House of Commons Hansard #121 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was judge.

Topics

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, my point of order is in respect to comments made by the Minister of Finance, emanating from an answer he gave during question period to our colleague, the member for Wascana.

I want to seek unanimous consent in the House to table several documents related to the minister's previous time in the Ontario legislature, which he addressed himself in answers this afternoon. I want to clarify for the record a few things and then seek the consent of the House.

In fact, on June 17, 2002, a vote passed on division at Queen's Park in the legislative assembly, with photographs in all major dailies showing the Minister of Finance being in the assembly at the important time. On June 26, 2002, time allocation was in fact passed on the budget and the Minister of Finance was recorded as being there, despite his claims to the contrary this afternoon.

I would like to now get the approval of the House to table a few documents, including headlines where the Minister of Finance is shown in photographs with the former minister of finance for Ontario, Janet Ecker, where she is revelling in applause from the Minister of Finance, who was side by side with her as that budget passed.

I would also like to table the Ontario Hansard report from June 17, 2002, recording the vote. I would ask permission to table the Ontario Hansard of June 26, 2002 containing the listing of members who were present and who affirmed, by expressing “aye”, their support for the measures in that budget, including the Minister of Finance.

Finally, I would like to table several comments by the media reporting on the then minister of finance's views on that budget in Queen's Park when in fact corporate tax cuts were delayed, including two quotes.

One is from the Globe and Mail, which states, “Enterprise Minister [at the time] sat smiling beside Ms. Ecker on Monday as she disowned many of the tax-cut promises contained in his budget last year”.

In the other quote from the Globe and Mail the Minister of Finance defended the corporate tax freeze again during the 2003 provincial election. He said, “The delay was created by a financial downturn related to the 'extraordinary circumstances' of the terrorist attacks in the United States—

Oral Questions
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Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to table the documents he has been referring to or reading?

Oral Questions
Points of Order
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3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

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3:05 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I was there. In fact, the now Minister of Finance was not the minister of finance in Ontario. I was the chief government whip in Ontario and, try as I might, the now minister of finance, the member for Whitby—Oshawa, would not come into the House to raise taxes.

The Minister of Finance, when it came to raising taxes, was a conscientious objector. He met with the new premier. The new premier said, “I want to raise taxes”, and the man said he would have no part of it.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

While the debate I am sure is of great interest to all hon. members, I do not think this is a point of order.

We will move on to orders of the day.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to the National Defence Act, be read the third time and passed.

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please.

When the matter was last before the House, the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway had the floor. There are 12 minutes remaining in the time allotted for his remarks. I therefore call upon the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway.

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act
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3:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is wonderful to see you back in the chair after the break.

Before the break I was talking about Bill C-48, a bill that would give judges of this land the discretion to consider consecutive life sentences in the case of people who murder two or more victims. I was talking about the importance of discretion in the Canadian judicial system. The reason I was talking about discretion is that justice, in order to be fair, in order to be defensible in a free and democratic society, must be tailored to meet the individual needs of every case. I was talking about how in Canada there is a very healthy balance between our collective interests as a body and the strong foundation of individual rights.

In my riding of Vancouver Kingsway I have many new Canadians. I had a new citizens party this last weekend where we welcomed people who had taken the important step of becoming Canadian citizens in the past two years. From speaking to these people, I know they were attracted to Canada for many reasons, including things like our respect for individual rights, for example, the right to privacy, an individual's rights to religion and an individual's right to his or her own political beliefs. Essentially, what they are really attracted to in Canada is the enshrinement in Canadian life of their right to choose to live their lives as they wish while not, of course, infringing upon the rights of others.

In our justice system, perhaps there is no more important place than that to respect individual rights. We need our judges in a healthy justice system to listen to all of the evidence, to consider all of the circumstances, to look at all of the facts and to render a judgment that is crafted to be appropriate to the circumstances of a particular case.

In the case before us, the bill would enhance judges' discretion by giving them another sentencing tool. It would allow them in an appropriate case, and I am thinking of cases perhaps like Clifford Olson, Paul Bernardo, or Russell Williams, or the case that happened in my province recently of Mr. Pickton, in which many lives were taken by these people, to impose a consecutive life sentence on these people, as opposed to having them serve it concurrently.

It is hard to argue with that proposal in some cases. Where we have someone who has murdered two or more people, it is very difficult to think of a situation where a person who has committed those murders might not, in an appropriate circumstance, be required to be locked up for the rest of their lives.

In addition, there is an important principle, which is that Canadian law at present really makes no distinction in the sentence given to someone who murders one person and someone who murders 5, 10, 15 or 20 people. The bill would give our judges the discretion to do that.

There are arguments on the other side, of course. I think it is important that we respond to and respect them. At present our sentencing system in this country for murder allows judges to give a life sentence. We had very painful, very exhaustive debates in this country in the 1960s and 1970s over capital punishment, when this country made the very mature, thoughtful and, I think, civilized decision to abolish the death penalty and replace it with a system that not only is more humane but that is also just. That system allows a judge in this country to impose a life sentence on someone who has been convicted of first degree or second degree murder.

Life in this country does mean life. The person who is given a life sentence will have that life sentence for the rest of their life. For the rest of their natural lives, these people will be subject to the supervision of the Correctional Service of Canada. The only question is whether that will be done within a correctional institution or supervised outside in the community.

After 25 years in the case of a first degree murder, a person is eligible to apply for parole, provided that person satisfies a wide battery of appropriate tests to make sure they are no longer a threat to society and have actually conducted themselves appropriately. They may indeed possibly be allowed to re-enter society, but again, under supervision for the rest of their lives.

Life does mean life under the present system and people will argue about why there will be consecutive sentences if there are already life sentences. As my colleague points out, people cannot live 300 years.

What does matter is when a person may be eligible for parole. By bringing this legislation in an appropriate case, such as Clifford Olson's, were that crime to occur today, a judge would have the ability to order consecutive life sentences so that eligibility for parole for someone like Mr. Olson would not be 25 years but may in fact be 50 years or even 75 years, effectively meaning that at the point of sentencing, Mr. Olson would never have the opportunity to get out of jail. I think many Canadians would agree with that principle.

I want to go over a few statistics. I think it is important to bring some facts to bear whenever we are talking about the criminal justice system in this country. In terms of the prevalence of multiple murders in Canada, Statistics Canada has compiled some facts showing the number of homicides in a year in Canada compared with the number of victims in those incidents.

As the charts reveal, between 1998 and 2008, the most recent period, 95% of homicides involved a single victim. Out of a total 587 victims in that time period, there were 26 cases of two or more victims.

Interestingly, the relationship between the accused and the victims in cases of multiple and single victim homicides has also been studied. Statistics Canada reveals that in the case of multiple victim homicides, the target group that would likely be affected by this bill, the largest single category of relationships was that of family. In the case of single victim homicides, the largest single category of relationships was that of acquaintance.

What that tells us is that the vast majority of cases of multiple murders in this country involve someone who has committed murder against their family.

Murder rates and sentences have also been studied vis-à-vis Canada and other countries. In its publication, “Homicide in Canada, 2009,” Statistics Canada has tracked the rate of homicide in Canada from 1961 to 2009. This, of course, is yet another area that shows where the Conservatives' desperate attempt to try to persuade the Canadian public that crime is going up is once again belied by the facts.

It has been found that between the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s, Canada experienced a sharp rise in its homicide rate. The rate more than doubled over that period, from 1.25 homicides per 100,000 population in 1966 to 3.03 in 1975. That is 35 years ago.

The homicide rate generally declined over the next 25 years, dropping 42% between 1975 and 1999. Since 1999, despite some minor annual fluctuations, the rate has remained relatively stable.

What we do know is that the murder rate in this country over the last 35 years has actually been dropping or remained stable.

Interestingly, when we are talking about the length of sentences, which this bill brings to the forefront, a 1999 comparison of international approaches of the average time served in custody by an offender with a life sentence for first degree murder showed that Canada exceeds the average time served in all countries surveyed, including the United States, with the exception of U.S. offenders serving life sentences without parole.

The estimated average time that a Canadian convicted of first degree murder spent in prison was 28.4 years. To give a comparison, in New Zealand it is 11 years; Scotland, 11.2 years; Sweden, 12 years; Belgium, 12.7 years; England, 14.4 years; Australia, 14.8 years. In the United States, for those who have been given a murder sentence of life with parole, it is 18.5 years. Again, in Canada a person convicted of first degree murder will serve an average of 28.4 years.

In the United States, in the case of life sentences with the possibility of parole, the range of time that must be served prior to eligibility for release varies greatly, from under 10 years in Utah and California to 40 to 50 years in Colorado and Kansas. The median time served prior to parole eligibility nationally in the United States is in the range of 25 years.

What this tells us is that there is a wide range of sentencing options and practices around the world.

The issue before the House today is the appropriate length of time for someone who may be convicted of the murder of two or more people.

I can speak on my own behalf and that of the people of Vancouver Kingsway. I will be supporting this bill for two key reasons.

First, there are appropriate circumstances for its use. Again I will use the cases of William Pickton, Clifford Olson, and Paul Bernardo, where it is appropriate that there be some measure in law to distinguish the heinousness of their crimes and reflect that in sentences. A person like any of them maybe ought to have consecutive sentences to reflect society's view that he or she committed a crime so heinous, so awful, so deranged that they ought never to have an opportunity to apply for parole.

There are cases of multiple murder, which, as I have read, most often involve families. There could be cases where there are extenuating circumstances and where it may be appropriate to have a concurrent sentence. I am thinking of the classic case of a spouse, perhaps, who comes home and finds their spouse in flagrante delicto with another person and, in a crime of passion, kills them both.

Nobody could ever justify such a terrible, awful, heinous response, but it shows there is a range even in the case of multiple murders for framing this debate and whether or not someone should get a concurrent or consecutive sentence.

Given the fact this bill does build in judicial discretion and that New Democrats do trust the judges of this land and the prosecutors and the defence counsel of this land to do their jobs and craft appropriate sentences with appropriate appellate review, we will be supporting this bill. We trust them to have that discretion. I will be voting for this bill so that murderers who kill more than two people do, in appropriate circumstances, have concurrent and consecutive sentences.

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, obviously, I listened to the last few minutes of my colleague's speech and I am still a bit ambivalent. We have examined this bill, and I will discuss it in a few moments during my speech. Pursuant to the sections of the Criminal Code that this bill would amend, the judge is not currently required to impose a consecutive sentence, but will have to provide a justification and so on.

I have a question for my colleague. Maybe I missed something but I did not fully understand the NDP's position. Does it support the bill because judges are given the discretion to impose a consecutive sentence, or does it agree that judges should always impose consecutive sentences if there is more than one murder? I would like him to explain the difference between the two. Maybe I misunderstood. I do not want to misunderstand what my colleague is saying.

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act
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3:20 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to try to clarify my position for the hon. member.

At present in Canada, it is impossible for a judge in the case of a conviction for multiple murders to impose consecutive life sentences. The judge must impose sentences that are concurrent.

This bill would allow a judge the discretion in a case where there is a conviction for multiple murders, the murder of two or more people, to impose consecutive life sentences. However, a judge would not have to do that by this bill. In the case of multiple murders, the judge could still impose concurrent life sentences.

But in an appropriate case, and I would expect it to be rather unusual, this bill would allow our law to reflect the fact that those sentences should be served consecutively. Again I think of the case of William Pickton who was responsible for the murder of at least a dozen women, and probably two dozen women. Under this bill, Mr. Pickton could not apply for parole after 25 years, as is the case today, but rather, he would not be able to apply for parole until the expiry of his life sentence, which in the case of a consecutive sentence would perhaps be 50 years down the road.

That makes some sense when we pass the smell test of most Canadians, wherein the present legal system does not permit judges to distinguish between someone who murdered one person versus someone else who murdered 30 people. They get the same sentence. They get a life sentence, but served concurrently. This bill would rectify that and assist in making our system more responsive and just.

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Vancouver Kingsway for yet another very thoughtful presentation on one of the bills to do with the Criminal Code of Canada. He always offers a sober second thought on these proposals.

I can understand why the government might be bringing forward these bills, particularly in light of the Pickton case and so forth.

However, I wonder if the member could speak to the issue of what is often more frustrating for families of victims in multiple murder cases, that is, whether or not their family member's case is actually brought forward for prosecution. It is important to understand the limitations of the judiciary, that it can clearly only sentence based on the cases that, in the discretion of the crown, it brings forward.

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act
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3:20 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Edmonton—Strathcona works harder than anybody I have seen in the House. She brings to all debates a sensitive and thoughtful perspective on everything. I would also like the record to reflect that I am sober during this debate. It is an excellent question.

In my home province of British Columbia, many families of victims of Willie Pickton had to observe the spectre of seeing the crown proceed with the first set of charges related to the murder of approximately a dozen women and yet there were approximately another dozen or maybe even two dozen missing or murdered women whose cases were not brought to court. The crown made the decision after obtaining convictions on the first set of cases where Mr. Pickton was convicted of second degree murder and received a life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years. Families had to face the spectre of never having their day in court and never having the closure and accountability that comes with having the particular case of the murder of their loved one heard in open court where they could get closure, and justice rendered, a verdict rendered, so that they could hold the perpetrator responsible, in this case alleged to be Mr. Pickton. That is an important point to recognize.

Right now in British Columbia there is an inquiry, led by former attorney general Wally Oppal, looking into how that case has been proceeded with. I am hoping that those victims will get some answers and some peace out of that process. It makes us remember, of course, that the justice system deals with real people and that there is no one more important than the victims and victims' families. We must keep those at the forefront.

In the House we may disagree on the best way to support victims, but one thing all members on all sides of the House agree on is that we all feel deep empathy for victims of crime and their families. We all seek to find ways in which we can support those people and ensure that we can lessen the harm they have suffered and also try to ensure that justice is ultimately obtained for the victims and for the perpetrators.

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have another question for my colleague. The fundamental clause of Bill C-48, which we are discussing today, concerns the potential addition of section 745.51 to the Criminal Code. I have a question about the judge's decision about whether to impose an additional period, if the sentence will be served consecutively.

Section 745.51 states, “The judge shall give, either orally or in writing, reasons for the decision to make or not to make an order under subsection (1).” The “order” refers to the decision about whether a consecutive sentence will be imposed.

Does my colleague think that the judge should give reasons for his decision, whether or not he is making an order? This decision could be appealed.

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act
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3:25 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, the new section 745.21 would require the judge, in the case of multiple murders, to ask the jury if it would recommend whether the parole ineligibility period should be served consecutively to the parole ineligibility period for the previous murder.

With the current section 745.2, the jury is not required to make a recommendation. However, if it does, this will be taken into consideration by the judge. It is important to note that this new section will not be applied retroactively, but rather to murders committed on a day after the day on which Bill C-48 would come into force, if in fact it does.

In answer to my colleague's specific question, I always think that judges should have to give reasons for their decisions, particularly when they are making a decision on such an important issue as to whether or not a life sentence will be served concurrently or consecutively. If my hon. friend is concerned that reasons be given, he has my full support in that. It is critical that be done in case there is any appeal as there inevitably, often and properly is in convictions for murder cases.

Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I did not do that because I wanted to be in contempt of the House. It is difficult for me to stand up, because my leg is giving me a little trouble. I did not want to miss my turn.

Have no fear; I did indeed intend to speak to this bill, which I too believe is very important and which fills a gap in the Criminal Code. We who argue and have argued murder cases know that this gap has existed for many years, ever since the Criminal Code was amended in 1976 to abolish the death penalty. At the time, the faint hope clause was brought in, and that is the topic of Bill S-6, which we debated yesterday.

There is a difference between Bill C-48, which we are examining today, and the bill we examined yesterday, Bill S-6. Bill S-6 closes the door on nearly every possibility that someone convicted of murder will ever return to society. Conversely, Bill C-48 is worthwhile because it will close a door that was left half-open when the faint hope clause was introduced under section 745 of the Criminal Code. Let me explain.

When the death penalty was abolished in Canada in 1976, the Criminal Code was amended and it stated—without quoting the Criminal Code—more or less the following: anyone convicted of murder shall be sentenced to life imprisonment. That is clear. It forgot to mention that an individual can be convicted of multiple murders. Section 745 refers only to an individual who is convicted of murder, in the singular, and no one thought any differently. I was not here in 1976 and I do not believe that anyone currently in this House was here then, but the priority at the time was to put an end to the death penalty. It is clear from the work done at the time that legislators wanted to put an end to the possibility that anyone convicted of murder would be hanged, since the death penalty still existed in Canada. However, they forgot to close that door, and now nearly 25 years later, we are going to close it with Bill C-48.

When a bill is intelligent and serves an important purpose—and we believe it does—the Bloc Québécois supports it. In terms of criminal law, we believe that this is an important bill, because we must make a distinction—while being careful not to trivialize—between an individual who commits one murder and an individual who commits two or three. My colleagues will understand that they are completely different. In examining the figures provided, I realize that, in Canada, we can count the number of multiple murderers on one hand. That is straightforward.

The government is shutting doors because of a few multiple murderers. I would like to share with you the most recent figures from 2008. We asked for the most recent figures, but we could not wait for them because the bill had to be passed.

In 2008, 553 people were convicted on 1 count of murder; 18 people were convicted on 2 counts of murder; 6 people were convicted on 3 counts of murder; and 1 person was convicted on at least 4 counts of murder. We know how to count: 18 plus 6 plus 1 equals 25 people convicted of multiple murders. We should take a closer look at this.

Let us look at the type of criminal we are dealing with. I will be careful so as not to be misquoted. The majority are murderers. Murder is still the most serious crime in the Criminal Code. All the murder cases we looked at—except five, and I will come back to that momentarily—were multiple murders: someone killed his wife and three children, someone else killed her husband and two children. This happens a lot in families. In Canada, there are currently five multiple murderers in prison. In order not to violate the seal of confession, I will not name those murderers except for maybe Olson and Pickton, and more recently Colonel Williams. The others were hitmen for the Hells Angels. These are very specific cases.

The example that springs to mind is incredibly sad, and that is the case of Cathie Gauthier. Following a suicide pact she had made, she killed her husband and two children—and in a few moments I will come back to section 745, which is why we are voting in favour. This woman and her husband had left Abitibi to work in Chicoutimi in the Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean area, and they had made a suicide pact. Unfortunately, the husband and two children died, but she survived. She was supposed to die, but she survived. She was convicted of triple murder. These are very specific cases.

This is what section 745.51 of the Criminal Code would do. In Canada, in Quebec and in this part of the world, there are few criminals, few mass murderers—God willing it will stay that way. All the better for all of us. However, they had the same rights as someone who committed one murder. Members may think that I am trying to trivialize the situation, but I have no intention of trivializing murder. It is very clear that it is the most serious and most horrific of crimes. However, someone who killed his wife's lover was treated the same way as someone who killed five people to settle the score for the mafia. They were treated the same, meaning that after 25 years they could apply for parole. An individual was granted parole even though he was a criminal and a mafia hitman. He was released under this section of the Criminal Code. I checked and I can tell you that this person did not reoffend. I could speak at length about this. No individual who has been released since 1987 has reoffended by committing murder. The law was amended in 1976, but the first cases occurred in 1987. Two individuals reoffended and committed violent crimes, namely assault with a weapon and robbery.

These two individuals had their parole revoked and are back in custody.

I would like to emphasize the fundamental principle that the Conservatives do not understand. Someone who is convicted of murder is sentenced to life in prison. For the rest of his days, for the rest of his life, he will be under the control and supervision of the Correctional Service of Canada, period.

There is a major difference between Bill C-48 and Bill S-6, which we examined yesterday and which the Bloc will vehemently oppose. I hope that our Liberal friends will come around and also vote against it. Bill S-6 would abolish the faint hope clause, which would mean that any murderer, even if he was completely rehabilitated, would remain in prison. That makes absolutely no sense.

That is why yesterday I said that there was a difference between the faint hope clause, which enables an individual to reintegrate into society, and Bill C-48, which we are currently studying and which states that when an individual commits more than one murder, the judge will address the jury. That is what will be in the Criminal Code, which will be amended. I will quote what will be said to the jury, which can be found in the proposed section 745.21. It will not be the judge, the Conservatives or the police who will make the decision. It will be the jury that convicted the individual.

Before discharging the jury, the judge shall put to them the following question:

You have found the accused guilty of murder. The law requires that I now pronounce a sentence of imprisonment for life against the accused. Do you wish to make any recommendation with respect to the period without eligibility for parole to be served for this murder consecutively to the period without eligibility for parole imposed for the previous murder? You are not required to make any recommendation, but if you do, your recommendation will be considered by me when I make my determination.

Here is an explanation for the listening public. This means that, from now on, a jury will be consulted in cases involving offenders who have been found guilty of two murders. I will use the example of Cathie Gauthier, who was found guilty of triple murder. The judge will consult the jury to determine whether, given what it heard, it thinks that this woman should not be eligible for parole before serving three consecutive sentences of 25 years or a total of 75 years.

Of course, in the case of a person who killed someone in a moment of pure insanity the jury will likely tell the judge that such a sentence does not really make sense. However, in cases such as those of Olson, Pickton, Bernardo or a mafia hitman, I do not think that the jury would hesitate for long before saying that such individuals should not be released until they have served 25, 50 or 75 years.

That is the fundamental difference between Bill S-6, which will be voted on tomorrow—I hope that the Liberals will vote against it—and Bill C-48, which we will likely vote on within the next few days. I hope that the Liberals will vote, like us, in favour of Bill C-48 because it closes an open door.

But there is more. As a criminal lawyer, I admit that this idea is quite intelligent. It is rare that I compliment the Conservatives, but I am doing so now.

Surely it could not have been the Minister of Justice who came up with this. It must have been someone who works for the Department of Justice. Section 745.51 was added, under which it will be determined whether a person is guilty of a single, double or triple murder when they are sentenced under section 745.

The judge presiding over the trial of an individual found guilty of murder asks the jury for a verdict. This is where it gets interesting. Having regard to the character of the offender, the nature of the offence and the circumstances surrounding its commission, and all the recommendations made by the jury that I was talking about 10 minutes ago, the judge can order that the period of ineligibility for parole for each murder conviction be served consecutively. In other words, once the jury has found the individual guilty, the judge asks the jury the question and takes the answer into account. For example, the jury says not to impose a consecutive sentence. As a criminal lawyer, I would appeal that the next morning. I cannot see a judge disregarding a recommendation by the jury. If the jury says to impose a consecutive sentence, then the judge has discretionary power and has to give a reason orally or in writing for not making the order. What does that mean? It is quite good because once again discretionary power will be given to the court judging the individual.

I want to go back to the example of Cathie Gauthier, who made a suicide pact, as everyone knows. She gave drugs to her husband and her two children and took some herself. Unfortunately for her, she survived. She was convicted of triple murder. In her case, it is likely that the judge, having regard to the character of the offender, the nature of the offence and the circumstances surrounding its commission, would say that the sentence is already enough, that the woman is serving life in prison and will be there for at least 25 years, and to leave it at that.

However, without denigrating these individuals, in the case of Olson, Bernardo or Colonel Williams, I think the judge would not hesitate to say that they deserve a consecutive sentence and before being eligible for parole, they will have to serve 25, 50, even 75 years. In other words, there is no way they are returning to society. I think that would be a wise decision. I admit there are criminals who are so hopeless they could never return to society. Unfortunately that is true.

There are also individuals who are not criminals by nature, but who, because of the events surrounding the murder, became criminals. The case of Cathie Gauthier is an excellent example. How will the appeal court respond? I do not know; I only know that the case is being appealed. But with what we have before us today and the studies we have done, we believe this is a good bill. This bill will close a door that was unfortunately left half-open when the death penalty was abolished.

As a final point, I will say that when we see a good bill, especially in the area of criminal law, the Bloc will support it. That is true of Bill C-48. However, when a bill is bad, as is the case with what Bill S-6 is trying to do, we cannot support it.