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

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

Deepak Obhrai  Canadian Alliance

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

Status

Not active, as of Feb. 13, 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 CodePrivate Members' Business

May 5th, 2004 / 6:05 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-393 under private members' business.

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

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

April 30th, 2004 / 1:40 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to wish my friend who just spoke the best of luck in his retirement. I have been very privileged to have worked with him during the last seven years I have been in Parliament. I would like to thank him and his wife for all of their contributions to the Canadian public.

When I first introduced my bill, I was amazed at the amount of support that I received from citizens, from the provincial government and from police forces right across the country. I have given numerous interviews on radio stations and television stations across the country specifically talking about Bill C-393 and its importance.

The Toronto chief of police captured the whole debate on this issue as to why the bill is necessary and important when he said:

Deterrent sentences such as the one you have proposed are absolutely necessary if we are ever to realize the goal of truth in sentencing. Too often breaking and entering is viewed as a victimless property crime. In fact, it is a very serious and traumatic violation of a citizen's sense of safety and security.

That statement was made by the chief of police of the largest city in Canada.

I am sure that if government members were to go back to their ridings and talk with their citizens they would be told to support Bill C-393. I hope that when the bill comes up for a vote, people will know which of the members on the other side did not take this issue seriously and voted against it. I look forward to the upcoming vote.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

February 27th, 2004 / 2 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to add some thoughts to the debate on my colleague's private member's Bill C-393, an act to amend the Criminal Code dealing with breaking and entering.

I wish to congratulate my colleague from Calgary East for bringing this bill forward, not once, but on a number of occasions in the past, as is the case for so many of us in this chamber on both sides of the House. He should be given some marks for persistence if nothing else.

We continue to utilize the private members' business avenue to bring forward concerns that we continuously hear from our constituents on a wide variety of issues. So often government prorogues Parliament or there is a break in parliamentary procedures and bills die. They have to be resurrected and reintroduced, and go through the process all over again. It is incredibly frustrating.

I am saying this not just on behalf of the Conservative Party or the official opposition, but all opposition members and indeed government backbenchers who take advantage of private members' business to highlight issues and bring them to the chamber on behalf of their constituents.

I am very supportive of my colleague's initiative to apply a minimum sentence of two years. Obviously, there could be more than two years, but two years would be the minimum for people who are committing a break and entry.

The Liberal member for Simcoe North, if I understood him and I was in the chamber for the duration of the debate on this subject today, said that justice was best served when the judiciary had the greatest amount of discretion in handing down sentences. That seemed to be the major thrust of his opposition to my colleague's private member's bill.

One of the problems that we have in Canada, and the member for Regina—Qu'Appelle from the NDP referred to this in his remarks, is that judges have far too much discretion in our sentencing provisions. All too often, because there are no minimums, judges let criminals off with the proverbial slap on the wrist. What my colleague is endeavouring to do is to highlight this problem in one particular crime, breaking and entering.

The member for Simcoe North tried to get the whole argument off onto one facet of breaking and entering which is home invasion. He rightly described it as being much more serious of course than a simple break and enter.

I do not think that we can disguise the seriousness of this and how people that have been subjected to a break and enter feel about it. They feel that it is an invasion of their person; it is not just their home that has been invaded. They feel that they themselves have been violated.

When they go to court and see the criminal convicted, and all too often it is a conditional sentence where not a day in jail is served, or a fine, it does not do justice to the feelings that they as victims have. That is why my colleague felt the necessity to bring this forward and instill some minimum sentence.

I noted as well that my colleague from Regina—Qu'Appelle said that he wanted to make it very plain that he believed we had to be tough on crime.

Yet, anyone who has watched the proceedings in the House of Commons over the last number of years, and I have been here 10 years now, and would like to check the record would see that time and time again my colleagues and I from the old Reform Party of Canada or the Canadian Alliance brought forward private members' bills or opposition motions on our supply days that did exactly that, get tough on crime. The record would show that the NDP and very often the Bloc voted against those motions. I would take it with a grain of salt when I hear an NDP member say that he wants to get tough on crime.

He went on to talk about things that had nothing to do with this piece of legislation. He talked about the despair that people feel when they are raised in poverty and the hopelessness they face when they have no opportunities. Those are valid points, but that has nothing to do with this bill. This bill deals with a specific crime and the wish of the member to see a minimum sentence introduced into the Criminal Code to deal with that specific crime.

The Bloc Quebecois member, in addressing this particular bill, said at one point in his intervention that he thought it might be a good idea to have an awareness campaign to ensure that those who commit break and enters are aware of the seriousness of the crime. He thought that it was appropriate to put our trust in the way that courts administer the system.

He said several times that it is not the role of Parliament nor parliamentarians to replace judges and that we should not be here to do the work of judges. I agree with that. However, we are seeing all too often, and what I hear in Prince George—Peace River, too much leeway given to judges. All too often we see sentences that do not fit the crime, certainly not in the opinions of the victims and not in the opinion of the broad spectrum of Canadian society. Canadians feel that we do not have an appropriate justice system anymore.

I have remarked many times in the chamber that people are increasingly frustrated with our legal system, especially once they become victims and are thrust into the system. They go to court to hopefully get their day in court, see justice done, see the guilty held accountable, and the criminal held responsible for his or her crime. They see criminals basically laugh at the justice system, thumb their noses at it and walk out of the court scot-free. The victims are left feeling violated and victimized again.

It was not bad enough in this particular case that the victims had to be subjected to a break and enter, a violation of their home, but when the criminal gets off basically scot-free, they are left with the sense that they have been violated once more.

We must send a strong message and we are not going to do that, with all due respect to my Bloc colleague, with an awareness campaign. We are not going to do it by having someone conduct an educational campaign or put advertisements on television saying people should not do that because it is not very nice to break into somebody's home.

How we are going to do it is by providing real deterrents. We are going to do it by passing legislation like Bill C-393 introduced by my colleague from Calgary East. It gets tough on crime by providing real deterrents, a minimum sentence where individuals who make a conscious decision to break into somebody's home would know that they would do two years in jail minimum, maybe more depending on the nature of the crime, but that would be the minimum.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

February 27th, 2004 / 1:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Mario Laframboise Bloc Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak this afternoon on Bill C-393, a private member's bill introduced by my Conservative colleague.

I will not go into technical details, as the Liberal member before me did. Why? Because I do not want to make people feel as I did when I was taking criminal law at the Université de Montréal. I do not want to teach law this afternoon; nonetheless, we are here to pass legislation. We are here as legislators, and I understand that my Conservative Party colleague wants, in his own way, to right certain wrongs he sees in society.

However, I want to try to address the social impact of this bill. I want to read the bill's summary, which nicely summarizes the bill the member has put before this House.

The purpose of this enactment is to provide for the imposition of aminimum mandatory period of imprisonment of two years upon a secondor subsequent conviction for the offence of breaking and entering wherethe offence was committed in relation to a dwelling-house.

We all agree that breaking and entering is a serious violation of our rights. We always feel violated when our homes are broken into. I think the legislator addressed this. For the benefit of those listening, I want to indicate what the current penalty is. Paragraph 348(1)( d ) of the Criminal Code states:

—if the offence is committed in relation to a dwelling-house, of an indictable offence and liable

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

Obviously, the objective here is the sentence and imprisonment for life. This is such a serious crime that the legislator has already indicated that the offender could receive the maximum sentence of life in prison.

I think that the citizens listening to us can understand that. Nevertheless, before we arrive at the maximum penalty, it is up to the discretion of judges. That is why we have courts and judges who hand down sentences proportional to the gravity of the offence. Our criminal law is based on what jurists and others who know something about the law call precedent. According to precedent, judges in a particular kind of situation have taken a particular kind of position. I think that this is healthy.

In his introduction, my colleague said that this was the fourth time he had introduced this bill, that he would not stop introducing it and that he had the support of Canadians. I would just like to say to him that the Bloc Quebecois will not support his bill. It is not because breaking into a dwelling is not a serious offence. It is so serious that one of the most severe penalties, life imprisonment, may be applied.

Still, the punishment must fit the crime. That is the point where we place our trust in the courts to make the right decision, depending on the type of offence.

I will continue by telling my colleague we have to be careful of the message we are sending as members, especially to young people who are listening to us. It is not up to us in this House to hand down sentences in the place of the courts. We are here to try to adopt new rules and new legislation to promote the work of those who are enforcing the law. That is our job, not to replace the judges.

That is what worries me in the bill tabled by my colleague. If ever we adopt the two year sentence and this does not suit him because, again, he is told the rulings are not harsh enough, he will come back in a few years—I wish him many years in this House—with another amendment to change the minimal sentence from two years to four, five or ten years.

That is the problem. We cannot stand in for those whose job this is. The judges in Quebec and Canada have this responsibility. They are the ones who have to impose a sentence proportionate to the seriousness of the offence.

This is what people have to understand about the way our law works. Of course, as legislators, we are here to make the laws and we leave it to others, to legal specialists, to determine sentencing. In our cases, it is up to the judges to determine the sentences according to the rules of the courts.

I am ready at any time to support my colleague who is asking for a vast awareness campaign to make people understand that break-ins are serious offences.

We have to make them understand that the action that they might be contemplating in order to make money, by breaking into residences, is a very serious offence and that they could receive a maximum penalty for it, namely a sentence of life imprisonment. They have to realize this. Some of our fellow citizens may not fully understand the gravity of their actions.

However, if we are always trying to take the place of the courts and to decide what the sentences should be, in my opinion, we are taking on a responsibility that we do not have. We are here to try and clarify the situation. We are here to act as legislators, to try to come up with standards that society will respect, but we are not here to take the place of judges.

This is what I see in the bill that was introduced by my colleague. By saying that there must be minimal penalties for a subsequent conviction, it is as if we wanted to replace the courts and tell judges, “You did not do your job right”. I do not think this is our role as members of Parliament. We are not here to replace judges; we are here to pass legislation to clarify the law.

In this case, if there was a legal tangle, if we did not understand the text, I repeat, the current legislation already provides, at paragraph 348(1)( d ):

—if the offence is committed in relation to a dwelling-house, of an indictable offence and liable

(i) to imprisonment for life—

Thus, in the current paragraph 348(1)( d ) of the Criminal Code, the maximum penalty that may be imposed by a judge is imprisonment for life. So, this is a serious offence. This is why this penalty was decided on. Legislators who were here before us, members who were in this House before us decided to allow the courts to impose the maximum penalty, which is imprisonment for life.

That tells us how serious this offence is. What has our hon. colleague concerned are the lenient sentences handed down by the courts. This is where we have to be careful, because penalties are proportional to the severity of the crime.

If young Canadians or young families are watching this debate, I want them to know that members of Parliament are not always able to bring people or the justice system back on the right track when sentences are too lenient. We are here to support them.

Not voting in support of this bill does not mean that we think that breaking and entering a dwelling-house is not a serious offence. The maximal penalty for such an offence is imprisonment for life, and we agree with that.

On the other hand, I do not believe that we should tell a judge that there will be minimum sentences. In my view, we should let the judiciary determine the sentence according to the seriousness of the offence. Up to now, we have been confident in the courts, in the manner in which they have handled sentencing. We know full well that there will always be circumstances where citizens—even ourselves sometimes—will find that judges do not give tough enough sentences.

However, we should always bear in mind that we did not attend the trial and follow all its stages, and that we were not informed of all circumstances of the case. This is why we have the judiciary. It would be too easy to play the Monday morning quarterback, to use a popular term, and claim that we would not have made such a decision.

What our constituents, our fellow citizens, the Quebeckers listening to us must understand is that when a judge renders a decision it is after hearing a case and after hearing witnesses. Often, trials last for hours, even days, and, in order to arrive at a sentence, one has to have all the evidence.

The Bloc Quebecois will vote against this proposal, and will continue to support the current judiciary.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

February 27th, 2004 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Paul Devillers Liberal Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on this private member's bill, Bill C-393, an act to amend the Criminal Code in relation to the offence of break and enter.

The government could not be more serious about its role in ensuring the protection of the public and providing for a fair and effective criminal justice system. In recognition of this fundamental and essential responsibility, all aspects of the system are under constant and rigorous review by the government.

However, careful consideration of the bill before us reveals that although well intended, the proposal would not render the criminal justice system any more effective, nor would it serve to further the protection of the public.

The stated purpose of the bill is to amend the Criminal Code to provide for the imposition of a mandatory minimum period of imprisonment of two years upon a second or subsequent conviction for the offence of breaking and entering, where the offence was committed in relation to a dwelling house.

I am certain that all members of the House share the concerns of the hon. member for Calgary East, which motivated him to introduce Bill C-393, and sincerely empathize with the victims of the offence of breaking and entering. Even those who have not been personally affected by an offence of this nature are capable of imagining the feelings of loss, violation and fear that victims suffer as the result of what is technically categorized as a property offence. This is a crime that can severely affect a victim's basic sense of security.

The existing provisions of the Criminal Code already clearly reflect the government's view of the gravity of the crime of breaking and entering and its effect on victims. Indeed, the view is significantly reflected by the fact that subsection 348(1)(d) of the Criminal Code provides for a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. It can hardly be said that the penalty for this offence is insufficient when it is the most severe sentence available under criminal law.

The hon. member for Calgary East now proposes to impose a mandatory minimum period of imprisonment of two years for those convicted of a second or subsequent conviction for the offence of breaking and entering where the offence was committed in relation to a dwelling house.

However, mandatory minimum sentences have not been shown to have a positive impact on crime rates in the great majority of cases. In fact, mandatory minimums are completely contrary to the notion of effective corrections, which relies on individualized assessment of risk and needs and to the basic statutory principles of sentencing. The unintended side effect of mandatory minimum sentences includes increased federal incarceration rates, associated increases in costs, system dysfunction and reduced safety and increased disparity.

Limiting judicial discretion by providing for the imposition of the mandatory minimum sentence for an offence can be seen as inconsistent with section 718.1 of the Criminal Code. This important section provides that every “sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender”. In other words, justice is best served when the judiciary has the necessary discretion to determine which sentence best fits the particular crime and offender.

As well, paragraph 718.2(d) of the code states that “an offender should not be deprived of liberty, if less restrictive sanctions may be appropriate in the circumstances”. A key element of effective sentencing and corrections is distinguishing between offenders who need to be separated from society and those who can be safely and better managed in the community. Reducing or removing discretion makes the criminal justice system more arbitrary and expends resources unnecessarily on incarceration when other measures can be less expensive and more effective.

In the United States, there is now a movement away from strict sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimum sentences. This movement includes Justice Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court and has even led several noted jurists to resign from the bench.

Justice Kennedy has stated:

I can accept neither the necessity nor the wisdom of federal mandatory minimum sentences. In all too many cases, mandatory minimum sentences are unjust.

As the mandatory minimum penalty proposed by the bill before the House today is two years, this would result in virtually all individuals convicted of breaking and entering in relation to a dwelling house being incarcerated in federal penitentiaries as opposed to provincial facilities, where the majority is now incarcerated. This could result in offenders being placed in correctional facilities that are not suited to their needs and the risk they pose to society.

The proposal submitted by the hon. member for Calgary East is apparently motivated in part by his concern about criminal acts known as home invasions, a concern shared by all members of the House. Home invasion crimes have been the subject of much analysis and consultation by the Department of Justice. This matter was addressed as part of Bill C-15A, which received royal assent on June 4, 2002.

As a result of that legislation, the Criminal Code now provides that home invasion is an aggravating factor in sentencing for certain offences. A court sentencing a person for unlawful confinement, robbery, extortion or break and enter would have to consider it an aggravating circumstance that the offence was committed in an occupied dwelling where the offender was either aware that it was occupied or was reckless in this regard, and where he or she used violence or threats of violence against a person or property. In other words, the presence of any of these factors would justify the imposition of a harsher sentence.

Recent court judgments indicate that the judiciary is taking heed of this important amendment to the Criminal Code and is indeed imposing more serious sentences in home invasion cases. For example, soon after this amendment came into force, the British Columbia Court of Appeal upheld a ten year sentence in a home invasion case. The hon. member read a letter from someone saying that the most severe penalty they had heard of was three years, but here is one for ten years.

Honourable Mr. Justice Hall, speaking for the court, said it must be made clear that those who engage in planned home invasions will, upon conviction, face significant penalties. Justice Hall suggested that a sentence in the range of eight to twelve years should be generally considered appropriate in this class of case.

Similarly, in June 2003, the New Brunswick Provincial Court sentenced an offender to seven years' imprisonment in relation to a home invasion. The trial judge stated that a lengthy sentence was necessary in light of the severity of the offence.

The application of the fundamental principles of sentencing and the taking into account of mitigating and aggravating factors allow the courts to arrive at fit sentences such as these. This is the way sentence determination should be carried out, not through the mechanical process proposed in Bill C-393.

Although the hon. member is well intentioned, the proposal in the bill would make the justice system more arbitrary, fetter judicial discretion, and increase federal incarceration costs. Equally important, it would not improve the protection of society.

The government is fully committed to improving public protection. This will continue to be a key priority of the government. However, Bill C-393 falls short of this important objective and therefore, in our opinion, should not be supported.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

February 27th, 2004 / 1:10 p.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

moved that Bill C-393, an act to amend the Criminal Code (breaking and entering), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and speak to my private member's bill.

This is the fourth time I have introduced this bill in the House and I will continue to introduce it until it is passed because that is what Canadians want.

I will briefly tell the House what the bill is all about. The bill is about breaking and entering and it calls for a minimum two year sentence for repeat break and enter offenders.

How did the bill originate? Some time in 1998 the provincial justice ministers met. They identified break and enter as being one of the major problems in rising crime going on in Canada from coast to coast. They are the ones who looked at the possibility and came up with the idea that there would be a two year minimum sentence for repeat break and enter offenders. Based on that I introduced the bill at that time.

However, because of the undemocratic process in the House where a private member's bill must go before a committee, the government members, who were opposed to the bill, kept stalling it and making it non-votable.

I did not give up, which is why I am pleased to say that today the members on both sides of the House will vote on the bill. I hope Canadians from coast to coast will write to their members of Parliament and tell them what they and the chiefs of police have been telling me , which is that break and enter has become a serious crime that they want addressed. I hope that when the bill comes to a vote it will be sent to a committee.

Break and enter is not a property offence. It is a crime against a person. Break and enter is a violation of a person's home and property, often the only place of private ownership and privacy left for Canadians to enjoy. It is a psychologically damaging crime that leaves victims feeling personally violated and scared. It has the potential to be a violent crime because every break and enter is potentially a home invasion.

According to a Statistics Canada survey, 68% of Canadians favour a prison sentence for adults convicted of repeat break and enter. Bill C-393 would do what the majority of Canadians want, which is to impose real punishment on criminals who choose to violate our premises by breaking into our homes.

Currently there is no penalty for a break and enter offence but there is a maximum penalty: life imprisonment. While the maximum calls for life imprisonment, police statistics indicate that when repeat offenders are caught for break and enter they get away with a light sentence, which makes this a profitable business. The sentences that are being given out by the courts generally range from three months to eight months. When the offenders are caught and go before the court, the court hands out three to six month sentences. They are then back on the streets and back into their profitable business.

I have seen statistics, as recently as three or four days ago, for Regina. The statistics show that break and enter has been increasing in Regina as well. When I was on a talk show in Regina a couple of days ago I spoke with residents who all expressed serious concern. They thought I was asking for a very lenient sentence. Some of them wanted flogging and some wanted real punishment for these people.

The bottom line is that people are frustrated because they do not see the government doing anything on the issue. They want to know why there are not more police officers. They want to know whether people are being caught.

Yes, our streets could be safer if we had more police officers. We have been saying that for a long time. Instead of $100 million wasted on the sponsorship scandal, we could have more police officers on the streets arresting those who break and enter.

However, just having more police officers will not solve the problem. We do not need more police officers arresting criminals and then the courts letting the criminals off. In the whole context of fighting this crime, we do need more police officers but we also need more stringent sentences and better rehabilitation programs.

Why do I mention rehabilitation programs? I mention rehabilitation because, aside from the professional thieves, some people who commit break and enter crimes are on drugs at the time and find it is easy to break into somebody's house, pick up a television and sell it at the pawn shop for a couple of dollars to get their fix.

We have talked about the need for rehabilitation programs for people in those situations instead of just putting them into jail for two or three months and then letting them out.

I know what arguments the government and the bureaucrats in the justice department will put forward on this bill. The government does not believe in minimum sentences. It has bought into the argument that a minimum sentence, for some reason, is not reflective of a proper justice system, which is nonsense.

When we talk about punishment, we are talking about punishment that fits the crime. However when the government says that we cannot have minimum sentences, that we can only have maximum sentence, this gives leeway to the judges and allows them to make the decisions.

The degree of frustration in Canadians is increasing as they find that their streets and their homes are no longer safe.

What do we do about this whole situation? We as elected officials must listen to the people and we need to give direction to the court. Does anyone think that something is wrong with the justice system if it were to put somebody away for a minimum of two years for a repeat break and enter offence? Would it really be cruel to do that? No. We are talking about repeat break and enter offences.

When are we going to listen to the people? I have received many letters from the chiefs of police in Saskatoon, Toronto and other cities all supporting this minimum two year sentence. These are the people on the front lines fighting the crime who want this. The Canadian public wants it.

What is wrong with the government? It cannot have a problem with this minimum sentence. It needs to change its thinking. Minimum sentencing is also part and parcel of the tools our justice system has to ensure that our streets are safe.

What will happen now? The government will stand and say that a minimum sentence is not a good thing. However, because it is a free vote, I hope members of Parliament on all sides will conduct a survey and listen to what their constituents are saying. Canadians are asking us to make their streets safe.

I have already told the House that this proposal came from the provincial ministers. They want this be put into place. They have been listening to Canadians and Canadians are concerned about break and enter.

My house was broken into once. I know we all have a responsibility to ensure our homes are protected and our doors are locked so that criminals cannot walk in and steal our things. In all contexts, homeowners have a responsibility, but the police need the tools to do their job, the justice system has to show that repeat break and enter offenders are punished for what they do, and we need rehabilitation programs in order to make our streets safe.

I am sure all members of Parliament on both sides of the House have heard that we need to do something about break and enter. All statistics indicate that break and enter is on the rise. The police officers I have spoken to are very frustrated. Not only do they need the tools to do their job, they are frustrated when these people go to court and get off with light minimum sentences.

The only argument the government is putting forward is that it does not believe in this minimum sentence. Well we have to tell the government that this is one of the tools for justice so that we can address this issue of break and enter.

When I first introduced this bill and held a press conference in Calgary, I had people lined up whose houses were broken into. Members should hear their stories of how scared they were, the details of what happened and the violation they felt. These were private citizens who were asking that we make it safe. Seniors were telling me that they were scared because of the possibility of violence during break and enters. Violence often occurs during a break and enter if the criminals encounter somebody at home.

As a matter of fact, I was speaking to a person from Regina who was very fortunate. When he arrived home one day he thought his house was being broken into because the door was open but it was his children who had arrived home.

If we do not address this rising problem, which everybody is asking for, then what are we doing? What is our purpose?

I again appeal to members of Parliament on both sides to acknowledge that break and enter is on the rise and that we should provide the police with the tools they need, which is what the provincial ministers want. We should work for this and put it in the Criminal Code so we can address this rising problem that is taking place. I have the statistics on this.

I want to read a letter from a constituent who says:

I believe home break-and-enters to be one of the greatest invasions a family or person endures. I'm sure my family and I would be deeply traumatized by that experience. I believe this is a huge problem and always in the minds of all Canadians.

Once again, I am appealing to members of Parliament on both sides to please look at this bill. This is one of the tools that is needed to make our streets safe.

JusticeStatements By Members

February 28th, 2003 / 10:55 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have reintroduced my private member's Bill C-393 now for the third time.

This private member's bill would amend the Criminal Code by providing for the imposition of a minimum mandatory period of imprisonment of two years upon a second or subsequent conviction for the offence of breaking and entering where the offence was committed in relation to a dwelling house.

A break and enter offence is much more than a property offence. It is a crime against the person. It is a crime that violates a person's home, often the only refuge of private ownership and privacy left for Canadians to enjoy. It also has the potential to be a violent crime because every break and enter is potentially a home invasion.

The Liberals have been making this bill non-votable despite Canada-wide support from police organizations. For a change, can the Liberals listen to Canadians and do something about the break and enter problem?

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

February 13th, 2003 / 10:30 a.m.
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Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-393, an act to amend the Criminal Code (breaking and entering).

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to introduce the bill. This is the third time I have introduced it.

The purpose of the bill is to provide for the imposition of a minimum mandatory period of imprisonment of two years upon a second and subsequent conviction for the offence of break and enter where the offence was committed in relation to a dwelling house.

A break and enter crime is much more than a property offence. It is a crime against a person. It is a psychologically damaging crime, leaving victims feeling personally violated and traumatized.

Our courts have given judgments and the average judgment has been around six to eight months. Most break and enters are repeat offenders. The minimum two year sentence will ensure that repeat offenders are taken off the streets and given the necessary rehabilitation to l break the cycle of crime. That is why it is my pleasure to introduce the bill.

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