Unborn Victims of Crime Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (injuring or causing the death of an unborn child while committing an offence)

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.

Sponsor

Ken Epp  Conservative

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

Status

Not active, as of March 5, 2008
(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 by making it an offence to injure, cause the death of or attempt to cause the death of a child before or during its birth while committing or attempting to commit an offence against the mother.

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.

Votes

March 5, 2008 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Unborn Victims of CrimePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 9th, 2008 / 5:40 p.m.
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NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition that expresses profound concern regarding Bill C-484, the proposed unborn victims of crime act, and states that it conflicts with the Criminal Code because it grants a type of legal personhood to fetuses, which would necessarily compromise women's established rights.

Violence against women is part of a larger societal problem and it is everywhere. Fetal homicide laws elsewhere have done nothing to reduce this violence because they do not address the root causes of inequality that perpetuate the violence against women. The best way to protect fetuses is to provide pregnant women with the support and resources they need for a good pregnancy outcome, including protection from domestic violence. The petitioners ask that the Government of Canada reject Bill C-484.

June 5th, 2008 / 10:45 a.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

There has been a suggestion that we have a joint committee meeting with the justice committee. If we want to explore a joint meeting, then we need a motion. So the committee needs to pass a motion that a joint meeting be held with the justice committee to express our concern on Bill C-484.

June 5th, 2008 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you, Mr. Goldring.

I just wonder if the committee would consider, in light of trying to take this forward, just keeping it so general as to simply say, “That pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the committee study the subject matter of Bill C-484.”

You can't put that in there?

June 5th, 2008 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

I don't mean to speak out of order, but the reality of the justice committee before March 11 was that no piece of legislation was reported back to the House—in the time that I spent on the justice committee—without appearing before the justice committee. The justice committee has made every effort it can, which are the extra hours and the extra sitting.... I understand the concern of this committee in having this legislation reported back to the House without the scrutiny of the committee.

I guess I would implore my colleagues at the table here from the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois to talk to their colleagues on the justice committee. If it's the will of this committee to have that piece of legislation discussed, I'm sure we could find all-party agreement to at least have a meeting where we could sit down and discuss the merits of Bill C-484, outside the other issues the justice committee is currently facing. I would make that request of my colleagues here at the table in the hope that that might satisfy some of the concerns this committee has with Bill C-484.

June 5th, 2008 / 10:10 a.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Madam Chair, I can't presume to speak on behalf of the committee. I can just speak for myself. From my perspective, I would guess—and this is all it would be—that given the fact that Bill C-484 is approaching the 60-day limit, the justice committee, should it agree to go over this legislation, would do everything it could to at least have a few hearings on Bill C-484. This is what we've normally done. We've used the regular sittings to discuss government legislation and we've had extra sittings to discuss private members' legislation.

June 5th, 2008 / 10:10 a.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Yasmin Ratansi

So it's quite conceivable that Bill C-484 may just pass its 60-day deadline and be assumed to have been adopted and sent to the House again if you do not address the bill. Is that true?

June 5th, 2008 / 10:10 a.m.
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NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Chair, my concern is that the promises of the justice committee meeting and getting on with the job of looking at the legislation seem rather elusive. I want to know if Bill C-484 is the first piece of legislation they'll be looking at, because it's my understanding that a number of pieces of legislation are backlogged, and Bill C-484 may not necessarily come before them. If that's the case, I think it is even more important that we move on this motion.

I'm quite prepared to make whatever changes, whatever amendments, are necessary, and I certainly accept that “Therefore be it resolved” could most certainly indicate that we will study the subject matter of Bill C-484 with regard to examining it from a gender budget analysis perspective. It needs to be worded better than that.

At this point, I have very grave concerns about the justice committee sitting and that this will go by the wayside.

June 5th, 2008 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I've been on this committee now for about six minutes, but I am a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Perhaps I can just add a little bit from that perspective.

I know we have an impasse, and I'm not here to get into the blame game about that impasse. I can tell you, though, that the committee is working very hard to try to get around the impasse we have right now. I do believe that discussions are going on, and those discussions should bear some fruit here in the near while.

Given the fact that Bill C-484 is going to approach the 60-day time limit in the near future, it does need to appear before a committee. I do believe, because it is a Criminal Code matter, and it makes minor amendments to the Criminal Code--some people think they're significant and others think that...and I'm not here to debate the opinion of that.

If I can add some assurance to this committee, I'm very confident that the justice committee will work very hard to try to meet so that we can discuss the substantive issues pertaining to Bill C-484 before the 60-day expiry date, before it gets reported back to the House unamended.

June 5th, 2008 / 10 a.m.
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Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

We could do that, but I think it's important that we look at the content and subject matter of the bill, that we put forward our comments. I understand the justice committee doesn't meet. I would agree with Ms. Minna that a joint meeting with them would be helpful. If they won't meet with us, we can report to them. But I think it's important that the status of women committee look at the content and subject matter of Bill C-484.

I can tell you, Madam Chair—and I'm sure my office is no different from many others—that many women across the country have a profound concern and anxiety about this bill, and somebody has to look at it.

June 5th, 2008 / 10 a.m.
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Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Thank you.

Ms. Minna preempted some of what I was going to suggest.

What we're looking at here is the content and the subject matter of Bill C-484, and I agree completely with Ms. Mathyssen's comment. This is a bill that has a profound impact on women. It should at least be subject to a gender analysis, if nothing else.

June 4th, 2008 / 7:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, maybe that coffee cup is the reason he was unable to hear my arguments about Bill C-484.

Nevertheless, had he wanted to, he would have understood that I was asking the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages to stand up for women. That did not happen.

I am not surprised, but I am disappointed. This evening, I am disappointed on behalf of all women of the Fédération des femmes du Québec, and on behalf of the Fédération du Québec pour le planning des naissances, the AFEAS, the Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec and the Fédération des médecins du Québec. None of these groups want Bill C-484 to pass at third reading because they are all aware of the threat it poses to women.

I really hope that the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages will hear our appeal even if she chooses not to answer our questions. I hope she will assure us that she intends to stand up for this issue because if she does not, I can promise her that the women of Quebec and Canada will not forget.

June 4th, 2008 / 7:10 p.m.
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Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, right off the get go, let me just sort of refute the main thrust of my colleague's argument.

Her argument or suggestion is that somehow the bill introduced by the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park, Bill C-484, is in some way a backdoor attempt to reopen the abortion debate. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, the bill specifically excludes women who wish to seek an abortion from the provisions of the bill. This bill only deals with women who choose to go full term, who want a child. It does not speak to those women who do not wish to carry their child to full term.

The member asked why the bill is not before the status of women committee or the heritage committee.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, as I know, and I hope my hon. colleague knows, that it is the right of a member who introduces a private member's bill, to determine in the motion to which committee the bill should be referred. In this case, since the bill is about amending the Criminal Code, it is natural that it goes to the justice committee. In fact, not only private members' bills but government initiated bills and legislation that deals with amendments to the Criminal Code are normally referred to the justice committee.

Second, in Marleau and Montpetit on page 634, the procedure and practice manual that we all follow in this place, it states once again that members have the right, in the motion contained in the bill itself, to determine to which committee the bill gets referred. That is further supported by Standing Order 108.

I would suggest to the member opposite that it is an appropriate place to send the bill; that is, the justice committee. I hope the member, if for no other reason, would understand, from a procedural standpoint and from our own practices that we follow in this place, that the member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park, who introduced the bill, has followed the correct procedure. The justice committee is the correct place to discuss the bill.

June 4th, 2008 / 7:05 p.m.
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Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, on April 3, I asked the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Status of Women and Official Languages a question. Unfortunately, the answer I received came from the Minister of Justice. I must say that the question really was meant for the Minister of Status of Women.

The Standing Committee on the Status of Women passed a motion advising the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights that it was not in support of Bill C-484. We asked the Minister of Status of Women to take over where the committee left off and inform her colleagues of the importance of quickly dealing with this matter in order to ensure that the bill would not go to third reading.

I hope that the minister will answer this evening. Because Quebec and Canadian women expect her to take her place and to demonstrate leadership for her colleagues and for Quebeckers and Canadians. She must let us know and make us understand what is happening. Above all, she must reassure us that the abortion file will not be reopened. Women want assurances that, where they live, they will not have to experience what happened 40 or 50 years ago when abortion clinics were illegal and women had to carry out their own abortions with knitting needles, and died as a result.

I know that the minister voted against this bill. Since she voted against it, I would like her to now show us that she is capable of convincing her colleagues and telling them that women do have the right to choose.

At present, women are very afraid and I can understand that. I am a woman, a mother and a grandmother and I know what it is like to be afraid of losing our rights.

This government took a very underhanded approach. There are four bills right now that could potentially reopen the abortion debate. Before they were introduced, funding was cut to Status of Women Canada for groups that defend women's rights. Then, the court challenges program was abolished. Furthermore, women's advocacy groups have had to close their doors for lack of funding.

Now that women are having a harder time defending themselves and bringing a case before the Supreme Court, they are being hit with bills that will likely reopen the abortion debate if they go through. This must not happen.

For all the women of Quebec and Canada, I sincerely hope that the minister will be able to give me a positive answer this evening. I hope she will tell me that she will defend women and that she will inform her colleagues and make them aware of this cause.

Unborn Victims of CrimePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 4th, 2008 / 3:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, support for Bill C-484 continues to grow and is expressed right across the country. These petitioners come from: St. John's; Regina; Lambton; Gander; Dauphin, Manitoba; Dartmouth; Sudbury; Barrhead; Saskatoon; Golden; and a place called St. Alban's, which I had not even heard of. The petitioners are universal in their support right across the country. They urge the Government of Canada to support Bill C-484, a bill that would provide for a separate offence in the event that an unborn child is injured or killed during an attack on its pregnant mother.

These petitioners recognize that it is a severe and serious offence to force upon a pregnant woman the death or injury of her unborn child. It is a violation of her right to protect and give life to that child she wants.

Bill C-484Statements By Members

June 3rd, 2008 / 2:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, on June 1, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Montreal to condemn Bill C-484, which threatens to reopen the abortion debate.

Nearly 1,500 women and men of all ages from community organizations and various groups that support women's rights joined the march, which began in front of the clinic run by Dr. Morgentaler, a true icon in the fight to decriminalize abortion. My colleague from Laval and I were proud to take part in the march.

The Prime Minister had promised not to reopen the abortion debate. Yet Bill C-484 breaks that promise. These are devious, hypocritical tactics to undermine women's dignity and basic rights.

I invite people to condemn the Conservatives' hidden agenda by taking part in activities to protest Bill C-484 and signing the Bloc Québécois petition.