House of Commons Hansard #146 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-22.

Topics

Comments by Member for Winnipeg South Centre
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Batters Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to validate the comments of my colleague from Selkirk--Interlake. I was in my seat and witnessed this exchange exactly as he described it for the record, as was my colleague from Avalon and the member for Niagara West—Glanbrook.

Comments by Member for Winnipeg South Centre
Privilege
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member for Palliser for his assistance.

I believe the hon. the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader has a point of order he wishes to raise.

Bill C-280--Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Points of Order
Oral Questions

May 3rd, 2007 / 3:15 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, before I begin my point of order I must say that while I recognize I am raising this point of order today, I also recognize the fact that a ruling by yourself will not be made before third reading debate takes place on Bill C-280.

It is on Bill C-280 that I rise today. Without commenting on the merits of the private member's bill, I would appreciate your consideration, Mr. Speaker, on whether Bill C-280, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, requires a royal recommendation under Standing Order 79.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act was adopted as Bill C-11 by the 37th Parliament and received royal assent on November 1, 2001. Bill C-11, which was accompanied by a royal recommendation, specified in clause 275 that:

The provisions of this Act come into force on a day or days to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council.

Bill C-280 seeks to amend section 275 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to stipulate that, despite the coming into force provisions adopted in 2001, sections 110, 111 and 171 would come into force on the day Bill C-280 receives royal assent.

The substantive effect would be to establish a refugee appeal division at the Immigration and Refugee Board. This would involve significant new expenditures to cover the appointment of adjudicators to hear appeals; the administrative officers to establish, receive and process applications for appeal; office space to conduct appeal hearings; and other activities required for the operation of a new appeals division.

The Department of Citizenship and Immigration estimates that the initial start-up cost would be at least $8 million and ongoing annual costs would be over $12 million. This does not include the considerable costs associated with the provision of legal aid.

Those estimated costs also do not take into consideration the potential significant costs of implementation should the bill fail to include transition provisions, without which, could potentially lead to an immediate backlog of approximately 40,000 additional cases.

Of course, the creation of a refugee division was contemplated by the original legislation. However, this was accompanied by a qualification in clause 275, that the timing of its creation would be subject to a future decision of the governor in council, namely, when to bring in sections 110, 111 and 171 into force.

The procedural authorities and precedents indicate that the royal recommendation, which accompanies a bill, fixes not only the amount of an expenditure but also the way in which it will be incurred.

Beauchesne's 6th edition, page 183, citation 596, indicates:

...the communication, to which the Royal Recommendation is attached, must be treated as laying down once for all...not only the amount of the charge, but also its objects, purposes, conditions and qualifications. In relation to the standard thereby fixed, an amendment infringes the financial initiative of the Crown not only if it increases the amount but also if it extends the objects and purposes, or relaxes the conditions and qualifications expressed in the communication by which the Crown has demanded or recommended a charge.

On March 26, 1985, on page 3353 of Hansard, the Speaker cited this section of Beauchesne's in ruling an amendment to a government bill out of order because, by eliminating a legislated deadline, it would relax a condition of the royal recommendation.

On October 17, 1986, at page 473 of Hansard, the Speaker ruled that an amendment to an income tax bill was beyond the scope of a royal recommendation, even though it did not change the overall expenditure, because “It changes the intent of the Bill”.

The intent of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, as clearly expressed in clause 275, was that the governor in council would determine at what time clauses 110, 111 and 171 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act would be brought into force. In other words, that the governor in council would determine at what time the expenditures associated with those clauses would be incurred.

This was a condition of the royal recommendation for Bill C-11, which members of the 37th Parliament accepted and which is, therefore, inseparable from the authorization for expenditures for a refugee appeal board.

Since Bill C-280 seeks to relax that condition by removing the Governor in Council's determination of the timing of the crown's expenditure, Bill C-280 is beyond the scope of the original royal recommendation and, I submit, should be accompanied by a new royal recommendation.

Bill C-280--Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened as my colleague from across the way tried to put up a roadblock to Bill C-280. However, Bill C-280 is not an amendment to Bill C-11. We only ask for implementation. Bill C-11 already received royal assent. It has been voted on and studied. We only ask for the implementation of a measure included in Bill C-11. I do not see where the problem lies.

In concluding, I reserve the right to speak again to the issue.

Bill C-280--Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Once again, I thank the hon. member for Laval and the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for their submissions on the issue.

I will take the matter under advisement.

I recognize that this bill is scheduled for debate tomorrow. I frankly doubt that I will have a ruling in time for the debate, so if by some chance the matter comes to a vote tomorrow at third reading, I am sure that hon. members will force the vote, and that the vote will then be deferred, as the rules require, until next Wednesday, which will give me ample time to render a decision that I hope will be satisfactory to all hon. members in respect of this bill.

Bill C-52--Budget Implementation Act, 2007--Speaker's Ruling
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised by the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River on April 17, 2007, concerning the procedural admissibility of Bill C-52, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007.

I would like to thank the hon. member Scarborough—Rouge River for having raised this issue as well as the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for his submission.

In raising this point of order, the member for Scarborough—Rouge River appealed to the Chair to find that Bill C-52 is improperly before the House by virtue of the provision included in subclause 13(1) of the bill, which amends paragraph 122.1(2)(b) of the Income Tax Act.

This provision, if enacted, would regulate the taxation of existing income trusts during a transitional period by providing for interim taxation rates based on the “Normal Growth Guidelines” issued by the Department of Finance on December 15, 2006.

The hon. member drew the attention of the Chair to the absence of a corresponding measure from a ways and means motion tabled on October 31, 2006, Ways and Means Motion No. 9.

In reviewing the hon. member's submission, it became apparent to the Chair that the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River must have been referring to Ways and Means Motion No. 10, tabled on November 2 and concurred in on November 7, 2006, since Ways and Means Motion No. 9 is still on the order paper and has not been concurred in.

That being said, the member is quite correct in pointing out that while the motion to which he refers does provide for a transitional exemption applicable to existing income trusts, it does not include the protocol based on the “Normal Growth Guidelines” which later appeared in subclause 13(1) of the bill.

Describing these “Normal Growth Guidelines” as “no more than a press release”, the hon. member characterized the effect of the provision in question as “a delegation of subordinate law, not by regulation nor by ministerial directive, but by press release”.

He expressed concern about the possibility alluded to in the minister's press release that criteria not included in the bill might be invoked after its coming into effect to rescind the taxation deferral with respect to specific income trusts and he declared that this would amount to the imposition of an unlegislated supplementary tax burden.

The hon. member went on to cite a number of authorities, including the Statutory Instruments Act, in support of his contention that subclause 13(1) of the bill attempts to exempt from parliamentary scrutiny by the Standing Joint Committee on the Scrutiny of Regulations a measure that is, in all but name, delegated legislation.

Finally, the hon. member stated that subclause 13(1) of the bill fails to conform to the government's own drafting guidelines, in particular to its standards for the making of proper subordinate law as expressed in the Guide to Making Federal Acts and Regulations promulgated by the Privy Council Office. He concluded with an appeal to the Chair to rule subclause 13(1) of Bill C-52 null and void.

The hon. government House leader responded to the point of order on April 19. On the issue of the prior inclusion of the provision of subclause 13(1) in a previously adopted ways and means motion, he drew the attention of the Chair to Ways and Means Motion No. 20, adopted by the House on March 28, affirming that the latter motion did indeed include the provision in question.

With respect to the argument that subclause 13(1) of the bill provides for the inappropriate delegation of the right to make subordinate law, he declared that the provision in question violates no procedural prohibition recognized by this House and is therefore a matter for debate. He added that the same principle applies to the issue of the conformity of the bill to the government's drafting guidelines.

The hon. Government House Leader also noted that it is not at all uncommon for bills to establish forms of delegated legislation not subject to the Statutory Instruments Act.

I have examined this matter with care in view of the complexity of the issues raised. As I have done on many occasions in the past, I must remind the House that my role here is restricted to ensuring that our rules of procedure and our practice are respected. Potential questions or difficulties with respect to the interpretation and future implementation of bills currently before the House are matters of law and are not for the Speaker to answer or resolve.

The legal status of the “Normal Growth Guidelines” issued by the finance department on December 15, 2006 and referred to in subclause 13(1) of the bill and the authority of the minister to issue such guidelines are likewise beyond the purview of the Chair. What does or does not fall within the definition of “statutory instrument” is a legal question and not one of procedure.

In our practice, the Standing Joint Committee on the Scrutiny of Regulations has the duty of examining whether the government is employing “the appropriate principles and practices...in the drafting powers enabling delegates of Parliament to make subordinate laws”. That quote comes from page 689 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice.

It is not, however, for the Speaker to rule on such questions or to evaluate the government's compliance with its own rules for drafting legislation. There is, furthermore, no procedural objection to making reference in legislation to documents which are not subject to review by the House or its committees. Whether provisions which do so should be adopted, amended or rejected is a decision for the House to make.

With regard to the issue of the link between ways and means motions and legislation based upon them, it is perhaps useful to quote a passage from House of Commons Procedure and Practice at page 760. It states:

Ways and Means motions can be expressed in general terms, or be very specific, as in the form of draft legislation. In either case, they establish limits on the scope--specifically tax rates and their applicability--of the legislative measures they propose.

This principle is reflected in Standing Order 83(4), which states in part:

The adoption of any Ways and Means motion shall be an order to bring in a bill or bills based on the provisions of any such motion—

Having carefully examined the ways and means motions relevant to this question, the Chair agrees that the contested provision in subclause 13(1) of Bill C-52 does not appear in Ways and Means Motion No. 10, to which the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River refers, which was tabled on November 2 and adopted on November 7, 2006.

However, as the government House leader has indicated, the provision does appear in Ways and Means Motion No. 20 tabled on March 27 and adopted on March 28, 2007. Bill C-52 is based on Ways and Means Motion No. 20. Since the wording of the bill accurately reflects that of the motion, the Chair must conclude that the bill is fully in compliance with the requirements of Standing Order 83(4).

The other issues raised in the point of order of the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River, while interesting and cogently argued, are related to the substance of the bill and to legal issues arising therefrom and not to procedural considerations. While they may well be of interest to members as they consider this legislative proposal, they are beyond the purview of the Chair.

In conclusion, the Chair has not found any procedural irregularities in this matter. Subclause 13(1) of the bill and Bill C-52 as a whole are in order and the bill can proceed in its current form.

I would like to once again thank the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River for his vigilance in drawing these matters to the attention of the House.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-22, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (age of protection) and to make consequential amendments to the Criminal Records Act, be read the third time and passed.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join in the debate on Bill C-22, an act to amend the Criminal Code of Canada regarding the age of protection.

This issue has been the subject of many private members' bills and proposed government legislation over many years and many studies by the Department of Justice.

It has also been the subject of much community interest, many white ribbon campaigns in strong support for raising the age of consent to 16 years of age while others have even advocated raising the age to 18.

Over the years the subject has generated numerous constituent letters, as well as press and editorial commentary in my riding of Welland. These representations have been heard and will be reflected in my support of the bill.

Bill C-22, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding age of protection, amends the Criminal Code to raise the age from 14 to 16 years at which time a person can consent to non-exploitive sexual activity. The existing age of consent of 18 years for exploitive sexual activity will be maintained. This applies to sexual activity involving prostitution, pornography or where there is a relationship of trust, authority, dependency or any other situation that is otherwise exploitive of a young person.

Bill C-22 creates an exception with respect to an accused who engages in sexual activity with a 14 or 15 year old and who is less than five years older than the youth. It also creates an exception for transitional purposes for an accused who is married to a youth or who is the common law partner of a youth and is expecting a child with the youth and the sexual activity was not otherwise prohibited before the act comes into force. The bill maintains an existing close in age exception that exists for 12 or 13 year olds who engage in sexual activity with a peer who is less than two years older, provided the relationship is not exploitative.

The history of the age of consent has evolved considerably in the past century in that the existing Criminal Code prohibitions against sexual conduct with young people bears little resemblance to those that were in place as recently as 20 years ago.

Historically in Canada, the age of consent was 12 until 1890 when it was raised to 14. At no time has it ever been set higher than 14 in Canada. At one time Canadian criminal law did provide very qualified protection from sexual exploitation for females over 14. Between 1886 and 1988 there were several incarnations of a provision banning intercourse with a girl over 12 and under 16 who was of “previously chaste character”. This qualified protection for girls, not boys, applied only to intercourse and no other form of sexual contact.

In 1988 the qualified protection was revoked in favour of new offences called “sexual interference” and “invitation to sexual touching” that prohibit adults from engaging in virtually any kind of sexual contact with other boys or girls under the age of 14, irrespective of consent.

Introduced at the same time the offence of sexual exploitation also made it an offence for an adult to have any such contact with boys and girls over 14 but under 18 where a relationship of trust or authority exists between the adult and the child. This also means that child pornography includes any youth under the age of 18 regardless of consent.

The 1988 changes implemented more equitable, broad-sweeping protection for all young people regardless of gender, type of offence or the complainant's sexual history.

As time and further reflection have passed, an additional protection for youth has been advanced. In a previous Parliament, the Government of Canada tabled Bill C-2, the child protection act. As I do support raising the age of consent from 14 to 16, I was disappointed that Bill C-2 at that time did not do this, although I understand there was no consensus or agreement from the provinces which is required for this issue to move forward.

In its place the government proposed a new category of sexual exploitation that did not consider whether or not the young person, covering youth between 14 and 18 years of age, consented to sexual activity, but examined the relationship and motives of the accused.

The argument was that this provision should effectively prohibit any exploitive sexual activity between an adult and youth under the age of 18. I do think that this was a good provision and strikes at the heart of the intention of people who want to raise the age to 18. The call to increase the age of consent to 18 was all about protecting young people between the ages of 14 and 18 from exploitation and the new provision says that regardless of whether or not consent was given by the young person. I feel this is key. The nature of the power of dynamic in the relationship would be scrutinized by the court.

The current bill is not without its critics. One criticism of the bill that has been raised by those who generally support it is that the five year age exemption is too large. Rather than allowing a five year age gap, three years should be more than enough.

Some other supporters of the bill have proposed that the age of consent be set at 18. This would eliminate the anomaly of 16 year olds who can legally consent to have sex yet be unable to vote, serve in the military, smoke or drink. Many have argued that most teenagers do not have the maturity to handle the responsibilities that come with sex, such as practising safe sex and using reliable birth control. A more appropriate age of consent, they argue, would be 18, when one legally becomes an adult.

It is interesting to note that the most common age of consent in the United States seems to be either 16 or 18. Sixteen is the age of consent in Australia, Belgium, Hong Kong, Finland, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Singapore, the Ukraine and the U.K. Canada is now coming in line with these other countries.

Bill C-22 also addresses Criminal Code provisions regarding luring a child. Section 172.1 of the Criminal Code creates the offence of using a computer system to lure children for the purpose of committing certain sexual offences. The section lists various sexual offences, which depend upon the age of the child. The offence is committed if the child is under the particular age specified or if the accused believes the child to be under that age.

Subsection 172.1(3) sets up a rebuttable presumption that the accused believed the child was under the relevant age if there is evidence the child was represented to the accused as being under that age. There is no defence that the accused believed the child was over the relevant age unless the accused took reasonable steps to ascertain the age of the child.

New paragraph 172.1(1)(b) will make 16 the relevant age for the offence of facilitating the commission of an offence under section 151, which is sexual interference, section 152, which is invitation to sexual touching, subsection 160(3), which is bestiality in the presence of a young person, or subsection 173(2), which is exposure to a young person. These offences are being added to a list that previously consisted only of section 280, which is abduction of a person under the age of 14.

The relevant age for all four of the added offences will be raised from 14 to 16. Thus, the use of a computer system to facilitate the commission of these offences when the complainant is less than 16 is being made an offence.

Since 16 will now be the relevant age, paragraph 172.1(1)(c) is amended to remove reference to the age of 14 for offences under sections 151 and 152 and subsections 160(3) and 173(2). Henceforth, luring someone under the age of 14 by means of a computer system will be an offence only if it is done to facilitate the commission of an offence under section 280(1), which is, again, the abduction of a person under 16.

Members of our police forces welcome Bill C-22 for the very message it sends. They see a fair number of people between the ages of 14 and 16 being manipulated by older predators. Any new tools the police can use to stop predators are most welcome.

The bill will also change the way police investigate child pornography, underage prostitution and Internet luring. There will be a new group of kids being protected and a new group of pedophiles being charged.

Protecting our children, however, goes beyond a simple and arbitrary increase of the age of consent to sexual activity. It means addressing the broader issues of the safety and well-being of our children. Our objective is to develop and maintain effective, comprehensive measures to support provincial and territorial measures to improve public safety for children and to protect children from serious injury and even death at the hands of adults.

The achievement of this objective rests in a collaborative effort by the provinces, the territories and the Government of Canada. While the provision of services to children who are in need of protection is the responsibility of the provinces and territories, the assurance that appropriate offences and penalties are available for serious harm done to children remains the responsibility of the Government of Canada. By targeting extreme forms of harm through the Criminal Code, the Government of Canada will provide strong support for provincial and territorial initiatives to protect children.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd St. Amand Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my hon. colleague, the member for Welland, on his speech. He is typically very thoughtful and analytical and certainly his speech today is a reflection of those qualities.

I would like to ask him specifically about feedback, if any, from constituents in his riding. I will put this in the context of what I have heard from constituents in my riding of Brant, which is essentially that there is widespread approval for the passage of Bill C-22. My constituents tell me that the age of consent in fact should be raised from 14 to 16 and that by and large they are content with the five year close in age exemption, recognizing that there has to be some close in age exemption.

I wonder if the member for Welland has heard similar things from his constituents.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Welland, ON

Yes, Mr. Speaker, my experience has been exactly the same as the hon. member's in his riding. There is a general feeling, a consensus and actually a shock when people perhaps appreciate that the age of consent is currently 14. The movement to increase it to 16 is seen as a very welcome initiative and one that will be well received in my riding.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I commend the member on what he had to say.

I want to make a point and see if he agrees with me. I am going to cite a special case in my constituency. The point that I think needs to be made is that sometimes we MPs forget that delaying legislative changes such as this may cost lives and/or allow deplorable situations to exist.

I do not know if the member is familiar with the case in my riding that was covered nationally on the news. In fact, it was covered on The Verdict, a CTV program. It involved a man who tried to rescue his daughter from the influence of her boyfriend, a drug pusher. That man, Kim Walker, is now serving a life sentence in prison.

We have to wonder if the situation would have turned out differently if the police and authorities could have intervened earlier. If the bill that we are debating today would have been in place, the age of consent possibly would have allowed the police and others to rescue this particular youth, Jadah Walker, from an abusive relationship.

We have many other youth in Canada involved in these abusive relationships where men take advantage of young girls and boys. In the Kim and Jadah Walker affair, we had a father who was desperate and we now have a man who is dead. Jadah said that she too would have been dead if something had not been done.

I have listened to the discussion here today, but I think it is about time to consider the victims of these abusive relationships where older adults take advantage of vulnerable girls and boys. The Kim and Jadah Walker case may have turned out very differently if this law had been in place.

For those who do not think we have a problem, I think they need to take a closer look at what is happening. There are other things that need to be changed in the system as well, I grant that, but there are problems within the system which indicate that this bill would be a good start in fixing them.

I have written to the attorney general of Saskatchewan about this case. I do not expect the member to know the details of it, but I have asked the attorney general to review this case to see what changes need to be made to the system. A tragedy like this one can be pre-empted. Changing the age of consent to 16 is a good start.

If the member has any comments, I would appreciate hearing them.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recall vaguely the situation that the member addressed, but I cannot put a date to it.

Certainly with respect to this legislation, it has moved along very expeditiously. The bill was introduced in June 2006. Shortly thereafter we adjourned for the summer. The bill came forward at second reading in October 2006. The bill went through in one day and was reported by the committee in April after hearings in March and April of this year. Knowing how justice legislation sometimes needs a lot of input, discussion and consideration, I would say that this current piece of legislation has moved very quickly. I would think the hon. member would appreciate that.

If this legislation had been in place when the situation with Mr. Walker arose, it very well might have given the police the tools to move on the situation. The good news is that this legislation will be in place before we adjourn for the summer, hopefully, so that similar situations will not have to happen and, again, so that the police will have the tools to be used to protect our children when required.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am not a member of the committee nor am I a lawyer, but I have looked at some of the transcripts and the editorial commentary from the print media. One of the items the paper noted under the definition of what constitutes sexual activity was that even kissing is covered under the ambit of the definition. I think it would be interesting to ask the member to clarify for members the scope of sexual activity that falls under this Criminal Code legislation.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have seen those commentaries and certainly I think it is a stretch to call kissing a sexual activity. It perhaps could lead to sexual activity, but ordinarily speaking, kissing is a sign of affection and friendship. We see that even in this place with members acknowledging each other with a little peck on either cheek, et cetera. For those reasons, I think it is a stretch to call kissing a sexual activity.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the member about the issue of the repeal of section 159. Section 159 is the section of the Criminal Code that makes anal intercourse a criminal act for anyone under the age of 18. Right now all other sexual acts are legal as of the age of 14. This legislation would make 16 the age of consent, meaning that sexual activity under the age of 16 would prima facie be criminal, but there is protection for closeness in age.

However, the government, knowing that two appellate courts, that of Ontario and that of Quebec, have ruled that section 159 is a violation of the charter, is anti-constitutional and should have no effect, decided in its wisdom not to harmonize the age of consent for all sexual activity. Rather, it preferred to leave that section on the books. Not only did the government do that, but it then opposed an amendment that I attempted to bring in committee in order to repeal that section.

I would like to know what the member thinks about a government that has an opportunity to ensure that a discriminatory and homophobic section of the Criminal Code, which has been deemed to be that by our appellate courts, but decides not to take advantage of its Bill C-22, which we Liberals do support, to harmonize that and to ensure that there are no longer any homophobic and discriminatory sections in the Criminal Code.