House of Commons Hansard #51 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was organizations.

Topics

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dona Cadman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. I would say that the CPA does not speak for all police officers. A lot of it is for municipalities and others.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Langley
B.C.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, it was the member from Surrey North's late husband, Chuck Cadman, who came from ICBC, as did I, and both of us joined the fight against auto crime. I got a chance to spend some time with Chuck Cadman here in the House.

In 2004, I introduced my private member's bill, Bill C-293, which is basically the bill that is presented today. I want to thank the hon. member for continuing the work of Chuck and I.

It was the Conservatives who voted in favour of my private member's bill at that time, but the Liberals, the Bloc and the NDP all voted against it.

I want to ask the hon. member what she thinks has caused the change. Does she sense that the opposition will now support getting tough on auto crime, or will they permit this very serious crime to continue?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dona Cadman Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think the opposition is with us on this. I think they realize we do have a definite problem in this country, and they are willing to work with the government to help forward our beliefs.

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Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering whether the hon. member could perhaps deal a bit with crime prevention and the fact that the budget is underspent by more than half. Does she see crime prevention as an important part of the solution? Could she speak to that? I am very concerned that we have been underspending that budget and not doing nearly enough on prevention.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Dona Cadman Surrey North, BC

Yes, Mr. Speaker, we are working with the provinces on this. Everybody, all municipalities and all governments, have to work together to make this work. I do not think it will be one person or one party that will make a difference. It will be everybody working together.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to split my time with the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre. Being one of my associates on the northwestern caucus, she has done tremendous work when it comes to being tough and smart on crime. I have to give her credit.

As I rise today to speak to Bill C-26, auto crime has been a major problem for my constituents in Newton—North Delta and my neighbours in Surrey for years. The city of Surrey has a terrible reputation for car theft, which has only become worse in recent years.

There have been a couple of versions of this bill drafted by the government. I hope that this one will get it right, but it is not quite there, from my perspective.

As far back as 2003, the numbers were bad. There were 8,105 vehicles reported stolen. Cars were often stolen for a short time to allow thieves to commit other crimes, such as robberies, drug dealing, break and enters, and dangerous driving, which has often resulted in fatal collisions or serious injuries.

Recently we have seen how car theft has become a major activity among the gangs, which hold such a terrible grip on our community. This is what makes auto theft so dangerous to the safety of our communities. Auto theft leads to other crimes, crimes that are associated with gang violence.

Yet outside my community, auto theft is a serious problem for all Canadians. Has the government given it a serious response this time around?

Though due attention has been given to criminal organization activity, it is too broadly based. As we all know, tougher action from Parliament is needed to hold criminals accountable.

The government's approach to tough crime legislation is less than adequate. Instead of moving forward with workable legislation, it would rather resort to blaming the opposition for its failure to move legislation forward.

The bill does target the altering or destroying of the vehicle identification number of a stolen car. But criminals often use guns to commit their crimes, and here the government still has done very little. The Conservatives have quietly put off regulations requiring the marking of imported firearms, a regulation that would help stop the flow of illegal firearms and gun crime.

The regulations were supposed to come into effect on December 1, 2007, but the government needlessly postponed this requirement until December 2009. We all know what happened then. No legislation was more important than proroguing Parliament in order to save the Prime Minister's skin.

Like so many other issues, a short-sighted political agenda has again driven counterproductive Conservative policies. Fortunately for the residents of my riding, the City of Surrey thinks further ahead. It believes that crime prevention strategies must be comprehensive and collaborative.

More than five years ago, the Surrey RCMP began a crime reduction initiative focusing on reducing auto theft and property crime. It identified and targeted prolific offenders. Two teams, the auto crime target team and the integrated municipal provincial auto crime team, were created to focus on a few offenders who were responsible for a large number of these crimes. Surrey partnered with the police, courts, corrections services, all levels of government, social service agencies and residential and business organizations. This work helped form the blueprint of the Surrey crime prevention strategy, which is still a pioneering document two years later.

The results speak volumes about this kind of approach. Auto theft decreased in Surrey by 38%, from 2003 to 2006. Furthermore, the program made 737 arrests. From surveillance operations held from April 2004 to December 2006, 100% of charges recommended to the crown were approved. They had an 87% remand success rate. That means that 95% of the cases resulted in guilty pleas.

Members of the auto crime and property crime target teams were proud to accept the 2007 Vehicle Theft Award of Merit, presented by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, in New Orleans, on October 16, 2007.

The bottom line is that in Surrey, collaboration and cooperation has been the key to successfully targeting auto theft.

What this government must take away from my community's example is the concept of partnership, which is often lost on that side of the House. The Conservatives have dropped the ball so many times in this regard that the police associations I recently spoke with have given up on a real dialogue.

That said, we need some legislation for auto theft, and passing this legislation will help. It will target the transfer of goods that have been acquired criminally and the possession of property known to be obtained through crime for the purpose of trafficking. This will help close the chop shops that sell stolen cars for parts. It will help to shut down the gangs that ship stolen cars abroad to be sold in the black market. This is very important.

However, a crime and punishment agenda that fails to include all levels of the community is limited in its effectiveness.

Closing legal loopholes is necessary, and that is why I am supporting the bill.

While policing and crime prevention still play a vital role, reducing crime requires the attention of everyone in the community. Sometimes success at the community level is about challenging our own way of thinking, and sometimes it is about challenging others, including our own citizens. That is why heavy-handed tactics of the government, including a lack of community consultation on most of its proposed legislation is a huge obstacle in the way of progress.

Before I conclude, I want to re-emphasize that tougher penalties for the type of chronic criminals who commit these crimes are vital to turning the tide. However, it is just as important that the federal government, and everyone in the House, becomes immersed at the community level. That is what I have tried to do, and that is what I will try to keep doing over the next years.

I am proud to say that my communities of Surrey and Delta were very early leaders on this file, but obviously more has to be done and done fast.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-26 is a very good bill and a bill that should be supported. However, the government should be concentrating on things that work rather than just public relations.

I want to point out that the former Filmon government in Manitoba back in the nineties brought in several measures that it thought were good at the time, such as the restitution measures and the denial of a driver's licence to young offenders. However, those measures did not work as auto theft rates at that time kept going up. It was not until the Manitoba government, two years ago, brought in a mandatory immobilizer program in cars, that auto theft rates dropped, which indicates that we are getting results.

We had a federal Liberal government in power for 15 years and all it had to do was mandate automatic immobilizer installation in the factory. The Insurance Bureau of Canada priced it out at around $30. The Liberals never did that. Had they--

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I will have to stop the hon. member there to allow time for the hon. member for Newton--North Delta to respond.

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5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the legislation, tougher laws are part of the process and we should all support that. At the same time, we need to ensure we have the resources.

The hon. member from Winnipeg South Centre, who sits beside me, is committed to the people of Manitoba. She brings issues forward and we all collectively work together to ensure the lives of the people in Manitoba are taken care of. We are here to duly represent our constituents.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am encouraged by the member's comments indicating that he will be supporting Bill C-26.

I specifically would like to know if he is supportive of the minimum mandatory sentences that would impose a minimum jail sentence of six months incarceration for a third or subsequent offence. Does he think that will help in the fight against auto theft in cities such as Surrey, which he represents, where organized crime has been out of control for quite some time now?

Criminal Code
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5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was happy to see the member for Edmonton—St. Albert in beautiful British Columbia listening to people telling him about crime in my community.

Whenever the issue of crime has been raised in the House, irrespective of who or which party raised it, I have always stood in my place in support of being tough on crime. I have always supported that initiative.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Holland Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, the RCMP plays an important role in front line policing in British Columbia. I wonder if the member could comment on the Conservative government's broken promise to give pay parity to the RCMP officers to ensure they are paid the same as any other officer and how that might impact morale?

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to our first responders, particularly the RCMP officers, they cannot raise their own voices because they do not have a union. Their first and foremost priority is saving the lives of Canadian citizens and protecting us and making us safer.

I find it shameful that the Conservative government has withdrawn its support for a raise in pay for these hard-working police officers. I personally see the government--

Criminal Code
Government Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order, please. Resuming debate. The hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre.

Criminal Code
Government Orders

May 5th, 2009 / 5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this bill, however brief, as I see the clock is moving quickly toward the end of the day.

Much has been said today about the situation of the high auto theft in the city of Winnipeg. I was pleased to be here in Ottawa to hear the delegation that came from Manitoba in September of 2007. We have heard many references to the mayor of Winnipeg attending but many more were with him. The premier was with him, the leaders of the opposition parties were with him, the leaders of the aboriginal community, the mayor of Brandon and several members of the community who had been affected by auto theft and auto crime.

They came forward and had a whole series of representations to make to those they met and they had several meetings here, but a good deal of it focused on auto theft. They asked, quite specifically, for tougher penalties for those involved in serious crimes, particularly motor theft, and they asked, very specifically, to have auto theft made an indictable offence.

On my return to Winnipeg, I began a series of consultations in the community, meeting frequently with the District 6 Police of the Winnipeg Police Force in my own riding, meeting with community members who were involved with crime prevention and meeting with many of the perpetrators of the crimes in a round table with young people involved in auto theft. I heard various interesting things.

We have heard much today about the numbers in auto theft. I have the most recent ones taken off the website today from the Winnipeg Police Department. The combined actual and attempted auto thefts from the beginning of January until yesterday were 1,522, compared to approximately 2,700 last year. Indeed, the numbers are going down and they are going down, as we have heard earlier, because of initiatives taken by the province, initiatives like the immobilizer prevention programming, intervention programming, suppression programming and consequences for young people, which often includes a lifetime suspension of a driver's licence for repeat offenders.

When that delegation came from Manitoba, they asked the federal government to act. They asked the federal government, as I indicated earlier, to make auto theft an indictable offence and to respond with stiffer penalties.

The government took a very long time in responding. I know you, Mr. Speaker, introduced a bill, which I was pleased to support, at one time. I also was pleased to have the opportunity to introduce a private member's bill. However, because of my place on the order paper, my bill has yet to be brought forward in the House. It is Bill C-526, which I introduced originally in March 2008. My bill asked that a person who commits a motor vehicle theft for a second or subsequent offence be guilty of an indictable offence and liable to a prison term not exceeding 10 years and would require a mandatory minimum sentence of a year.

I am not, for the most part, someone who endorses mandatory minimums. I think that prevention is equally important. However, I saw first-hand, when I met with this group of young people in a round table, what the impact of the prospect of going to jail had on them and the efforts that they were willing to make through remedial action, programming and supports in the community that would ultimately turn their lives around.

I was quite stunned when I heard a young man say that at the height of his car theft activity he and a partner were stealing up to 21 cars a day. I am not quite sure how they physically managed it but that is what he indicated to me. I asked him why he was here, why he was taking the program that he was and what was he doing. He described the program he was taking. He described the job opportunity that he had and described the fact that he now had a son and wanted a better life for his son.

Therefore, coupled with the requirements for the prospect of incarceration, there must be the opportunities for remediation prevention.