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 land.

Topics

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Northumberland—Quinte West
Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to respond to some of the questions just raised by the hon. member who just spoke.

He was off on a bit of a rant about not having enough tough mandatory minimum sentences. I want to take this moment to give him an opportunity to reflect on those that are in the Criminal Code that deal with those who would use a firearm. It is very important to get on the record that there are some very serious consequences for those who use firearms and there are mandatory minimum penalties.

We all know there is a mandatory minimum penalty associated with murder. Criminal negligence causing death has a mandatory minimum sentence of four years. Manslaughter carries a mandatory minimum sentence of four years. Attempted murder carries a mandatory minimum sentence of four years. The mandatory minimum sentence for causing bodily harm with intent is four years. Sexual assault with a weapon and aggravated sexual assault both carry a mandatory minimum sentence of four years. Kidnapping and hostage taking both carry a mandatory minimum sentence of four years. Robbery and extortion both carry a mandatory minimum sentence of four years. There are many other mandatory minimums within the Criminal Code but those that I have recited have four year mandatory minimums.

There are strong tools within the Criminal Code and I have just outlined some of them. I would like the member's comments on that.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, that was unbelievable. I believe he is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice in this country so it is hard to believe that is the extent of his understanding of what is happening in the real world outside this chamber.

I never mentioned mandatory minimums. If he had actually listened to my remarks before he rushed into the chamber to stand on his feet he would have heard me talking about the use of conditional sentencing. He said that manslaughter carries a mandatory minimum of four years. We have had hundreds of cases in this country involving manslaughter or second degree murder and the people have not served one day in jail.

About a year or so ago there was what I consider an infamous case in my riding in a small community close to the city of Prince George. The sentence only came down in the last month or so. Norman Wicks of Vanderhoof was not a perfect fellow. He had a number of lovers, in addition to being married, but I do not know whether that was a reason to murder him. One of his lovers, Teresa Senner, found out about his affairs and became enraged. She stabbed him in the groin and he bled to death.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

October 21st, 2005 / 1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

If this were with a gun.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Prince George—Peace River, BC

A gun? Oh, I see. If she had used a gun and shot him and he died it might have been different. Well, she was convicted of manslaughter but because she stabbed him and he died she was given house arrest. She did not serve one day in jail.

There have been thousands of cases like that over the last 9 years, and yet that member has the audacity to stand up and pretend that our justice system has any justice in it.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey North Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River for allowing me to share his time.

He mentioned “out there in the real world”. It made me think of my case. I was first elected in 1988. I am the longest serving member of Parliament in my province, and I have seen a dramatic change in the last five or six years in the way law enforcement is handled.

When I first became a member of Parliament, there virtually were no law enforcement issues. Now it has become one of the major issues I deal with and one of the most complicated simply because the government shortchanges the RCMP. It does not have the tools, or the funds or the police officers to do the minimum level of law enforcement and it makes everybody's life very difficult. I think it reflects on everyone's attitude on law enforcement and the justice system, as does this bill.

We really area proud that at least Chuck Cadman's initiative is recognized. However, we are not happy with the way it has been recognized. Chuck's initiative was to establish a law that would make it illegal to remove, obliterate or change serial numbers of vehicles. It was a clear and simple law. It would be up to the person to explain why the VIN was obliterated.

However, the Liberals have take the onus off the owner. It is up to the police now to prove the owner did it for wrongful purposes. It takes away the whole purpose of the bill. That is why the Conservatives will not support it.

What is wrong with asking owners to explain why they are driving around in cars with VINs that have obviously been scratched out or changed? It is their responsibility. They should be charged and held responsible to prove that it was for legitimate reasons. Why the government would not do that? If it did, I would support the bill. However, it reflects its whole attitude on crime.

When the last speaker talked about the real world, I was in the real world a couple of weeks ago. I went to a meeting of scared citizens in Stewiacke, Nova Scotia. This is a community where people do not usually lock their doors. They leave their keys in their cars. It is a very safe community and it has been that way for decades. Now all of a sudden they are faced with property damage and thefts, a scary atmosphere for them to live in and raise their kids. What impressed me the most was that speaker after speaker got up and said that they were scared for the well-being and security.

There were two big issues. One is the RCMP is not available like it used to be. There was a detachment in Stewiacke, Nova Scotia. The building became unusable because of mould. The RCMP has not replaced it because it does not have the funds. Stewiacke has lost its RCMP presence, the only police presence in the community.

The other issue is the Youth Criminal Justice Act is simply not working for the people in Stewiacke. It is causing them a great deal of grief.

Last week a person from the community of Debert came to see me. This is another traditional small community in Nova Scotia where people did not lock their doors and they would leave their keys in their cars. They cannot do it any more because of inadequate police protection. People have had their cottages burned and windows smashed. They have had things stolen from their garages and yards. The RCMP has said that it has done the best it can, but it does not have enough manpower. It also does not have the proper equipment. If the RCMP had the equipment and the manpower, it could do it.

I have spoken to RCMP officers at every detachment. They have said that if someone is on maternity leave, or on sick leave or is seconded on a murder investigation somewhere else, there is no replacement. An RCMP detachment, which supposedly has six people on record on the job, may have as little as three or none. There is no allowance for replacement officers. We have to deal with that.

In February I raised the question with the minister of public security. It came up because there was a rumour that the northeast drug section would be disbanded, one of the most successful drug enforcement offices in eastern Canada. The reason was the RCMP did not have the resources and the manpower to run this important drug enforcement agency. A moratorium has been put on the closure, but still the drug section is not there the way it was. The RCMP says it is back again, but the officers have been seconded and, again, we do not have the people we need.

The most senior RCMP officers in the province have told me they simply do not have the money to hire the RCMP officers to provide a minimum level of law enforcement in Nova Scotia.

I asked the minister on February 3 to ensure that it had the resources. I brought up the business about filling the vacancies. She said:

However, let me reassure the hon. member that we have provided additional resources not only to the RCMP, but to other of our programming as it relates to a national drug strategy. The RCMP resources have been augmented nationally...

It certainly does not show. The RCMP tell me not only has it not been augmented, but it has been reduced, plus its workload has dramatically increased. With the advent of 911 and all the other cutbacks in government services, the front line for many people on whatever the issue is the RCMP, and it simply cannot handle it. The RCMP needs more resources.

As I did in February, I call upon the government to enhance the resources, to improve and increase them. The RCMP is trying to stretch its meagre resources now to cover our part of Nova Scotia. I read every day in the newspapers that there are other parts of the province suffering the same problems.

I have experienced them myself. In the case of Stewiacke, the RCMP has put a used mobile home in front of the former RCMP station, which is a temporary facility, and I am pleased it has done that. Since it is used, it will be converted. The Minister of Public Works has agreed to upgrade it as quickly as possible to ensure it is available. However, it is just a mobile home. It is not good enough for the long term, but at least we will have a police presence again.

I know this is not all due to the RCMP or to one single thing, but we have to address the RCMP. It needs the tools, the resources, the money and the manpower to do the job. We need a more aggressive approach to law enforcement and the justice system.

Bill C-64 is a good example. The bill came forth originally as Bill C-287, and it was a strong bill. The government watered it down and taken the onus off the criminals again and put it on the RCMP.

In my view it is an amazing development. When I first started in Parliament, I had no justice or policing issues. Now it is one of my biggest problems and it is difficult to solve because the Liberals will not provide the resources to supply a minimum level of law enforcement.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the comments of my colleague from Nova Scotia, particularly about priorities and police issues. I too have raised in the House issues of inadequate funding and support for our RCMP and other police and law enforcement agencies.

As I listened to his comments about the priorities of the government, I thought that is precisely what these priorities are about.

With the recent news about a $200 million contract for computers for the gun registry, what does the member think that says about the priorities of the government relative to other law enforcement priorities?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Bill Casey North Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is appropriate that the member raises that question. Today is the very distinguished member's from Yorkton—Melville's birthday and he has been advocate for wise government spending, away from the gun registry.

The gun registry money has been a total waste. This money should have gone to the RCMP and other justice procedures.

Some people in my riding are being required to pay a fee to be re-licensed. It is absolute chaos. The government could put another $200 billion or $300 billion into the gun registry and it will all go down the toilet. We need the money for real law enforcement. We need money for the RCMP so that its has the tools with which to work.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

It being 1:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from September 27 consideration of the motion, and of the amendment.

Queensway Carleton Hospital
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

On Tuesday, September 27 the hon. member for Lanark--Frontenac--Lennox and Addington moved an amendment to private member's business Motion No. 135. At the time the Chair took the amendment under advisement.

On Thursday, October 6 the Speaker concluded in a ruling presented to the House that the amendment was in order and that it could be put to the House.

This afternoon's debate will now be on the amendment.

Queensway Carleton Hospital
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am glad to have the opportunity to speak to the amendment and its context once again. I continue to find it scandalous that the member for Nepean--Carleton and his provincial colleague, John Baird, persist in trying to score political points with health care in our community.

Let us look at John Baird's record on health care.

John Baird was a cabinet minister in the Mike Harris government, the senior minister for eastern Ontario, when 8,000 nurses were fired, a hospital in our community was closed and not one MRI machine came to Ottawa, despite $3 billion transferred from the federal government specifically for that purpose. When we transferred $250 million to the province, not one cent came for primary health care to the Nepean community--

Queensway Carleton Hospital
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. We have a private member's bill and an amendment which we are trying to debate. This is totally irrelevant. If she wants to fight an election battle in her riding with someone who is not in this House, let her deal with that, but we need to stick to the issues here.

Queensway Carleton Hospital
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

May I remind the hon. member that the hon. colleague has the floor. I am sure that she will bring the subject to a point where he will be interested in listening. The hon. member for Ottawa West--Nepean.

Queensway Carleton Hospital
Private Members' Business

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Catterall Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think it is quite legitimate to speak to health care and to the credibility of those who are proposing this particular measure. Let me continue.

Despite a promise from the Mike Harris government, no money came for two years to the Queensway Carleton Hospital for its promised expansion until the federal government transferred additional money to the provincial government.

Let me also point out that our hospital board was fired while John Baird sat at the cabinet table. It is simply not credible to accept that this is about health care. This is a current publicity seeking stunt that has everything to do with Mr. Baird's political ambitions.

Let me now speak to the issue as I see it. The hospital is extremely important to our community, too important to be made into a political football.

It is also important to our community and to this country that the greenbelt be preserved in its integrity. This is something that was part of a plan developed after the second world war to honour our returning veterans. It contributes to making the capital a symbol of pride and unity for all Canadians, a capital that will be passed on as a legacy for future generations.

Whether we like it or not, the NCC is obligated under legislation and regulations to charge market value for any land it leases or sells, as is every federal government department and agency. This was a rule brought in by a Conservative government pursuant to the Nielsen task force report of the mid-1980s.

This is a policy that is also overseen by the Auditor General, who is scrupulous about ensuring that the taxpayers' interests, the people of Canada's interests, are looked after.

I want to put on the record some things that have been brought up in this debate.

There has been a claim that no other hospital pays rent for its property. That is simply not true. The simple fact is that another hospital in this community pays rent to the NCC for property. The simple fact is that a third hospital in this community pays substantial rent to the City of Ottawa which is now in fact increasing that rent for the land it uses. It is also true that the Queensway Carleton Hospital, like every other hospital, pays $75 per bed in taxes to the City of Ottawa. Surely the mover of the motion is not suggesting that the city should forgo its taxes on the hospital as well.

The member has also spoken publicly about this lease costing potentially 40 nurses at the Queensway Carleton Hospital. He knows that is simply not true. He is going on figures that he himself made up and that have nothing to do with the likely real rent that might be agreed to between the NCC and the hospital.

He has also referred to the lease with the Pine View golf course. This is a lease with the City of Ottawa for the land on which it operates the Pine View golf course. In fact the city paid up front for that lease over $200,000, has invested nearly half a billion dollars in assets which now belong to the people of Canada to be leased at market value whenever the current lease expires.

The NCC is being as flexible as it can be within the rules and the laws it is bound to abide by. The hospital and the NCC are in discussions about reaching a mutually agreeable lease. I encourage those discussions to continue. I encourage all members of the House to support those discussions.

Queensway Carleton Hospital
Private Members' Business

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to take part in today's debate. Motion No. 135, tabled by the member for Nepean—Carleton, states:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should consider transferring the land currently leased by the Queensway Carleton Hospital from the National Capital Commission to the Hospital at a cost of one dollar.

Before I state our position on this, I want to go over a number of facts that need to be considered when it comes time to vote.

First, here are the facts. The Queensway-Carleton Hospital leases 50 acres of land from the National Capital Commission at an annual cost of approximately $23,000. The 40-year lease will expire in July 2013. The hospital authorities fear, as they have already stated publicly, that this rent will skyrocket in 2013. The government and the National Capital Commission are refusing to transfer the land in order to preserve the national capital greenbelt and national interest land mass.

On November 29, 2004, the sponsor of this motion condemned the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, saying she was steadfast in her refusal to transfer the land.

I will talk briefly about the motion, but I will indicate to the House the factors that should, in our opinion, guide the government's action on this matter. First, we believe that we must continue to negotiate in order to reach agreement on the terms of renewal. We are convinced that both parties will reach a suitable agreement by 2013. We are also convinced that the new lease payment will be reasonable, since it is established in accordance with Treasury Board guidelines. We must remember that the conditions of this lease must comply with Treasury Board guidelines. So, we must allow the negotiations to run their course. We are quite hopeful that the parties will reach an agreement by 2013.

Furthermore, we believe that any future selling price needs to correspond to the market value of the land, as the hon. member has just said.

It is a matter of determining how an exception can be made for this location when, in the past, land has not been sold for $1 in certain instances in Quebec. Take the case of the Wakefield hospital, which is located in part on NCC property. Since this property was not part of the national interest land mass, the National Capital Commission literally sold it to the hospital. The property in question, 3.5 acres of land, was sold for $5,000 an acre, a total of $43,500. So a hospital on the Quebec side bought land from the NCC, not for $1, but rather for $5,000 an acre.

Hon. members may recall the situation in Montreal, where some social and community groups wanted to build social housing on CBC land. Was that land handed over to them for $1 so they could do so? No. The parties negotiated and an agreement was reached.

Treasury Board guidelines are quite clear. There are, moreover, precedents in place, including the Wakefield hospital in Quebec, where negotiations took place and the land was sold properly, not handed over for $1. We therefore believe a new precedent must not be created.

We feel that negotiation must be the cornerstone of any agreement between the hospital in question and the NCC.

The Bloc Québécois will, as you will understand, vote against this motion. Laudable as the idea may seem, we continue to believe that negotiation is required. We also believe that an agreement will be signed in the next few weeks or months with respect to 2013.