago where we clearly showed our concern that by changing the definition to include the phrase “without lawful excuse and under circumstances that give rise to a reasonable inference that the person did so to conceal the identity of the motor vehicle”, that would put a double onus on the crown to prove this was an illegal action.

To be quite honest, I do not understand why the government always sides with the criminal and always wants to handcuff our crown attorneys, our prosecutors, by making it so difficult for them to do their job. We see it with legislation the Liberals bring forward all the time. As the Liberal member just said, they are so worried that the accused might actually have to prove that he is innocent at some point that they make it virtually impossible for our crown prosecutors to get a conviction.

I want to move beyond this legislation in the sense of looking at what would likely happen if the crown actually did get a conviction under this. The Liberal who just spoke said that he would be supporting this, that it is getting tough on crime and that it would come with a maximum sentence of five years in prison. We are going to get tough with these guys because a lot of the time when people obliterate or change the vehicle identification number, it is because it is a criminal activity that is involved. It is not someone out joyriding. In many cases it is organized crime that is heisting very expensive motor vehicles for profit in a very organized manner. Hundreds of thousands of vehicles are stolen in this country and we need to get tough.

The Liberals bring in this bill that says a maximum of five years. I want to talk about what will likely take place even if we haul a Hell's Angel into court. What will likely happen is that they will receive a conditional sentence.

What is a conditional sentence? A conditional sentence is something the Liberals brought into being less than a year after they took office in 1993. I believe it was half way through 1994. I and a lot of my colleagues in the Reform Party at that time raised concerns that conditional sentencing might be used for violent crime and drug trafficking, things we felt, and I think the majority of Canadians felt, were totally unacceptable.

People who commit horrific crimes, especially violent crimes, such as sexual assault, common assault, manslaughter and murder, should do jail time, not just because they may or may not be an additional threat to society were they to be left at large, but as a deterrent, to send the message that those types of activities are totally unacceptable in a civilized society. We need to send the message that when people do those types of crimes they do serious jail time.

What did the Liberals do? By September 3, 1996, they brought in what I would classify now as their infamous conditional sentencing. The justice minister at the time was a fellow by the name of Alan Rock, he of the infamous gun registry. If we believe the Liberals, it was with the best of intentions that they wanted to bring it in. They said repeatedly in debate and in committee where it was studied that they wanted to ensure that people, especially young people who made one error in judgment, whether it was vandalism, shoplifting or something like that, would not go to jail and be mixed in with hardened criminals. It was an admirable objective. Nobody had any problem with that.

However we said at the time that the Liberals should specify those crimes where judges will not be able to use conditional sentencing because they are so serious. We asked them to put that in.

I went beyond that as a private member in this place. I drafted a private member's motion, first introduced in early 1998, less than a year and a half after conditional sentencing came into existence in our country. I specified which crimes would be excluded for use by the courts for conditional sentencing.

What is conditional sentencing? Conditional sentencing is imposing certain conditions. What are those conditions, usually? It is like Paul Coffin. He stole a million dollars from the taxpayers and was given a conditional sentence. What was it? It was a curfew, something we would give to a wayward teenager, telling them they must be back home by 9 p.m., or some silly thing. Conditional sentencing usually means house arrest. Instead of going to jail, a person has to serve his or her time sitting at home. That will certainly provide a great deterrent.

After some nine years that conditional sentencing has been law, I have introduced motions and bills to limit the use of conditional sentencing and exclude violent crime from its use. Now the justice minister is saying, in the dying days of this Parliament, which we all know will end, at a maximum, by next spring, that he will bring in some changes to conditional sentencing. I will wait to see what those are. I can almost guarantee the House that they will be just like those in the bill we are debating today, Bill C-64. They will perhaps restrict but they will provide enough legal loopholes that defence lawyers will be able to keep their clients out of jail. I would almost guarantee that is what will happen because the government always comes down on the side of the accused, the criminal, and Canadians are getting more than a little bit tired of it.