moved for leave to introduce Bill C-533, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protecting public transportation workers).
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to present this private member's bill, providing an alternative approach to the one that was tabled earlier by the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River. I look forward to all members of the House having an opportunity to collaborate as these pieces of legislation move forward.
More than 2,000 Canadian bus drivers are assaulted annually in the course of their duties. They may be spat upon or punched or attacked with a knife or even sexually assaulted as they perform their jobs of providing open, inclusive service to the general public in all places and at all hours of the day and night.
While courts sometimes make a point of taking the public service and the vulnerability of bus drivers into account when sentencing those who are convicted of offences against transit operators, this is not a comprehensive legal requirement.
The bill that I am proposing would change that. Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code sets out the overarching rules that deal with sentencing; this bill would insert the specific requirement that courts shall, when imposing a sentence for any offence, take into consideration as an aggravating circumstance the fact that the victim was a public transportation employee on duty.
This would provide a higher degree of protection for bus drivers, especially when coupled with a vigorous public communications campaign to warn potential offenders that attacking a transit employee will expose them to more severe criminal penalties.
I am glad to have the support of the Canadian Council of the Amalgamated Transit Union in my hometown of Regina and across the country. I hope that all hon. members will see the merit in this particular approach.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)