House of Commons Hansard #24 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Motions in amendment
Tackling Violent Crime Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a quick comment. I realize the member was not on the justice committee as I was during that period of time. I listened to all the debates and the witnesses who came forward, et cetera.

I will go back to the year of 2006 during the election. In my riding and in several ridings in my area all parties seemed to agree to the need to pass certain legislation, which we have brought forward in the House since that election. I could not get a debate from the Liberal or the NDP candidates about crime and who would do what. They were quite convincing that they too wanted to see these very stringent things carry on.

The NDP pretty well held its ground when we got back after the election. However, when we got to committee and the bills started coming forward, as discussed during the election and as agreed to by the Liberals, what in the world happen that all of a sudden they wanted to rip Bill C-9 for example to shreds? They could not accept it the way it was written, although that was what we promised to do during the election. My opposition candidate certainly agreed to that.

What happened to these hard on crime people in the Liberal Party? They certainly disappeared since the election of 2006. Where did they go?

Motions in amendment
Tackling Violent Crime Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is wonderful to hear the Conservatives constantly repeat their mantra “hard on crime”. I think they are hard on people who cannot defend themselves. They are not hard on crime; they are stupid on crime. U.S. crime policy is what they want. Tough measures, similar to what is in the Tories' omnibus bill, are costly and pointless. That is what the report found. Nobody has disappeared.

Our party's amendments added value to Bill C-9 and Bill C-10. We are respectful of people. We are respectful of understanding a holistic approach. Nobody in our party is soft on crime and the member should understand that.

Motions in amendment
Tackling Violent Crime Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Don Valley East asked why an omnibus bill. I should clarify for her as she should know and perhaps she does know that this in fact is not an omnibus bill.

An omnibus bill is a piece of legislation that has legislative impacts on various ministries. Based on that, I would have to conclude that an omnibus bill actually has a number of different ministry changes involved in it.

This bill is very specific. It has five very specific points and clauses in it that are specific to the justice ministry. Therefore, she could claim that it is a comprehensive bill, but it certainly does not fall under the term that she uses of an omnibus bill. She may wish to call it that, but technically and in the House she should be referring to it as a comprehensive bill.

She talked about all of the issues the Liberal Party has so much difficulty with. I would remind her that the Liberal Party members that represented her at committee in fact moved one amendment to the entire bill.

My question for her is, how much time is she personally going to spend helping the good senators in the Senate, most of whom are Liberal, so that in fact they will rush this bill through that house and make it legislation? She also should support her members at committee who in fact supported the legislation and only moved one amendment at committee.

Motions in amendment
Tackling Violent Crime Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the truth can be stretched, the Conservatives stretch it as much as possible.

Why was there a need to combine all of the bills? Those bills themselves were complex in nature. If the member wants to blame the Senate, in almost every case the Senate dealt with the bills faster than this House did. Of the six justice bills that were not passed before the summer break, only four had even reached the Senate. The two bills that were in the Senate were Bill C-27 and Bill C-32. Of the four bills that were in the Senate, they had all only been sent in May or later.

Let us have some fairness and some truth.

Motions in amendment
Tackling Violent Crime Act
Government Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-2. I hope that my colleague from Wild Rose will remain with us so that we can have the kind of discussion that we had during our review of some other bills that have been adopted.

To begin, I wish to pay tribute today to the hon. Antonio Lamer, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and probably one of the greatest criminal lawyers that the Canadian legal profession has known. As a criminal lawyer myself, I had the opportunity to get to know Mr. Justice Lamer, not at the Supreme Court, unfortunately, but through studying, analyzing and relying on decisions he had handed down. We know that in the years between 1980 and 2000, Mr. Justice Lamer and the Supreme Court rendered decisions taking into account the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that came into force in 1982. I pay heartfelt tribute to the hon. Justice Lamer. He played a significant role in the interpretation of the legislation that we must debate here and that will eventually be applied to the people of Canada, and in particular, of Quebec.

To return to Bill C-2, this is a strange bill called an omnibus bill. It brings together Bill C-10, dealing with minimum penalties for offences involving firearms; Bill C-22, which deals with the age of protection; Bill C-27, concerning dangerous offenders and recognizance to keep the peace; Bill C-32, on impaired driving; and Bill C-35, concerning reverse onus in bail hearings for firearm-related offences.

That said, the government wants to put together a package of bills into a single omnibus bill and have it passed. Right away, I should say that several of those bills, three in particular, had already reached the Senate but died on the order paper when the Conservative government decided to produce a new Speech from the Throne.

The Bloc Québécois is in favour and will be in favour of the principle of Bill C-2. We feel that former bills C-10, C-22 and C-35 have already been debated in this House. I myself have spoken against one of those bills. Nonetheless, as a great democrat, I am respecting the decision of this House and we will respect the democratic choice that was made to move forward with these bills.

However, I want to point out that a number of these bills, Bill C-27 on dangerous offenders in particular, deserved and still deserve a more in-depth review. The problem is that when a person commits a third offence from a list of a dozen very serious offences, there will be reverse onus of proof. Personally—I talked about this with my party and here in this House—I have always been against the reverse onus of proof because this implies that the accused has to incriminate himself and provide explanations or be held responsible.

Nonetheless, Bill C-2, and former Bill C-27, resolve part of the problem. Once criminals have to be monitored, there are reasons they have to appear before the court and the court has reasons for asking them why they would not be considered dangerous criminals who have to be monitored for a long time, in light of the offences they committed.

The Bloc Québécois wants to be very clear on this. We need to deal first and foremost with poverty, social inequality and exclusion, a fertile breeding ground for frustration and its outlets, which are violence and criminal activity. There is no point to just passing legislation; one day we will really have to think about how to attack crime. If we do not attack it by dealing with poverty and exclusion, some people will see no other way out except crime. Crime is not a solution of course, but some people see it as one.

The measures we introduce will really have to have a positive impact on crime and go beyond mere rhetoric or campaigns based on fear. They will have to be more than a weak imitation of the American model, which has had less than stellar results.

The crime problem in Canada cannot be solved—and I say this with great respect for the House—by imposing minimum prison terms or reversing the onus of proof but by dealing instead with a problem that has festered for far too long: criminals get out of jail too soon. Canadians are genuinely shocked that people sentenced to 22, 36, 48, or 52 months in jail are released after 5, 6 or 7 months.

Our friends across the aisle will have to understand some day that we cannot reduce crime by passing tougher laws but by ensuring that criminals who have been sentenced actually serve their time. This is the key factor and one of the obvious problems in Canadian society. Tougher laws will not ensure that people serve longer sentences. This is what will happen: the judges and courts will probably revise their decisions thinking that they are too onerous and tough. Contrary to what the Conservatives say, section 2 of the Charter applies and if a law is too harsh or a sentence almost too tough for a criminal, the court can revise this decision.

There are a number of objectives therefore. We know what Bill C-2 is all about. It strengthens the provisions on offences involving firearms by creating two new firearms-related offences and increasing the minimum prison terms. However, even increased minimum prison terms will not solve the problem. People are not frightened off by the possibility of long-term imprisonment but by the likelihood of being caught. We will have to check how judges and the police apply it.

I do not have a lot of time left. I would therefore like to say quickly as well that we need to do something about impaired driving. We hope that the police will find ways of determining the presence of drugs in the bodies of drivers. We still do not know how. When I sat on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, all the experts who came to testify said that no machine could detect whether someone had consumed cocaine or smoked marijuana and whether it was influencing his driving.

This is an important bill and I hope that when the House passes it, the Senate will also quickly do so. I know that some of the provisions to be amended by Bill C-2 will be studied by the courts and probably the Supreme Court over the next few years.

Motions in amendment
Tackling Violent Crime Act
Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would draw my colleague's attention to a report in the United States entitled “Unlocking America”. The top nine criminologists produced the report and essentially said that the policies of get tough on crime in the United States were totally counterproductive.

The United States has about two million people incarcerated at any particular time and the report shows a racial basis for who is incarcerated. The report says that one-third of all black males and one-sixth of Latino males versus 1 in 17 white males will go to prison during their lives.

Why would the neo-conservative government copy the tactics of another neo-conservative government when it has been clearly shown that they do not work? When the Conservatives talk about producing safety, they actually are making things more unsafe.

Motions in amendment
Tackling Violent Crime Act
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, and I will provide a quick answer. Personally, as a former criminal lawyer—in fact, I am still one, because I can still practice law—I agree with the hon. member that increasing minimum prison sentences will not solve the problem.

The public is not necessarily asking for longer sentences. Rather, it is asking that jailed offenders do serve their sentences. That is the problem.

I have pleaded before judges and, in some cases, the offender was sentenced to 22 months in jail. However, four months later, the judge would see the offender on the street. Yet, when the judge, after a thorough review of the case, decides that so and so will spend 22 months in jail, he expects that the individual will serve at least 12 or 15 months of that sentence. However, that individual is back on the street a mere four months after being sent to jail. This is what the public does not accept.

I do not agree with the Conservatives, who want to impose minimum jail sentences in every case. That is not the solution, and it is not true that it will help reduce crime. Just look at the United States, our next door neighbour. This is the best example of a country that imposes minimum sentences. Yet, the Americans have not solved anything, far from it.

Justice
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recently met with a group from my constituency of Sarnia—Lambton, all members from various Catholic women's leagues in the riding. They presented me with several thousand signatures on white ribbons, representing names of constituents who had participated in the white ribbons against pornography programs.

As Christian women, they realized the strong connection between pornography and other sexual crimes committed each and every day and had collected the signatures to show the strength of their beliefs on the issue.

They asked that I bring the attention of this huge problem to the lawmakers of our country. They referred to the connections between pornography and other crimes, such as trafficking of women and children. They asked that we keep pressure on our members of Parliament to renew and toughen the laws that affect and damage our sense of freedom to come and go on our streets.

I have the greatest admiration for this group of people and applaud them for their efforts to make this a better and safer country to live in.

I challenge all members of this House to show the same respect for law, order and human dignity and support the justice bills that are before this House.

World University Service of Canada Alumni Award
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand in the House today to congratulate Leo Cheverie, a resident of Prince Edward Island, who recently won the 2007 World University Service of Canada Alumni Award.

Mr. Cheverie's award recognizes his exceptional contribution to international development through World University Service of Canada. This organization aims to foster human development through education and training. Mr. Cheverie has been active with the UPEI chapter of this organization for in excess of 20 years.

Mr. Cheverie has contributed to many World University Service of Canada initiatives at UPEI. He played a key role in establishing the student refugee sponsorship program, which allows student refugees from developing countries to continue their studies at this university. His years of commitment to this organization have made students more aware of global issues and have promoted international development.

I would ask all members to please join me in offering my congratulations to Mr. Cheverie in this achievement and for his many years of dedicated volunteering.

Manon Cornellier
Statements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prix Judith-Jasmin is Quebec's most prestigious journalism award. It was created in 1974 and is presented by the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec to honour the year's best stories in Quebec's print and electronic media.

This year, the recipient of this prestigious award is journalist Manon Cornellier, for her article on the role of women in politics entitled “Femmes en retrait”. The article was published in November 2006 and explored the position of women in politics, which is less than outstanding. She looked at the inconspicuous role apparently played by the female ministers, six at the time, in the Prime Minister's cabinet and the fact that he has surrounded himself with a tight circle of advisors, all men. Female ministers tend to be eclipsed by their male colleagues. The article called on the reader to reflect on the role of women in politics, particularly within the Conservative Party.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois and the women of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to Manon Cornellier.

Holodomor
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, it has been 75 years since the terrible Ukrainian genocide called the Holodomor.

As many as one out of four Ukrainians, including millions of children, perished in the period from 1932 to 1933. Ukrainians died of starvation and disease while the Soviet Union ignored their plight and exported grain and other resources abroad. This terrible crime is largely ignored by the world community.

Now, after 75 years, it is long overdue that we pay our respects to the over one million Canadians of Ukrainian heritage, some of whom are survivors and many of whom lost family during the Holodomor.

We need to ensure that Canadians, especially Canadian students, learn about the Holodomor so that we can pledge to learn from the past and to build a better future.

I am proud to represent the riding of Parkdale—High Park with a large Ukrainian community. I want to thank them for educating me about this terrible event in our human history 75 years ago. I stand with them in recognizing the Holodomor and encourage all members to join one of Canada's largest communities as the Ukrainian Canadian Congress launches a year of commemorative events.

Mining Industry
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is uranium in the shield country of northern Frontenac county. Following a sharp rise in the price for this commodity, local residents are getting an unpleasant introduction to Ontario mining law.

The province has sold permits authorizing prospectors to enter any private property where the province owns the mineral rights and to dig trenches and exploratory pits. In the event there is nothing of value under the surface, the landowners will receive no compensation for any damage or inconvenience caused during exploration.

However, if the uranium deposit proves rich enough to warrant a mine, it will be the prospecting company, not the landowners, who will profit from selling the mineral rights. The land itself will be turned into an open pit mine and, in return, landowners will get essentially nothing.

Ontario's mining law dates from the nineteenth century and, frankly, change is well overdue. The Ontario legislature should award all landowners the subsurface rights to their land and end this abuse of private property rights.

Atlantic Lifetime Achievement Award
Statements By Members

November 26th, 2007 / 2 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, Graham Dennis, Canada's longest-serving newspaper publisher, was presented with the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 Atlantic Lifetime Achievement Award this fall.

Mr. Dennis has served as publisher of the Halifax Chronicle Herald for almost 54 years. He leads the largest independently owned newspaper in Canada in a province where Joseph Howe first established freedom of the press in the British colonies in the 1830s.

In 2007, The Chronicle Herald was named one of Canada's top 100 employers by Maclean's magazine, the only newspaper in Canada to receive this honour.

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes Graham Dennis' dedication to maintaining a progressive, modern and independent newspaper serving the people of Nova Scotia. I congratulate Mr. Dennis, a proud Nova Scotian and a great Canadian.

Barrie Multicultural Association
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I stand in the House today to congratulate the Barrie Multicultural Association for opening its new office located on Bradford Street, donated by the generosity of Steve Sperling.

This organization provides a support network for newcomers to find homes, jobs and adjust to a new life in Canada.

Barrie's Multicultural Association has over 1,900 members. The different cultures that make up the association are Portuguese, Polish, Jewish, Filipino, Afro Caribbean, Latino, South Asian and Muslim.

I would like to recognize the association's executive and board members, which include: president, Peter Silveira; vice-chairman, Peter Ramsay; treasurer, Elmore Cudanin; secretary, Helena Arouda-Raposo; and directors, Sarfraz Warraich, Nancy Yola, Eben Ikusa and Robert Zober.

I commend those talented individuals for their continuous efforts in making our city a better place for all.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It commemorates the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic who were brutally assassinated in 1960. These three sisters symbolize women's resistance.

All around the world, thousands of women suffer in silence after being raped, assaulted and beaten. They are frightened and ashamed and afraid they will be punished if they speak out.

Statistics show that 90% of the violence against women is perpetrated by men: a spouse, a relative, a co-worker, a boss, a stranger who wants to humiliate, control, frighten and silence a woman.

We must join together in denouncing the rapes, murders and assaults of all these women, whether they are in Darfur, Congo, Haiti, aboriginal and Innu communities, our cities or our towns.

We must defend women's right to live with respect and dignity and without fear.