House of Commons Hansard #119 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was drugs.

Topics

The House resumed from November 26 consideration of the motion that Bill C-58, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Child Protection Act (Online Sexual Exploitation)
Government Orders

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to this bill which deals with child pornography and to put on the record the concerns, comments and support of my caucus.

This bill is roundly supported by all parties. We are here today to acknowledge the work of those in our community who have been fighting for decades to stop the curse of child pornography and more recently to put restrictions on the spread of this vile propaganda by the Internet.

I want to spend a few minutes reminding Canadians how we all have to work together on this issue. I want to reference the work of an organization in Winnipeg, Manitoba, that is headed up by Roz Prober, who has been working on issues of the sex trade and child pornography for many years. In fact, just this past week in Winnipeg a number of sessions were held and media awards were presented to organizations and individuals in our country who have been outspoken, vocal, and ever present on the issue of child pornography.

Roz Prober and her organization, Beyond Borders, have started a campaign called “Man to Man”. The reason for that campaign is that it is recognized that in most instances regarding child pornography and the use of the Internet to spread child pornography, the main propagators of this offensive material are men.

The idea of the campaign is to persuade other men, who know the importance of stopping the spread of child pornography, who know where it can lead, and how harmful it can be to our whole society, to encourage those men to speak to other men whether it be in terms of how they treat women generally or how they view women and children as sexual objects.

However, the importance of the campaign is to start at the very beginning with that notion that somehow women and children are the sexual property of men. If we can get at that root cause, if we can understand what drives people to produce, promote and spread child pornography, then we will have won half the battle.

Many in the House have worked for years trying to convince the present Parliament and previous ones to take tough stands and take serious legislative steps to crack down on anything that promotes the use of violence, violence against women, violence against children, and violence against any vulnerable members in our society, as a way to exercise power over others.

Many in the House have worked for years, and I think about previous members of Parliament: Margaret Mitchell, Dawn Black, Audrey McLaughlin, Alexa McDonough, and the list goes on and on. These women have stood in this place to say that we as a society, as a Parliament, and as a country have an obligation to get to the roots of pornography and violence against women and children. The only way to do that is to recognize it for what it is, which is the exercise of power over others.

The House will remember Rosemary Brown, who was a prominent member in Canadian politics, who was the first black woman to seek the national leadership of any political party. She worked as an NDP MLA in British Columbia for years and was well known renowned feminist across this country. I remember her words to this day, acknowledging that she passed away a couple of years ago and we lost a great heroine and a great fighter, but she always said, “If we do not challenge the notion that might is right, [that competition is the basis to survival,] then there is no point to this struggle after all”.

What we are talking about in this debate is power over others, how it is wielded, how it degrades people, how it makes them second-class citizens, and how it puts people on a life cycle of dependency, hopelessness and despair because the victims of child pornography are faced with formidable challenges in trying to overcome that humiliation, that sense of no identity, that feeling of being dirty and second class.

That is something that takes years and years to overcome. Sometimes it is never overcome and the victims of violence, child pornography, sexual degradation, or the sex trade, if they can escape it, they will fight for their whole lives trying to regain their sense of self worth and purpose in life.

This debate is pretty fundamental to our notion of a civil society, our notion that everyone among us, no matter whether we look at people through the prism of sex or race or ability can contribute to society. It is absolutely clear that our job as parliamentarians is to ensure that everyone, regardless of sex, race or ability is able to be who they are and contribute on the basis of their unique talents their individual potential and contribute that to our society. When they become pawns in a massive trade regarding child pornography, we demean not just those who are the victims who are portrayed in child pornography but we, in fact, demean an entire society and reduce it to its lowest common denominator.

Our job must be to use every strategy at our fingertips, every mechanism available to crack down on child pornography. This is not a time for anyone among us to debate the whole issue of freedom of speech because we all know that there is no freedom of speech when that freedom is used to take someone else's freedom away. That is what child pornography does. That is what pornography does generally. It takes away the freedom of that child or woman, or any other victim of pornography and sexual degradation, to be who they truly are as individuals.

Mr. Speaker, I would urge you to ensure that we move the bill as expeditiously as possible through all levels and all processes in this place to honour the work of those who have come before us and to recognize those members in our communities everywhere, whether it is in Winnipeg with Beyond Borders, whether it is a national organization in terms of child protection, or whether it is the women's movement, where feminists have been speaking out for decades to end violence against any individual and sexual degradation of any individual. We need to honour that work and bring it to fruition, entrench it in law, and crack down on the production, dissemination, and the spread of this vile propaganda that degrades and humiliates people and lowers the whole level of civilization in our country today.

I think it is an offence to the very notion of a civilized society that child pornography is allowed in any shape or form. It is contrary to any notion of what we believe in, in terms of a society where everyone is treated with decency, equality, dignity and respect.

I think it is incumbent upon each one of us to do what we can in our respective constituencies and communities, so that we are not just here promoting laws that will actually make a difference but we are on the streets, in our neighbourhoods, at the community level, in the grassroots of our communities, speaking out every time there is any sign, any sense, any whiff of material or actions or activity that shows and reveals children as sexual objects or women as second-class citizens.

So, what I am saying is this debate is more than just about the law. It is about government policies, in general, and whether or not we are there to support those organizations, those non-governmental community organizations, the women's movement, the cross-borders organizations of the country,and whether we are there supporting them through resources and through acknowledging the validity of their work.

While I know the government is very supportive of cracking down on pornography, as witnessed by this legislation, we sometimes wonder if the government is really there, prepared to get at the roots of the problem, and support organizations that need resources of the government to fight, to speak, and to act. We have had huge debates in this place about whether or not government funds should be used to do such things, to advocate on behalf of others. Many organizations have lost their funds because they are seen as advocates, as speaking out for a purpose, as fighting against something.

I know we have disagreements in this place sometimes about the end goal and our very notion of what is a civil society. However, I would implore government members today to think about the wisdom of that kind of approach and decision, and to, in fact, reconsider supporting women's organizations, which are the leaders on this issue, through core funding.

Most of the organizations I know that fight on these terms, on this basis, spend half their time trying to figure out how to keep going as an organization. They spend half their time making applications and trying to fit their program into a government-sponsored initiative, trying to fit a round peg into a square box, trying to be as creative and as imaginative as possible, in order to access a bit of resources just to keep going.

The women's movement has been drastically hurt in its ability to keep being that voice in our communities against child pornography and violence against anyone because it is spending most of its time trying to figure out how to stay alive, if it is still alive. In fact, many important organizations have had to be silenced, have had to terminate their existence because there is no support from a government that should support such organizations since they get to the very roots of the problem that we talk about today. We cannot just do it with the heavy hand of the law.

We support the bill because it takes a multi-disciplined and a multifaceted approach, but we have to fight at the community level, too. We have to deal with the very fundamental attitude that people can overpower others and do so in the most vilest of ways, through the degradation we have seen in some of the most horrific child pornography cases anywhere, as we know recently from the news in terms of pornography rings that have been broken and individuals charged.

That is just the tip of the iceberg. Pornography is everywhere. The way in which we treat women and children is rooted in a society where the powerful are given licence to overcome the more vulnerable, given licence because we do not stop them from repressing women and children and making them victims.

I hope, through this legislation, we crack down on child pornography on the Internet, that is spread electronically, at the speed of light, everywhere and is so readily accessible to everyone in society. At the same time, I hope, in the process, we recognize that we also have to change attitudes.

Every time there is an act of violence against another in our society, any time women are treated as sexual objects or children are seen as pawns in this game of trading pornographic material, anytime individuals in society are not allowed to be who they are on their own terms, then we have to act and we have to support community groups to do that.

We cannot sit back and allow cultural conditioning to overwhelm us, sex stereotyping to be pervasive, second-class status to be attributed to children. We have to recognize every one as an individual who should be unencumbered and free to pursue his or her life's dreams without being defined, stereotyped and placed in precarious situations because of a society that needs to make money off the treatment of others as second-class citizens.

I am thankful for the opportunity to speak today and to recognize community groups that have been there for us. In turn, I would ask Parliament to be there for them.

Child Protection Act (Online Sexual Exploitation)
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Winnipeg North for spelling out how women have been silenced in Canada by the government and connecting that use of power by the government to the wish to have power over others and not necessarily for a positive reason.

Once children are violated by predators, it is too late. As my colleague pointed out, they live with humiliation and despair. My concern is that the government only talks about punishment. It is so focused on punishment that it has paraded a series of less than effective crime bills in front of the Canadian public, yet has acted negligently in terms of prevention.

Just last week, I received a letter from Mark Biagi from Powell River, B.C. He was very concerned about predators who used date rape drugs to take advantage of young women and the fact that there was nothing in our laws to prevent or to prosecute in these cases. We have also heard nothing about prevention of the crime of child pornography.

Could my colleague comment on the resources that should be in place so we can address the very serious problems of violence against women, violence against children in the form of pornography and physical violence and violence against women in terms of date rape drugs and those who use them and those who allow their use?

Child Protection Act (Online Sexual Exploitation)
Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, the NDP Status of Women critic, for her ongoing work in Parliament, raising these fundamental issues and questions.

I agree with her that there are too few resources and too little acknowledgement of some deep-rooted problems in our society and of the limited ability of organizations to fight back when government does not take them seriously.

Whether we are talking about cracking down on date rape and stopping date rape drugs or trying to work with young people and with organizations that try to dispel this notion of stereotyping and conditioning that is so pervasive in our society, or whether we are looking at more funding for organizations that provide services and programs to fight back against violence in the home or violence on the streets, or whether we are looking at organizations that simply work to create awareness and understanding about the vile impact, the horrific fallout from any kind of materials that treat people as second-class citizens or sexual objects, all those issues must be on the table. They must be addressed. In fact, this is a pervasive, serious problem that creeps up in every aspect of our lives, and we need to be there to deal with it.

I want to reference other organizations that work to end child sexual exploitation. Recently some of the celebrities in Beverly Hills started to get involved in this whole campaign. Maybe this will help in terms of bringing some awareness, when we see actors like Jason Priestley and race car driver, Jacques Villeneuve, among high-profiled Canadians involved in a campaign to end sexual exploitation of children.

This along with the work that I mentioned earlier of Beyond Borders is so important for getting the message out. Public awareness campaigns have to focus and be ever present. To do that, they need resources, money and support to do that.

Beyond Borders, which I mentioned earlier in my remarks, shows that 90% of those charged in terms of sexual exploitation of children or the use of children for sex or the perpetuation of child pornography are men. This goes back to reasons for their man-to-man campaign.

We need to be out there saying, “It's important for boys and men to hear that using children for sex and profit is not OK”. Those are the words of Roz Prober, president of Beyond Borders.

Child Protection Act (Online Sexual Exploitation)
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, when the minister announced the bill and spoke in the House the other day, she said that $42.1 million over five years would be provided to help law enforcement with more financial resources. When I asked her afterward whether this was new money, she could not answer the question. It goes to show us how ill-prepared the government is and how rushed the bill was.

The government did not look to best practices in other countries. Sweden simply solves the problem by blocking access to the sites. Brazil set up an ethical rules committee for the ISPs. Germany and the European Union block access to the sites as well.

Does that not make more sense than to bring in a bill that will simply slow the problem down a bit? We all agree that it has developed in an explosive manner in the last five or six years. It will only get bigger and fines will not solve the problem.

Child Protection Act (Online Sexual Exploitation)
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Elmwood—Transcona for a very important point. We absolutely must have a comprehensive strategy for something as serious as child pornography and sexual exploitation of women and children. It is not good enough for the government to stand and say that it has $40 million, we are not sure from where, to enforce this bill, yet it takes away money from women's organizations and organizations that stand and say to all citizens, especially young boys and men, that the treatment of women as sexual objects is wrong, that child pornography has dire consequences and they should be aware of their actions, even if they make comments or gestures that are inadvertent.

We have to start from square one in terms of education and awareness, and that takes money and support from the government.

My colleague also mentions the point about other tactics, shutting down sites, other strategies used in other jurisdictions that have proven to be effective in ending these rings that produce and spread child pornography. Surely the government can come forward with a more comprehensive approach than simply this one measure in this one particular bill.

Child Protection Act (Online Sexual Exploitation)
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to ask questions on this very important bill.

I point out that citizens of the fabulous riding of Medicine Hat have very much been in support of the anti-crime bills that we have put through. They regularly call our office and ask why we have not done something about the criminals in the system.

Although some of the colleagues on the other side appear to be somewhat soft on crime, I am pleased to hear that the hon. member opposite appears to be in favour of supporting the bill through the House. Does the hon. member have the ability to see that the bill will certainly help to protect our children?

Child Protection Act (Online Sexual Exploitation)
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my Conservative colleague across the way. I want him to know that the NDP absolutely supports the bill and we will help to ensure its quick passage to Parliament. However, we also want our colleagues in the House to know that we are dealing with a very serious and pervasive problem, and it takes a multifaceted approach.

We hope the government may see its way clear to look at other ways to crack down on the spread of child pornography through the Internet. We also hope the government might look at ways to help change attitudes at the earliest stages so we do not end up with people engaged in this kind of activity, which is so harmful to others.

I want him to know that we are here because we believe in this and in the past introduced similar initiatives in the House. Someone just reminded me that the NDP had introduced a bill about Internet luring back in 2006. My colleague, the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore, introduced that bill, the intent of which was to prevent the use of the Internet to unlawfully promote, display, describe or facilitate participation in unlawful sexual activity involving young persons. That was in 2006, so we are glad we finally have a bill in 2009.

Child Protection Act (Online Sexual Exploitation)
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Is the House ready for the question?

Child Protection Act (Online Sexual Exploitation)
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Child Protection Act (Online Sexual Exploitation)
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Child Protection Act (Online Sexual Exploitation)
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Child Protection Act (Online Sexual Exploitation)
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

The House resumed from November 24 consideration of the motion that Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act and the Identification of Criminals Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles
Québec

Conservative

Daniel Petit Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today to offer my strong support for Bill C-31, which would amend the Criminal Code and other acts, in order to make our justice system more efficient.

To fight crime and ensure the safety of Canadians, we need a justice system that reflects our reality, that allows us to use technology effectively, that adapts to scientific advances, to changes in the nature of evidence and scientific procedures, and that operates as efficiently as possible, while still remaining fair and equitable.

This bill is another concrete measure that demonstrates our government's ongoing commitment to fighting crime in the most effective and advanced way possible.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister of Justice for his continued efforts and for recognizing that making minor changes and reforming outdated procedures can also make a difference.

I would also like to take this opportunity to look at what effect some of these proposals would have on the work of the public servants who also help provide security and protection for Canadians.

Public officers are not police officers. Their primary responsibility is the enforcement of non-criminal offences covered by federal legislation other than the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. One proposed amendment would give public officers the same authority as police to deal with goods seized under section 489.1, bearing in mind that they both have the same authority to conduct searches.

At present, subsection 489.1(1), which deals with the return of seized goods, only applies to peace officers and allows them to return the goods seized directly to a person when there is no dispute as to ownership of the goods and if the goods do not need to be kept as evidence.

Subsection 489.1(2) applies to anyone who is not a peace officer and requires that they bring the goods seized before a justice of the peace or that they retain them until the justice orders that they be returned to the lawful owner.

Under these sections, a peace officer can seize an item in situ, or on the spot, in order to examine it and return it to the owner, if he is convinced that the item need not be retained as evidence.

In the same circumstances, a public officer exercising his authority under section 487 would have to bring the item before a justice or retain it until it can be reported to a justice or until the justice authorizes its return. In situ seizure under a warrant is becoming an increasingly common practice in a regulatory context because search warrants are used to investigate quasi-criminal matters often pertaining to equipment that is impossible to move in an industrial workplace or similar setting.

Another amendment would specify that the peace officer or public officer who fills out report 5.2, the report to a justice of the peace, can have another person file it under subsection 489.1(1). When the peace officer has seized items and has subsequently returned them to the lawful owner, he must report it to a justice of the peace, on Criminal Code form 5.2.

This addition will save a great deal of time for an administration that has employees in the court house, because they will be in a position to file the documents in question rather than the peace officer or public officer who completed them.

The bill also includes a new provision that will permit the release of any items seized by the police for scientific examination before the trial. The current provisions allow for the release of such items for scientific examination only at the trial stage, which often delays the trial, and is particularly difficult and inefficient in cases of trial by jury.

The new provision will allow items seized to be released before the trial with the court's permission and on the condition that appropriate measures are taken to ensure that they are properly preserved.

The provisions of the Criminal Code regarding prize fights must also be amended in order to exclude legitimate amateur sports, specifically, karate, judo, tae kwon do and wushu, which have emerged since the last amendment in 1932. Some of these sports are included in the International Olympic Committee program, which means that the international, national and provincial sports organizations in question are dedicated to the values and requirements of the IOC in matters of safety. From now on, amateur sports included in the IOC program will be excluded from the definition of “prize fighting” and the provinces can impose conditions on holding fights for these sports if they so choose.

Furthermore, the provinces could exclude any other amateur sport from the application of section 83 and could also impose conditions on holding fights for these sports. These amendments are the result of extensive consultations with the provinces and territories in 2003 and 2004, as well as consultations with national sports organizations at various times since 1998 when the issue was first brought to the government's attention.

In addition, amendments to the pari-mutuel provisions will clarify the federal government's responsibility for permitting and monitoring legitimate pari-mutuel betting on horse races. These amendments will eliminate the unnecessary power to limit the number of races on which bets can be placed at a race-course in Canada. The amendments will also allow race-courses to harmonize their method of calculating payouts with others in the “foreign race pool” when they accept bets on horse races that take place outside of Canada.

These amendments will enable Canadians to place lower bets than what is currently permitted, which will improve their chances of winning without having to spend more money.

The bill also contains an amendment to better preserve the impartiality of jurors by allowing the court to exclude jurors—on application or on its own motion—from the court room in the case of a challenge for cause. Currently, only the defence can make such an application.

This bill also amends telewarrant provisions. For example, three changes will be made to the current telewarrant system. First, the convenience criterion has been removed, except for telewarrants requested orally—in other words, by means of telecommunication that does not produce a writing. Second, access to telewarrants will be expanded. Third, public officers will now be permitted to use telewarrants.

We have also proposed eliminating the convenience criterion in the case of requests submitted in writing because of technological progress and the reliability of modern means of telecommunication. The telewarrant system enables more efficient use of justice system resources, especially the police. These amendments will save time by making it unnecessary for police officers to go to court to submit a warrant request in person, thereby giving them more time to spend on investigations.

With respect to oral telewarrants, our provincial and territorial partners have observed that requiring police officers to express their reasons in writing promotes the provision of complete and well-organized information for the judge's consideration.

It will now be possible to obtain the following warrants: warrants respecting the seizure of weapons, ammunition and explosive devices; search and seizure warrants in offences related to gambling, betting and stolen minerals; production orders for documents and business records; tracking warrants; and warrants with respect to number recorders.

Police and public officials could request a greater number of warrants by using this process, which would no doubt be beneficial to them. This will be particularly useful for federal public officials, who would otherwise have to make special arrangements in order to show up in person at various locations across the country to secure warrants. This makes the job easier.

This bill also proposes reclassifying certain Criminal Code offences as hybrid offences. This reclassification would convert an offence punishable by summary conviction or indictment under the Criminal Code into a hybrid offence. This allows the prosecution to proceed either by indictment or by summary conviction, whichever it deems most suitable under the circumstances of the case.

We feel that these changes are necessary and quite useful since they give the prosecution more latitude by allowing it to choose the most appropriate procedure for the case at hand. This will considerably simplify the administration of justice and deliver on the government's commitment to make Canada's criminal justice system more efficient.

I would also like to mention that reclassification has no impact on the seriousness of the offences in question. All it does—and I want to stress this—is allow the Crown to choose the procedure for prosecuting the alleged offender. For example, a criminal offence that becomes a hybrid offence can still be prosecuted by indictment if, under the circumstances, a more complex procedure, including a preliminary inquiry and a jury trial, is warranted. However, when the facts of the case do not warrant the full procedure or a heavier penalty, it is possible to prosecute the offence by summary conviction.

It is important that the procedure used reflect the seriousness of the offence and that we make the best use of the court's time and resources. Reclassification offers greater flexibility, making it possible to choose the most appropriate procedure under the circumstances and to increase the efficiency of our criminal justice system. The defence will still have the right to a preliminary inquiry or a jury trial where a full procedure is warranted.

This bill also includes changes to the expert witness regime. Once again, these changes are necessary because the time currently set out in the Criminal Code for communicating expert reports is sometimes not enough to allow the other party to respond appropriately to what is frequently becoming complex and highly technical evidence.

To respond to expert witness evidence, it is generally necessary to find and hire an expert in the particular field, brief that person on the case, obtain transcripts and so on. The changes make various improvements to the regime. First, to encourage compliance with the notice requirements in the Criminal Code, the bill provides for a mandatory 10-day adjournment if these requirements are not met. Second, so that all the parties are prepared to respond to expert evidence, the bill provides for a discretionary adjournment when the notice requirements have been met, but the other party has not had enough time to prepare.

Third, the Criminal Code will contain a list of factors the court must consider in deciding whether to grant an adjournment or to lengthen or shorten an adjournment that has already been granted. These factors are meant to reflect the challenges associated with a trial involving expert testimony.

Lastly, the court will have to explain if it refuses to grant an adjournment or reduce the period of adjournment. The new measures will also help the courts in rendering decisions. These changes would enable the courts to make enlightened decisions that are adapted to different cases of non-compliance and would encourage parties to adhere to the notice provisions.

These changes will not generate any additional obligations on the defence. Both parties' obligations will remain the same. The changes would simply improve the expert evidence regime in the Criminal Code to ensure that the parties can respond appropriately to the expert testimony, by providing new measures that the court can take if there is insufficient time, and to encourage parties to adhere to the notice provisions in the Criminal Code.

We know that the Identification of Criminals Act does not authorize police officers to fingerprint or photograph individuals in lawful custody until they have been charged or convicted, which often results in unnecessary delays.

Some people have called for the enforcement of this legislation to be simplified and clarified. That is what our proposed changes would do. The proposed amendments would streamline this process by adding the authority to fingerprint and photograph an individual who is in lawful custody following an arrest, but not yet charged.

For example, if the individual is not charged with an offence, if the charges are dropped or if the individual is acquitted, we know that many police forces destroy fingerprints and photographs at the request of the person involved, if the person is not found guilty. The courts have ruled that it is not unreasonable for police forces to retain fingerprints if no request is made for them to be destroyed or returned after charges are dropped.

I have listed some examples covered by this bill. It is important to note that the bill includes about 40 amendments that will all help improve, streamline and modernize our justice system. I urge all members to fully support this bill.