Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in debate on Bill C-292 put forward by my colleague.
Before I begin addressing the subject, I thought of something just as we began this private members' business hour today and that is that I wish our standing orders would be changed. Somehow it seems to me to be somewhat contradictory that while we agree that no one here ever says anything that is not true and while we are talking about increasing the ethics in this place, quite regularly we agree to an outright lie, and that is to see the clock as something that it is not. I wish the standing orders would be changed so that instead of saying that we see the clock as something that it is not, we would say we agree to proceed to private members' hour, notwithstanding that it is not at the usual time at which we go to private members' hour. That is just something that occurred to me while I was sitting here. I guess it is that we have been so totally consumed with the issue of ethics, honesty, truth and so on that this thought should go through my brain at this time.
We are here to talk about a votable private member's bill. I would like to congratulate my colleague from South Surrey--White Rock--Langley, not only for having her bill drawn but also for having it made votable, both of which, in our environment here, are akin to winning the Lotto 649. I guess I am somewhat envious of her since I have said many times in the House how sad I feel about myself and this whole time as an MP never once having had a bill drawn. It could well be that in the next five or six years I will cease being an MP and I will have had 15 years in this place without ever having had a private member's bill drawn. Would that not be sad? Of course, that is now being changed. That is also a little digression.
Bill C-292 is a bill that my colleague brought forward as a result of some occurrences in her province of British Columbia, where individuals were caught just outright plain trading for profit by killing wild animals, that is, animals that are not domesticated animals, and profiteering from them.
When we look at this issue across the world we see that it is an issue of considerable importance. I think, for example, of the many species, some in Africa. I think of the fact that it has become illegal now to shoot an elephant just to gather its tusks. There are other animals around the world that are at risk because of the fact that human beings, for whatever reason, think it is acceptable to take the life of that animal even though but a small portion of it is used. I have heard of people who kill an animal just to take its tongue or its gall bladder or various other parts. I will not get into the gruesome details. The rest of the animal is not utilized. It seems like a violation of a sense of nature that this should be done so flippantly and so carelessly.
Therefore, I commend my colleague for bringing forward the bill as a result of an incident or two that occurred in her province where she saw a need for legislation to be strengthened.
One of the issues in the bill is that the penalties would be increased. Also, they would be increased in proportion to the number of occurrences. In other words, when people are caught the first time they will receive a very stern warning that what they have done is not acceptable, it is wrong, it is illegal and they will be told what the punishment is. However, if people, after paying their fines or serving their time in prison, are caught a second time, the penalties substantially increase.
I think that is a very good principle on which to operate, namely, that we recognize that the purpose of legislation and the purpose of criminal law is to deter the behaviour, a phrase which I use altogether too often. I know that next fall we will have a new set of pages and hopefully soon we will have a new set of people in the government, so we will have different people who will hear this.
Too often in my speeches I say there is not a law that we can pass that can make people good. The purpose of the law is to deter those who would do evil. Here we have a law with penalties that should deter an action which we consider to be wrong, immoral or evil. We do that with other things citizens in this country are prone to do which we want to discourage. We have it for all sorts of different offences.
The fact of the matter is that if a person is apprehended for committing an illegal act, pays the penalty and then does it again, it makes us think that perhaps the penalty was not high enough. Maybe it was not a large enough fine. Maybe the time in prison was not long enough. It makes eminent sense to increase the penalty for the second offence.
Just as a little sidebar, I thought we should apply this in our laws to prohibit speeding. I was amazed to find the huge disregard for speed laws in the province of Ontario. I did not hang around this province a great deal until I was elected. I have rented a car on a number of occasions and I find that on the highways in this province the speed is out of control.
This is a real sidebar. While I was driving along one of the highways just a couple of weekends ago, I clocked people who were passing me. In the 100 kilometre per hour zone, most of them were going 130 kilometres per hour. I clocked one woman in a van going 155 kilometres per hour. When I say I clocked her at 155 kilometres, I did not drive alongside her to see how fast she was going, in which case I would have been guilty of the same. No, Madam Speaker, you will remember that I am a mathematician and I have a way of computing that speed very accurately while still holding my own speed. If anyone needs to know about that, if anybody is interested in a math lesson, I can teach them how to do that with a very simple stopwatch that I have with me all the time.
I have often thought that to control speeding we should have a sliding scale of penalties. The penalty I proposed was the square of the amount by which we exceed the speed limit. If we exceed it by five kilometres per hour, five squared is 25, so our fine is $25. If we exceed it by 10 kilometres per hour, 10 squared is 100, so our fine is $100. If we exceed it by 15 kilometres per hour, 15 squared, as everybody knows, is 225 so that is the fine. It just keeps going up until we exceed it by 50 kilometres per hour, which many of these people were doing the other day on the highway, and the fine would be $2,500 for those going 150 in a 100 zone.
The principle of a scaled penalty, that is, the greater we break the law the greater the penalty, is a good one. If we broke the law and the penalty did not deter us and we got caught again, we did not learn our lesson so the penalty should be increased. I propose that for the second offence all of these penalties would be multiplied by two, and for the third offence, multiplied by three, and so on. We would come up with a very simple scale and eventually everybody would drive at the speed limit because they could no longer afford the penalties.
The same thing is true here. The hon. member has proposed in the bill that for second offences those penalties should be greatly increased. That is a very fine principle, one which I would certainly support.
In conclusion, I simply would like to say that incorporated in the bill are a number of really good ideas. The intent is to prevent people who, due to the lack of a penalty, the lack of legislation, the lack of serious penalties for this behaviour, will do it because they can make money with it. The proposal here is to put fines up to $150,000, I think. These are serious penalties so that those who are in the business of taking animals from the wild, trading them and making huge amounts of profit would be deterred from actually doing it, that being the ultimate purpose of such a law.
Thank you very much, Madam Speaker, for the opportunity of participating in the debate on this final Friday afternoon of the spring session. I, too, give to you, to the others in the Chair and to all my colleagues, my wishes for a very good and restful summer. To all of the pages, I wish to say have a great time the rest of your life and thank you.