An Act to amend the Criminal Code (age of protection) and to make consequential amendments to the Criminal Records Act

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.

Sponsor

Vic Toews  Conservative

Status

Not active, as of June 20, 2007
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to raise the age, from 14 to 16 years, at which a person can consent to non-exploitative sexual activity. It creates an exception in respect of an accused who engages in sexual activity with a 14- or 15-year-old youth and who is less than five years older than the youth. It also creates an exception for transitional purposes in respect of an accused who engages in sexual activity with a 14- or 15-year-old youth and who is five or more years older than the youth if, on the day on which this Act comes into force, the accused is married to the youth. The exception also applies to the accused if, on the day on which this Act comes into force, he or she is the common-law partner of the youth or has been cohabiting with the youth in a conjugal relationship for less than one year and they have had or are expecting to have a child as a result of the relationship, and the sexual activity was not otherwise prohibited before that day.

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.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

October 18th, 2007 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I did not misrepresent any statement that I made about the Conservatives and their record on their own justice bills.

If we look at Bill C-10, for instance, it was tabled by the Conservatives for first reading on May 6, 2006. They waited 38 days before they moved second reading on June 13. The House adjourned shortly after that, came back at the beginning of September and they waited until November to move it into committee. The committee reported back to the House on February 21, 2007. The Conservatives left it on the order paper for 75 days before they moved to report stage. That was not the opposition. That was the Conservatives.

If we look at Bill C-22, the age of protection bill, they tabled it for first reading on June 22, 2006. They then left it on the order paper for 130 days. On October 26, 2006, the Liberals offered to fast track it. The Conservatives said no, but that put a fire under them and on October 30, they finally moved second reading.

That is a party and a government that has obstructed its own justice legislation for partisan reasons. Had the Conservatives cared about our children, they would have taken up the Liberal offer to fast track the legislation back in October 2006.

Resumption of debate on Address in ReplySpeech from the Throne

October 18th, 2007 / 3:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise and speak here today. This is my first opportunity to participate in a debate in this new session.

I will be splitting my time with the member for Nipissing—Timiskaming.

I read the throne speech with a great deal of interest. I think many people in this Chamber were waiting to hear what the government had to say. We found it quite interesting that the government dealt with justice. What is interesting is that the government says that it will immediately tackle violent crime and that it is the only party in the House that looks at getting tough on crime.

I have listened to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice and to his parliamentary secretary talk about how the opposition parties obstructed the Conservative criminal justice agenda in the last Parliament. I find it quite amusing but I am dismayed to think that any Canadian listening to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice or any of those Conservatives elected to the House of Commons and some of the ones over in the Senate would actually believe that the opposition parties tried to obstruct the criminal justice agenda of the Conservative Party.

I would like to present a few facts before this House.

The Conservative government tabled 13 justice bills in the House of Commons from its first throne speech in 2006 following the 2006 election. When the Prime Minister prorogued the House this past summer, of those 13 bills, Her Majesty's official opposition, the Liberal Party of Canada, under the leadership of the hon. member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, supported, unconditionally, 10 of those 13 justice bills put forward by the Conservatives. It goes even further.

On October 26, 2006, the official opposition House leader, along with the then Liberal justice critic who is the member for London West and who is now the chair of the national Liberal caucus justice committee, made a formal public offer to the Conservative government to put our votes behind the Conservative votes in order to fast track the adoption at all stages of several of the government's bills. One of those bills included the age of consent legislation.

Had the Conservative government, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Justice and the Conservative members of Parliament accepted the Liberal offer on October 26, 2006 to fast track Bill C-22, the age of protection would have been 16 years.

The Conservatives refused to take us up on it. Not only did they refuse to take us up on it, they allowed Bill C-22 to sit on the order paper for 130 days after they first tabled it in the House. When did they finally table their motion to move second reading debate? They tabled it on October 30, 2006, four days after the Liberals made an offer to fast track that bill. It finally put a fire under their bushel and they finally tabled a motion to move it for debate at second reading. Once the debate at second reading was finished, it took 142 days before that Conservative government moved the vote at second reading of Bill C-22.

I would like to know whether the Minister of Justice, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice, or the Prime Minister of Canada have explained to Canadians why the age of consent today is still 14, when it could have been 16 as of October 26, 2006. But that is not enough. They wanted to use that bill as a hammer against the opposition parties to try and paint the opposition parties in the minds of Canadians as being soft on crime and not caring about our children, as being willing to have our children preyed upon. They continued to delay that bill, so much so that the Liberals in March 2007 offered again to fast track that bill. Did the Conservatives take us up on it? No, they did not.

We then in desperation tabled an opposition motion that would have had Bill C-22, which raised the age of consent from 14 to 16, adopted at all stages. What was the response of the Conservative government which claims that it is interested in the safety of Canadians, in the safety of our children? The Conservatives obstructed our opposition motion. They used an arcane procedure in order to deem it unreceivable. They blocked speedy passage of their own bill. It is unconscionable.

Let us look at Bill C-32, the impaired driving act. That bill was brought in originally by the member for Mount Royal when he was the minister of justice and attorney general of Canada under the previous Liberal government. We went to an election. Unfortunately, the NDP colluded with the Conservatives, defeated the Liberal government and now we have the NDP gift to Canadians, a Conservative government.

The government finally re-tabled Bill C-32. When did the Conservatives do it? Did they do it at their first opportunity after the election when Parliament came back at the beginning of February 2006? No, they only tabled it again in the House on November 21, 2006, some 10 months later. Then they let it sit on the order paper for 77 days. They did not move second reading until February 6, 2007.

That was another bill which the Liberals offered to fast track. We saw it just sitting on the order paper. Anyone who knows anything about the procedural rules of the House of Commons knows that only the government can move its legislation from one stage to another. The opposition cannot do it. If the government does not move debate at second reading, it does not happen.

When the government finally moved debate at second reading, it was debated for a very brief period in the House. All the opposition parties were in agreement to get the bill into committee quickly. The bill went into committee. It only sat in committee for 20 days, and during those 20 days there was the Easter vacation. The committee sent the bill back to the House. It spent one day in the House at report stage and third reading and that is it. That is the bill we wanted to see law.

For reverse onus, it is the same darn thing. We offered twice to fast track the bill. We tried to fast track it by way of an opposition day motion. The Conservatives blocked their own bill.

When the Conservatives appear on camera, when they hold press conferences, when they send out householders and when they target members of the opposition, in particular Liberal members, whether they be Liberals in Manitoba, in Nova Scotia or out in B.C., and say that the Liberals are soft on crime, it is nonsense.

The Conservatives blocked their own agenda, an agenda which was supported by the Liberals. If the age of consent is not 16 today, it is the fault of the Conservative government. It is the fault of every single Conservative member sitting there--

Age of Protection LegislationOral Questions

June 19th, 2007 / 2:40 p.m.
See context

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the need for change in this area is absolutely clear. We cannot have a situation where 40 and 50 year olds can be preying upon 14 and 15 year olds who are in need of protection. That is why the Canadian Chiefs of Police, child advocacy groups and just yesterday, the attorney general of Alberta, said let us get Bill C-22 passed.

I say to the members of the Liberal Senate, do it for the children, do it for Canada and get Bill C-22 passed.

JusticeStatements By Members

June 19th, 2007 / 2:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Gary Goodyear Conservative Cambridge, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians do not want to wait any longer for mandatory sentences for gun crimes or for an increase in the age of protection for young people. They waited long enough while the opposition stalled and delayed at committee.

In fact, just this morning the member for Yukon filibustered a discussion on Bill C-32 which would increase minimum penalties for alcohol and drug impaired drivers.

Bill C-22, increasing the age of protection from 14 to 16 years, was held up at committee.

Bill C-18, the DNA identification bill, was held up at committee.

Bill C-10, the bill for mandatory sentences for gun crimes, was also held up at committee by opposition members who are so out of touch with Canadians and still prefer to coddle criminals.

The good news is these three bills have finally passed the House. The bad news is that they are down the hall at the Senate.

Will the Liberal interim leader tell his unelected senators who are preoccupied with protecting their terms to protect Canadians and pass these bills?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

June 13th, 2007 / 7:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Liberal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in support of Bill C-23. I welcome many of these reforms mentioned in the text, but more importantly, I am pleased to stand behind any carefully planned legislation designed to modernize the criminal justice system and make it more efficient and effective.

The bill was tabled by the former justice minister on June 22, 2006. Despite the two previous attempts my colleagues and I made to speed the legislation along, first in October 2006 and then in March 2007, three months ago, here we are almost a year later debating a bill that should have been disposed of a long time ago.

What has held it up? If it were not for the Conservatives' consistent delaying tactics with respect to their own justice legislation, the bill would be through the House by now.

Let me briefly touch on some of the amendments to the Criminal Code that are proposed in Bill C-23. I think most of my colleagues will see why we should not delay this process, because the bill has strong reforms for criminal procedures and sentencing.

The amendments relating to criminal procedure include using any means of telecommunication to put forward warrants in a jurisdiction. Given the rapid rise of various forms of telecommunications with respect to emails and other means, this is clearly an overdue change. It finally brings our justice system more in line with new technology and it will make the warrant system much faster.

Other amendments related to criminal procedures include a change to the process with respect to the challenge of a juror. It will further allow for the preservation of impartiality of a jury by the judge.

They include a summary conviction trial with respect to co-accused that can proceed where one of the co-accused does not appear.

They include the reclassification of the offence of possession of break and enter instruments. Should the bill pass, this would become a dual procedure offence. The Crown can determine whether this offence should be prosecuted by way of indictment or by the faster procedure of summary conviction.

These are changes that we on this side of the House support.

With respect to the sentencing provisions, there are several steps that are being taken in the right direction. The most important is the power to order an offender not to communicate with identified persons while in custody, along with the creation of an offence for failing to comply with the order.

This is a step that I believe will have a very positive effect with respect to protecting victims. We can imagine those who have been victims of crime and those families who have lost loved ones. They actually still can be contacted by those who were convicted, with no real repercussions for those doing the contacting. One can imagine the mental anguish and fear this could cause.

The bill represents a strong reform with a clear message. A person who violates this order could be sentenced to two years for breaching this order in the case of an indictable offence, 18 months in the case of a summary offence, or in some cases there could be a fine. This will be particularly helpful in the case of women who have been the victims of violence.

In my own riding of Newton--North Delta there have been several high profile cases of violence against women. Those who have been lucky enough to survive, and sadly some have not, must be protected from any form of communication from an offender. These people are in prison and that sentence must include a non-communication order to protect those victims who have survived and their families.

Other important amendments with respect to sentencing include changes for those who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs and are responsible for the injury or death of innocent Canadians. Living in a community like mine, where there is strong grassroot support for real action on drunk driving, this is a great step forward.

I believe that these changes will be well received and they are yet another example of what in fact the Conservative government has been delaying. Criminals are being sentenced every day, and every day we delay the passage of this legislation is another day that victims are not being protected by the government.

There is an amendment that will allow, if convicted, the forfeit of any equipment used in an offence of luring a child by means of a computer. I can only say that it is about time the Criminal Code caught up with modern technology. No one who is convicted of using a computer to lure a child should be allowed to keep the equipment they used. In my personal view, they should not be allowed to even use a computer after having used one for that purpose.

I was proud to stand in favour of Bill C-22, another bill that was delayed by the Conservative government for partisan electoral reasons. It also focused on the importance of protecting our children. I am the father of three young children and I consistently speak in favour of and actively support any legislation that will protect their well-being.

I will also consistently speak out against a Conservative government that, while speaking in favour of protecting Canadians, actively seeks to delay important reforms for partisan electoral gains. Why? I believe the government delays bills like Bill C-23 so that the justice committee would not have to comprehensively review other justice bills tabled by the Conservative Party that members on this side of the House had concerns with.

Instead, the Conservative government, in a cynical attempt to overload a parliamentary committee with one-off bills, a tactic that is probably in some Conservative committee guide somewhere, does this in order to justify the untruth that the opposition is somehow trying to delay good justice legislation.

In mid-March, the Liberal opposition once again tried to move along Bill C-23, among other legislation, through all stages of consideration by the House. These bills would help police find criminals, protect children under 16, and put the onus on the accused for bail hearings of those who have been convicted of a firearms offence. What has happened? Once again the government has delayed its own justice legislation, including this one.

I believe that right thinking Conservative members must be outraged at these tactics by their leadership after many of my Conservative colleagues pushed for many of these changes for so long. I just hope that some of them begin to speak up and help get their own legislation through the House.

It would make me, as a legislator, feel better if the Conservative Party started tabling justice legislation for victims' rights and community safety.

Canadians deserve a government with the well-being of Canadians first and foremost on their mind instead of playing politics with the Criminal Code.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

June 11th, 2007 / 4:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member say that from April 23 to May 4 we did not discuss anything of consequence in the House. I guess that includes the four opposition days, which she must consider inconsequential. I guess that includes Bills C-40, C-43, C-48, C-10, C-22, democratic reform bills, finance bills, Criminal Code bills, two justice bills. I guess in the hon. member's opinion none of these are consequential.

All those things are pretty consequential to the constituents in my riding who care about Senate reform, safe streets and finance bills. They are very important. Does the hon. member truly considers those things inconsequential?

Age of Protection LegislationStatements By Members

June 7th, 2007 / 2:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to denounce Conservative duplicity. Last week, the government made a number of patently false statements about the opposition in this House. The government House leader claimed that we had held up Bill C-22, the age of protection bill, in committee.

This is clear disinformation when in fact the committee dealt with the bill in six productive meetings for a total of six hours. He also neglected to say that his own reckless government MPs voted against Bill C-22 when it came time for third reading. If it were not for the Liberals, that bill would not be in the Senate at this time.

This proves once again that the Tories simply will not let facts stand in the way of a good smear. I say shame on the Tories, shame on the Conservatives.

JusticeOral Questions

May 18th, 2007 / 11:55 a.m.
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Fundy Royal New Brunswick

Conservative

Rob Moore ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I commend the hon. member for her unwavering support for our criminal justice agenda.

The issue of raising the age of protection from 14 to 16 has been driven by members of the Conservative caucus for over a decade, and it took a Conservative government to take action on this important issue.

The House of Commons held fulsome debates on Bill C-22 and the committee thoroughly studied it. It is now up to the Senate. We call on senators to get the job done by respecting the will of Parliament and passing C-22 before they rise for the summer.

Committees of the HouseOral Questions

May 18th, 2007 / 11:20 a.m.
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York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, the opposition is obstructing Parliament.

Let us look at the justice agenda: Bill C-10, the mandatory penalties for gun crimes bill, a very important part of the agenda, was held up for 252 days in committee by the opposition parties, particularly the Liberals and the Bloc members; Bill C-23, the amendments to the Criminal Code, was held up for 214 days at committee by the opposition parties; Bill C-22, the age of protection bill, 175 days; the DNA identification bill, 148 days; and the conditional sentencing bill, 139 days.

Business of the HouseOral Questions

May 17th, 2007 / 3:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

I would not do that.

Tomorrow is an allotted day.

Next week is constituent consultation week, when the House will be adjourned to allow members to return to their ridings and meet with constituents to share with them the activities of Parliament since the last constituency break.

For the interest of members, I will quickly review our plan for the context of our overall legislative agenda.

As he requested, this is currently strengthening the economy week, where a number of financial bills moved forward. The budget bill was sent to committee and, hopefully, it will be reported back tomorrow, or soon, so we can deal with it at third reading when the House returns after the break.

Bill C-40, an act to amend the Excise Tax Act, was read a third time and sent to the Senate. Bill C-53, an act to implement the convention on the settlement of investment disputes, Bill C-33, the sales tax bill and Bill C-47, the Olympics symbol bill were all sent to committee and we all would like to see those back in the House for report stage and third reading.

In an earlier week, Bill C-36, the bill that makes changes to the Canada pension plan and the Old Age Security Act, was made into law after receiving royal assent.

Strengthening accountability through democratic reform week was a success with the consideration of Bill C-43, Senate consultation. We had three new democratic reform bills introduced that week: Bill C-55, to expand voting opportunities; Bill C-56, an act to amend the Constitution Act, democratic representation; and Bill C-54, a bill that would bring accountability with respect to loans. We hope to continue debate on that particular bill later today.

Bill C-16, fixed dates for elections, was given royal assent and is now law, which I think is the cause of the commotion now in all the committees where Liberals are using procedural tactics. Now they feel they can do it with a free hand.

Two other democratic reform bills are in the Senate, Bill C-31, voter integrity, and Bill S-4, Senate tenure. I really would like to have the term limits bill from the Senate for an upcoming democratic reform week if the opposition House leader can persuade his colleagues in the Senate to finally deal with that bill after 352 days. We may get 352 seconds in a filibuster, but they have had 352 days so far. They have been stalling for a year.

During the consultation week, I will be interested in hearing what our constituents think of the plight of Bill S-4 and the irony of those unaccountable senators delaying it.

We dedicated a good deal of our time focusing on making our streets and communities safer by cracking down on crime. Now that we have had the help of the NDP, we restored the meaningful aspects that the Liberals gutted in committee to Bill C-10, the bill to introduce mandatory penalties for violent and gun crimes. We are continuing to debate that bill today at third reading.

Bill C-48, the bill dealing with the United Nations convention on corruption, was adopted at all stages.

Bill C-26, the bill to amend the Criminal Code with respect to interest rates, was given royal assent.

Bill C-22, the age of protection, was given final reading and sent to the Senate, although it did spend close to, if not in excess of, 200 days in committee where the Liberals were obstructing and delaying its passage.

We made progress on Bill C-27, the dangerous offenders legislation. We would like to see that back in the House.

Bill C-9, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conditional sentence of imprisonment) and a host of other justice bills are working their way through the system.

Members can advise their constituents that when we return, we will be reviving two themes, back by popular demand. Beginning May 28, we will begin again with strengthening accountability through democratic reform with: Bill C-54, political loans; Bill C-55, additional opportunities for voting; and Bill C-56, democratic representation.

Up next is a second go-round on strengthening the economy week with Bill C-52, the budget implementation bill, which will be called as soon as it is reported back from committee.

In the near future, we will have the improvement of aboriginal people quality of life week with Bill C-44. This bill will grant first nations residing on Indian reserves access to the Canadian charter of human rights. They have been denied this right for 30 years. Unfortunately, Bill C-44 is being delayed by the opposition. This is another bill being delayed by the opposition in committee.

After Bill C-44, I intend to debate Bill C-51. The agreement establishes the use and ownership of land and resources and will foster economic development. This bill illustrates Canada's commitment to the North and to settling land claims.

I wish all members a productive constituent consultation week and look forward to more progress on the government's legislative agenda when the House returns on May 28.

IndustryOral Questions

May 17th, 2007 / 2:25 p.m.
See context

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I understand it when I hear it from the Liberals, but I am surprised when the NDP members start being concerned about the way that things are being conducted. They think that an hour or two of debate in a committee by a Conservative is a delay and an obstruction.

Let me talk about delay and obstruction. Let me talk about some bills that were at the justice committee. Bill C-10 on mandatory penalties for gun crimes was there for 252 days. That is obstruction and delay. Let us talk about, for example, the criminal procedure bill, Bill C-23. That was at committee for 213 days. Let us talk about the age of protection bill, Bill C-22. That was held up at committee by the opposition for--

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

May 17th, 2007 / 10:25 a.m.
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Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum penalties for offences involving firearms) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to lead off the third reading debate on Bill C-10.

During the last federal election, the Conservative Party of Canada laid out clear plans to make our streets and communities safer for Canadians. We promised to target criminal enterprise and the gangs that profit from violence, drugs and fear and undermine people's sense of personal security and their confidence in the Canadian criminal justice system.

Canadians listened to our message of hope and responded by granting us the privilege of forming the government, so today I am very proud to stand in the House as Minister of Justice to follow through on our promises to deliver on our core promises to tackle crime.

In order to make our communities safer, we introduced several criminal justice bills aimed at getting violent, dangerous criminals off our streets.

We introduced Bill C-22, the age of protection bill, to protect 14 year olds and 15 year olds from adult sexual predators.

We introduced Bill C-27 to improve the process for keeping violent and repeat offenders in prison, and Bill C-9, which aims to put an end to house arrest for serious and violent offenders and which, I am pleased to say, has passed this House.

These are just a few of our recent initiatives.

Bill C-10, the bill that we have before us at third reading, is an important piece of legislation that specifically targets gun and gang violence.

I am very pleased that we have received the support of a majority of members of the House to restore the bill, and while the bill we debate today is amended somewhat from its original form, it still contains tough mandatory minimum penalties for serious offences involving firearms.

More specifically, Bill C-10, as amended, proposes escalating penalties of five years' imprisonment on a first offence and seven years on a second or subsequent offence for eight specific serious offences involving the actual use of firearms. Those offences are: attempted murder, discharging a firearm with intent to injure a person or prevent arrest, sexual assault with a weapon, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, hostage taking, robbery, and extortion.

I should point out that these tough penalties will apply when the offence is committed in connection with a criminal gang or if a restricted or prohibited firearm is used.

Who can be against that? Who can be against those provisions? This is what we talked about with the Canadian public in the last election and I believe there is widespread support for a bill of this nature.

Bill C-10 defines what will constitute a prior conviction with respect to these use offences, that is, the use of firearms. This means that any prior conviction in the last 10 years, excluding the time spent in custody, for using a firearm in the commission of an offence will count as a prior conviction and will trigger the enhanced mandatory penalty for repeat offences.

Also, I should point out that Bill C-10 now proposes penalties of three years on a first offence and five years on a second or subsequent offence for four serious offences that do not involve the actual use of a firearm. Those offences are: illegal possession of a restricted or prohibited firearm with ammunition, firearm trafficking, possession for the purpose of firearm trafficking, and firearm smuggling.

For the non-use offences it is important to note that the prior convictions for both the use offences and the non-use offences will trigger the higher mandatory minimum penalties applicable in repeat offences.

The bill, as amended, also creates two new offences dealing specifically with the theft of firearms. Breaking and entering to steal a firearm and robbery to steal a firearm now are made indictable-only offences, subject to life imprisonment.

Therefore, as we can see, this bill targets serious gun crimes with a particular focus on when such crimes are committed by criminal organizations, which of course includes gangs.

It sends a very clear message to the public that this Conservative government is serious about dealing with this type of crime. I am very pleased and proud that we are introducing this piece of legislation and seeing it through to its conclusion.

I should point out the manner in which Bill C-10 was amended at report stage is an example of this government's willingness to make this minority Parliament work. Together with members of the New Democratic Party we dealt with a problem and we found a solution that responded to our respective concerns and priorities. I am pleased that we had their support and that of several other hon. members of this House.

I saw, I believe, about five members of the Liberal Party who broke ranks with their own party. I want to tell the House how much I welcomed that and certainly appreciated their support. I think they received the message on this. I am very pleased to have that support at third reading. I would welcome more support from other members of the opposition.

I should point out that Bill C-10 has the support of other important stakeholders as well. Police officers and prosecutors are supportive of this government's attempt to pass this tough on crime legislation. They have said that tougher mandatory penalties are needed to target the specific new trend that has emerged in many Canadian communities, and that is the possession and use of firearms, usually handguns, by street gangs and drug traffickers.

In that regard, I point out the support that this approach received from the attorney general of Ontario. He pointed out in a Globe and Mail article on March 6 that he liked this approach of getting tougher. He called on his federal colleagues in the Liberal Party to get behind legislation of this type because he believed this was the way to go.

Mr. Speaker, the safety and security of Canadians are not partisan matters. If we want to see progress in tackling gun crime, we will all have to do our part.

Police officers have to do their part in investigating and apprehending those who commit crimes. Crown attorneys have to do their part in ensuring that accused persons are effectively prosecuted, and of course, judges have their part to do in imposing sentences.

As parliamentarians we have a strong role to play as well. We set the laws. We signal to the courts what we consider to be appropriate penalties for specific crimes.

There are a number of opposition members who say they cannot support Bill C-10, but many of these same members have already supported mandatory penalties in the past, and particularly for firearms offences. In fact, it was the Liberal government that introduced a number of mandatory penalties in the mid-nineties and proposed a very modest increase to some of the gun-related crimes in the last Parliament.

This government does not believe a one year increase is going to make enough of a difference. We want to send a clearer message. We need to ensure that the appropriate stiff penalties are imposed on gun traffickers and gang members who use guns in such serious offences as attempted murder, hostage taking, robbery and extortion.

We believe that the proposals in Bill C-10, as amended, are both tough and reasonable. As I have already indicated, the proposals are restricted to the key areas that are a growing concern to people across this country.

There certainly is evidence to support the problems associated with the current level of gun crime. Crime statistics, police, and several other experts in this area, point to a growing problem with respect to guns and gangs. While the national trends show an overall decrease in some crime over the past few decades, it is not the case with violent crimes such as homicide, attempted murder, assault with weapons, and robbery, especially in larger urban areas across the country.

Statistics also show that while crimes committed with non-restricted guns are down, handguns and other restricted or prohibited firearms have become the weapon of choice for those who use firearms to commit crimes.

Toronto's rate of firearm homicides in recent years has frequently been reported by the press. Statistics Canada data shows that it is not just a problem unique to central Canada. The rate in Edmonton has also recently increased and Vancouver has consistently had higher rates over the last decade.

Gang-related homicides and the proportion of handguns used in violent crimes have become a major cause for concern and gun crime with restricted weapons or guns used by gang member is an increasing problem in urban communities.

Organized criminals are fuelling much of the crime problem and the government's justice agenda aims to curtail this problem by increasing the mandatory minimum penalties for crimes committed with guns, ending house arrest for those convicted of serious violent crimes and sexual offences, and other significant crime, such as major drug offences.

As I mentioned earlier, Bill C-10 includes a number of sentences for both use and non-use firearms offences with the stiffest penalties. The bill targets serious gun crimes committed by gangs or organized crime and the prohibitive weapons that they use.

In addition to this legislation, the federal government of course has a role to play in making funds available to help prevent crime before it happens. I am happy that the government has made investments in crime prevention and specifically to help at risk youth from becoming involved in criminal gangs, guns and drugs.

Funding is available to allow communities to examine issues surrounding gang involvement, create awareness of youth gang recruitment, prevention and intervention strategies, identify service gaps and best practices, and develop program responses.

Several activities have already started to fulfill the government's commitment to work with the provinces and territories to help communities provide hope and opportunity for our youth and end the cycle of violence that can lead to broken communities and broken lives.

I would like to speak for a moment on how the bill is consistent with the sentencing principles provided in the Criminal Code and charter rights. The Criminal Code provides that it is a fundamental principle of the Canadian sentencing regime that a sentence should be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender.

It also provides that the purpose of sentencing is to impose sanctions on offenders that are just, in order to contribute respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society.

Accordingly, the objectives in sentencing are to denounce unlawful contact, deter the offender and others from committing offences, and separate offenders from society where necessary, as well as assist them in rehabilitating and accepting responsibility for their actions while repairing the harm they have caused to victims and their community.

The manner in which the higher mandatory penalties will apply under Bill C-10 is intended to ensure that they do not result in disproportionate sentences contrary to the charter. The higher levels of seven years for using a firearm and five years for non-use offences are reserved for repeat firearms offenders.

If an offender has a relevant recent history of committing firearms offences, it is not unreasonable to ensure that the specific sentencing goals of deterrence, denunciation and separation of serious offenders from society are given priority by the sentencing court.

The government considers that the mandatory penalties proposed in Bill C-10 are not only just but are also appropriately targeted at the specific problem which they seek to address; that is the new trend that has developed with respect to guns and gangs.

At the beginning of my remarks I mentioned that the government is determined to make Canadian streets safer, communities safer and to stand up for victims. The good news on this front is that we are only just getting started.

Age of ConsentStatements By Members

May 14th, 2007 / 2:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-22, an act to raise the age of consent from 14 years to 16 years of age, was recently adopted by the House of Commons and referred to the Senate. This bill is designed to protect our children against sexual exploitation from adult predators and is widely supported in my riding and across Canada.

The age of protection marks an important step toward strengthening our child protection laws. In our continued commitment toward safer streets and communities, I encourage the Liberal dominated Senate to pass the age of protection legislation into law as soon as possible so that our children can receive this much needed protection.

Since taking office, Canada's new government has made focusing on families a top priority. Initiatives, such as the $2,000 child tax credit and the working income tax benefit, have strengthened Canadian families by giving them the necessary support to meet growing demands.

Again, I urge the Senate to pass Bill C-22 as soon as possible so that it may become law. Our families, our communities and, more important, our youth are counting on it.

JusticeOral Questions

May 10th, 2007 / 2:55 p.m.
See context

Niagara Falls Ontario

Conservative

Rob Nicholson ConservativeMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his continuous efforts to fight crime in this country.

As Attorney General, I do not comment specifically on a case, but I want the House to know that this government is absolutely committed to the best interests and protection of children. That is why we introduced Bill C-22, the age of protection legislation, to protect 14 and 15 year olds from sexual predators. That is why we have introduced Bill C-27, to improve the process by which violent and repeat offenders will be kept in prison. That is why we introduced Bill C-9, to ensure that violent and serious offenders do not get house arrest.

We are absolutely committed to the best interests of children, victims, reducing crime in this country and—

Age of ConsentStatements By Members

May 8th, 2007 / 2 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Conservative Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, Friday, May 4 was a great day for Canada. The House of Commons passed important legislation that will protect potential victims of sexual assault by increasing the age at which youths can consent to sexual activity. This will better protect them against sexual exploitation by adult predators.

The Conservative government provided the leadership necessary to pass this legislation after many years of stalling by previous governments.

As adopted by the House of Commons, the age of protection legislation proposes to raise the age at which youth can consent to sexual activity from 14 years of age to 16.

This measure, which is supported by grieving parents and police forces, provides much needed protection for children victimized by sexual predators. We are giving our police officers a tool they need to combat this victimization of teenagers.

The age of protection bill marks an important step forward in strengthening our child protection laws and brings Canada's age of consent into conformity with that of many other like-minded countries.

We urge the Senate to give speedy passage to Bill C-22.