An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing)

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

Chuck Cadman  Canadian Alliance

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

Status

Not active, as of Nov. 5, 2003
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2006 / 1:35 p.m.
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Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar Saskatchewan

Conservative

Carol Skelton ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of Western Economic Diversification

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today in support of Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, street racing. I urge all hon. members to support this bill, a bill that undoubtedly conveys the importance this government places on ensuring that our communities and streets are safe.

Street racing is a serious crime. Its consequences are equally serious. Street racing is killing and seriously injuring innocent people and is placing all road users and citizens at risk. It has been pursued in communities across our country, in Toronto, Vancouver, Regina and Saskatoon, to name only a few. This government will not stand idly by and allow it to continue.

Indeed, the consequences of inaction on this issue are stark. Our streets will become racetracks and our communities will be at risk. This government is committed to ensuring that we have safe streets and this bill will contribute to that.

In talking about Bill C-19, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the important work of our late colleague and my friend, Chuck Cadman, work which was driven in large part out of a deeply held sense of justice. He believed that our lawmakers and our laws should work to ensure that our communities are safe and that those who would threaten our safety through criminal acts should be held accountable. With this purpose in mind, Chuck introduced Bill C-338 and then Bill C-230.

While Bill C-19 would deal with street racing differently than the amendments proposed by Chuck would have, our goal remains the same, namely, to ensure that our streets are safe. It is in this light that I am proud to be able to speak today on Bill C-19, for I believe that Bill C-19 is about ensuring that individuals who commit serious crimes should be punished in a manner that reflects that seriousness.

Bill C-19 is very much about public safety. Currently, there is no specific offence of street racing in the Criminal Code. Rather, persons who currently engage in street racing could be charged under existing offences such as dangerous driving or criminal negligence. Bill C-19 proposes to create a new offence of street racing. In my opinion, this is important, because it appropriately signals the disdain that we as Canadians feel toward this reckless and dangerous crime. It demonstrates that we will not tolerate this reckless disregard for the safety of others in our community.

Bill C-19 would define street racing to mean “operating a motor vehicle in a race with at least one other motor vehicle on a street, road, highway or other public place”. The offence of street racing would operate by referencing already existing Criminal Code offences, namely, dangerous driving, dangerous driving causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and criminal negligence causing death.

What this means in practical terms is that in street racing situations when a person commits one of the offences I have just listed, the punishments available to them will be tailored to appropriately reflect the unique nature of the crime. The punishment will fit the crime.

There will be tougher penalties than those currently available under our criminal laws. This is consistent with our larger objective of ensuring that the criminal justice system is tough on crime. We will no longer tolerate a justice system that is soft on criminals at the expense of public safety.

In addition, a person convicted of the street racing offence would be subject to a mandatory minimum driving prohibition. Those who choose to treat our city streets and roads as racetracks for their own pleasure, placing the lives of innocent citizens at risk, will have to face the consequences of such careless behaviour.

I would like to add a personal note. When I was a much younger woman, I used to drive a stock car. In fact, I actually did quite well. I think I was the only woman ever to pull a tire off on a quarter-mile dirt track, so members will know I was doing pretty well with our super D stockers. I also have a nephew who has a CASCAR and drives the race circuit in western Canada and the northern United States. Members will know, then, that our family loves speed.

However, I do think there is a place for speed. I think that if young people want to race they should be on a racetrack or a community stock car track of some kind, right across the country. The key to this point that I just mentioned is that I did it at a proper facility. This was as much for my own safety as it was for others'. I obviously have nothing against racing. I love it. I am addicted to the sport. I love the sport, but it must be done when and where it is safe for all involved.

Canadians do not want to see those who have been convicted of a serious street racing crime back behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. My son-in-law, the police officer, most definitely does not. These penalties send a clear, strong message, one that I support.

Currently, a person who is convicted of dangerous driving can face the maximum penalty on indictment of five years' imprisonment. Bill C-19 would retain this penalty in relation to street racing. It would, however, impose for the first offence a mandatory minimum driving prohibition of one year. In addition, the sentencing court would retain discretion to impose a driving prohibition of up to three years and the penalties would go up on each subsequent offence. For a second conviction of dangerous driving while street racing, the mandatory minimum driving prohibition would increase to two years. The court retains discretion to prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle for up to five years.

Beyond two convictions of dangerous driving while street racing, a sentencing court would be required to impose a mandatory three year driving prohibition but would have discretion to impose a maximum lifetime prohibition. This discretion ensures that the courts are able to deal with each instance appropriately and individually.

Operating a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right. Those who would continue to abuse that privilege and place others at risk of serious harm or death should not be entitled to drive. For the more serious street racing offences, Bill C-19 proposes stringent penalties.

This government made a commitment to make our communities and streets safe and to ensure that the criminal law is strengthened so our laws accurately reflect the significant and lasting impact crime can have on our communities. This government is living up to its commitment. Those who are convicted of dangerous driving causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm in street racing situations will face stiff penalties.

Bill C-19 proposes to increase the maximum penalty available to those convicted of this type of behaviour from 10 to 14 years' imprisonment. Similarly, it would also impose mandatory minimum driving prohibitions for those who commit the most serious offences. For dangerous driving causing death or criminal negligence causing death in street racing situations, the maximum penalty will be life imprisonment. This is a significant increase from the penalty of 14 years currently available for this conduct in our criminal laws. Indeed, life imprisonment is the most stringent penalty our criminal law provides for. This reflects the severity of the crime, its negative impact on society and the seriousness for which our government views this.

This government believes that Canadians deserve safe streets. Bill C-19 is one of many important bills currently before Parliament which will ensure that our communities remain safe.

For example, as it is currently formulated, Bill C-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conditional sentence of imprisonment), would prevent the use of conditional sentences in serious crimes. Serious criminals must be held accountable. These changes to the criminal justice system will ensure that.

The amendments proposed by Bill C-9 are pertinent to street racing as well. In those cases where street racing causes injury or death to another person, a conditional sentence or permitting the offender to serve his or her sentence in the community would not be permitted. This makes sense. A person who commits a serious crime, and let us make no mistake, causing death or injury to someone as a result of street racing is of the utmost seriousness, should not be able to serve his or her sentence in the community.

I should pause for a moment to note that Bill C-19 is not about criminalizing legitimate racing activities nor is it about criminalizing motor enthusiasts. What Bill C-19 is about is ensuring that dangerous and irresponsible street racing is recognized in the Criminal Code for what it is: a serious crime that will not be tolerated.

The Criminal Code amendments proposed in Bill C-19 to address street racing go beyond tougher penalties for this crime. Rather, they speak more fundamentally to the values we hold so dear in Canadian society and the values we wish to live by. Canadians can rightly stand with pride. Canadians live in and contribute to a society that is envied the world over. Our country is known to be safe, just and law-abiding.

Canadians want safe communities. They want to feel secure in knowing that when they leave their homes, whether it is to go for a walk, to drive to work or to celebrate important events with friends and family, they and their loved ones will be safe.

Canadians want laws that work to ensure safety. They should demand nothing less of their government.We, as their elected representatives, have no greater duty than that of ensuring that our laws reflect these values. We must respond to these demands in a measured and responsible way. We have an immense responsibility to ensure that our laws continue to ensure that our communities will be safe for our citizens.

Indeed, as the Minister of Justice has noted, “there is no task more important to any government than the protection of its citizens”. I believe this is true, and our government takes this task very seriously. Bill C-19 will make our streets safer.

Of course we know that strong laws will not curb crime on their own. That is why our government continues to pursue a broad range of measures, legislative and otherwise, to ensure that our communities are safe. For example, we have pledged $20 million over two years to focus on crime prevention activities, including strategies to reduce youth crime. This money will enable us to partner across Canada at the local level to work with at risk youth and thereby prevent crime before it happens.

While we do not have comprehensive statistics on street racing crime, including how often it is occurring and by whom, we do know that it is often caused by young persons. Our government's efforts to better respond to youth crime will also make a difference. Bill C-19 would indirectly enable us to keep better track of who commits these crimes and how often. The proposed provisions will provide a more systematic and comprehensive ability to track street racing offences.

Our government is also committed to strengthening the ability of law enforcement to respond to crime. Good laws are effective only if we have strong police forces across this country to enforce them. I wish to acknowledge the important work being done by law enforcement agencies across this country in combating crime in all forms.

For example, in the greater Toronto area, Project ERASE, which stands for “Eliminate Racing Activity on Streets Everywhere”, works to reduce street racing through the collaboration of multiple police forces. These policing agencies work to reduce street racing through a combination of awareness and strategic enforcement. Bill C-19 would strengthen the ability of law enforcement to move more effectively and respond more quickly to street racing.

In addition, this government has committed to investing nearly $200 million over the next two years to strengthen the capabilities of the RCMP, who are called upon day in and day out to perform many dangerous tasks with the goal of keeping our communities safe. This commitment to our officers will ensure they have the resources needed to perform their jobs.

Strong laws are important, but we must not forget the important role that law enforcement plays in ensuring that they are effective. This government is making certain that law enforcement forces do have the necessary tools to do their jobs. It is a combination of targeted legislative amendments and broader measures to support crime prevention in our country that this government believes will lead to a safer and more secure Canada.

The government is committed to tackling crime by working with our partners at the provincial and territorial level as well. Bill C-19 will complement existing provincial and territorial laws that have been enacted by legislatures across the country to respond to street racing.

Measures used have included fines, vehicle impoundment and licence suspensions. Taken together, these measures provide our law enforcement officers across the country with an effective range of tools to curb this practice. Bill C-19 enhances these tools.

In short, street racing threatens lives and undermines public safety. Bill C-19 would clearly and strongly denounce this crime. It would provide increased accountability for those who engage in it and it would help preserve the kind of Canada that we all expect, one where people can feel safe walking down their streets.

I urge all members in the House to join with me and strongly support the quick passage of this law.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2006 / 12:05 p.m.
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Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to lead off the debate on this important government initiative, Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

Canadians want a law-abiding peaceful society. They believe in secure streets and neighbourhoods where children can play in safety and where families can go for evening walks. In doing our part to protect our communities, roads and highways, the Government of Canada is taking the issue of street racing head-on.

There have been far too many examples of Canadians being injured or killed because of street racing. On a regular basis there are reports of deaths across the country relating to this dangerous activity. We have seen horrific deaths recently in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg. These risks, injuries and deaths are senseless and do not need to occur.

The criminal law seeks justice, the protection of the public and the establishment and maintenance of social order. Ultimately the purpose of the criminal law is to contribute to a just, peaceful and safe society through the establishment of prohibitions, sanctions and procedures to deal fairly and appropriately with blameworthy conduct that causes or threatens serious harm to individuals and society. Street racers must be explicitly subject to such sanctions and prohibitions.

The criminal law can be, and in this case should be, a tool for shifting public perception. In this regard the message needs to be made clear: street racing is not a game, it is not carefree and it is not harmless. Pure and simple, it kills.

In establishing such a system we must first examine the existing legal scheme on which Bill C-19 would build, namely the way the Criminal Code currently deals with street racing.

The Criminal Codes does not specifically identify street racing as an offence, although certain of the code's offences can apply to fatal and injurious collisions where street racing is involved. These offences are: criminal negligence causing death, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment; dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, which currently carries a maximum of 14 years' imprisonment; criminal negligence causing bodily harm, with a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment; and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm, with a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment. In addition, the offence of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, with a five year maximum imprisonment on indictment, can be applied in cases where a street race has occurred but no one was killed or injured.

In addition, under the Criminal Code, if convicted of any of those five offences, currently the court may order a period of driving prohibition of up to three years in the case of a dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, of up to 10 years in the case of a dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm or death, and criminal negligence causing bodily harm. In the case of criminal negligence causing death, the court may order up to a lifetime driving prohibition.

Despite these existing provisions and the discretionary driving prohibition orders, street races are still occurring and Canadians are still being injured, and tragically, killed.

For this reason the government is doing its part in reinforcing the criminal law in this area and sending a strong clear message that street racing is a crime with real and significant consequences. Creating a separate offence in the Criminal Code will specifically denounce this form of crime. In addition, these proposed amendments permit increased punishments with regard to minimum driving prohibitions and increase periods of imprisonment in street racing situations.

Bill C-19, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act proposes the creation of a specific street racing offence in the Criminal Code based on the offences of dangerous driving, dangerous driving causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and criminal negligence causing death. The bill proposes key reforms that would increase, in street racing situations, the maximum punishments for dangerous driving causing bodily harm and criminal negligence causing bodily harm from 10 years to 14 years, and for dangerous driving causing death from 14 years to life.

The government is taking a holistic approach to criminal law reform. In this regard, it is significant to note that the government's conditional sentencing bill, Bill C-9, if passed as is, will eliminate the use of a conditional sentence in those street racing cases where someone is either injured or killed. As we know, conditional sentences are essentially house arrest.

The street racing reforms would also provide minimum driving prohibitions that would increase on each subsequent offence, instead of the present discretionary prohibitions. In particular, the mandatory driving prohibitions range from a minimum of one year on a first offence, all the way up to a maximum of a lifetime driving ban. The minimum driving prohibitions increase to two and three years for subsequent offences.

Of note is the proposed mandatory lifetime driving prohibition. This mandatory lifetime minimum driving prohibition will apply if an offender has two convictions, where someone is injured or killed as a result of street racing, and at least one of these offences causes a death. For example, if someone is convicted of dangerous driving causing bodily harm while street racing and then convicted of criminal negligence causing death while street racing, the lifetime mandatory driving prohibition will apply.

Therefore, Bill C-19 would provide judges with discretion in setting the appropriate length of prohibition, in some cases, all the way up to a lifetime ban, but in every street racing offence, the offender would have a period of mandatory driving prohibition.

Following the introduction of Bill C-19, some have asked, What is street racing and how will the courts interpret such a definition? Clause 1 of the bill defines “street racing” as:

--operating a motor vehicle in a race with at least one other motor vehicle on a street, road, highway or other public place;

The term “race” is an undefined term in the bill and is therefore meant to be applied by the courts, based on existing common law principles, after an examination of the trial evidence. The courts will turn to context in which the term is used, dictionary definitions of a race, as well as Canadian jurisprudence defining this term. At the end of the day, all sources of interpretation generally point to the common theme of a race amounting to a contest of speed, which will be determined on a case by case basis on the evidence presented at trial.

By the structure of the proposed reforms, the prosecution will be required to prove a race; that is a contest of speed plus dangerous driving or criminal negligence. This construction responds to fear that revving one's engine would amount to an offence. The driving must also meet the existing standards of dangerous driving or criminal negligence in order to attract criminal liability.

Furthermore, by the design of the scheme, if the court is not satisfied that a street race was involved, then the law of included offences would apply. Therefore, if the prosecution has not proven a street race but has proven all the essential elements of either dangerous driving or criminal negligence, then the offender may be convicted of these included offences.

It is important to note that the Criminal Code contains an offence, at section 259, prohibiting the operation of a motor vehicle while a person is disqualified from driving. This driving while prohibited offence would also apply if a person drives during the prohibition period imposed for the offences in Bill C-19.

Many provinces have used provincial highway traffic legislation to combat street racing, including provincial fines, licence suspensions and vehicle impoundment. In British Columbia, for example, the province introduced legislation that gave the police the authority to impound, immediately, any vehicle used in a street race. In some matters, there can be federal and provincial constitutional authority, and each level of government may properly enact legislation. In the matter of street racing the provincial legislature has constitutional legislative authority to enact highway traffic and driver licensing legislation against street racing. Parliament may enact legislation against street racing, using its constitutional legislative authority for criminal law.

There have been a number of earlier bills directed at combatting street racing. During the 37th Parliament, the late Mr. Chuck Cadman, M.P., introduced private member's Bill C-338 and reintroduced it as Bill C-230 in the 38th Parliament aimed at this form of crime. These bills provided that the existence of street racing was to be an aggravating factor in sentencing and provided for mandatory minimum driving prohibitions, increasing on second and subsequent offences. I think the Prime Minister said it very when he described Mr. Cadman as “a selfless man who devoted his years in Ottawa to fighting for safer streets”.

Mr. Cadman's bill was built upon the existence of a repeat aggravating factor. However, the dependence on the aggravating factor in the sentencing hearing that involves a prior conviction, in order to trigger an increased penalty for a subsequent offence, raised some concerns. First, there is no reference to street racing in the substantive offence. Second, the CPIC, the Canadian Police Information Centre, does not report the existence of aggravating factors. Therefore, the Crown would have no consistent way of knowing that a prior offence had involved street racing.

In the 38th Parliament, the previous government introduced Bill C-65, an act to amend the Criminal Code, street racing. It also provided that street racing, if found by the sentencing judge to be present, was to be used as an aggravating factor in sentencing and included mandatory driving prohibitions, although repeat offenders were not subject to increasing driving prohibitions. All these bills eventually died on the order paper. However, given the efforts made by Mr. Cadman and by the former government's response, we are now counting on everyone to support Bill C-19.

The government's bill, Bill C-19, unlike its predecessors, proposes the creation of separate offences and would increase driving prohibitions for repeat offenders. I believe these are necessary components to deliver the message that street racing threatens the safety of Canadians and criminal law consequences, therefore, will be serious.

The frequency of and the conviction rate for offences involving street racing are presently not available at a national level as there is, currently, no systematic way to identify the cases that have involved street racing. One of the indirect benefits of the reforms proposed in C-19 is that the creation of separate offences will allow such data to be captured and monitored in a systematic national way.

As I have noted, in some matters, and street racing is one such matter, there can be federal and provincial constitutional authority and each level of government may properly enact legislation. The provincial legislature has constitutional legislative authority to enact highway traffic and driver licensing legislation against street racing. Parliament may enact legislation against street racing under its constitutional authority for criminal law.

The complementary provincial and federal tools would provide a strong and effective response to the scourge of street racing on Canadian roads and street. I, therefore, compliment the efforts of local police forces in getting street racers off our streets on to closed race tracks. These efforts will no doubt contribute to public safety on Canadian roads and highways.

Safe streets and safe communities are a hallmark of life in Canada. The government is doing its part, through a number of important bills currently before Parliament, to ensure that this fact remains true. The government has made a clear and unequivocal commitment to work toward a safe and secure Canada. This Canada is one in which its citizens can walk the streets without fear of being struck by reckless street racers.

I conclusion, Bill C-19 is a targeted, measured and balanced response to the numerous tragic incidents of street racing occurring on our roads and highways. Although not in and of itself a panacea, this proposed reform will send a clear message that driving is a privilege and that street races are not acceptable. Bill C-19 would also ensure that those prosecuted for street racing would not be permitted to drive for a significant period of time.

I urge all hon. members to join me in support of Bill C-19 and to work together to put an end to this dangerous phenomena of street racing on Canadian roads and highways.

JusticeOral Question Period

March 12th, 2004 / 11:40 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, this week in Surrey an 18 year old who has already had his licence suspended twice lost control of his car at 140 kilometres per hour. He smashed a bus shelter, injuring 71 year old Sarjeet Dhillon. Everything points to yet another tragic result of a street race. Spring will bring an increase in racing with nothing more than house arrest for those who injure or kill.

Bill C-338 sends a message to the courts to treat these crimes more seriously. The minister could pass it in a day. Why will he not support it?

JusticeOral Question Period

March 12th, 2004 / 11:40 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, today's Vancouver Province newspaper states:

We say it's time politicians passed Surrey North MP['s]...bill to make street racing an aggravating factor in sentencing.

The media and the public want Parliament to act on Bill C-338. The House has shown support by sending the bill to the justice committee, but we all know time is running out on this Parliament. It is time to deter this irresponsible criminal behaviour.

Will the minister show some leadership by supporting Bill C-338 so it can become law before an election is called?

Street RacingStatements By Members

March 10th, 2004 / 2:20 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, here we go again. Yesterday in Surrey, B.C. just before the evening rush hour, an 18-year-old lost control of his muscle car at an estimated speed of 140 kilometres per hour. He demolished a bus shelter, critically injuring a 71-year-old woman. Another car was spotted fleeing the scene, making it obvious to all concerned that this was yet another tragic result of a street race.

As warmer weather approaches, street racing incidents will likely increase and participants are confident they will not spend a day in jail even if they kill or injure. Nationally, insurance claims resulting from street racing more than doubled between 2000 and 2002. A message must be sent to the courts that these crimes are to be treated more seriously.

I urge all members to maintain support for Bill C-338, which the House passed and sent to the justice committee. It will make street racing an aggravating factor for sentencing. If we are really serious about deterring this irresponsible criminal activity, Bill C-338 must become law before the end of this Parliament.

Business of the House

February 2nd, 2004 / 4:45 p.m.
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The Speaker

Members will recall that on October 29, 2003, the House concurred in the 50th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs which had the effect of extending provisional Standing Orders in relation to private members' business until the earlier of June 23, 2004, or the dissolution of the 37th Parliament.

To ensure that private members' business will be conducted in an orderly fashion, the Chair wishes to clarify some of the provisions resulting from Standing Order 86.1, the Standing Order that deals with the reinstatement of all items of private members' business originating in the House of Commons.

First of all, the List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business, established on March 18, 2003, continues from last session to this session notwithstanding prorogation.

This list is available for consultation at the Private Members Business Office and on the Internet.

The items themselves, either in or outside the order of precedence, whether Motions, Notices of Motions (Papers) or Bills, will keep the same number as in the second session of the 37th Parliament. However, considering that he is no longer a member of this House, all the items standing in the name of Mr. Harb will be dropped from the Order Paper.

Ministers and parliamentary secretaries who are ineligible by virtue of their office will be dropped to the bottom of the list for the consideration of private members' business, where they will remain as long as they hold those offices. Consequently, the item in the name of the member for Don Valley West is withdrawn from the order of precedence.

Standing Order 86.1 states that at the beginning of the second or subsequent session of a Parliament, all items of private members' business originating in the House of Commons that have been listed on the Order Paper during the previous session shall be deemed to have been considered and approved at all stages completed at the time of prorogation and shall stand, if necessary, on the Order Paper or, as the case may be, referred to a committee and the list for the consideration of private members' business and the order of precedence established pursuant to Standing Order 87 shall continue from session to session.

So, pursuant to this Standing Order, the items in the Order of Precedence are deemed to have been considered and approved at all stages completed at the time of prorogation. Thus they shall stand, if necessary, on the Order Paper in the same place or, as the case may be, referred to committee or sent to the Senate.

There were five private members' bills originating in the House of Commons referred to committee. Therefore, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, Bill C-231, an act to amend the Divorce Act (limits on rights of child access by sex offenders), is deemed to have been introduced, read the first time, read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Bill C-338, an act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing), is deemed to have been introduced, read the first time, read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Bill C-408, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (oath or solemn affirmation), is deemed to havebeen introduced, read the first time, read the second time, and referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

Bill C-420, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act, is deemed to have been introduced, read the first time, read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Health.

Bill C-421, an act respecting the establishment of the Office of the Chief Actuary of Canada and to amend other acts in consequence thereof, is deemed to have been introduced, read the first time, read the second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.

(Bills deemed introduced, read the first time, read the second time and referred to a committee)

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

November 5th, 2003 / 5:55 p.m.
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-338 under private members' business.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

JusticeOral Question Period

October 31st, 2003 / 11:50 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, last week in opposing Bill C-338, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice said that the Liberal government will not take any action against street racing.

Numerous serious injuries and deaths have been caused by these irresponsible drivers. RCMP Constable Jimmy Ng was killed when his patrol car was T-boned by an alleged street racer. Why is the government refusing to make our streets safer for our citizens and the police who patrol them?

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 30th, 2003 / 6:15 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Chuck Cadman Canadian Alliance Surrey North, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate having the final word on second reading debate of Bill C-338.

As I said previously, all major cities across Canada are experiencing problems with street racing, some with tragic results causing serious injury or even death to innocent victims.

Street racing today is somewhat different from what was experienced decades ago, as was referenced by some of my colleagues. Today, we have smaller cars with more horsepower. We have young people with significant disposable money to spend on enhancing vehicle performance. Beyond that, there seems to be an attitude among some young people that it is their God given right to put others at risk.

Bill C-338 would amend the Criminal Code. Street racing would be considered an aggravating circumstance for the purposes of sentencing a person convicted of criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm or dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death or bodily harm. It would also provide for a mandatory, nationwide driving prohibition to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed.

In the first hour of debate, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice disappointed many with his arguments against the bill, arguments that can only be described as weak. He implied that we do not need mandatory minimum nationwide driving prohibitions against street racers convicted of killing or seriously injuring people because the courts can use a sentence with a long period of imprisonment.

The problem is that in a majority of cases to date there is no term of imprisonment, not even short, let alone long. The parliamentary secretary spent most of his time talking about the maximum penalties available in the Criminal Code to deal with street racers convicted of killing or seriously injuring. Again, he avoided the fact that the courts are not using maximum sentences or even close to it.

Canadians have expressed outrage over the carnage caused by street racing and the lenient sentences being imposed, including conditional sentences or house arrest. Canadians do not support the use of house arrest as punishment for anyone convicted of being responsible for a street race that either killed or seriously injured someone.

I brought the bill forward to honour the lives of victims of street racing. People like Jerry Kithithee, Irene Thorpe, RCMP Constable Jimmy Ng, Payam Yaghoobi and others lost their lives to the deliberate actions of selfish, irresponsible, and self-centred individuals in hot cars.

I am pleased and grateful to hear members from the opposition parties speak in support of the bill and I thank them. Again, I was disappointed but not terribly surprised by the weak arguments from the government side.

There is much public support for the legislation. In addition, a number of provincial justice ministers, attorneys and solicitors general have indicated their support. I hope that support is reflected in this place.

I would ask all members to support sending Bill C-338 to the justice committee. It is not a partisan issue. It is clearly the right thing to do for victims, their families, and in the name of literally safer streets in our communities.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 30th, 2003 / 5:55 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, I too would like to congratulate my colleague for a bill that goes in the right direction.

I am inclined to think that perhaps my colleague is a little bit too soft when we look at what the provisions of this bill give. For example, under his bill if a person were to actually kill someone because of street racing, the bill does not provide the imposition of a lifetime ban from driving until a second offence. I guess that is how our legal system works. The book is thrown at the person for that first offence and then hope, if the person has killed someone, that he or she will have learned a lesson. I guess that is an element that we need to have.

The reaction is that if a person actually kills someone while driving a vehicle recklessly, and certainly speeding on the highway is reckless driving, then perhaps on the day people are issued their first driver's licence they should be informed that if they kill someone through recklessness their privilege of driving will be revoked and not given back. Maybe that would be more significant.

I appreciate what my colleague is trying to do. He has that wonderful, good, compassionate side of him. That is great. I have that too. I guess we have to try to balance that off as well as we can.

I have no experience at all with racing. When I was a kid growing up on the farm in Saskatchewan we did not go racing with the old International one tonne. It just did not cut it. We had better vehicles later on but by then I was so sensible that I never recall ever being in a race with someone. I was in a race on a bicycle. When I was at university, believe it or not I was in a 50-mile bicycle race. I have been in a race but not one of the wild vehicle races.

I think it is important to realize that when one goes to excessive speeds physics come into play. It now takes a lot of distance and a lot of time to stop a vehicle. It also depends on the kind of vehicle.

Over the years, while I have driven a motorcycle many times, I have often thought that I should stop when coming to an amber light until I would look at the guy tailgating me at 10 feet and realize that he was not going to stop. I knew if I stopped that I would end up going through the intersection anyway, except that I would be going through it with him dragging me.

People who drive a motorcycle can stop very quickly. A car will stop relatively quickly. A semi-trailer truck, which I have also driven, will undoubtedly take much more time.

I did a calculation based on some of the numbers that are given to students when they first learn to drive. It might be interesting to members in the House to realize what excessive speed does. I will sort of put this little picture, and I am estimating here. Let us say that where the Speaker's chair is, is an intersection and a person is walking through the intersection in a crosswalk. Then we have a person driving a car and approaching that intersection, which is at the other end of the House, which in my estimate is about 30 metres away. If that vehicle were approaching, it would take 2.2 seconds in order to stop and the vehicle would be able to stop by the time it got to the intersection.

That is reasonable. All hon. members can picture that. Most members here have driven vehicles. That distance, at 50 kilometres an hour, a person applies the brakes and comes to a stop, unless it is icy or there are other conditions.

One of the cases my colleague mentioned when he gave his speech was of street racing, where it was estimated that when this car hit this lady the vehicle was going 120 kilometres an hour. Do members know how long it takes for a car doing 120 kilometres an hour to go from that end of the House to this end, which is 30 metres? It takes less than one second. It is so fast that if people were walking and saw the car over there but did not realize it until it was there, they physically, even if they were running, could not get out of the way before they were hit.

I was acquainted with someone many years ago who had a very fast car. He only had it about a month or so. I do not know whether he was racing, but he was easily going double the speed limit when he T-boned a farmer who was coming out of an intersection. The farmer obviously saw the vehicle even though it was at night but thought he had enough time to cross the intersection before the vehicle got there. Lo and behold, he entered the intersection and his vehicle was hit on the side. He was so severely injured that he spent the rest of his life in a paraplegic condition. It was a tragic accident. The young lady who was with my acquaintance was badly mutilated. Her life was changed. It was just because there was excessive speed.

I also find other things appalling. Not long ago I saw a youngster crossing the street at an intersection with a crosswalk but no lights. It was a marked crosswalk that was a couple of blocks from a school. The car in front of me stopped and I pulled up behind. I saw the youngster stop but then I saw in my rear-view mirror a guy driving toward me. He saw we were stopped so he moved into the right lane. It seemed totally apparent to me that he was going to keep on driving. He was annoyed that we were stopped, maybe thinking that the car ahead of me was turning left. I did something, which I found rather difficult. I threw on my signal light as fast as I could and moved over to that lane. I will not say what gesture I got, but I feel I probably saved the youngster's life that day because I forced the other car to stop very quickly in order to avoid a collision. If that driver had schmucked my car, so be it, but no one should take a risk like that driver did just to save a few milliseconds when other people's lives are at risk.

It is very dangerous to go fast. However for some reason young men are more prone to this kind of a contest, the one that shows that they are bigger, better, stronger, et cetera. I think the measures my colleague is proposing in the bill are measures that are absolutely necessary.

What I would like to see in every province is mandatory driver training for people who are beginning their driving careers. I would like to see independent examiners. In many instances the driving schools themselves issue the licence to the driver. I would like to include in that training some graphic videos of the results of driving errors and making bad judgments, including street racing.

I would like to see the measures being proposed by Bill C-338 enacted so that young people and even older people who are learning to drive for the first time will have it drummed into their brains that if they engage in street racing or excessive speed for any reason whatsoever they will have the proverbial book thrown at them. This may deter them from doing it.

The measures in the bill are certainly stronger than the measures we have now. I think it is something that we should strongly consider. Whether a person is killed with a gun or with a vehicle, the family still suffers the loss of a loved one. The individual's life is snuffed out. We are ready to take all sorts of what I call extreme measures against presumed potential deaths by weapons so why not, if a vehicle is used as a weapon, have measures that are just as strong in order to deter a person from committing the crime and taking a person's life.

I urge all members in the House to support Bill C-338 because it is a good bill and a necessary one. It will affect no one who obeys the law, and for those who are prone not to obey the law, hopefully it will be a useful deterrent.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 30th, 2003 / 5:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Jocelyne Girard-Bujold Bloc Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak on Bill C-338, which was introduced by the hon. member for Surrey North.

I want to congratulate my colleague from the Canadian Alliance and the hon. member from his party who just made an excellent speech. I think she really raised all the questions we must ask ourselves concerning this excellent bill.

You know, we are wives, mothers and sometimes even grandmothers. We care about our young, and we care about providing a quiet and peaceful environment for the young and for the old. This bill, introduced by the hon. member from the Canadian Alliance, will provide security. At the same time, it will help us show respect to our young people. We have all been young and, as young people, we have all had access to a car. We have all done some speeding, even though it was not allowed.

Today, with these luxury machines with no speed limit, it seems to be exponential. These are toys. They should not be driven, except on race tracks. The competition is fierce between dealerships, automobile manufacturers and suppliers. The cars' performance is never good enough. Most of the time, these cars are driven by young people who speed. Speed is exhilarating. Limits are necessary on public roadways.

If there had been no abuse, we would not be discussing such a bill in this place. Unfortunately, there has been abuse. To protect the driving public, speed limits must be set. We live in a civilized society. We cannot let anyone jeopardize the lives of other users of public roads because they are racing on those roads.

Our freedom stops where that of others begins. This bill does not concern only young people. I know of men their forties who love their fast cars and who race.

As my hon. colleague from the Canadian Alliance said, there have been terrible accidents and people have been killed. This cannot continue. One person dead is one too many. This is a timely bill, since it comes before the situation worsens and our highways become closed circuits, like the Gilles Villeneuve circuit.

We can agree. This bill makes a great deal of sense. I hope that the government side will pay attention to this. No doubt, there have been similar events or accidents caused by peoples racing in the streets in the ridings of the members opposite.

Street racing is not an offence under the Criminal Code, because it has not been around long. I saw it once on television, and it was kind of scary. The race took place at night in the Quebec City area. Young people lined up their cars and then took off. It was frightening. It was shown on TV. And this is an example for younger kids to follow? This has to stop.

We belong to a society. I do not know of any civilized society that permits anarchy. By allowing young people to do whatever they want on public roads, they endanger the lives of others. This sends the wrong message to the uninitiated, who turn those young people into idols.

These days, our kids grow up with idols. Enough is enough. Legislation is needed. This bill will serve our purpose. It will also help prevent accidents.

We all drive and, when we use the roads or highways, there is already a great deal of traffic. There is always someone who wants to pass and who never wants to drive behind anyone else. Other people feel the same way but they respect the speed limit. During street races, there is no speed limit. The drivers put the pedal to the floor and go. This has to stop.

I congratulate my hon. colleague. The Bloc Quebecois is able to congratulate its colleagues in the Canadian Alliance. This is a good bill. In the future, I would like to see more common sense legislation so we can resolve the problems affecting us all.

I hope that all the members of the House will support our hon. colleague from the Canadian Alliance, as the Bloc Quebecois commits to doing today.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 30th, 2003 / 5:25 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Canadian Alliance Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to speak to a very worthwhile bill presented by my colleague from Surrey North, Bill C-338.

As we heard in the House last week, the bill proposes to amend the Criminal Code so that street racing would be considered an aggravating circumstance for the purpose of sentencing a person convicted of an offence committed by means of a motor vehicle under the following sections: section 220, criminal negligence causing death; section 221, criminal negligence causing bodily harm; subsection 249(3), dangerous operation causing bodily harm; and subsection 249(4), dangerous operation causing death.

The bill also provides for mandatory nationwide driving prohibitions ranging from one year to life in duration depending on whether the incident is a first, second, third or more offence to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed. For example, on a first offence a judge must suspend driving privileges nationwide for a period of one to three years. For a second offence the prohibition must be between two and five years. Any subsequent convictions will net a three year to lifetime licence removal. In addition, if a death resulted from the first or second offence, a lifetime prohibition would be imposed on the second conviction.

Making mandatory driving prohibitions effective nationwide prevents a street racer who has lost his or her licence in one province from bypassing the problem by simply obtaining a licence in a different province.

Those are the legalities of the bill. The reality is that this bill if passed will make our streets safer. It will prevent individuals who have killed or seriously injured someone as a result of street racing from simply serving a short sentence and then immediately returning to the driver's seat.

It will provide a measure of justice for the families of street racing victims. This is important because justice is often missing under the current laws and typically inconsequential sentences are attached to street racing offences. It may provide enough of a deterrent to stop some people from taking part in street racing activities.

It would be naive of us to expect any legislation to completely halt street racing. There are other factors that come into this, youth, alcohol, drugs, immaturity and inexperience among them. We cannot legislate personal responsibility or good judgment, but if we can at least make someone think about the potential consequences of his or her actions and have those consequences be severe enough to evoke an unfavourable response, I believe it is possible to provide a deterrent to dangerous behaviour.

That is what the bill does. By including nationwide driving prohibitions and treating street racing as an aggravating circumstance for sentencing purposes, Bill C-338 sends a message that there will be serious consequences for the four offences I mentioned earlier.

When discussing criminal sentencing, the government often claims to oppose minimum sentencing. We have heard that time and time again. In this case however, I believe the concept of a tough minimum penalty is exactly what is needed to serve as a deterrent. Fear of getting a speeding ticket just is not doing the job.

Street racing is not a new problem. It has been around for decades and decades. Its longevity however does not make it okay for individuals to abuse their driving privileges. It does not make it acceptable for them to disregard the safety and welfare of others for the simple thrill of an adrenalin rush for control, speed, power and prestige for status.

I believe it was the member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel who said it is important for young people, and this holds true for everyone, to realize that no matter how fine or how responsive a car is, treating it as a plaything can turn it into a deadly weapon. This is an excellent point and a message that must be more clearly transmitted to the driving public.

I believe it is the responsibility of Parliament to do what it can to protect the public from unnecessary danger. The bill helps achieve this purpose. There is no reason any family should have to deal with death or injury of a loved one due to street racing. Each and every one of these incidents is preventable and should not happen. Unfortunately they do happen and with disturbing regularity.

When I heard about the bill, I had my office contact the Canada Safety Council. The gentleman I was in contact with suggested that street racing in his opinion is actually in decline compared to decades ago. That may or may not be the case as it is difficult to obtain comprehensive statistics on the subject, but there is no denying the carnage that has marked our roads and highways in recent years strictly as a result of street racing.

A quick survey of news reports shows many deaths have been attributed to street racing, at least four in Saskatchewan alone since 1999. The sad part is that innocent bystanders often pay the fatal consequences of a racing driver's bad decision, passengers along for the ride, people walking along the street or on the sidewalk, even an RCMP constable who was killed when a street racer collided with his vehicle.

My colleagues have listed the names of some of those who have died as a result of street racing and also those names of street racers who have paid for these tragedies with the most minor of sentences. I will not repeat those today.

Some might argue that street racing is a matter that should fall to the jurisdiction of the provinces. Each province has its own laws regarding motor vehicles and traffic laws. Tougher measures to reduce activities such as street racing have been enacted in recent years. The modifications include changes to graduated licensing programs and impounding vehicles used in street racing, but realistically, the provinces are limited on what they can do beyond impounding vehicles and manipulating drivers' access to vehicles through licence suspensions.

On the streets police are also doing what they can to crack down on street racing. For example, in Regina, the capital city of my home province, street racing has become a target during traffic blitzes and awareness campaigns. The Saskatoon police have implemented a street legal racing program to help educate young people and the general public about the problems of illegal drug and alcohol use, the realities of alcohol or drug impaired driving and the dangers of illegal street and drag racing as opposed to racing on a designated track.

The program also helps promote a better understanding between the police and the communities they serve. Considering that the peak age for street racing is between the ages of 18 and 21, educational programs such as street legal are key tools in fighting street racing and other driving related problems such as aggressiveness, excessive speed, lack of respect for safety and traffic laws.

Despite the measures being undertaken by other levels of government, street racing is still a very real and very dangerous problem. That is why it is necessary for the federal government to implement legislation such as Bill C-338. It complements provincial and law enforcement efforts to combat street racing.

The costs of street racing are very high and I do not mean only in the sense of dollar values, although that certainly is an issue in terms of health care costs, insurance and damaged property. I am talking about the cost of the lives of our young people, the loss of potential and the cost of knowing our streets and highways are not as safe as they could or should be.

Canadians are concerned about this unnecessary menace and they want the government to take action. I call on each member of the House to do just that by supporting this bill before another innocent person falls victim to street racing.

Business of the HouseGovernment Orders

October 28th, 2003 / 12:20 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Vic Toews Canadian Alliance Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I believe that if you seek it among all parties, you will find consent for the following regarding private members' business:

That Bill C-452 in the name of the member for Lakeland, the item that is to be debated on Thursday, October 30, 2003, be switched with Bill C-338 in the name of the member for Surrey North, the item that is to be debated on November 27, 2003.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 24th, 2003 / 2:15 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Val Meredith Canadian Alliance South Surrey—White Rock—Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to speak to the bill brought forward by my colleague and neighbour, Bill C-338, on street racing.

I will not duplicate what others before me have said but I will talk about what street racing is. I do not think it is a new phenomenon. It is not something that is just here now. Movies like Grease and others show that it has been around. What is really different about street racing today is the cars and the attitudes. In today's world we have young people who perhaps have a little bit too much money, a little bit too much time on their hands and very little regard for the people outside their own circle of friends.

The situation calls for much more than this legislation. However what I think my colleague is attempting to say is that where it is happening and where the courts and police are able to convict the perpetrators, the courts must deal with it in a more serious way.

We must send a message to our young people that if they want to race their cars they should go to an area that has been set aside for racing vehicles and which has safety measures in place in case something goes wrong. That would take them out of a situation where innocent people could be hurt or killed.

Vancouver has had more than its fair share of incidents where young people, usually in the evening, have prearranged locations where they race each other down city streets with regular traffic. Young people, generally, do not have the experience to handle the situations in which they find themselves and sometimes they lose control of their cars. These situations are dangerous, not only for themselves and their passengers, but also for people who happen to be crossing the street, walking down the sidewalk or who are driving their own vehicles and just happen to get in the way.

I am also a little concerned that in some situations, although the cars are being impounded and therefore there is a financial cost to street racing, what has not been said is that those impounded cars generally go back to the family, usually the parents because they own the car. Therefore the cars are not being taken away and impounded for long periods of time.

The actual penalty these young people are receiving is having to stay home for a couple of months or receiving probation and having to talk to a probation officer. From incidents that have been recited earlier, a lot of these young people, who have the attitude that causes the problem in the first place, totally disregard the fact that they do not have a driver's licence any more and are on probation, go out and are caught speeding again without a licence. There have to be tougher penalties for those who have a reckless attitude and who think they can flaunt the law and the court orders given to them.

A stronger message has to be sent to these young people but it cannot be done through the police. The police are doing all they can. They have increased the unmarked police vehicles which have video systems so that they can record the activity for evidence in court appearances. All the detachments in the area have new radar units, at least in British Columbia. They are getting more equipment like spiked belts so that speeding cars can be stopped. However unless the courts follow up on activities in which the police are involved, how on earth are we to send a lasting message to these young people?

I have read articles where places are being created for these races in Ontario. There is a place in Mission, B.C., where they can race in a safe environment. It is not that they cannot get it out of their system somewhere. It is that they have a reckless disregard for the safety not only of themselves, but of other people by racing on city streets. It will take a lot more effort than what the government has seemingly been willing to do.

My colleague from Surrey North gave a very logical reason of why he is doing it. He gave a dissertation of the support that he has received from all provinces across the country. Yet the response from the government was that because it was not a government bill and because it did not come up with the idea, it will find some reason not to support it.

Frankly, I am becoming tired with that kind of attitude from the Liberals across the way. Not all good ideas come from the Liberal Party and it is about time that it accepted that.

When Liberals deliberately take an issue such as this and find some small, irrelevant reason not to support the concept, then they should present a better form. If there are problems with the fact that they do not like the minimum sentences and that they do not like this or that, then why do they not come up with some amendments or some way that it can be advanced in a better form?

I think Canadians want minimum sentences. Canadians are tired of seeing the courts disregarding the feelings that Canadians have toward their laws and where their laws should be going. I do not think Canadians want to see young people who are caught racing convicted of reckless driving. Causing bodily harm or death is another thing.

With reckless driving, Canadians do not want young people locked away and the key thrown away. However, Canadians want to have a serious enough penalty that young people are not going to be reoffending. Canadians want them to see that this is not a fun and cool thing to be doing. This is a criminal act and there is a criminal price to pay.

I am sorry that the Liberals do not seem to think that Canadians have the right to care. However, Canadians do care. Canadians understand that the next time they are on a city street they may be the ones ending up in a wrecked vehicle with a loved one dead beside them at the side of a road caused by young people racing in cars with a total disregard for other people on the road.

Canadians are concerned about this issue and the Liberal government should also be concerned.

If the Liberals have some concerns about the way this legislation is put together they should not just defeat it for the sake of defeating it because it is not their idea. The government should help put it in a form that will be acceptable to all. I think I am right in assuming that the government would find that most of the opposition parties would support the bill. Instead of turning it down point blank, let us get it in a form that would be acceptable to the government.

Let us ensure that the reason that we are doing this is to protect Canadians. We are not only protecting Canadians but protecting the young people who are becoming involved in this reckless activity. Let us ensure that the message that is given to them is a very strong message in order to discourage that kind of behaviour.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 24th, 2003 / 2:10 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

James Moore Canadian Alliance Port Moody—Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill C-338 proposed by my colleague from Surrey North, which is an act to amend the Criminal Code with regard to street racing.

In addressing the bill I am both saddened and concerned. I am concerned about a problem that is a major killer of young Canadians right across the country and in my riding. I am saddened that the government has done absolutely nothing about it.

Bill C-338 was first read in the House on December 11, 2002. One would normally have expected that in the intervening 10 months someone on the Liberal benches would have seen the obvious merit in the bill and would have proposed the necessary changes to the Criminal Code.

Even if the Liberals had slept through the introduction of Bill C-338 on December 11, one might have expected them to wake up the very next day when the hon. Norm Sterling, then Ontario's minister of transport, tabled in the Ontario legislature Bill 241, an act to enhance safety and mobility on Ontario's roads, 2002.

Bill 241 proposed cracking down on street racing by removing aggressive and unsafe drivers from the road by adding vehicle impoundment and driver's licence suspension both for 48 hours to the current tools available to police. The Ontario government could not go further because amending the Criminal Code is not something that a provincial government can do. It requires someone in this House to act.

It is important to address the glacial pace of progress in the House under the Liberal government. Bill C-338 was written in reaction to a February 2002 decision of the British Columbia Supreme Court to sentence two street racers to two years less a day of virtual house arrest, three years probation and five year driving prohibitions despite the fact that they had been doing twice the legal speed limit and had killed a pedestrian, Irene Thorpe, on November 13, 2000.

In an earlier case another street racer had received a four year prison sentence when his car hit and killed pedestrian Jerry Kithithee in June 2000. The only real difference between the two cases was that the driver who killed Kithithee was going a little faster and had run a red light.

British Columbians and Canadians do not make such distinctions. If a person is doing twice the legal limit and is involved in a race with another car on a street, an act in itself that ought to be illegal, and kills someone, the person should face more than just house arrest. That in essence is what Bill C-338 demands.

If the Liberal government had its finger on the pulse of British Columbia, it would have quickly reacted to the outrage that resulted from the lenient sentence given to Irene Thorpe's killers by changing the Criminal Code just as Bill C-338 suggests.

If the Liberal government was not deaf to the concerns of British Columbia, it would have changed the Criminal Code on September 15, 2002. That is the day after RCMP Constable Jimmy Ng, who was 31, was killed when a street racer hit his RCMP cruiser. The Liberals should have made the change, if only to make sure that such a tragedy would not happen again.

If the Liberals had reacted to the death of either Irene Thorpe or Constable Jimmy Ng, Bill C-338 might not have been necessary to table.

It gets worse. Even when the bill got first reading in the House, the government decided to continue to sleep. Instead of recognizing the important issue raised by the member for Surrey North and the official opposition and adopting his very reasonable solution, the government chose to do nothing.

As Canadians are quickly learning, inaction by the government often has a cost. In this case Liberal arrogance and inaction has an astonishingly high price: the lives of young Canadians, mostly between the ages of 18 and 21.

In British Columbia alone in 2000-01, according to the Insurance Bureau of British Columbia, 86 young people between the ages of 18 and 21 were killed in car crashes, most involving high speed.

In Ontario in the past two years, more than 17 people have died in street racing related accidents. Police say that there are more than 20,000 street racers in the Toronto area.

Even in Saskatchewan four people have died since 1999 in street racing accidents.

In Manitoba no one has died yet but convictions for street racing doubled from 1997 to 2001.

While the Liberals have continued to ignore what is a growing problem, the provinces and municipalities of the country have acted.

In Saskatoon the police operate a program called Street Legal using Saskatchewan International Raceway as its official race venue.

In Edmonton since September 9, 2002, the police have opened up Budweiser Motorsports Park to the public for racing. The public can even race the police. It is another effort to get racers off the street without using a tow truck and a heavy fine.

Montreal also allows street racers to race legally on designated tracks so that young drivers who really want to race can do so safely without risking their own lives or the lives of others.

In British Columbia three weeks ago, on October 3, solicitor general, Rich Coleman, introduced tough new modifications to B.C.'s graduated licensing program, in part, to combat street racing. In August 2003, his department unveiled its driver improvement program policies and procedures. It defines a street racer as “an individual who has engaged in high speed or unsafe racing in competition or on public highways”, and states that the police will impound any vehicles used in a street race.

Saskatchewan police have similar powers to impound vehicles under that province's highway traffic act. In Regina, during the weekend of August 15 to 17 this past summer, 12 vehicles were seized for street racing and 58 tickets were issued. In fact, a candidate in the Regina municipal election was recently quoted as saying that street racing was the number one issue in his ward.

The issue of street racing concerns Canadians from coast to coast and even though the provinces and municipalities are trying to address the problem, in many cases, through innovative new programs, the fact is that unless Ottawa acts all provinces can do is suspend licences and impound cars. Therefore it should come as no surprise that street racing continues to be a real problem.

This past Tuesday in Vancouver, two 2004 Subarus and a 1999 Mercedes SUV were racing neck and neck at speeds close to 140 kilometres an hour until one vehicle hit the guardrail at the Fir Street off-ramp. The drivers, two 18 year old Vancouver men, and a 21 year old Richmond man, were issued speeding tickets, 15 day driving suspensions on the spot and had their cars towed. Vancouver police have issued, this year, eight driving suspensions to street racers and speeders.

Unless Bill C-338 passes, races like the one we saw last Tuesday will continue because street racers are not seeing any action from the Liberal government. In fact, in the month of September the press reported three high profile cases of street racing, including two where people were killed.

On September 29 a man convicted of driving one of the cars involved in a deadly road race that killed 17 year old Payam Yaghoobi in February 2001 was sentenced to eight months in a youth facility and four months supervision in the community. The driver of the second car involved in the street race was earlier sentenced to three years probation and nine months house arrest after he was convicted of dangerous driving causing death.

On September 27 in Vernon, a 19 year old Kamloops man had his vehicle seized and his driver's licence suspended after a street racing incident in which speeds reached 120 kilometres an hour after two vehicles accelerated from a street light.

On September 4, Ariel Lipovetzky was charged with two counts of dangerous driving causing death. Daniel Kordis and Michael Mizun, both 16, were killed in a July 11 crash in Mississauga. The car they were in lost control, crossed two lanes and hit a tree.

Quite frankly, the way the Criminal Code works, unless Bill C-338 is passed, street racing is just a provincial traffic offence unless someone dies or is seriously injured. If we want to really address this problem we will encourage cities, like Edmonton, Saskatoon and Montreal, to give young drivers a safe place to race, and we will pass Bill C-338.

Bill C-338 would define street racing and treat it as an aggravating circumstance for the purposes of sentencing persons convicted of criminal negligence causing bodily harm or death, or convicted of a dangerous operation of a vehicle causing bodily harm or death, as per sections 220 and 221, and subsections 249(3) and 249(4) of the Criminal Code.

It would also require mandatory nationwide driving prohibitions to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed. First offenders would lose their licences for one to three years, second offenders for two to five years, and subsequent offenders for three years to life.

The driving prohibitions in Bill C-338 are not always as tough as provincial standards but apply nationally, so that a street racer in one province cannot race again anywhere in Canada for the duration of the probation. Bill C-338 is balanced, well thought out and necessary to secure safety for Canadians.

The government did not react to the lenient sentence given to Irene Thorpe's killers in February 2002. It ignored the September 14, 2002 death of RCMP Constable Jimmy Ng who was killed by a street racer. It slept through the introduction of this bill on December 11, 2002, and remained sleeping when the Government of Ontario tabled legislation dealing with street racing the very next day on December 12, 2002.

While the government has slept, roughly 100 young Canadians aged 18 to 21 have killed themselves in street races in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario, terrorized Canadians and countless others have been injured as a result of these actions.

It is time the government woke up to the need to work with the provinces and cities to deal with the problem of street racing, to pass Bill C-338 and make our streets safe again for young drivers and for those who share the roads with them.