An Act to amend the Criminal Code (breaking and entering)

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.

Sponsor

Deepak Obhrai  Canadian Alliance

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of June 12, 2001
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 22nd, 2002 / 6:20 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Art Hanger Canadian Alliance Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand today to address this private member's bill tabled in the House by my colleague from the adjoining riding of Calgary East. I too share many of the member's sentiments when it comes to sentencing for a crime which really has proliferated in many of our communities. I can say that over the last 30 or 35 years its impact on so many of our areas and communities and on the lives of the people has increased exponentially.

I can recall my early years as a police officer in the city of Calgary, where a crime such as break and enter in a dwelling was a serious crime and the investigators had to be called out, if members can feature that, to come and investigate that crime. Today the numbers of break and enters that fill the police ledger are so numerous that the constable on the street has become a paper-shuffler. He will answer the call. He will take the information from the victim. Most of that is for the purposes of insurance so that there is a report on file. That constable then goes on his way without really having had the opportunity or the time to go and investigate the crime. That is how much things have changed over the last 35 years. Then it was a serious crime and an investigator was assigned to it but now it is just like taking a report on a theft. That is how prevalent the crime is today.

I can appreciate any piece of legislation that would offer some sort of a deterrent. I think it is high time we started looking at deterrent legislation. Unfortunately things are going the opposite way. There is not the deterrent legislation that there used to be.

I do not know if anyone in the House has had a break-in at their own place. I wonder if everyone has experienced that. I have too, as a police officer. Culprits that were in the neighbourhood decided to break into my place. They stole a number of items. They ransacked the entire house. They got into every drawer, turned clothes upside down and took clothes out. They took some of my police equipment. An investigation was conducted that involved several police officers over a long period of time. There was a known group of people in the community that was breaking into the houses in the region, which is no different from what is happening today, yet those people were never charged.

The impact that it had and has left on my family was quite significant. My wife was very upset because someone had touched every piece of clothing in the house. That was a violation right there. That is a lasting anxiety. It takes a long time to disappear. It happened when we were out of the house and I would hate to say what the feelings of the victims would be if they were in the house when a culprit entered uninvited.

It is a crime and although it is considered a property crime it does have this very personal nature to it. It is an abuse and a violation of privacy. Courts used to take those matters into consideration years ago. When I joined the police department years ago, the sentence was seven years for a house break-in. That was what it was when I left the police department in 1993 and now the sentence can be as low as six months.

The other unsettling feature to the court side of it is that the courts look at the offences of one offender which could number as high as 150 housebreakings as one offence. The courts sentence that culprit in a global fashion. It is called a global sentencing. Culprits could go out and break into 100 houses, and I have arrested people that have committed 100 break-ins, 150 break-ins and they would still be sentenced globally and it would be considered one offence in the eyes of a court.

There is something wrong with that kind of viewpoint. There is something wrong when offenders, whether they are young offenders or adults, get six months, a year or two years for committing 150 break-ins. I have talked to the victims. Unfortunately the courts have never had that opportunity to personally talk to them. I have seen heirlooms stolen from a housebreaking where the culprit is caught. The maximum sentence I have ever seen as a police officer testifying in court was four years and that was for 150 housebreakings. There was even suspected violence in one, but it was never proven.

I believe there is a need to visit not only the minimum sentences offered in court, but a complete review of the court sentencing practice of global sentencing.

If I were to look at this potential legislation and consider who is a repeat offender, I would ask the government side of the House that if a second offence was committed by the same culprit, and I do not care if it was prior to sentencing, the individual would be a repeat offender. The individual has now committed more than one crime. Unfortunately the courts do not look at it that way. A culprit can commit 150 such crimes, but the court sentences the individual to one sentence.

I have never, and I do not think anyone here can testify to the contrary, seen a culprit obtain a life sentence for housebreaking. I looked at the statistics. There are nearly 300,000 housebreakings in this country each year. That is a lot of insurance claims. That is a lot of victimization. The statistics undoubtedly reflect not only dwellings, but it would appear that they also reflect shopbreakings. Even if half of those numbers were on housebreakings those are major violations.

A housebreaker, and I am going to say he because as far as I know there have been few females charged with this offence, although there are more now, but they generally go from the very minor theft of jewellery items all the way up to the total destruction of a residence. Even with the total destruction of a residence, I have never seen a sentence go beyond four years. When I say total destruction I mean ransacking the entire premises and doing significant damage inside.

I will reflect on Bill C-386 which my colleague from Calgary East has presented to the House. I encourage Liberal members to pay attention to the bill. I believe there is a safety factor issue for our communities. I encourage Liberal members to support the bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 22nd, 2002 / 6:10 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by thanking the hon. member for Calgary East for bringing forward this important amendment. I want to congratulate all members who have put their remarks on the record.

This amendment, let us be clear, is about amending the criminal code with respect to putting in place a mandatory minimum sentence for the offence of break and enter or what is more commonly known today as home invasion. There is a common sense element to this, that is, we know that in Canada today, in all parts of the country, both rural and urban, there is an increasing number of these types of offences. We also have to take into consideration the grave impact that it has on citizens.

In particular, I point out the impact that it has on senior citizens and the lasting psychological impact that it has on people when their home, their castle, has been invaded. The sense of security that should exist, that home sweet home sentiment, is irreparably harmed when people have had their homes broken into and their personal belongings rifled through or stolen. This is the type of implication that has to be stressed when considering a change such as this one.

We know that these issues, which are within the discretion of the judge, can result in severe sentences. The hon. member from the Bloc referenced the fact that the sentence is up to and including life imprisonment. The problem, or what I suggest is very much the motive behind the hon. member for Calgary East bringing forward this motion, is that the benchmark is too low. As parliamentarians and makers of law, we should not shy away from on occasion taking forward amendments like this to send a direction to the judiciary on issues such as this as a statement, as a reflection on what we feel to be the public sentiment at the time.

The mandatory minimum that comes into play is in respect of residential homes. The code section deals with dwelling homes or residential homes specifically because of this element of security and property and a sense that people should be safe in their homes of all places. There is an obligation currently in the criminal code, when there is a weapon present, for mandatory minimum sentences to be in effect. There are also provisions in the criminal code that allow for mandatory minimum sentences for impaired driving. Repeat offences can result in mandatory minimums. It is that old premise of “three strikes and you're out”. In this case it would be two strikes and you are out, because of the seriousness of this offence.

Some anomalies could occur. I think particularly of an instance where a young person is convicted of a break and enter offence and, 15 years later, convicted of a second offence. Not to suggest that there is any excuse for that, but it is suggested that a mandatory two year sentence should be imposed when there is this lag time in between the offences as opposed to when there might be some close proximity. All of that is discretionary now. A judge has the ability to consider all these things in the normal routine that occurs: the sentencing principles that come into effect, the general and specific deterrents, the circumstances of the victim and the criminal record. Very clearly what this amendment is meant to do is to denounce and to put in place a very clear deterrent for repeat offences for this type of offence because of its prevalence, because of its serious impact and because of the need, I would suggest, due to the current benchmark being so low.

All of that is to say that I support what the hon. member is trying to do. I would suggest that because of some of the nuances that need to be explored, this anomaly that could occur where there is a large gap in time between the commission of the first and second offences, we might consider lowering it to one year or we might in fact consider putting in place discretionary considerations for the judge to impose that mandatory minimum.

The offence itself is prevalent in rural ridings in particular. It is often drug related. It is often done by gangs. Organized crime is often involved because of the desire to steal antiques or certain objects of great value. There is also another element to this in terms of the need for deterrence. That is what we have seen. I would suggest that it is tied in somewhat with the gun registry and sometimes with the need that people have to feel safe in their own homes. This might be the reason for which they would keep a weapon. The current law is not consistent with the abhorrence people have for their homes being broken into and their property being destroyed or stolen.

There is also, I would suggest, a great potential for further danger and violence when a person knows that individuals are home and goes into that dwelling house, and this is why changes were made recently to the criminal code. The potential for violence is so real. We have made changes in the criminal code with respect to the presence of a weapon in the commission of an offence, resulting in mandatory time. Why would we not in that same vein, following that thought pattern, make it a mandatory minimum for repeat offences when a person breaks into a home knowing that an individual is in that home, knowing that the potential for confrontation and therefore violence is so real?

I would suggest that it is a recipe for disaster if we simply ignore this issue. I think the sentiment behind the bill is the correct one. Members can surely relate. I am sure they have spoken to individuals in their constituencies, perhaps even family members or friends, who have experienced this trauma of having their home and property violated. The sense of security, particularly for seniors, is so gravely disturbed and interrupted. Not only for individuals who are fragile psychologically but for anyone who has experienced this type of trauma, having their home broken into has a lifelong and potentially life altering effect.

This is the context in which this issue has been brought forward by the hon. member. The mental anguish can be incalculable and I think that has to be underscored when we are examining the potential changes. The Conservative Party supports the principle of the bill. It recognizes the public safety concerns, which have to be primary when judges routinely are faced with this type of scenario in the courts with increasing frequency. Home invasion has been on the rise. The statistics seem to show this consistently. It is increasing, particularly and perhaps most disturbingly among young people and, on occasion, young women.

We are compelled and, I would suggest, obligated as members of parliament to do something to address this issue. That is what the hon. member for Calgary East is trying to do. Bill C-386 would send this message of deterrence. It would give a direction to the judge that a minimum should be considered mandatory when there is this nexus, this repeat behaviour of such a criminal offence. As I have suggested, the benchmarks would dictate this. The current sentencing schemes are not sufficient, just as we have the imposition of conditional sentences being applied for certain types of offences. It is not appropriate, I would suggest. Under the current range of sentencing, a conditional sentence is an option.

We should not shy away from giving judicial direction on occasion. That is our obligation. That is very much a part of what we should be embracing. If as a matter of public policy the law is being interpreted in too liberal or too lenient a fashion, we should be quick and we should be proud to try to make those changes when necessary. I believe that the case is there. There are certainly occasions when the offence is so serious and the implications so grave, as I have said before, that there should be legislative directive, particularly when it undermines public confidence in our justice system, which is a bigger problem. It erodes public confidence in the law and in our systems of justice.

We support this initiative in principle. We suggest that it would serve the public better to have the bill adopted. We could take it to the justice committee where there could be further study and possible amendments. Having it sent to that committee would allow us to look at its parameters and at the impact it might have, not to water it down but to ensure that the broad range is still permissible when the circumstances are appropriate. The aggravating and mitigating circumstances will remain in effect as part of the sentencing process.

This is a good bill. It is one that I would encourage members of parliament to support, particularly to get it to the justice committee where it could be embraced, put into place and brought back to parliament for passage and insertion into the criminal code.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 22nd, 2002 / 6 p.m.
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Bloc

Robert Lanctôt Bloc Châteauguay, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to rise in the House and speak to Bill C-386, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (breaking and entering).

The bill is concise, but it will have a significant and disproportionate impact. How can one ask that the criminal code be amended to include a life sentence for a first offence? This is contrary to existing sentencing standards.

What are the criteria for determining an appropriate sentence? First, the purpose of the sentence should be to protect society. Second, the sentence should also help the accused to reform. Finally, the sentence must be fair to the victim as well as to the accused.

The sentence should be analysed to determine how it will help maintain justice and the peace and be commensurate with the offence. To achieve that, an offender must be able to associate the severity of the sentence with the objectives of denunciation and deterrence, while seeing in it an opportunity for rehabilitation. The victim must see in it an assurance of redress and the knowledge that the accused will admit the harm he has caused.

The Bloc Quebecois is opposed to Bill C-386 because it departs dramatically from the criteria mentioned earlier. By its wording, Bill C-386 sets out to impose a life sentence for a first offence. This is completely at odds with current sentencing standards.

These standards, it must be remembered, remain subject to the principle of proportion. This is the most important principle. There must be a direct and equitable correlation between the seriousness of the offence and the extent of responsibility of the accused.

In other words, a jail sentence must be avoided if there are other less stringent means of redress. Let us remember that the judge must examine all the facts and circumstances. These may be interpreted as aggravating or mitigating.

Based on these standards and on the guiding principle, judges can thus establish a sentence in accordance with clear sentencing guidelines. This bill ignores the experience and knowledge of judges, who are able to evaluate the facts of a particular case and the appropriate measures to take to meet the objectives of denunciation, deterrence and redress.

There are other methods of retribution available to judges, including fines, restitution, and suspended sentences. These are alternative methods to imprisonment that must be considered before imposing a sentence that is not proportional to the offence committed.

The purpose of penalties is to hold the accused accountable and promote their reintegration into the community, while at the same time taking into account the degree of severity of the offence. I fail to see how these objectives are furthered by the wording found in Bill C-386.

According to judges and stakeholders, penalties that are proportional to the severity of the crime help with accountability, because offenders can grasp the impact of their actions and the harm they have caused. This is why we must be careful when sentencing for a first offence.

I mentioned that the judge must take into consideration several factors in sentencing.

Sentencing guidelines protect the community on the one hand and punish wrongful conduct so as to deter potential offenders, with the goal of reintegrating the offender.

On the other hand, the judge must take into consideration the type of offence and its severity. The criminal code normally sets out a maximum sentence for every offence. For some offences, the criminal code sets out minimum sentences, as is the case for impaired driving.

In addition, the judge takes into account all the circumstances of the offence, the manner in which it was committed, whether there was premeditation, whether force or a weapon was used, and whether other people were involved.

The judge also considers the accused's criminal record and repeat offences. Not to be forgotten are the accused's attitude to what he has done, whether he shows remorse.

Once these guidelines have been considered, the judge may then decide on an appropriate sentence. He may consider rehabilitation. The accused will then have an opportunity to become aware of the impact of his actions and will be required to participate in a community rehabilitation program. A fine could be imposed. Finally, the judge could consider jail as a deterrent.

On many occasions, the Supreme Court of Canada has reiterated the objectives underlying sentencing. It did so in R. v. Proulx [2000] 1 S.C.R. 61.

Chief Justice Antonio Lamer went over the criminal code principles in order to make the point that a sentence must be proportional to an offence.

The chief justice stated that the punishment must fit the crime, taking into account the aggravating or attenuating circumstances surrounding the offence. He also stated that, under section 718.2 of the criminal code, the presiding judge must also seek to harmonize sentencing for similar offences or offences committed under similar circumstances.

In addition, subsection 718.2 d ) stipulates that the judge is obliged to examine the possibility of less restrictive sanctions when circumstances justify this, rather than depriving an offender of liberty. Yet in Bill C-386, the complete opposite is being called for.

In the Supreme Court of Canada judgment in R. v. Smith [1987] 1 S.C.R. 1045, what was involved was assessing the proportionality of a sentence and whether the minimum sentence can constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The supreme court established evaluation criteria.

So, the main thing is to determine whether the sentence exceeds what is necessary to attain a penal objective, whether there are appropriate alternatives, and whether it is aimed at social reintegration and rehabilitation.

Judge Dickson felt it was appropriate to examine the object and effects of a law in controlling its content. This stems from R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd [1985] 1 S.C.R. 295.

The supreme court has therefore, on several occasions, brought down decisions invalidating provisions which were in violation of section 12 of the charter and did not meet the criteria of justification in section 1 of the charter because of the disproportional impact of the sentence.

This is what is reflected in the wording of Bill C-386, which imposes a sentence of life imprisonment for a first offence. This is in clear contradiction of the objectives set out in the criminal code and the guidelines developed by the courts over the years.

In Big M Drug Mart, the chief justice clearly summed up the criteria for assessing proportionality, stating that first, the measures must be carefully designed to attain the objective in question.

The second criterion addresses the rational link between the means chosen and the least possible effect on rights or freedoms.

The third is a matter of “proportionality between the effects of measures restraining a right or freedom and the objective recognized as being of sufficient importance”.

For all of these reasons, the Bloc Quebecois is not in favour of this bill, particularly where the flagrant lack of proportionality is concerned between the severity of the act and the sentence.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 22nd, 2002 / 5:55 p.m.
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Northumberland Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-386 introduced by the hon. member for Calgary East, an act to amend the criminal code dealing with breaking and entering. Last May an identical bill, Bill C-290, was debated at second reading and dropped from the order paper.

As was stated when the former bill was debated, the safety and security of Canadians in their own homes continues to be a key priority for the Government of Canada. The government has responded to concerns about home invasions through amendments to Bill C-15A, the criminal law amendment act, 2001 which is currently awaiting royal assent. The amendments to the criminal code indicate that where an offender's conduct is in the nature of a home invasion the court must consider it an aggravating factor when determining the sentence to be imposed.

Bill C-386 would amend paragraph 348(1)( d ) of the criminal code of Canada by providing for maximum penalties:

(i) in the case of a first offence, to imprisonment for life, or

(ii) in the case of a second or subsequent offence, to imprisonment for life or to a minimum term of imprisonment of not less than two years--

Section 348 of the criminal code currently makes it an offence to enter a place with intent to commit an indictable offence, to actually commit an indictable offence, or to have broken out of a place after having committed or intending to commit an indictable offence. The current maximum penalty for committing any of these acts in a dwelling place is life imprisonment. The offence of robbery also carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

I suspect most Canadians would be surprised that these offences attract such a severe maximum penalty. Surveys conducted by the Canadian Sentencing Commission in the mid-1980s showed that the public had little knowledge of either the maximum or minimum penalties and many people were surprised by the severity of the existing maxima.

The current maximum penalties for breaking and entering and robbery demonstrate that the government recognizes the conduct is of a serious nature which may have significant impacts on its victims. I might add that I know how it feels to have been a victim of a break and enter since I experienced it in my own home.

The sanctity of an individual's home as a place of safety free from intrusion has been recognized in common law for hundreds of years. It is in part for this reason that the criminal code offences of robbery and break and enter of a dwelling house are both subject to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Section 718 of the criminal code provides that:

The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute...to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society--

The objectives of sentencing set out in the criminal code include denouncing unlawful conduct, deterring the offender and others from committing offences, and promoting a sense of responsibility in offenders and an acknowledgment of the harm done to victims and the community.

The government shares the concerns of Canadians with regard to the relatively new phenomenon of home invasion robberies; that is, robberies that occur when the home is occupied. Courts across Canada have been imposing stiff sentences for this type of crime that address the sentencing objectives of denunciation and deterrence and highlight the importance of individuals being able to feel safe and secure in their own homes. The government's amendments to Bill C-15A signal that home invasions constitute serious conduct that should be met with significant penalties.

In addition to providing a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, which the criminal code already does for breaking and entering in a dwelling house for robbery, Bill C-386 would provide that a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of two years be imposed in the case of a second or subsequent offence.

Canada has historically utilized mandatory minimum penalties with restraint and has allowed courts the discretion to fashion a sentence that is proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the conduct of the offender. It is also interesting to see that other countries are questioning the use of mandatory minimum penalties. The legislature in Australia's Northern Territory recently repealed its mandatory minimum sentences. Courts of appeal in the United States have recently struck down some of California's mandatory minimum penalties as being cruel and unusual punishment.

Judges who have the benefit of being able to consider all the facts and evidence regarding the circumstances of the offence and the offender are well placed to determine the appropriate sentence in an individual case. Those circumstances must be weighed in light of the principles of sentencing. There is no clearly demonstrated need to create a minimum penalty for a second or subsequent conviction for breaking and entering a dwelling house given the high maximum penalty already in the code and the sentencing patterns for this offence.

It is also important to note that courts take into account as an aggravating factor in sentencing the fact that the offender has a previous conviction for the same or a related offence. In fact, the existence of a criminal record is the greatest predictor of a longer sentence length.

With respect to home invasion, the creation of an aggravating sentencing provision in Bill C-15A would encourage judges to use those tough penalties already available which, as noted, many courts have been doing throughout Canada in recognition of the seriousness of the offence and its devastating impact upon its victims.

While I recognize the concerns of the hon. member for Calgary East with respect to the offence of breaking and entering, I do believe that the existing penalty of life imprisonment for this offence and the amendments found in Bill C-15A clearly demonstrate our commitment to providing safe homes for all Canadians.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 22nd, 2002 / 5:40 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

moved that Bill C-386, an act to amend the Criminal Code (breaking and entering), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, normally when I stand I say that it is with pleasure I speak on behalf of the constituents of Calgary East. However I am speaking on this bill for the second time. In the last parliament I introduced the same bill in response to concerns raised by my constituents and Canadians from across the nation. I will indicate later which Canadians have sent their support for the bill.

As I said, this bill was introduced in the last parliament and, as is now becoming a practice of the House, it seems to be headed for oblivion. With the introduction of private members' bills, we are supposed to debate and talk about the concerns and desires of Canadians. This process has become a mockery.

The last time the bill was in front of a committee, it was not made votable despite the fact that there was a strong desire by Canadians to have the merits and demerits of it discussed. The committee was chaired by a government member and also half the membership was from that same side.

The members of parliament should stand, debate and vote on these bills. Five people sitting behind the scenes, behind closed doors, should not be making that decision, a decision that is based absolutely on partisan likes and has nothing to do with the desires of Canadians.

No wonder time after time people talk about the erosion of democracy and of the power of members of parliament. The government is causing that. Yet amazingly when that government was on this side, it spoke the same language that I speak today. As soon as it came into power, what did it do? Nothing. As a matter of fact members of parliament keep losing their powers. Their ability to discuss issues raised by Canadians has been restricted day by day.

Canadians want this bill. I have had town hall meetings in my riding. I have support from members of the police force. I have a letter from the Saskatoon police chief who endorses the bill. I have a letter from the Toronto police chief who endorses the bill. I have a letter from the Sudbury police chief who supports the bill. I have a letter from an ordinary citizen who supports the bill.

People in law enforcement agencies, the people in the forefront fighting crime and making the streets safe, see the merits of this bill. Yet five people sitting behind closed doors, behind the scenes, do not find any merit in allowing 301 democratically elected members of parliament to discuss the bill and make the decision.

I am standing here today debating the bill but it is actually a waste of my time. What am I going to say? It will not go anywhere. As soon as the hour is over this whole thing will become a piece of garbage. The amount of time and effort that members of parliament have put into this will have gone down the tube.

The Liberals should realize that because they have sat on this side and have had that experience. Yet when it came time for them to be over there, that was it. They are preventing democracy.

I know people want this bill to be debated so I brought it back in this session. Lo and behold, what happened? The same thing. Five people sat behind the scenes and made the decision that it not be votable. That is why a member of the government has raised the issue of reforming private members' business.

The government's own members, its own backbenchers know that private members' bills deserve more respect and debate in this House than the government is willing to give them. They know the system is flawed. Otherwise we would not have had a report presented to us about a week ago by a member of the government which said that private members' bills should be debated in the House.

We should vote in the House. We should be allowed to exercise the democratic will of Canadians who have elected us to the House, not the will of 30 people in government who would manipulate the whole system and not allow a debate to take place.

Since I have been given time to address Bill C-386 I will tell the House what it is all about. It is about a minimum sentence of two years for repeat break and enter offenders who go through the cycle of committing the crime again and again because they find it profitable. We need to break the cycle. We can only do so if we institute a two year minimum sentence so offenders can get rehabilitation, get off the street and not find it profitable to break into people's homes.

About a week ago the new Minister of Justice publicly stated that he personally opposed minimum sentences. He said he did not like the American system of minimum sentences. As soon as I heard him say that I knew the government would do anything to make sure Bill C-386 would not pass, because that is his personal view. It was not debated in the House.

What do we do? We sit here and listen. Canadians are being forced to take the view of one individual, the Minister of Justice, who said publicly that he did not agree. It was not discussed in the House of Commons. It was not discussed by members of parliament who were elected by Canadians. Bill C-386 will go nowhere because it is the personal view of the Minister of Justice that he does not like minimum sentences.

We should talk to Canadians, victims, and people whose homes have been broken into. All of them will recognize the importance of the bill. There is nothing harsh in it. All it is demanding is a simple two year minimum sentence for repeat break and enter offenders to break the cycle of profitability for criminals who break into people's homes.

Some 50% of all break and enters are committed with weapons. This could lead to crimes such as home invasion which are more dangerous than break and enter. The onus is on us to discuss the merits and demerits of the bill and ensure our streets are safe. If our streets were safe, why would police from Toronto, Sudbury, Calgary and across the country be supporting the bill? It is because they need the tools to fight this crime, tools they have not received from the Liberal government.

The soft approach the government has taken is making a mockery of our streets. I therefore felt it was necessary to bring in Bill C-386 to be debated. However we will hear the usual thing from the parliamentary secretary. He will try to justify the current system and say it is adequate. It is not. If it was we would not have the support of the police chief.

Mr. Speaker, I am glad you are enjoying my speech because I am passionate about the issue. However it bothers me to see the way the government is killing the debate.

Constable Guy Baker of District 4 in Calgary said the best sentence he had ever seen for a repeat offender was three years. However the effects on the victim last forever. Females feel personally violated. Their houses no longer have a sense of being home. Men feel they have failed in their role of family protector. Children have a hard time sleeping because of bad dreams. This is the impact of break and enter and home invasion.

While the psychological impacts of break and enter are devastating in their own right, it can also be a violent crime. Every break and enter is a potential home invasion. Some 58% of break and enter incidents involve a weapon. I will quote an Edmonton man who was viciously beaten in a break and enter that turned into a home invasion. He said:

Physically I am okay. Mentally I am not. It's almost like I have to force myself to do things--even to go to work. I don't know what could be enough jail time. There is no justification for what they did.

On a personal note, I had a break and enter in my home in Calgary about a year and a half ago. I was here attending to the business of parliament and my daughter was living in Calgary and going to university. She was away by only half an hour. If she had been in the house all by herself I do not know what the consequences would have been. Would it have turned into a home invasion? It scared my daughter so much. She was only 21 years old.

We tend to take break and enter lightly. It is not a light crime. Its psychological impacts and potential dangers are strong. As parliamentarians we need to do something. Police chiefs and law enforcement agencies are asking us to do something. What have we seen from the government? It says our current laws are adequate. They are not. The parliamentary secretary may stand today and read statistics from StatsCan to say there has been a lowering of crime. However that is nonsense.

As I said, this crime has an impact. Some 80% of break and enters are not first time crimes. They are repeat crimes because it has become profitable. If it has become profitable to go into this business why should the offenders work? If they get caught and go to court it is no big deal. They are out on the street within three months. This is the cycle. Why should they worry about serving three months for such a profitable business? Why would they want to go out and work? This is why Canadians are demanding a minimum sentence. It is why I introduced Bill C-386.

I have made my speech. It was a passionate speech. However my bill will go into the garbage because the government has made it non-votable. A non-votable private member's bill is a waste of time. I stood and spoke. I do not know if my speech had an impact. However I am feeling pretty discouraged as a member of parliament tonight.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

March 22nd, 2002 / 10:40 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to do this prior to the member for Palliser beginning his speech. There has been consultation and I believe you would find unanimous consent of the House for the following motion. I move:

That private member's Bill C-386 be dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence.

This is a bill in the name of the member for Calgary East, who as you know has been ill and is not able to be here..

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

June 12th, 2001 / 10:15 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-386, an act to amend the Criminal Code (breaking and entering).

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Calgary East to reintroduce my private member's bill that would amend the criminal code to impose a two year minimum sentence for repeat offenders of break and enter crime.

Break and enter crime is not only a property offence, it is a crime against a person. It is a psychologically damaging crime, often leaving victims feeling personally violated and traumatized. It has the potential to be a violent crime because every break and enter is a home invasion.

The bill is a victims' amendment to the criminal code because the result will be fewer victims brought about by imposing a real deterrent on professional break and enter criminals.

The bill would also cut out what is the real source of revenue for career criminals and organized crime by breaking the cycle of using the proceeds of break and enter crime to finance other criminal activities.

I welcome the support of my colleagues for this non-partisan initiative.

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