House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendments.

Topics

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and another Act, as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

Speaker's Ruling
Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There are three motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill S-6. Motions Nos. 1 to 3 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table. I will now submit Motions Nos. 1 to 3 to the House.

Motions in Amendment
Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Bev Oda Durham, ON

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill S-6 be amended by restoring Clause 1 as follows:

“1. This Act may be cited as the Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act.”

Motion No. 2

That Bill S-6, in Clause 3, be amended by deleting the following after line 28 on page 3:

“(2.7) The 90-day time limits for the making of any application referred to in subsections (2.1) to (2.5) may be extended by the appropriate Chief Justice, or his or her designate, to a maximum of 180 days if the person, due to circumstances beyond their control, is unable to make an application within the 90-day time limit.

(2.7) If a person convicted of murder does not make an application under subsection (1) within the maximum time period allowed by this section, the Commissioner of Correctional Service Canada, or his or her designate, shall immediately notify in writing a parent, child, spouse or common-law partner of the victim that the convicted person did not make an application. If it is not possible to notify one of the aforementioned relatives, then the notification shall be given to another relative of the victim. The notification shall specify the next date on which the convicted person will be eligible to make an application under subsection (1).”

Motion No. 3

That Bill S-6, in Clause 7, be amended

a) by replacing line 9 on page 6 with the following:

“3(1), within 90 days after the end of two years”

(b) by replacing line 19 on page 6 with the following:

“amended by subsection 3(1), within 90 days”

Motions in Amendment
Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Brent Rathgeber Edmonton—St. Albert, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure for me to speak to Bill S-6, the most serious time for the most serious crime act, now that it has been reported back to the House by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, of which I am a member.

This bill proposes to amend the Criminal Code to repeal the so-called faint hope clause or the faint hope regime for all future murderers and to tighten up the application procedure for those who have committed their crimes prior to this bill becoming law. Bill S-6 would achieve these goals in a balanced way, something that was recognized in the other place, where this bill was thoroughly and strongly examined and sent to the House without any amendments. However, I regret to say that the amendments adopted in the justice committee threaten to undermine the most important elements of Bill S-6 by reintroducing the very uncertainty that the bill was designed to overcome.

Before going on, I note that the punishment for high treason and murder is life imprisonment without parole eligibility, set in accordance with section 745 of the Criminal Code. Thankfully, as there is no one serving time in Canada for treason, I will confine the remainder of my remarks to the offence of murder.

As we know, there is an automatic 25-year parole ineligibility for first degree murder and for two categories of second degree murder. The period of ineligibility for parole for other categories of second degree murder is between 10 and 25 years, as determined by a sentencing judge and in accordance with section 745.4 of the Criminal Code.

Despite these clear provisions, the faint hope regime in section 745.6 and the related provisions permits convicted murderers to seek an earlier parole eligibility date than the one to which they were originally sentenced. Since its inception in 1976, the faint hope clause has been a continuing source of controversy and has certainly been the object of derision by many victim groups in this country.

The families and loved ones of murder victims are particularly affected as they often live in dread and uncertainty as to whether an offender will be bringing a faint hope application that will then force them to relive the tragic pain of their losses yet again. In recognition of such concerns, amendments were brought forward by a previous government in 1997 and 1999 to render post-1997 multiple murderers ineligible to apply for faint hope and to toughen the application procedures for all other murderers.

Bill S-6 would build on these earlier initiatives by effectively repealing the right of all future murderers to apply for faint hope and by further toughening the application procedure. This is important. Barring future murderers from applying for faint hope would not only benefit the families and loved ones of victims but also protect society by keeping offenders in prison for the full time to which they are sentenced. What could be more reasonable than that?

As all hon. members will recall from past debates, the current application process has three stages: first, judicial screening to determine if an applicant has a reasonable prospect of success; second, a unanimous decision by a jury to reduce the applicant's parole ineligibility period; and three, an application for parole to the Parole Board of Canada. Allow me to highlight the key changes proposed by Bill S-6.

First, applicants would have to meet a stricter test at stage one by showing a “substantial likelihood” of success. This would screen out all less-meritorious applications. There would also be a longer statutory waiting period for re-application after unsuccessful applications, five years instead of the two at present.

The House will undoubtedly know of the high profile case of Clifford Olson, who has been making repeated faint hope applications virtually every two years. In fact, one was just last week. All this has accomplished is to make the families of the victims of Mr. Olson relive the horror and terror every two years.

Most important, Bill S-6 would impose a new 90-day window for offenders to apply, or reapply, under the faint hope regime once they have served 15 years.

Failure to make an application within that application window would bar any further applications for five years, at which time another 90-day application window would open.

These time limits are explicitly designed to shelter victims' families and loved ones by requiring offenders to make their intentions clear at the earliest opportunity and by restricting the number of applications that can be made over the course of an offender's sentence.

The amendments made at the committee stage undermined virtually all of these worthwhile goals.

The government is committed to protecting the rights of victims of crime. We want to see an end to faint hope reviews so that victims' families would not need to suffer the anguish of attending repeated parole eligibility hearings and relive their losses over and over again.

I think it is mindful that the House be advised of what one of the spokespersons for victims of crime said at committee regarding repeal of the faint hope close.

Ms. Sharon Rosenfeldt, who is the mother of one of Clifford Olson's many victims, said:

We at Victims of Violence believe this process is heavily weighted in favour of the offender. The emphasis is on rehabilitation rather than on the crime itself, the victim, or the impact of the crime on the family and communities. We believe that when Mr. Warren Allmand, the member of Parliament responsible for this clause, talked about the waste of the life of the offender who is kept in prison for 25 years, he seemed not to take into consideration the innocent life the offender wasted when he or she made the decision to commit murder. There is no parole or judicial review for murder victims and their families. They have no faint hope clause or legal loophole to shorten their sentence. Victims of Violence also believes the offender is not sent to prison to be punished, but rather the sentence itself is the punishment, according to the Criminal Code of Canada. Thus we continue to ask a very simple question: Is the sentence 25 years, or is it 15 years? It cannot continue to be both.

That ends Ms. Rosenfeldt's testimony before the justice committee.

As was demonstrated at the committee, the Liberals, on the other hand, are more interested in playing politics instead of listening to the victims of crime.

As a result of the several unnecessary Liberal amendments to Bill S-6, such as removing the name of the bill, this important legislation will now have to return to the other place, unless of course this House decides to agree with the proposed amendments put forward today and reverse the amendments at committee.

The Liberal caucus claims to share Canadians' and victims' concerns about crime, but when the cameras are off, it uses every opportunity to gut, derail or delay our important government law and order, safe street and safe community bills.

These unnecessary amendments were clearly used as a political tactic to delay our justice legislation. It is inconceivable to me that such an important matter as the protection of the families and loved ones of murder victims be delayed by a dispute over semantics.

We are really getting to the bottom of the intellectual barrel when we start wasting time in committee debating the names of bills. That really, I think, brings a disservice to the intellectual debate that these bills require and that Canadians want and demand that we pass.

For all these reasons, I urge all hon. members to reflect on what I have just said today and to vote in favour of the government's report stage amendments that would reverse the unnecessary changes introduced by the Liberals at committee and allow this bill to quickly become law to the benefit of the victims of crime in this country.

Victims of crime have spoken loudly and unequivocally that they want this legislation passed and that they want it passed expeditiously. I urge all hon. members of the House to give deference to the victims of crime.

Motions in Amendment
Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the amendments, it was interesting that the new Ombudsman for Victims of Crime was recently appointed this past summer, as the government did not like what the prior one was doing, because he was being too forceful especially around the gun registry. The Conservatives did not reappoint him. At that point he was in favour, as were a number of the victims activist groups, of keeping the gun registry and opposed to the government's position. Anyway he did not get renewed in his position, like so many other people who do not agree with the government's agenda even though they are doing the job they are supposed to be doing.

Specifically on one of the amendments being proposed in trying to delete one the amendments made at the justice committee, we heard very clearly from the ombudsman and other victims about their absolute need for information, to know what is going on, such as whether there is another proceeding coming. Are they going to be faced with a process that they want to be involved in out of respect for their family member or loved one who has been murdered?

One of the amendments put in that the opposition parties supported was to deal with the situation. We have a situation with the faint hope clause where, a year before individuals are eligible to apply, the corrections officers have discussions with them, and all of the evidence that came out in the course of analyzing the bill and the faint hope clause—

Motions in Amendment
Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act
Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I will terminate the hon. member's remarks so that the member has an opportunity to reply, which will be after oral questions.

Organ and Tissue Donation
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Lois Brown Newmarket—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday schools across the town of Aurora took part in the torch of life relay. Students took turns carrying the torch of life to mark the launch of the Step by Step Organ Transplant Association's eighth awareness campaign, SOS The World.

Step by Step is a charity dedicated to increasing the number of organ and tissue donations and hopefully saving lives. By carrying the torch of life, students are empowered to spread the message of the importance of organ and tissue donation.

It was students Blair and Marla Cuthbert from Aurora who inspired Step by Step to hold the launch in Aurora by carrying the torch to Queen's Park to save their dad, Bruce, who was in need of a liver transplant.

Yesterday's 25 kilometre route involved students from St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic High School; Dr. G. W. Williams Secondary School, my high school; Aurora High School; George Street Public School; Aurora Senior Public School; Devins Drive Public School; Aurora Heights Public School; Lester B. Pearson Public School; Our Lady of Grace Catholic Elementary School; and St. Andrew's College.

Congratulations to all the students who have helped raise awareness of organ and tissue donation.

Mental Health
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, for far too long mental health has hidden in the shadows of Canadian society. Stigma and ignorance have made it taboo. Yet 20% of Canadians will suffer from some form of mental illness during their lives.

The impact is particularly hard on young people. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people under 25, yet only one in five children who need mental health services actually receive it.

Every member in the House knows someone afflicted by mental illness. However, the system that is supposed to protect these patients is a patchwork at best.

That is why I was proud to table in this House a motion calling on Parliament to study this important issue and make recommendations to improve our mental health system.

I ask all hon. members to join me in supporting this motion in order to shine the light on an issue that has hidden in the shadows for far too long.

Operation Red Nose
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, this year, I am co-president of Operation Red Nose 2010 with my parliamentary colleague from Hull—Aylmer.

We encourage people to volunteer to drive home others who have been caught up in the “joy” of the holiday season.

If anyone wants to volunteer to help with Operation Red Nose, they should go to Operation Red Nose headquarters at 120 Charlevoix Street around 9 p.m. on December 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 30 or 31.

To have Operation Red Nose drive you home, you simply need to call 771-2886. Donations from clients will be given to Loisir Sport Outaouais for amateur sports.

Hats off to Lise Waters and Jean-Marc Purenne as well as to all the volunteers who make Operation Red Nose possible.

Thanks to Operation Red Nose for helping to save lives.

I hope we will see many people out there.

Pensions
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of this Parliament, I have been listening to seniors from my riding and from across the country and this is what they have been telling me: Seniors need retirement income security guaranteed throughout their retirement years. Seniors need an OAS and GIS income that will keep them above the poverty line. Seniors need an end to the clawing back of GIS when there is a cost of living increase to CPP. Seniors need a national pension insurance plan to protect their company pensions.

Over 60% of today's workers have no pension and no retirement savings. These workers are facing a bleak retirement unless the government moves to significantly increase CPP with a goal of doubling it over 35 years.

That is why when the federal, provincial and territorial finance ministers meet next week in Kananaskis, Alberta, the NDP urges the government to follow through on its commitment to expand the CPP.

Human Rights
Statements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, today we celebrate International Human Rights Day.

Human rights are at the very heart of this government's policies whether it is at home or abroad. Our policies have always been based on the principles and values of a free and democratic society. However, Canadians must be mindful that the rights we enjoy are not shared by all around the world.

On this occasion, I would like to take this opportunity to honour those who have stood up and defended human rights. In particular, I congratulate Mr. Liu Xiaobo on winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

We also commend individuals like Nguyen Van Dai, Gao Zhisheng, Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Ko Mya Aye and countless others around the world who have raised awareness about the struggle for the promotion of human rights.

Our government will continue to promote freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law around the world.

Harry Denison
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a man I am proud to have called my friend, Flight Sergeant Harry Denison.

Harry was an amazing human being who lived a remarkable life. In 1944, at age 17, Harry joined the RCAF and became a mid-gunner in a Halifax bomber. In March 1945, his plane was shot down during a night raid over occupied Europe. Harry fell 22,000 feet without a parachute and survived, earning him the nickname “No Chute”. After the war, Harry returned home and in 1947, he and his brother John bought an old army truck and together they became two of the original ice road truckers in the Northwest Territories.

Whether it was at the Legion, the 406 Wing or downtown North Bay, Harry always had a smile on his face and a joke to brighten up someone's day.

Harry passed away on Sunday at the age 85. On behalf of all members of Parliament, I would like to thank Harry for leaving a lasting impression on all those who knew him. We will miss him.

Livestock Industry
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, after years of neglect by the Liberals, Canadian livestock producers are finally getting the respect and support they deserve from their federal government.

On Monday our agriculture minister pledged up to $3 million to help Canadian meat producers move their products across provincial borders. On Tuesday it was announced that Canadian beef exports to Russia will double this year thanks to the minister's efforts to increase access to this important market.

I was pleased to make an announcement recently that will support livestock producers in Saskatchewan and create more than 200 jobs in the Palliser riding. Thanks to an investment of more than $1.7 million by this Conservative government, Donald's Fine Foods will reopen the Moose Jaw processing plant as Thunder Creek Pork, after being closed for the past four years.

I would like to commend the agriculture minister for his hard work in supporting Canadian livestock producers. I ask my colleagues to join me in welcoming Donald's Fine Foods to the community of Moose Jaw.

Simon Paquin
Statements By Members

December 10th, 2010 / 11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Diane Bourgeois Terrebonne—Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to a young man from my riding whose commitment to volunteer work is exemplary. Simon Paquin spends his time and energy fighting against cancer, poverty and childhood diseases.

Add to that his position as volunteer host of public affairs programs on Les Moulins' regional television station, where Mr. Paquin is also an anchor.

His volunteer work and the fact that he uses new information technology earned Simon Paquin the young volunteer—Claude-Masson award in communications, which is presented annually by the Government of Quebec.

Simon Paquin demonstrates the spirit, compassion and altruism of Quebec's youth. With people like him waiting in the wings, we can rest assured that Quebec's future is in good hands.

I would like to sincerely thank Simon Paquin for his commitment, and I want to assure him that the Bloc Québécois recognizes his efforts in carrying on Quebec's tradition of humanitarianism.

Gender Violence
Statements By Members

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Colin Mayes Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, today the worldwide 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence end with International Human Rights Day.

Gender violence is a violation of women's human rights that creates significant barriers to their freedom and full participation in society. It is every citizen's responsibility to work toward eliminating it. Individual men's and women's organizations are now joining that effort in ever increasing numbers.

Michelle Bachelet, executive director of the newly established United Nations women's agency, noted recently that over 100 countries have no specific laws against domestic violence.

In Canada we have a strong legal foundation for gender equality and a solid status of women government machinery in place. Nevertheless, violence against women and girls persists and new challenges face us every day. Canadians, however, share in and support our government's commitment to ending the violence through funding programs, education and activism.

Today and every day let us re-dedicate--