An Act to amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings)

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in December 2009.

This bill was previously introduced in the 40th Parliament, 1st Session.

Status

In committee (House), as of Nov. 17, 2009
(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 clarify that suicide bombings fall within the definition “terrorist activity”.

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 CodePrivate Members' Business

November 17th, 2009 / 5:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in the debate on Bill S-205. Since this is a bill that starts with “S”, it means that it began in the Senate and has arrived in this place. It was introduced in the Senate by a Liberal senator. He can be very proud of his work in the field this bill deals with, which is terrorism and justice.

Senator Grafstein introduced this bill in the other place. I understand that he will be retiring in December. I think he will be recognized for this legislation, for all the great work he has done over years and for his service to Canada. Senator Grafstein is well known by all members of this House.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

November 17th, 2009 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, he is a very good member, as my colleague, the Minister of Transport said. I am sure the senator would appreciate that.

Senator Grafstein is also well known in this House for the fact that over the years he has worked very hard to maintain strong relations with our neighbour to the south, our strongest and greatest trading partner, the United States. Not only has he done that, but he has also advocated very strongly and vehemently over the years on behalf of Canada with his many colleagues and friends in the American Congress and Senate. He has very good contacts there and has advocated on Canada's behalf. He has tried to influence things positively and has often done so over the years.

For instance, he pointed out to our American friends that when 9/11 occurred, none of the terrorists who took part in those actions came from Canada. This is an important point that some of our American friends unfortunately did not understand at the time.

Since they are supporting this legislation, it is clear that the NDP, the Bloc and even the Conservatives share that sentiment and recognize the value of our senators and their contributions. It is a positive sign. The fact is all parties in this House have shown their support for Bill S-205 which passed the Senate on June 10 of this year.

The Senate adopted the bill to ensure greater clarity in relation to particular measures. The Liberal Party fully supports this initiative and we support this bill. Of course, it being a private member's bill, these matters are free votes for our party, but I can say confidently that my colleagues will be supporting it.

It is a very short bill. It essentially has one key paragraph that I would like to read:

Section 83.01 of the Criminal Code is amended by adding the following after subsection (1.1):

(1.2) For greater certainty, a suicide bombing comes within paragraphs (a) and (b) of the definition "terrorist activity" in subsection (1).

Canadians probably believe that suicide bombings are already illegal under our Criminal Code, and they are right. Someone listening may ask how we would penalize a suicide bomber. If the person is successful, obviously there is no penalty that can be applied. However, suicide bombers are not always successful. What we are talking about, in part, is someone who attempts to commit a suicide bombing, or perhaps people who might try to assist or prepare that person for that event, to supply the person with materials for example. These are all relevant parts of that activity.

It is simple common sense that a suicide bombing would be considered a terrorist activity. I had a look at the definition in section 83.01 of the Criminal Code, and it is a fairly long and complicated definition of what terrorist activity is. I think it is reasonably clear, but it would not hurt at all and it is probably wise to make this absolute clarification for greater certainty.

I endorse what Senator Grafstein has done in this regard. It is no wonder that all parties in the House are supporting this bill.

My understanding is that we will be the first country in the world to take this step to clarify this matter, and it is a positive step. I look forward to the bill going to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and to its eventual passage.

Suicide bombings are horrendous, terrible acts. Who can forget watching the television on the morning of September 11, 2001?

I remember sitting in my office in Nova Scotia. The night before, I had been at a reception at what we call the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax. My assistant came into the room and said, “Turn on the TV. I just got a call saying that a plane has flown into the World Trade Center”. I thought my assistant meant the one in Halifax. That was my first reaction since I had just been there the night before and had it in my mind. I turned the TV on and saw that it was not that at all, that it was the World Trade Center. Moments later, maybe a minute or two after turning on the television, I saw the second plane fly into the other tower.

With the first plane I thought maybe it was an accident, that it was possible there was some bizarre situation with the pilot, a mechanical problem, a problem with navigation and somehow the plane ended up flying into the building. But with the second one, everyone knew. It did not take long to dawn on me that there was only one possible explanation, the horrible explanation that it was, and we all saw the terrible result. Even while watching the flames it did not occur to me; maybe there were structural engineers watching who recognized what would happen next, but I do not think most of us could imagine that those buildings would collapse in the horrible way they did with the tremendous loss of life that resulted.

That type of activity has never happened here. We have been fortunate in Canada. We have been spared that sort of terrorist attack, which was a successful attack certainly, but we have seen the devastation that it has caused abroad. Thousands of innocent people have died and even more have been injured.

This is truly a despicable act and we must recognize that. I hope we never experience it here, but we must recognize that there is the danger of experiencing it here. It clearly is a distorted action of depraved and distorted minds, people who are misguided and who perhaps have been brainwashed in various ways.

Let us think about the number of suicide bombings that have been carried out around the globe in the last number of years. We were all shocked by 9/11, as I mentioned. We remember the one in Madrid, which was not that long ago. In 2007 there were the London subway attacks. In 2008 there were the attacks in Mumbai, which are being recognized this week with the Prime Minister's visit there.

This bill serves to illustrate the fact that suicide bombings happen elsewhere, that they are horrible and that they could, sadly, happen here. The statistics are shocking. From 2000 to 2004, 472 known suicide bombings took place in 22 different countries. Wow. They resulted in more than 7,000 people killed and tens of thousands wounded, the horror of those actions on innocent people.

Going beyond this bill, we need to address the root causes of terrorism. I am not saying we could ever eradicate all people who might commit a terrorist act, but it is important that we work for peace to flourish, that we work to reduce the possibility, that we work to remove the fertile ground on which terror may flourish. We need to ask why it happens and what we can do to stop it.

The changes to the Criminal Code with this bill help set the stage for that kind of discussion. Senator Grafstein has done a tremendous service with this bill, as he has so often done throughout his career. It is appropriate to acknowledge his hard work for initiating this bill many years ago. It has been a while getting to this point. Because of his commitment, we are able to send a clear message to the world that this country stands firmly against terrorism.

Let me conclude with a quote from Senator Grafstein. He said in February:

Suicide bombing has become an all too frequent practice in many countries throughout the world. Thousands of civilians are killed and maimed to advance a cause based on falsely implanted expectations of glory and martyrdom. We say no cause can justify suicide bombing.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

November 17th, 2009 / 5:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak in favour of Bill S-205. The bill introduces greater certainty into the Criminal Code by specifically including the term “suicide bombing” under the definition of terrorist activity.

Some may ask why I, as a member for Parliament for Abbotsford on the west coast, would take such an interest in the subject of suicide bombings. Abbotsford has not yet experienced terrorism first hand, although drug and gang related violence remains a very serious challenge to our city and to our region. However, the residents of Abbotsford do understand that terrorism, in all of its forms, does in fact threaten our way of life and the values we hold so dear, values such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. We understand how pervasive the threat of terrorism is and how difficult it is to fight this scourge within our global community.

The most important responsibility that governments have is to protect their citizens. It is a public trust, a sacred trust that is imposed upon us as parliamentarians to protect Canadians. That is why our Conservative government has been so focused on addressing some of the holes in our criminal justice system.

Let me provide the House with at least three reasons why I am supporting Bill S-205.

First, this year I had the opportunity to travel with our Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism to India. Abbotsford has a large number of residents who identify themselves as Indian and maintain strong relationships with the world's largest democracy. Among other things, the minister and I travelled to the city of Mumbai where we visited the Taj Hotel and Chabad House. Those familiar with the events of November of last year know that these two facilities were among the buildings that were attacked by terrorists, resulting in the loss of many innocent lives, including the lives of two Canadians.

Chabad House was a hostel and a trading centre for the Jewish diaspora. Essentially it was a place of respite for travellers and others seeking spiritual guidance. The terrorists who attacked the centre tortured and then ultimately executed a number of the residents of that facility, including a rabbi and his wife. Similar scenes of horror played out in other parts of Mumbai, and the reason for these horrific acts, a complete absence of respect for the dignity and value of human life.

I am very pleased that yesterday our Prime Minister visited Mumbai to pay his respects to the Canadians and others who lost their lives in the Mumbai terrorist attack. As always, Canada stands in solidarity with India and the other nations of the world that defend freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

In May of this year I also had the opportunity to visit Israel and to meet with Israeli parliamentarians in their Knesset. Israelis are deeply appreciative of Canada's outstanding leadership in consistently speaking out and acting against anti-Semitism. Sadly, many around the world still have not learned the lessons of history and continue to advocate hatred and genocide against others.

The Israeli MPs we met with also expressed their profound concern over the very real and ongoing threat that terrorism, including suicide bombings, represented to their country and to Jews and other minority groups around the world.

My experiences in both India and Israel have reinforced my commitment to speak out against extremism and intolerance of all kinds, and I do strongly support the bill.

The second reason I support the bill is the ongoing threat that terrorism and suicide bombings represent to the safety and security of the brave men and women of our armed forces. Canada has lost over 130 Canadian soldiers to the conflict in Afghanistan. Some were lost to combat. Some were actually lost to accidental events. Many of the deaths were the result of cowardly roadside bombings. On top of that, 11 soldiers and one Canadian diplomat lost their lives to suicide bombers in Afghanistan.

Suicide bombers represent a daily threat to our soldiers as the latter do their part to improve safety, security and human rights in Afghanistan. The voices of our fallen Canadians call out for us to do everything in our power to ensure that other Canadians, both here in Canada and abroad, do not meet a similar fate. Bill S-205 responds to that call.

The third and final reason for my interest in this bill is the impact that terrorism has had on Canada. Sadly, Canada is not immune to the ideology, extremism and hatred that motivates terrorists. We kid ourselves if we believe that terrorists are not interested in Canada. It would be a mistake to forget that 24 innocent Canadian lives were lost during the tragic events of 9/11.

Canadians also remember and continue to mourn the tragic loss of hundreds of lives in the Air India bombing, a terrorist act spawned right here in our own country. Moreover, not long ago, 18 alleged terrorists were arrested in Canada. Their plan was to attack political and other high-profile targets in our country, including our Prime Minister. A number of the accused have already been convicted or have pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit terrorist acts and have been sentenced to prison terms.

Does Canada face an ongoing threat from terrorism? It most certainly does. That is why any legislation, including this bill, which improves the clarity and severity of the criminal sanctions against terrorism deserves our support.

There are those who state that the current definition of terrorist activity contained in the Criminal Code already implicitly includes suicide bombing when it is committed in the context of terrorism.

That may be so. A closer look at the definition of terrorist activity in the Criminal Code appears to incorporate criminal conduct as envisaged by the United Nations counterterrorism conventions. The second part of the definition includes terrorist activity that intentionally causes death or serious bodily harm, or that endangers a person's life.

The bill before us simply clarifies, for greater certainty, that suicide bombing is indeed a terrorist activity. There is also one added benefit to this bill that has already been articulated by others in the House. By specifically including the term “suicide bombing” in our Criminal Code, Canadians will demonstrate international leadership by specifically denouncing such bombings as a form of terrorist activity.

There is significant support in Canada for this bill. I am pleased that all four parties in the House have indicated that they plan to endorse this bill. There is also a group in Canada called Canadians Against Suicide Bombing, a Toronto-based group led by a former judge. It has been a leader in developing support for this Senate bill. Indeed, this organization has been successful in circulating an online petition that is generating much additional support. Many other Canadians have also signed an open letter of support.

The terrorists who commit these heinous acts will use women and children. Apparently, they are now even using mentally disabled children to conduct their heinous acts of carrying out suicide bombings. Suicide bombers strike all over the world. They strike at Canadians, Israelis, Iranians, Pakistanis, Indians and Sri Lankans. They strike at any target in order to advance their destructive agenda.

I strongly endorse Bill S-205. Once again, Canada has an opportunity to demonstrate its strong international leadership in defending free and democratic nations around the world who abide by the rule of law. Denouncing suicide bombings is simply the right thing to do. It goes without saying that I encourage all members of the House to support this bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

November 17th, 2009 / 6:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to sponsor Bill S-205 and to close off our discussions today during this second hour of debate before, I trust, it is sent to the justice committee.

I want to summarize my opening comments and those expressed during the debate. However, before I do so, I would like to recognize and thank Senator Grafstein for his dedication and hard work in bringing this bill to the House.

The bill, as amended, is not overly broad or vague but still fulfills its intended purpose. The proposed amendment is designed to provide for maximum precision regarding what forms of suicide bombing are included in the definition of terrorist activity, and makes certain that suicide bombings unrelated to terrorist activity are not caught by the definition.

The definition of terrorist activity in section 83.01 of the Criminal Code has two components. The first incorporates a series of offences enacted to implement international legal instruments against terrorism.

The second, more general, stand-alone component states that a terrorist activity is “an act or omission” undertaken “in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause” intended to intimidate the public or compel a person, government or organization “to do or to refrain from doing any act”, if the act or omission intentionally causes a specified serious harm.

Specified harms include causing death or serious bodily harm, endangering life, causing a serious risk to health or safety, causing substantial property damage where it would also cause one of the above listed harms and, in certain circumstances, causing serious interference or disruption of an essential service, facility or system, whether public or private.

Suicide attacks are intended to kill and maim innocent people and to inflict extensive property damage. Attackers are prepared to die in the process. Anyone who reads a newspaper, listens to the radio or watches television knows that suicide bombings occur on an alarmingly regular basis.

We all remember the attacks of September 11, 2001 that killed nearly 3,000 people in the World Trade Center in New York City. We also remember the July 7, 2007 London bombings and, as was mentioned, the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India.

Bill S-205 is crafted to ensure the utmost precision about what forms of suicide bombing are included in the definition of terrorist activity.

No other country is known to refer specifically to suicide bombing in its definition of terrorism and terrorist activity, so Canada would be the first to signal its abhorrence of these cowardly acts by adopting such a reference in its legislative definition of terrorist activity.

Members of the House have a unique opportunity to be an example to the world. By passing Bill S-205, a made-in-Canada initiative to cover suicide bombing explicitly and to ensure that anyone who organizes, teaches or sponsors suicide bombing is criminally liable in Canada, you would be promoting a worthy aim.

Accordingly, I wish all hon. members in this chamber the fortitude to do the right thing and to pass this bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 22nd, 2009 / 5:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

moved that Bill S-205, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill S-205, which was passed by the Senate on June 10, 2009. This bill is identical to former Bill S-210, which received third reading in the Senate in June 2008, but died on the order paper when Parliament was dissolved for the general election last September. Please allow me to explain the contents of this bill for the benefit of all hon. members.

The bill proposes to amend the Criminal Code to clarify that suicide bombings fall within the definition of “terrorist activity” contained in the code. The term “terrorist activity” is currently defined in paragraphs 83.01(1)(a) and (b) of the Criminal Code. Bill S-205 proposes to amend section 83.01 of the Criminal Code by adding the following after subsection (1.1):

(1.2) For greater certainty, a suicide bombing is an act that comes within paragraphs (a) or (b) of the definition “terrorist activity” in subsection (1) if it satisfies the criteria of that paragraph.

This amendment is a definitional clause intended to make clear that suicide bombing is included in the definition of “terrorist activity” only when committed in the context of a terrorist act. The bill is crafted to ensure the utmost precision about what forms of suicide bombing are included in the definition of “terrorist activity” and to prevent other types of suicide bombing with no connection to terrorist activity from being caught in the definition.

Please let me explain how a suicide bomb could potentially be used in non-terrorist activity. A quick search through the archives reveals a case from 1973, whereby a would-be bank robber used a suicide bomb. This happened in Kenora, Ontario. I quote:

A dramatic and daring bank robbery took place in Kenora on May 10, 1973. An unknown man entered the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce heavily armed and wearing a “dead man's switch”, a device utilizing a clothespin, wires, battery and dynamite, where the user holds the clothespin in the mouth, exerting force on the clothespin. Should the user release the clothespin, two wires attached to both sides of the pin complete an electrical circuit, sending current from the battery, detonating the explosives. After robbing the bank, the robber exited the CIBC, and was preparing to enter a city vehicle driven by undercover police officer Don Milliard. A sniper positioned across the street from the bank shot the Robber, initiating the sequence of events required to detonate the explosive. Recently, Kenora Police submitted DNA samples from the Robber's remains to identify him, but the suspect was never positively identified.

This most unfortunate event is an example whereby the robber was not a terrorist by definition, but was indeed using a suicide bomb as a device to rob a bank.

After discussion on this particular point, I understand that the Senate adopted the bill with the amendment to ensure greater clarity.

The amendment ensures that it is not overly broad or vague but still fulfills its intended purpose. The proposed amendment is designed to provide for maximum precision regarding what forms of suicide bombing are included in the definition of “terrorist activity” and makes certain that suicide bombings unrelated to terrorist activity are not caught by the definition.

No other country is known to refer specifically to suicide bombing in its definition of “terrorism” and “terrorist activity”, so Canada would be the first to signal its abhorrence of these cowardly acts by adopting such a reference in its legislative definition of “terrorist activity”.

Suicide attacks are intended to kill and maim innocent people and inflict extensive property damage. Attackers are often prepared to die in the process. We all know about the attacks of September 11, 2001 that killed nearly 3,000 people in the World Trade Center in New York City. We also remember the July 7, 2007 London bombings, and the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India.

Anyone who reads a newspaper, listens to the radio or watches television knows that suicide bombings occur on an alarmingly regular basis.

Many prominent Canadians support Bill S-205, which is identical to former Bill S-210, which was supported by Canadians Against Suicide Bombing, or CANASB, a Toronto-based group.

Prominent Canadians who have supported this initiative and signed an open letter to the Senate include former prime ministers Kim Campbell and Joe Clark, as well others, such as Roy McMurtry, former chief justice and attorney general of Ontario, former NDP leader Ed Broadbent and Major General Louis MacKenzie.

Some states and international organizations argue that suicide bombing can be justified and that struggles, by whatever means, for approved causes are exempt.

Some further argue that suicide bombing is implicitly covered in the Criminal Code or that dead suicide bombers cannot be prosecuted. However, distinguished Canadian criminal lawyers, including the chair of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, told the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs that explicitly covering suicide bombing in the Code can help prosecute and punish the organizers, teachers and sponsors.

The House of Commons has a unique opportunity to be an example to the world. I ask that all MPs support covering suicide bombing explicitly by passing Bill S-205, a made-in-Canada initiative, to ensure that anyone who organizes, teaches or sponsors suicide bombing is criminally liable in Canada. Bill S-205 promotes a worthy aim and is deserving of the support of all hon. members of this House.

Accordingly, I wish to congratulate our hon. friend for bringing the bill before Parliament.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 22nd, 2009 / 6 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I also consider it to be a real pleasure to stand in this place and debate Bill S-205. It started in the Senate. It has already been mentioned, but I thank Senator Grafstein for drafting this bill.

I also specifically want to thank our member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar. Very seldom do we have the opportunity to work together. That member of Parliament sponsored this bill to come forward in this House. As we have seen today, she has been able to work with all members of the House to bring us together and have a consensus on this one bill. As a new member of Parliament, she has shown us that she works hard. Bringing forward a bill like this one is significant and I wanted to commend her for doing that.

I am pleased to support this bill. It proposes to specifically include suicide bombing in the definition of “terrorist activity” in the Criminal Code. This bill would add a for greater certainty clause, after section 83.01 of the Criminal Code, which would specify that suicide bombing comes within paragraphs (a) and (b) of the definition of “terrorist activity” when committed in the context of a terrorist activity.

As has already been talked about, this bill has had a long history in the Senate. It has been introduced four times from 2005 to 2008, but all previous versions of the bill died on the order paper. That is one of the things about a minority government. It seems that we are having so many elections. So much good legislation ends up dying on the order paper. One version, Bill S-210, was passed by the Senate on June 16, 2008.

I recognize that the current definition of “terrorist activity” contained in the Criminal Code already implicitly encompasses suicide bombing when committed in the context of terrorism. If we look at the definition of “terrorist activity” in the code, it incorporates criminal conduct as envisioned by the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, which is one of the United Nations' counterterrorism conventions. The second part of the definition includes terrorist activity which intentionally causes death or serious bodily harm or endangers a person's life. However, it is also true that the words “suicide bombing” are not expressly mentioned in the present definition of “terrorist activity”. There is considerable support for the specific criminalization of suicide bombing as part of the terrorist activity defined in the code.

Canadians Against Suicide Bombing, a Toronto-based group led by a former judge, has been particularly supportive of the objectives behind Bill S-205. The group established an online petition in support of the bill. Many prominent Canadians from all walks of life have signed an open letter of support for this bill.

I have had the pleasure of serving in Parliament for nine years. As the elected representative of the constituency of Crowfoot in Alberta, I have served in a number of different capacities in my parliamentary duties. Right now, I have the pleasure of chairing the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

One of the opportunities that I have as the chair of the foreign affairs committee is to sit down with ambassadors from many different countries. In the last couple of days, I had the pleasure of sitting with the high commissioner from Pakistan. I think that everyone in the House understands what Pakistan is facing today. Pakistan is facing a barrage from the Taliban and terrorist groups there. We commend Pakistan on the way it is standing up to that direct line of fire, in some cases as its military goes in to try to rid the country of terrorist activity.

The topic he brought to my attention was the fear in which many people in that country live, not out on the battlefield, not in the valleys or up in the hills as they go after the Taliban or al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, but the fear in the malls and shopping centres because of terrorist activity in the towns and cities, in Islamabad and in other places, the fear of suicide bombers.

We see this more and more around the world. We see it in Iraq. We see the huge fear in Israel where people go through a metal detector before going into a mall. Their bags and backpacks are checked before they go into a shopping mall. Why? Because they have a fear of terrorist bombing. We see it in places like Pakistan and obviously in Afghanistan, where we have lost many, many troops to roadside bombs, but also to suicide bombers.

Among other things, we have studied the impact of suicide bombing in our mission in Afghanistan. Brave Canadian men and women are being targeted by suicide bombers. They see the vehicle coming toward them. They look at the eyes of the person and they watch as the person reaches into his pocket to detonate the explosives that blow up the vehicle and ignite many other explosions. We are losing far too many people from that.

I have also had the pleasure of serving as the opposition critic for public safety and emergency preparedness when we brought forward Bill C-36, the anti-terrorism bill. Again, so much of our committee time is taken up talking about the suicide bombers in many of these countries.

A number of years ago I served as the vice-chair of the subcommittee on national security. That was another committee that spent so much time concerned with bringing forward and helping to draft legislation, influence legislation that would address issues like suicide bombing. I do not want to read my resumé; that is not what I am trying to do here. But I am trying to point out that this place has been dealing with criminal and national security issues in many different committees. We are dealing with issues like the suicide bombing and it is taking up a lot of energy and a lot of time here in the House.

The main thing I learned, which is applicable in our debate today, is that when a person, a community, a nation or even the international community is threatened by violence, we have to do something about it. For that again I commend our senator and I commend our minister, I mean our member for Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar--I called her a minister; she is a member, but I think someday she will be a minister--for bringing this forward.

That is what Bill S-205 is accomplishing. The bill is doing something about suicide bombing. It is specific and that is what I like about it. That is why I support it. That is why I am very pleased to look around this place and see every party pledging their support for the bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 22nd, 2009 / 6:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was hoping that this debate would collapse tonight because this is significant. One of our colleagues from the other place, Senator Grafstein, I understand will be retiring in December and this is his swan song. This is his last opportunity to make yet another contribution to the Parliament of Canada which includes the Senate.

We are in an interesting Parliament. It is quite uncertain what is going to happen next week, a week or two from now, or even tomorrow. Since we have the support of all members on the bill, we have an opportunity under our rules to allow this debate simply to collapse. No more people would stand up, the mover of the bill would speak for the last five minutes and then we would have a vote and we would pass Bill S-205 tonight as a tribute to our colleague, Senator Grafstein.

It does not look as though that is going to happen. I do not know why, but I am a little concerned that given the uncertainty of this place the bill could in fact never come back before this Parliament. There are a number of ways that could happen. Certainly one would be the call of an election. Another possibility would be that even though the bill would go down to the bottom of the order paper which--

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 22nd, 2009 / 6:10 p.m.
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Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

I hear the member, Mr. Speaker. I did hear all the other speakers talk about Senator Grafstein as well.

There is this issue, and it has to do with the hon. senator, that bills can be traded up and down on the order paper. This one might go down to position number 20. That means 20 sitting days from now it would come up for its second hour and then there would be a vote on the following Wednesday.

I am a bit concerned that there is a risk that the bill may never come back and that would be a shame. I think everybody would understand why.

We always want to fete our colleagues in both chambers who have done such great service to Parliament. I am a bit saddened that we cannot seem to have agreement to let this debate collapse so that we can allow the senator to enjoy yet another victory on behalf of Canadians and Canadian legislation.

Bill S-205 is a simple bill but a meaningful bill. Sometimes a word or two makes all the difference in the world in terms of its application.

The bill would amend the Criminal Code of Canada. This particular bill is seeking an amendment to Section 83.01 of the Criminal Code by adding the following subsection 1.1. “For greater certainty” is the title of this paragraph. Subsection 1.2 says:

For greater certainty, a suicide bombing is an act that comes within paragraph (a) or (b) of the definition “terrorist activity” in subsection (1) if it satisfies the criteria of that paragraph.

That substantively is the bill. It is not very much. It also says that it comes into force at a date fixed by order of governor in council. That is another reason why it is important to deal with this now because it will not come into force when royal assent is granted. It will only come into force when cabinet gives an order in council making it law. Even then, once it gets that, it depends on whether it is proclaimed.

There are many other steps in the legislative process that have to happen, and if we have to wait another 20 or 30 sitting days it may not happen before the senator has to leave the red chamber and retire, and not get the credit that is due him.

I am going to appeal to other members in the chamber. We have enough time to still make this happen. I think it is the honourable thing to do. I do not know of any reason why anyone would want to delay this legislation since there is unanimous support for it. There is no misunderstanding of its intent.

I simply want to appeal to members in all sincerity to heed the good wishes, the goodwill, that all hon. colleagues who have already spoken have expressed to Senator Grafstein. We could make this happen. There are substantive reasons why it should happen tonight. People who would like to have it happen should maybe speak to others to determine whether or not there is good reason for it not to happen.

I am going to conclude my remarks. I do not intend to speak out the clock just for the sake of speaking. I support the bill. All hon. members support the bill. All parties support the bill. All opposition parties, the Bloc, the NDP and the Liberals have agreed not to put up any further speakers so that we have this opportunity. I offer it to the Conservatives now to allow this debate to collapse so that we can have our vote and give Senator Grafstein his due reward.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 22nd, 2009 / 6:15 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

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to stand and speak in favour of Bill S-205. I must begin my remarks, though, questioning the remarks just made by the hon. member for Mississauga South.

As is well known in this place and probably throughout Canada for those people who watch the parliamentary channel, I do not think there is a member in this place, either now or in recent history, who has not stood and spoken to more and varied pieces of legislation and bills than the member for Mississauga South. Yet, he stands here today and, in effect, admonishes everyone who wants to speak to this bill. It makes no sense to me.

If I recall correctly, a few years ago a university student, on his own, on a volunteer basis, started charting the number of words spoken in the House. I guess it was to try to equate loquaciousness or the number of words spoken with hard work or perseverance. I am not sure exactly what the intent of the study was, but he put the study together and created a chart with all 308 members, including Speakers, and it showed how many words were spoken.

I can certainly say without fear of retribution that the member for Mississauga South was quite near the top of that list. I would suggest that if we look from year to year, the member for Mississauga South would be near the top of the list of words spoken every year.

It surprises me to hear the member say this. The member for Mississauga South is a very experienced, knowledgeable member of this place, who has at least on two occasions that I am aware of, and I give due credit to my colleague, won the prestigious Hill Times award for hardest working MP in the House. That is something he should be very proud of.