moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-464 in the House at third reading. Hopefully, today we will have our last hour of debate and have it shipped off to the Senate to carry on.
I would like to take a few minutes to explain the origins of how I decided to bring this bill forward. As a newly-elected member of Parliament in the last year and a half, I was overwhelmed by the amount of information that comes across a member's desk, the amount of paper and the number of causes and interests. It is hard to manage all of that, but I have sort of taken the view that I am going to look at anything that comes across my desk that relates to home.
I had an opportunity, shortly after I was elected in late 2008, early 2009, to watch a documentary. It was called Dear Zachary. It was produced by Kurt Kuenne. It was the story of a tragic incident that happened in Newfoundland and Labrador. I watched the documentary here in Ottawa. I knew the story, the individuals involved, and the details surrounding it. I was quite moved. It was an amazing documentary that told the story of David and Kate Bagby, their son Andrew, and their little grandchild Zachary.
After seeing the documentary, I knew where I was in the order of precedence on the order paper for a private member's bill. As I and my assistant, Mr. Ken Carter, who has helped me with this bill, left the theatre, I decided this was what I wanted to do my private member's bill on.
When we come to this place and look at private members' bills, I have said it before, we present private members' bills for one of two reasons. The first is to make a political statement, knowing that once it is introduced, it is for that reason and we are not going to go anywhere with it. The second is to actually make a difference. I truly believe that once members are elected, they come to this place to make a difference. That is when I decided I would introduce my private member's bill on detention in custody for bail reform.
The documentary Dear Zachary outlined the case of Zachary Turner and the tragic events around the baby's death. I will not go into it today because we have debated it previously and told the story in committee. I do not think we need to go there today. It was in memory of Zachary Turner that I introduced this private member's bill, to try to change our bail laws, to toughen them up a little, so that we could deny bail to protect minor children in the custody of the accused.
That was the story of Zachary and his tragic death. We heard testimony in committee from David and Kate Bagby and I will speak about those two amazing individuals momentarily.
We also heard other stories of tragic deaths from a group that came to testify before committee, the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime. Heidi Illingworth, the executive director, and Krista Gray-Donald, director of advocacy and awareness, appeared at committee. It was a group that I had not solicited and I did not know of, to be honest, until I realized they were coming before the committee in support of my bill.
They told a couple of other stories of crimes that could have been prevented if we had such information in our bail laws. I am going to read a couple more cases from their testimony. There were three cases they gave examples of that I had not heard of prior to them appearing before committee last week. The first story is the following:
Peter Lee of Victoria attempted to murder his wife in 2007. He was charged but granted judicial interim release despite a recommendation by police that he not be released by the courts. Conditions were imposed that required that he not have contact with his wife, yet in September 2007 he murdered his six-year-old son as well as his wife and her parents.
He did that while he was out on bail. The second is as follows:
In Cumberland, Ontario, in April 2006, Frank Mailly murdered his two sons, ages six and nine, his daughter, aged twelve, and their mother. He then burned down their home, with their bodies in it, killing himself in the process. He was not to have contact with Francine, but he had visitation rights to the children, and he committed these murders at the conclusion of one of their visits. Mailly had a long history of domestic violence and was on bail at the time he murdered his family.
In 2002, Lawrence Mends was released on bail in St. Catharines following an attempt to take the life of the mother of his child. When he returned to her home to attack her again, he wounded her and murdered their two-year-old son, Robert, stabbing him in excess of 20 times with a knife.
These were three examples that I had no idea about when I put my bill forward. They touched me as much as the story of Zachary Turner touched me. When we hear that the courts could have had the power to keep somebody in custody when they are charged with a serious crime so that they not be released on bail to protect minor children of the accused, that is what we decided to do.
With this bill, we put in bail reform under section 515 of the Criminal Code giving the courts the power to deny bail to protect minor children of the accused.
We did our research. We wanted to ensure this amendment was charter-proof. We could have made it much stronger, but then it would not have stood up to our Charter of Rights of Freedoms, which is important.
We did our research and then we came back with this amendment that all parties could live with, including all parties in this House. After consultation, I mentioned it to the minister and we made it a little bit stronger by defining minor children.
At committee there was an amendment proposed by the government that said “all children under the age of 18”. That gave it even more clarity and is concise within the Criminal Code. We had an amendment at committee with all party support. That is why we are back here today for third reading in this House.
I am very pleased that we have managed to move this along quite quickly. I have been told that private members' bills sometimes do not even see the light of day. Someone who had done some research for me said only 1% of private members' bills actually receive royal assent. So I am quite excited that in my first term here in Ottawa I have managed to get a private member's bill this far. We do that by building consensus, doing the research, and having something that is practical and can realistically be approved.
This is about two amazing people. There are two amazing people whom I have met during this process, David and Kate Bagby. I did not know Mr. and Mrs. Bagby. I knew of them and of the circumstances around the deaths of their son and grandson.
I cannot describe what these two amazing individuals have gone through to be at this stage here with me today. They have seen the death of their son, the death of their only grandson, and they have taken up this cause over the past five years. They have seen many things transpire in Newfoundland with child welfare. Dr. Markesteyn conducted an inquiry that recommended many changes in our provincial child welfare.
I think that is another cause that we need to look at. That was provincial in nature. We had that report and often reports gather a lot of dust in this place. The provincial government now needs to take that report out, look at the recommendations, and see what has been acted upon in toughening up and improving our child welfare laws in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Then the other part was the bail reform issue. That is when they came to me and asked if somebody could take this cause up to get this bail reform before the House of Commons, which we have done. Senator Tommy Banks will be my sponsor when this bill goes to the Senate. He saw the documentary when it was in Alberta.
These two amazing people, David and Kate, have gone through a lot. I really thank them for the work they have done with me in preparing this bill. They do not like the word “closure” because there is no closure for them, having lost a son and a grandchild. They have taken this on and have tried to make laws better in our country, so that no other child, parent or grandparent will have to go through what they have gone through.
I thank David and Kate for being my inspiration in bringing this forward. This is about them.
That is the story of my bill, Bill C-464. It is a pleasure to be here to introduce this important legislation. I look forward to listening to the debate and answering any questions and comments members may have on this particular bill. I look forward to sending it to the Senate at the end of business today.