An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda)

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

Svend Robinson  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now 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.

Canadian Human Rights ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2016 / 11:30 a.m.
See context

Thunder Bay—Superior North Ontario

Liberal

Patty Hajdu LiberalMinister of Status of Women

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Edmonton Centre.

I am pleased to participate in the debate on Bill C-16, an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code.

The bill is designed to support and facilitate the inclusion of transgender and other gender diverse people in Canadian society. Diversity and inclusion are values that are important to us as Canadians, yet we have heard repeatedly from trans and gender diverse Canadians that they still do not feel safe or fully included in Canadian society. Social science research also shows that many transgender and other gender diverse Canadians are not yet able to fully participate in our society. They face negative stereotypes, harassment, discrimination, and sometimes violence.

We know that discrimination and violence have significant impacts on social participation and an individual's sense of safety in the public sphere. Research conducted by the Trans Pulse survey found that approximately two-thirds of trans people in Ontario had avoided public spaces or situations because they feared being harassed or being perceived or outed as trans. The survey also indicated that the majority of trans Ontarians had avoided public washrooms because of these fears. Trans Ontarians also avoided travelling abroad, going to the gym, shopping at the mall, and eating out in restaurants, all commonplace everyday activities and pleasures that many of us are able to enjoy comfortably. However, for many trans people, these activities can be fearful because of their previous experiences of harassment and discrimination.

The research also shows that transgender or other gender diverse people face significant obstacles in obtaining employment. This is not due to a lack of qualifications. The Trans Pulse survey results I mentioned earlier showed that 44% have a post-secondary degree, but trans people are significantly underemployed, with many having been fired or turned down for a job because they are trans. Others felt that they had to turn down a job that they were offered because of a lack of a trans-positive or safe work environment.

It is clear that too many transgender and gender diverse people are being deprived of the opportunity to contribute to and flourish in our society. This is important not just for trans people but for us all. When a person loses an opportunity to work or is too fearful to go out shopping or eat in a restaurant, we all lose a potential contribution to the workplace, to the economy, and to our collective social life. Discrimination is a matter of concern to us all. It both undermines the freedom of those individuals to make the life they are able and wish to have, and it deprives us all of their participation in our society.

The bill would be just the beginning but is an important beginning. It is another step toward greater acceptance and inclusion. By adding the grounds of gender identity and gender expression to the prohibited grounds of discrimination listed in sections 2 and 3 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, we would protect the freedom to live openly.

The amendments proposed by the bill would make it clear that discrimination in employment against trans people is unacceptable and a violation of the Canadian Human Rights Act. An employer cannot refuse to hire or promote a qualified individual simply because that person is trans or gender diverse. These amendments will make it clear that federally regulated employers and service providers will need to provide accommodation for transgender and other gender diverse individuals when required and treat them in a manner that corresponds with their lived gender. Explicit recognition will also serve to promote understanding and awareness about trans people and their rights.

I now want to address one of the amendments that the bill proposes to make to the Criminal Code, which is to expand the hate propaganda offences in the Criminal Code to protect those who are targeted because of their gender identity or gender expression. To put this proposal in context, it is useful to give some of the history of these offences.

There are three crimes of hate propaganda. They were created in 1970. These are now found in sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code. These offences are advocating or promoting genocide against an identifiable group, inciting hatred against an identifiable group in a public place that is likely to lead to a breach of the peace, and willfully promoting hatred, other than in private conversation, against an identifiable group.

As we can see, a key element for all of these offences is the term “identifiable group”. When the hate propaganda offences were first created and for many years afterward, the definition of identifiable group was very limited in scope. It was defined in the Criminal Code to mean a section of the public that was identifiable on the basis of race, colour, religion, and ethnic origin.

In 2001, the then member of Parliament for Burnaby—Douglas introduced in the House Bill C-415, later reinstated as Bill C-250, and entitled “An Act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda)”. This bill proposed to add sexual orientation to the definition of identifiable group in the Criminal Code. The member quoted in support of his bill a statement made by the Supreme Court of Canada in the 1990 case of R. v. Keegstra, which upheld the constitutionality of the hate propaganda offence of wilfully promoting hatred against an identifiable group. The Supreme Court said:

The harms caused by [hate propaganda] run directly counter to the values central to a free and democratic society, and in restricting the promotion of hatred Parliament is therefore seeking to bolster the notion of mutual respect necessary in a nation which venerates the equality of all persons.

In 2004, Bill C-250 became law. As a result, the definition of identifiable group was expanded to include sexual orientation as an identifiable group for the crimes of hate propaganda.

I will now fast-track to 2014, when Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, received royal assent. One section of that bill amended the definition of identifiable group for the hate propaganda offences by adding more groups to that definition, specifically the criteria of national origin, sex, age, and mental or physical disability. As we have seen, the definition of identifiable group has been expanded considerably since 1970. This expansion reflects a commitment to equality and the desire of Canadians to protect more and more vulnerable groups in our society from the serious harms to human dignity that flow from the type of vicious hate speech prohibited by these Criminal Code provisions.

Bill C-16 proposes to add two new terms to the definition of identifiable group: gender identity and gender expression. Such an expansion is eminently justifiable on two grounds.

First, this expansion would extend to those in our society who are identifiable on the basis of gender identity and gender expression the same protections already afforded to other groups in Canadian society, such as those identifiable on the basis of their sex and sexual orientation. This would help to promote equality before the law and throughout Canadian society for trans people.

Second, this expansion would explicitly recognize that those who are identifiable on the basis of their gender identity and gender expression are in need of protection by the criminal law. For example, the Trans Pulse survey I mentioned earlier indicates that trans people are the targets of specifically directed violence; 20% had been physically or sexually assaulted for being trans, and another 34% had been verbally threatened or harassed but not assaulted.

Here in Canada, we criminalize hate propaganda, in part because it undermines the dignity and respect of the targeted group. It undermines their sense of belonging and inclusion in society. Adding gender identity and gender expression to the list would send a clear message that hate propaganda against trans and other gender diverse individuals is not acceptable.

I encourage all members of the House to support this bill.

MarriageGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2006 / 9:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, if he reads the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, his regional paper, it is right in the editorial. I have been very much a proponent of same sex marriage. I come from the same region as the member and I have more votes than either of the members who opposed it and the majority of votes supported same sex marriage in the election. They had a lucky split that might not repeat the next time. I think that is important for the member to understand and I suggest that he read the report.

He also asked why we would not continue to debate the issue. I can only say that we did not end desegregation and discrimination soon enough. If the member wants to look at hateful comments, all he has to do is go from the 35th Parliament on and look at comments coming from the Reform Party, the Alliance Party, then the Conservative Party as it relates to gays and lesbians. Be it the hate crime legislation or the identifiable group, Bill C-250, Bill C-41 or the one on equal marriage, he should look at the comments.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 12th, 2004 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls for the repeal of Bill C-250 because the bill robs Canadians of their freedom of speech.

DemocracyStatements by Members

May 4th, 2004 / 2 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Jim Gouk Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Boundary—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, democracy is defined in part as a government that is periodically elected and thus controlled by the people who live under it and the ideals and principles of such a government, such as the rule of the majority. How does that square with the current Prime Minister?

He is the man who voted in favour of preserving the traditional definition of marriage before being elected leader, then reversed his position after being elected. When asked about a referendum to let the people decide, he said there was no doubt that Canadians would vote to uphold the traditional definition of marriage and he could not allow the majority to override the wishes of the minority.

He is also the man who claimed he wanted democratic reform in the House but refused to allow a free vote on the useless, money consuming firearms registry. In fact there has not been a free vote on any legislation since he became PM.

This lack of democracy even reaches the Senate where the PM's Liberal lackeys used closure to force through Bill C-250 which stifles freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression.

About the only chance for democracy is for the Canadian public to replace the Prime Minister with a leader who will follow the real concepts of a true democracy.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

April 30th, 2004 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, the final petition I have the pleasure to present today is from constituents from my riding of Prince George—Peace River, citizens from Fort St. John, Charlie Lake, Baldonnel, Buick and other rural communities.

The petitioners are deeply concerned that with the passage of Bill C-250, which adds sexual orientation as an explicitly protected category under sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada, this could impinge upon moral and religious doctrines regarding homosexuality. Therefore, they call upon Parliament to protect the rights of Canadians to be free to share their religious beliefs with no fear of prosecution.

Bill C-250Statements By Members

April 30th, 2004 / 11:10 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Andy Burton Canadian Alliance Skeena, BC

Mr. Speaker, this week the Liberal majority in the Senate passed Bill C-250. It was indeed a sad day in Canadian politics.

Many of my constituents in Skeena and I as their MP vigorously and vociferously opposed the bill as it moved through the House of Commons. The Liberal majority, with the help of both the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP, supported Bill C-250 on its way to the Senate.

A government that supports such biased and undemocratic legislation as Bill C-250 does not deserve to be in office, much less re-elected.

I urge all Canadians to remember which candidates stood for freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of expression in this country whenever the upcoming election is called.

Bill C-250Statements By Members

April 30th, 2004 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to applaud the work of Canada's Parliament in passing Bill C-250 this week. Bill C-250 will amend the Criminal Code by adding sexual orientation to the list of groups protected by the hate crimes provisions of the Criminal Code.

The bill is a significant step toward protecting Canadians from hate based attacks. Bill C-250 will not infringe on the freedom of speech, nor will it limit the rights of individuals to disagree on lifestyle issues, nor will it criminalize religious text. What Bill C-250 does is to ensure equal protection under the Criminal Code regardless of sexual orientation.

I would like to applaud the good work of the members of the House who helped pass the bill. My thanks to all who helped pass the bill.

Canada National Parks ActGovernment Orders

April 30th, 2004 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, things seem to change very rapidly in the House and this being a Friday it is expected that things get juggled around. However I was a little disappointed with Bill C-30, which was listed first and dealt with the budget, because I wanted to address the concerns of some people in Saskatchewan who were hurt by an audit that took place on amateur sports and which was not addressed in the budget. I brought this matter to the House two years ago and nothing has been done since then.

Even though this will probably be my last day in the House and last activity, I will not be done with that infraction against the province of Saskatchewan. I will have to take that up in public life.

When I first looked at Bill C-28 I could see nothing wrong with it. I could see that the bill, as it was presented to me, was to take some land from a park and add it to a reserve, mainly on the west side of Vancouver Island, to provide for additional housing and the growth of that particular community. That in itself I do not think any Canadian would deny.

The bill also deals with the Riding Mountain National Park in the province of Manitoba. There was an error there but I think that can be corrected. I do not think we will find any opposition to that.

When I look at the map of this area I see a number of little pieces of land which are listed as being Indian reserve land, IR, but nobody lives on them. They are not a place to live, even though they are on reserve, but what the bill would do for these 10 reserves is to provide that these people have additional land, as my hon. colleague mentioned, for the building of houses and so on.

What bothers me about this is that we have not heard anyone in the House talk about it. However I have not had this assignment long enough to know if indeed there has been any other action or opposition to the bill. I have never had the opportunity, and maybe that is my fault, to know if any environmental groups are opposed to it. I have not had the opportunity to know if all the other politically elected people, including in the province of British Columbia and the local municipal people, are totally in agreement with it.

One of the problems we have with the bill is that we are being asked to support the bill on the eve of an election and yet I, for instance, do not have all the information that I would like to have. I understand that access to the ocean and the beach will remain public but that point is one of the points that is under the memorandum of understanding and a memorandum of understanding is not a legal document. It can be cancelled at the snap of a finger. That causes me concern because, not only does that national park belong to the first nations who live there, but it belongs to everybody. Therefore, a memorandum of understanding, in my opinion, is not sufficient.

I do know that the Canadian Parks, the Wilderness Society and other groups have supported this but the Province of British Columbia has interest in the lands and I do not know for sure if it has totally given us the green light to go ahead with it. It concerns me a great deal when a piece of property within the province of British Columbia does not have the total okay of the provincial government. I think we should stop for a moment.

For instance, I know a family who lives just miles away from the Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan. If there were to be a change or alteration, that would affect them a great deal.

Therefore, the first people who would be affected and consulted would be the RMs of Mankota and Glen McPherson, and then it would go on to affect the provincial government. I cannot find if it has the total consent of the province of British Columbia. That concerns me.

Second, there are also concerns with the land use agreement. To bring the land use agreement up at the eleventh hour, which we are in now, bothers me a great deal. We have only heard from the groups supporting the agreement. We have not heard from any groups who are opposed.

If there are no groups who are opposed, that would be great. However, I have been around this place long enough to know that there is always someone opposed and always someone from which the committee and the House should hear. from. We have not done that and that makes me walk very gingerly on this bill. We have not heard from those who are in opposition. I have not and I understand that others have not.

I hope, hidden in this beautiful piece of legislation about a beautiful part of Canada, with a great idea for expansion for native housing, that I do not pick up the paper five years from now or even two years from now and see that the bill had a bit of a cynical trick to it. I have concerns that this bill is coming before the House at the eleventh hour.

On its own, I can assure the House that I would have no reason to object to this, nor would my party. However, the procedure is questionable and I worry about that.

This could be one of my last speeches in the House and I would not want to dare say that I suspect there is something wrong on the other side. Do not clap yet, because I will come back, even as a ghost, to haunt the House if this changes. I will be like MacArthur. I will be back because the bill is too important.

The bill will go through the Senate. Knowing what the Senate did with Bill C-250, I do not trust it either.

In a report of the Auditor General it states, “To promote accountability for implementation measures, we support the annual reporting of treaties and land claims consistent with the recommendations of chapter 9”.

The bill does not do that and therein lies my concerns. Does the bill have to pass right now? Is it really necessary for the next election? I cannot see any reason. I do not know any reason why I should not support it, but we have some very deep concerns.

On comes the bill with very little discussion. I have not been assigned to this long enough to even know if it has been discussed in committee, let alone having the opportunity to invite people so we could have this discussion in committee. We have not had that.

In conclusion, I hope, as I have said, that I do not have to come back here, even as a member to appear before the committee. I hope the government does not deceive me, or the House or my party, on any of the things I have mentioned, including taking away access to the beaches. If that portion of a beautiful national park is destroyed, all on the basis of a memorandum of understanding, that is not good enough for me, and I do not believe it is good enough for the people of British Columbia or the people of Canada.

Is it possible to hold the bill for a short time until it goes through the legal process?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

April 29th, 2004 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, several times in her speech the member said that all Canadians are entitled to their opinion. I remind everyone that she voted for Bill C-250 which rather decidedly prevents people from expressing their opinion. That is a serious error of the Liberal government.

On this bill, she says that the judge will take into account the age of the victim and the age difference of the so-called perpetrator. If I were the father of a 13 year old girl, and many years ago I was, and the 14 or 15 year old neighbour, near in age, smooth talked her into doing things that I believed were immoral and wrong, I believe that person should be just as guilty as if being a 20 or 21 year old. They may not do that.

In that sense, the bill fails to protect our children. A 13 year old girl or boy is entitled to protection of the law. The bill does not provide that. As emphatically as she said it, but on the other side, I urge all members to vote for this motion to send it back to committee so we can get it right and actually protect our children instead of having a bill that just has in the heading, protection of children.

Bill C-250Statements By Members

April 29th, 2004 / 2:15 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Canadian Alliance Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Senate may have seen fit to pass Bill C-250 yesterday, but that brings little reassurance to the hundreds of Canadians who have contacted me with their concerns about the legislation. They are worried that Bill C-250 will be used to attack legitimate forms of opinion and expression, rather than as a means of protecting minorities in Canada. The Owens case, in which a Saskatchewan man was declared guilty of a hate crime for advertising passages from the Bible, proves there is validity to their concern.

With so much of this soon to be law left open to interpretation, there is a definite opportunity to misuse and abuse. On behalf of my constituents in Blackstrap, I can only express my hope that the spirit of this law will prevail over its potential as a gag on our freedom of speech.

Bill C-250Statements By Members

April 29th, 2004 / 2:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Senate passed Bill C-250 by a vote of 59 to 11. This private member's bill was first introduced by the member for Burnaby—Douglas almost 15 years ago to include sexual orientation in the Criminal Code hate propaganda section along with race, colour, religion and ethnic origin.

Too often gay and lesbian people are targeted for violence, hatred and even death as in the tragic case of Aaron Webster. This bill, supported by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and attorneys general in Canada, is long overdue.

NDP leader Jack Layton and New Democrats join in paying tribute to those who made passage of the bill possible, including the member for Burnaby--Douglas and his staff, Corie Langdon and Dan Fredrick; Inspector Dave Jones; the bill's sponsor in the Senate, Senator Serge Joyal; and members of the House and the Senate who voted for it.

Together we are sending a powerful message that there is no place in our Canada for hatred and violence targeting gay and lesbian people.

Bill C-250Statements By Members

April 29th, 2004 / 2 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my concern at the decision of the Liberal majority in the Senate to invoke closure on Bill C-250 and to pass the bill into law. Bill C-250 broadens the hate propaganda provisions of the Criminal Code.

Former Prime Minister Diefenbaker warned that enacting these kinds of laws could have an adverse effect on fundamental Canadian freedoms, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of expression. His concerns are directly applicable to Bill C-250.

Unfortunately, most of the Liberals in both the Senate and the House of Commons rejected Conservative efforts to amend the bill in order to address these concerns, while at the same time ensuring that Canadians were properly protected against criminal action.

I would like to thank concerned citizens across Canada, including those in my riding of Provencher, for their ongoing efforts and dedication to prevent this ill-conceived bill from becoming law.

Committees of the HouseThe Royal Assent

April 29th, 2004 / 10:40 a.m.
See context

The Deputy Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:

Rideau Hall

Ottawa

April 29, 2004

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 29th day of April, 2004 at 9:50 a.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck

Secretary to the Governor General

The schedule indicates that royal assent was given to Bill C-21, an act to amend the Customs Tariff; and Bill C-250, an act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda).

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

April 27th, 2004 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central to present six petitions on Bill C-250. The petitioners believe that the addition of sexual orientation as a protected category under sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code threatens the ability of individuals to exercise their religious freedoms and to express their moral and religious doctrines without fear of criminal prosecution.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to protect the rights of Canadians to be free and to share their religious beliefs without fear of prosecution.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

April 26th, 2004 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is on Bill C-250, the hate crimes bill. The petitioners want to bring to the attention of the House that Bill C-250 is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation brought before the House. It must not be passed in law because it would threaten all those opposed to special rights for homosexuals, including same sex marriage, with prosecution on the basis of alleged hate.

The petitioners, therefore, petition Parliament to stop the passage of Bill C-250 as it would severely limit the religious freedom and freedom of speech of all Canadians.

Bill C-250Statements By Members

April 22nd, 2004 / 1:55 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-250 is currently before the Senate. This bill raises serious concerns about freedom of expression and religion. That is why I and most of my colleagues have voted against it at every opportunity. It is also why I continue to work very hard to try to prevent this bill from passing in the Senate.

There is no question that we reject completely hatred directed at any group, but under Bill C-250, religious leaders and organizations could be committing an offence simply by discussing essential matters of their faith with their congregations. Those who teach children in faith-based schools could also be censored.

The fact is that Bill C-250 does not protect secular professional, educational and academic opinions and speech. I am committed to protecting freedom of speech and freedom of religion, even if these Liberals are not, and I am committed to representing my constituents on issues which are important to them.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

April 21st, 2004 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is on a related matter, the notwithstanding clause. The petitioners point out that the Ontario Court of Appeal has made a ruling in regard to Bill C-250 on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They also point out that the Constitution has provisions under section 33, a notwithstanding clause, to override the charter.

They therefore petition Parliament to invoke the notwithstanding clause to pass any law so that only two persons of an opposite sex can be married.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

April 21st, 2004 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions today, all from my riding of Mississauga South.

The first is referring to matters under Bill C-250. The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that all Canadians are appalled by hate motivated attacks and believe that promoting hatred towards any person or group is wrong.

They also point out that in accordance with religious texts, the petitioners believe that all people are worthy of respect and dignity as human beings, but they also believe that for moral and religious reasons, certain sexual practices are morally unacceptable.

The petitioners therefore call upon Parliament to take all necessary measures to protect the rights of Canadians to freely share their religious and moral beliefs without prosecution.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

April 19th, 2004 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have three brief petitions to present today.

The first petition is related to Bill C-250. The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that Canadians are appalled by hate motivated attacks and believe that promoting hatred toward any person is wrong. The petitioners call upon Parliament to take necessary steps to protect the rights of Canadians to freely share their religious and moral beliefs without being in fear of prosecution.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

March 29th, 2004 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition relates to Bill C-250.

The petitioners would like to draw to the attention of the House that all Canadians are appalled by hate motivated attacks and believe that promoting hatred toward any person or group is wrong. They also point out that they are concerned about the impact of the proposed amendments to section 318 of the Criminal Code on freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

The petitioners therefore call upon Parliament to take all measures necessary to protect the rights of Canadians to freely share their religious and moral beliefs without fear of prosecution.

Bill C-250Statements By Members

March 22nd, 2004 / 2:10 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Canadian Alliance Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition on his historic victory this past weekend. He has proven that he has the support of those within the Conservative Party of Canada. Now it will be his challenge to reach out and secure the support of all Canadians. Many social conservatives have trusted his leadership and hope he will continue to provide alternative social policy.

I would also like to address the current situation regarding Bill C-250. There is a movement in the Senate to delay the passage of this contentious bill. I would urge that other place to fulfill its role and provide real sober thought on this bill.

I ask the government to allow Canadians to have their voices heard on this issue. Many Canadians feel that the bill will seriously infringe upon the rights of freedom of speech and religion. The government should cancel the passage of this bill until after an election, allowing Canadians to consider this issue as they cast their votes.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 26th, 2004 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, my second petition calls upon Parliament to express its disapproval of Bill C-250. Obviously that is not of complete relevance to us today as that bill has gone through the Chamber. However on the assumption that our hon. colleagues in the other place pay attention to petitions that are presented here, perhaps they will take note of this petition.

SupplyGovernment Orders

February 24th, 2004 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, as a person who has invested throughout many years and who knows the market fairly well, I would suggest, I did think that I would like to talk to this. This motion is actually laughable in a way. I will speak to that in a moment.

What really bothers me is that we have found the Liberals in this nation stealing money, virtually, from the taxpayer and handing it out to their buddies and back to the Liberal Party. The country is in chaos over it and the NDP brings up a motion to talk about investing in values in terms of the Canada pension plan: some days I wonder where these guys come from. I guess that is why we threw them out in British Columbia and do not want them back. That kind of philosophy pervades their investment strategy as well as their management style. That is one of the things that gets them into trouble every time they get into government for a very short period.

I do want to talk about this motion. I have to read it for those people who are listening because it really is hard to believe that somebody would present this in the House of Commons.

It states that the NDP wants the House to have the Canada pension plan, and I quote:

...guided by...investment policies which would ensure that...[the] investments are socially responsible and do not support companies or enterprises that manufacture or trade in military arms and weapons, have records of poor labour practices, contribute to environmental degradation, or whose conduct, practices or activities are similarly contrary to Canadian values.

Has anyone in their life ever heard such convoluted logic in regard to an investment? I do not think I have ever heard it before and I have been investing, as I said, for years. I will give some examples of this.

Some time ago, I invested in a company that makes cigarettes. Somebody tried to talk me out of investing in that company just because of a moral value, as these folks are. I actually waffled on investing in that one. I do not know how many thousands I lost on it, but this company had done very well in the market; those people who buy cigarettes, smoke cigarettes. The company had made a great deal of money. Those people who invested in that company did well, and better luck to them.

There are other companies I have invested in and I have done reasonably well. They are companies that have had strikes. The NDP would not invest in companies like that. It wants social values entwined into the mix of economic values when investing in the marketplace.

For instance, for a company whose CEO believes in the traditional definition of marriage, the NDP members would probably see that as coming under “contrary to Canadian values” in their minds if they were to form a government. Could we imagine such a financial decision on the Canada pension plan, on which all of our seniors depend for growth, being made by somebody who said to never invest in that company because the CEO believes in the traditional definition of marriage? Or, heaven forbid, for a company whose CEO is pro-life, it is not within the certain mix that they would consider a social value they like as a government. They would not go with that either. It goes on and on.

This is the party that brought in Bill C-250, if members will recall, that basically was going to outlaw the Bible as a document of valueless means, in its members' minds. With regard to a company run by a Christian or a very successful company that was run on Christian values, would they say no, they could not invest in it because that would be contrary to their “Canadian values”, as they would see them? We cannot mix those kinds of things in this package of investments. The thought process that goes on with the NDP is really something to listen to.

The fact is that the Canada pension plan is the basis upon which people work in this country and retire to at the end of their days. The investment people who are managing the portfolio have to be able to look at companies as to how best they can earn income, make profit and supply that portion of profit to the value that they invest in the plan itself. They cannot look at the values of a particular political party or the labour practices of a company. In whose value is the labour practice perpetrated? A company that is non-union? Is that a bad labour practice in the NDP's mind? Would we not invest--

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 19th, 2004 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have other petitioners who are concerned about the former Bill C-250 which is still making its way through Parliament. They are concerned about their freedom to express their religious opinions without fear of prosecution or persecution.

Business of the House

February 2nd, 2004 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

The Speaker

May I remind hon. members that a time limit is placed on the consideration of private members’ bills. Indeed, pursuant to Standing Order 97.1, committees will be required to report on these reinstated private members’ public bills within 60 sitting days of this statement.

At prorogation, five private members' bills originating in the House of Commons had been read the third time and passed. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, the following bills are deemed adopted at all stages and passed by the House: Bill C-212, an act respecting user fees; Bill C-249, an act to amend the Competition Act; Bill C-250, an act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda); Bill C-260, an act to amend the Hazardous Products Act (fire-safe cigarettes); and Bill C-300, an act to change the names of certain electoral districts.

(Bills deemed adopted at all stages and passed by the House)

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

November 7th, 2003 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Dave Chatters Canadian Alliance Athabasca, AB

Madam Speaker, I have three petitions to present today.

The first petition is from the community of High Prairie in my riding of Athabasca and two from the community of Fort McMurray. All three petitions concern the same subject.

The petitioners are urging Parliament to take action to protect the charter right of religious freedom for Canadians in the issue of Bill C-250.

The petitioners are pleading with Parliament to take some action, not only to protect gays and lesbians under the bill, but to also protect the religious freedom of Canadians.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 28th, 2003 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present, all of which are signed by a number of Canadians, including citizens from my own riding of Mississauga South.

The first petition has to do with Bill C-250. The petitioners want to draw to the attention of the House the fact that it is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation brought before the House and it must not be passed into law because it would threaten all those who oppose special rights for homosexuals, including same sex marriages, with prosecution on the basis of alleged hate.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2003 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the third petition is one that has been circulated quite widely in my own constituency. It draws the attention of the House to the fact that Bill C-250 has the effect of placing dangerous restrictions upon freedom of expression in religion. I note, of course, that Bill C-250 is no longer before this chamber. It is, however, before the Senate and I am sure that members of that chamber will want to take note of the fact that this petition has been submitted.

Heritage Lighthouse Protection ActPrivate Members' Business

October 22nd, 2003 / 6:50 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, when raising the point of order just a few minutes ago, I said that I am in favour of the passage of the bill. I am making that recommendation to the members of my party.

The bill is something that is necessary. Certainly in taking a look at Canada's heritage structures, excellent work has been done by many museums with respect to the structures. One example is the great Canadian Museum of Rail Travel in Cranbrook. The amount of volunteer work that has occurred there has been exemplary. We have to be very conscious in Canada of ensuring that we maintain our heritage and structures so that we can go back and physically touch them and certainly see them.

My concern is not about the bill itself. I have had an opportunity to review the clauses in the bill. I am certainly not a legislative expert but it seems to me it would not require a tremendous amount of amendment in order for it to be a very good bill. The issue of people being able to consult, get information back and have input is a very transparent process, and one which the public at large could buy into.

My concern is on two levels with respect to the fact that the bill has come to us from the Senate. The first one which I have just explained is that this is a Senate bill and one which in my judgment, and I will leave it to your wisdom to decide, Mr. Speaker, will require the expenditure of public funds. Therefore, it is very likely outside the ability of the Senate to propose, particularly as a private member's bill. And this is a private member's bill.

This is very important. It is not just a whole bunch of detail. It is not arcane. It is not unnecessary. It is indeed vital that we make sure that we maintain the relationship between this House and the other place. This House has the legitimacy that all its members were elected in a free and democratic vote. It is our responsibility as members of the House to come here and to represent our constituents and to make good legislation in the best interests of Canadians.

If we do not make legislation in the best interests of Canadians, then we deserve to be defeated. If we do not speak up for our constituents or watch what the government is doing with respect to its expenditures, again the people of Canada have the ability to hold us accountable. That is the essence of democracy and I am very pleased to be part of that democratic process. Therefore, the House of Commons must remain supreme in the process, which leads me to the second point.

The difficulty that we have is over a number of years, and particularly most recently as we have been going through a process of trying to update the ability, to advance the ability, to refine the ability of private members to bring matters before the House for the consideration of the whole House, we have been going through in some ways has been very much a learning process.

Bill C-250 is a classic example of an item that was brought forward by the member for Burnaby—Douglas and which the House became gripped with. It was an issue of a tremendous amount of interest to people in Canada. It was an item on which we as members of Parliament were, and should have been, held accountable for our position because it made some very substantial changes. Interestingly it was not a bill that was in the cross hairs or in the focus of the government, in spite of the fact that at the end of the day the government ended up voting in favour of the bill. All members ended up voting in favour of the bill.

The ability of a member of this duly elected, representative place to bring forward a bill or motion is a very vital part of how we function as a democracy in Canada.

Therefore, with respect to Bill S-7, the other place has a different way for senators to bring forward private members' bills. As I understand it, from advice that I have received from the Table of this House, once the bill has gone through the Senate process, it basically has the ability to then advance that bill to this place. It then goes into the same order of bills as ours do, as private members' bills. It goes to the bottom of the order of precedence and works it way up through the order of precedence.

In a way, somebody might choose to argue, that means it is treated in exactly the same way, but the fact is that it starts in the other place and goes through a totally different process and, in fact, because of the practices of the other place, this gives more freedom for those members of the other place to get their bills through, to have them advanced. I submit that it in fact ends up interfering with the ability of the members of this place to be able to carry out their duties and responsibilities to their constituents and to the causes about which they are talking.

Therefore, as I said, I stand in favour of the bill. I speak in favour of the bill. I think it essential that we continue to focus more energy on our history. Certainly, as my colleague from the Conservatives said, lighthouses form a part of the story of who we are as Canadians and of what our great nation stands for. Therefore, to have a bill that is a responsible bill, a bill that enables us to protect those properties, is essential.

In summary, the reason why I raise my point of order is this. I want to see that as we take care of those places and as we invariably incur costs on them, they come under the proper scrutiny of the Government of Canada, and that we do not end up in some way getting past the whole concept of getting royal approval for the expenditure of funds, that we do not suddenly find ourselves locked into a box.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to your ruling on this matter and I certainly will continue to encourage my colleagues in my party to vote in favour of the bill.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 10th, 2003 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition to the House today, one that is signed by several hundred members of my constituency. The petitioners call upon the House to respect freedom of expression and freedom of religion by voting against Bill C-250. The bill has passed through the House now but it has not passed through the Senate, and perhaps our friends in the other place will take note of this petition.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 8th, 2003 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions. Like Canadians from coast to coast to coast, these people are petitioning the government.

In the first one, the petitioners do not want the passing of Bill C-250 because of their fear of infringement of their own private rights.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 8th, 2003 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the third petition refers to Bill C-250 and it calls on Parliament to use all possible legislative and administrative measures to preserve and protect the criminal code.

Assisted Human Reproduction ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2003 / 10:45 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Canadian Alliance Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, this bill is a very controversial subject across our land. It is probably third only to the recent bills that we have seen go through this place, one on the question of marriage and the other being Bill C-250. There are hundreds of people who have written who are concerned about Bill C-13. They are concerned about the view that this Parliament would reflect on humanity itself, the value of life and the dignity of life if we embark upon some of the measures provided for in this legislation.

Someone has said that this is not an issue of religion or conscience. I would suggest it really is an issue of conscience whether one is religious or not. I was reminded of that remark recently in the United States when we heard of someone who was fined something like $25,000 for destroying an eagle's egg. I am remembering the burrowing owls that we have in Canada and the endangered species legislation that we are looking at where people could be fined for even destroying the habitat or the nesting grounds of species in this country.

Would we punish them for destroying an egg of a bird or the burrow of an owl? Would we punish them for that and say it was sacrilegious to destroy them, or are we being religious for passing laws to protect endangered species? No one accuses us of being religious for doing that. Why would they want to accuse us of being overly religious for passing laws to protect the dignity and the safety of the human race?

Our party supports a number of aspects of the bill. We support the bans on reproductive and therapeutic cloning, the bans on animal and human hybrids, the bans on sex selection and the bans on buying and selling embryos. We recognize that these are the good aspects of the bill. As so often is the case, we get caught between a rock and a hard place when we deal with legislation. So often, there are parts of a bill that are good, as are these points that I have mentioned in this bill, and then there are parts that are weak or bad and cause us to have to violate our conscience to support that part of the legislation.

With regard to cloning, the Canadian Alliance opposes human cloning as we believe it is an affront to human dignity, individuality and rights. We have spoken often and for a long time against human cloning. We have been urging the federal government to take a stand and bring in legislation. It has been over 10 years since the report first came out that we should deal with these kinds of things. The Liberals have put it off and waited. It is my understanding that some companies in Canada announced recently that they were tired of waiting and that they were going to go ahead with some of this research. It is a shame that we have waited this long to deal with these kinds of issues.

The practices that are still allowed in this bill are not acceptable to some of us. The bill does say that the health and well-being of children born through assisted human reproduction must be given a priority. We believe in that and we believe in it very strongly. In fact, the health committee itself in its meetings came up with a ranking of the interests that should be made around this bill.

First of all, it said children born through assisted human reproduction should have priority in the decision making; second, adults participating in that procedure; and third, the researchers and physicians who conduct AHR research. They did not mention it, but I guess fourth would be the society in general that would benefit from anything that came out of this kind of research.

Even though children are mentioned as the ones who are to be considered first when we talk about these procedures, we have a way of saying something and then quickly forgetting what it really means. In the bill, children born through donor insemination or from donor eggs are not given the right to know the identity of their biological parents. How can we say that we are considering the needs of the children first when we refuse to even allow them to find out the identify of their biological parents?

In this day and age we know there are many cases where it is very valuable information medically to have a knowledge of who one's parents really are, where they came from, what were the diseases they had, what were their traits and characteristics. We do not allow for that in the bill.

The bill does not provide an acknowledgement of human dignity or respect for human life. The government makes some statements that are sort of related but it refuses to make a statement about the dignity or the sanctity of human life. The bill is intimately connected with the creation of human life, human life that will in its end be used strictly for research.

The minority report recommended that the final legislation would recognize the human embryo as human life and that the statutory declaration include the phrase “respect for human life”. I heard already this morning in this debate that the human embryo is not human life. Is it life at all? I think it can be proven scientifically that it is life. The cells are already beginning divide. It is growing and only living things grow. Certainly we must know that it is human. It is not another kind of animal. It is not a plant. It is not a vegetable. It is in fact a human life.

The bill also allows for experiments using human embryos under four conditions. Only in vitro embryos left over can be used. Written permission must be given by the donor. It does not say donors, it just says donor. We believe that every human embryo by scientific evidence would have to have two donors and not just one. There should be the recognition of both donors in this case and that both donors should give permission and not just one. The bill also allows for research on human embryos if the use is necessary. Necessary is undefined. In vitro fertilization requires the creation of human embryos and the bill says it is only as many as are necessary, but when the end comes, when the implantation is made I think we will find that many embryos have been destroyed that were not necessary and unused only to speed up the process. We are in such a hurry to see things happen. We cannot wait to see one or two eggs fertilized at a time so that a couple can bear children.

Sometimes we forget that Bill C-13 would allow the creation of embryos for reproductive research. Canadian law will now legitimize the view that human life can be created solely for the benefit of others and sacrificed in the name of research.

I come back to the fact that the human embryo is life. Whether it is a senior adult, a young adult, a child, a baby, a fetus or an embryo, I must conclude that it is human life.

I will close by quoting Suzanne Scorsone, a former member of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies, who said “The human embryo is a human individual with a complete personal genome, and should be a subject of research only for its own benefit”. She also said that many people hold to the idea that to destroy the embryo or utilize it as industrial raw material is damaging and dehumanizing not only to that embryo but to all of human society.

I maintain that that is the right position.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

September 25th, 2003 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Reed Elley Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise on behalf of some constituents of mine in Nanaimo—Cowichan who are still very concerned about Bill C-250 in that it suppresses the freedoms of religion and free speech in our society. The petitioners are hopeful that the Senate will appreciate their point of view.

I therefore present this petition on their behalf.

Democratic RightsStatements By Members

September 24th, 2003 / 2:05 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to extend a sincere thanks to all those people across Canada who have contacted their members of Parliament over the past several months in respect of the important issues of marriage, religious freedom and freedom of speech.

There has been an unprecedented volume of correspondence stating concerns with same sex marriage and with Bill C-250, and with the process by which the Liberal government has abdicated its responsibility and broken its promises to Canadians.

I congratulate the thousands of Canadians who have not given up on the concept of democracy and the institution of Parliament despite the betrayal by the Liberal cabinet of their trust.

This debate is not over; in fact it has just begun.

The Canadian Alliance will continue to hold the Liberal government accountable to the people who elected it and for the promises it made to Canadian voters.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

September 19th, 2003 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present to the House this afternoon.

The first petition is from the constituents of Chetwynd, Rose Prairie, North Pine, Charlie Lake and Fort St. John. The petitioners call to the attention of the House of Commons that in their opinion the addition of sexual orientation as an explicitly protected category under sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code of Canada could lead to individuals being unable to exercise their religious freedom as protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The petitioners also note that the Criminal Code of Canada can be effective in preventing true threats against individuals or groups without changes to sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code.

Even with the passage of Bill C-250, the petitioners call upon Parliament, and I assume they call upon the Senate of Canada, to protect the rights of Canadians to be free to share their religious beliefs without fear of prosecution.

Canadian AllianceStatements By Members

September 18th, 2003 / 2:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to do something that I have never done before in the House, and that is to congratulate the Canadian Alliance on a remarkable new power that we discovered that it had yesterday. At four o'clock yesterday afternoon, the Canadian Alliance website announced that my private member's bill, Bill C-250, had passed and their amendments had been defeated. This was two hours before the vote actually took place.

Now we know that the Leader of the Opposition has remarkable powers. He has discovered a secret conspiracy between the Prime Minister, the judiciary and Martians to ram through same sex marriage. Now we know that the Canadian Alliance can also predict the results of future votes in this House.

I look forward to the next federal election two weeks beforehand, Canadian Alliance website “Stunning upset; Prime Minister Jack Layton; Canadian Alliance wiped out in the election due to its narrow intolerant agenda”.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

September 18th, 2003 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Murray Calder Liberal Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have several petitions I would like to present. The first one is from the constituents of Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey opposing Bill C-250.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

September 17th, 2003 / 6:05 p.m.
See context

The Speaker

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions on the report stage of Bill C-250.

The question is on Motion No. 2.

After the taking of the vote:

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

September 17th, 2003 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Dale Johnston Canadian Alliance Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, the fourth petition calls upon Parliament not to pass Bill C-250 into law.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

September 17th, 2003 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, it is my pleasure to present a petition from a number of my constituents requesting that Parliament take all measures to halt the passage of Bill C-250.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

September 17th, 2003 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Garry Breitkreuz Canadian Alliance Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, the second petition I have is on amending section 318 of the Criminal Code in regard to freedom of religion and freedom of expression. The petitioners point out that it is Parliament's duty to protect the full extent of freedom of expression, thought and conscience. Therefore, they ask that Parliament take all measures necessary to protect the rights of Canadians to freely share their religious and moral beliefs without fear of prosecution, and they point out that the vote that we are having tonight on Bill C-250 is a very significant vote in that respect.

JusticeOral Question Period

September 17th, 2003 / 2:45 p.m.
See context

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the question. It is a very important topic in Bill C-250.

I would like to tell the House that indeed we support the bill as amended. Of course when it is looked at, it is consistent with the government's position and policy. That bill will include sexual orientation in the hate propaganda provisions of the Criminal Code while protecting at the same time religious beliefs, that is to say, opinions and texts as well.

JusticeOral Question Period

September 17th, 2003 / 2:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice.

Violent hate crimes targeting gays and lesbians are all too common in Canada. Today the House will vote on the inclusion of sexual orientation and hate propaganda laws along with existing grounds of race, colour, religion and ethnic origin.

Will the minister confirm his support for Bill C-250 and confirm as well that particularly with the Liberal amendment passed in the House earlier this year, the bill fully protects religious freedoms and religious texts such as the Bible, the Koran or the Torah?

SupplyGovernment Orders

September 16th, 2003 / 5 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central to participate in the debate on the Canadian Alliance motion reaffirming the traditional definition of marriage. I will try to be very brief so that my colleague from Nanaimo—Cowichan can share the time with me.

In June 1999, I rose in this very chamber to debate the same motion, quite aware of the future court challenges to the definition of marriage. On that day, parliamentarians sent a powerful message to the judiciary, making it clear where we stood on this issue. An overwhelming majority of members, 216 to 55, on both sides of the House rose to support our motion reaffirming the definition of marriage. By the way, only 11 Liberal members opposed the motion that day.

As it turns out, however, the courts did not care what legislators had to say on the issue. When the Ontario Court of Appeal challenged Parliament by arbitrarily redefining marriage, the Liberals' true agenda came out. The government refused to appeal the Ontario ruling, deliberately undermining Parliament's clear position. After campaigning on their promise, one by one the member for LaSalle—Émard and others are abandoning the public vote they cast in 1999 in favour of marriage and in favour of Parliament's democratic authority on this issue.

The justice minister has referred an amended definition of marriage to the Supreme Court of Canada as a result of three provincial court decisions striking down the definition of marriage as unconstitutional. Once these judges, most appointed by the Prime Minister, have ruled on the issue, the Liberals will demand that a democratically elected Parliament simply rubber stamp the bill.

It is bad enough in this era of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that the judiciary has not only assumed the power to strike down laws but also to read into laws things that are simply not there. It is a wrong precedent and absolutely a slap in the face of democracy.

The government's actions will draw the Supreme Court even further into politics and take away even more power from Parliament. The anointed Liberal leader and next prime minister will have a larger democratic deficit on his hands.

I have attended about 20 wedding ceremonies during the break where people have asked me to keep the traditional definition of marriage. Canadians, irrespective of religion or ethnic background, are disappointed by the Liberal government for their flip flopping in the last four years and for being proactive in changing the definition of marriage, which is the core of family values.

During the summer break, I held very successful town hall meetings on family values in Cloverdale, Fleetwood, and Newton in Surrey Central. My constituents have had a free and fair opportunity to express their views. My office has received a tremendous amount of correspondence on this issue and on religious freedom and family values.

The issue of marriage is at the core of family values. My constituents have told me that family values are important because they value our families. Families are the building blocks and foundation of society. The stronger the families the stronger the communities, and the stronger the communities the stronger our nation will be.

The family is a fact of life. It is not an option but a need of our society. The family is the reason that society exists. The family provides the loving, caring and supportive relationships. Because of families, we are able to nurture, develop and protect our children.

Therefore, federal laws should uphold our family and social values. The Liberals have offered a bundle of anti-family values since 1993. The Liberals have refused to protect the institution of family by not standing up to the challenges to marriage, spouses, family status and structure. Issues like divorce, shared parenting, custody and access and adoption are issues where they have shown weakness, and they refuse to protect children from sexual predators and child pornography, prostitution and abuse.

We know about the sex books for the kindergarten students in Surrey and the films and Internet to which children are being exposed.

The Liberals have refused to raise the age of consent from 14 to at least 16 for an adult to have sex with a child.

The Liberals have refused to crack down on sexual abusers and to put in place an effective sex offender registry. They have also failed to make tougher laws against violent crime and to put in place minimum sentences or other deterrents and prevention. We know the criminal justice system works for criminals, not for the victims.

The Liberals have failed to respect life in assisted human reproductive technology.

We all know about religious freedom in this place. We know about Bill C-250, which is the other side of the coin that is causing serious disturbance in society for religious freedom.

The Liberals have failed to offer equal opportunities to all citizens. They have failed to uphold social safety nets and benefit programs for families: security, CPP, retirement savings and medicare. They have failed to produce a family friendly income tax system that would not discriminate against stay at home parents. Two families in the same circumstances with the same total family income should not have different tax structures or tax bills.

I believe that Canadian law should be pro-family. Families are constituted by marriage, blood relation or by adoption. Marriage is a social institution. Marriage is not an option. It is a precondition for social survival. Threats to marriage and family poses counterfeit moral standards. Redefining marriage will no longer be a carrier of the message that children need mothers and fathers.

Where would the line be drawn on what would constitute a marriage. How about polygamy, age, blood relations? There would be no end to the litigation if this were opened.

Marriage is not only under attack by the courts but also by the ruling Liberal government. The federal government is making a grave error in judgment by not appealing the lower court decision to the Supreme Court of Canada and correcting the lower courts for overstepping their jurisdictions and then leave the decision to Parliament.

It is the role of Parliament, not the courts, to debate balancing conflicting rights in developing public policy and the laws of the land. Judges have the responsibility of finding the law as it exists, as it is made in this place.

Parliament has already given homosexual couples the same social and tax benefits as heterosexual couples in common law relationships. The definition of marriage and spouse were untouched but the definition of common law relationship was expanded to include same sex couples.

Some people say that this is an issue of equality. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman. How can it be equal to a union of two men or two women? I see something wrong with this equation. Moreover, some people say that it is an issue of human rights. I believe that it is an issue of moral values. I believe that the unique character and institution of marriage should be strongly respected and legally recognized.

I will therefore be voting to retain the traditional definition of marriage because it is what I believe in, what my constituents have told me, it is our party policy and I believe it is the right thing to do.

We will continue to defend democracy and the traditional definition of marriage, and the overall package of family values which the Liberals have polluted and not offered in a real sense to the Canadian people.

SupplyGovernment Orders

September 16th, 2003 / 4:20 p.m.
See context

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, in the same vein as my Liberal colleague, I would like to remind my hon. colleague from the Canadian Alliance that his leader, after oral question period—not concerning Bill C-250, but rather the bill he will introduce this week—made it very clear that if a church in Canada, any church at all, marries two people of the same sex, that is illegal. Is that what religious freedom looks like in Canada?

After oral question period, the leader of the Canadian Alliance said that if churches marry same sex couples, it is illegal. But for religious freedom to be protected, it goes both ways.

What does the hon. member think of his leader's remarks?

SupplyGovernment Orders

September 16th, 2003 / 4:20 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would say three things to that. One is that it is interesting that the member who just spoke supported this same motion in 1999. He felt it was a good idea at the time and has changed his mind now. I do not know what has changed. If it is a principled decision he is making, I do not know what principle has changed over the last four years. I would suggest none. In fact it is exactly the same motion. Nothing has been changed.

Second, the promise in the proposed legislation, which we are not dealing with today and which has been referred to the Supreme Court, there is a line about protecting religious institutions that choose not to marry same sex couples.

On Wednesday we will be dealing with Bill C-250 which would add sexual orientation to the list of protected groups under the hate crimes legislation. If that goes through I guarantee that someone will bring forward an argument that not agreeing to marry someone of the same sex constitutes an infringement on their rights and an identifiable hate crime under this section of the law if that legislation passes on Wednesday, which is a good possibility.

I would say that it is faint reassurance to say to people that it is in legislation so they can be confident. Many people are not even confident given the charter protections, let alone legislative protection, because they see it as a win for the government, not something that we can count on in the long term. That is a problem that will not satisfy, not just the religious groups but it will not satisfy people who just want to believe in one thing and not the other. However not even being allowed to say it is a serious concern, not only for religious groups but for society at large.

SupplyGovernment Orders

September 16th, 2003 / 1:05 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, it does not surprise me that member, who puts the jackboot of fascism on the necks of our people with Bill C-250, would say things like that. I expect it of him, but I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for bringing the member in line. It will not do any good because his ideology is fascism and not free speech.

In respect of the specific issue that has been raised by this individual and the comments of the Prime Minister, I believe somewhere in the range of January 29, 1981, the Prime Minister who was then minister of justice stated that he did not want sexual orientation in the Charter of Rights. He was remarkably clear for that individual that it had no place in the Charter of Rights. Perhaps at another time he said something else and it does not surprise me if he did because he likes to be on many sides of every issue.

In 1985 after the Constitution was drafted, the committee members went around and came up with a resolution saying that they should include sexual orientation. I am taking the member's word for that. I will have to check that out but I will take his word for it.

The proper response then is to bring an amendment to the Charter. It is not to say, “We five committee members we would like it changed, so maybe the judges will do the work for us”. If one wants to change the Constitution there is a process and it does not simply involve passing a resolution of a committee. It involves passing a resolution of this House, the other place and the proper representation from the provinces.

SupplyGovernment Orders

September 16th, 2003 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, since the lower court ruling in Ontario in Halpern v the Attorney General struck down the definition of marriage as unconstitutional 14 months ago, this is the first opportunity that elected members of Parliament have had to discuss this issue on the floor of the House of Commons. Naturally, I am pleased to have the opportunity to address the issue of same sex marriage in Parliament, in the public, democratic forum that Canadians look to for both leadership and representation on social policy issues.

Unfortunately however, so far the expectations of Canadians have been frustrated on both fronts. Recent decisions regarding the status of the definition of marriage in Canada have taken place almost entirely outside of the context of public debate or consideration of the public's elected representatives, something which is astounding considering the magnitude of the societal change these decisions are likely to effect.

Most, if not all of us, agree that this debate today is long overdue and should be looked upon as a starting point for parliamentary debate on this important social policy matter. I would like to begin with a quotation and it states:

Let me state again for the record that the government has no intention of changing the definition of marriage or of legislating same sex marriages...I fundamentally do not believe that it is necessary to change the definition of marriage in order to accommodate the equality issues around same sex partners which now face us as Canadians.

These are the words of the former justice minister, the current Minister of Health and MP for Edmonton West, from Hansard on June 8, 1999. On February 15, 2000, during the parliamentary debate on Bill C-23, the Modernization of Benefits and Obligations Act, she said:

This definition of marriage, which has been consistently applied in Canada and which was reaffirmed last year through a resolution of the House, dates back to 1866. It has served us well and will not change. We recognize that marriage is a fundamental value and important to Canadians.

She added, and I think importantly for this debate:

Important matters of social policy should not be left to the courts to decide. If parliament does not address the issue, the courts will continue to hand down decisions in a piecemeal fashion, interpreting narrow points of law on the specific questions before them. This guarantees confusion and continuing costly litigation. Most worrisome, it risks removing us from the social policy process altogether.

What she was talking about when she referred to us was the democratic institution of Parliament.

Just four years later, and the minister's words notwithstanding, the jurisdiction of Parliament to legislate on matters of social policy has been effectively derailed by the courts.

The 1999 promise to protect marriage was made by the former justice minister, the Prime Minister, the former finance minister who will soon become the next Prime Minister, the current Minister of Justice, and by a total of 31 current cabinet ministers. They have broken their word to Canadians and they have consistently failed to clearly explain why they have done so.

Canadians expect better than this from their government. It is clear that the Liberals have failed Canadians and they have failed democracy. Despite the former and the current justice minister's promise to take all necessary steps to preserve the definition of marriage, they have failed to do so. Indeed, they have failed to take even the most basic step of appealing the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court.

They have sat idly by while lower courts have improperly appropriated the jurisdiction to redefine marriage and the courts have fundamentally changed the definition of marriage.

Some have suggested that the charter is there to protect the minority against the tyranny of the majority. That is not correct. I find it amazing, coming from a party that calls itself the New Democratic Party, this absolute abdication of its responsibility as the democratic voice on social policy matters by simply turning them over to unelected judicial figures appointed by the Prime Minister.

The charter is not there to protect the minority against the tyranny of the majority. It protects everyone who relies on its provisions, regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with the application of that principle.

We look at what are the principles in the charter. The institution of marriage is a matter that was specifically reserved for Parliament in 1982 and does not fall within the scope of the charter. As such, the time honoured rules of parliamentary democracy, including a majority vote, are applicable to this social policy issue. It is not for the courts to alter these rules. It is for the court to obey the law by properly applying the principles that Parliament enshrined in the charter.

If the charter is to be amended, the courts must, in our democracy, defer to the judgment of Parliament in respect of the nature of those amendments. There is a democratic deficit in the House and it comes from the frontbenches of our Liberal government.

They have failed to appeal the British Columbia and Ontario court decisions to the Supreme Court of Canada, despite the justice minister's clear responsibility as the chief law officer of Canada to uphold the jurisdiction of Parliament. As the Attorney General, the Minister of Justice does not have a responsibility to the government. He has a responsibility to the rule of law and he has substituted the rule of law for crass party politics. He has confused his political role as a Minister of Justice with the legal office he holds as the Attorney General and he has done the bidding of the Liberal Party rather than his duty as the Attorney General.

Despite spending $250,000 and having heard from over 400 witnesses in person in a dozen cities with an additional 400 written briefs submitted, this minister simply decided to shut down the justice committee because he was not getting the response he needed to sell the same sex marriage debate to Canadians.

It is not enough that he shut down the justice committee. It is not enough that he refused to appeal the Ontario Court of Appeal decision. He went further to actively undermine those who would seek leave to the Supreme Court of Canada, who hoped to be able to argue their case in front of the Supreme Court to clarify that this was an issue that remained within the jurisdiction of Parliament and that the Supreme Court clearly tell the lower courts that they had overstepped their jurisdiction and had wrongfully appropriated the jurisdiction of this democratic institution.

The justice minister's reference to the Supreme Court does not address the constitutionality of the traditional definition of marriage. All it does is ask the court whether same sex marriage is constitutional. This softball lob to the Supreme Court is worded in such a way that the court has little choice but to agree.

What do the nine Supreme Court justices feel like, being used as a political tool by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice? They should stand up and say they will hear the appeal, they will do the right thing, and they will respect the jurisdiction of Parliament to make decisions on matters of social policy.

Then the Prime Minister attempts to pass this charade off with a so-called free vote. When the same sex legislation eventually comes before Parliament, sooner or later, even if it is soundly defeated in the House, same sex marriage will continue to be the law in Canada since it is now the law by default, by judicial fiat.

The Prime Minister told his caucus as much in a closed door meeting. Unfortunately, he has not shown the courage to tell the general public the same.

Even those countries that have legalized the marriage of same sex couples do not treat those relationships in exactly the same manner as the traditional marriage relationship. For example, in Belgium, same sex married couples are not permitted to adopt children. Furthermore, the decision to legalize same sex marriage in both the cases of Belgium and the Netherlands is not based on a judicial interpretation of human rights as is the case in Canada. It was done as a matter of social policy.

It is interesting to note that the final vote on Bill C-250 is scheduled to take place tomorrow. Make no mistake about it, Bill C-250 is one side of the same sex marriage debate. It is the side that brings the weight of the criminal law to bear on those who for one reason or another disagree with the institution of same sex marriage. The one agenda is to push same sex marriage, the other is to stop any criticism of it by the imposition of criminal penalties. Bill C-250 will further erode the ability of Canadians to speak out in a free and open manner.

The suppression of legitimate expression is a threat to our democracy, to our basic freedoms, and the values that are in fact enshrined in the charter of rights. There is no comfort in the promise of the justice minister that religious freedoms will be protected. He has broken his word in the past and there is no reason to take him on his word now.

I want to focus for a few moments on the assertion that some of the courts are simply adhering to the charter by imposing same sex marriage on Canadian society. The proponents of this view have conveniently forgotten that in 1981 the House of Commons subcommittee debated for two days whether to include sexual orientation in section 15 and it voted to leave it out. It voted to leave it within the jurisdiction of Parliament to determine. Of course the courts wrongfully appropriated that jurisdiction by improperly amending our Constitution.

The last clear statement we have from the Supreme Court of Canada on this issue is from Mr. Justice La Forest. It should be stated that those who would discount that judgment failed to point out that of the four judges who agreed with the La Forest judgment, none of the others disagreed. They were silent.

The last clear statement we have from four judges of the Supreme Court who constituted the majority decision in Egan was a defence of the definition of a marriage and the rejection that Parliament, providing special support and recognition to the traditional definition of marriage, does not constitute discrimination against other types of relationships, including common-law heterosexual relationships or homosexual relationships.

To avoid living up to the responsibilities, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice said in respect of the 1999 resolution that they did not somehow realize that this might involve a commitment to the use of the notwithstanding clause. As the leader of the Canadian Alliance stated earlier, that is an argument that is without merit. However I want to make it easier for anyone who has any concerns about voting for the traditional definition of marriage as one man and one woman because of the reference to all necessary steps in the 1999 motion and the motion here before us.

Accordingly, I make the following motion, seconded by the member for Crowfoot. I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “others”.

I will bring this forward Mr. Speaker, and I am sure the Clerk will pick that up.

Today I say to this Minister of Justice, the cabinet and colleagues, now is the time to end the deafening silence and tell Canadians where we stand. Do we believe in the traditional definition of marriage or not?

With my proposed amendment, the motion is clear. Where do we stand on the definition of marriage? It is time to end the kind of nonsense that the Liberals have tried to raise in order to take a clear stand on this issue. Will members reaffirm the definition of marriage as being one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others or do members vote against that definition?

The members' votes on the amended motion will tell Canada where they stand.

SupplyGovernment Orders

September 16th, 2003 / 10:35 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian Alliance Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure to what the hon. member refers. I was of course in his riding in the summer and he and I had a brief conversation. I was in the riding to deal with the issue of BSE., which is very important to his riding. At that meeting was one of his own colleagues, the member for Huron—Bruce. It was that member who got up that night and was very critical of the government's position on the marriage issue. I did not raise it that evening so I am not sure to what he is referring. He may be referring to some party literature or whatever. I do not know.

All I can say to him is this. He says that he might want to print some bad words about me and have them printed by newspapers in my area. I can assure him that newspapers in my area have only been all too willing to print any bad word about me. I can assure him we are treated fairly equally by newspapers across the country in that regard.

In terms of the member's contention that the government's position would protect the churches, I simply say to the hon. member that assertion is not credible. This is the government that said it would protect the traditional definition of marriage. Its argument now for overturning the traditional definition of marriage strikes at the right of any person or institution to believe in that definition and it is simply is not credible, especially in conjunction with Bill C-250, to say that would be maintained.

I notice the government has asked the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on the question of whether churches would be allowed to perform traditional marriage ceremonies or refuse to perform other ceremonies. However it has not asked the Supreme Court of Canada what penalties the churches, or synagogues or mosques would face if they refused. My contention is that those consequences would certainly cause them to have to adopt view of the Liberals view on same sex marriage.

SupplyGovernment Orders

September 16th, 2003 / 10:15 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Stephen Harper Canadian Alliance Calgary Southwest, AB

Our society has come, over the decades in my lifetime, to respect and recognize in law the choices of consenting adults. It is time that traditional institutions like marriage be equally recognized and respected.

This position is also very dangerous because, no matter what the Liberals say today, the kind of mentality that would have traditional marriage declared illegal and unconstitutional would inevitably endanger actual rights that are enshrined in our constitution, not merely read in, such as freedom of religion.

The Liberals and the justice minister say today that they will not touch the ability of churches, temples, mosques and synagogues to determine their own definition of marriage but these are the same people who said in the last election that they would never consider touching the definition of marriage itself.

I ask you, Mr. Speaker, and members of the Liberal Party who agree with us in principle to think very carefully about this. If the Liberals and some of their front bench people now say that the traditional definition of marriage is illegal, immoral, discriminatory and racist, what will stop them? Why would they ever tolerate those who, through their religious institutions, believe otherwise?

We see before the House Bill C-250, which is, in our view, just another step down this course of criminalizing opinions on this subject that are simply not accepted by the Liberal left.

Finally, there is the notion that what is going on here is highly undemocratic. I do not think I have to explain this but let me go over the facts. In 1999 a virtually identical motion was passed through the House and supported by the Liberal Party: supported by the Prime Minister, the incoming prime minister and, in fact, I have to add, drafted in part through arrangements in the House by the then justice minister, now health minister.

How it is a trap now and was not some kind of a trap then I do not know. Actually, I do know. We were facing an election campaign where the Liberal Party would have to face its own conservative supporters who would simply not accept this categorization of their views. Therefore they adopted a position then and now they want to do something different, now that they are out of sight.

However nothing relevant to this motion has changed in the past four years. Public opinion on the motion is just as divided. If anything, it is actually slightly more in favour of traditional marriage than it was then but it is just as divided. Lower courts are ruling just as they were then, that we should go in a different direction. The bias of those courts was becoming apparent. This was all known. It was mentioned in the motion. It was precisely why the House of Commons passed that motion.

The motion said that the government would protect marriage and would use all necessary means. It did not say that it would use the notwithstanding clause as the first line of attack, that this was a chance to obliterate the charter. It never said any such thing. The Prime Minister is trying to claim that now. He did not try to claim that in 1999 when the same motion was being passed.

The motion does not say “the notwithstanding clause”. It says “what is necessary”. The government did not do what is necessary. The government did nothing to protect traditional marriage.

In fact the government did everything it could do within reason to overturn that definition of marriage. It did not, to begin with, ever introduce or pass through the House into statutory law the traditional definition of marriage. Parliament has never done that. What has been overturned in the courts has been simply a series of common law rulings.

The government then went to court and had an unblemished string of losses ending when Justice McMurtry and the Ontario Court of Appeal decided to unilaterally and instantaneously change the definition.

What the government then did was use that opportunity, not to appeal the case, not merely to refuse to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada where it feared it might lose, but is now in the courts of this country trying to block anyone else from appealing this decision in the Supreme Court of Canada.

Its position now is that it does not want a vote on this issue until after the next election. It does not want Parliament to look at this in the life of this Parliament. It wants the Supreme Court of Canada to approve its legislation but only to approve the questions that it asks. It does not ask the Supreme Court of Canada whether the traditional definition of marriage would be legal and constitutional in this country.

When it actually gives at some future date the Parliament of Canada the right to vote on its legislation, that vote will mean nothing because that vote will give members of Parliament two consequences: pass what the courts have already done or do not pass it and leave it the way it is. There will be absolutely no choice whatsoever.

In laying out these facts I have been accused of compiling some kind of conspiracy theory against the government. This is not conspiracy; this is dishonesty. It would be hard to be more open and transparently dishonest than this government has been on this question.

To concede this kind of ground to the courts without so much as a debate or vote Parliament, what I wonder is where is the incoming prime minister? Where is Mr. Democratic Deficit, Mr. Fix the Democratic Deficit? All of a sudden his position is whatever the courts say that is fine with him. So much for elected people. But why should we be surprised that he seems to have no particular problem with scandals over there? He had no problem writing cheques for any number of boondoggles or anything else. In any case it would be difficult for the government to be more dishonest than it is being.

The motion has been previously passed by this House. In fact it was the House's last word on it. People on all sides, particularly in the Liberal Party, had to campaign hard on this issue. In some more conservative ridings they were elected on it, and absolutely nothing has changed.

What is before us today? It is a chance for the House, for the Liberals in particular, to come clean and do what we have done. We are a conservative party. We support traditional marriage. We voted for it and we believed in it. We ran on it and we meant it. I call on the Liberal Party to do the same thing.

If this motion is to pass today, we obviously need the votes of Liberals to do that. It will tell the government to take a different course of action. If it does not pass today, it will tell the people of Canada they need a different government.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

September 16th, 2003 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by a large number of Canadians, including from my own riding of Mississauga South.

The petitioners are concerned about Bill C-250 which proposes a change under section 318 and section 319 of the Criminal Code which could lead to individuals being unable to exercise their religious freedom as protected under the Charter of Rights of Freedoms, and to express their moral and religious doctrines without fear of criminal prosecutions.

The petitioners therefore call upon Parliament to protect the rights of Canadians and not make the Bible a piece of hate literature so that Canadians can be free to share their religious beliefs without fear of prosecution.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

September 16th, 2003 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Janko Peric Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I have the privilege to present to the House a petition signed by concerned constituents in my riding of Cambridge.

The petitioners call on Parliament to protect the rights of Canadians to express their religious beliefs without fear of prosecution. The petitioners are very concerned that expressing moral disapproval of a sexual practice by citing the Bible or other sacred religious books could be linked to a hate crime charge under Bill C-250.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

September 16th, 2003 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Ovid Jackson Liberal Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present today three petitions on behalf of my constituents of Bruce--Grey--Owen Sound.

The first petition is an objection to Bill C-250.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 12th, 2003 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Reed Elley Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House today to present a petition on behalf of Canadians who are concerned about Bill C-250 and are asking that Parliament take a good look at the legislation and halt the passage of Bill C-250 to ensure that religious freedom remains unfettered in Canada.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 11th, 2003 / 7:15 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Kevin Sorenson Canadian Alliance Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand in the House to debate and to oppose Bill C-250.

I was told a long time ago that if one refuses to stand for some things, one may fall for everything. There comes a time when people need to take a stand, not only to represent their constituents but to take a stand for what they believe is the right side to stand on. That is what we are doing here tonight.

The law that has been proposed in Bill C-250 promotes the interests of some people over the interests of others. It poses a significant danger to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. This bill, as brought forward by the member for Burnaby--Douglas, is a “trust me” bill. Everyone we have heard speak in favour of Bill C-250 has said, “Just trust me”. They have told Canadians to trust them that there is a need for the bill and to trust them that there is a huge bitterness and hatred toward a certain segment of our society, basically the homosexual segment. They have said, “Trust us that we need something extra in the Criminal Code. Trust us that if someone is brutalized or assaulted we need this because there is no power in the Criminal Code at the present time”.

That “trust me” is not going to hold up here today.

Members of the Canadian Alliance do not support anyone making statements promoting hatred toward any identifiable people, to any group. The proposed amendments to the law raise a number of very serious concerns about which thousands of individuals have written and called. Tens of thousands of petitions have been brought forward in the House.

I see that my time is up. The Canadian Alliance is proud to stand and say we will oppose this bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 11th, 2003 / 7:10 p.m.
See context

Northumberland Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-250 which we are debating today proposes to extend the application of the hate propaganda provisions to groups distinguished by sexual orientation.

The purpose of the hate propaganda provisions is to prohibit the public communication of hatred against an identifiable group. An identifiable group is currently defined in the Criminal Code as any group distinguished by colour, race, religion or ethnic origin.

The bill came back to the House by means of new procedures adopted to ensure that private members' bills are given appropriate attention by the committees they are referred to.

In the case of Bill C-250, the bill was examined by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The committee held meetings and heard from different witnesses. However due to unfortunate circumstances, the committee was not able to complete its study and conduct a clause-by-clause study of the bill. As a result, Bill C-250 was deemed to have been reported without amendments.

During the committee hearings, witnesses and members alike expressed concerns that excerpts from the Bible on homosexuality would be found to be hate propaganda if the hate propaganda provisions were extended to a group distinguished by sexual orientation.

The committee also heard testimony from Department of Justice officials who advised members that it was unlikely that anything in the Bible could meet the threshold established by the jurisprudence for deciding that a statement constitutes hate propaganda. Their comments were based on the interpretation of the elements of the offence by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Keegstra decision.

The Supreme Court of Canada also stated that the statement had to be made for the conscious purpose of promoting hatred. The Supreme Court said that promoting had to involve active support or instigation to hatred. The Supreme Court said that hatred connotes emotion of an intense and extreme nature that is clearly associated with vilification and detestation. I am not aware of any part of the Bible that would meet this threshold.

More important, justice officials brought to the attention of the committee the existence of a specific defence against the charge of hate propaganda. This defence exists currently in subsection 319(3)(b) of the Criminal Code and it applies to an opinion expressed in good faith on a religious subject.

The defence provision says clearly that no person shall be convicted of an offence of promoting hatred if, in good faith, he or she expressed or attempted to establish by argument an opinion on a religious subject.

By way of example, I am certain that the Bible is a religious subject. Therefore, the existence of this defence comforts me in the belief that quoting from the Bible would fall under this defence.

I am convinced that the Bible would not be found to be hate propaganda if Bill C-250 became law.

Throughout the committee hearings it became apparent that Canadians want it to be crystal clear that it will be possible to continue quoting and teaching the Bible or other religious texts without being concerned about being accused of propagating hatred.

Motion No. 1 as drafted provides this kind of reassurance. This amendment would clarify the application of the defence to an expression of opinion based on a religious text when the opinion is expressed by a person who believes in the text. I support the intent of this amendment and hope it will help to further reassure all those who have expressed concerns.

Motion No. 2 would extend to an offence under subsection 319(1) the requirement that any attorney general consent to the prosecution of this offence. The offence under subsection 319(1) is different from the other hate propaganda offences for which the attorney general's consent is currently required.

Specifically, the offence in subsection 319(1) is that of incitation to hatred which could result in a breach of the peace. Although at first glance this would seem positive, requiring the attorney general's consent for this offence could result in delaying police intervention in circumstances where physical violence against victims is imminent.

In addition, this provision could impact on provincial and territorial attorneys general, and they have neither been consulted nor given an opportunity to consider the implications of this amendment. In order to maintain positive relations, it is essential that they be consulted and be allowed to comment on a proposal such as this. With this in mind, I cannot support Motion No. 2.

The third motion amends the definition of hate propaganda in subsection 320(8) to exclude any religious text for the purposes of seizure and forfeiture of hate material. I submit that this motion is unnecessary and could result in excluding unintended material. Section 320 allows seizure and forfeiture of texts only where “the communication of which by any person would constitute an offence under section 319”.

This means that the only texts that can be seized are texts which meet the high threshold established by the Supreme Court of Canada for hate propaganda offences and to which none of the defences, including the religious belief defence, apply. Under existing legislation, a text that expresses a bona fide religious opinion would therefore not be seized. Motion No. 3 might open the door to abuses in the interpretation of religious texts. It proposes to protect all religious texts from seizure, without a definition and without a bona fide test as exists in section 319. As a result, it would protect any writing that is claimed to be a religious text. It would not allow a distinction between bona fide religious texts and bogus religious texts. They would all be equally protected.

An amendment with such serious implications requires further examination to assess its impact, not only on hate speech based on sexual orientation but also on hate speech based on the existing criteria, that is, race, colour, religion or ethnic origin. This amendment should also be discussed with the provinces and territories because of the potential for negative impact. For these reasons, I cannot support Motion No. 3.

In conclusion, with the amendment from the member for Scarborough--Rouge River so that the necessary balance is struck between adding protections for this identifiable group and on the other hand ensuring that those who quote or teach in good faith the Bible or other religious texts are not accused of inciting hatred, I accordingly ask members to consider doing the right thing for all Canadians.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 11th, 2003 / 7 p.m.
See context

Progressive Conservative

André Bachand Progressive Conservative Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak on this bill.

In this regard, the Progressive Conservative Party has decided to lead by example. There is often talk of a free vote but, over the past two years, our party has held the most free votes.

Basically, I hope that most of the members of my party will support Bill C-250. I believe that this bill is a step, and I have never pretended otherwise. Personally, I am very open to same sex marriage and even allowing same sex couples to adopt.

So, I think that Bill C-250 is an essential step in accepting same sex marriage. But I hope that this debate will be quickly followed by a vote in the House.

This bill—and I do not want to repeat what my hon. colleagues have already said—updates the Criminal Code. Thirty years ago, no one ever talked about gays, lesbians, transgendered people and so forth. Today, they do, as we are doing now. So, there is an evolution in acknowledging people who are part of this country. Gays and lesbians are an integral part of this country and of our reality. So, this is an important subject. This group has a place and is making its own way. However, this group is the victim of hate propaganda and violence too.

Some people will say, “This means no more gay and lesbian jokes”. Gays and lesbians in Canada and Quebec have the same sense of humour as straight Quebeckers do. This does not change anything. We are talking about hate propaganda. In my opinion, this is an acknowledgment, and a signal that the Government of Canada has to give as soon as possible.

I hope that everyone will agree with me: whether we fear for religious freedom or not, whether we support the bill or not, it is essential to ensure that all the political parties in the House agree, before the summer recess, to hold a vote on this bill. Whether the members support or oppose this bill, they must vote and quickly.

Of course there is the whole issue of religious freedom. Everyone has received an incredible amount of e-mails. I would, however, remind hon. members that the principle of the separation of church and state has been around for a very long time. Parliament is neither a church nor a synagogue. It is the forum for democracy in a country. I know that some of us hold to our convictions, but Parliament is not a Catholic or Protestant church, nor is it a synagogue. Everyone is welcome here. It is up to parliamentarians to decide on this matter, in accordance with their principles, of course. There is no question of blocking or delaying, a decision must be reached.

An amendment has been moved, and I personally believe it was unnecessary. But if more detail can be added in order to protect religious freedom, so be it. I would, however, remind hon. members that defining religion is a problem in and of itself. We must be careful. When reference is made to the Koran or the Bible, there is agreement. There was reference just now made to the Gideons. We in Quebec have the Raelians. Determining whether or not something is a religion could lead to very lengthy discussions.

That said, I agree that there should be more protection for freedom of religious expression. Exactly what would adding sexual orientation to the list take away from anyone?

Does this mean that the priest who has been camping out in front of Parliament since 1997, ever since I first came here as an MP, will be taken off to court? Absolutely not. He is speaking out against homosexuality. That is fine. “So what?” as they say. He is against abortion, and has a right to be. He has been camped out there since 1997 and is entitled to do so. This is just one example. And none of that will change.

He will not be charged under Bill C-250. Often, people need concrete examples, and I think this is a good one.

Another thing I want people to understand is that everyone has an opinion when it comes to same sex marriage, but that is not the issue here. That is not what the member for Burnaby—Douglas is asking for. What he is asking is that this important group in Canada, which has a different sexual orientation from others, no longer be subject to hate or hate propaganda. That is all he is asking. I hope that there will soon be a debate on the other issues, but that will come later.

How can anyone argue against Bill C-250 based on the principle of freedom of religion, when freedom of sexual orientation also needs to be protected? We cannot limit one freedom to uphold another. Too many wars have been waged because of that. It may seem silly to say, but this propaganda exists, it is out there, and we must protect these people against it.

If we want to maintain freedom in Canada, we must protect this freedom and the ability to enjoy it. Religion should not be called into it. Absolutely not.

Once again, I understand people's hesitancy, but with the amendment before us, we should be able to vote on it easily. We should be able to explain to our constituents, to those who send us e-mails and letters, that we want to ensure that people who are different by their sexual orientation are not subject to hate propaganda. It has nothing to do, at this point, with one's position on marriage or adoption. That can be explained.

We need to take the time. My colleagues and I did that this morning. The leader of my party, who is still our justice critic, explained it; he supports Bill C-250. He explained this to people, and yet they are aware of his opposition to same sex marriage. However, this bill is not about that.

We need to explain to people that their freedom of religion will always exist and will not be threatened. It is set out in the Criminal Code.

We know that there are problems. We heard from the Vancouver police. We see that regularly. It is time for action.

Our colleague from the New Democratic Party has been fighting for this for years. I know that it bothers some people when the member for Burnaby—Douglas rises in the House and rattles our cage with regard to these issues. It is somewhat disturbing for certain people. They say, “Oh, it is him, we must be careful. There must be something fishy here”. Absolutely not. He has this unique personality as a parliamentarian and his qualities have been recognized for years.

What he brings us today is strikingly realistic. It is very simple. If it gives people the opportunity to discuss the issue of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons, all the better. As heterosexuals or religious people, we cannot hide in the closet. Absolutely not. We have a role to play as parliamentarians.

In closing, with all due respect, I was telling my colleagues two things. We must vote. We know that Friday, Monday or Tuesday at the latest, we will be going back to our ridings to be with our families and friends. Let us vote quickly. I am convinced that, during the summer, we will have the opportunity to discuss this issue with our constituents. We will be able to tell them that Parliament has provided protection by adding sexual orientation to the definition of identifiable group in the Criminal Code of Canada.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 11th, 2003 / 6:50 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by saying very clearly and plainly that the Bloc Quebecois supports this bill and will support it wholeheartedly.

When deciding whether or not to introduce a bill, there are two questions that need to be asked. The first one is whether there is a need for a bill. The second is whether the bill in question meets the need that has been identified by the first question.

Let us start with the need. I remind hon. members that Quebec is recognized around the world as a place of tolerance, a place that accepts and defends rights and freedoms. Quebec was the first jurisdiction in Canada to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, back in 1977. Quebeckers are very proud of this.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that Quebec and Canadian society is more tolerant when it comes to homosexuality, there are still groups and individuals that perpetuate ideas that promote hate toward homosexuals.

This type of hate must be punished in a society that calls itself free and democratic. If we do not tolerate hate propaganda based on colour, race, religion or ethnic origin, then it makes perfect sense that we should do the same when it comes to sexual orientation.

Currently, there are five groups that are targeted by hate propaganda. Of these five groups, four are protected. The one group that is not protected is made up of gays and lesbians.

It is interesting, and particularly relevant, to note that according to Inspector Dave Jones of the Vancouver Police, in Vancouver, 62% of hate crimes target homosexuals. This percentage, 62%, is high when we consider that gays make up only one of the five groups identified as targets of hate crime. According to Dave Jones, it is unacceptable that sexual orientation is not considered an identified factor targeted by hate propaganda.

There are all kinds of examples of hate propaganda. The Internet site, www.godhatesfags.com has been mentioned several times. On this site, there is a picture posted of the young man who was beaten to death and who is allegedly burning in hell because he was gay.

On that subject, I would like to reiterate what Pat Callaghan, from the Ottawa-Carleton police hate crimes unit, said about the visit to Ottawa by some followers of the godhatesfags site creator, the so-called Reverend Fred Phelps. He said:

If this was done against a Catholic, a Jew or a Black person, charges could be laid. If we had that legislation, we wouldn't have to put up with this nonsense. We could have told him, “If you show up and start spreading this hate, we'll arrest you”.

So my first criterion has been met; there is a need to protect a group that is being subjected to hate propaganda.

For the second criterion, when we analyze this type of bill, we have to ask ourselves whether it meets the need identified in the first criterion.

Freedom of religion is what is at issue here. It is the primary objection to this bill. It was the objection raised by my colleague from the Canadian Alliance who spoke before me.

First, I think it is important to say that not all religious groups or religious individuals oppose this bill. I will not repeat what my Liberal colleague said before me about the letter from Timothy Coonen from St. Mary's Catholic Church in the Yukon, or the letter from Thomas Adams, the pastor at the Baptist church in Richiboucto, or even the editorial—to use another religious denomination—from the Jewish Bulletin of January 3, 2003 pointing out that the Bible is not hate literature. I would only ask people to read what was said.

However, I do not entirely agree with my Canadian Alliance colleague who spoke before me. He said that he would no longer be able to speak freely from the Bible to condemn homosexual activity—for lack of a better word.

I was baptized Catholic. I was raised in that faith and I even went to private Catholic school. At school, in our religion courses, we were taught—I am making an analogy; and I know that analogies are often less than perfect, but bear with me—that the Jews made a mistake in not accepting Jesus as their saviour. The theological position of the Catholic Church—and I think it is the same in all the Christian churches—is that Jesus is the Messiah. Thus, accepting Jesus as our saviour leads us to eternal life. The Jews, who did not accept him, committed a theological error.

That is what I was taught and perhaps they still teach it. It is possible to say, with respect, that one believes the Jews made a mistake in not accepting Jesus as their saviour. But to go from that to saying that because the Jews made a supposedly theological error, they can be subjected to hate propaganda is a major leap that our society has refused to make for a long time, for instance when provisions against hate propaganda were included in the Criminal Code.

On Sunday, I attended the opening of the Holocaust Museum. It is easy to see how far hate propaganda can lead. One can see the depths of baseness and darkness that human beings can descend to when hate is involved. I am very much aware of the hate that has been directed against the Jews.

In the same way, someone who believes in a particular interpretation of the Bible, a holy book, may well say, “We condemn what homosexuals do”. Someone might very well say that. But to go from this interpretation in good faith of a religious text to an incitement to hatred based on hate propaganda is, once again, a step that must not be taken.

I was using the example of the Jews who are protected by the Criminal Code because they are an identifiable ethnic group. Quite simply, the same reasoning applies in the case of homosexual, lesbian or transgendered persons. It is simply a matter of not crossing the line between interpretation of a religious text, with which one may agree or disagree, and incitement to hatred.

We know full well that freedom of religion is well protected in Canada. There is section 2 of the Canadian Charter, section 3 of the Quebec Charter and the supremacy of God, as stated in the preamble to the Constitution. No right is an absolute right in our legal system, but the only possible limitations are those necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

Because these are factors that may affect a freedom very well recognized in our legal system, these limitations must be clear and narrowly interpreted to ensure that the freedom in question is subject to as little limitation as possible.

In a nutshell, freedom of religion is given prominent status in our law; nevertheless, it is not absolute. It is subject to limitations which must be clearly justified in law and come with safeguards.

I will conclude by reminding the House of three things. First, so far, there have been very few prosecutions under the hate propaganda provisions of the Criminal Code because the test is very difficult to meet. The disclosure that results in an infraction must be specifically designed to promote hatred against an identifiable group. The message heavily laden with contempt must spread hatred according to factors very clearly defined by Justice Dickson in the Keegstra decision.

I will let a non-partisan analyst, namely the Parliamentary Research Branch, conclude for me:

The drafting of the Code's hate propaganda provisions with respect to specific intent, the definition of hate propaganda by the courts, the special defences and the fact that the attorney general of the province needs to approve prosecution all contribute to ensuring that this kind of prosecution will be possible only for the most blatant cases and that the act is consistent with the Charter.

I read further:

These requirements meet the limitation criteria set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in cases relating to freedom of conscience and religion.

Adding sexual orientation to the list of identifiable groups does not have a negative impact on the principle of freedom of conscience and religion. It does not increase the limitation that may be placed on this freedom by lawmakers and courts or decision makers. Its impact is neutral.

In conclusion, we wholeheartedly support Bill C-250.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 11th, 2003 / 6:40 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Canadian Alliance Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of thousands of people across the land who have written and stated their opposition to this bill perhaps more than any other bill that has passed through this place in the last few years.

Let me state first that the Canadian Alliance is against the promotion of hatred against any individual or group in society. The member opposite was right when she said that the Bible does not promote hatred toward any individual, and that is very true. It is sad, indeed, when people claim to be against these kinds of rights, such as Reverend Phelps who was mentioned earlier. I am sorry we have those kinds of people who take it over the top.

The Canadian Alliance does not support that kind of action because we believe every human being has the right to be respected.

However, although we respect them and even though the Bible teaches us to love them, it does not teach us to love things that are against the principles of God's word. Therefore we are not instructed to love the wrong that we might see but we are instructed to love the person. I have great respect for some of the people in this House. They conduct themselves as gentlemen and as ladies in many situations but I do not have to agree with their lifestyle.

The Canadian Alliance believes that all individuals should be protected by law against hate crimes. In fact, we believe all groups are already adequately protected under the Criminal Code. For instance, let us think of all the people who would speak evil of politicians. There are many people in this land who basically stir up hatred against politicians and yet we would not want to be added to that group.

However we do believe in the freedom of religious expression and conscience according to section 2(a) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

We believe in free speech. I personally am concerned about this. For the past 30 years I have stood in the pulpits across this land and in other places and have preached from the Bible text. I am concerned because it is my duty as a minister of the gospel, when I am fulfilling that position, to speak truly according to the Bible, which is the book that I view as the word that teaches us rightly how to live. I am concerned that some day I would not be allowed to read and speak freely from that book.

We are concerned that Bill C-250 would not ensure adequate protection for the freedom of religious expression; for teaching, preaching or speaking in these terms; standing up for what we believe is morally right or wrong; and that in some way those freedoms would be taken away from us in the future.

Although the sponsor of the bill, the member for Burnaby—Douglas, tries to convince Canadians that his bill would not threaten or impede religious expression, we all know that if the bill passes it will just be a matter of time before some pastor, some priest or some rabbi will be hauled before a human rights tribunal and prosecuted for promoting hatred based on his religious beliefs.

We do not believe the assurances of the member for Burnaby—Douglas and I will explain why.

Some time ago the former justice minister gave her assurances that the definition of marriage would not be changed. In this House, on February 15, 2000, the former justice minister said:

This definition of marriage, which has been consistently applied in Canada and which was reaffirmed last year through a resolution of the House, dates back to 1866. It has served us well and will not change. We recognize that marriage is a fundamental value and important to Canadians. That value and importance is in no way undermined by recognizing in law other forms of committed relationships.

Then a few days later, February 29, the minister also said this, “The common law of this country is equally authoritative with legislation.The courts have said over and over again that there is no need to make it any clearer because I think they cannot make it any clearer. They have said that marriage is the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others”.

Now we are facing an attack on this traditional definition of marriage. Why do we not just lean on the assurances of the former justice minister that it will not change? However we cannot do that. No person can give anyone the absolute guarantee that things will not change. Not even the justice minister can do that. Nor can the member for Burnaby—Douglas give us those kinds of assurances that religious freedoms will be protected, nor that holy books of the different religions will be protected if Bill C-250 is adopted.

I have seen too many changes in my lifetime to things that seemed to be motherhood and apple pie, but they changed. We cannot buy that line of a personal guarantee or guaranteed protection. There is no assurance of protection of any kind. The fact is we are already losing many of our individual rights and religious freedoms. Let me just share a few examples.

First, let me mention a group in Canada called the Gideons The Gideons, because of their religious conviction, like to hand out the new testament scriptures to grade six students in the schools across our nation. They no longer can do that on school property. They must do it outside of school property. They have lost that right to exercise their religion in that way.

Just last Christmas season, the Christmas tree in Toronto was not allowed to be called a Christmas tree. It was called the “Giving Tree”. Anyone knows that at Christmastime it is a Christmas tree and that right of expression has been removed. “Merry Christmas” was removed the year before, in 2001. A friend of mine put on 80-some commercials on the radio station in Ottawa, Ontario, and that is somewhere near here. After they were recorded, he was called back to the studio and had to redo them. They could not use the words “Merry Christmas” on the radio station in this town.

In 1997 in London, Ontario, Mayor Haskett was found to be in violation because she refused to declare a gay pride day because of her religious beliefs.

In 2002 an Ontario superior court judge ruled against the Catholic school board of Oshawa, preventing it from carrying out its religious beliefs at one of its own school activities.

A printer in Ontario was fined $5,000 and ordered to do work for a gay group, even though this was against his religious convictions.

In Saskatchewan, a man named Mr. Owens printed some old testament verses in an advertisement that he paid for in the newspaper. These biblical quotes were ruled to be hate literature.

It is already happening. We are losing the right to express ourselves according to our religion and according to the books that we believe are given to us by God and that will direct us in life.

We can talk about the hierarchy of rights. Why is the first section, section 2(c) granting religious rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, subservient to down the line section 15, which mentions these hate crimes?

We can talk about free speech and guaranteeing it all we want but I do not believe there is any guarantee, even with the amendments. The three amendments are not written strongly enough to assure us of guarantee.

The loss of religious freedom is already taking place. People are losing their right to practise their religion and to speak freely, It is about words. It is not about hate. It is not about crime. It is about words. This bill is suppressing free speech. words that enable one to freely express religious opinion or conviction on their issues of morality.

The religious rights of people in our country are being trampled on at the insistence of a very small group of people associated with some very vocal special interest groups. Thousands of people have written to members of the House. Thousands of people have signed petitions. Not one member in the House can ignore the fact that the overwhelming majority of Canadians oppose the bill. I will join them in the opposition of the bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 11th, 2003 / 6:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Hedy Fry Liberal Vancouver Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to give support to the amendment moved by the member for Scarborough—Rouge River which would add to paragraph 319(3)(b) of the Criminal Code the words:

...or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text;

I believe it addresses concerns raised by religious communities that presented to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights regarding Bill C-250. They were concerned that Bill C-250 would cause negative consequences for those who base their beliefs or opinions on religious texts.

However let there be no doubt whatsoever about my wholehearted support for Bill C-250, the private member's bill put forward by the MP for Burnaby—Douglas.

The bill would provide for the inclusion of “sexual orientation” within the already existing definition of an identifiable group found in subsection 318(4) of the Criminal Code. Subsection 318(4) reads as follows:

...“identifiable group” means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion or ethnic origin.

All that Bill C-250 would do is add “sexual orientation” to that list.

I support the bill for many reasons. First, because of the hundreds of letters I have received from Canadians and organizations across Canada urging me to support the bill. Public health officers have written identifying gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities, especially youth, as priority groups that are specifically vulnerable, especially to suicide and depression.

A 2001 Ottawa wellness project found that 36% of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth had seriously contemplated suicide compared with 26% of other high risk teens. A 1995 University of Calgary study found that over 30% of gay male adolescents had attempted suicide. This is three times higher than the average for adolescents who are not gay.

Health status is as much dependent on social justice and mental well-being as it is on clean water and smog free air. I have had letters from jurists from across Canada. I will quote one such group, the Canadian Bar Association which represents 38,000 jurists. It feels that the bill, and I quote:

--would provide...complementary components of an effective legislated response to violence based on sexual orientation and to the fomentation of hatred which breeds that violence.

The bill is about equal protection under the law for all vulnerable groups and, as a member of a vulnerable group, I understand that need.

At present, the specifically homophobic nature of violence and harassment experienced by this community is unaddressed in Canadian law. I say specifically because many of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms advocates cite the Canadian Human Rights Act as being sufficient protection. However there is a provision in the Criminal Code that refers to hate crimes and hate propaganda in which specifically it lists historically vulnerable groups but it does not name sexual orientation as one such group, yet.

As the Vancouver police department, which also advocates support for the bill, states:

In fact, the situation faced by members of the LGBT community causes great concern to police.

According to a two year study conducted on hate and bias type crimes over the period of 2001 and 2002 in Vancouver, it showed that “sexual orientation represents 38% of reported incidents, which range from homicide through assault, harassment, robbery, threats, theft and arson”.

The Vancouver police cites that “in Vancouver sexual orientation forms the basis for 62% of the assaults and robberies against the groups protected under s 718.1”.

The Vancouver police go on to say:

The simple truth is that a person identified on the basis of their sexual orientation is more likely to be the victim of an assault than any other group and is more likely to sustain an injury.

The risk to persons on the basis of sexual orientation extends to others and is entrenched through a pervasive stigma that could be corrected by government action to support Bill C-250.

Those are not my words. They are quoted verbatim from a brief presented by the Vancouver police department to the justice committee.

Resolution 02-15 of the Canadian Association of Police Boards specifically urged the passage of the bill.

However I have also heard from family service organizations in Canada, such as the Family Service Association of Toronto, which states:

From our daily work with a wide range of individuals and families, we know first-hand that [this group] are routinely the target of hatred by uninformed people. ...there is currently no legal protection against incitements to hatred and harm.

In case I am accused of only listening to the advice and arguments made by special interest groups, I want to say that I have also heard from St. Mary's Catholic Church in Yukon. Father Timothy Coonen states:

--I believe that there is nothing in the Bible that permits the promotion of hatred against other human beings, including gays and lesbians. They deserve the full protection of the law.

I urge you in the strongest terms to support this bill.

From the United Church, I quote Minister Warren McDougall who states:

Violence and other expressions of hatred directed toward people because of their sexual orientation is absolutely unacceptable.

Yet, as a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, it would be unfair of me not to mention that we also heard from many religious bodies that were concerned that the addition of sexual orientation to identifiable groups in section 318(4) would have severe and negative consequences on their beliefs and opinions of homosexuality as it is derives from religious text.

I believe that section 319(3)(b) of the code addresses that concern adequately. However the amendment by the member for Scarborough--Rouge River does specify belief based on a religious text, which some have argued is not fully covered in the clause as it currently exists.

I am sensitive to these concerns and I therefore support the member's motion but I want to return to the principle of Bill C-250. I fully support it based, not only on the reasons given earlier but also because as a physician for 23 years I have seen firsthand and counselled many gay, lesbian and transgender patients, mostly youth who have suffered as a result of the discrimination, the name calling, the shunning, and especially the many of whom were depressed and often contemplated suicide. As I mentioned earlier, statistics show this to be true.

Finally, Canada is a signatory to the United Nations convention on human rights. Like all signatory states, Canada has an obligation under international law to exercise due diligence in preventing homophobic acts, investigating them and ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Due diligence describes a threshold of efforts which a state must undertake to fulfill its responsibility to protect individuals from abuses of their rights. Canada has consistently shown due diligence in protecting most minority rights. The time has come for this extremely susceptible group to become part of that group and to be under the umbrella of Canada's protection.

I wish to end by quoting Gary Reid who is a survivor of a nail bomb explosion at a gay pub in London in 1997. He says:

The fear, loathing, hatred and ignorance culminating in these bombings is a warning to society and the world as a whole that racism, prejudice, homophobia and a fear of difference is out there and we should all challenge it at every opportunity.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 11th, 2003 / 6:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am proud today to speak to Bill C-250.

I would like to recognize and compliment my NDP colleague, the member for Burnaby—Douglas, for his courageous and tireless life's work in seeking equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people in this country.

I am proud to stand with him today and support Bill C-250 as a significant step in what I see as perhaps one of the last great civil rights struggles of our time. I wish to thank him for giving us all the opportunity to end this parliamentary sitting on a positive note by voting for an issue that I can be proud to support. I believe all of us should be proud to support the bill.

Bill C-250 seeks to amend the Criminal Code to include sexual orientation under the categories of hate propaganda. I think it is useful to examine what we mean by hate propaganda. One legal definition states:

Hate propaganda, as an exercise of expression, seeks to incite and encourage hatred and tension between different social and cultural groups in society.

It is a disreputable passion. Its purpose is to inflame, intimidate, and marginalize the individuals and the community at which it is directed. Hate speech serves to vilify and to undermine the dignity and self-worth of members of the target group, and erodes Canada's constitutional commitment to equality and multiculturalism.

Having said that, it is all the more important and admirable that we deal with this issue today in Parliament, hopefully before we adjourn for the summer. Every day in Canada, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people are at risk of being verbally harassed, physically assaulted, and discriminated against because of their perceived sexual or gender orientation.

Sometimes this violence is extreme and culminates in murder. In November 2001 Aaron Webster was brutally murdered in Vancouver's Stanley Park and police believe the perpetrators beat Webster to death simply because he was gay. On December 4, 2002, the badly beaten body of Christopher Raynsford was discovered in his Ottawa apartment. It appears Raynsford was also murdered because he was a gay man.

Verbal abuse, whether it is taunts, epithets or threats often precede episodes of violence. In fact, verbal abuse is the best predictor of the physical violence that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people are subjected to based on their sexual orientation. This fact points to the urgency of Bill C-250 which would make illegal the promotion of hatred against these Canadians. In doing so, I predict this will save innocent lives.

Under current federal legislation it is illegal to incite hatred on the basis of race, religion, colour or ethnic origin, but not, incredibly, sexual orientation, even though the empirical evidence shows that over 62% of incidents of violence against identifiable groups in society are those incidents against the gay community.

In the absence of prohibitions under law, incitements to hatred against LGBT Canadians are able to flourish with few, if any, real consequences to the perpetrators. In fact, the absence of Canadian law that prohibits the promotion of LGBT hate propaganda lends license to the perpetrators of such abuse, both within and outside our borders.

I point to the tactics and the website of American Fred Phelps, the so-called reverend of the Westboro Baptist Church. Phelps and his followers routinely picket the funerals of LGBT people with signs that read “God hates fags” or “AIDS cures fags” or “No fags in heaven”. These are some of their popular slogans.

Phelps' website features a memorial to Matthew Shepard, the Wyoming youth who was savagely tortured and murdered in 1998 because he was gay. The website features a photograph of Shepard burning in the fires of hell and stating the number of days he has been supposedly in hell since his murder. This is incredible.

Canadian police have been unable to do anything to prevent Phelps or people like him from entering Canada and inciting hatred against LGBT Canadians because of the absence of this reference in the Criminal Code. In 1999 Phelps visited Ottawa and prompted this response from Sergeant Pat Callaghan of the Ottawa-Carleton Police Hate Crimes Unit. He stated:

If this was done against a Catholic, a Jew or a black person, charges could be laid. If we had that legislation, we wouldn't have to put up with his nonsense on Monday. We could have told him, “If you show up and start spreading this hate, we'll arrest you”.

A Criminal Code amendment would allow police the ability to charge and arrest people like Phelps, who incite hatred against LGBT people. One bystander at the Phelps demonstration in Ottawa said that in Canada we can be whatever we want and we do not like it when people come into our quiet community and spread their hatred.

The critics of Bill C-250 claim that religious teaching and expression would be severely curtailed by the Criminal Code if it were amended in this way. This argument is patently false. The fact is that religious freedom and expression are protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and, furthermore, the Supreme Court of Canada has established strict criteria for the prosecution of suspected hate crimes. For example, before a prosecution of offences can proceed, the Supreme Court requires the consent of the attorney general in the province in which the alleged hate crime has occurred. The Supreme Court criteria also ensure that prosecution of suspected hate crimes occurs only when the situation is serious enough to warrant such an intervention.

Further to that, even though we do not believe it was legally necessary, there is an amendment to Bill C-250 which would specifically, once and for all, state clearly that quoting from any scripture is not to be considered a hate crime for the purposes of this act. That should give comfort to those who have raised the concerns that their freedom of speech regarding religious matters may be somehow infringed upon by this bill. It is simply not true.

Protecting LGBT Canadians from hate propaganda has gained widespread support. In 2001 Canada's provincial and territorial attorneys general urged the federal government to implement legislation to include sexual orientation as a prohibited ground under federal hate propaganda legislation. Alberta Attorney General Dave Hancock stated:

I support the hate crime legislation which prohibits people from spewinghate against anybody for any reason. There are appropriate ways to discuss issues in our country...and you don't need to put forward hateful literature. It doesn't matter what you believe about sexual orientation.

The current hate propaganda laws in Canada that ban the incitement of hatred should include sexual orientation because of the overwhelming evidence that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people are the object of what we already considered a hate crime and these crimes should be prosecuted under hate crimes legislation.

I believe it is a proud day for the House of Commons to add to the issue of equity and equal treatment for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people. It is an honour for me to support Bill C-250 and I am proud to stand with my colleague from Burnaby—Douglas in his pursuit of equality for gay people in this country.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 11th, 2003 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, the final petition is signed by 30 petitioners. The petitioners call upon Parliament to protect the right of Canadians to be free to share their religious beliefs without fear of prosecution. This has to do specifically with Bill C-250.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 11th, 2003 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Canadian Alliance Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by 26 individuals from my riding.

The petitioners are asking Parliament to use all possible legislative and administrative measures to preserve and protect the Criminal Code by opposing the proposed amendments on the basis of freedom of speech and freedom of religion concerning hate propaganda contained in Bill C-250.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 11th, 2003 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John Maloney Liberal Erie—Lincoln, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of my constituents of Erie--Lincoln.

The petition deals with former Bill C-15, now Bill C-250. The petitioners feel that passage of this legislation will lead to violations of freedom of speech and religious freedom in our nation. They call upon the House to strongly oppose the passage of Bill C-250 and not to allow it in any form to be passed into federal law.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 11th, 2003 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, it may come as a bit of surprise that even though I support the positions that have been enunciated with respect to Bill C-250, I am actually going to present a petition on something else.

Pursuant to Standing Order 36 the petition is certified correct as to form and content. To illustrate the cooperative manner of members in the House, this petition relates to an initiative undertaken by a member of the opposition with respect to herbal care products.

The petitioners draw to the attention of the House that Canadians deserve freedom of choice in health care products, that herbs, dietary supplements and other traditional natural health products should be properly classified as food and not arbitrarily as drugs and that the weight of modern scientific evidence confirms the mitigation and prevention of many diseases and disorders through the judicious use of natural health products.

The petitioners are calling upon Parliament to support Bill C-420, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 11th, 2003 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Dick Harris Canadian Alliance Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present three petitions to the House today signed by hundreds of people from my riding of Prince George--Bulkley Valley.

The first petition is signed by petitioners who are very concerned about Bill C-250. The petitioners call upon Parliament to protect the rights of Canadians to be free to share their religious beliefs, whatever their religion, without fear of prosecution.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 6th, 2003 / 2:45 p.m.
See context

Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey Ontario

Liberal

Murray Calder LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, in my 10 years as a member of Parliament, I have never seen an issue that has led to so many letters, e-mails and phone calls from across Canada. I have heard from hundreds of constituents and close to 10,000 Canadians from across the country, almost all opposed. Letters supporting this bill can be counted on one hand.

Public opinion should not be our only guide in making Canadian laws. As parliamentarians, we must skilfully balance the demands of our constituents and our own careful assessment of the issues. However when a bill provokes this much concern in a constituency and across Canada, I would be failing to represent the people if I did not reflect that here in the House. Therefore I will be voting against this bill.

My opposition is not just a response to public opinion. It is based upon a deep respect for the basic freedoms we value as a nation, those contained in section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: freedom of conscience and religion; and freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.

Such freedoms are not, of course, absolute. The charter makes them subject “to such reasonable limits prescribed by the law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”.

Is Bill C-250 so necessary that it can justify an infringement on our most cherished democratic freedoms? That is the crux of this debate.

This bill would add “sexual orientation“ to the list of “identifiable groups” against which it is illegal to advocate genocide or to incite hatred.

If Bill C-250 only banned advocating genocide against homosexuals, I would have no hesitation in supporting it. Genocide is probably the worst and most serious crime against humanity, and no group should ever be subjected to genocide. To prohibit the advocacy of genocide against any group is a reasonable limit in a free society.

Likewise, I would support a bill that banned advocating violence against homosexuals or any other group.

My problem with this bill relate to the definitions of “sexual orientation“ as well as “inciting hatred”.

Is sexual orientation limited to homosexuals or does it include those who practise other forms of sexual deviance, such as pedophilia? Are those not also sexual orientations? Am I a criminal if I express hate for those adults who prey upon children?

Granted, section 319 requires the incitement of hatred to be “likely to lead to a breach of the peace”. The problem, of course, is how do we prove cause and effect. Is the mere expression of an opinion, even an extreme one, sufficient to cause a violent act?

Recently the member for Saint John expressed opinions in the House that were critical of the homosexual lifestyle. Many disagreed strongly with her opinions, while others agreed equally strongly. The right to agree or disagree is fundamental in a free society. We debate these issues and, over time, society reaches some kind of consensus or compromise and we move forward.

As my time is running out I want to say that free speech is not unlimited. Clearly there are good reasons for laws against death threats, fraud, libel and pornography, but this is different from banning honestly held opinions. Violence against homosexuals or anyone is already a crime, as it should be. Counselling someone to commit violence is also a crime, as it should be.

I would like to say again that because of what Bill C-250 would do, the infringements that I see with it right now, it is definitely a flawed piece of legislation and I cannot support it.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 6th, 2003 / 2:40 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of the amendments introduced by the member for Provencher to Bill C-250.

Over the course of the past several months, my office has been flooded with mail from Canadians who are concerned that Bill C-250 will have negative consequences on their right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

While the Canadian Alliance rejects hatred directed at any group in Canada, it has consistently expressed concern about Bill C-250 on the basis that it raises serious concerns for fundamental freedoms.

While the bill has good intentions, good intentions often have unintended consequences, and when those intentions form part of our laws, the impact can significantly interfere with the ability of people to communicate or to adhere to essential matters of personal belief, religious or otherwise.

There are many court cases that the hon. member for Provencher brought forward. He talked about the Keegstra case in the Supreme Court and the Harding case in the Ontario Court of Appeal. The judges ruled that these defences would not significantly narrow the application of section 319(2).

The Harding case ruling significantly lowered the mens rea requirements by changing the standard from wilful promotion of hatred to wilful blindness. If a person failed to think about the possibility that his or her statements could promote hatred and a court decided that the works or writings did in fact promote hatred, that person would face conviction under this section.

It is for these reasons that the amendment presented by the member for Scarborough--Rouge River would only slightly amend the religious freedom defence as it applied to subsection (2) and it would not alleviate our concerns in any significant way.

Rather than relying on the current defences, which have been significantly narrowed by judicial interpretation, religious freedom would be better protected by a clearer exemption for religious text and religious instruction. One of the rejected amendments from the member for Provencher had that exact intention. It reads:

Nothing in section 318, 319 or 320 prohibits or restricts:

(a) dissemination of religious scriptures or texts;

(b) religious instruction based on, or public or private expression concerning, religious scriptures or texts;

(c) providing professional advice, or expressing a professional opinion regarding sexual orientation, including advice or opinions on medical, psychological or other treatment; or

(d) anyone from expressing their opinion on teaching materials concerning sexual orientation.

It is unfortunate that this amendment was not deemed in order by the Speaker of the House, since many members, including myself, will not be able to support the bill without those protections and exemptions.

While the Canadian Alliance opposes advocating hatred directed against any group of people, an unamended Bill C-250 is clearly not an appropriate legislative response to prevent the expression of hatred. The constitutional rights and freedoms of one group of Canadians should not be bartered away through an ill-conceived proposal to advance the interests of another group. Without additional amendments to safeguard these freedoms, I cannot support the bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 6th, 2003 / 2:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Tom Wappel Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, I realize that there are very passionate views about this issue. I intend to speak to this issue to the extent that I can on the basis of the law and of what I consider to be the legalities of the issue.

This amendment is a very short one. It is very direct, very to the point. I just want people who are watching to understand what it is. It seeks to add to subsection 318(4) of the Criminal Code the words “sexual orientation”. That is it. What it seeks to do is add in subsection (4) those words so that it would read:

In this section, “identifiable group” means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.

That section deals solely with genocide, absolutely nothing else. It deals with attempting to incite killing the members of a group and inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in its entirety.

The difficulty from a legal point of view is that definition, which deals solely with genocide, is then brought into section 319 of the Criminal Code by the definition section, which is subsection (7), which says that “identifiable group” has the same meaning as in section 318. That is why we heard some hon. members talking about how this amendment, albeit it is only to section 318, also impacts on sections 319 and 320.

I only have 10 minutes so I am going to have to make my comments brief.

In my view there has been absolutely no justification whatsoever brought forward either at committee or here that requires this amendment to this particular section.

Tragic cases such as murder because someone was a homosexual, or gay bashing because someone was a homosexual are totally unacceptable in Canadian society. They are against the law. It is called murder. It is called assault. It is called whatever one wants to call it. The Criminal Code already punishes people who commit those crimes, as the Criminal Code should punish those people who commit those crimes. But it goes further.

Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code says “A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles: (a) a sentence should be increased” if there is evidence that the offence was motivated by bias or the person's sexual orientation. I am of course abbreviating the section.

The Criminal Code already provides that people can get an increased sentence if their motivation in beating someone up or killing them was because the person was a homosexual. In addition to the fact that the Criminal Code already provides penalties, it also provides increased penalties.

This particular amendment is not needed for any of the examples that the member for Burnaby—Douglas has given with respect to acts that pertain to criminal acts.

There are a lot of problems with this bill. The law of unintended consequences is what I would like to talk about.

People read things and I want to read an e-mail that I received, which is talking about Bill C-250:

If this legislation had been passed, we might have been able to throw Elsie Wayne in jail for promoting hatred against gays.

It's time to silence the gay bashers once and for all. Too many people hide behind religion and “family values” when all they are really doing is promoting hatred. It's not the gays that should “shut up,” but the hate mongers like Elsie. There must be limits on free speech when it is against gays and other identifiable groups.

It's time to put hate mongers like Elsie Wayne behind bars. Vote for Bill C-250!

Now, that is a fringe element, but it is out there. If we have private prosecutions for this kind of section, that is the kind of person who would lay a charge under the Criminal Code.

That is why the hon. member for Provencher has asked for an amendment so that only the attorney general of the appropriate province can authorize a prosecution. That amendment makes sense.

We cannot have people saying that we have to limit free speech if it is against gays or other identifiable minorities.

I want to close by saying there is no point reinventing the wheel. I want to read some of the comments of Lorne Gunter which appeared in the Edmonton Journal on June 5. He stated:

Technically, his bill amends only Section 318 of the Criminal Code, the clause which forbids anyone to advocate or promote genocide against “an identifiable group.” Pretty basic and non-controversial, it would seem.

But the danger from altering Section 318 comes via what it does to Section 319. By adding “sexual orientation” to the protected categories enumerated in 318, Robinson's bill has the effect of altering the definition of “identifiable groups” in 319. And while 318 deals only with genocide, 319 makes it a federal offence to “communicate statements in any public place” that would “wilfully promote hatred against any identifiable group.”

Covered in Section 319 are all forms of hatred, not just the promotion of genocide. All forms of communication are covered, too, except “private conversation.” Broadcasting, publishing and advertising are all covered; so are postings on the Internet. Indeed, speaking out against homosexuality would be forbidden in all “audible or visible means” of communication. One day, even sermons delivered by priests, rabbis and imams could conceivably be forbidden to refer to homosexuality as sinful. Talking on the telephone could be covered, too, since telecommunications are federally regulated.

It is true that Robinson's C-250 will not instantly ban all opinions and--

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 6th, 2003 / 2:25 p.m.
See context

Progressive Conservative

Joe Clark Progressive Conservative Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate the member for Burnaby—Douglas and other members of the House who worked so steadfastly with him to bring the bill forward and ensure that a principle which is fundamental to our Canadian society is enshrined and reflected in our law. This private member's bill has my strong support.

As on all private member's bills, individual members of my party will vote freely with their conscience. However, it is worth noting how deep is the tradition in my Progressive Conservative Party of protecting human rights. It has of course been expressed by my leader, the member of Parliament for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough. The bill would also bring the Criminal Code of Canada into line with the interpretation by the courts of the Canadian Bill of Rights which was introduced in Parliament more than 40 years ago by the government of the right hon. John Diefenbaker.

Canada's courts have held that discrimination based on sexual orientation is among the discriminations prohibited by Mr. Diefenbaker's Bill of Rights. This legislation would complete the protection against discrimination in the Criminal Code which was such a hallmark, such a life work of the late Mr. Diefenbaker.

As the House knows, sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code contain Canada's most powerful sanctions against hate propaganda. The provisions would prohibit the advocacy or promotion of genocide, the incitement of hatred against any identifiable group, and the wilful promotion of hatred against any identifiable group.

Until this bill becomes law, identifiable group is defined as applying to any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion or ethnic origin. The bill would extend that prohibition to apply to sexual orientation.

Let there be no doubt about the harm that is done now by hate propaganda targeted on the basis of sexual orientation. The member for Burnaby—Douglas and others have cited cases in the House. All of us who live in constituencies anywhere in the country and operate with our eyes open know that this kind of discrimination exists. It is always difficult; it is sometimes fatal. It is a threat to individuals and a blot on our society. The bill would extend protection to fellow citizens who are under attack.

The absence of legislation to protect minorities also sends signals to members of those minorities that they would become second class citizens and not entitled to equal protection from the law.

As the debate has shown, and as the volumes of correspondence coming to many members of Parliament have shown, there is an apparent concern about the impact on freedom of religion in this legislation. I believe, as other members who have taken part in the debate, that concern to be falsely based. I will not burden the House with all of the correspondence I received. However, yesterday I received a letter from the Anglican Bishop of Calgary, Rt. Rev. Barry Hollowell, who wrote:

I have been in receipt of material urging rejection of Bill C-250...which has included such comments as the following:

“...it may result in parts of the Bible being criminalized.” This strikes me as...a smoke screen that is attempting to cloud an issue of justice.

He went on:

It goes without saying that the “freedom to express moral views” is a freedom which must not be undermined in a free society. But, the freedom to live without fear or presence of hate harassment targeting individuals and minorities is also a freedom that must not be compromised. I believe that hate propaganda targeting gay and lesbian people must be stopped. ...these individuals remain the target of many hate-motivated crimes--including the tragic murder of Aaron Webster. It is not fair or just to protect some minorities from hate propaganda, but to deny that same protection to gay and lesbian people.

Bishop Hollowell concluded:

I wish to add my voice to those in support of Bill C-250...It is a matter of justice.

The first amendment that has been proposed today, while not legally necessary, would go some distance to adding to that assurance. We would be supporting that amendment.

As the House knows, the Criminal Code expressly protects the freedom of religion on its own.

I could quote references by bar associations, police chief organizations and others. This comes down to a personal sense as to how we see our society and how we value the freedoms that we so celebrate in our society.

Freedom essentially means the right to be who we are and not to be faced with the kind of propaganda and pressures that unfortunately have blighted the lives of too many of our fellow citizens simply because of their sexual orientation. We have extended that protection to categories of Canadians who are also themselves subject to that kind of hatred, subject to that kind of attack.

It is right and just, and past time, that we now extend the prohibited grounds to include sexual orientation and I am pleased and proud to stand and support the initiative by the member for Burnaby--Douglas on that matter.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 6th, 2003 / 2:15 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-250 on this fine sunny Friday afternoon, and I would like to congratulate the member for Burnaby—Douglas on his admirable persistence.

I do not agree with the comments made by the previous speaker about the member for Burnaby—Douglas. We all know that the latter is an enlightened person who believes in freedom of expression and he has demonstrated this on numerous occasions.

When this bill was studied in committee, I was extremely surprised, as a Quebecker, to see a number of arguments raised by other members of the House that seemed in many respects far-fetched. However, I would like to agree with my colleague, the member for Provencher, on one point.

In order to understand the bill introduced by the member for Burnaby—Douglas, one has to have read the Supreme Court decision in the Keegstra case, which was rendered in 1990. It is interesting, because in reading this decision, it becomes clear just how sensitive the issue of hate propaganda really is, and also how deeply rooted this issue is in Quebec law.

Former minister Guy Favreau, whose name has become famous because of a building named after him near the Place des Arts in Montreal—but people may be surprised to learn that he was also a former Minister of Justice—established a working group that presented a report in 1966. This was the first group to consider the whole issue of hate propaganda. In fact, in the 1960s and 1970s, certain neo-Nazi groups or groups that had questionable views on freedom of expression posed a threat to national security.

When this working group was struck, it contained such well-known people as the Rev. Gérard Dion, professor Shane MacKay of the University of Toronto, the father of the current Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, and also the former Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliott Trudeau. This working group released its report in 1966 in which it recommended that the Criminal Code be amended to make a clear reference to fomenting trouble to disrupt law and order and threaten public order. It also contained a recommendation regarding genocide.

The hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas is putting before us today a bill to amend the Criminal Code by adding sexual orientation to subsection 381(4).

Just to make it clear, our colleague's bill concerns hate propaganda and amends section 318(4) of the Criminal Code to include sexual orientation in the definition of identifiable group.

At present, in the Criminal Code, identifiable group includes people who are distinguished—that is, groups that are currently part of Canadian society—by colour, race, religion or ethnic origin, and the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas is proposing to add sexual orientation.

The first question we must ask ourselves, as lawmakers, is: do we believe that, in Canadian society, there are individuals who might be subject to hate propaganda on the basis of distinguishing characteristics such as sexual orientation, colour, race, as I just mentioned? Anyone who answers yes to this question obviously has no reason not to support the bill introduced by the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas.

I was pretty amazed, however, when in committee, they would have had us believe—I must say this was a campaign led mainly by the Canadian Alliance with some of our Liberal colleagues—that if, as lawmakers, we voted in favour of this amendment to subsection 381(4) of the Criminal Code, thereby recognizing that there are groups in Canadian society who may be subject to hate propaganda because they can be distinguished by their race, colour or sexual orientation—if we agree to add it—this would somehow jeopardize freedom of religious expression.

I hope that there is not, in any of the religious writings one might have faith in, whether one is Catholic, Muslim or any other religious denomination, anything that would make us comfortable with the fact that it might be used for purposes of incitement to hate propaganda. I hope that no member of this House will put freedom of religion on the same footing as using that freedom for purposes of hate propaganda. Hate propaganda, whatever its motives, means or examples, is unacceptable.

What surprised me was the lack of rigour. I was even more surprised because the hon. member for Provencher is a former crown attorney. Thus, he is someone who knows the law, who has pleaded cases and who has given instructions for prosecutions.

Canada has no state religion. In the Canadian Constitution and the charter of 1982, there is no state religion. A person cannot say that because he or she is Christian, Muslim, Catholic or Hindu, it is right for his or her world view—since religion is a world view—or one of the many other religious beliefs to receive more weight in the legislative texts than any other.

Now, freedom of religious expression is a guidepost. A long time ago, the Supreme Court made several rulings to define freedom of religious expression. Obviously, no one can prevent people from quoting the Bible, the Koran or any other religious work. That is not the objective of the bill introduced by the hon. member for Burnaby—Douglas.

I would like to quote from what is undoubtedly the most important Supreme Court ruling on religious freedom. I am speaking of Regina v. Big M Drugmart, a case all first-year law students study. This decision defines freedom of religion. The definition of freedom of religion therein does not withstand the Alliance's arguments. It says:

Freedom must surely be founded in respect for the inherent dignity and the inviolable rights of the human person.

It continues by defining the human person. It talks of freedom—and this is the most important part:

Freedom means that, subject to such limitations as are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others, no one is to be forced to act in a way contrary to his beliefs or his conscience.

That is how the courts defined freedom of religion; in other words, no one is to be forced to act in a way contrary to his beliefs or his conscience.

Please explain the link between recognizing that people who are homosexual can be subject to hate propaganda and that they should be protected as a group under the Criminal Code, and the right to religion, as it was defined by the Supreme Court a decade ago.

That is where the Canadian Alliance gets completely carried away. They would have us believe that if members of this House granted additional protection to homosexuals by making them an identified group, as is the case in the Criminal Code, then people who quote the Bible, the Koran or any other religious text would feel that their rights have been eroded.

I respectfully submit that the member for Provencher's argument is intellectually dishonest. What he is trying to do is deny that there are people who are homosexual.

Canadian Alliance members have voted against conferring rights on homosexuals at every opportunity in this House. It would have been much more honest for the member of Provencher to stand up and call a spade a spade. That is his true intention.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 6th, 2003 / 2:05 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly my honour to speak in respect of this bill and the amendments that have been raised, two of which I have brought forward.

I want to make it clear that the Canadian Alliance rejects hatred directed at any group in Canada. We have heard the kind of vitriolic statements made by the member for Burnaby—Douglas against certain groups in our society. Even if he does not share their religious beliefs, a little more respect toward those religious groups would be in order. Our party does not choose and pick favourites. We reject hatred directed at any group in Canada. In that context we have consistently expressed concern about Bill C-250 on the basis that it raises serious concerns for fundamental freedoms.

While this bill may be motivated by good intentions, and I give the member the benefit of that doubt because I have no reason to doubt his word as an hon. member, good intentions however often have unintended consequences. When those intentions and unintended consequences form a part of our laws, the impact can significantly interfere with the ability of people to communicate or to adhere to essential matters of personal belief, religious or otherwise.

Constituents have brought forward a number of examples throughout the court system, looking at the fear they have of where this legislation is going.

For example, back in 1997 Sylvia MacEachern, the editor of a Roman Catholic journal, was subjected to an investigation by the hate crimes unit of the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Police for stating on an Ottawa radio station that she supported the teaching and the catechism of the Catholic church regarding homosexuality. The charges were not proceeded with because there was no provision for sexual orientation in the hate crimes section of the Criminal Code. Here we have a clear example of a Catholic expressing an essential element of her faith being subjected to a police investigation in our country.

Hugh Owens, a Christian, was taken to court by the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission for placing an advertisement in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix that listed bible verses opposed to homosexual acts. In a ruling on December 11, 2002, the Court of Queen's Bench for Saskatchewan found that the advertisement exposed homosexuals to hatred and indeed classified the bible in that context as hate literature.

In his defence Owens cited the guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of religion in subsection 14(2) of the same human rights code and section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However the judge held that those guaranteed freedoms did not extend to expressions of hatred. Having classified those comments as exposing homosexuals to hatred, he then made the finding against Mr. Owens.

Clearly the bill, as currently worded, does not address the legitimate concerns of many Canadians about their continued right to freedom of expression and religion.

The first amendment that I brought forward would broaden the requirement of the Attorney General's consent to proceed with a hate propaganda prosecution. The member for Burnaby—Douglas has been stating in communications that no prosecutions can be undertaken without the consent of the Attorney General in these sections. He knows that is not correct. Currently, this requirement only applies to section 318 and subsection 319(2).

The amendment would broaden the application to all of section 319. The amendment does not solve all of our concerns with the bill, but it goes at least some way to expand the oversight of the provincial attorney general and to provide additional safeguards against frivolous prosecutions.

Having said that, I am very concerned about giving the attorney general, who ultimately is a political figure, the right to determine who will be and who will not be prosecuted for expressing religious views. That should not be the function of the police or of the attorney general, much less an elected politician. This is a dangerous section and additional safeguards need to be brought forward. Ultimately the amendment alone does not alleviate all of the concerns that my constituents and thousands of others have brought forward.

One of my colleagues indicates he has received 4,000 pieces of communication on this bill alone out of his riding. That is absolutely astounding. I have never heard, out of one constituency, those kinds of numbers. In my own constituency, I believe I am somewhere at around 1,000, but my constituents know where I stand on this bill and I have encouraged them to advise other members of Parliament about the dangers that they see in the bill.

The second amendment would explicitly protect religious texts under section 320, the criminal provisions specifically dealing with the seizure of hate propaganda. If we take for example the classification of the Human Rights Commission and the Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench as certain sections of the Bible promoting hatred, the substantive legal definitions are the same. The onus of proof might be different in a human rights context as opposed to a Criminal Code context but the concepts are exactly the same. There needs to be protection to ensure that religious texts do not fall within the definition of hate propaganda.

It has long been the position of the Canadian Alliance that without such an explicit protection, the bill would be problematic for a number of common publications, since it would criminalize statements and texts that pertain to homosexuality. Such publications as the Catholics have indicated and as the Evangelicals have indicated to me in letters and presentations would include the Bible, the Koran and the Catholic Catechism. If texts such as the Bible or the Koran are used by someone to promote hatred or advocate genocide in that context, then of necessity those texts would be considered hate literature.

When the Department of Justice officials appeared on Bill C-250, they could not give a definitive answer to the question of whether religious publications would be subject to censorship or even prohibition. I simply refer the Speaker and the members of the House to their specific testimony. I do not think it is sufficient for the people of this country to simply have to rely on a hope and a prayer that their words and their scriptures will not be criminalized and will not be seized as hate propaganda. We have an obligation in dealing with the criminal law to ensure that those concerns are addressed.

I also commend to the members of the House the reading of the Keegstra decision. It was a four-three decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in which the court upheld the section under consideration, section 319, as constitutional under section 1, having breached the substantive freedoms and guarantees. It said that one of the reasons the majority upheld it was because it was narrow clearly drafted. We do not know the implications of this amendment and these terms. This House was deprived of the benefit of committee debating and discussing this in committee because of the filibuster of the sponsor.

It is a travesty that a bill would move in that--

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 6th, 2003 / 1:50 p.m.
See context

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, it has indeed been a long journey to get to this point in the debate on this legislation. I want to thank those members of the House who have been supportive along this journey to amend the Criminal Code provisions on hate propaganda to include sexual orientation.

I first tabled this bill in the House almost 15 years ago. I want to acknowledge today the tireless work that has been done by many groups and individuals across the country to arrive at the point where the bill has now been deemed passed out of the justice committee and is before this House for the two final hours of debate.

I want to thank my colleagues from almost all sides of the House who have indicated their support for the legislation. The leader of my party, Jack Layton, and all of the members of my caucus have been tireless advocates of equality for gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, and for this bill in particular. I am pleased that my colleague from Winnipeg Centre is in the House today to show his solidarity and support for the legislation as well.

I would like to thank my honourable colleague and friend, the member for Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, not only for his support of this bill, but also for the work he has done on behalf of equality for gays and lesbians for almost all his life. I would also like to thank his colleague, the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, who worked on this bill as well.

I am very pleased to see in the House today the right hon. member for Calgary Centre who has again spoken out strongly in support of this legislation. I tell him that support means a great deal, not only his support for the bill but the work that he has done over the years, and he knows where of I speak on equality for gay and lesbian people. I thank him for that support. Also if I may I will add his colleague from Pictou--Antigonish--Guysborough, the newly elected leader of the Progressive Conservative Party who has indicated his support for the legislation and I might add was subjected to a particularly vitriolic attack at the recent leadership convention for having shown that support. I also certainly want to thank a number of colleagues on the government side who have indicated their support for the legislation, in particular the member for Vancouver Centre who at the committee was there for every session of the committee. She did not walk away at critical points, but she was there to speak out and to vote in support of this very important bill.

There is support from people across the country, individuals, young people, people like Mark Hanlon who is a 19 year old student attending Memorial University of Newfoundland, a young gay man who single-handedly spearheaded an online petition campaign right across the country, which resulted in over 13,000 people signing a petition in support of this bill. There is support from labour activists and unions across the country, city councils, the council of the city of Vancouver, the city council in Ottawa, faith leaders, religious leaders and many others.

As well I want to underscore the contribution of Inspector Dave Jones of the Vancouver police department. He has worked so tirelessly for this legislation at the Vancouver level but also nationally together with the Canadian Association of Police Boards and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

EGALE particularly in recent days also has been active in supporting the legislation.

Finally I want to pay a particular tribute to one of my staff, a young woman who has done a tremendous job in working on this legislation day in and day out. I want to pay tribute to Corie Langdon from my office who, many members will know, has done a terrific job.

I am going to speak briefly because there are three amendments before the House now that deal with the issue of the impact of the bill on religious texts. I want to say very clearly that the major objective of the bill is to ensure that the current provisions of the Criminal Code which protect four particular groups, those who are distinguished on the basis of race, religion, colour or ethnic origin, that those provisions should be extended to include another group and that is gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

The evidence we heard in committee was compelling and powerful, that in fact it is this group which is subjected to the greatest proportion of attacks motivated by hatred, the greatest number of violent hate crimes in Canada. Yet it is this group which is excluded from the legislation now.

What kind of signal does that send out in Canada? Too many people have been victims of gay bashing and indeed in some cases of murder, whether it be a young law student, Robbie Peterson who was brutally beaten in New Brunswick, whether it be Aaron Webster who was beaten to death with a baseball bat in November 2001 because he was gay, or so many others across the country.

This bill I profoundly believe has the ability, the potential, to actually help to save lives. I think it is very important that we acknowledge that objective of the bill.

The bill would not in any way interfere with religious freedom. The member for Provencher has suggested and stated in one instance that the bill would in his words “classify parts of the Bible as hate literature and portions of the Catholic catechism as hate literature”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the bill has significant support from a number of religious leaders in the country as well. I have a letter from a Catholic priest at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Dawson City, Yukon, Father Timothy Coonen, who wants to strongly support Bill C-250. He said:

I'm stunned to discover that gays and lesbians are not fully protected under the law. And I'm saddened to learn that much, if not most of the opposition to this bill is coming from the Christian community. As a member in good standing of the ordained clergy in Canada, I wish to let you know loud and clear that the conservative right wing of Christianity does not represent the majority of Christians in this country!

This is a Catholic priest and he says as well:

I believe that there is nothing in the Bible that permits the promotion of hatred against other human beings, including gays and lesbians.

I received a similar letter from the pastor of a Baptist church in New Brunswick, Pastor Thomas Adams of the Richibucto Baptist Church in New Brunswick, who said that he fully supports this legislation. He challenges those who have opposed it and have suggested in any way it might target religious texts. Nothing could be further from the truth.

My colleague from Scarborough—Rouge River has proposed an amendment that would explicitly make it clear that religious texts are not being targeted by this amendment. I can certainly say that I have no objection whatsoever to the member's amendment. If it clarifies the intent of the bill, certainly that is a positive thing. I frankly do not think it is legally necessary but certainly it is not something that I would in any way oppose.

In December 2001 the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice said on behalf of the Minister of Justice:

I am very pleased to be able to say tonight that the minister will be putting forward amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada to add sexual orientation to the definition of an identifiable group under the hate crime provisions.

Today, a year and a half later, it is an honour for me to be able to move ahead with this legislation, with the legislation that was promised after the murder of Aaron Webster. This legislation is long overdue.

I would point out as well in closing that to those who suggest that in any way this would target freedom of religious expression, the chief researcher of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Philip Rosen, has prepared an excellent background document. I would commend it to all members. The conclusion to which he comes is that the bill fully respects freedom of religion in Canada.

For that reason I want to again indicate that I am prepared to support the amendment of my friend, my colleague from Scarborough—Rouge River to the extent that it will help to clarify the purpose of this amendment to the Criminal Code. I would hope that members of the House on all sides with that amendment would support this long overdue amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 6th, 2003 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

moved:

That Bill C-250 be amended by adding after line 9 on page 1 the following new clause:

“2. Subsection 319(6) of the the Act is replaced by the following:

(6) No proceeding for an offence under subsection (1) or (2) shall be instituted without the consent of the Attorney General.”

That Bill C-250 be amended by adding after line 9 on page 1 the following new clause:

“3. The definition “hate propaganda” in subsection 320(8) of the Act is replaced by the following:

“hate propaganda” means any writing, sign or visible representation that advocates or promotes genocide or the communication of which by any person would constitute an offence under section 319 and does not include any religious text or part thereof;”

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 6th, 2003 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

moved:

That Bill C-250 be amended by adding after line 9 on page 1 the following new clause:

“2. (1) Paragraph 319(3)(b) of the Act is replaced by the following:

(b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text;”

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 6th, 2003 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

The Deputy Speaker

There are three motions in amendment standing on the Notice Paper for the report stage of Bill C-250. Motions Nos. 1 to 3 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the Table.

I will now propose Motions Nos. 1 through 3 to the House.

Points of OrderGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2003 / 1:45 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

If the Chair chooses to cut me off, Mr. Speaker, I cannot stop that, but I do think that my constituents are entitled to be heard in the House. There was a ruling by the clerk's office, there has not been a Speaker's ruling, and I will speak until you cut me off and I will stay to the point.

Once the amendment to paragraph 319(3)(b) is in order then it follows that the remainder of those amendments that I also brought forward are in order from a procedural and scope point of view. Why can one amendment to paragraph 319(3)(b) be considered proper within the scope when the remaining paragraphs cannot? There is no justifiable reason. I direct the Chair's attention to those particular sections.

Why can that distinction be made in respect of the member for Scarborough—Rouge River so as to include them and to exclude all four amendments that deal with a significant issue? Even if some of the other paragraphs were not in order, my proposed paragraph (b) is in order and the Chair has the power to include that paragraph on its own. There is no appropriate distinction to exclude paragraphs (a), (c), or (d) of my proposed amendment.

As recognized by the Clerk's office in accepting amendments 319 and 320, all of sections 318, 319 and 320 would be affected substantively by Bill C-250. The definition of “identifiable group” impacts on the interpretation of all three sections. My proposed amendments that have been accepted seek to amend 319 and 320, and they have been ruled in order. The proposed--

Points of OrderGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2003 / 1:35 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There is a problem. We are here for private members' business and you are the guardian of our privileges. We have one hour for a private member's bill. Our colleague can be for or against, We all want to discuss amendments, but here we have a strategy to prevent debate and prevent us from hearing the amendments.

I would like to see you exercise some vigilance over our prerogatives. At this point in the day, we are supposed to be discussing private members' business. We want to hear the amendments. We want to discuss their substance, and I believe that process needs to be begun, in accordance with the schedule for our day.

I submit that our rights have been violated in that we cannot get on with what we are supposed to be doing at this point in the day, which is examining Bill C-250 and its amendments.

Points of OrderGovernment Orders

June 6th, 2003 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order with respect to Bill C-250.

Over the course of the past several months my office, and I think every member of Parliament's office, has been flooded with mail from Canadians who are quite concerned about Bill C-250, which will have negative consequences on their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

I brought forward a number of amendments to the bill in order to address those concerns. Unfortunately, because the member who sponsored this bill chose to filibuster in committee rather than consider the substantive issues, we were unable to address those issues at committee.

Unfortunately some of the amendments that I have brought forward, indeed some of the more significant ones, have been ruled out of order by the clerk's office and I simply cannot understand the rationale for the clerk's decision.

Bill C-250 deals with an amendment to section 318(4) of the Criminal Code, the definition of “identifiable group”. It reads:

In this section, “identifiable group” means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion or ethnic origin.

Because of the application of that definition to not only section 318, but sections 319 and 320, all of these three sections are impacted. This is not simply a consideration of section 318.

If we go to section 319, for example, subsection (7) states “'identifiable group' has the same meaning as in section 318”.

The terms and the ideas used throughout those three clause are very closely interrelated. They could have simply put all of them in one clause and had separate categories. This in itself is a code. It is one code, sections 318, 319 and 320, because of the way it has been drafted.

As I understand it, these amendments came out of consideration and concern by the United Nations after the second world war and the genocide that was--

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 6th, 2003 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Scott Reid Canadian Alliance Lanark—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to introduce a very timely petition on the subject of Bill C-250, which is an issue that will be debated this afternoon in the House of Commons.

The petition draws the attention of hon. members to the concern of the petitioners that this bill would represent an assault on freedom of speech and freedom of religion. They worry that their capacity to worship freely and to freely express their religious views would be limited by this bill.

The petitioners, therefore, encourage Parliament to protect freedom of religion by voting down this bill.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 4th, 2003 / 3:50 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John Bryden Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Madam Speaker, the second petition asks the government to not do anything to change sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code which would introduce homosexual as part of the definition of hate crime. I believe that arises from Bill C-250 that is before the House. The petitioners are very concerned about that legislation.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 29th, 2003 / 10:35 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I am very pleased to present a number of petitioners from northern Saskatchewan and into Manitoba. The point of the petition is simply that under Bill C-250, the petitioners feel the rights of certain categories of people could be suppressed while elevating the rights of others. They pray that Parliament does not pass Bill C-250 into law.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 26th, 2003 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

The second petition, Mr. Speaker, is from a portion of Saskatchewan whose the petitioners are asking the Government of Canada not to pass the private member's bill, Bill C-250.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 16th, 2003 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Charles Hubbard Liberal Miramichi, NB

Madam Speaker, the second petition is from a group that is very much opposed to Bill C-250. They petition the House that the bill not be passed.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 14th, 2003 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the residents of Surrey Central to present two petitions.

First, the petitioners are concerned that Bill C-250 seeks to censor many religious books, including the bible, and criminalizes the personal opinions of Canadians on the subject of sexual orientation.

The petitioners therefore appeal to Parliament to reject the bill.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 14th, 2003 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, the next three petitions deal with Bill C-250. One of the petitions is from the residents of Tofino, Ucluelet and Port Alberni, communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The other two petitions are from the east coast. These petitioners represent people from all parts of my constituency.

The petitioners contend that Bill C-250 will have negative consequences for the rights of Canadians for freedom of expression and religion.

The petitioners further state that Bill C-250 will substantially interfere with the rights of religious and educational leaders to communicate essential matters of faith. They therefore call upon members to defeat Bill C-250.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 14th, 2003 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, in the other petition, the proposed Bill C-250, which is being introduced in Parliament, will add sexual orientation to the list of identifiable groups in the hate propaganda.

Therefore the petitioners call upon Parliament to refrain from including sexual orientation as an amendment to the hate propaganda section of the Criminal Code of Canada.

Canadian Alliance for Social Justice and Family Values AssociationStatements By Members

May 13th, 2003 / 2 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Madam Speaker, today I would like to recognize the Canadian Alliance for Social Justice and Family Values Association based in Vancouver for the work that it has done in support of Canadian families and social justice.

Yesterday, on its behalf, I tabled in Parliament over 12,000 petitions, half of them expressing support of the traditional definition of marriage. The other 6,000 petitions expressed opposition to Bill C-250, a bill that raises significant concerns over the ability of religious leaders and institutions to communicate and adhere to essential matters of faith.

The organization is a non-denominational, non-partisan grassroots association. Its principal purposes are to redress social injustice, to advocate and protect constitutional charter and social rights, traditional family values and parental rights. Canadians across the country are grateful for its efforts.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 13th, 2003 / 10:15 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Canadian Alliance Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition signed by a number of my constituents. The petitioners are asking Parliament to refuse to pass Bill C-250 or any similar bill that would repress freedom of religion or speech. They are also asking us to defend the historical legal definition of marriage and to override any court decision that infringes upon the freedoms of religion.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 12th, 2003 / 3:40 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have further petitions. I have over 12,000 petitions presented today on behalf of the Vancouver based group Canadian Alliance for Social Justice and Family Values: 6,346 express support of the traditional definition of marriage and 5,841 petitions express opposition to Bill C-250, a bill that proposes to criminalize statements critical of homosexuality.

The Canadian Alliance for Social Justice and Family Values is a non-denominational, non-partisan grassroots association. Its principal purposes are to redress social injustice to advocate and protect constitutional charter and social rights, traditional family values and parental rights. Based in Vancouver, this group is 90% Chinese Canadian.

Since these petitions do not strictly conform to the specifications of the House of Commons, I would like to request unanimous consent to table those today as well.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 8th, 2003 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Dale Johnston Canadian Alliance Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for allowing me to revert to petitions. I have a petition signed by several hundred of my constituents in Wetaskiwin. They are concerned that the adoption of the explicit protection of homosexuals under Bill C-250 would imperil their religious freedoms. I would like to present that petition on their behalf.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

April 30th, 2003 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

John M. Cummins Canadian Alliance Delta—South Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, the third petition has to do with Bill C-250. The petitioners call upon Parliament to protect freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and to reject Bill C-250.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

April 28th, 2003 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a large petition from Saskatchewan. Once again people are asking that the government look at the petition. They are asking Parliament not to pass Bill C-250 and make it law in Canada.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

April 8th, 2003 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I have the pleasure to deliver to the House another petition from residents from across Saskatchewan who are concerned about Bill C-250. They are praying in earnest that the bill be not passed by the House of Commons.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

April 7th, 2003 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present to the House a petition with the names and addresses of people from across Saskatchewan. The petitioners are concerned and ask the government not to pass Bill C-250 and enact it into law.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

March 24th, 2003 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

moved:

That the first report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights presented on Wednesday, February 26, 2003 be concurred in.

Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has commenced its study of Bill C-250, a bill to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda provisions), to include sexual orientation. The committee has unanimously adopted a motion asking the House to give it an additional 30 sitting days within which to consider evidence on the bill.

The purpose of the concurrence motion today is simply to implement that all party recommendation of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and to give us the additional 30 sitting days in order to hear evidence on this important legislation.

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

February 26th, 2003 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Pursuant to Standing Order 97.1, your committee is requesting an extension of 30 sitting days to consider Bill C-250, an act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda), referred to the committee on October 24, 2002.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 25th, 2003 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

Liberal

Bob Speller Liberal Haldimand—Norfolk—Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise under Standing Order 36 to present two petitions.

The first deals with Bill C-250. The petitioners call upon Parliament to protect the rights of Canadians to be free and share their religious beliefs without fear of prosecution.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 19th, 2003 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Janko Peric Liberal Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I have the privilege to present to the House two petitions signed by more than 400 constituents of mine from Cambridge.

The petitioners call upon Parliament to protect the rights of Canadians so they can share their religious beliefs without fear of persecution. The petitioners oppose Bill C-250 and fear that if adopted, expressing moral disapproval of a sexual practice by citing the Bible or other sacred religious books, could lead to hate crime charges, and I agree with them.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 19th, 2003 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Rose-Marie Ur Liberal Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I would also like to present the following petition on behalf of the constituents of Lambton--Kent--Middlesex who call upon Parliament to oppose Bill C-250 and not allow it in any form to be presented into federal law.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 14th, 2003 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to table three petitions today calling upon Parliament to protect the rights of Canadians to be free to share their religious beliefs without fear of prosecution.

The petition calls specific attention to sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code, which a bill currently before the justice committee, Bill C-250, seeks to amend.

The three petitions contain a number of signatures of Canadians from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 13th, 2003 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Bob Mills Canadian Alliance Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, today I have four separate petitions, all from my riding of Red Deer.

The first two petitions have been signed by 128 people who do not want Bill C-250 to be passed in any form into federal law.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 10th, 2003 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today. The first petition is from the area of Nanaimo largely and I imagine has 10 pages of signatures. The petition has to do with Bill C-415 originally, now known as Bill C-250.

The petitioners would like to draw the attention of the House to sexual orientation being added to the list of identifiable groups in the hate propaganda section of the Criminal Code of Canada. They would like Parliament to take note that the legislation does not define hatred. Public expression and moral disapproval of a sexual practice should not be judged as promoting hatred.

They are concerned that such an addition could frustrate fundamental freedoms to practise religion and could even make sections of the Bible considered hate literature if that were to be approved.

The second petition is from the ocean side communities of Nanaimo--Alberni riding and is similarly drawing to the attention of the House that the addition of sexual orientation as an explicitly protected category under Sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code would lead to individuals being unable to exercise their religious freedoms as protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The petitioners therefore call upon Parliament to protect the rights of Canadians to share their religious beliefs without fear of prosecution.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 10th, 2003 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I have a petition that has been signed by people across my constituency and indeed from other places in Saskatchewan. The petitioners pray that Parliament does not pass private member's Bill C-250 as they feel it will be in violation of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

February 3rd, 2003 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present to the House a petition on behalf of my constituents. The petition is signed by approximately 800 people.

The petitioners recognize that freedom of speech and religious freedom are guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Therefore they call on Parliament to oppose Bill C-250.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

December 13th, 2002 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John Bryden Liberal Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Aldershot, ON

Madam Speaker, I too have a petition in which the petitioners express concern about private member's Bill C-250, an act that would add sexual orientation to certain clauses of the Criminal Code.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

December 13th, 2002 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Madam Speaker, I have two petitions to present today on behalf of my constituents. The first petition deals with private member's Bill C-250. The petitioners are concerned about adding sexual orientation to the Criminal Code.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

December 9th, 2002 / 3:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to present to this House three petitions on behalf of my constituents. The first two petitions relate to Bill C-250, formerly Bill C-415. One is signed by 1,769 people and the second has 154 signatures.

The petitioners recognize that freedom of speech and religious freedom are guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Thus, they call on Parliament to oppose Bill C-250.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

November 19th, 2002 / 10:05 a.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Darrel Stinson Canadian Alliance Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Madam Speaker, today I am pleased to present a petition on behalf of the people of Okanagan—Shuswap. They call upon Parliament to oppose the passing of Bill C-415 from the previous session, presently known as Bill C-250, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding hate propaganda. My constituents feel that this bill will diminish their freedom of speech.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

October 24th, 2002 / 10:20 a.m.
See context

NDP

Svend Robinson NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-250, an act to amend the Criminal Code (hate propaganda).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased this morning to reintroduce my bill pursuant to Standing Order 86.1 and to point out to the House that the bill is identical to the one that I had introduced during the first session of the 37th Parliament. I ask that it be reinstated at the same point it had reached at prorogation, which was that it had been passed by the House at second reading and referred to the justice committee.

The Criminal Code of Canada currently protects Canadians from those who advocate genocide or spread hatred of others based on their colour, race, religion or ethnic origin. My bill seeks only to extend that same level of protection to those who are targeted on the basis of their sexual orientation.

It is important to note that this bill in no way limits or threatens the freedom of religious expression or religious texts.

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