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 2nd, 2006 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, since this is my first intervention in the House since the election campaign in New Brunswick, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Liberal government in New Brunswick and Premier designate, Shawn Graham, and his team.

As partners, we will represent New Brunswick in a new era of relations between the three levels of government.

It is my pleasure today to speak on Bill C-19. It is another one of the bills presented by the new Conservative government.

Once again, with the introduction of this proposed legislation, the Minister of Justice does not address the real issue. While he and his government might be playing to another audience, an audience in large municipal centres of rich population, dense population and voters who did not support the government, they are playing to the issues that affect people very much. While the purported message in the bill is to prevent crime and keep communities safe, the real objective of the bill, like all other bills the Minister of Justice has led through the House, is political gain.

Like the hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh said earlier, we must look at the issues involved and the real merits of the bill and compare it to other bills, which have been presented in Parliament's past, to give a good review of where we want to go. I submit that this matter be sent to committee for procedural as well as substantive review.

The real issue is the saving of lives before lives are put in danger. Instead of investing time and energy into creating new offences that have a catchy title, such as is the case with Bill C-19, we as a responsible nation and as responsible parliamentarians need to invest in prevention and education to prevent street racing from happening, rather than dealing just with the victims and deaths once street racing has occurred.

It occurred to me that this would be an appropriate time to bring forward the fact that, under the public safety and emergency preparedness cuts of last week, the RCMP cut from its budget $4.6 million to do with the elimination of drug impaired driving programs through its training budget. It seems remarkable to me that on the one hand the government is suggesting our streets will be safer. On the other hand, it takes money away from a program that would have made the streets safer.

I am proud of the fact that Mothers Against Drunk Driving is a Canada-wide organization. It has probably met with every member of Parliament. It is very focused. I am very proud that the president of MADD currently is a resident of New Brunswick. It would not be particularly pleased that the first focus of the government, when it comes to driving offences, is street racing. For some time, it has been lobbying for measures such as those cut in the recent budget. It would like to see the penalties meted out to drunk driving offences, which have a long history in the Criminal Code, as severe as those for street racing violations, and they are not under this bill.

We can all agree that street racing is a dangerous activity and has no place in Canadian communities. I am tired of other parties in the House being castigated with the brush, that we are not for the protection of our citizens. I make a non-partisan statement that every member of the House is for public safety and safety in our streets. We will differ on how to get there. My remarks are about that.

How to address this problem is the real issue. The Minister of Justice believes that by creating a new series of offences that reference the existing Criminal Code offences, we will have a panacea. Because it is called a street racing bill, I am very concerned that members of the public will now think it will eradicate street racing. Nothing can be further from the truth.

The truth is there are in existence a number of harsh and severe offences, which have to be meted out by the justices and for which this very Minister of Justice has absolutely no respect. The Minister of Justice has showed that he does not even know how judges get appointed. He has to know what colour they are in political allegiance, but he has no idea how they get appointed. He has shown so little respect for judges and their discretion that he has held up a long overdue pay increase to them. He has criticized judges as Liberal judges. Today he might have argued that judges have no political stripes. We are waiting for a lot of answers from the Minister of Justice on his view and his level of respect for the judiciary of our country.

Clearly, by these amendments, he has no respect for judicial discretion. This is in a long line of bills that the government has presented. I am not sure the minister has read them all but they all represent one thing: no discretion to be left in the hands of judges, who are probably all Liberal judges, but of course that will gradually change appointment by appointment. The minister has no respect for the discretion of these judges. That is the case with this bill as well. It would take away discretion.

Mr. Speaker, unlike my hon. friend, I am used to the courtroom and there is decorum in a courtroom.

This bill, like Bill C-9 and Bill C-10, takes away the discretion that judges have and instead of sculpting what could be taken from the late Chuck Cadman's bill and Bill C-65 as presented, where these factors would be taken into account on sentencing, the Minister of Justice, in his marquee cinema like world, wants to name something and pretend that all citizens of Canada will now be safe from street racing. However, that is not the case. The bill, on a technical aspect, would further cloud some issues by creating these new offences.

The definition of street racing itself has been talked about so I will eliminate that from my speech. It is something that can be cleaned up at committee. As members have said, the definition as it relates to at least one other motor vehicle can be made to make sense because there are races that include only one vehicle.

There are also problems with the definition of “public place”. While the bill is primarily oriented toward an urban environment, the Minister of Justice and members of the House will know, whether or not they are lawyers, that public places and motor vehicles have been defined and they may include snowmobiles on icy surfaces of lakes in rural Canada. This may be of concern as we go forward in looking at this bill.

On the solo race, the race against time and against oneself, the bill does not address that behaviour. This may be more dangerous than the actual one-on-one racing that occurs in some municipalities.

Bill C-19 creates another confusion. There is a lot of confusion in every Conservative bill because the Conservatives are in a hurry to leave a strong impression in Canada. It has been well established in law that objectively the offence of dangerous driving is not as serious as criminal negligence. However, this bill establishes an identical system of imprisonment for both offences. That does not make much sense.

It is respectfully submitted that the proper approach to deal with this dangerous conduct is simply to make street racing a mandatory aggravating factor in sentencing.

I heard talk in the House about whether people need to be lawyers but surely they do not. They need to have good sense. However, it does mean that the lawyers in this House need to have common sense too. It does not excuse the lawyers from the requirement for good common sense. The good common sense from having street racing as a mandatory aggravating factor in sentencing means that while we trust judges, and on this side of the House we do, to make proper decisions, we are saying by way of public statement that they shall consider street racing, when it is present, as an aggravating factor. This would remove the issue of having to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a street race has occurred.

One could imagine, in very serious circumstances, that the lawyers would spend most of their fighting over the definition of street racing because it has not been provided in the bill. The hon. Minister of Justice says that there is a lot of common law on this but common law on racing in Canada would probably be more tuned to horse racing than street racing because Canada has not had a law on street racing, which leaves it as a dog's breakfast. We probably have a whole bunch of Liberal lawyers trying to figure it out.

Instead, we would like some Liberal legislators to make it inevitable that we will not need to deal with the definition of street racing. The Minister of Justice and his cohorts can still go out on the bandstands and say that they have cured the issue but the technical aspect is that aggravating factor in sentencing would ensure the judge is just dealing with whether he thinks there was a race, whether there was dangerous operation of a motor vehicle or whether there was criminal negligence. Those are the standards that have been used. Those terms have meaning in law. They have been considered in cases. Those are judicial decisions that judges write.

This would remove the issue of having to deal with street racing, which has not been defined, just as the Liberal's Bill C-65 and, as I said before, private member's Bill C-230, proposed by the late Chuck Cadman, proposed to deal with this. I think it is the right way to go. Preferably we will deal with it in committee and, if not, by amendment at third reading stage.

It is suggested that by providing a mandatory aggravating factor in sentencing, the message to the public will be as serious as the marquee name “street racing” and the message would be heard loud and clear. It would be easier at a sentence hearing to argue that the aggravating factors existed.

Members will note in the material supplied by the Library of Parliament that a number of the cases showed that there were other aggravating factors, not mitigating factors. The Minister of Justice likes to speak about mitigating factors, the people who got off because of circumstances. We have had plenty of cases where there are multiple increased aggravating factors, such as the use of alcohol, criminal gang activity and lack of remorse. These are aggravating factors that can be combined with the mandatory aggravating factor in sentencing that was in place in Bill C-65.

The difference between a dangerous driving offence and a dangerous driving offence involving a race will be a dog's breakfast before the courts. I think we need to be careful that, while we agree on a goal, which is keeping the streets safer, we give, not only the judges but prosecutors, the tools they need to succeed in getting convictions and not give them loopholes with undefined terms, all for the purpose of political gain.

The bill would increase the available maximum prison terms. Once again, it is a well-established legal principle that the maximum sentence is usually reserved for the worst offender in the worst case. This might give people who are very concerned about street racing offences the false impression that every street racing offence will be charged under a maximum or asked for by charging the maximum.

We know that there are summary conviction methods of proceeding here, which give prosecutors discretion in the way they wish to proceed. We also know that maximum terms are not meted out that frequently.

It is important to tell the truth to the Canadian public, that even this bill, in its form, does not guarantee that every street racing offender will get 10 or 14 years. It is time to be real with the Canadian public. The bill would provide for mandatory orders of prohibition from driving.

At this time I would like to mention again the spectre of MADD. Mothers Against Drunk Driving might very well be at our doors next week or the week after, should we move this on or pass it relatively quickly, to ask where the tough mandatory orders of prohibitions are for longer periods on continued, excessive and repetitive drunk driving offences. The bill is harsher than those infractions are and those infractions were built up over a long period of time.

Though it should be easy to support this initiative with respect to the mandatory orders of prohibition, the manner in which it is addressed is inadequate, specifically when dealing with repeat offenders.

It is important to know the distinction between dangerous driving causing bodily harm and criminal negligence causing bodily harm. Let us take ourselves to a situation in an area not unlike the area that my friend from Fundy Royal represents, a countryside where there is a known repeat offender with respect to racing. This person is dangerous to the public and to himself or herself. The person is convicted the first time of dangerous driving because the prosecutor and the police, in that case the rural RCMP, say that this will show that person and this will be a deterrent. Hopefully that person is meted out the proper sentence and the proper time is served.

On the second conviction, the police might very well charge that person, because it is a repeat offence, with criminal negligence causing bodily harm. In both cases there could be bodily harm, the same modus operandi, the same facts, but the police authorities and the prosecutor have said that, for deterrent's sake, they must charge the person with the worse offence because the person will get more time.

Under this bill as drafted, and I hope we can sort this out at committee, I submit that the repeat offence will not be caught by the mandatory prohibitions and the longer sentences. The reason is that the definition of dangerous driving causing bodily harm, if amended, with or without a street race, is not a repeat if it is charged under criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

These definitions and these legal words certainly have to be worked out at the committee level but there is more than that. It is not good enough for the chief law officer of this nation to sign off on a bill for which homework has yet to be done. It is not fair enough to say that we can fix this at committee. It is a trend. It is trend of the government to present ill-conceived, ill-drafted, hasty and sensational bills to this House, known more for their titles than their substance, and expect the hard-working members of the committee to set it all right.

If I could send one message to the government members it would be that they read the bills, consider them and consider that the Criminal Code of Canada is holistic, it is organic and it should be taken in this context.

When a person is charged with criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing bodily harm, it begs the question of whether this is a repeat offender. Is the criminal negligence a second offence? We would not know. The bill fails to answer those questions. I can tell members that every doubt will be cast in favour of the accused in our courtrooms, as they are constituted.

Many if not all studies have shown that there is no link between more severe, longer and harsher sentences and the diminution of crime rates. While I, as a member of society, might be very willing to go with the government on longer sentences and try the principle of sentence that says deterrence is important, I would need to know and I would need to be able to tell my constituents that it will work, that the thrill-seeking street racer will be deterred by a harsher sentence.

It goes back to our first point. Through education or funding in law enforcement and more cooperation with the provincial law authorities, I think more could be done than just simply getting it out on the five o'clock news that we will cure street racing now because we have a three page bill. That is not good enough.

If the minister uses the word “holistic”, then let us put it into action. Let us work together to make sure that as Nicholson, Rob he convenes meetings with provincial attorneys general and that he sees the good work being done in cities like San Diego and Los Angeles and, if I may for local advertisement, the city of Moncton in enforcing its bylaws, in preventing drive-throughs, and in preventing people from circling certain locations on a habitual basis.

Let us work together with these various levels of government, because the cities and municipalities in this country are the third order of government, and let us try to make a better bill that would save the government money, but more important, would save lives.

Bill C-19 would create a new offence punishing people for street racing just as they are already being punished now for street racing. This is already covered in the current Criminal Code. This bill would allow us to arrest people only after they have put other people's lives at risk. We have to look at the big picture. We have to work with other members of other governments to make sure that we make a better law.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2006 / 1:35 p.m.
See context

Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 2nd, 2006 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, a number of bills targeting street racing have been placed before this House over the past few years.

Most Canadians will remember the work of a former member of Parliament, the late Chuck Cadman, on the subject. Mr. Cadman, a respected and respectful parliamentarian, submitted private members' legislation three times. The former Liberal government also introduced Bill C-65 to amend the Criminal Code regarding street racing. Mr. Cadman's private member's bill and the proposed legislation of the former government died on the order paper when on November 29 last year the government fell.

Today we are talking about another variation on how we as a society will attempt to deal with this serious scourge on our streets, something that can and does end tragically for some individuals, both the participants and, even more tragically, the bystanders who are innocent.

Bill C-19, unlike both the prior government's Bill C-65 and Mr. Cadman's private member's Bill C-230, includes new street racing offences. Also differing from the former government's bill, Bill C-19 now includes a graduated increase in the length of the driving prohibitions for repeat offences.

In the first half of 2006 in Canada, 10 deaths can be attributed to street racing. More and more we have been alerted to the menace on our streets. Over the past year, street racing, with its deadly consequences, has affected communities across the country.

As many would realize, education is an important tool to help alert the public, especially younger Canadians, to the dangers of street racing. I do not believe that education of itself will be sufficient to effect the necessary change in this dangerous behaviour. I do believe, however, that education on this matter should continue to be used in schools and other media, such as movie theatre trailers, to counteract the increasing sensationalization of street racing now found in some video games and movies.

Not all street racing is a spontaneous event, though this is the type of thrill-seeking activity many would immediately think about when the words street racing are used. Some street races are spectator events, with people being alerted in advance and police lookouts. Therefore, I am not talking about the supervised venues where racers test vehicles on closed tracks. I would also say that it is not only young people who are engaged in street racing, although many of them are, unfortunately.

Bill C-19 and predecessor bills are attempts, using the Criminal Code, to further address the problem of street racing. Members may ask how this has been dealt with in the past. Obviously and unfortunately, street racing is not new. Most would understand that the provinces and territories are involved with their own legislation and statutes respecting the operation of motor vehicles and road safety, and some even have some street racing offences. However, the provincial legislation applies, for the most part, to the less serious offences.

This is in contrast to the federal Criminal Code's more serious offences of criminal negligence and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle. These Criminal Code sections have been successfully used to charge and prosecute serious street racing offenders in the past throughout Canada and may in fact continue to be the most efficient choice for prosecutors.

In Bill C-19, proposed clause 1, street racing is defined similarly to the previous bills:

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

Thus we see that two or more motor vehicles must be involved, not a lone vehicle speeding. Since motor vehicle is already defined in the Criminal Code, the definition in Bill C-19 would capture motorcycles, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles. If two or more of them were racing in public places, this would include, for instance, public lots, frozen public waterways, as well as streets, roads and highways that we normally would think about. Bill C-19 would create five new street racing offences which would all require the same fundamental elements in law: a criminal mind and a criminal act, mens rea, actus reus.

These are the same elements that are required to obtain convictions for the existing offences of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and criminal negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle. Both the previous Bill C-65 and Bill C-230 were more focused on street racing as an aggravating circumstance to be taken into account in sentencing by the judge after conviction.

The five new offences created in Bill C-19 would require the same constituent elements as do dangerous operation and criminal negligence, in addition to the new element of street racing.

In other words, the five offences will apply if the offence can first be categorized as criminal negligence or dangerous operation. To clarify for those who still have difficulty with this, the five new sections are new subsection 249.4(1), dangerous operation of motor vehicle while street racing; new subsection 249.4(3), dangerous operation causing bodily harm; new subsection 249.4(4), dangerous operation causing death; new subsection 249.3, causing bodily harm by criminal negligence (street racing); and new subsection 249.2, causing death by criminal negligence (street racing).

Thus, one can easily see that we have a referencing of a new element to existing Criminal Code sections. Is this really a serious attempt to underscore the denouncement of street racing, as the Minister of Justice has just suggested, or is it, as some critics have stated, merely something to show that we are serious, the denunciation just by the statement?

Note that the offences that are needed are already in the Criminal Code. How difficult will it be to prosecute the new element of street racing on top of the two elements already required? Therefore, will it be used more to obtain conviction or be used to plea bargain on the included offences? Will the charges still be laid under the old offences despite the options now provided in this new bill, if passed?

These are important questions and some critics have gone so far as to say that this is a totally unnecessary or window dressing bill. However, I do think that the subject area is one that all Canadians are concerned about and the previous government was also acting in this area. I do not think that anyone believes street racing is a good idea, rather it is dangerous and a menace to public health and public safety. There is an appetite in the land to address the problem and stem the occurrences.

I should also address the other elements that this bill has added to the debate. Bill C-19 adds, where street racing is proven, the mandatory driving prohibition minimum of one year whether or not bodily harm has been caused and where it was discretionary in all charges before.

The bill does propose higher maximum terms of imprisonment in three of the five street racing offences. The bill does not make any minimum terms of imprisonment. Currently, we know that conditional sentences have been utilized under section 742.1 of the Criminal Code. Judges are permitted and in fact encouraged to utilize, under the sentencing principles of the Criminal Code, less restrictive punishments than incarceration where other factors are not in play.

Case law has developed across Canada on point, going both ways I might add. I raise this because we are currently having a conditional sentencing bill which is now before the justice committee. If enacted as is, it would impact on Bill C-19 if it were passed as is. Essentially, there would be a consequential effect if the higher maximum penalties were passed in this Bill C-19, with the exception of dangerous driving not causing bodily harm or death. Unfortunately, mid-process this is speculative, but I do flag the potential now, as has the Minister of Justice.

It is not entirely clear the intention or message to the courts of how Bill C-19 has been set out. On a scale of seriousness, criminal negligence is considered higher than dangerous operation. The difference between the offences is the degree of carelessness or recklessness in the offence. This is one area that needs to be properly examined if this bill ends up in committee after a vote in this House, which I believe will end up happening.

Bill C-19 puts street racing that constitutes dangerous operation and street racing that constitutes criminal negligence on the same footing. Fine tuning is required here, as has been pointed out by some others. When we try to limit judicial discretion, as would appear to be the pattern of this new Conservative minority government, it creates other, perhaps wholly unintended, consequences. Many authorities, some would say, consider criminal negligence more serious than dangerous driving and we will look at this.

Bill C-19 also holds that when a person is convicted of street racing, the judge would prohibit the offender from driving. This is a mandatory order for a specific period of time. Also different from previous bills and the current Criminal Code is the introduction of a minimum period of one year in the case of each of the five street racing offences. This is driving prohibition.

Under Bill C-19, the maximum and minimum for driving prohibition orders would increase each time a subsequent street racing offence is committed.

Bill C-19 would provide a prohibition of driving orders of the same length or longer than periods now in the Criminal Code of Canada. Further, new subclause 259(3.4) proposes the creation of a mandatory life prohibition on driving. This would apply when the offender has two or more convictions of street racing where someone was injured or killed and one of the street races resulted in a death.

I should note that the driving prohibition order will come after the period of imprisonment. I should also note that the maximum and minimum for driving prohibition orders increase in a very similar fashion as the rules governing driving prohibition orders in cases of drinking and driving.

There is a lot to digest in the details of this bill. This is the initial stage of discussion. It is not the place for any of us to come to firm conclusions. There is obviously agreement that street racing needs to be dealt with by Parliament. The fact that there have been two different governments and continued private members' bills, underscores this to all of us.

Always it is a question of degree. Is one approach better or more practical than another? Can the officers on the ground, the judiciary and the system of justice be given better or more flexible laws for Parliament to utilize? Do some of the clauses in Bill C-19 go too far? What is most important is will this help with community safety? Those are the questions that need to be answered.

We should also examine whether there are some situations that are captured that were not intended. I have already heard from the Canadian Association of Rallysport with suggested amendments since it is concerned that this will negatively impact on its sport activity held across the country.

What about when roads are closed for major professional racing events which normally occur annually in cities like Toronto and Montreal? Would we need to consider specific exemptions or exceptions or do we rely on the charging officer's discretion and judgment, as has been done in the past? Do we really intend to capture racing snowmobiles not close together traversing a frozen lake, for example?

I would like to listen to the comments of other parliamentarians in the House. I believe we come here to do positive work for our electors. We can do the measured work required of us in a respectful manner I would hope.

I am personally inclined to send the bill to committee for further discussion but wish to hear from my colleagues. It is a bill that is not perfect and has some issues that need to be addressed. Not all of the provisions will help the situation and may in fact cause some confusion. The stages for amendments in this House and in the other House are available to us to clear up any of these ambiguities, whether they are real or just misunderstood. Also, we will have the benefit of our witnesses and, hopefully, some experts.

I know from the short briefings I have received from others that there was no wide consultation on the bill. I asked if there were formal studies but was told by officials that none had been done. I am also aware that on January 25, 2005, at the federal, provincial and territorial meetings of all justice ministers, they had agreed to study the matter of Criminal Code amendments affecting the theft of motor vehicles, as well as penalties for those who steal vehicles and drive recklessly.

Bill C-19 is before us now with a limited priority area of street racing and does not address these other issues. However, it is important that we all do our job, as I know we will, and I look forward to working on this bill with my colleagues.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 20th, 2005 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Bill Casey Conservative North Nova, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to debate this issue today. It certainly is timely in my case.

The distinguished member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl a minute ago referred to the crime situation as a run away rampant situation in cities. I represent an entirely rural riding in Nova Scotia. We have seen an incredible increase in vandalism, minor crimes, repeat offences, issues that make people's lives miserable. It prevents them from enjoying their own properties, and they feel insecure in their homes. I feel this.

I have been here for quite a while. I did not feel this until just within the last two years. It is coming to my riding and if it is there, it is everywhere.

However, I want to speak to Bill C-65 today and acknowledge the contribution that Chuck Cadman made on these issues. He had several issues of which he was a tireless supporter, always in the interest of other people's security and safety. He brought this concept to the House through two bills, Bill C-338 and Bill C-230. One was on misidentification of VIN numbers on vehicles a crime and the other was on street racing. At the time the Liberals opposed these bills, making all kinds of statements about them. They blew them away and said they were not appropriate.

I have a quote from the minister of justice at the time, Martin Cauchon, who in speaking to Mr. Cadman said:

Your proposed bill would result in a mandatory driving prohibition....As you are aware, the Canadian criminal justice system is premised on the notion that sentences should be individualized for each offender... Research indicates that mandatory minimum penalties do not work from the point of general deterrence and recidivism.

That is exactly what we need. The other part that has been watered down in Bill C-65, as compared to Chuck's bill, is the penalty for repeat offenders.

In a recent incident in Halifax, a young woman was killed and the driver of the car had something like 15 or 20 outstanding offences. Despite repeated offences, he still drove and he was the cause of a fatal accident. It has had a profound impact on the community. Bills like those proposed by Chuck Cadman, not like this one, would have helped prevent that.

I want to go into other issues that affect my riding in northern Nova Scotia. As I mentioned, we have seen an increase in criminal activity such as theft, vandalism, damage, cars stolen and break-ins. I want to go through three little communities in my riding that have experienced virtual crime waves for the first time in their history.

I went to a meeting in a community hall in Stewiacke, Nova Scotia about a month ago, and 80 people attended. I could not believe the stories of vandalism, theft and break-ins. I could not believe the number of people who now were scared to stay in their own homes. I also could not believe the fact that they would call the police and there was no response. Most of these people know many of the criminals and they are already on the list of offenders. However, because of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, they are repeat offenders and the police have very few tools to rein in these criminals.

Stewiacke has a lack of RCMP officers now, although they used to be present. I then found out their building had been shut down because of a mould problem and nobody had done anything to resurrect the building so Stewiacke lost its RCMP presence. I raised it in the House and as a result of that, a temporary building is under construction now. Now Stewiacke will have a building and hopefully an RCMP presence to deal with these issues.

The Liberals seem to be turning the other way on all these criminal justice issues.They do not seem to be interested. It is puzzling to us why they do not care and why they allow these issues to go on and on.

Earlier this year we had an issue in Truro. It was rumoured that the northeast drug section, the most successful drug enforcement operation in the region, was to be shut down. We raised the issue in the House and I think we slowed it down and perhaps stopped the elimination of the drug enforcement section. However because the RCMP officers have been moved around it is hard to tell whether they are there or not. However senior RCMP officials have told us that they do not have the number of officers they need to provide the minimum level of law enforcement in Nova Scotia.

The other thing that came out was that when they do have a number of officers and one goes on maternity leave or sick leave, there is no allowance for the replacement of those officers. Therefore, even though they can show an allotment of officers on duty and available, they are not really there. This is another issue we raised in the House and hopefully the Solicitor General or the Attorney General will deal with this.

Another small community in my riding is Debert. We have had all kinds of vandalism there. People are afraid to go out on the streets. They are afraid for their homes and businesses because of the buildings that have been burned. They are afraid of property damage. They are afraid of threats and intimidation. The RCMP came back and reported to us that they do not have enough manpower to have the RCMP presence there to deal with these issues. They tell us that they do not have the types of vehicles they need to apprehend the criminals. They tell us that they just do not have the equipment or the people.

This is not just about street racing. It is a whole attitude on behalf of the Liberals, and I do not understand it. They are looking the other way. They do not care about these issues which are going to grow and grow, as street racing is in my riding, and then soon, hopefully, they will deal with the issues. However if they do not, we will.

Street racing is a growing issue and it is right across the country but it is not just about street racing. It is the lack of RCMP officers and the support they have. The government does not give them the support or the resources they need to hire replacement officers and new officers when they are needed. They do not have the money for the proper facilities. Stewiacke has a perfectly good building but it is empty because it cannot be maintained. People in Stewiacke are demanding that the Youth Criminal Justice Act be strengthened and that stiffer sentences for repeat offenders be applied.

This is exactly where the bill falls flat. It does not allow for stiffer sentences for repeat offenders and that is the single biggest reason why I will not be supporting the bill.

Yesterday almost all of our questions were on justice issues. It was amazing to hear the number of issues that come up around the country. We represent the whole country and everybody is experiencing these problems. We heard no answers and there was no indication that the Liberals want to deal with these issues. They are turning a blind eye to this issue and it will come back to haunt us all if we do not address it.

The RCMP needs the tools to work with. The justice system needs the tools to work with. The youth justice system needs to be strengthened. Certain crimes need mandatory sentences, as we have advocated for years. This is not just about one or two little issues. This is a whole attitude toward justice and it must be increased and strengthened.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 20th, 2005 / 3:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Don Bell Liberal North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, street racing is a matter of serious concern in my riding of North Vancouver, as I am sure it is in all areas of Canada. This is why I gladly support Bill C-65 as a logical step by this government toward the goal of the much respected, late member of this House, Chuck Cadman, and his proposed private member' bill, Bill C-230.

Bill C-65 will now provide a clear, express direction for the courts to conclude that street racing, if found to be a factor in the commission of the offence, is to be an aggravating factor.

The Criminal Code does not have many factors listed as expressly being aggravating circumstances. Therefore, the addition of street racing will certainly be noted by the judiciary.

Bill C-65 also goes further than Mr. Cadman's proposed bill, by extending the possible maximum driving prohibition from three years to a possible maximum lifetime prohibition.

Street racing is an area that I know we have many examples of in my riding and in adjoining ridings where lives have been lost as a result of street racing. Therefore, it is important that this House shows its concern, through the passage of Bill C-65, to the people of Canada that this is an offence that must be dealt with seriously.

I know that this bill does not propose minimum mandatory sentencing. Minimum mandatory sentencing is something that I have supported in this House, both in my statements and in my votes on previous motions and bills. However, I believe that Bill C-65 is worthy of support at this time because it indicates the very serious nature of which this House holds street racing. As I have said earlier, it sends a very clear message to the judiciary to treat this as an aggravating factor and extends the maximum prohibition.

Many families have suffered lost ones as a result of street racing. It is something that puts at risk the lives of people and communities, as it has in my riding. It is something that this House, I believe, needs to show support for as being not acceptable behaviour in Canada.

Therefore, I would ask the members of this House to support Bill C-65.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 20th, 2005 / 1:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Stockwell Day Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was interested in the questions by the member for Northumberland. I am not questioning his sincerity, but what he has tried to do is deflect the issue and in effect confuse and diffuse the issue. He has missed the main point about which we are concerned.

I think that everybody understands that Bill C-65 is the act to amend the Criminal Code to include street racing and also to make an amendment to another act. What the proposed bill will do is amend the Criminal Code by defining street racing and by specifically identifying the involvement in street racing as an aggravating factor during sentencing for a number of offences. Those offences would include: 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 driving prohibition order if street racing is found to be involved in one of these other factors.

We want to see this type of prohibition, but the Liberals are stopping short of what they are trying to convince the public is being done. We need to look at the history. This bill is something that was championed by a number of people in the House, but chiefly by the recently deceased member, Chuck Cadman. He had been attempting to legislate changes to the street racing provisions since December 2002. Previous versions of the bill also included Bill C-338 and Bill C-230, for those who want to explore and do some research into the background on this.

What is important is the government for years refused to accept the premise of what Mr. Cadman and others were asking for, and that was that there should be some minimum mandatory sentencing if street racing were an aggravating factor. There is no question that the whole issue of street racing seems to be a growing problem. It involves absolute disregard for the life, safety and security of other people. Our citizens across the country are asking that something be done about this.

As much as I appreciate the half step being taken, once again it is only under extreme public reaction and sustained anger over a long period of time that the federal Liberals seem to get it and want to respond. That is a constant frustration in the House, with so much legislation that is common sense, that is needed by people and that is protective of them. Unless the Liberals see in the polls that it will affect some votes, they are very reluctant to move on principle. It is always on politics and that has been a frustrating part of the progress of this. Chuck Cadman was frustrated by this lack of progress for a long time.

We understand that there may have been some background discussion, that the Liberal ministers or others in their camp may have had discussions with Mr. Cadman prior to his decease and gave him some kind of reassurance that what he had asked for,over a number of years would be granted. That may have helped Mr. Cadman in some of the decisions he was making at the time or it may not, I do not know. The Liberals only moved on this as they saw extreme anger and public reaction over a sustained period of time and the possibility of winning support for this and other votes. That is what has been frustrating.

They are pretending that this bill is everything Mr. Cadman, and others who wanted to see this progress, wanted. In fact, it is not. It falls short. It does include street racing as an aggravating factor for sentencing, but it totally ignores the very serious area of repeat offenders. The aspect of repeat offenders was an essential part of what Mr. Cadman wanted to see happen

Why are the Liberals so reluctant to get tough on crime or to get serious about serious crime? Why are they so reluctant to deal with minimum mandatory sentencing? Sometimes when we use that phrase, it can sound like we are saying a certain very serious and grievous crime deserves a minimum sentence. We do not mean to minimize it. We are saying that in many cases the judiciary has too much discretion when it comes to sentencing and too often the judges will not apply any kind of sentence to a grievous and serious crime. Therefore, it does not serve as a deterrent.

The problem, philosophically, is liberals have a great struggle in terms of their view of human nature to accept that there are times when a very serious crime deserves very serious time. Liberals tend to diminish personal responsibility when it comes to crime. They tend to say that since we are all basically born good, the only reason anybody does any bad things is because they are influenced by society, or by their mothers or fathers or by some other extraneous force. When liberal philosophy does not in general accept that there can be personal responsibility, especially when it comes to serious crime, then they are greatly reluctant to assign any imprisonment or so-called punishment to that. They say that it was not that person's fault, that they were influenced by society, or by their parents or by the car manufacturer, the car was too fancy or too fast.

We are talking about minimum mandatory sentencing for this type of serious crime or others. We constantly raise the issue of serious repeat offenders in the House. We know repeat offenders perpetrate most of the crime. We have to deal with them. Repeat offenders have to be deterred by knowing there will be a serious mandatory sentence, one that a judge cannot get around. If it does not work as a deterrent and they go ahead and repeat the crime, then at the very least they are off the streets for awhile and society is protected.

That is a clear philosophical difference between liberal thinking and conservative thinking. People have to take responsibility for their actions and that actions bring consequences. Sometimes those consequences are not pleasant, but the consequences of seeing innocent people maimed, injured or killed by irresponsible street racers are serious and must be met with serious offences and imprisonment for repeat offenders. The philosophical problem we deal with all is this liberal thinking.

We ask people to recognize that this bill is like so many areas where Liberals philosophically in their heart of hearts disagree with it, they do not like it and it makes them feel all queasy. When they see the population wants the particular law because it makes sense, they have this internal battle between feeling all queasy about demanding responsibility and consequences and the possibility of losing votes. They think about how they can capture some votes and at the same how they can ease off the queasy feeling inside them. Because they like to feel squishy rather than queasy, they take a half step, thinking that will ease the pressure. They will do it today. They will stand and say that they have the mandatory provision in the bill. They will say “There, all you vengeful people, we will put that person in jail for awhile”. It has nothing to do with revenge. It has to do with common sense, consequences and people taking responsibility for their actions.

We are asking the Liberals to take responsibility for their actions. They made a commitment to follow through on a commitment that was made to Chuck Cadman. As Mr. Cadman was representing a majority of citizens on this issue, it is a commitment to the citizens. The Liberals said that they would do something, but they have not done it. We are asking them to put in the mandatory provisions for serious repeat offenders. Do the right thing is all we are asking.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 20th, 2005 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy, NB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to speak to Bill C-65 on behalf of my constituents of Fundy Royal.

Unfortunately the bill is held out to be an adoption of Mr. Chuck Cadman's previous private member's bills, Bill C-338 and Bill C-230, which he had been trying for years to get through the House. They were common sense legislation that would protect Canadians and innocent bystanders and make our streets safer for everyone.

However, in typical Liberal fashion, the government dragged its heels for too long, and now, insultingly, once again it is offering too little too late.

From the outset, I would like to state that this bill is flawed and inadequate. Countless people have suffered from street racing while the government did nothing. Now the government is responding, but it is responding with a typical Liberal half-baked measure.

It reminds me of a couple of other issues related to the administration of justice, which I will touch on very quickly. One is the sex offender registry. As my colleagues know, victims' groups, the police and the provinces have been calling for a national sex offender registry for years. Unfortunately, the party opposite was ideologically opposed to such a move.

When public pressure became overwhelming in regard to the fact that the protection of children outweighed any privacy rights that sex offenders might have, the government did come up with proposed legislation for a sex offender registry. It was unfortunate and ironic what the bill did in regard to the registry. People were shocked to find out that the registry was not retroactive, which meant that all of the convicted sex offenders and people who had victimized children in the past would not be included in the registry.

It left countless Canadians wondering what was the point of having a registry if it was empty, if it was a blank sheet of paper, if we had to start from scratch when we already had all this information and could protect Canadians. There was a model in Ontario that we could have followed. Ontario had a retroactive registry.

Once again, in a wishy-washy method that was designed to pander to their own ideological bent, the Liberals could not stomach having an effective registry, but because of public pressure they had to come up with something.

The other example is Bill C-2, the child protection legislation. We see this same pattern. They call something “child protection legislation” so that it sounds like a bread and butter issue. It sounds good. We are all interested in protecting children, but what we are left with in Bill C-2 is a hollow shell. We are left with loopholes that people who victimize children could drive a truck through, loopholes that the defence and the bar associations across the country will have a field day with. It is not effective. It is not precise. It does not protect children. It does not go beyond where we are today with our current legislation.

The party opposite suggests that just by throwing a name out there and saying that something is a sex offender registry or child protection legislation or, in this case, a street racing bill, somehow Canadians will be fooled into thinking the government is taking some substantive actions.

Originally Mr. Cadman's bills were tabled to address the rise in street racing. The police tell us that the practice of street racing is becoming increasingly dangerous across the country. It begs the question, then, why now? Why is the government finally wanting to take on the appearance of action? Why was something not done in the past when Mr. Cadman was introducing private member's bills that would have addressed this very issue?

It is important to note the government's earlier response to Mr. Cadman. What was it saying in the past? The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice said:

Unless there is some compelling reason to specify that certain circumstances are aggravating it is better not to multiply the instances where the Criminal Code spells out that a particular way of committing the offence will be an aggravating factor. In my view, we are not seeing any such reason emerging from decisions of the trial courts and the appeal courts with regard to the four offences when street racing is a part of the circumstances of these offences.

There was a reluctance to adopt Mr. Cadman's bill. There was an effort to downplay it, to make it sound like it was not going to be effective. The Minister of Justice said, “Your proposed bill would result in a mandatory driving prohibition”.

That is what the bill called for: a mandatory driving prohibition.

The minister went on to say:

As you are aware, the Canadian criminal justice system is premised on the notion that sentences should be individualized for each offender...Research indicates that mandatory minimum penalties do not work from the point of general deterrence and recidivism.

This is the same line that we hear from the current Minister of Justice. We heard it as recently as yesterday in a response to a question. The Minister of Justice stated that mandatory minimum sentences do not work, yet we see that in other jurisdictions they are effective for serious offences. The Minister of Justice and the government are for some reason ideologically opposed to providing concrete protections for law-abiding citizens and to protecting the innocent in society.

It has been three years since Mr. Cadman first tabled his bills. All along, the government refused to support the legislation because it called for mandatory minimum driving prohibitions and increased the punishment for repeat offenders.

We could ask any Canadian if it makes sense that if someone is a repeat offender there should be an increase in the punishment. If someone is showing signs of recidivism, of being a repeat offender, should there be an increase in the punishment? The average thinking Canadian would say, “Absolutely. That makes sense”. When someone is a more serious offender, there should be a more serious consequence to the offence, yet in the past the government refused to support this legislation. I am pleased to say that the Conservatives have consistently supported these measures.

Bill C-65 proposes to amend the Criminal Code by defining street racing and by specifically identifying involvement in street racing as an aggravating factor during sentencing. That makes sense. The following offences are listed: 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.

Bill C-65 also provides for mandatory driving prohibition orders if street racing is found to be involved in one of those offences.

There we go. On the one hand, yesterday the minister stated that mandatory sentences do not work, yet in an effort to appease Canadians when there is public pressure for something, the party on the other side will do whatever it takes to appease people. So what do we see included in this bill? We see a measure that I support. There is the mandatory driving prohibition, but again it is a half measure because there is no increase for repeat offenders.

There is an irony in debating this bill today, which has the mandatory provision, when we remember that the Minister of Justice stood up yesterday and said in a blustery way that he was opposed to mandatory minimum sentences because they do not work. It just does not make sense.

Despite the positives, and there are some positives in this proposed bill, it is important to note, as I mentioned, that without serious penalties for serious crimes those crimes are going to continue. There will be no effect.

It is important to remind Canadians that in this legislation the severity of the punishment does not increase for repeat offenders. That was an essential aspect of the proposals in Mr. Cadman's original private member's bills. His bills proposed that for subsequent serious offenders there would be more serious consequences.

Bill C-65 is a half measure. After years of the government dragging its feet and speaking out against Mr. Cadman's private member's bills, it has introduced a half measure. It is a half measure that I cannot support.

We should honour the original intent of these bills, which would have been effective and would have provided serious consequences for those people who are serious offenders. We need to have some common sense amendments to this bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 20th, 2005 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Gurmant Grewal Conservative Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the constituents of Newton--North Delta to participate in the debate on Bill C-65, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to street racing.

Bill C-65 defines street racing as “operating a motor vehicle in a race with another motor vehicle on a street, road, highway or other public place”. Under the proposed legislation, street racing would be an aggravating circumstance for sentencing purposes in causing death or bodily harm by criminal negligence or by dangerous operation of a motor vehicle. A street racing offender, when convicted of these offences, would face a mandatory prohibition against operating a motor vehicle on any street from one to ten years and would follow the prison sentence. Currently, offenders face discretionary driving prohibitions if convicted of the above-mentioned offences.

Street racing has been a growing problem in British Columbia's lower mainland and has resulted in numerous high profile tragedies that have caused considerable public outcry.

In June 2000, Cliff Kwok Kei Tang, 28 years old, hit and killed pedestrian Jerry Kithithee, racing a Porsche at approximately 150 kilometres per hour.

In November 2000, Sukhvir Khosa and Bahadur Bhalru lost control of their Camaros while racing at an estimate speed of 140 kilometres an hour, and hit and killed Irene Thorpe on the sidewalk of Marine Drive in Vancouver. Both were given two-year conditional sentences rather than jail time and later Bhalru was deported.

In September 2002, Yau Chun Stuart Chan ran a red light at a Richmond intersection in his speeding Honda sports car and t-boned RCMP Constable Jimmy Ng's police cruiser. The force of the crash sent the 32-year-old constable through the back window of his vehicle, killing him instantly.

In May 2003, another street racer, Ali Arimi, was handed a conditional sentence after being found guilty of dangerous driving causing death.

In March 2004 in Surrey, 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 from the scene.

Those were just a few examples of the many sad stories that have resulted from young people racing on the streets of the lower mainland. In recent years, these speeding cars have claimed nearly 30 known victims. People are outraged, not only by the crime but also by the lenient sentences handed out to the guilty.

Many of us in British Columbia, like my former colleague and neighbouring member of Parliament, the late Chuck Cadman, were outraged at the light sentences given to street racers. Street racing can be compared to waving a loaded gun around while blindfolded and squeezing off shots at random without any regard for other people or property.

Chuck Cadman introduced two bills, Bill C-338 and Bill C-230, dealing with street racing, neither of which went beyond committee stage. The bills were intended to prevent street racing by sending a clear message that those who endanger the public will face serious and long term consequences. As is usually the case, the government was not interested in supporting an opposition MP's bill when Mr. Cadman was a Conservative.

Almost two years ago, in October 2003, when Bill C-338 was debated at second reading, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice spoke in opposition. He claimed that the bill was inadvisable and said that if a court imposes a long period of imprisonment, the court may believe there is no need to have the offender prohibited from driving. The offender will have been off the streets and away from the wheel for a long time.

The problem with the parliamentary secretary's logic is that no one has ever received long jail terms for convictions resulting from street racing. Often house arrest is being used for street racers who kill or injure people.

The government has now turned an about face on Mr. Cadman's street racing bills. This should come as no surprise to members and to the public watching. After refusing to support my bills to protect firefighters and whistleblowers and to recognize international credentials, the government stole my concepts, introduced them in its name and started supporting them. First it criticizes an opposition bill and then it steals its concept, messes with it and then makes it a considerably weaker bill.

Bill C-65, the proposed legislation before us, is a neutered version of Mr. Cadman's past bills. Although it provides for mandatory driving prohibition and the inclusion of street racing in aggravating factors for sentencing, it fails to include the clauses on repeat offenders, which was an essential part of Mr. Cadman's bill.

Amendments to the bill should include reinstating Mr. Cadman's increasing scale punishment clauses replace subsections (a) and (b) in section 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.

Illegal street racing terrorizes our neighbourhoods and kills innocent people. We must put a stop to it. Doing so will require work by all levels of government. Part of the solution may lie in increased impound fees for vehicles involved in street racing; the prosecution of street racing spectators, as has been done in the U.S.; traffic calming mechanisms; and the confiscation of vehicles after multiple violations.

The federal government, in particular, should provide more funding to the RCMP to increase enforcement and allow for the use of high tech surveillance. We must also have laws with teeth that provide a real deterrence to street racers, and steps should be taken to ensure that sentences are actually served.

When will the government realize that people who commit violent crimes should serve real time, not at home but in a prison where criminals will understand the magnitude of their crimes.

The B.C. government is already taking steps to clamp down on street racing. B.C. police seized 60 vehicles and suspended 180 driver licences. The B.C. government is doing its part. It is now time for this weak, Liberal federal government to do the same.

It is time to get tough on street racing. Street racing is something that is absolutely unacceptable and we should have zero tolerance for it. The Conservative Party supports the mandatory minimum prohibition on driving for street racing offenders and the placement of street racing as an aggravating offence.

The Conservative Party has consistently supported the efforts of Chuck Cadman in tackling this issue by supporting him on his bill. The Liberals, on the other hand, did not support his bill when he was a caucus member of the Canadian Alliance and the Conservative Party. They only decided to support legislation after Mr. Cadman voted to save the Liberal government in a confidence vote on May 19.

Bill C-65 is a step in the right direction but the government should honour Mr. Cadman's memory by amending the proposed legislation to more accurately reflect the true intentions of the bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 5:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I count it a great privilege to stand and speak to Bill C-65. The reason in particular is the way the bill has been characterized as being a tribute to Chuck Cadman. Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely false, totally false.

I had the privilege last Saturday of visiting very briefly with Donna Cadman, Chuck's wife. We did not discuss the bill, although I know she is familiar with the reasons that our party is having a tremendous amount of difficulty with the bill. I count myself as having been exceptionally privileged as having become a friend of Chuck's and I take great offence when I hear the justice minister of Canada referring to this bill as a tribute to my friend, Chuck Cadman.

I was also rather perplexed when I heard just a few minutes ago a member of the NDP refer to this bill as the essence of what he proposed. Well, the smell of a skunk is the essence of perfume, but it does not have anything to do with anything pleasant or anything related to what we would normally think of in terms of a perfume.

Bill C-65 as far as it goes is fine, but the next thing I can visualize is that the Liberals in a dishonest approach will say, “The Conservatives are not really serious about this issue. They would not even back the memory of Chuck Cadman. Look at what they are doing. They are going to be voting against the bill. It is the essence of Chuck Cadman”. It is not the essence of Chuck Cadman.

Chuck Cadman understood that while some of the parts of the bill are essential, truly the devil is in the details. Chuck Cadman had been attempting to legislate changes to street racing provisions since 2002. As some of my colleagues pointed out, again and again Chuck Cadman was rebuffed not only in this chamber, not only with the rejection of his bills, but also at the justice committee. He was constantly rebuffed by the Liberals.

I do recall at Chuck's funeral, and it was a fitting tribute to a very special man, that the minister related that in jest Chuck said that he had voted with the Liberals on the confidence motion and wondered if God would not be pleased. He said it in jest, but he worked constantly throughout his honourable time in this institution to try to bring some real change to justice. He worked honourably against the Liberals who were constantly opposed to him because they refused to do what was absolutely necessary to bring justice back to our justice system.

Currently we have a legal system in Canada, not a justice system. Chuck Cadman worked to that end.

Previous versions of the bill include Bill C-338 and Bill C-230. The government had refused to support the legislation because it called for mandatory minimum driving prohibitions and increased punishment for repeat offenders.

The Liberals are so soft on crime that they are constantly creating revolving doors. They are constantly looking to make sure that the person who has committed the crime is treated with kid gloves while the victims' families can go hang. That is a bad attitude. That is a wrong attitude. It is an attitude that the people of Surrey North, the people of Surrey, the people of British Columbia and indeed the people of Canada reject of the Liberals, that they are constantly so soft on crime.

We constantly supported the measures that Chuck Cadman brought forward. I recall a gentleman when Chuck initially came to the House of Commons, Larry Park. Larry was Chuck's legislative assistant. Larry was as committed as Chuck to these amendments to the Criminal Code. Larry and Chuck would work for hour after hour, weekend after weekend. I am sure that Donna must have wondered if she had become a widow with the amount of dedication that Larry and Chuck had to bringing these things forward.

If I am speaking with some emotion today it comes from the well of emotion that I have within me to say that this is not Chuck Cadman's bill. It reminds me an awful lot of an event that actually happened during the U.S. presidential election. George Bush's running mate was Dan Quail. When he tried to play down his youth in the vice-presidential debate by pointing out that he had as much experience as Jack Kennedy when he ran for president in 1960, his opponent, Lloyd Bentsen, pounced and said, “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy”.

I say to the justice minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, you are no Chuck Cadman, you do not understand, you just do not understand.

We want to make the following amendments. They cannot be made at this particular stage but we will be proposing them on the assumption that the Liberals will be supported yet again by the NDP for this bill to move forward.

We will be making the following amendments: 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; for a second and subsequent offence, if one of the offences is an offence under section 220 or subsection 249(4), for life; 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, 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.

For the people who are reading this text, other than lawyers, for people who may be watching these proceedings on television right now, that sounds like an awful lot of detail. However, as I said earlier, the devil is in the detail. This is the detail that Chuck Cadman would have had in this bill.

I say again that the Minister of Justice of Canada is misleading Canadians and is misleading the House. It is regrettable that the NDP has fallen into the trap of his misleading when he tries to say that this is Chuck Cadman's bill. Chuck Cadman was a friend of mine and this is not his bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 4:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Randy Kamp Conservative Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Kootenay—Columbia.

I would like to take all members of the House back to a place in my riding. It is the intersection of Lougheed Highway and Laity Street. If we had been there on Monday morning, February 28, we would have seen a man wandering in a dazed condition, aimlessly it would seem, in a state of disbelief they tell me. It was an accident scene and he was approaching reporters and people standing by wanting information. He was asking for details because earlier that morning he had received a call from the RCMP, that call that we all live in fear of, that said that his 23-year-old son had been killed in a car accident. He went to the scene to see what he could learn.

The investigation later would reveal that at 10 p.m. the night before his son was the passenger in a green Honda Del Sol driven by his 22-year-old friend. This car and a silver sports car were speeding, racing eastbound on Lougheed Highway. Shortly after it went through the intersection at Laity Street, it lost control and swerved to the left into the westbound lane and hit a Ford Taurus station wagon killing the 45-year-old woman who was driving and seriously injuring her passenger. The two young men also died at the scene.

In that moment for many, the world was forever changed. Two young men with goals and dreams, and by all accounts good kids, died in a moment of recklessness leaving behind broken-hearted families and grieving friends, and 17 and 21-year-old sons of the 45-year-old mother. The driver of the silver sports car, who by all accounts stopped, backed up, took a look at the scene, then raced off and has not been seen since. A community is forever changed when it experiences such a tragedy.

Of course we could go to other places as well. In October 2004, in Maple Ridge, there were two racing motorcyclists. One died in a ditch beside the Lougheed Highway. The uninjured rider was given a 15 day driving suspension and had his bike impounded for 48 hours. On November 13, 2000 two street racers killed pedestrian Irene Thorpe and in February 2002 they were sentenced to two years less a day of house arrest. On September 15, 2002, 31-year-old RCMP Constable Jimmy Ng was killed when his cruiser was T-boned by a street racer. The racer received 18 months, and 6 months for leaving the scene of an accident.

There are many other indicators that we could go through indicating that there is a problem. In fact, Chuck Cadman recognized that there was a problem through his private member's Bill C-230, which he introduced in October 2004, and before that Bill C-338 of December 2002 and then reintroduced again in February 2004. That one was actually debated.

There were three main initiatives in his bill. First, to amend the Criminal Code to identify 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.

Second, it called for mandatory driving prohibitions; and third, it had an escalating scale of prohibitions for repeat offenders.

It is interesting as I look back at Hansard to see what the government's response was to Bill C-338, which is remarkably similar to the bill that we are debating today. First of all, the government did not like specifying street racing as an aggravating factor and said it was unnecessary. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice said:

Unless there is some compelling reason to specify that certain circumstances are aggravating, it is better not to multiply the instances where the Criminal Code spells out that a particular way of committing the offence will be an aggravating factor.

—unless we have a strong indication that the courts are not treating street racing as an aggravating factor for these four offences, restraint ought to be exercised in specifying that street racing become an aggravating factor.

The status quo is what he was looking for and the sister of Irene Thorpe might have offered him the compelling reasons he was looking for.

They did not like the idea of prescribed mandatory driving prohibitions. That same parliamentary secretary said:

I think there is logic in the present law, which gives the court discretion on whether to impose a driving prohibition order.

There may be logic, but the problem is what happens in practice. He went on to say:

If a court imposes a long period of imprisonment, the court may believe that there is no need to have the offender prohibited from driving at the point of release from imprisonment, which will be far in the future. In such cases, the offender will have been off the streets and away from the wheel for a very long time.

This argument is like an NHL player who was suspended just before the lockout arguing that he had done his time because he had been off the ice and unable to do any more harm for a very long time. The person he had injured would not see that as justice.

The government has always been against mandatory minimum sentences, even though it points to a few that it has allowed and even claims once in a while that they are working. I heard this argument just yesterday from the Minister of Justice.

It seems to me there are two basic arguments that the Liberals use. One is that they do not work. That is the government's main argument, it seems to me. This is arguable. In fact, if we look at the data, most of the data the Liberals consult comes from across the border and the drug laws that are in place there. They look at the drug use and so on and the measurements by those standards, and say that obviously these mandatory minimum sentences are not working so the idea of mandatory minimum sentences must be a bad idea. The question is not only about whether they work, it is about whether justice is being done. It is not the minister of social work. It is the Minister of Justice.

The Liberals do not like the idea of them because it removes discretion from judges, but it seems to me that that is the whole point. The theory is that if judges are using good judgment, we will only limit them by how harsh they can be. What about judicial trivialization, as I like to call it. If they are just not exercising good judgment and if justice is not being done, then they need to also be limited by how lenient they can be. Of course, they did not like the prescription for repeat offenders.

This brings us to Bill C-65. This bill looks remarkably similar to Bill C-338 which the Liberals opposed a couple of years ago. Bill C-65 is a government bill, so it raises at least two questions: why the change of heart and how is it different in any way from what Mr. Cadman proposed? Let us deal with those briefly.

Why has the government had a change of heart? What has changed since October 2003? We know that the government survived a crucial vote, and a crucial vote in that vote was cast by Mr. Cadman. I believe he did it in good faith based on his principles, but we know the government is not averse to rewarding loyalty, even if it us unintended, and so feels some kind of an obligation. Of course we also know that Mr. Cadman has left us.

The government has said that this bill and Bill C-64, its companion bill, are intended as appropriate tributes to his legacy. I agree with this. I agree that there should be a legacy and a tribute to Mr. Cadman. Our country and our Parliament are poorer places without him. In fact he made many contributions in my own riding. In my own community he used to come and work with our diversion program, talk to young offenders and give up his valuable time to change lives.

Let us go to the second question. How is this different? It now has street racing as an aggravating factor. Yes, that is in it. It has mandatory prohibitions, although the Liberals appear not to like it at other times. They are in here as well, but they did not include the clauses about repeat offenders and I am disappointed by that. Instead of giving us a bill in a form as developed by Mr. Cadman and which I think would have been enthusiastically supported by everybody in this House, the government has neutered the bill.

This is not a fitting tribute to the legacy of Chuck Cadman. While I support what is in it, I am disappointed by what is not in it. There needs to be more. We need to do what is necessary to amend this bill to include the repeat offender clauses, not just because it is what Mr. Cadman and his family would have wanted, but because it makes it better legislation and it is the right thing to do.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, as it was, Bill C-230 had some very specific problems. At the end of the day we wanted to see something passed and some changes made on the issue of street racing. I think many of us have read newspaper reports of some of the incidents that have happened when a bunch of young people got together.

As a city councillor, I dealt with this issue briefly. I had to put various things into certain areas to prohibit people from street racing because they would get in there on the weekends and ultimately there would end up being some young person dead as a result of street racing.

I think it was an extremely important issue for others in the House. Those of us who have spent some time on the issue know that we need to do whatever we can to discourage it. I think the kind of penalties we have in the bill are fairly severe. For the most part we are talking about young persons who are involved in street racing. We have to make sure the penalties are there. We want to make sure we advertise them so that when they go into street racing they know what could possibly happen and that they will take the consequences into mind. I think the consequences are fairly significant.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 3:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to pass Bill C-65 because it mirrors Bill C-230 to an extent that is passable. If we could not pass everything that Mr. Cadman wanted, I think he would at least appreciate the fact that we have taken what we feel was his principal position and ensure that it is going to be passed as something that will be on the books of the Government of Canada forever.

Overall, we have to remember that at the core of this is how we can improve safety on the streets. The member talked about ensuring that the police have the resources to enforce the laws. Clearly, we all have to work together to find that. We are working with the provinces, the municipalities and all the law enforcement agencies. It is not simply a Government of Canada responsibility. It takes all of us as legislators and on all sides of the House to ensure that we are bringing legislation and laws into place that can be enforced and that will stand up to the challenges, as well as working together on what other needs are necessary in the law enforcement package.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 3:40 p.m.
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Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has been involved in this debate today and it is an important issue for all of us. Bill C-65 is always going to be referred to as Chuck Cadman's bill. The member knows that many times when private member's bills are introduced in the House, those bills are not workable and not passed into law for a variety of reasons.

We have taken the core and principles in Mr. Cadman's Bill C-230 and moulded it and turned it around into something that is not going to have a problem getting passed here in the House and will become law in his memory. Bills are not always going to be exactly the way that the opposition might want them to be, but as the government, we have a responsibility to ensure that they meet all of the constitutional requirements, whether we like them or not, in order to form the law of the land.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 3:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be speaking in favour of Bill C-65, the street racing bill.

Our government recognizes the need to take up the thrust of the late Mr. Cadman's private member's bill, Bill C-230, while addressing the principled objections that were raised about the bill at the time when it was debated in the previous session of Parliament under a different bill number.

We already have offences in the Criminal Code covering the behaviour of street racing. The late Mr. Cadman's bill did not propose to add any new offences.

This coverage in the offence provisions related to dangerous driving and criminal negligence appears to be why Mr. Cadman, in Bill C-230, proposed instead to specify that a judge must consider street racing to be an aggravating factor in sentencing for four listed offences: criminal negligence causing death, dangerous driving causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

The government bill maintains this aggravating factor approach found in Bill C-230. There is a second key feature in the bill proposed by the late Mr. Cadman. If there is street racing that accompanies one of the four offences, Bill C-230 moves the driving prohibition from the discretionary category of driving prohibitions into the mandatory category of driving prohibitions. The government's Bill C-65 also maintains this mandatory driving prohibition feature of Bill C-230.

I believe the government bill does address the concerns that arise in relation to the sentencing aspects of private member's Bill C-230. The prime example is that private member's Bill C-230 borrowed its driving prohibition period, for a first offence, directly from the impaired driving prohibition that is mandatory on a first offence, where there is no death or no injury.

The Criminal Code's mandatory driving prohibition for impaired driving was introduced into the Criminal Code in 1985. Until 1999 that range was three months to three years on a first offence. In 1999 that range on a first offence was changed from one year to three years.

The big concern with such an approach is that the discretionary driving prohibitions currently in the Criminal Code have a higher maximum than that proposed in Bill C-230 for a first offence, where there is death or injury and an aggravating factor of street racing.

For criminal negligence causing death, the maximum driving prohibition that a court can currently impose is a lifetime ban on driving. Bill C-230 would cut this maximum to a driving prohibition maximum period of just three years for a first offence with an aggravating factor of street racing. For dangerous driving causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and dangerous driving causing bodily harm, a court can currently impose up to a 10 year prohibition from driving. Bill C-230 would cut this maximum to a period of driving prohibition that is just five years.

For the higher maximum driving prohibition ranges proposed in private member's Bill C-230 for repeat offences to apply, the prosecution would need to obtain a transcript from the prior offence sentencing hearing and check to see whether street racing was found to be a factor in that prior offence. Obtaining the transcripts of the sentencing hearing is not guaranteed, especially if the offence was in another city or in another province.

The government's Bill C-65 avoids the situation where implementation of driving prohibitions for repeat offences would be uneven. Moreover, there is no suggestion that there is a rash of individuals who are repeating dangerous driving and criminal negligence causing death or bodily harm offences involving street racing.

This is very different from the repeat offence situation for impaired driving that is tied to higher driving prohibitions for repeat offences. We often hear that there are constitutional issues that surround a particular proposal in a bill and, often enough, we hear comments that these expressions of concern are not well-founded.

Hon. members will be happy to hear that we do not see any constitutional problem with the fact that Bill C-65 addresses street racing, while at the same time, some provinces have provincial highway traffic legislation on street racing.

In some matters there can be a federal and a provincial head of constitutional legislative power under which each level of government may validly enact legislation in the same subject area. In this matter of street racing, the provincial legislator has constitutional legislative authority and may enact highway traffic and driver licensing legislation against street racing. At the same time, Parliament may also enact legislation against street racing, using its constitutional authority for criminal law.

On another note, there may be some hon. members present who will criticize the government's Bill C-65 for not altering the period of imprisonment that is available where there is street racing within one of the four listed offences. In this regard, I know that dangerous driving causing bodily harm and criminal negligence causing bodily harm presently carry a maximum period of imprisonment of 10 years. This is the same maximum period of imprisonment that exists for impaired driving causing bodily harm.

I would also like to mention that the maximum penalty for dangerous driving causing death is 14 years. I note that the maximum period of imprisonment for criminal negligence causing death is life imprisonment, and this equals the maximum penalty for dangerous driving during a police chase that causes death, impaired driving causing death, criminal negligence causing death and manslaughter. None of these offences carry a minimum period of imprisonment.

In passing, I would note that the late Mr. Cadman's private member's Bill C-230 also did not propose any such minimum period of incarceration. In this regard, I want to make the observation that judges are required by law to set a fit and proper sentence, taking into consideration all the circumstances of the offence and the offender, and all aggravating and mitigating factors. In Canada, either the defence or the prosecution may appeal the sentence if they believe the sentence is unfit or unfair.

Again, the late Mr. Cadman limited his private member's bill to matters relating to the driving prohibitions and proposed no new offences and the government's Bill C-65 also takes this approach. The government continues to believe that given the wide variety of circumstances that can accompany any offence, judges must have a broad range from within which to select a sentence and this extends to the driving prohibition.

In closing, I want to invite other members to support Bill C-65 which has taken its inspiration from the work of the late Mr. Cadman in his private member's Bill C-230. I believe the government bill does answer principled objections and key practical problems with the private member's bill.

The government bill, like Bill C-230, speaks to the aggravating factor of street racing and the mandatory driving prohibitions that should apply when street racing accompanies the offences of dangerous driving causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, and criminal negligence causing death.

Bill C-65 should be supported. It is a step in the right direction toward improving safety on our streets and improving the safety of our communities.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2005 / 1:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-65, an act to amend the Criminal Code, street racing, and to a make consequential amendment to another act. This is another bill that I am sure has the best of intentions to put forward some frameworks to address the street racing problem in our country.

Today I want to put some comments on the record about the credibility of what is happening in the House of Commons. I speak as a former justice critic for the province of Manitoba and as the mother of a police officer. I feel the government has had over a decade to make things right, to make our streets safer. The government has failed miserably on all accounts.

In our city of Winnipeg, Manitoba many honourable police officers are trying to suppress crime. The problem is the laws at hand and the lack of resources, accountability and concern for the victims of crime.

We have had bills on trafficking of persons and on the age of consent. We have had pleas time and time again in the House of Commons to shut down the gun registry and put those resources toward front line police officers.

Once again we are hearing eloquent speeches from the Liberal members across the House. They say that they will get tough on crime, that they will honour the spirit of Mr. Cadman's private members' bills and that they will make things happen. This is something that is hard to believe. People across Canada are becoming very alarmed with the criminal acts happening in our nation and with the lack of consequences for these criminal acts.

For example, in September Winnipeg dealt with a young man who had 11 convictions for speeding. He was spared jail time after pleading guilty to dangerous driving, causing the death of a 52-year-old grandmother. The trial went on and the judge was convinced he was remorseful. However, there was a granddaughter involved in that incident who was very close to her 52-year-old grandmother. That granddaughter today is very distraught about the death of her grandmother.

The present government has indicated without a doubt that it does not have the political will to put these resources on the streets to ensure that the time people spend behind bars or in rehabilitation matches the crime that has been committed. The government is definitely soft on crime.

Chuck Cadman was well known by many people. I was very moved by the letter to the editor by Dane Minor. Dane Minor was a close friend to Chuck Cadman. He felt very good when he heard that the Prime Minister had announced on the front pages of national and local papers that the Liberal government would pass Chuck's private members' bills into legislation as an honour to him. Everyone felt good about it. Chuck Cadman had travelled to this House of Commons to do what he thought was right and to ensure that things were put in place to protect the citizens of our country. He did it at a time when he was very ill, but he was a man of extreme principle. What was most important to him was not party lines but doing the right thing.

I will read for members the following from Dane Minor in a letter to the editor. He stated:

This "new" legislation from the Liberals is the same type of political stunt. [The] Justice Minister...said his government tweaked both bills—

And those are the Chuck Cadman bills, I note.

—to comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and address "operational deficiencies."

What Dane Minor said about this was, “Bull!” That is what he said: “Bull!” He stated:

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 minister's] version was the reason for removing penalties for repeat offences: "because the police across this country don't have tracing or tracking records so we would know if it was a first, second or third tracking offence."

This is another incident, another blot and another black mark on the Liberal record of dealing with criminal issues in this country. The frustration of police officers on the front lines and of families of victims of crime is unparalleled.

This particular bill is attempting to deal with the issue of street racing, but in a very superficial way. It is putting words to paper, but it does not put the implementation in place that would stop street racing or give safety in the streets to the citizens who walk those streets every day.

There are many people in our Canadian mosaic who have been real leaders for the victims of crime. Let me speak of Jack McLaughlin. Jack McLaughlin is very well known in Manitoba. Jack McLaughlin is the father of a young man who was murdered. He and his family went through the terrible experience of being in a court system that had no consequences for the criminal. But the consequences for the family were huge, because that deep hole of regret and the deep anger at being powerless to change what happened weighed on the McLaughlin family in a very real way.

Jack McLaughlin started an organization that championed the cause of victims of crime. It put networks and counselling in place for victims of crime. Jack did something else and he does something else today. He goes to the Manitoba legislature and comes to the Houses of Parliament to push for stiffer sentences and consequences for criminals walking the streets and for more support for victims of crime. I applaud heroes like Jack McLaughlin who have done so much, who have taken a horrible tragedy and have done something good to make it better for families who are victims of crime.

I was very hopeful when Bill C-65 was introduced in the House of Commons, because I thought that perhaps there would be some thread of hope for some movement forward on the issues of suppressing criminal operations in Canada. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

We have heard members across the way say that they are here to listen, that they would like to hear what we have to say, that they would like to make things better and make sure our streets are safe, but when members on this side of the House say to shut down the gun registry, those members immediately say that police officers like the gun registry.

Let me tell members that the Winnipeg Police Association and the Manitoba Police Association have said very strongly, “Shut down the gun registry and put the resources into front line policing”.

In this country we are seeing crime on the rise. I am seeing it in my beautiful city of Winnipeg. I am seeing how police officers who are working so hard are not keeping up because they do not have the resources in place to do so.

We see such heroes as Chuck Cadman and Jack McLaughlin, and people like that, who have spent a lot of time trying to put forward helpful suggestions, trying to push for proper sentencing, and trying to suppress the criminal element in our country, not to mention the valiant police officers all across our nation who are combating crime on a daily basis. Yesterday a young police officer on the street discovered a grow op, I have heard, and the fact of the matter is that there were so many issues to deal with on that day the police officers could not move in on that particular grow op. There were not enough resources.

Here in the House of Commons, we do have the power to make sure that those resources are in place. How do we do that? We do that by shutting down useless programs that have become the black hole for the money, other than the scandal I mean; I am talking about the gun registry. Let us shut down that kind of thing and target those resources to the front line police officers all across our nation.

We have heard about the RCMP officers who gave their lives when they went to a criminal's property to try to protect the community and deal with some issues there. Those four very brave police officers lost their lives in the line of duty. We see so much bravery in the police force, yet there is no political will in the House of Commons to make sure that the resources are there to combat crime.

In the past two to three weeks, we have been talking about criminal issues and bills that are supposed to suppress crime. My colleagues in the House have said that we need to spread the word and advertise the fact that we are being very effective on crime. My hon. colleague across the way said that perhaps we should let young people know we are going to be watching and perhaps we should show them the consequences of crime.

Last year I was at a hockey game. A young man in front of me was talking about all the cars he had stolen the night before. He was talking to a group of other young people who thought it was a great joke. The young man was very well dressed. He seemed to have money, friends and everything, but they had stolen so many cars that night it was just a joke. It was like a contest about which car they should take next.

I think we have to renew the hope of our citizens in Canada. We have to make sure that programs are implemented and resources are put in place that will really make a difference. When I read this particular bill, Bill C-65, I remember that Chuck Cadman had been attempting to legislate changes to street racing since December 2002.

Previous versions of this bill, Bill C-338 and Bill C-230, which Mr. Cadman brought forward, were voted down. The current Liberal government refused to support the legislation because it called for mandatory minimum driving prohibitions and increased punishment for repeat offenders.

I taught school for 22 years, mostly at the junior high level, and I can tell members that if we want to educate junior high school children we should just tell them that they will not be driving for the rest of their natural-born days if they offend a second time. It is surprising how they will get to know that this is not the thing to do.

Bill C-65 is nothing but a neutered version of Mr. Cadman's past bills. Although it does provide for mandatory driving prohibitions, the inclusion of street racing and aggravating factors for sentencing, it fails to include the clauses on repeat offenders, which were an essential part of the Cadman bills.

I want to go over those particular points, those particular amendments that I feel should be included. They are:

(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;

(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.

In other words, these clauses are basically an increasing scale of punishment, restating Chuck Cadman's intent in the bill.

Going into my concluding remarks, I want to say that when we have bills before the House that have potential, when we have ideas put on paper coming forward in the House that could have some beneficial aspects to them, it always has to be remembered that it is only paper unless we have the resources to put in place, to monitor and to make sure that the punishments match the crimes of perpetrators on our Canadian streets.

I cannot emphasize enough that we should shut down the gun registry and put that money into front line police officers. I cannot emphasize enough that not only do our bills and our laws have to be tougher on crime, but we also have to make sure that those laws can be monitored. We have to make sure that our citizens are kept safe and that they can have the hope of being safe on our streets in Canada.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)