House of Commons Hansard #129 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Notice of Motion
Ways and Means
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

All those opposed will please say nay.

Notice of Motion
Ways and Means
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Notice of Motion
Ways and Means
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #178

Ways and Means
Routine Proceedings

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I declare the motion carried.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

moved

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-59, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (accelerated parole review) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, shall be disposed of as follows:

1. not more than one sitting day shall be allotted to the second reading stage of the bill and, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day of the consideration of the said stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and, in turn, every question necessary for the disposal of the said stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment;

2. not more than four hours following the adoption of the second reading motion, any proceedings before the Committee to which the bill stands referred shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the committee stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment; a representative of the Committee may report the bill to the House by depositing the said report with the Clerk of the House, whereupon it shall be deemed to have been duly presented to the House, provided that if the bill is not reported from the Committee by 11:00 p.m. on the day of the adoption of the second reading motion, the bill shall immediately be deemed to have been reported from the Committee without amendment; that for the sole purposes of this Order, the deadline for notice of report stage motions shall be 3:00 a.m. the day following the adoption of the second reading motion;

3. the bill may be taken up at report stage at the next sitting of the House following the notice deadline for the presentation of report stage motions, provided that a motion for third reading may be made immediately after the bill has been concurred in at report stage;

4. not more than one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage and third reading stage of the bill and, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day of the consideration of the said stages of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the said stages of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment;

5. should a recorded division be requested on any motion in relation to any stage of the bill and such a division is eligible to be deferred pursuant to Standing Order 45, the division may be deferred to a time not later than the end of Government Orders on the day that stage is under consideration and the operation of Standing Order 45(6) shall be suspended in relation to this bill.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act
Government Orders

12:50 p.m.

Oxford
Ontario

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the chance to rise in support of the motion before us today which would help to ensure that we pass Bill C-59 into law in the most timely and expeditious way possible.

The issue of accelerated parole review has been raised and debated in this place, as well as in other venues, and in the media, for quite some time. All of us have heard about the devastating consequences that while collar crimes such as fraud can have on the lives of Canadians. All of us have heard from Canadians about the need to take action to ensure that white collar criminals are held to account for their actions and the need to stand up for the victims of their crimes. Canadians have been quite clear. They want us to take action now and they want us to take action quickly, which is what the motion today intends to do.

Just a few years ago, many people might have regarded crimes such as fraud as victimless crimes since they seem to be committed against large organizations, corporations or governments.

Today, things have changed. We are now increasingly seeing the human face of fraud. I think it is safe to say that many Canadians have been shocked and angered by the harms caused by these acts. Savings have been wiped out and lives have been ruined. For many victims, they can never be returned to the position they were in before the crime.

As we know, under the current system, white collar offenders can be released after as little as one-sixth of their sentence in prison for their crimes. Bill C-59 would give us all a chance to change this and to support Canadians who have become the victims of crime.

Helping victims of crime has always been at the heart of this government's public safety and justice agenda. Our government is committed to ensuring that their voices are heard and that their concerns are taken seriously. That is one of our highest priorities and why we have taken action on a number of fronts.

Crime places a heavy toll on individual victims, their families, communities and society at large. That is why we have taken action to ensure that the scales of justice are balanced to include victims. One way we did this was by committing $52 million over four years to enhance the federal victims strategy so that government could better meet the needs of victims.

As one of our first moves, we created the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime as an independent resource for victims.

The National Office for Victims at Public Safety Canada is also working to give victims a greater voice in the corrections and conditional release process and assisting victims in getting access to the information and services that they might need.

The Policy Centre for Victim Issues at the Department of Justice is also helping the government better meet the needs of victims, for example, by giving them the resources to attend parole hearings and to seek help if they experience crime while abroad.

Our government is also going one step further in helping victims connect to the services they need with the online victim services directory, which is available on the website of the Department of Justice Canada. The directory lets victims search for appropriate agencies in their area according to the type of victimization they have experienced and the type of support they seek. Our hope is that it can help ease the burden on victims of crime who do not know where to turn or which services are available to them.

All of those measures help to bring victims front and centre in the justice system and to ensure that their voices are heard.

In addition, of course, our government has also introduced a wide range of legislation to crack down on crime, gun crimes, in particular.

As well, our government has passed legislation to help combat the complex, serious and growing problems of identity theft and identity fraud.

We have also ensured that victims have a greater say in this country's parole system by introducing legislation that, among other things, would enshrine in law a victim's right to attend and make statements at Parole Board of Canada hearings, while preventing offenders, in most cases, from withdrawing their parole applications 14 days or less before a hearing date.

Victims of crime have asked for these changes. And our government has delivered.

Bill C-59 builds on and strengthens this already impressive track record of standing up for victims.

Victims of white collar crimes, and of fraud in particular, have been dismayed, in many cases, to find out that the offenders who carry out these acts can be released so soon after they are sentenced. Unless the Parole Board of Canada has reasonable grounds to believe these offenders will commit a violent offence if released, it must automatically release them into the community under supervision. This means that in some cases a fraudster, for example, could be back on the streets early.

Such a criminal could be sentenced to 12 years, but actually released into the community on day parole in just 2 years and fully paroled in just 4 years. The status quo gives the Parole Board of Canada no discretion in dealing with these cases.

The test is whether an offender is likely to commit a violent offence. As a result, even if the Parole Board believes the offender is likely to commit another fraud, theft or drug offence, it is compelled to release him or her. This truly offends Canadians' sense of justice. It undermines their faith in our justice and corrections system. Victims and, indeed, all Canadians want to see justice carried out and sentences served. Bill C-59 would do that.

Bill C-59 would, first and foremost, do away with the current system's accelerated parole review, whereby offenders who commit non-violent crimes such as fraud can be released on day parole after serving as little as one-sixth of their sentence. Under the changes our government is proposing, offenders who commit fraud and other white collar crimes will be put on the same footing as other offenders. They will be eligible for regular day parole review six months prior to full parole eligibility and full parole review after serving one-third of their sentences. They will have to face the full consequences of their actions.

The message that we are sending with Bill C-59 is that if people commit the crime, they will do the time. We are saying with this legislation that the needs of victims are paramount. We are saying that their interests come first. We are saying that all of us remain committed to cracking down on crime and standing up for the rights of victims. That is what Canadians want. They want us to continue standing up for victims and to ensure that their voices are heard. They want us to continue to ensure that all offenders are held to account for their actions.

Most of all, Canadians want us to work together in the spirit of co-operation to take action now to ensure the changes our government is proposing are passed into law so victims of fraud and other white collar crimes can in fact see justice done.

I therefore urge all hon. members to support the motion before us today and to work with the government to ensure Bill C-59 receives speedy passage.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I just have one question for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety.

How does he feel now that he is part of a Conservative-separatist coalition?

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

Dave MacKenzie Oxford, ON

Madam Speaker, I feel very bad that the Liberal Party has no concern for victims. I met with some of the victims of these frauds. They are elderly people who almost feel like they have sexually abused and that party refuses to support those victims.

I am happy to stand with my colleagues in the Bloc on this matter. They understand the importance of protecting the interests of victims.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I urge the parliamentary secretary to read the transcripts of the hearings that the justice committee held on Bill C-21, the white collar bill.

First, he will find that the Liberals supported the bill. He might want to also check the media coverage of a press conference held over two years ago in which Liberals called on the government to remove the one-sixth accelerated parole release for white collar criminals.

In the justice committee this past fall, when the white collar crime bill was being examined, it was a Liberal member who brought in an amendment that would in fact have eliminated the one-sixth accelerated release or early parole release, as it is commonly called, for white collar criminals and major fraudsters. Guess what? A Conservative chair ruled it out of order. I challenged the chair and the Conservative and Bloc members voted to uphold the chair's ruling. Therefore, they voted against eliminating the one-sixth early parole. The member may wish to check his facts before he says that Liberals do not support victims.

The second point—

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

On a point of order, the hon. government House leader.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Ottawa West—Nepean
Ontario

Conservative

John Baird Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I wish to give notice that with respect to the consideration of government Business No. 10, which we are currently debating, at the next sitting a minister of the Crown shall move, pursuant to Standing Order 57, that debate be not further adjourned.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

I am not sure that is in order, Madam Speaker. Can we have a ruling as to whether that motion by the government House leader is in order?

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

This will be considered at the time the motion is presented. It will be taken into consideration, and we will come back further to the hon. member's point, if necessary.

It is my understanding from what the minister has just said that he has simply given notice. He has not introduced a motion.

I will ask the hon. member to conclude her question. She was nearing the end.

Disposition of Abolition of Early Parole Act
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I would also ask the member whether or not he has actually checked his government figures on the financing of victims support programs and the fact his government has cut its financing of those programs by almost half.