An Act to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act (publication of information)

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

Sponsor

David Tilson  Conservative

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

Status

Not active, as of Nov. 24, 2005
(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.

Youth Criminal Justice ActRoutine Proceedings

November 24th, 2005 / 10:10 a.m.
See context

Conservative

David Tilson Conservative Dufferin—Caledon, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-453, An Act to amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act (publication of information).

Mr. Speaker, the Youth Criminal Justice Act now precludes the publication of information of young offenders to be released when they are sentenced after they have reached the age of 18. The bill, if passed, will allow for the publication of information about young offenders who are sentenced as adults over the age of 18.

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

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

March 8th, 2005 / 6:45 p.m.
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Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, let me begin my remarks by saying a few words of tribute to the hon. member for Abbotsford. He and I have crossed paths, swords and probably a number of other metal objects throughout the years. He was the House leader for his party when I was the House leader for mine some years ago. We inherited along with others the pizza Parliament as it was known in 1997 and we sat down to rewrite a number of the rules to make this place work.

As things would have it today, the media informs us that the hon. member will not be seeking a mandate in the next Parliament. Hopefully he will at least remain with us until the end of this Parliament. I hope that it is at least a reasonably long one in that regard both for him and for me. Of course I intend to run again but in his case, we want to have him around a little longer.

I thought that I would seize this moment that has been given to me to speak to offer these words of tribute to our colleague, a very distinguished member of Parliament for his province and indeed for the entire country. Hats off to the hon. member for Abbotsford. I sincerely hope that over the next year or two or possibly three that could be left in the life of this Parliament we will have an opportunity to work together again. I offer him these regards on behalf of my wife, MaryAnn, and I. We both have gotten to know him very well over the last several years. I ask him to convey our regards to his family as well.

Today, we are debating Bill C-275, which was introduced by the hon. member for Cariboo—Prince George. This bill is a reincarnation of former Bill C-453 introduced in the last session of the previous Parliament by the hon. member for Abbotsford, who just spoke.

The purpose of Bill C-275 is to increase penalties for failing to stop at the scene of an accident in which death or serious bodily harm has occurred. It is also designed to make it considerably easier for the crown to get a conviction when death or bodily harm has been caused.

While I certainly do not condone leaving the scene of an accident to escape responsibility, I do have serious concerns about Bill C-275. I can see that the Minister of Justice shares my concerns.

Whether we like it or not, any concept of minimum sentences often has a perverse effect in matters of justice. Whether we admit it or not, this perverse effect is often that, if the judge is convinced that the minimum sentence is greater than the one he had in mind, he has no other choice but to acquit an individual who would otherwise have been declared guilty of the offence. The end result is that guilty people are exonerated, because the judge felt that the sentence was too stiff.

There is a serious problem when we impose minimum sentences. This does, of course, give the impression that a minimum sentence is better than no sentence. Perhaps that is right in principle, but when the sentence is longer than acceptable in the eyes of the judge having to reach a verdict, he has only one choice, to acquit someone who would otherwise have been found guilty.

With this bill, a driver who leaves the scene of an accident causing death is still subject to life imprisonment, as is the case at present. If the accident causes only bodily harm, the present 10-year maximum would also become life imprisonment.

Returning to what I said previously, if the judge finds this sentence excessive, unfortunately the person who would otherwise be found guilty will be acquitted.

I would like to point out that the maximum sentence for criminal negligence leading to death and impaired driving leading to death is life imprisonment, as it is for someone who leaves the scene of a fatal accident. The maximum for criminal negligence causing bodily harm and for impaired driving causing bodily harm, however, is 10 years.

Why would the maximum sentence for leaving the scene of an accident causing bodily harm have to be life imprisonment? Hon. members will see that a less serious offence would have the same penalty as an offence leading to death. Once again, I return to what I said previously: this would likely lead to some judges choosing to acquit someone who would otherwise have been found guilty.

Bill C-275 is intended to provide for tougher penalities by setting a minimum sentence for offenders guilty of not remaining at the scene of an accident causing death or bodily harm.

The gist of all this is that I do not question the merits of this bill, but I do feel that it would do far more harm than good for the reasons I have given, and for many others I would have given if there had been more time.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

March 8th, 2005 / 6:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to rise in this debate on Bill C-275.

I too would like to preface my remarks by saying that in no way does my position and that of my party mean that we condone implicitly or explicitly the criminal behaviour of individuals who leave the scene of a car accident. Such behaviour is unacceptable and reprehensible, and it should be severely punished.

On November 15, 2004, the bill entitled an act the amend the Criminal Code (failure to stop at scene of accident) was introduced by the Conservative member for Cariboo—Prince George, who spoke earlier. The bill was put on the priority list on the same day. This was the third time that this bill was introduced, because the same enactment had been introduced in the second and third sessions of the 37th Parliament by the Conservative member for Abbotsford over there, as Bill C-453, which never made it past the first reading stage.

I would like to read at this time the summary of the bill. It reads as follows:

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to provide that an accused who has control of a vehicle, vessel or aircraft and who fails to stop at the scene of an accident is guilty of an offence for which the minimum punishment is seven years’ imprisonment and the maximum is life imprisonment, if another person suffers bodily harm and dies as a result of the accident.

If another person suffers bodily harm but does not die as a result of the accident, the accused who fails to stop at the scene of the accident is guilty of an offence for which the minimum punishment is four years’ imprisonment and the maximum is life imprisonment.

These provisions apply whether or not the person knew that another person had suffered bodily harm or had died as a result of the accident, and whether or not the person had the intent to escape civil or criminal liability.

And finally:

A prosecutor may not make, to an accused charged with leaving the scene of an accident, an offer allowing the accused to plead guilty instead to an offence with a lesser penalty.

Let us analyze this. Bodily harm is defined in the Criminal Code as meaning any hurt or injury to a person that interferes with the health or comfort of the person and that is more than merely transient or trifling in nature.

If the victim dies as a result of bodily harm, what recourse is allowed under the current legislation? Currently, under the code, the maximum sentence is life imprisonment ,and there is no minimum sentence for a person who fails to stop his vehicle that is involved in an accident,with intent to escape civil or criminal liability, and that “person knows that another person involved in the accident is dead” or that “person knows that bodily harm has been caused to another person and is reckless as to whether the death of the other person results from that bodily harm, and the death of that other person so results”.

The intent to escape civil or criminal liability is presumed once it has been proven that the person failed to stop their vehicle.

Bill C-275 proposes adding a minimum sentence of seven years' imprisonment and eliminates the requirement regarding the intent of the accused, meaning that, if the bill is adopted, it would no longer be necessary to demonstrate that the accused knew the victim would die from his injuries or was reckless in spite of that knowledge.

What does the legislation say if that victim suffers bodily harm but does not die? Subsection 252(1.2) of the Criminal Code provides for a maximum sentence of 10 years for an accused who failed to stop his vehicle involved in an accident with the intent to escape all civil and criminal liability, knowing that bodily harm has been caused to another person involved in the accident. Here, the code makes no mention of presumption. The crown must, therefore, first prove the intent of the accused to escape his criminal liability and prove that the accused knew the victim had suffered bodily harm.

Bill C-275 proposes the addition of a minimum penalty of four years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment if another person suffers bodily harm but does not die as a result of the accident. The crown would no longer have to prove the intent of the accused to escape his criminal liability nor that the accused knew the victim had suffered bodily harm.

The Bloc Québécois believes that the provisions currently set out in the Criminal Code are reasonable. We consider it dangerous to eliminate, with regard to this offence, the need to prove the intent to escape criminal liability.

We believe the current system is adequate in that it facilitates the work of the Crown by presuming that the accused had the intent to evade criminal responsibility, because he did not remain. The presumption is, in our opinion, reasonable, since it affords the accused an opportunity to present evidence that he did not intend to evade responsibility and that he left the scene for other reasons.

In fact, taking the accused's intent into account makes it possible to take special circumstances into account, thus reducing the risk of injustice. We must not forget that in the case at hand, a person risks losing his freedom for a number of years. Removing the criteria of intent to evade responsibility may make the crown prosecutors' task easier, but at the same time, once it is proven that the person left the scene, it removes the judge's discretion to decide, in a particular case before the court, whether the accused person should be found guilty.

Moreover, the Bloc Québécois also thinks that the minimum sentences proposed in Bill C-275 are exaggerated and out of proportion. The Bloc Québécois is not opposed to minimum sentences in principle: we have proposed them in Bill C-303 for persons convicted of sexual crimes against minors. Still, we feel that minimum sentences should be used with caution because, in the end, they tie judges' hands and too often complicate their task.

Sometimes minimum sentences can also have a perverse effect. That is, when a judge thinks a minimum sentence is inappropriate in a particular case, he might prefer to find a person not guilty even though that individual might have deserved a prison term of a few months.

The position of the Bloc Québécois on Bill C-275 can be summed up simply: the Bloc believes that the judge is in the best position to analyze the individual's reasons for leaving the scene and determine the appropriate sentence. Consequently, Bloc Québécois members will be asked to vote against Bill C-275, while maintaining that leaving the scene of an accident should and must be severely punished. Nevertheless, we believe that the current provisions in the code are sufficient to achieve this goal and objective of our society.