House of Commons Hansard #114 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was railway.

Topics

Government Response to Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to seven petitions.

Status of Women
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, entitled “Abuse of Older Women”.

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to the report.

Status of Women
Committees of the House
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present the dissenting report written by the New Democrats. The New Democrats find that this report is intentionally weak and does not address all the issues of concern when we are talking about elder abuse and that much more needs to be done by the government.

Language Skills Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Alexandrine Latendresse Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-419, An Act respecting language skills.

Mr. Speaker, the bill that I am introducing this morning will ensure that persons appointed by resolution of the Senate, the House of Commons or both Houses of Parliament—basically those we refer to as “officers of Parliament”—are able to understand French and English without the aid of an interpreter and are able to express themselves clearly in both official languages before being appointed to the position.

Those we generally refer to as “officers of Parliament” hold the following 10 positions: Auditor General of Canada, Chief Electoral Officer, Commissioner of Official Languages, Privacy Commissioner, Information Commissioner, Senate Ethics Officer, Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Commissioner of Lobbying, Public Sector Integrity Commissioner and President of the Public Service Commission.

These positions require the incumbent to be able to communicate in both official languages in order to be able to properly carry out his or her duties. Knowledge of the official languages should therefore be a required skill.

Parliament operates in both official languages. Some parliamentarians are bilingual while others speak only English or only French. The officers of Parliament must therefore have the ability to communicate with parliamentarians in both official languages.

This bill targets only 10 people, but these 10 people play a key role in our parliamentary system. We therefore invite all Canadians to see languages not as an obstacle but, rather, as a way to bring people together.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed.)

Asbestos
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a petition today signed by tens of thousands of Canadians who call upon the House of Commons to take note that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer that the world has ever known. They also point out that more Canadians now die from asbestos than from all other industrial or occupational causes combined and yet Canada remains one of the largest producers and exporters of asbestos in the world. They also criticize the fact that Canada spends millions of dollars subsidizing the asbestos industry and blocking international efforts to curb its use.

Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Government of Canada to ban asbestos in all of its forms and institute a just transition program for asbestos workers in the communities in which they live; to end all government subsidies of asbestos, both in Canada and abroad; and finally, to stop blocking international health and safety conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos, such as the Rotterdam Convention.

Abortion
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition on abortion from constituents in the Fraser Valley.

The petitioners state that Canada is the only nation in the western world, in the company of China and North Korea, without any laws restricting abortion and that Canada's Supreme Court has said that it is Parliament's responsibility to enact legislation.

The petitioners are calling upon the House of Commons to enact legislation that restricts abortion to the greatest extent possible.

Poverty
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

May 1st, 2012 / 10:05 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan Edmonton—Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to table a petition from Albertans calling on the House of Commons to eliminate poverty in Canada and support Bill C-233.

The petitioners bring attention to the House that poverty affects over 10% of Canadians and disproportionately affects aboriginal peoples, recent immigrants, people with disabilities, youth and children. They state that poverty leads to poor health and that poverty and social exclusion constitute obstacles to protect and respect human rights and exclusion from economic social development.

As I noted, the petitioners call upon the House of Commons to support Bill C-233, which would require the federal government to develop and implement a strategy for poverty elimination in consultation with provincial, territorial, municipal and aboriginal governments and with civil society.

41st General Election
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions.

The first petition relates to the ongoing public demand for an inquiry on the question of what occurred in the election that took place a year ago tomorrow, the question of deliberate misleading of voters to erroneous polling places.

The signators to this petition calling for a full inquiry are from the Toronto area, as well as from Vancouver and some from within my own riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls for the full funding on a stable and predictable long-term basis for our national public broadcaster, the CBC.

The petitioners are primarily from the Peterborough area but also from Hamilton and Toronto.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from April 25 consideration of the motion that Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (citizen's arrest and the defences of property and persons), be read the third time and passed.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise today to speak to Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (citizen's arrest and the defences of property and persons).

As I prepared for this a moment ago, I was thinking in terms of the election just a year ago and the impact that our late leader, Jack Layton, had in that particular election. This bill was something that he believed in very much, in a previous incarnation, so it brought that back to mind.

One of the things I pride myself in is that in the Hamilton area I attend the local Tim Hortons and the local food courts and I talk directly to the citizens I represent. One of the things that they believe, and I hear it said quite often, is that common sense is not as common as it once was. I think we have in Bill C-26 a fair effort on the part of the government to bring some common sense into this particular issue.

Bill C-26 would amend the section 494(2) of the Criminal Code dealing with citizen's arrest to provide greater flexibility. A little later in my remarks, I will refer to a speech by the member for Trinity—Spadina who actually introduced a bill in this place in the previous session but which died because of the election.

The crux of the problem is the timing of when people are able to complete a citizen's arrest. The law of the day says that people need to act on that citizen's arrest during the actual crime but, of course, sometimes that is just not the case. It also includes changes related to self-defence and the defence of property, which are currently in sections 35 and 42. These changes would bring much needed reforms to simplify, and this is where the common sense comes into the equation, the complex Criminal Code provisions on self-defence and the defence of property, something that has been requested by the courts over the years, not just our good citizens.

At this point, I will refer to the speech that I talked about a few moments ago.

The member for Trinity—Spadina had an event occur within her riding at a convenience store called the Lucky Moose. Mr. David Chen, the owner had been robbed numerous times in fact. It seemed that it was a very popular place to shop but it was also a very popular place to shoplift . Mr. Chen was extremely frustrated. A security camera showed an individual, who he had seen robbing his store and had left the premises earlier, coming back for some more. The individual was 37 years old and had a criminal record that stretched back to 1976.

Mr. Chen decided, along with a couple of people he worked with, to detain the individual until the police could arrive. My understanding of the situation is that he bound the person and put him into a van to contain him. It is indicated here in this speech that the police arrived within about four minutes. When the police arrived, apparently bruises could be seen on Mr. Chen's body where this individual had assaulted him but instead, Mr. Chen was charged with assault, kidnapping, forceable confinement and possession of a concealed weapon.

We need to ask ourselves where those charges came from. The concealed weapon was a box cutter. If anybody has been around a grocery store, box cutters are used all the time. It is not something that people working there would hide from everybody and conceal as a weapon. Beyond that, as far as the forceable confinement, the owner detained somebody while waiting for the police to come, somebody who had a record going back to 1976 and who just may want to try to get away.

The problem for Mr. Chen was that when the four charges were laid against him, we need to stop and think about what he was facing. The crown prosecutor offered to drop the kidnapping and assault charges if Mr. Chen would plead guilty to the remaining charges and, if he did, he would have faced 18 months in prison and a criminal record.

I am pleased to say that Mr. Chen chose not to plead guilty.

We have to wonder, from a common-sense perspective, whether our system has been stilted to the point that police officers actually put in more charges than necessary in “shooting for the moon and hoping for halfway”, an old expression used in labour negotiations. In other words, if they put into place a trading arrangement in advance: the charges are laid, the Crown makes an offer and the person pleads guilty to save himself or herself the costs of court. However, had the individual put forward a proper defence, he or she might well have gotten off. Therefore, it really makes one wonder about the situation.

Members will recall there was a bill put forth by the NDP member for Trinity—Spadina, in the last parliament. It died due to the election. On February 17, the government promised to reintroduce the bill, and I am thankful that it has done so. However, when this bill was at committee just before returning to the House, the NDP critic offered nine amendments. We felt the bill was flawed in a number of areas. Of the nine amendments we proposed, only two passed, which is unfortunate. Although we are concerned about the fact that the other seven did not pass, there is enough content in the bill to satisfy us to the point of supporting it.

After carefully reviewing the bill and hearing from witnesses, our concerns were reinforced. When we reviewed the legislation, our priority was to ensure that it did not encourage vigilante justice or encourage people to put their personal safety at risk. A horrific tragedy took place in Montreal a couple of days ago. A dispute escalated between a cab driver and a number of his patrons who had probably just come from a bar. The young men jumped on his car and hit the taxi driver. He tried to get out of there and tragically ran over one of the individuals. That is an over-the-top, blatant case situation. However, it shows us how quickly a situation can get out of hand when an individual or a group of people try to impose their physical will on someone else.

Let us look at what happens to people in a confrontation. I think I made reference to this not long ago. In Hamilton where I worked at Bell Canada, one of our technicians tried to intercede when a man was beating his wife in public. People think that they have to do something. He grabbed the man to prevent him from striking his wife, pushed him and held him against the wall. The man's wife came over, took off her shoe and struck the Bell Canada worker in the back of the head. That is an example of a situation where the individual was trying to do the right thing to protect the woman first and foremost from physical injury. His intent was to hold her husband until the police came because there were other people in the area. He did not realize that because of the strong relationship between the husband and wife, she felt she should defend her husband in the manner that she did.

There are concerns around the situations that people can put themselves in when it comes to a citizen's arrest. Unfortunately, the amendments that we tried to put through to deal with that were not addressed properly.

The NDP will be supporting this bill. We think it brings some common sense to the justice system. We are satisfied that a reasonable effort was made on the part of the government. On that point, I will conclude my remarks.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence Act
Government Orders

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I hope my colleague will be able to finish his speech. I know he had some additional information that he wanted to share with us. He spoke about the fact that some of the other changes should have been considered. We are hoping that at some point we will have another opportunity to change that. I am wondering whether he can continue his speech on that issue.