House of Commons Hansard #9 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was bills.

Topics

Gun Registry
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, my constituents are from Leask in Saskatoon and Hafford, Mayfair and other parts of my riding. They are calling on Parliament to end the registration requirement for non-restricted long guns.

Age of Consent
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

I have a second petition, Mr. Speaker, signed by a number of constituents from Warman in the riding of Saskatoon--Wanuskewin who are calling on Parliament to increase the age of sexual consent from 14 years of age to 16 years of age.

The present legislation before the Senate right now is in respect of that very thing and we do hope that bill will be passed.

CRTC
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition from petitioners of the riding of Beaches--East York who are asking for the government to overturn of the CRTC's inexplicable and harmful decision to add nine non-Canadian Chinese language services to the lists of eligible satellite services for distribution on a digital basis, Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2006-166.

Canadian Pacific Railway
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Goodyear Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a petition containing 1,159 signatures. These petitioners from across Canada, but specifically my riding of Cambridge, North Dumfries and the riding of Oxford, have raised serious concerns about Canadian Pacific Railway and its lack of civic, social and corporate responsibility as well as its refusal to cooperate and respect the communities it steamrolls through.

CP Rail is planning on constructing a bargain basement rail yard which, in the opinion of all levels of government, fails to adequately protect the environment and threatens the current living conditions of many Canadians. CP is flaunting the fact that federal laws have little jurisdiction over them. We will not be railroaded by the railroad, say the petitioners.

The petitioners ask that the Minister of Transport, the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Minister of Public Safety, as well as the Minister of Health, use their collective influence to immediately require Canadian Pacific Railway to appropriately protect the environment, show some respect for these Canadians and start acting like good neighbours should.

Remembrance Day
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to present three petitions from the residents of Sarnia—Lambton.

The first petition, signed by 134 constituents, and the second petition, signed by 398 constituents, support Remembrance Day as a national holiday.

Human Trafficking
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the third petition, signed by 1,031 constituents, calls on the government to continue its work to combat the trafficking of persons worldwide.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Tackling Violent Crime Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Prior to question period, the hon. member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe had the floor for questions and comments, and it was his turn to reply to a comment made by one of the other hon. members. I would call on the member for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, then, who has a little over eight minutes remaining in the time allotted for questions and comments.

Tackling Violent Crime Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park for his comment. I know the member has had a long and distinguished career in Parliament and has had a keen interest in criminal justice issues over that time. I have had occasion to review remarks that he has made and I have heard him speak at the justice committee from time to time.

I am a bit perplexed. I have indeed great respect for his comments. In fact, when he comments that prorogation is a privilege, that it is up to a government leader to take such a decision and that this has been used in the past by Liberal prime ministers, I take it that perhaps he approves of it and feels that the current Prime Minister was certainly within his rights and did the right thing by proroguing Parliament.

The comment in my speech, if it was misconstrued by the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park, was that by proroguing Parliament, these bills were killed in their tracks. To bring them back under the guise that somehow the previous Parliament and the committee, and the Senate for that matter, had unduly delayed them, is misleading.

To say that prorogation is a right of a prime minister is absolutely true and that it has been used before is also absolutely true. If the member is endorsing, then, what previous Liberal governments have done in prorogation, I am okay with this comments and I understand them perfectly. If the member is saying that by abstaining with respect to the Speech from the Throne Liberals have done something that previous Conservative oppositions have not done, then that would not be the truth either. In fact, the Conservative opposition abstained as recently as May of 2005.

If I threw the member off with my comments with respect to parliamentary procedure and government prerogative, I apologize. I am new in the House. All I know is that I and many members in the House worked for a year and a half on justice bills that were killed by the prorogation. Bill C-2 attempts to correct that. Let us move the justice agenda forward and make our society a safer place.

Tackling Violent Crime Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to use this occasion, if I may, to correct the record. When I was speaking of the prorogations of the House, unfortunately I looked at the wrong place on my notes. The reference that I made to an 11 day existence of a parliament after a throne speech was actually at the defeat of a government and not on a prorogation. I made that error and I would like to correct that record.

Tackling Violent Crime Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I did not realize we were going to be moving on this quickly, which is a good development because it will move these bills along, as opposed to the government's approach, which has been one of delay.

In that regard, I want to do a quick resumé of what has happened in this Parliament starting in roughly mid-February of 2006, at which time we were faced with a large number of crime bills by the government. I took the opportunity to go through the list of bills that have been dealt with in one form or another.

The list was quite lengthy, starting with Bill C-9, which was a bill on conditional sentencing. That went through both Houses and has royal assent. There was one on the Judges Act, Bill C-17, and it also went through all stages. Another one relating to DNA identification went through all stages. As for Bill C-19 on street racing, a particularly emotional point for the Conservative Party, we got that one through. There was one on criminal interest rates, Bill C-26, and it got through. There was one, Bill C-48, which dealt with international crime syndicates and the need to fight corruption at that level, coming out of the UN, and it got through. The next one, dealing with the illegal recording of movies, went very quickly through the House with all parties cooperating. It never even went to committee.

In addition to that, we have had Bill C-22, which actually is part of Bill C-2, the bill that is before us now, passed at second reading in the Senate. It went through the House all the way to the Senate. We have had Bill C-10, an important bill on mandatory minimums, go through this House and into the Senate, where it was at first reading.

Similarly, Bill C-23 went through this House and got to the Senate, but it is not part of this bill. I am not sure if the government is going to bring that one back or not. On Bill C-35, which was the bill dealing with bail reviews involving alleged gun crimes and the reverse onus being placed, again, it got through all the work in this House and went to the Senate.

The final bill with regard to work that we had done and which was almost through this House was the bill dealing with impaired driving. That had cleared the committee and was coming back to the House. It would have been back in the House if we had not prorogued in the middle part of September.

These are all the bills we have had from the government. The final bill was still in committee and we had just started on it. We had three or four meetings taking witnesses on that bill, which deals with dangerous offenders and amendments to recognizance in the Criminal Code.

In addition, there were at least four to six private members' bills, all of them coming from the Conservative Party interestingly enough, which we dealt with and passed or dealt with in some fashion. One had to be withdrawn. We dealt with those as well.

All of that work was being done at the justice committee, with the exception, and this is really interesting, of two bills that went to special legislative committees. Because the justice committee's workload was so great, we moved them into special committees. However, we worked on those bills and got them through.

All of that is work we have done in a little over 18 months, yet in spite of that, there are two things the government does. It constantly complains about the length of time it takes, in regard to which the Conservatives could have done much better by originally having omnibus bills. I have said that in the House to the point where I am almost sick of hearing it myself, and I am sure everyone else in the House is, but it is the way they should have conducted themselves. Of course, though, because of their political agenda of wanting to highlight each one of these bills, they did not put them together. They finally came to their senses and realized that it is a way of moving bills through the House more rapidly.

However, we did all of that work, and now what we are hearing, which is the second point I want to make about the government, is that the delay is the fault of the opposition. That is absolutely false.

One can see from the length of the list of bills we have had to deal with, plus the private members' bills, plus working on two legislative committees in addition to all the work that we have done at justice, that nobody in the opposition has done any delaying. The delay with regard to the five bills that are incorporated now into Bill C-2 is entirely at the feet of the government. It prorogued and that cost us a month.

It is interesting to note what could have happened in that one month's time. It is my opinion that all three of the bills that were in the Senate would have been through and ready for royal assent, which again is in the hands of the government. If the government had conducted itself with any kind of efficiency, those bills probably would be law today.

The fourth bill, the one dealing with impaired driving, which again is part of Bill C-2, would have come to the House in the middle part of September when we came back. There was not a great deal of debate, and although I and my party have some reservations about it, we in fact would support it.

The bill would have had some debate in the House at report stage and third reading, but it would have been through the House and at least at first reading in the Senate now, perhaps at second reading. It is not beyond the pale to think that the bill also would have cleared the Senate and would have been ready for royal assent.

This bill bothers me. Of all the ones we have, this one bothers me the most because of the conduct of the government in dealing with the individuals, including the police officers and police associations, who lobbied really heavily to get this legislation, and in particular the families and supporters of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. It bothers me that the government would have misused the loyalty and the support that those groups had given to the bill by leading them to believe that somehow it was the opposition that was holding it up, when in fact it was prorogation. Now there is this tactic of combining that bill with the other bills to actually slow down its passage. Otherwise there is a reasonably good chance it would have been law by now, and if not, it would have been in its final stages at the Senate and it certainly would have been law by the end of the year.

That is much less likely to happen now. It is more likely that this bill will not get final approval and royal assent until well into the spring, no matter what the government tries to do. Quite frankly we will do whatever we can to be cooperative in moving these bills forward.

Our party was quite prepared to have all four of those bills that I have mentioned which form 80% of Bill C-2 back at their original stages, again so they would be law or on the verge of becoming law, that is, receiving royal assent today, as opposed to what is likely to happen now. It is going to be into the new year and maybe well into the spring before these bills become law, assuming of course that the government does not collapse and there is an election, which is another problem.

The government has delayed it, and in addition, it has clearly pushed it back at least until the new year, with the real possibility of an election intervening and a number of these provisions never seeing the light of day until after the election, when we would come back and start the process all over again.

That is reprehensible conduct on the part of the government. The only reason the Conservatives are doing it is so they can stand up in public and say, “We are tough on crime”. They do the macho thing. They beat their chests. They do the King Kong thing as if they are coming out of a jungle. The reality is that the delay is all at their feet.

I am really angry when I think of all the work that so many groups have done, the victims of crime in particular, and now are being misused by the government in such a way.

I am not going to take up much more time but I do want to address the final bill that was at committee. Former Bill C-27 is now part of Bill C-2. It deals with two amendments to the Criminal Code. One would be on the provisions relating to dangerous offenders and the other is with regard to recognizance.

With regard to recognizance, I think I can safely say that all the opposition parties are in support of those provisions. They give additional authority to our judiciary to deal with people who are out in the community on their own recognizance, but we can put additional conditions on them.

The bill provides for things such as requiring them to wear a monitoring device. There is a number of other provisions that would substantially improve security in our communities regarding people who have now been released from charges and who have already served their time. It is a substantial step forward and one that has been needed.

I have said this in the House before, that when I started practising law back in the early 1970s we needed it at that time. Successive governments have tended to shy away from it. Our judiciary has attempted on a number of occasions to introduce these types of control devices, if I could put it that way, in terms of sentencing or conditions imposed on people and it has consistently lost in our courts of appeal. It required legislative intervention. The provision is in this bill and we need to pass that and get it into play so our judges can do a better job of helping protect Canadians, which they want to do.

The other part in this provision, the old Bill C-27 now part of Bill C-2, is with regard to dangerous offenders. We have significant problems with this. Originally when the bill came before the House as Bill C-27, all three opposition parties indicated that on principle they had to vote against it because it has a provision of reverse onus with regard to the dangerous offender.

All of us believe that that part of the bill would suffer a charter challenge that would be successful in striking it down. What I do not think the government has ever understood is that not only would it be struck down, but perhaps the whole dangerous offender section would be struck down. Just as we saw with the security certificates where the Supreme Court said that if it could not be fixed, they were all going down, the same type of thing could happen in a ruling on dangerous offenders. The government has never understood that.

Ultimately, the opposition parties decided that there were perhaps ways of amending this in committee to improve the use of the dangerous offender section, because we know we need to do that, and at the same time make sure that the section was not jeopardized by a successful charter challenge at some point in the future.

We were working on that when we ended in June. We fully expected that was one of the bills for the special legislative committee and that we would be back and working on it in September, that we would complete the witness testimony and improve the bill by way of amendment and if not, then I suppose we would have been faced with a conundrum of whether we could support it or not. That is where we are at this point.

That bill needs significant work in order to be sure that we do not lose the entire dangerous offender section of the Criminal Code. We will be doing that work as soon as we can get the committee up and running again and the bill into the committee.

It is very clear that the government, and I do not say this about the opposition parties, is prepared to play politics with public safety. The Conservatives want to be seen as the champions and they are prepared to take these kinds of manoeuvres of delaying these bills by incorporating them all into Bill C-2 so that they can do that. They want to stand up in the House and in the media and out on the hustings and say “we are the champions of it”, when in fact the truth is just the opposite. They were guilty. They are guilty of delay. The opposition parties are not.

Tackling Violent Crime Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to be a part of this debate because public safety is important to all Canadians and all parties in this House. I really believe that all parties in this House work to improve public safety for Canadians.

In that regard, I have had the pleasure over the years to work on the justice committee and on the public safety committee with the member.

When the Conservative government came into power, a large number of bills were introduced but they sat on the order paper and were not sent to the justice committee, some of them for long periods of time.

I want to ask the member whether or not he agrees with me that the government party is the only party that takes care of the order of business in this House. Some of those original pieces of legislation sat on the order paper for a long time after they were first introduced.

The justice committee of this House is a very effective way of improving legislation.

A lot of the bills that were introduced as part of the original agenda were actually researched and widely consulted on under the former Liberal government. In fact those pieces of legislation tended to proceed much more quickly in committee because a lot of the concerns had been worked out and consulted on before the original bill first entered Parliament. Now we are seeing bills where there has been less consultation and preparation.

I agree with the member that most of these bills are starting over in the House when they could have started at the stage where they left off before prorogation, in the Senate, but we are now dealing with this as it is.

I want to hear the member's opinion on another bill, the street racing bill. In fact when I was justice critic, all the parties, including all the opposition parties, agreed to fast-track that bill because we wanted to see it rapidly in place. That fast-track offer was also put in place with respect to the age of consent bill. I agree with my colleague who made a speech that the original private member's bill from the Conservatives did not have the close in age exemption and that is why the work that was redone was done properly.

I would ask my hon. friend to comment on those points.