An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing)

This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.

Sponsor

Chuck Cadman  Independent

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

Status

Not active, as of Oct. 20, 2004
(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 18th, 2005 / 1:30 p.m.
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NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDP intends to support this bill. As we have heard throughout this debate, it makes provisions for a common problem that a number of urban centres have been experiencing.

Oftentimes we hear individual stories with some great tragedy of innocent bystanders being severely injured or in many cases killed. My party has a particular concern with that. The wife of the former premier of Ontario lost both her parents as a result of an incident like that back in the early nineties. Therefore, we are particularly sensitive to the consequences of this type of criminal behaviour.

We also acknowledge the work of one of our former members, Mr. Cadman from Surrey North, who brought this issue to the House by way of a private member's bill, Bill C-230, and publicized the need for additional criminal legislation to deal with this criminal behaviour.

The bill is fairly straightforward in terms of dealing with the sentencing consequences of someone convicted of street racing. It is a measured response to the problem. We have the ongoing debate in this chamber, certainly in the justice committee, over the use of mandatory sentences. I have no hesitation in saying that in the vast majority of cases, I am convinced that mandatory sentences are unconstitutional, offensive to the charter and quite frankly useless for the purpose for which they are intended, which is to deter crime.

However, there are exceptions to that. We saw that most tellingly in the use we made of minimum mandatory sentences with regard to impaired driving. We have to be careful of overemphasizing the effectiveness of that tool. It is my belief and conviction, from everything I have read and studied, that in this case public education, the work of groups like MADD and the work of our police forces to educate the public of the scourge of impaired driving and its impact on families and communities, is most telling in getting the rates down.

It is also interesting to look at that. There was a blip in 2003-04 where incidents of impaired driving edged back up. The law did not change. The penalties were still as severe, but it began to edge back up a little. I think there was a reduction in the amount of educational work, such as ads in the paper and public meetings. As a result, there was a slight increase.

Similarly with this bill, the introduction of mandatory one year suspensions, which then go progressively higher for repeat offences, can be part of the tools we need to reduce and try to eliminate this criminal behaviour. However, it will not be successful by itself. I suggest that it will be a small part of it. We need to take on a strong campaign of public education to reach those individuals who would consider involving themselves in what they oftentimes see at the beginning as fairly harmless conduct, hijinks of youthfulness. We know better. We know the potential consequences.

In that regard, one thing we have to do is talk to automotive companies. A recent documentary on the amount of money spent on promoting the sale of vehicles indicated that in some markets as much as 80% was used to promote the use of automobiles that is clearly illegal. That is conduct in operating a vehicle that would be at the minimum speeding, but oftentimes would amount to careless if not reckless driving and those charges under our provincial and federal statutes. We need the kind of campaign that would say to automotive companies that they have to change the way they promote the sale of their cars. It is no longer acceptable in this society because of the permissiveness it gives to young people in particular to think it is natural to drive in urban settings in a reckless, dangerous manner. They think it is acceptable. They think it is sexy.

We recognize the need for the amendments to the Criminal Code, and we will support them. I look forward to the bill going to the justice committee where it will hear additional evidence as to whether there are any additional steps we can take by way of amendment to strengthen the bill. As of now we will be supporting it.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, all of us know that illegal street racing terrorizes our neighbourhoods and kills children and our friends. We must put a stop to it. More than 30 people have been killed in the Lower Mainland in the past years because of street racing.

Like other British Columbians, Mr. Cadman understood very well the seriousness of the problem. He introduced private member's Bill C-230, but the government refuses to support it. Now the Liberals have reversed their position, have taken over the bill as their own, but they have seriously weakened it. We need this legislation, but it must be as forceful as it was in its original form.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 12:40 p.m.
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Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to congratulate my Bloc Québécois colleague on his pertinent remarks this morning on this bill. The member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie expressed some relevant thoughts about this problem, which relates to public safety and also, as he said, the environment.

I will try today to make my own contribution to this debate, which affects the people of Quebec and Canada.

I have the pleasure of speaking on Bill C-65, which was introduced by the Minister of Justice on September 28. It seeks to amend the Criminal Code with regard to street racing.

As we know, Bill C-65 is based on Bill C-230, a private member's bill introduced by Mr. Cadman on October 20, 2004. Unfortunately, Mr. Cadman died of cancer in July. This bill has become part of his legacy in the House of Commons, even if, as some Conservative colleagues claim, this bill is not as tough as his. The Bloc Québécois feels, however, that it is a step in the right direction.

The purpose of Bill C-65 is to amend the Criminal Code by clearly defining street racing, that is, operating a motor vehicle in a race with another motor vehicle on public property, and by specifically identifying the involvement in street racing as an aggravating factor during sentencing for offences involving criminal negligence and dangerous driving. I say “specifically” because when someone is found guilty of one of the four offences currently listed in the Criminal Code, namely, criminal negligence causing death, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm, the court in imposing a sentence must take the fact that the individual was involved in street racing into account as an aggravating factor in the commission of the offence.

Furthermore, this bill requires the judge to suspend for at least one year the driver's licence of anyone found guilty of such offences committed during street races. As we know, the mandatory automatic suspension of a driver's licence has applied only when a person was found guilty of impaired driving.

Now the bill provides for a mandatory driving prohibition order for a minimum of one year and a maximum of 10 years for criminal negligence causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing bodily harm and dangerous driving causing death. When an individual is found guilty of criminal negligence causing death, the duration of the order is not limited by the legislation. In such a case, the judge could very well suspend the driver's licence of the guilty party for life.

Our party is in favour of Bill C-65. We believe it is extremely important to define and reinforce the sentences imposed on those who engage in street racing, whose numbers are unfortunately increasing. We are all affected by dangerous driving, whether by the death of a loved one, by injuries suffered or by a personal tragedy. A few years ago I lost a friend when a motorcycle race between him and some friends came to a tragic end. The whole point was to have fun and show off his driving skills, but the misadventure that took his life could have taken other lives as well.

Public roads are not racetracks, nor should they be dangerous to the lives and physical safety of adults and children. As legislators, we must pass laws that ensure the public good and help to protect people. That is what this bill does.

Like driving under the influence, street racing is dangerous and unacceptable, and the consequences must be clear and pre-determined.

This bill toughens the sentences for participating in dangerous, illegal activities. It should help to dissuade people from this practice, which all too often poses a danger to the safety of citizens and infringes on their right to move about safely on our roads.

Some of us know people, have friends, who have been victimized by this kind of behaviour on our roads. All too often, people have seen their lives turned upside down by these dangerous activities. Some people have been killed, while others have suffered traumatic experiences or been injured. Every day there are new victims.

I was speaking earlier about the dangers of impaired driving and the dissuasive legislation regarding this scourge. Over the last few years, we have passed some general dissuasive initiatives, such as legislation to convince people not to drink and drive out of fear of the negative consequences. These negative consequences, such as suspended driver's licences, are designed to prevent offenders from repeating the behaviour. The legislation has been very beneficial on the whole and has helped to reduce impaired driving considerably. However, although the negative experience of arrest, courts and sentences is enough to prevent some people from repeating this behaviour, others seem to treat the experience as just an inconvenience before they return to their old ways.

That is why it is necessary to encourage the development of responsible automobile driving and why it is important to pass preventive legislation. It is important and necessary to punish, but punishment is not enough because it is often too late. As in the case of impaired driving, preventive legislation must be passed to make drivers really think about the dangers of street racing.

I want to come back to the problem of driving. As I said, much work has been done in Quebec to make drivers of all ages more aware of the dangers associated with such behaviour. Tools have been adapted in order to decrease the likelihood of someone drinking and driving. These tools were a key component of past countermeasures, such as informing the public about the danger of this practice and increasing public awareness.

Since street racing is a threat to public safety, just as much as drinking and driving is, the state must implement legislation to cover this new phenomenon and must also conduct a comprehensive public awareness and education campaign.

When it comes to public safety, the rights of the public must always take precedence over the rights of individuals. As my colleague, the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, said, it is time to give our police forces additional tools so that they can more effectively enforce the law. Prevention is essential, but we also need more appropriate deterrents and punitive measures. We believe that this bill could help counter this phenomenon. The state is responsible for defining the limits of acceptable behaviour in our society. We need to act as responsible legislators for our individual and collective safety.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 12:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague's submission on Bill C-65. I certainly support the intent to which he alluded. We need to get tougher with people who commit these types of crimes, and make no mistake about it, these are crimes.

When people wilfully and flagrantly disregard speed limits and participate in street racing, they ultimately not only put their lives at risk but also the lives of their passenger. All too often they take innocent lives, people who are crossing streets at crosswalks. We have to be assured that the laws are respected. If they are not respected, then we have to get tough with those who would commit these types of offences and take innocent lives.

I am constantly reminded of how often this happens in my home province of British Columbia. Almost every week we hear about another tragedy, in particular in the city of Vancouver and the surrounding communities such as Surrey where Chuck Cadman lived. It continues to be a very serious problem in that community as well as others across our land.

I want to be very clear about this. To my Liberal colleague's credit, he referred to the fact that there was a major difference between Bill C-65 and Mr. Cadman's private member's bill, Bill C-230. When it comes to a second offence of either dangerous driving or criminal negligence causing death, Mr. Cadman wanted to send a message to those who would do such a thing that it was intolerable and unacceptable in our society. He wanted to send the message that those who would do such a thing would lose their driving privileges for life. He felt this was serious.

Bill C-65 would provide a range for judges and courts to consider. That was not Chuck Cadman's intent. He wanted to send a message that if someone was convicted of the second offence, they would lose their licence. He felt if they caused an innocent death, they should lose their licence forever. They should lose the privilege of having a licence. It is a privilege, not a right. We do not have a right to drive a vehicle on our roads. It is a privilege to have a driver's licence. We have to take a test to get it. We have to prove that we can operate a motor vehicle in a safe and responsible way. People who commit these crimes do not do that.

With all due respect to my colleague, I believe the government is once more trying to pull the wool over Canadians eyes. Those members say that they are getting tough with a very serious crime when they are not. Bill C-65 would not do that. It still would leave a wide range for a judge or the courts to interpret. The maximum sentence will never be used.

My colleague said that the government had increased the maximum from what Chuck intended in his bills. The point is the maximums are not used in our court system. That is why we need mandatory minimums.

We in the Conservative Party are always careful about the word minimum because it could be misconstrued by the Canadian public. They might think that somehow minimum means a lesser sentence. They need to understand that a mandatory minimum is a threshold. No judge, no jury, no court can go below that threshold. It is a mandatory sentence. We are trying to send the message to people who would conduct themselves in this manner that their behaviour is unacceptable in our society. If they participate and if something goes wrong and innocent lives are taken, they will face that mandatory sentence.

For a second offence of dangerous driving, criminal negligence causing death, Chuck Cadman wanted that sentence to be a lifetime driving prohibition. I do not understand why that member, who I know takes this issue very seriously, would not support amending the bill back to the original intent that Chuck wanted to see.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 12:20 p.m.
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Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express support for Bill C-65, an act to amend the Criminal Code.

Over the past few years there have been horrific instances of innocent people being injured or even killed as a result of street racing. Despite the potential of death or serious injury, as well as criminal sanction, this dangerous phenomena of street racing continues on our streets.

I am pleased to state that the Criminal Code does already have offences that criminalize fatal and injurious collisions where street racing is involved. These existing offences include criminal negligence causing death, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment; dangerous driving causing death, which carries a maximum of 14 years imprisonment; criminal negligence causing bodily harm with a maximum of 10 years imprisonment; and dangerous driving causing bodily harm with a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

There have been cases where the courts have recognized street racing as an aggravating factor at sentencing, although there is presently no requirement under the Criminal Code that they consider this fact as an aggravating factor. An aggravating factor typically has the result of increasing the sentence that a court would otherwise impose if the factor did not exist.

Furthermore, the courts currently have the discretionary power under the Criminal Code to order a period of driving prohibition if a person is convicted of one of these four offences. These current discretionary periods do not have a minimum period of prohibition and they do allow for a 10 year maximum period where there is a conviction for the offences that I mentioned before.

The goal of Bill C-65 is to make this existing legislative scheme stronger in a balanced consistent manner. In achieving this objective, the government proposal would amend the Criminal Code to explicitly provide for street racing if found by the sentencing judge to be present there is an aggravating factor in sentencing for those convicted of the four noted offences; namely, criminal negligence causing bodily harm or death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm or death.

Bill C-65 would also include mandatory driving prohibitions where the noted offences are found to involve street racing. There would be a new mandatory minimum driving prohibition period of one year for dangerous driving causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm. The maximum driving prohibition term would remain 10 years.

In the case of criminal negligence causing death, the proposal would provide a minimum prohibition of one year and the maximum would remain a lifetime ban.

In all cases, the mandatory minimum driving prohibition would be in addition to any period to which the offender is sentenced to imprisonment.

It is important to recognize that these periods of mandatory driving prohibitions are reflective of those periods which are currently found in section 259, concerning the Criminal Code, that deals more generally with driving prohibition orders.

For the purpose of clarity, under Bill C-65 street racing means operating a motor vehicle in a race with another motor vehicle on a street, road, highway or other public place.

Some members of the House will certainly recall Bill C-230 brought forward by our late colleague, Chuck Cadman. Bill C-230 was in fact the inspiration for Bill C-65 but there are notable similarities and as well notable differences.

First, it is key that the offences to which the reforms apply are the same as in Bill C-230. Furthermore, both bills specifically identify street racing as an aggravating factor for the purposes of sentencing and make a driving prohibition mandatory where street racing is found to accompany the offence.

With regard to the differences between this bill and Bill C-230, in Bill C-230 mandatory prohibition periods are tied to second and subsequent offences committed by the same accused. Bill C-65 does not adopt this scheme because the proposed changes pose several practical obstacles

Furthermore, Bill C-65 does not include the mandatory lifetime driving prohibition that was proposed in Bill C-230 for a second or subsequent street racing offence where one of the offences was either dangerous driving causing death or criminal negligence causing death. However this does not mean that Bill C-65 fails to take street racing as seriously as Bill C-230 did. On the contrary, Bill C-65 proposes a maximum driving prohibition for an offence involving street racing which is seven years higher than that proposed by Bill C-230 for a first offence or dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm, death or criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

In addition, the government's proposal to adopt a maximum lifetime driving ban for the offence of criminal negligence causing death that involves street racing is significantly higher than the three year maximum driving prohibition proposed by Bill C-230 for the first offence. Bill C-65 also provides a maximum driving prohibition for a second offence of dangerous driving causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm involving street racing of 10 years, which is higher by 5 years than that proposed by Bill C-230 for a second offence of dangerous driving causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

Therefore, Bill C-65 and Bill C-230 are based on the underlying objective of ensuring that those who street race and commit one of those listed offences are dealt with more severely while also providing for a mandatory period of driving prohibition with a goal of keeping our streets safe.

I would like to now briefly discuss why Bill C-65 does not adopt a subsequent street racing offence scheme which has been requested. If Bill C-65 is passed, offenders who participate in street racing and commit one of the four offences will be convicted of criminal negligence causing bodily harm or death or dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm or death.

The finding that an offender has engaged in street racing in the commission of an offence is a factual finding made by the judge. It is not an element of the offence itself and, therefore, not reflected in the charge against the accused. This factual finding is not recorded on CPIC and, therefore, will not show up on the criminal record of the repeat offender.

The only situations where a crown prosecutor would be aware of a previous conviction involving street racing would be where he or she has a practical familiarity with the offender or the facts in the previous prosecution. If this were the case, the crown prosecutor would likely be required to obtain a certified copy of the sentencing hearing transcript or reasons for decisions in the hope that the sentencing judge verbally or in writing expressed the finding that street racing was involved. It would not be readily ascertainable from the charge history of the accused.

It is practically unworkable. As a result, a prosecutor would have great difficulty in knowing whether he or she is dealing with a repeat offender and, therefore, would not know to inform the sentencing judge that this was a repeat offence. As such, a scheme based on repeat offences could not be perfectly effective at achieving its aims. Further, it would likely lead to inconsistent application of the repeat street racing offender scheme. For these reasons, it was not adopted in Bill C-65.

In taking into account repeat offenders when they are known, Bill C-65 proposes a higher maximum driving prohibition period than was proposed in Bill C-230. Furthermore, sentencing judges routinely consider the existence of previous convictions in setting an appropriate and fit sentence even where this is not explicitly required. This element of Bill C-65 is therefore based on practical considerations and achieves a balanced approach.

There are existing tools in the Criminal Code that can be called upon to ensure that these amendments are implemented to their fullest. There may be concerns that driving prohibitions currently imposed are not being respected as certain drivers subject to such orders continue to drive.

Currently, the Criminal Code provides that anyone who operates a motor vehicle while he or she is disqualified to do so is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction. The driving prohibition orders which would be imposed as a result of Bill C-65 apply to this offence provision as well.

Furthermore, it is important to state that the existing provisions of the Criminal Code that deal with seizure and forfeiture of offence related property upon conviction will also apply for any of the four noted indictable offences, as well as for the indictable offence of driving while disqualified.

I am sure we would all agree that this power of seizure and forfeiture, when used, should certainly deter those with existing driving prohibition orders from getting behind the wheel of a car.

In summary, the bill specifies that if street racing is found by a sentencing judge to be involved in an offence of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm or death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm or death, then the street racing is to be considered as an aggravating factor in setting the sentence.

Furthermore, the bill provides that if street racing is found to be involved in these listed offences, then a period of driving prohibition must be imposed. The range of driving prohibition is 1 year to 10 years for driving causing bodily harm or death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm. The range is one year to a lifetime ban for an offence of criminal negligence causing death. These prohibition periods would follow any period of imprisonment imposed.

The approach adopted in Bill C-65 is based on practical considerations and is aimed at achieving the objective of making our streets safer. Those who engage in street racing must be discouraged from engaging in this dangerous behaviour and those who street race and ultimately cause bodily injury or death to anyone must be dealt with appropriately. Bill C-65 achieves this objective and, therefore, it has my full support.

I would urge all members to support Bill C-65 so that our police and crown prosecutors will have strong tools to fight against this dangerous phenomena.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, today we are debating Bill C-65, which is an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding street racing and to make consequential amendments to another act.

This bill has been touted by the government as a bill which will enact Mr. Cadman's private member's bill, the most recent version of which is Bill C-230 which he introduced roughly a year ago. Bill C-65 does not do that. Later on I will talk specifically about why it does not do that. Like so many others who have spoken here today I want to talk about the contributions that Chuck Cadman made to this place and to this country.

Chuck was a tireless fighter for the people of North Surrey and for the rights of victims of crime right across the country. One of Chuck's priorities in the last number of years was to address the growing concerns about the misuse of motor vehicles. Part of that was his private members' bills on street racing, and his actions day to day to try to make our streets safer and reduce the number of victims. It was a proactive effort.

One of the things that caused Chuck to be respected by members of all political parties is that he really was not politically partisan. He worked with people from all parties in any way he could to further a cause which was important to him, because he knew it was important to other people in his constituency and across the country. Chuck Cadman was a rare individual in this House for his ability to work in a non-partisan fashion.

Personally from time to time I would chat with Chuck and say to him, “Couldn't you just beat up on them a little more? Couldn't you just be a little more partisan? We are right and they are wrong”. That was not the way Chuck was. He gained a great deal of respect from members of all political parties because of that. He was extremely effective, partly because of his hard work and partly because he worked in a non-partisan fashion in this place. We could all learn from that.

The bill that was introduced by the justice minister includes an essential element of Mr. Cadman's recommendations, namely the provision to increase the length of any mandatory driving prohibition for repeat offenders. That is what the government is pointing to, but the government's version of the legislation really does not enact what Mr. Cadman was calling for. It is really important that we point that out.

Chuck's proposed amendments targeted street racing by introducing mandatory driving prohibitions for a number of serious criminal offences and vehicle theft, by making it a crime to tamper with motor vehicle identification numbers. Unfortunately, while over the years Chuck fought so hard for these amendments, the Liberal government consistently rejected any form of mandatory licence prohibitions similar to the type that Mr. Cadman recommended. The government ignored the recommendations relating to vehicle identification numbers which were an important part of Mr. Cadman's package.

While the Liberals continue to soft pedal efforts to confront crime, it is important to make it clear that the Conservative Party is committing to see genuine crime fighting efforts like those put forward by Mr. Cadman make it into the criminal law of Canada. Unfortunately, the two pieces of government legislation do not do that. I want to speak to Bill C-65 specifically and point out in a little more detail what this bill is intended to do.

The bill amends the Criminal Code by defining street racing and by specifically identifying the involvement in street racing as an aggravating factor during sentencing for the following offences: dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm; dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death; criminal negligence causing bodily harm; and criminal negligence causing death. It also provides for a mandatory prohibition order if street racing is found to be involved in one of those offences.

The intent of the bill is to prevent street racing by sending a clear message to those who endanger the public that they will face tough long term consequences. The bill also aims to make the streets safer for Canadians. The stated intent of the bill is what Mr. Cadman had in mind. A little later I will get into how we could amend the bill to make it work, but when we look at it, Chuck Cadman had been attempting to legislate changes to street racing since December 2002. Previous versions of the bill included Bill C-338, but the most recent version is Bill C-230, which is the one to which I referred.

The government refused to support the legislation because it called for mandatory driving prohibitions and increased the punishment for repeat offenders. These are measures that the Conservative Party has always supported, will continue to support, and in time, will enact, and the sooner the better.

Bill C-65 is truly a neutered version of Mr. Cadman's past bills. It is touted as being an enactment of them but it is not and I will explain why. Although it provides for mandatory driving prohibitions and the inclusion of street racing as an aggravating factor for sentencing, it fails to include the clauses on repeat offenders which were an essential part of Mr. Cadman's bill. There are amendments which could be made that would fix the bill. I would hope that the House would choose to enact the amendments, or similar amendments, so that the bill would do what Mr. Cadman intended his private members' bills to do.

The amendments would replace proposed paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection 259(2.1) with the following: “(a) for a first offence, during a period of not more than three years plus any period to which the offender is sentenced to imprisonment, and not less than one year; (b) for a second or subsequent offence, if one of the offences is an offence under section 220 or subsection 249(4), for life: (c) for a second offence, if neither of the offences is an offence under section 220 or subsection 249(4), during a period of not more than five years plus any period to which the offender is sentenced to imprisonment, and not less than two years; and (d) for each subsequent offence, if none of the offences is an offence under section 220 or subsection 249(4), during a period of not less than three years plus any period to which the offender is sentenced to imprisonment”.

I believe there would be a lot of support on both sides of the House for these amendments. If these amendments were enacted, I believe that the legislation would do much of what was intended by Mr. Cadman. I certainly hope there is a will in the House to do it. I sense that there is and I hope party discipline will not get in the way. Maybe this is the time for members from all political parties to decide to have a little bit of that non-partisan approach that Chuck Cadman took in his bill.

Chuck Cadman has left a very strong impact on the people of his constituency and on all of us. I certainly hope the House will recognize that by enacting the legislation he fought so hard to have enacted.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 11:50 a.m.
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Conservative

Rick Casson Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, before I get started on my comments on Bill C-65, I would like to respond to the previous speaker who said he was open to any suggestions about how we could improve policing and the courts.

He has been part of a government that has been in control of this country for the last 12 years. His government has wasted billions of dollars on a gun registry. Maybe those billions should have gone to policing. That could have stopped street racing.

The government could have done all kinds of things. All kinds of suggestions have been brought forward in the House, so as for him standing up and asking for ideas on how to do this, let me say that we have given him a lot of ideas. Taking the $2 billion that was thrown away on a gun registry and putting it toward front line police would have been a great start and it would have helped Mr. Cadman in his pursuit of more justice in this country.

Mr. Speaker, in addressing the issue of Bill C-65, I will be splitting my time with the member for Vegreville--Wainwright.

Mr. Speaker, we were talking a little about Chuck Cadman. You and I were colleagues of his. There is a reason why Chuck was successful. We all have talked about it to some degree here today. On all the issues he brought forward to the House in a personal way in his private member's bills and through his support on the justice committee and others, the fact was that when he took on dealing with an issue he was right.

His perspective, his ideas and his amendments to the Criminal Code were exactly what is needed to create a safer society for the citizens of Canada. That was his approach. He wanted to make Canadians feel safer and actually be safer in their homes and in their lives. Many of the issues that he brought forward, and the issue that brought him to the House of Commons in the first place, which he campaigned on for many years, did just that. He wanted to make changes to the Criminal Code that would bring in stronger laws and provide more deterrents just to make Canadians safer in their homes and safer on the streets.

When Chuck brought an issue forward, there were a number of things that he went through. He was very resourceful. He was very pointed. His issues were well researched. He did not bring anything forward that was not of substance and that he had not looked into from all angles. He researched the Criminal Code and consulted widely with Canadians and experts in these areas. So when he brought an issue forward, it was always one that people would take note of. We only wish the government had taken note more often of some of the things he brought forward.

He did this in such a way that there was little to argue with. He would counter all of the arguments. He would do the research. He would make sure that when he made a suggestion about an amendment to the code it would stand alone and stand the test of scrutiny. With these things in mind, Chuck would formulate ideas and changes, as he did with the bill on street racing.

He did not stop there. He had a way of managing the situation when it came to the House. We have all brought private members' bills forward, but when he brought his bills forward he would work with members of all parties. He was not afraid to consult with the party critics or committee members from all parties to see how they felt, to see if he could garner their support.

In many cases, I believe, he did alter what he was working on to some degree to make sure it gained the support of the other parties in the House. He was willing to do that. He did it in his style, which was not at all one of confrontation. His style was one of working together to come up with the best possible scenario for Canadians as a whole. That was his main mandate.

The fact is that the main function of a government is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens. I think that was very high on Chuck's list of important issues. He worked hard to maintain that type of focus. He felt that if we were actually going to protect Canadians, then we had better do it in a meaningful manner.

I do not appreciate the fact that people stand in the House and say that the law is the law, but then we have the justice system we do, especially when that is said by a member of the government that appoints the senior judges in this country, a government that is responsible for seeing that resources are in place to protect Canadians. As for them saying that, it is all fine and dandy, but the justice system is failing. We know that it is.

That is why we need changes such as those that Chuck Cadman brought forward, changes to strengthen laws and to have strong minimum sentencing to deter people from committing crimes.

Let me talk about what he said when he introduced his bill. I have retrieved the comments that he made back in October of 2003 on Bill C-338, the predecessor of Bill C-230. He went into all of the issues that had brought him to bringing forward the bill. There was the fact that on the streets of the big cities there had been slaughter from street racing, that innocent people had been mowed down and killed, and there was the fact that there seemed to be enough disposable income among car enthusiasts so that they could soup up these cars to do extraordinary things.

I am an old hot rodder myself; I still have an old muscle car that I tour around in and take to shows. That horsepower has to be treated with respect because it is dangerous, but these modern vehicles are something else. The technology that can be put into a very small car to make it go fast is unbelievable, and people will do it. In most instances, the people behind the wheel do not have the experience or the driving capability to handle that kind of horsepower.

The government tries to address these issues in Bill C-65, but I believe it fails because of its sentencing aspects. The basic premise of the bill, of course, is to make sure that street racing is added to the list of aggravated instances and crimes. That is the right thing to do, but in the end, as we have seen time and time again with this Liberal government, it completely fails to deliver the goods when it comes to the sentencing.

For the government to tie Chuck's name to this I think is right because this is an issue that he brought forward, but the government fails him miserably when it comes to putting forth the very essence of what he was trying to do. The fact is that the legislation the government has brought forward is going to fail and does not go as far as Chuck would have wished it to go. The bottom line in what he was trying to do was protect Canadians. He tried to send a message to the government through his private member's bill that this is exactly what the government needed to do.

We can argue all around the issue and say that the bill is on the right track, and maybe it is a small step in the right direction, but if we are going to make it work, if we are going to really have some teeth in it, then the issues and the progressive sentencing and penalties that Chuck had researched and come up with are, I believe, exactly what need to be put in the bill.

The précis the minister put out even indicates that Mr. Cadman's bill included an additional clause with progressively longer periods of mandatory driving prohibitions for repeat offenders lasting from one year to life. He indicates in his own documentation that this was not something that the government was willing to do.

Here is the quandary we always find ourselves in. A small step is good, and if it is the right direction then it is something we basically should support, but when the government totally fails in regard to the original initiative that was brought forward, then that is something we have a problem with and we cannot support.

One thing really made me pay attention here. One of the sentences that Chuck would have had imposed for a first offence was this: “for a first offence, during a period of not more than three years plus any period to which the offender is sentenced to imprisonment, and not less than one year”.

He was saying that if the person who committed the crime were put in prison, then the driving prohibition would happen after the person came out. I think the government carried that forward, but Chuck would imposed a pretty serious sentence to start with. If people are going to contemplate street racing and they know that the result of their actions is going to put them in jail and take their drivers' licences away for one to three years on the first offence, and longer if they get a second offence or hurt somebody for life, I would say that these are meaningful sentences which would be a deterrent.

As I pointed out, when Chuck Cadman brought a bill to the House of Commons, it was well researched and well thought out. He looked at the whole scope of what effect it would have on society, not only on the perpetrator but on society in general. I believe he was on the right track with what he brought forward. I believe the government has let him down somewhat in the version it has brought forward.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 11:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry but I do not agree with the member at all. I wish I could give my speech again, then maybe she would understand why I could make that comment.

In fact, Bill C-65 is more punitive than Bill C-230 in every aspect of offence and repeat offence. The only problem, and I raised it at the end, was the fact that it was possible to have higher minimum and maximum driving prohibitions for street racing as for impaired driving. That was a problem with the CPIC.

Again, I do not disagree with the member when she says that we are not giving it any teeth. Even the laws we have now are not being enforced in many cases to the fullest extent possible. We often see cases thrown out or we see conditional sentencing or house arrest and this kind of thing. Those are the kinds of things that we should talk about. We have talked about this, and I have talked about this, many times in this place. It is an issue that is important to the House. It is important to many pieces of legislation current and past, and we have not dealt with it.

If the opposition thinks that one bill, Bill C-65 or whether it is Bill C-230 is going to do it, or if we put Chuck's Bill C-230 through as is, it will not change the fact that unless the adjudication of these cases is handled to the fullest extent that was provided within the laws and fairly takes into account the aggravating circumstances, then we have not made any accomplishment on what the member wishes to accomplish.

I am with the member. If she wants to begin dealing with the issue of resources for policing authorities and with the directions to the courts, I would be happy to work with anybody in this place who wants to find out how we can. Do not ever tell me why we cannot, just tell me how we can.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 11:40 a.m.
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Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, first of all, let us be careful in being clear on what we are talking about. If we are talking about minimums and maximums, are we talking with regard to driving prohibitions or are we talking about jail time? There is a difference. The member is not clear, so I cannot answer the question.

He knows, however, that where there is bodily injury or death in a motor vehicle accident of any kind, whether street racing is involved or not, there are laws covering it. The issue comes down to what street racing is in the scheme of determining the penalties. I think there is some agreement, whether it be through Bill C-230 or Bill C-65, that it is an aggravating circumstance which should be taken into account.

I think the courts already have the penalty regime. The issue now is, what are the courts doing with the penalty regime they already have? If the member's assertion and the House's opinion is that the courts are not applying the laws to the extent they should, that they are not reflecting the passion that Chuck Cadman brought to this place and laid out this problem, then maybe we have to find out what we can do to deal with that problem which is not on the floor before us and clearly is a problem not only for Bill C-65 but many other pieces of legislation.

I must tell the member that I do not disagree with him, but I cannot fix it in Bill C-65. It is a whole other subject. Why not have a take note debate on how we are going to deal with providing the resources that our policing authorities at all levels need and what direction we have to give to the courts to ensure that the legislation we pass is not only good legislation but is enforced and properly adjudicated?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 11:20 a.m.
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Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, on March 10, 2004, the hon. Chuck Cadman, member for Surrey North, rose in the House to say:

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.

That is what we are talking about and what Chuck wanted us to talk about, and I believe Bill C-65 would give us the instrument to take the essence of his concerns. Bill C-338 was a bill in the 37th Parliament and he brought it back in this current Parliament, now Bill C-230. As he introduced that at first reading I thought it would be interesting just to read maybe what he was thinking the day he came back to the House and decided to put it again. He stated:

Street racing continues to kill or seriously injure innocent people in Canada.

I am reintroducing this legislation to amend the Criminal Code specifically to provide that street racing is to be considered an aggravating factor for the purposes of sentencing a person convicted of dangerous operation of, or criminal negligence involving a motor vehicle.

In addition, the bill provides that any person convicted under these provisions who was involved in street racing must be subject to a regime of mandatory national driving prohibitions ranging from one year to life, to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed.

The bill received broad support in the last Parliament and I hope that will continue to be the case.

If members would reflect on Mr. Cadman's bill and his statements to the House, I think they would find that Bill C-65 embraces the principles that Chuck included in his bill. There are some differences but the differences are not to an extent that would cause the House some difficulty.

In fact, when I looked at Bill C-65 and I compared it to Bill C-230, and members will know because they are amendments to the Criminal Code, that the bill does not read as a story book, like here is the beginning and the end. One actually has to look at the Criminal Code and look at the context that it is in, and determine whether or not the continuity of the changes make some sense given the historic evolution of the Criminal Code.

Indeed, the Criminal Code is a very complex document. I once tried to print it out from the Internet and I think it was about a foot tall and, quite frankly, was maybe not something one would want to do too often.

One of the points Mr. Cadman raised in the bill had to do with aggravating factors. I do not think there is any disagreement in the House that street racing, where it ultimately leads to bodily harm or criminal negligence causing death, is identified as an aggravating factor in both the bills. That is not a contention.

However there also is the issue of making the prohibition of street racing mandatory.

The differences between Bill C-65 and Bill C-230 are quite stark. Under the Cadman bill, Bill C-230, the maximum penalty for the first offence is three years but under Bill C-65 the maximum penalty can be a life prohibition. It is a more serious recognition of the offence than was contemplated by Mr. Cadman.

There are four offences that are dealt with in these bills to which the reforms apply and the most frequent offences charged in cases involving street racing where death or injury results. This is where the key is. In the discussion with one of the previous speakers, it was noted for the House that street racing as an offence, where there is no death, injury or damage caused, is a provincial jurisdiction and there are laws to deal with the offence of street racing. We are not just talking about street racing in a vacuum. We are talking about street racing where death or injury results.

Obviously these offences are serious. They involve the dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and criminal negligence causing death. Those are the four main issues.

The maximum driving prohibition that is proscribed in Bill C-230 for a first offence involving street racing is a three year ban. It would result in a drastic reduction of the maximum driving prohibition that is currently available under the Criminal Code. There should be a change to that and it would be a change that I am sure Mr. Cadman would have supported.

In this regard, the current Criminal Code discretionary driving prohibitions provide for a period of up to a maximum of 10 years in the case of the dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death or criminal negligence causing bodily harm. The difference is that in the case of criminal negligence causing death, the existing provisions provide for a discretionary maximum period of a lifetime ban on driving.

I think the fact that we are talking about that incident of criminal negligence causing death is the example Chuck used back in the 37th Parliament and I know that it is the one that motivated him to say that enough was enough and that we needed to deal with this.

Bill C-65 maintains these current maximum driving prohibitions but it does so in the context of a new provision imposing a mandatory driving prohibition period. This aspect of a mandatory penalty has been one that has come up many times in this place with regard to criminality. I think the House recognizes that there are circumstances in which minimum mandatory sentencing may be appropriate. I have argued that in this place myself and we have other legislation in which mandatory minimums are in the laws of Canada now.

The argument about whether or not mandatory minimums are effective and are a deterrent has been passed. That is no longer the point of discussion. It is in fact in current laws and it reflects, not just that there should be a deterrent, and I understand what deterrence is, but I am not sure I understand what people say when they say that minimum mandatory sentences are not effective. They are not effective for what?

In the example of a commercial marijuana grow house operation we have been told time and time again that after a certain number of plants, all of a sudden we are talking about a commercial operation which, more often than not, is involved in other criminal activity, usually organized crime in which the money is being used to fund other criminal activity that is detrimental to society as a whole.

I do not think there is a disagreement with regard to the mandatory side. I am raising these issues because it is quite important not to get distracted by the politics or the partisanship with regard to whether or not the bill is identical. It is important that we take the opportunity to use Bill C-65 as a tool to address the items that our former colleague raised in this place so often. We should continue to consider this as Chuck's bill. I think the House would agree unanimously that it is something we want to make happen. Rather than members saying why they cannot support the bill, they should identify areas in which we could say how we can support the bill and make the bill fit a little closer. I cannot see that it is that different.

Let me move on to the second offence of the four, which is dangerous driving causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm that involves street racing. The maximum driving prohibition in Bill C-65 is higher than in Bill C-230 by five years. The maximum driving prohibition in Bill C-65 for the two offences just named is 10 years. It is incorrect to say that the bill is not as tough. In fact, it is in many respects tougher than what was proposed, maybe not inappropriately as well. I am sure that had the bill had the opportunity to come to the House for debate and to go to committee and be dealt with, we could have resolved some of the questions that are being raised today.

Some members are of the view that a repeat offender scheme similar to what is proposed in Bill C-230, which would create a scheme of higher maximum or minimum driving prohibitions, would be a preferred model but I am not sure. Certainly, with regard to the principle of whether or not there is a repeat offender, there is no question the courts could take that into account. I can recall being in a courtroom watching proceedings and there was a fellow who was charged with auto theft and other theft of auto parts. After they read out the litany of events on this guy's rap sheet, his lawyer argued that the rate of incidence of these crimes was going down. So that is a good thing and we should say that this guy is doing well because he is not stealing as much as he used to.

With some of the problems that we try to address, I sometimes wonder whether the courts do not take them as seriously as we do. I am not sure why but I have heard many anecdotal cases where the courts have not had the resources, or somehow have allowed cases to be thrown out, or summarily dismissed, and arguments where the courts cannot do their job.

We have a serious problem. When we do have laws and we do enforce them but the courts cannot dispose of them in the fashion that was provided for by the legislators, then why are we making laws in the first place? They are either important laws that should be enforced and adjudicated or they are not. However it appears that half of the problem or maybe more than half the problem is with the courts themselves.

I think that is a very important question and I know it crosses jurisdiction in many cases. However, when we pass laws that we ask the provinces, through their provincial police, to enforce, what do we do when they do not have the resources? Do we now have a responsibility to ensure that the laws that we make are in fact enforced?

We have so many cases of marijuana grow houses. In my own community of Mississauga South the chief of police tells me that the police cannot even follow up on all of the tips that they get from people that there are grow houses there. They cannot even investigate them because they do not have the people who are properly trained to deal with those dangerous situations. Why is that? Why is it when we know that most of the moneys that are coming out of these commercial size grow-ops are going to finance organized crime, prostitution, hard drugs, and all of these other terrible things that are placed in our society? It is because communities do not have the resources to have the policing.

I think it is evident as well in the kinds of things that we see even in Chuck Cadman's bill. There are things that we cannot do for some odd reason. I would rather say that I do not want an explanation of why we cannot do it. I want an explanation of how we can.

I always like to come to this place and talk for something and not against something. I want to talk in favour of Bill C-65 because for me it is still Chuck's bill. The arguments that he brought, the statements that he made, the passion that he brought to this place, and the inspiration that he has been not only to members in this place but to Canadians as a whole are the things that we should remember when talking about why we should make this instrument work.

We should deal with it quickly. I want to encourage members to reflect on what we are doing and why we are doing it. To the extent that we discover bottlenecks, pitfalls or some other problems, we have the ability to change them. We can change things at committee stage after second reading. We can change things at report stage if necessary.

If members are still not happy with what comes out of committee, members can pass a motion at third reading to revert it back to committee to reconsider it on certain aspects. We have tools to work with and I would rather say that we can, rather than we cannot.

I think that members are quite familiar with the bill. There is a question that has come up and I would like to perhaps rhetorically pose the question and see if I can provide the answer. It has to do with CPIC and it comes up a lot.

The question is, why is it possible to have higher minimum and maximum driving prohibitions for impaired driving but not for street racing? The answer, whether we like it or not, is that the Canadian Police Information Centre, CPIC, does maintain on the criminal record convictions for the offence of impaired driving. Therefore, it is possible to quickly see a prior conviction, given the offender notice and a higher penalty for a repeat offence, but not with regard to street racing.

That is a mechanical problem. It is a functionality problem that I think we need to consider. I know that the justice committee always has CPIC present at the table. If we are told that CPIC cannot do what we would like it to do, why do we not find out how we can do it, so that we can pass Chuck Cadman's bill?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

Northumberland—Quinte West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, it is time to reflect on the bill and to look at the comparisons between Chuck's bill, Bill C-230, and the existing bill. We need to be very fair and forthright about it. We need to look at the suggestion that was in Chuck's bill, Bill C-230, regarding a death on a first offence.

On a first offence of street racing and a death occurs, Chuck wanted a mandatory minimum penalty in terms of a prohibition against driving of one year. The government bill provides the same. Chuck's bill provided for a maximum of three years of prohibition. The government bill provides for a maximum of lifetime prohibition. How is that watering down the bill?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand today to speak to Bill C-65 which deals with street racing.

It is a particular honour for myself because I considered Chuck Cadman a friend. The government has introduced Bill C-65 as a bill to honour Chuck Cadman and in his memory. It was just a few months ago when many members of the House were at a funeral in Surrey, British Columbia to remember Chuck and his fight for a safer Canada and for victims' rights.

Chuck spent the last years of his life fighting for a better and safer Canada. During that fight, while he was in Parliament, he introduced Bill C-338 and Bill C-230. The Liberal government opposed those bills. We heard the parliamentary secretary say that the reason for that was sentencing principles. The government does not believe in the principle of mandatory sentencing. It does not believe in creating legislation with teeth. Without consequences and without legislation with teeth, a disrespect for the rule of law is bred.

There have to be consequences built into legislation to be able to respect the law. The vast majority of Canadians do respect the law in Canada, but a smaller group of people do not. That creates huge problems, one being street racing.

What is a street racer? The typical street racer has changed over the generations. Right now street racing involves people with high powered cars. Their hobby is to spend their paycheques on high performance vehicles. They soup them up and then they have races. Sometimes the races are in lonely areas of the communities where there are not a lot of people around. With cellphone technology and through the Internet, they talk to one another about where they will go to race.

They have spotters who watch for police cars. If they see any, they forward a message to the people to scramble. They will have a number of people observing and having fun. There is drinking and partying going on as they are racing down the streets. This has resulted in a lot of people being seriously injured or killed.

Another form of street racing that creates havoc and deaths is the hat race. A hat race is when hot cars gather together. The owners of the cars and some of the passengers throw money into a hat. They will be given a destination and the first person to that destination wins the money in the hat. They disregard stop signs and go as fast as they can, racing through communities so they can win the money. It exciting and exhilarating to them. Their adrenalin flows as they tear through our communities.

Hat races and street races are all part of the street racing phenomenon we have been experiencing with these high performance vehicles and our technology. People are dying . In that vein, Chuck Cadman wanted to do something, so he created these two private members' bills. He fought hard for them in the House.

Canadians grieve still the tragic loss of his life. The Prime Minister spoke at his funeral. I am glad we were there to remember Chuck and acknowledge his hard work. The Prime Minister promised he would introduce bills to remember Chuck. We have Bill C-65 on street racing and Bill C-64 on vehicle theft and changing VINs, which we will speak about shortly. These two bills were really important to him. I talked with Chuck's wife, Donna, and I promised that would speak to this bill. I will report on what she said in a moment.

Bill C-65 is to honour Chuck. Dane Minor also was a very close friend to Chuck. He wrote a letter to the editor of the Surrey Now newspaper in British Columbia. I would like to read it into the record. Dane Minor was Chuck Cadman's former campaign manager who worked for years with Chuck on issues. He was very excited to hear that the government was going to honour Chuck with Bill C-65 and Bill C-64. He read an article of October 1 about “Chuck's Bill likely will be law”. When we saw that we thought maybe the Prime Minister and the government were really going to do something to finally honour Chuck. I and Dane were excited about this.

He writes:

I read [this] article...with a growing sense of disgust. Several weeks ago the Prime Minister announced on the front pages of national and local papers that his Government would pass Chuck's private member bill into legislation as an honour to Chuck. My immediate response was a positive one. It would be a fitting memorial to Chuck. Then the Justice Minister announced his watered down version. This isn't Chuck's bill in either intent or in design. It is a cynical attempt by the Liberals to use Chuck's good name while doing little or nothing to change the existing laws.

One of the things that drew Chuck into the political arena in the first place was a visit by a former Justice Minister to supposedly discuss the Young Offenders Act with Chuck. The man blew into town spent five minutes getting his picture taken shaking Chuck's hand and went back to Ottawa saying meetings with the victims showed his government cared about victims and the faults of the YOA. Chuck was disgusted and it was incidents like these that led him to become an MP to truly change things.

This “new” legislation from the Liberals is the same kind of political stunt. [The] Justice Minister said his government tweaked both bills to comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and to address “operational deficiencies”. [Baloney]. Chuck had one of the best legal advisors in Ottawa on his staff and his bills were well within the Charter. The ultimate ridiculousness of [the justice minister's] version was the reason for removing the penalties for repeat offenders, “because the police across this country don't have tracing and tracking records so we know if it was a first, second or third tracking offence“.

If the Liberals truly want to honour Chuck Cadman I suggest that they pass his laws as written and actually give the police the resources to find out how many previous offences there were. If they don't have the courage to do that, at least have the decency to stop using his name in a self-serving bid to gain political points.

After reading the letter, I talked to Dane. I asked him for permission to present it today. He was glad to have it read in the House of Commons.

I also talked with Chuck's wife yesterday. I asked Donna what she would like me to tell the House. She said that I should tell the government not to water down Chuck's bill. If it did, it would create Mickey Mouse legislation and it would protect the criminals.

I have a background ICBC, as did Chuck. I was in loss prevention. I worked to find out where crashes were happening, why they were happening and where the crime was happening. Chuck and I both had a passion. I feel as though I am carrying on the torch for him to fight for safer communities, particularly regarding automobiles. Chuck wanted to deal with this. It was an important issue to him.

When we talked to the public, we were encouraged to share the three e s: education, engineering and enforcement. When we have a problem in a community through policing, whether we are an engineer, a police officer or politician, if we look at the three e s, that usually will guide us into finding a solution to the problem. Let us apply the three e s to street racing.

The first is education. We educate through the school systems, through the Internet, through movies. Before a movie starts, there are trailers. In the movie theatres we see these trailers warning people that if they drive fast, the forces between 50 k.p.h. and 60 k.p.h. actually double. The impact doubles between 50 k.p.h. and 60 k.p.h.

It is often students who drive the hot cars. Through education we tell them that there are only four little pieces of rubber which hold the car to the pavement and if they drive extremely fast, the forces are tremendous and they could lose control and they could kill themselves and other people. We know that education has worked somewhat.

The second is engineering. Street racing is a problem. Some communities have put in speed humps, bumps and strips on the road. They know of some of the areas where people are racing cars and they wet the streets. They are trying through engineering design to keep street racing to a minimum and to stop it. Through education and engineering we are trying to do what we can to stop street racing.

The third is enforcement. The enforcement aspect of it is our responsibility in the House. We need to have legislation that provides a stop to street racing. It is our responsibility and that is what Chuck was trying to do, the enforcement.

Why are we opposed to it? We are using Chuck Cadman. If we want to have Chuck Cadman's memory on it, then let us have Chuck's bills which include the teeth.

There was a recent announcement on crystal meth, a dangerous drug and is now schedule 3. What are we going to get for it? No teeth. It is a phony announcement.

The child pornography bill, Bill C-2, was passed by the House. Everyone was excited because our children would be protected. Again, it appears it was a phony announcement. It has just been sitting on the Prime Minister's desk for the last five months. I asked the justice minister yesterday why it has not been enacted and why is it not legislation. He would not answer.

We now have more phony bills using Chuck Cadman. It is shameful. We should honour Chuck and pass Chuck's bill. Promises were made by the Prime Minister to honour Chuck.

We need to change this bill. We need to give Chuck's bill the honour it deserves. Chuck wanted mandatory driving prohibitions in the bill, so that if people street race, there will be consequences. He also wanted increased punishment for repeat offenders. If people get caught, there will be a consequence, which is what Chuck wanted. If they do it again, it will be a more severe penalty and a more severe consequence. Each time they reoffend, there will be an additional increasing consequence.

Chuck was right on. We need to honour his bill. Bill C-65 is a phony bill and the Conservatives will be opposing it. Let us honour Chuck and let us oppose this phony bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 10:10 a.m.
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Northumberland—Quinte West Ontario

Liberal

Paul MacKlin Liberalfor the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of the government Bill C-65.

The bill contains a set of amendments to the Criminal Code regarding street racing. It is inspired by private member's Bill C-230, which was tabled by the late Mr. Chuck Cadman, who, until his untimely passing, was the member for Surrey North.

In summary, the government bill, as did private member's Bill C-230 that inspired it, specifies that street racing is an aggravating factor when a court is setting a sentence for certain offences. Also, as with Bill C-230, where street racing is found to accompany the offence, the government bill makes a driving prohibition mandatory. Unlike Bill C-230, the government bill does not call for the system of higher minimum and maximum periods of driving prohibition based on a repeat aggravating factor of street racing. I will speak more about that shortly.

I note that the four offences to which these reforms apply are the same in this government bill as in the late Mr. Cadman's private member's bill, Bill C-230. These offences are: dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm; dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death; criminal negligence causing bodily harm; and criminal negligence causing death.

Some members across might be asking themselves why government members had spoken against Bill C-230 in the earlier iteration of that bill during an earlier Parliament. I can say that the reasons for not supporting the private member's bill were based entirely upon principled objections to important sentencing aspects of the private member's bill and upon the practical difficulties in implementing certain key elements of the private member's bill.

One such principled concern that arises from the private member's bill is that for a first offence involving street racing—and most offenders appear in court for a first offence—the maximum driving prohibition is only three years. The current driving prohibition found in the Criminal Code is discretionary, but where it is imposed, the court may order a period of driving prohibition up to a maximum of 10 years for a case of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death or criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

In the case of criminal negligence causing death, where a court chooses to impose a driving prohibition under the existing provisions found in the Criminal Code, the maximum period is a lifetime ban. The government bill maintains these current maximum driving prohibitions that currently can be used on a discretionary basis, but it does so in the context of a new provision for a mandatory driving prohibition.

Again, the maximum driving prohibition in the government bill for three of the offences is 10 years. With a lifetime driving ban as the maximum prohibition for the offence of criminal negligence causing death that involves street racing, the government bill's prohibition is ever so much higher than the three year maximum driving prohibition that is in Bill C-230 for a first offence of criminal negligence causing death that involves street racing.

For the second offence of dangerous driving causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm that involves street racing, the government bill's maximum driving prohibition is higher by five years than the proposal within the private member's bill, Bill C-230, for a second offence of dangerous driving causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm. The maximum driving prohibition in the government bill for the two offences just named is, once again, 10 years.

The private member's bill, Bill C-230, would have created a scheme of higher minimum and maximum driving prohibitions that are based upon the repetition of the aggravating factor of street racing. The minimum in the private member's bill would have been a one year driving prohibition on any first offence of criminal negligence causing death, dangerous driving causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, or dangerous driving causing bodily harm where there is an aggravating factor of street racing.

On the second offence of dangerous driving causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm with an aggravating factor of street racing, Bill C-230 would have created a minimum driving prohibition of two years. On a third offence of dangerous driving causing bodily harm or criminal negligence causing bodily harm where street racing was an aggravating factor, the private member's bill would have had a minimum driving prohibition of three years. On a second or subsequent offence, if either the first or the current offence involves street racing and a death, the only penalty under the private member's bill would have been a lifetime ban.

Because of very significant practical obstacles, the government bill does not create a scheme that relies upon the prosecution proving a repetition of the aggravating factor for subsequent offences followed by a higher minimum driving prohibition. This is because it would be very difficult to implement a scheme, since aggravating factors are not recorded by the Canadian Police Information Centre. Therefore, the only cases where a subsequent offence scheme could be used would be those cases where the prosecutor is fortuitously alerted to the existence of the aggravating factor of street racing in a prior offence and successfully obtains a certified transcript of the sentence hearing.

This would be difficult in many cases where a prior aggravating circumstance of street racing arose in another city or even in another province. The end result would be an inability to implement consistently the higher minimum and higher maximum driving prohibitions scheme that is envisaged by the private member's bill, Bill C-230.

The mandatory minimum driving prohibition in the government bill for an offence involving street racing equals that proposed for a first offence within the private member's bill, Bill C-230. The minimum driving prohibition in the government bill is also a one year driving prohibition.

In order to be very clear, I wish to summarize that the government bill provides for the following. In every case involving one of the four listed offences with street racing, the offender will have a mandatory driving prohibition. The minimum driving prohibition will be one year and judges will have the discretion to make an order up to the maximum of 10 years' driving prohibition for dangerous driving causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing death or criminal negligence causing bodily harm. In the case of criminal negligence causing death, the judges will have the discretion to order up to the maximum driving prohibition of a lifetime ban.

The government bill on street racing should be supported. It specifies that street racing is an aggravating factor in the four offences already noted and it makes a driving prohibition mandatory for such cases that involve street racing. The minimum and maximum driving prohibitions in the government bill are workable because they avoid the higher minimum and maximum driving prohibition periods for repeated aggravating factors found in Bill C-230.

Again, a system that by necessity requires proof that there was an aggravating factor in a prior offence in order to obtain the higher minimum and maximum driving prohibition leads to inconsistency of application because the police system does not record aggravating factors and show them on the criminal record.

This government bill is, I believe, relatively straightforward, and police and prosecutors will be able to use it in a very easy way. I urge hon. members of the House to support the bill.

Street RacingStatements By Members

November 18th, 2004 / 2:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Werner Schmidt Conservative Kelowna, BC

Mr. Speaker, in August of this year the Ferguson family and the community of Kelowna lost a dearly loved and active member when Mary Lou Ferguson was killed by an alleged street racer.

Our community is not the only one to experience such a tragedy. In the last four years, more than 150 people in Canada have been killed in street racing crashes, some of them innocent victims, some of them young people, all of them unnecessary.

Bill C-230, introduced in the House on October 20 by the member for Surrey North, aims to change these statistics by taking a tough stance against street racing and allowing for tougher sentencing.

I ask all members of the House to support Bill C-230 to prevent street racing and to send a clear message that those who endanger the public will face long term consequences. Let us ensure that our streets are safe for all Canadians and not let Mary Lou Ferguson's death be in vain.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

October 20th, 2004 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Independent

Chuck Cadman Independent Surrey North, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-230, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing).

Mr. Speaker, since this is my first opportunity to rise in this Parliament, I would like to congratulate you on your re-election to the chair. I would also like to thank the constituents of Surrey North for the confidence they have shown in me since 1997 by returning me here.

Street racing continues to kill or seriously injure innocent people in Canada.

I am reintroducing this legislation to amend the Criminal Code specifically to provide that street racing is to be considered an aggravating factor for the purposes of sentencing a person convicted of dangerous operation of, or criminal negligence involving a motor vehicle.

In addition, the bill provides that any person convicted under these provisions who was involved in street racing must be subject to a regime of mandatory national driving prohibitions ranging from one year to life, to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed.

The bill received broad support in the last Parliament and I hope that will continue to be the case.

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