An Act to amend the Criminal Code (firefighters)

This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in May 2004.

This bill was previously introduced in the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session.

Sponsor

David Pratt  Liberal

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

Status

Not active, as of Oct. 28, 2002
(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 13th, 2003 / 6:25 p.m.
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Pursuant to the order adopted earlier today the motion that Bill C-269 be not now read a second time and that the subject matter of the bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights is deemed adopted.

(Motion deemed adopted, order discharged, bill withdrawn and subject matter referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights)

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 13th, 2003 / 6:10 p.m.
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Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I stand to support Bill C-269 as put forward by the member for Nepean—Carleton. The purpose of the bill is to give greater protection to firefighters by creating two new offences of aggravated assault and first degree murder when the victim is a firefighter acting in the course of his or her duties.

Those on the front lines need the support of government and positive changes to the Criminal Code can send a strong message to those who willingly or unwillingly endanger the lives of these brave men and women.

The member for Nepean—Carleton is to be commended for his work on this file. Bill C-269 would amend the Criminal Code to give greater protection to firefighters acting in the line of duty. Essentially these amendments would recognize the importance of their services and could potentially act as a deterrent for those considering nefarious activities which could potentially injure a firefighter. This is extremely important.

As well as the practical application of the law to indicate the seriousness of these types of offences, there is a symbolic recognition when we investigate on grounds of inclusion. Presently, we have Criminal Code applications which recognize police officers injured in the line of duty and the bill puts firefighters on an equal footing.

The argument could also be made to include paramedics and ambulance drivers, et cetera, in a bill of this sort. These front line first responders often find themselves in dangerous, life threatening situations. I ask members, if they hear of an accident or come upon an accident and they stay around, who is always the first on the scene? We quite often find that it is the firefighter who is the first person on the scene.

Should the bill pass, those considering an act of arson would need to think twice and those who rewire their homes to facilitate marijuana growing operations would need to carefully consider whether or not the risk is worth it. Clause 3(1.1) of the bill states:

Every one commits an aggravated assault who wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of a firefighter acting in the course of his or her duties.

If adopted, anyone convicted of the crime would be guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years. Some may believe this to be extreme. However, it would send a clear message to those who would consider this type of criminal activity. It would tell those in that category that this type of behaviour would not be tolerated.

Canadian firefighters put their lives at risk to save ours and it becomes important that we recognize the sacrifices they are willing to make on our behalf. The role of firefighters in rural communities takes on a new meaning when we consider these men and women are volunteers. They live and work in their community. They are our friends and neighbours. On evenings and weekends they take part in training that will hopefully aid in the protection of their lives. It also ensures that they have the ability to aid in the protection of our lives and our properties.

It is fitting for all of us not only to ensure we support our firefighters but also volunteer firefighters. These people work without any recompense whatsoever. They train on their own time and if there is any kind of a problem, a fire or any incident where they are required, it is amazing how many turn up on the scene despite trying to make a living in other avenues of society.

Clause 4 of the bill would add section 433.1 to the Criminal Code. It reads:

Every person who intentionally or recklessly causes damage by fire or explosion to property, whether or not that person owns the property, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life where the fire or explosion causes death or bodily harm to a firefighter who is acting in response to the fire or explosion.

Under section 433.2, the court would be directed to interpret life imprisonment as noted in 433.1 as a minimum punishment. This would send a clear message to those who would perpetrate such a crime. This type of criminal behaviour would not and should not be tolerated.

As with all legislation, nothing is perfect and closer examination of the bill will be needed at the committee stage, and in context with the latest legislation offered by the government in the form of Bill C-32.

However we can all agree that legislation of this type is long overdue. The International Association of Fire Fighters has pushed for legislation of this sort and I am encouraged to see the government finally has recognized the contribution that members of the IAFF play in the daily lives of Canadians.

I would like to take the opportunity to address some of the issues as they pertain to Bill C-32. It is important that we recognize the dangers Canada's firefighters face.

Bill C-32 would amend the code by adding provisions to the existing section of the Criminal Code that deal with setting a trap. The legislation adds provisions for setting a trap used in a place kept for criminal purpose, which is likely to cause bodily harm, with a 10 year maximum prison sentence. It is important to recognize that the legislation, and in particular this portion of the government's bill, seems to stem from the introduction of the member for Nepean—Carleton private member's bill.

If a trap used in a criminal enterprise, such as a drug operation, causes bodily harm, the legislation calls for a 14 year maximum sentence and life imprisonment if a trap causes death. Frontline firefighters have to be protected from this growing danger. The nature of these criminal activities create a risk of fire with volatile chemicals used in drug labs and electric power stolen through unsafe meter bypasses. If firefighters and police officers are put at risk, injured or killed by traps set to defend these criminal enterprises from law enforcement or rival gangs, those who set the traps must fee the full weight of the law.

While this specifically deals with the setting of traps, I believe its inclusion and subsequent maximum imprisonment for 14 years, and life imprisonment if death occurs, sends a strong message.

Amendments to the criminal code of this sort are long overdue and I would encourage the government to take a closer look at initiatives brought forth by the International Association of Fire Fighters. It is time that government truly recognized the sacrifice made by those on the frontlines, in a substantial way.

One other thing we should remember also is that when these people are killed, and there are times when they are, the benefits to their families are meagre. We have to ensure that we put in place an insurance policy that looks after family members of firefighters killed in action.

This private member's bill is definitely one we in the Progressive Conservative Party can truly support.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 13th, 2003 / 6:05 p.m.
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NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak in support of Bill C-269, which no longer exists as the subject matter has been referred to committee. I hope that out of that referral to committee will come a new bill embodying the intent of Bill C-269, although it may not be identical and some improvements might be made to it.

Whatever the case may be, I want to indicate my own support as a private member for the bill as it existed, and I think I can speak for all my colleagues in the NDP as well. We hope that some day this will become law. We hope that the committee process will be fruitful and produce a new bill, perhaps a government bill. We hope to implement what the hon. member, who introduced this private member's bill today, is looking for and what many members of Parliament have been arguing for over the years, and certainly what firefighters have been arguing for over the years.

Firefighters come here every year for their national lobby. In fact, they were just here recently. I am happy to report, as I am sure many are, that some progress has been made on issues of importance to firefighters. I have seen some progress myself over the years, and most recently in the budget with the changes to the pension accrual regulations and the Criminal Code amendments having to do with booby traps. Firefighters have also been looking for these changes. The bill takes that promotion one step further and talks about penalties for people who deliberately set fires that ultimately end up endangering firefighters or in the worst case scenario, resulting in the death of firefighters.

The bill is supportable. We in the NDP hope that the committee will do its work expeditiously. We know that the justice committee is a busy place. Having sat on that committee for a while I know just how busy it is. We look forward to the day when the proper procedural successor to Bill C-269 is before the House in the form of a government bill and we can finally implement what firefighters have long requested of this Parliament. I look forward to that day.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 13th, 2003 / 6 p.m.
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Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a bit surprising to speak today following the unanimous adoption of a motion of this House, but it is still gives me great pleasure to do so.

The House has unanimously decided to refer the subject matter of the bill to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights so that it might consider a fairly serious problem in our society, which is to determine how to protect the men and women who risk their lives trying to save innocent men, women and children who are, unfortunately, all too often victims of infernos.

I had mentioned to the hon. member who introduced Bill C-269 that we strongly supported the principle, which is to protect these men and women, rightfully known as heroes, who do an extraordinary job for society. Their work is essential and too often overlooked.

By the way, I was a little surprised to see people's reaction to the events of September 11. Firefighters were transformed into heroes, as if they had not been heroes before September 11. Of course, the attacks of September 11, 2001, really highlighted the heroism of these people, but they were already heroes before that; they were already people who deserved to be honoured and protected as much as possible, especially by legislation, such as that which the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights will be studying very soon.

Thus, it was certainly time to do this. I had one problem, which I pointed out, with the various sentences provided for in Bill C-269. I will simply say that the Bloc Quebecois will work very seriously so that firefighters, the men and women who risk their lives in the service of others, will be protected and at the same time, that the sentences for criminal acts should be appropriate, not only in terms of our constitutional law, but also in terms of the protection provided by the charter and the general principles of the Criminal Code.

We are pleased to support this legislation; we will work hard in committee to ensure that it becomes law, so that firefighters get the recognition and the protection they deserve. This is not a demand they are making; this is something they deserve. It is not a privilege but something we owe them.

In that sense, I think it is one of the major pieces of legislation I will have worked on in my career on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Thus, I can assure the hon. members here present and all the firefighters watching and listening today that we will do everything we can so that they have the protection they need in order to do their work, which is to protect us and rescue us.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 13th, 2003 / 5:50 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I applaud the opportunity to rise on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central to participate in the debate on Bill C-269, which of course will be sent to the committee. This is an act to amend the Criminal Code in regard to firefighters. It was initially introduced as Bill C-419 in the last session. The stated purpose of Bill C-269 is to amend the Criminal Code and to give greater protection to firefighters by creating two new offences of aggravated assault and first degree murder when the victim is a firefighter acting in the course of his or her duties.

I wish to congratulate the member for Nepean--Carleton for bringing forward this issue as a private member's bill. The protection of firefighters is an issue that has also been high on my agenda. As I mentioned, two years ago I introduced a motion in the House which called upon the government to take a tough stand in regard to those responsible for firefighters killed in the line of duty. Motion No. 376 read:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should amend Section 231(4) of the Criminal Code to expand the definition of first-degree murder to include the death of a firefighter acting in the line of duty and amend Section 433 of the Criminal Code dealing with the crime of arson by adding language that addresses the death or injury of a firefighter engaged in combating a fire or explosion that is deliberately set.

Although we went about it in a slightly different manner, both the member for Nepean--Carleton and I have sought changes to the Criminal Code that would have a similar effect, but as I said in the question, and I am not talking about the hon. member for Nepean--Carleton, I would like to reiterate that the Liberals generally oppose any good idea coming from the official opposition. They criticize it and sometimes even ridicule an idea, but then they steal the ideas of the official opposition. The Liberal government has stolen many ideas from the official opposition, as hon. members know.

Let me give another example. The Liberals defeated my motion calling for legislation to recognize foreign academic credentials. They opposed it, but then they stole the idea and put it into their next Speech from the Throne. I always say that we in the Canadian Alliance, the official opposition of Canada, carry the flashlight to show the Liberals their darkness.

I took up the cause of firefighter protection at the urging of the Surrey Firefighters Association, which has been lobbying to change the law since 1995. There were about 14,000 arson fires in Canada last year. I was alarmed to learn that over one-third of the fires in Surrey are the result of arson and a very high percentage of them contain booby traps. It is very disturbing.

The Surrey Firefighters Association president, Mr. Lorne West, moved the issue of Criminal Code protection for firefighters on behalf of his 350 members. He took it from being a local Surrey issue to the national stage by raising the matter with the International Association of Fire Fighters. Later, the International Association of Fire Fighters, along with the Surrey Firefighters Association and the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, went on to warmly endorse my motion. They sent letters in support of my motion.

Firefighters want to classify as first degree murder the act of an arsonist whose mischief leads to the death of a firefighter. As well, they want every person who intentionally or recklessly causes damage to property by fire or explosion, whether or not that person owns the property, to be guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life where the fire or explosion causes bodily harm to a firefighter acting in the line of duty. They request life imprisonment as a minimum penalty.

As public safety officers who risk their lives in the course of protecting the lives and property of the public, firefighters are deserving of specific protection and measures under the law that will reduce the incidence of exposure to situations that could cause serious injury or death.

Firefighters, who command the highest trust of any professionals, face an on the job mortality and injury rate four times higher than that of other occupations but they should never have to accept criminal acts that are intended to injure or kill them.

No one would say that a firefighter's life is worth less than a police officer's, but that is precisely what our Criminal Code says. When police or firefighters are called to enter drug labs or illegal marijuana grow operations, firefighters go in first. Firefighters are our first line of defence but they are not afforded the same Criminal Code protection as our law enforcement officers. Regrettably, too often fires are deliberately set, often with the sinister intention of covering up illegal activities like marijuana grow operations or methamphetamine labs.

At other times, firefighters respond to calls only to find the premises booby trapped with crossbows, propane canisters ready to explode, cut away floor boards, or other intentional hazards. These malicious devices are intended to kill or injure anyone who interferes with a drug operation, including firefighters.

Firefighters in Surrey are especially at risk considering the increasing number of marijuana grow operations that plague the city. An RCMP report recently announced that there are 4,500 marijuana grow operations in the city of Surrey. That represents about 6% of the households. In a cul-de-sac, 9 out of 12 new homes have been linked to the illegal marijuana growing trade. But this Liberal government has done nothing to control the illegal marijuana grow operations except to talk about decriminalizing its simple possession.

Eight U.S. states have already moved to protect their firefighters under criminal law. Since no one would say that a Canadian firefighter's life is worth less than that of a U.S. firefighter, we obviously need to take steps to improve the Criminal Code.

As the member for Nepean—Carleton is undoubtedly aware, the government is already moving toward providing firefighters with added Criminal Code protection. Two weeks ago we debated Bill C-32 at second reading. I was particularly pleased to see that the bill creates a Criminal Code offence of setting a deadly trap in a place used for criminal purposes. This is to protect first responders such as firefighters and police, et cetera, whose lives could be endangered by entering such a place in the performance of their duties.

The maximum sentence for this offence depends on the outcome of the situation. It is generally 10 years. If injury occurs, the maximum sentence increases to 14 years. If death occurs, then the maximum sentence is life. Currently, section 247 of the Criminal Code provides for the offence of setting a trap with a maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment only.

In conclusion, I would like to again thank the member for Nepean--Carleton for bringing forward this private member's bill. As well, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of Mr. Lorne West and all Surrey firefighters who, through great perseverance, brought this issue to the national forefront.

Hopefully we will soon have changes to the Criminal Code in place that will provide a greater deterrent to those who deliberately set fires or booby trap buildings. Firefighters deserve this much at least. We need to protect the protectors. This should have been done a long time ago.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 13th, 2003 / 5:50 p.m.
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Liberal

David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think the way to resolve this issue of members not having an opportunity to speak is simply to ask for unanimous consent for the following:

That the debate be allowed to continue on the subject matter of Bill C-269 until 6:30 p.m. when it is deemed to have been adopted.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 13th, 2003 / 5:50 p.m.
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

With the indulgence of hon. members, when the hon. member for Nepean—Carleton rose on a point of order, he clearly stated that Bill C-269 be not now read a second time but that the subject matter of the bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

The Chair asked for unanimous consent, which was given for adopting the motion. Therefore, according to the Chair once more, debate should be over and we should suspend until 6:30 p.m. for the late shows.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 13th, 2003 / 5:40 p.m.
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Liberal

David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, Bill C-269 would create two new criminal offences of aggravated assault and first degree murder when a victim is a firefighter acting in the line of duty. I would first like to address the aggravated assault provisions of Bill C-269.

In recent years Canada's professional firefighters have faced a growing and serious threat from illegal drug operations, which are often rigged with hidden devices designed to kill or injure anyone who interferes with them, particularly public safety officials.

For example, a recent drug growing operation in New Brunswick was guarded by 30 spring loaded traps. In Nova Scotia, a boy was recently hit in the leg by a shotgun which was rigged to a trip wire in a marijuana field.

One of the most common traps set by criminals and organized crime, in an attempt to protect their drug growing operations, is a crossbow which is rigged to automatically fire at anyone who opens the front door, such as a firefighter entering a house to put out a fire.

Given that these drug growing operations often use illegal and unsafe electrical hookups, otherwise known as meter jumping, which cause fires, the dangers to firefighters in particular who are on the scene to battle a house fire cannot be discounted.

I believe that if we are to deter criminals from setting these traps in the future, we must amend the Criminal Code to provide more severe punishments for such acts. It was for that reason that I included provisions within Bill C-269 which would address this growing problem.

I am pleased that this is an issue which has not gone unnoticed by the government. On April 11 the Minister of Justice introduced Bill C-32, an act to amend the Criminal Code and other acts. Responding to the dangers posed by these types of traps, sections of Bill C-32 would create a new criminal offence targeting anyone who sets a trap for a criminal purpose and intends to cause injury or death.

Bill C-32, which I fully support and which has the support of the International Association of Fire Fighters, would provide a maximum penalty of 10 years on anyone convicted under this new offence with an additional four years if that trap injured or killed someone.

I would like to quote from a press release issued by the International Association of Fire Fighters in support of the government's legislation. It says:

Canada's professional fire fighters will soon have important new protections from a growing threat.

The firefighters press release went on to quote the general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, Mr. Harold Schaitberger, as saying:

We are pleased to see the Government of Canada taking action today on this important issue of fire fighter safety.

In my view the Minister of Justice should be congratulated for this legislation which imposes stronger punishment on an offender and greater protection of Canada's firefighters than my own bill. Given that the government has introduced its own legislation which has the full support of Canada's firefighters and which I believe would provide greater protection to firefighters, I do not believe it is necessary or even helpful at this point to proceed with the amendments outlined in Bill C-269 regarding aggravated assault.

I would now like to speak on the second issue of first degree murder. The second criminal offence created by Bill C-269 is first degree murder when the victim is a firefighter acting in the line of duty. At present, section 231 of Canada's Criminal Code specifically refers to the death of a peace officer while acting in the line of duty. However there are currently no similar specific provisions or increased penalties to deter criminal acts that jeopardize the lives and safety of firefighters in cases such as arson.

Bill C-269 seeks to change that by giving firefighters the recognition they deserve and putting them on the same legal footing as police officers. I fully recognize that there are many difficult issues which need to be addressed surrounding such amendments to the Criminal Code.

For example, in Canada there is a constitutional requirement that to be convicted of murder it must be proven that the accused had intended to kill prior to committing the act. The question then arises: Is it possible to prove that a person who lights a fire intended to kill a firefighter called to the scene? I believe anyone lighting a fire which would knowingly put lives in danger can reasonably assume that his or her actions could result in the death of a firefighter. Did the person know a firefighter would die as a result of his or her actions? Perhaps not. However reasonably, in my view, the person should have.

For a number of reasons, amending section 231 of the Criminal Code to include firefighters, as I have suggested in Bill C-269, was not included in the federal government's Bill C-32.

I have spoken to officials from the justice department. They have expressed their concerns over the constitutionality of such changes, and I would agree that more detailed discussion is needed before moving forward with Bill C-269. I believe this is an issue that does require closer examination by parliamentarians, legal experts and firefighters themselves.

To conclude, every time a firefighter is injured or killed, that means one less professionally trained public safety officer is available to respond to situations which are dangerous to the public. As legislators, I believe we must do everything in our power to protect the people who serve us as firefighters from harm.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

May 13th, 2003 / 5:30 p.m.
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Liberal

David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

moved that Bill C-269, an act to amend the Criminal Code (firefighters), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker,it is my great pleasure to rise today to open the debate on my private member's Bill C-269, an act to amend the Criminal Code, respecting firefighters.

Bill C-269 seeks to give greater protection to firefighters by amending five sections of the Criminal Code and creating two new criminal offences of aggravated assault and first degree murder when the victim is a firefighter acting in the line of duty.

For years Canada's firefighters have been coming to Parliament Hill during their legislative days and speaking to individual members of Parliament, one on one, respectfully asking that they receive greater protection under the law.

After years of hard work by the International Association of Fire Fighters to make these issues a priority on the government agenda, I am pleased to report that with the introduction of Bill C-32 by the Minister of Justice and this debate tonight, the International Association of Fire Fighters can claim some success. Those years of hard work are finally paying off for the people who provide such a vital role in terms of safeguarding Canadians from the ravages of fire.

In particular, I want to thank Mr. Jim Lee, Mr. Sean McManus and Mr. Greg Hewitt for their work and dedication to Canada's firefighters. These three individuals have been crucial in putting the issues of firefighter safety on the public radar.

These issues are not new to members of Parliament or to the House. My own involvement with these issues goes back to December 2001 when I first introduced this bill in the House of Commons. I should say as well that I had a personal experience with a fire a couple of years ago which really reinforced my view as to how important firefighters are within our society.

The particular circumstances of that situation were that my wife and I had been out for dinner one Saturday at a friend's place in nearby Kanata which is adjacent to Nepean. I noticed flames coming out of a house on our way home. I stopped my car and a couple of other people stopped as well.

The first thing I did was I called 911 and notified the emergency response people that there was a fire happening and that they had better get there as quickly as possible. My second move, along with another couple of individuals who had stopped, was to see if we could get inside the house to make sure that there was nobody in the house.

I would say that we got to the fire fairly quickly in the sense that some of the flames were clearly visible but it seemed as though they had not consumed the entire house. However, by the time I got to the front door, the door knob on the screen door was already hot and it was clear that things were becoming very dicey from the standpoint of safety. I tried to go around the back of the House and use a garden hose on the fire, but it was not working. Very shortly thereafter the house was beyond hope in terms of saving the property of a family who obviously had worked very hard over many years to build their house and enjoy the benefits of their property.

Unfortunately the firefighters were responding from a distance of about 10 kilometres away. They got there just as the fire became completely uncontrollable.

That whole situation gave me a sense of the difficulties that firefighters have and how dangerous it is in terms of going into a building where their own safety is in peril. It just so happened that in that particular case, the fire had been set deliberately, unfortunately.

I would also like to take this opportunity to draw to the attention of members some of the contributions that have been made by other members of Parliament on the subject of protecting firefighters and their safety, notably the hon. members for Surrey Central and New Westminster—Coquitlam—Burnaby. They have also brought important issues related to firefighter safety to the floor of the House of Commons through their own private member's bills.

As I indicated, by its very nature firefighting is a dangerous occupation and Canada's firefighters respond to a variety of emergency situations with the knowledge that their work may result in serious injury or death. Like police officers or the men and women of the Canadian Forces, firefighters perform their duties on our behalf knowing that at any time they may have to pay the ultimate sacrifice. It is disturbing to note as well that the number of deaths and injuries sustained by firefighters continue to rise.

Since my days as a municipal councillor with the former city of Nepean, I have had the honour of working with many local firefighters, firefighters like Ron Phillips, Steve McFarlane, Ron Ralph, Dave Stevenson, Mike Vervoort and John Sobey. These brave men, who I count among my friends, put their lives on the line to make us all safer.

While firefighters understand and accept the inherent danger of their jobs, they are often put in harm's way through deliberate criminal acts such as arson. These crimes are a deliberate attempt to cause harm, property damage or loss of life. These actions needlessly place firefighters at risk and must be deterred to the greatest extent possible.

As public safety officers and first responders engaged in a dangerous occupation professional, in my view firefighters are deserving of specific protection and measures under the law that would reduce the incidents of exposure to situations that could result in serious injury or death. As legislators, we have an obligation and a duty to use the Criminal Code to protect our firefighters from harm.

Before I get into the actual provisions of the bill, there are a number of what I would say very complex issues related to this bill. In that respect, one of the things I think would be useful in connection with this legislation is that rather than debating for another two hours some of the issues related specifically to the issue of criminal intent in the bill, the issue of mens rea in particular related to the first degree murder aspect of the bill, these provisions should perhaps be considered by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

There have been some consultations on this issue with members of various parties. At this point in the debate, I would like to seek unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:

That Bill C-269 be not now read a second time and that the subject matter of the bill be referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

I would like to put that motion to the House because there are some rather significant issues that must be dealt with, technical issues and issues related to possible charter challenges. The firefighters have agreed to this as well.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

October 28th, 2002 / 3:15 p.m.
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Liberal

David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-269, an act to amend the Criminal Code (firefighters).

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to reintroduce this bill which I introduced almost a year ago. My bill, an act to amend the Criminal Code (firefighters) would increase the severity of punishment for criminal acts such as arson that injure or kill a firefighter. This bill is long overdue.

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