House of Commons Hansard #140 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was security.

Topics

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Madam Speaker, my community is known as the auto theft capital of North America. This is not something nice to boast about. What a shame. Every day 16 cars are stolen, approximately 6,000 cars a year. Seven people have died in B.C. as a result of auto theft. It costs Surrey drivers $30 million a year in insurance.

The police try their best to stop these thefts. They lack the resources to get the job done. The police are also hindered by a justice system that treats car thieves with kid gloves. Car thieves receive no real punishment as 90% of car thieves are repeat offenders.

We need laws with teeth to put a stop to this sort of crime. The Liberal government has been in office for 12 long years and nothing has been done. Bill C-64 is a baby step forward and nothing has been done. The Criminal Code needs to be strengthened to include mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the constituents of Newton—North Delta to participate in the debate on Bill C-64, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to vehicle identification numbers.

Bill C-64 would make it a criminal offence to alter, remove or obliterate the vehicle identification number, commonly known as a VIN, on a motor vehicle. The current Criminal Code has no offence that deals specifically with VIN tampering. However, under section 352.2 of the Criminal Code, a tampered with VIN can be proof of property obtained by crime.

Auto theft in B.C. is epidemic. As the member who spoke before me mentioned, we had 37,500 vehicles stolen last year. The RCMP has labeled Surrey, British Columbia, the car theft capital of North America. On a per capita basis, more automobiles are stolen in Surrey than in any other North American city, more than Toronto, more than Los Angeles, and even more than New York City.

Over 6,000 cars are stolen each year in the communities in Surrey. Sixteen cars will be stolen by the end of any given day. Since the time we began speaking on this bill today, some cars have probably already been stolen in Surrey.

Local newspapers jokingly refer to car theft as Surrey's fastest growing industry, but it is no joking matter. Almost all the vehicles stolen are used to commit other crimes.

Stealing a vehicle is one thing, but the thieves then involve that vehicle in other crimes or sometimes in joyriding, often with fatal consequences. So far this year seven people have died in British Columbia as a result of auto theft.

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia estimates that auto offences cost Surrey drivers $13 million annually.

The RCMP claims that it has done all it can to stop car thieves and now it is up to the courts. We have a court system that is a revolving door. The car thieves take advantage of our weak laws, our laws without teeth, and of the loopholes that exist within the system.

The courts refuse to treat auto theft as a serious crime. The RCMP auto theft task force complains that thieves receive virtually no punishment but a slap on the wrist. In fact, when the punishment is not severe, that becomes a motivation to commit the same crime again. There is no deterrent in place.

Meanwhile, the same individuals are arrested over and over again. One man arrested last summer in Surrey was already facing seven separate trials for auto theft. Another thief was pulled over while driving a stolen car to his court hearing on auto theft charges; he was going to court on auto theft charges and he stole a car to get there. In fact, once a thief stole a car and another thief stole his stolen car.

This crime is so rampant that about half of the 13,000 cases handled by Surrey provincial court last year involved car theft. Ninety per cent involved repeat offenders.

Most car thieves are supporting drug addictions. This was graphically displayed earlier this year when an RCMP bait car equipped with a surveillance camera caught a Surrey car thief on film. The thief was high on crystal meth, which is a serious problem in Surrey. According to a survey, 10% of school students under the age of 18 have used crystal meth. The government is sitting on its hands doing nothing to prevent it or stop it.

The thief, high on crystal meth and waving a gun, sped through our city streets. The image was later seen on news broadcasts across the country.

My former colleague and neighbour in Surrey, member of Parliament Chuck Cadman, sought to address auto theft and assist police by introducing Bill C-413 in March 2003.

He reintroduced his private member's bill in February 2004 and then again in November 2004, as Bill C-287. These two bills, neither of which moved beyond first reading, sought to make it a criminal offence to tamper with vehicle identification numbers.

Now, in introducing Bill C-64, the justice minister invokes the name of Mr. Cadman, saying that the bill is intended as an appropriate tribute to his legacy.

I would like to mention what happens when private members' bills are introduced. Of course we have made some progress in the House, in that at least one private member's bill or motion is votable in the House, but during the days when I was a member of Parliament representing the Reform Party and the Canadian Alliance, when a good idea used to come from a private member, the government would completely mitigate it, reducing the volume, criticize it and oppose it vigorously.

Then, after opposing it, the Liberals sometimes had the audacity to reintroduce the bill if they thought was a good idea. The Liberals have stolen many of my bills, including those on foreign credentials, protection for firefighters and whistleblower legislation. They opposed the bills, but when we continued to raise our voices they stole the bills.

In this case, the government opposed the bill, which they now try to own on their own terms. First they criticize and oppose and then they steal the bill, mess it up and reintroduce it.

However, there are two major differences between Mr. Cadman's bills and the government bill. Bill C-413 and Bill C-287 put the onus on the person charged to explain why he has a vehicle with a stolen vehicle identification number. In contrast, Bill C-64 requires the Crown to prove that a person caught with a stolen vehicle knows that it was stolen.

Bill C-413 and Bill C-287 amended section 402 of the Criminal Code, which deals with fraudulent transactions. In contrast, Bill C-64 amends section 377 of the code, which deals with property offences. It is the same section which now indirectly covers vehicle identification number tampering.

Like Bill C-65, the proposed legislation is a watered down version of Mr. Cadman's initial proposal. In order to better reflect Mr. Cadman's initial desire to create a useful tool for our law enforcement agencies to tackle auto theft and organized crime, the legislation should remove part of subsection 377.1(1) so that the onus is placed on the people caught with an altered vehicle identification number to explain themselves, as was the original intention of Chuck Cadman.

While the Insurance Bureau of Canada is pleased that the government is finally moving on vehicle registration numbers, it is seeking specific amendments to the Criminal Code that would impose tougher penalties for auto theft, including mandatory minimum prison sentences, to send an even stronger message that auto theft is treated more seriously than property crime.

According to an Insurance Bureau spokesperson:

Right now, auto theft is seen by criminal organizations as a relatively low-risk, high-profit activity to raise funds for additional activities. Far from being a victimless crime, auto theft is an inherently violent criminal offence that has a devastating impact in communities right across the country in terms of fatalities and injuries, not to mention the cost to insurance policyholders. The evidence of the impact of auto theft is clear.

Statistics from the Insurance Bureau show that the rate of car theft is 64% higher than it was a decade ago. I do not know how the Liberals can stand there and say the crime rate is falling. Either they do not know the figures, they are manipulating them or the calculations are done differently over there. Statistics from the Insurance Bureau show that the rate of car theft is 64% higher than it was a decade ago.

While the rate of recovery of stolen vehicles in the early 1990s was 95%, today it sits at 60%. The decline in the recovery rate can be attributed to the proliferation of organized vehicle theft.

Organized criminal groups make a profit by exporting stolen vehicles to foreign countries or selling their parts. Because the parts of a car are sometimes worth more collectively than an intact car, many stolen cars are delivered to chop shops. These shops specialize in stripping cars, disposing of identifiable parts and selling others through a national network. Chop shops can meet the demands for parts more quickly and typically more cheaply than legitimate parts dealers.

Like the most recent trend in human identity theft involving frauds such as credit card fraud, bank fraud or other financial frauds, the trend is the same in auto identity theft. A VIN is just like DNA, but the thieves can remove it skilfully.

It is hard work. Thieves know that the vehicle identification number is unique and different on every car. First, they copy the vehicle identification number from the Internet, from car dealerships or from cars in malls or junkyards. They make perfect duplicates of the vehicle identification number plates and paperwork. Finally, they steal a similar car and replace its VIN with the copied one. Now the car has been cloned. The stolen car can no longer be identified as stolen; it has a new identity. This crime is highly profitable and very low risk and the chance of getting caught is slim to none.

Experts estimate that there are currently about 50,000 cloned cars in North America, but the number is growing by leaps and bounds. This type of crime only further emphasizes the need for a vehicle identification number tampering law.

I will conclude by saying that it is time this Liberal government did something about auto theft. The Conservatives have consistently supported the efforts of Chuck Cadman in tackling this issue by supporting him on this bill. The Liberals, on the other hand, did not support his bills when he was a caucus member of the Reform Party, the Canadian Alliance or the Conservative Party. They only decided to support the legislation after Mr. Cadman voted to save the Liberal government in the confidence vote on May 19 of this year.

My riding is next to the Surrey North constituency. My constituents are mad. They are very upset that the Liberals are trying to gain politically by using Chuck Cadman's name while watering down his legislation. If the Liberals really wanted to honour Chuck Cadman or his legacy, they should have introduced the bill with the same wording and with the same intent that Mr. Cadman had in mind.

I have a friend, Dane Minor, who was a very close friend of Chuck Cadman and is still a good friend of the Cadman family. He worked with Chuck from the beginning when Chuck helped to found CRY. He had known Chuck for a long time and knew him well. He said in a letter, and I do not have a copy of his letter with me, that he was encouraged when he first saw that the Liberals were reintroducing Chuck's bill in the House, but when he saw the content of the bill, he said that he was mad as hell. He is disappointed that the Liberals are using Chuck's name on a watered down version of the bill.

Legislation making it a criminal offence to tamper with a vehicle identification number could provide law enforcement with another tool to use in its battle against auto theft. It would also serve as a deterrent to criminals. Other countries have had similar legislation in place for years. It is about time that we did the same, but in the right way.

Bill C-64 is not as good as the private member's bill on which it is modelled. I recommend that it be amended suitably. If it is, the bill should help tackle organized crime and auto theft by giving enforcement agencies another tool.

I used to be a member of the subcommittee on organized crime. I had the opportunity to have lots of meetings with the Vancouver Port Authority, the RCMP, the border patrol and many other law enforcement agencies. They told the subcommittee that organized crime is on the increase to the extent that if they have 10 leads on different organized crimes, they do not have enforcers to even follow up with one of those leads.

The criminals have state of the art technology, whereas our law enforcement agencies are struggling to maintain their old equipment, thanks to the cuts made by the Liberal government.

We have to give our law enforcement agencies the tools, resources, manpower and the equipment so that they are light years ahead of the organized criminals. Unfortunately, they are light years behind the state of the art technology that organized criminals are using. Whether it is a marijuana grow op, crystal meth, ecstasy or any kind of drugs that infiltrate the younger society, the government has absolutely no control over it. The hands of the law enforcement agencies are tied. As my colleague mentioned, the Liberals have taken the handcuffs from the criminals and put them on the hands of the judges.

I urge the House that until the bill is amended, we should look into it and make every effort to make it strong. Again, the Liberals should use the original bill the way it was designed if they really want to honour the legacy. Otherwise they should stop using the name of Chuck Cadman.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened closely to the hon. member for Newton—North Delta and I wonder how he might be perceived in his riding. To hear him talk about Surrey, where he lives, you would be afraid to open your mouth for fear of having your dentures stolen, what with all the thefts that occur there.

I see that this party takes an extremely tough stance on a young offender, or non offender, who might take a car he needs, for just a few dollars, without considering the consequences. Should we cut off just the hand he put on the steering wheel, or both hands? Should we cut off the foot that he on pressed the accelerator? Will the Conservative Party go so far as to penalize the young people instead of helping them understand? That is my question for the hon. member. Personally, I had hoped to travel as a tourist to that part of the country, but I might rethink my plans and look into it some more.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, the situation in British Columbia's Lower Mainland is very serious, whether it is with respect to marijuana grow ops or needle exchange programs.

At one time the Lower Mainland of British Columbia used to have the highest consumption on a per capita basis of needle exchanges in North America. The recent problem of crystal meth is now an epidemic. Liberal hack Senator Larry Campbell may deny it, but the problem is serious. In a secondary school 10% of the students are using crystal meth. This is an absolutely dangerous situation.

When it comes to auto theft, 13-year-old kids are stealing cars and going on joyrides. They are speeding at over 100 kilometres an hour on the residential streets of Surrey. These are serious matters.

I would say to the hon. member that one strong reason that comes to my mind is that our judicial system is not working in favour of controlling crime. It is not handing out appropriate punishments. The judicial system does not put a deterrent in place so that criminals do not commit crimes.

In fact, there is a motivation to commit crime when the punishment is only a slap on the wrist. The revolving door system with repeat offenders continues. They are taking advantage of the system. It must stop.

We are the lawmakers in this country. The official opposition has made many amendments to different pieces of legislation in order to have minimum mandatory prison sentences in place. The government is only fooling itself and Canadians by increasing the maximum penalties from five years to 10 years, but that five years or 10 years is never actually handed down to any criminal.

We must make a law that has some teeth in it. Then we have to address the other elements involved, such as increasing the resources available to the law enforcement agencies. The police forces are frustrated.

Early one winter morning a police officer who was on night duty came to my office to drop off a letter. He saw me inside the office so he came in and said to me, “I am so upset. I was on a night shift and we arrested a 16-year-old drug dealer who had been selling drugs on the street. He went before the court. The next day he was back on the street selling drugs again. I arrested him again. After the court hearing he was back on the street selling drugs again. I had to turn the other way because I could not face that 16 year old selling drugs on the street the third day”. That is the situation. That is why our law enforcement personnel are frustrated.

In a nutshell, the bottom line is we have to have tougher penalties. Police forces must have sufficient resources. There should be a deterrent in place rather than a motivation to commit crime.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, I listened to the hon. member discuss some of the issues in the bill. I know from listening to the comments particularly from the other side that there is a desire by the government to portray this as a Chuck Cadman bill.

Being new here last year, I cannot say that I knew Chuck Cadman, but I certainly had met him. Everyone that I have spoken to has talked about Chuck Cadman, his virtues, his strengths and his desire to see justice served to people who have committed crimes against people. He was tired of the revolving door policies of the justice system that we currently have of, as the member said, catching and releasing, catching and releasing, catching and releasing.

I am wondering if the member could tell the House and Canadians how he thinks Chuck Cadman with whom he had worked closely would have perceived this type of bill with the changes that have been made.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, it is hard to imagine. Mr. Cadman was a crusader of criminal justice system reforms under the Young Offenders Act, street car racing, vehicle identification numbers and many other issues which he brought to the floor of the House. He came up with two bills, which we are now debating as government bills, Bill C-64 and Bill C-65.

On the vehicle identification numbers he came up with Bill C-413 and then reintroduced it a couple of times in the form of Bill C-287. Why did the Liberals oppose those bills? The subject matter was there. They were effective bills. A person who had experience in and passion for the criminal justice system reforms drafted those bills. However, the government opposed those bills, but after the confidence vote on May 19 suddenly it became evident to the Liberals that they should come on board and support the bills.

I sincerely doubt the intention of the government. It has no integrity when it comes to its track record on these issues. When my late colleague came up with the bill, the government opposed it. Now it suddenly wants to support it. There is some sort of a catch. I cannot understand what that catch is, but my senses tell me that the Liberals are after political opportunism. There may be a byelection in that riding very soon.

If the Liberals were really sincere about honouring the legacy that Mr. Cadman left behind, they would adopt the bill as it was written by Mr. Cadman. Rather, they are only using the name and the shell, but they have changed the content and have completely watered it down.

I can only imagine from talking to Dane Minor who was a close friend of Chuck Cadman. I worked with Chuck Cadman for almost eight years in the House. We shared so many things together during our campaigns. In our ridings we had joint town hall meetings on crime and other issues.

I could say that he would be disappointed. I am very sure he would have voted against Bills C-64 and C-65 as written by the Liberals.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

6 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-64, a bill designed to amend the Criminal Code with respect to vehicle identification numbers.

While I can agree in part with the spirit of the proposed legislation, like many Liberal bills that I have seen over the course of the last year, I cannot support the legislation as written. As we have seen countless times, the spirit may be strong but the devil is in the details. It always seems that when the Liberals put forward legislation, they either water it down to make the original intent almost worthless or they alter it to a point where I think most Canadians cannot accept it. I wish I knew the reason why they do this.

Had the legislation been presented in the form that it was originally presented in as a private member's bill, I would support it. I think most of the members of my party and most Canadians would support it. However, that is not the way the legislation has been written.

Mr. Chuck Cadman originally put forward a private member's bill to deal with this issue and this bill does not reflect his intent. I find it offensive to hear the justice minister say that this bill has been presented in memory of Mr. Chuck Cadman. It diminishes his memory.

Chuck Cadman would not want a bill that is written this way to be presented before the House, and that is quite clear. Any member who purports the bill to be a Chuck Cadman bill is being more than just slightly disingenuous. This is not the type of bill he would support himself if he were with us today.

I want to speak for a few moments on Mr. Cadman himself. I respected him so much for what he did. We all know the history. Any Canadian who has passing knowledge or interest in Canadian politics knows the story of Chuck Cadman and the tragedy he encountered when his 16 year old son was killed in a vicious attack. Rather than going into a shell and becoming a recluse, he decided to become an advocate for and a tireless worker on behalf of victims across Canada. After working in that regard in British Columbia, he decided to seek public office and was successful in his attempt.

Until the time he died, Mr. Chuck Cadman never for one moment forgot the reason he came to this place, and that was to advance the cause of victims' rights across Canada. It was to address issues of crime and law and order in a positive and meaningful way by bringing forward legislation that would hopefully put an end to the type of violence that Chuck Cadman experienced in his life. He would never have agreed with the wording contained in Bill C-64.

I did not have the honour and the privilege of knowing Chuck Cadman. I had the honour of shaking his hand once and introducing myself but that was the extent of it. I certainly will not purport to say that I knew him or that I was a friend of his because I was not. I respected him as a man and as a legislator.

If we are going to say that we are honouring Chuck Cadman's memory by bringing forward legislation, then we should do so in a way that is respectful to his memory. In my view this legislation is anything but respectful of the late Chuck Cadman. It does not accurately reflect what he would have us do.

Quite frankly, when it came to this bill, Chuck Cadman would have been ashamed to allow his name to be associated with it. Let us back up a moment and talk about what he tried to do in his private members' bills with respect to vehicle identification numbers.

Mr. Cadman quite simply stated that it should be a crime for anyone to obscure, alter or deface a vehicle identification number, bottom line, full stop. If people do that, they are guilty of a crime and should be punished accordingly. I cannot think of anything that is simpler or more direct than that. Mr. Cadman was correct that it should be a crime. Currently, it is not.

If a person is caught in possession of a vehicle that has its vehicle identification number altered, defaced or destroyed, that person can be charged with a crime. However, the sheer act of defacing or destroying a VIN currently is not a crime. Mr. Cadman sought to redress that. He sought to put a bill into place that would make the alteration, destruction or tampering of a vehicle identification number a crime.

What did the government do? Again the devil is always in the details. The government does not seem to get it when it comes to taking a private member's bill that made perfect sense, redrafting it in the same language of that bill and then presenting it to the House. It seems incapable of doing that, and I do not understand why.

What it has done with this legislation is, first. add a caveat that states that if there are circumstances that come into play that might make it okay, then perhaps there is no crime. Second, it puts the onus on the Crown. In other words, Mr. Cadman said that if someone destroyed or defaced a VIN, that person would be guilty and would have to prove otherwise. That individual would have to go to court and convince the judge that there was a lawful excuse why he or she did that.

It seems the Liberals have it all backward. They suggest that the crown prosecutors have to prove a person who defaced a VIN did not have a lawful excuse and is guilty. That is completely backward.

What Mr. Cadman attempted to do in all his private members' bills was to put the onus on the individual. If individuals were caught tampering with a VIN, those individuals would have to prove that they had a lawful excuse to do it. If they could not, they would be guilty.

I do not think we could have anything more direct, to the point or simple as that. Yet the government sought to change that intent. It sought to make not the individual who tampered with the VIN prove why he or she did so. This legislation says that the Crown has to prove it, and it has loopholes. It allows individuals to come up with perhaps a convoluted message that might prevent the Crown from successfully prosecuting its case. Why in the world would any government or political party want to water down a bill to that extent? It is beyond me.

For the Liberals to bring forward Bill C-64 in this form and suggest this is something that Chuck Cadman would support, is utterly and entirely wrong. Not only is it disrespectful of Mr. Cadman's memory, but it borders on being untruthful.

Earlier in my remarks I said that at best the Liberals could be considered disingenuous in their remarks. If the Liberals truly wanted to bring forward legislation, they would have simply picked up a copy of Chuck Cadman's earlier private member's bill, replicated the language and presented it. They could take credit for it. I know Mr. Cadman would not have a problem with that. He was a man without ego. He did not look for personal self-glorification, saying that he had a private member's bill, brought it forward and his name would go down in history. In my view he did not care about all that. All he wanted were results. Yet the government cannot even present the results that Mr. Cadman so tirelessly worked for, for many years. That is absolutely a shame.

Although I do not know this to be true, I would suspect very strongly that if one would ask Mr. Cadman's widow, Donna Cadman, if she would support this bill, she would say no. I also suspect that in the upcoming days and perhaps weeks, Donna Cadman will speak out against the bill. There will be no better proof than that as to why the government is wrong in its attempts to portray this bill as a Chuck Cadman bill. We will see what we will see.

I cannot suggest that this is something unique, that this is something at which the government has failed. There is a consistent pattern of the government on issues of crime, particularly motor vehicle theft. There is a continuing pattern where the government has failed to understand the realities of what is needed in terms of law and order, crime and punishment.

I will give a further example of what I speak. Recently, in the last few months, one of our colleagues, the hon. member for Langley, introduced a private member's bill that would increase the penalties of those individuals who stole cars. The bill sets out severe penalties for the first, second and third time offences for individuals who have stolen motor vehicles. From my perspective, as the member for Regina--Lumsden--Lake Centre, I heartily endorsed that bill.

In the capital city of Saskatchewan, which is part of my riding, Regina has been known in years past as the national stolen car capital of Canada, on a per capita basis at least. We have a terrible problem with car thefts in Regina. We have had gangs that had monikers and reputations as being car thieves. For those from Saskatchewan, the infamous Oldsmobile gang is one that I would draw to the attention of members of the House. They would steal nothing but Oldsmobiles. To them it was perhaps a badge of honour. We consistently saw youth offenders primarily steal time and time again motor vehicles from the city. Sometimes they were for joyrides. Other times they were stolen to perpetrate more insidious and serious crimes such as drug trafficking and that type of thing. In all cases, the number of thefts of motor vehicles in Regina was absolutely staggering.

The member for Langley brought forward a bill that would put severe penalties and deterrents upon those individuals who might be willing to or thinking of stealing a motor vehicle. If memory serves me well, and perhaps some of my hon. colleagues can refresh my memory in case I am wrong, the penalty for the first time was up to a maximum of $1,000 or a year in jail, or both, as determined by the judge. The second offence was more serious. I think it was $5,000 and up to two years and a third offence, perhaps $10,000, et cetera.

The Liberal government voted against the legislation. Did the Liberals bring forward any alternative legislation? No. When the justice minister talked about the bill the only thing I can remember is that he related it back to another issue that members on this side have, which is with mandatory minimum sentencing. The justice minister consistently said that mandatory minimums did not work because statistics and empirical evidence suggest that the judges will always go to the lesser amount as indicated on the mandatory minimums. They will not increase the sentencing. He said that was wrong and that they did not want that. The problem is that right now the sentences do not even reach the level of mandatory minimums that we were suggesting.

How in the world can the justice minister say that empirical evidence suggests that mandatory minimum sentencing does not work when in fact the sentences that are currently being given out are less than what we would suggest as the mandatory minimum? It makes no sense to me and yet we have a government that continually says one thing and does another. It says that it is tough on crime and yet I have seen no evidence from the government that would suggest it actually wants to get tough on crime.

Bill C-64 is another example. We had a private member's bill sponsored by Mr. Cadman that would have been direct, effective and would have acted as a deterrent and should have been supported by all members of the House but what did we see? Time and time again, when Mr. Cadman wanted to bring forward legislation such as this, members on that side of the House voted against it.

We have heard the government on different issues say that the reason it will not support certain things is that it wants to bring forward its own legislation, a government initiative, that will make the bill stronger, better worded and more effective. However, time and time again, when we do see legislation brought down by the government, it is not complementary legislation. It is not legislation that accurately reflects the intent of the private member's bill. It is something that is weakened, watered down and does absolutely nothing to accurately reflect the intent of the original bill. This is what is happening with Bill C-64.

Chuck Cadman would have voted against this legislation, not because he was soft on crime, far from it. We all know his record and his background. He would vote against this legislation as introduced by the government because it does not reflect his private member's bill. However we heard the justice minister stand in his place and say that this was in honour and in memory of Chuck Cadman.

I cannot think of anything more offensive than a member of Parliament trying to say that his government is honouring the memory of one of our fallen colleagues, a man who was so widely respected that after losing the nomination in his home riding as a Reform member, he ran as an independent and won overwhelmingly with, I believe, a larger plurality than he had received in the previous election. For an independent to win with that margin of victory in parliamentary circles is unheard of. That is the level of respect people had for Chuck Cadman. The Liberals are sullying his reputation and for that they should be ashamed.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Madam Speaker, it is certain that we, as a party, will support this bill since it is an improvement over what already exists. What I do not understand is this insistence on oppressing minors or young offenders. Oppression has never succeeded anywhere.

Take for example the oldest occupation in the world. All sorts of laws have been passed to try to eliminate it. Where the impact has successfully been diminished today are places that have laws to protect prostitutes and help them work better and in a very specific environment.

Does the hon. member really believe that imposing a very severe criminal penality on a minor or a young adult will get rid of this problem? Does he not believe this will instead send the young person to prison, where he will refine his methods and end up doing even more damage? Would it not be better to address the problem more specifically and make the punishment fit the crime?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Madam Speaker, I was a little confused at the start of my hon. colleague's question as to how the Constitution got into this debate but I think I understand the point the hon. member was trying to make.

I must tell the hon. member that I am a big believer in deterrents which is why I think the bill could be effective. It is not so much what happens after a criminal is apprehended and perhaps sent to jail. What we must question is whether the crime could have been prevented to begin with. I think the best answer to crime prevention is having a system of criminal law that would deter individuals from committing a crime.

Bills, such as the one Mr. Cadman was purporting and bills my colleague from Langley was sponsoring, that would put severe penalties on individuals for committing crimes, whether it be the theft of a motor vehicle or the defacing or removal of VINs, would be effective law-making in my view. I believe that if laws like this came into effect in Canada and more young offenders understood the penalties they would be facing, they would think twice before they committed such acts.

What we really want to get at in all of the legislation that we bring forward in this place is legislation that would not only be effective after the fact but legislation that would act as a deterrent before the fact. That is what I am looking for in any legislation that deals with crime and law and order issues. This does not effectively deal with that.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

October 24th, 2005 / 6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Werner Schmidt Kelowna, BC

Madam Speaker, I commend my hon. colleague for his exposition of this bill but I think there is another dimension to Chuck Cadman that I would like to ask the member to perhaps address.

I knew Chuck from the day he was first elected to the House. In fact, I had the opportunity to follow Chuck Cadman to a public meeting shortly after his son had been murdered. It was quite an experience because Chuck had a compassion for his fellow Canadians. The one thing that seemed to be motivating Chuck more than anything else that I can recall was the injustice perpetrated on the victims of crime. They are not recognized in our society. It seems almost as if the protection of the criminal is greater than the protection of the victims. It is almost as if the victims do not count in this world. I wonder if my colleague could address some of those sorts of situations.

We have the indirect victims of car theft, for example the insurance companies that have to pay out the owners' claims and therefore the premiums go up. Now the victims are not just the insurance companies that have to pay the claims but insurance premiums go up when car thefts increase. The other group of victims are those who perhaps inadvertently buy a car that has been stolen and then lose it on that basis.

It seems to me that the whole motivation that Chuck Cadman had in presenting this bill was to do exactly what my hon. colleague from the Bloc mentioned. He asked whether we needed deterrents and that is precisely the issue. Chuck Cadman wanted to make sure that people who perpetrated crimes would not do so in the same way they had done before. There would be fewer and fewer people engaging in crime because the victims are the people who are left without any recourse.

I think it is important to recognize that the life and motivation of one of our fellow legislators was not designed primarily to punish people or to get even with people. It was simply to recognize that we need to make some changes in our society because unless we make those changes people will continue to engage in crime and the victims will increase. It is time we recognize the victims and protect people from becoming victims of vicious crime.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Madam Speaker, I consider my colleague to be very fortunate to have known Mr. Cadman as well as he did.

The member is absolutely right. What Mr. Cadman was trying to do was protect the victim. It seems all too often in this country that we have a system that seems to protect the criminal and not the victim, which is just wrong. I do not care what side of the political arena one sits on, can we not at least agree that the victims should be the ones who are protected and not the criminals?

Mr. Cadman's bill sought to address that. In all of Mr. Cadman's private members' bills and in all his initiatives, he sought to address that very thing, victims' rights. Let us protect the victims. Let us make sure the victims are heard and that the penalties are toward the criminals. All too often it seems that the victims are the ones who end up being penalized. That is just wrong.

Can we not agree to move forward as a whole, as all parties, with one simple objective in mind, which is to protect the victims and to penalize the criminals? If we can do that, this country will be a far better society than the one in which we have been living under Liberal rule for the last 12 or 14 years.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

David Tilson Dufferin—Caledon, ON

Mr. Speaker, would the member elaborate further on the question of minimum sentencing? I believe the bill is designed for organized crime. It is not designed for joyriders. My friend from the Bloc talked about the young person who is charged. This is about removing the vehicle identification signal. Why can we not have a minimum sentence for this type of offence?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, there should be. I absolutely and totally agree 100% with the member for Dufferin—Caledon.

Why is there not? We have to ask the government. It does not seem to be in favour of minimum sentencing and I think that is absolutely a travesty of justice. That is something that we should be doing. We should be embracing it as parliamentarians. I am speechless every time I hear the justice minister stand in his place and say that minimum sentencing does not work. He will not even explore the opportunity to advance that in the House and that is a shame

Criminal Code
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Pursuant to order made Thursday, October 20, the House shall now resolve itself into committee of the whole to consider Government Business No. 18. I do now leave the Chair for the House to go into committee of the whole.

(House in committee of the whole on Government Business No. 18, Mr. Chuck Strahl in the chair.)

U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Hamilton East—Stoney Creek
Ontario

Liberal

Tony Valeri Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved:

That this Committee take note of the impact on Canada of the United States Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.