An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Sponsor

Status

In committee (House), as of June 11, 2018

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Summary

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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to, among other things,

(a) modernize and clarify interim release provisions to simplify the forms of release that may be imposed on an accused, incorporate a principle of restraint and require that particular attention be given to the circumstances of Aboriginal accused and accused from vulnerable populations when making interim release decisions, and provide more onerous interim release requirements for offences involving violence against an intimate partner;

(b) provide for a judicial referral hearing to deal with administration of justice offences involving a failure to comply with conditions of release or failure to appear as required;

(c) abolish peremptory challenges of jurors, modify the process of challenging a juror for cause so that a judge makes the determination of whether a ground of challenge is true, and allow a judge to direct that a juror stand by for reasons of maintaining public confidence in the administration of justice;

(d) increase the maximum term of imprisonment for repeat offences involving intimate partner violence and provide that abuse of an intimate partner is an aggravating factor on sentencing;

(e) restrict the availability of a preliminary inquiry to offences punishable by imprisonment for life and strengthen the justice’s powers to limit the issues explored and witnesses to be heard at the inquiry;

(f) hybridize most indictable offences punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years or less, increase the default maximum penalty to two years less a day of imprisonment for summary conviction offences and extend the limitation period for summary conviction offences to 12 months;

(g) remove the requirement for judicial endorsement for the execution of certain out-of-province warrants and authorizations, expand judicial case management powers, allow receiving routine police evidence in writing, consolidate provisions relating to the powers of the Attorney General and allow increased use of technology to facilitate remote attendance by any person in a proceeding;

(h) allow the court to exempt an offender from the requirement to pay a victim surcharge if the offender satisfies the court that the payment would cause the offender undue hardship, provide the court with guidance as to what constitutes undue hardship, provide that a victim surcharge is to be paid for each offence, with an exception for certain administration of justice offences if the total amount of surcharges imposed on an offender for those types of offences would be disproportionate in the circumstances, require courts to provide reasons for granting any exception for certain administration of justice offences or any exemption from the requirement to pay a victim surcharge and clarify that the amendments described in this paragraph apply to any offender who is sentenced after the day on which they come into force, regardless of whether or not the offence was committed before that day; and 

(i) remove passages and repeal provisions that have been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada, repeal section 159 of the Act and provide that no person shall be convicted of any historical offence of a sexual nature unless the act that constitutes the offence would constitute an offence under the Criminal Code if it were committed on the day on which the charge was laid.

The enactment also amends the Youth Criminal Justice Act in order to reduce delays within the youth criminal justice system and enhance the effectiveness of that system with respect to administration of justice offences. For those purposes, the enactment amends that Act to, among other things,

(a) set out principles intended to encourage the use of extrajudicial measures and judicial reviews as alternatives to the laying of charges for administration of justice offences;

(b) set out requirements for imposing conditions on a young person’s release order or as part of a sentence;

(c) limit the circumstances in which a custodial sentence may be imposed for an administration of justice offence;

(d) remove the requirement for the Attorney General to determine whether to seek an adult sentence in certain circumstances; and

(e) remove the power of a youth justice court to make an order to lift the ban on publication in the case of a young person who receives a youth sentence for a violent offence, as well as the requirement to determine whether to make such an order.

Finally, the enactment amends among other Acts An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons) so that certain sections of that Act can come into force on different days and also makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

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

June 11, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
June 11, 2018 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (reasoned amendment)
June 11, 2018 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (subamendment)
May 29, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Corrections and Conditional Release ActGovernment Orders

October 19th, 2018 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

Greg Fergus Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-83.

One of the things that I find truly remarkable about this bill is that specific measures were taken for the rehabilitation process of inmates with mental health problems.

Before becoming an MP, I promised myself to go see things that I could not see as a regular citizen. The first such thing was to visit a military base and meet the men and women who are committed to serving the country.

The second was to visit a prison. I knew that the reality in penitentiaries was quite different from that of ordinary Canadians. In December 2016, I had the privilege of visiting a penitentiary and that experience had a real impact on me. I saw the conditions that criminals are living in. There certainly are people who deserve to be there, but they will leave prison one day. It is important to provide all the necessary services to give them the best chances to reintegrate into civil society.

I visited two men's prisons. The inmates not only have trouble obeying the law, but also have mental health issues. I am very proud that this bill will give them access to services that can help them learn to deal with their mental illness. I think a holistic, comprehensive solution to all this is key to ensuring that people have a chance to deal with their problems. In many cases, mental illness is what led these people to break the law.

That is why I am very proud to participate in this debate and support this bill. The program will enable inmates to reintegrate thanks to better services that help them deal with their mental illness.

The second reason I am so proud to participate in developing this program is that it will give us an opportunity to take a close look at issues affecting indigenous populations. As we all know, 4% of Canada's population is indigenous. I went to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, to visit the penitentiary, where the majority of the population is indigenous. In general, penitentiary populations are between 26% and 28% indigenous.

That is six to seven times higher than their demographic weight, which I think indicates a number of things. First, we need to do better with respect to many issues affecting indigenous communities. Second, systemic discrimination exists in our criminal justice system. We need to do everything we can to tackle these issues. I was very proud to hear the speech given by the Minister of Justice last June, I think, when she was introducing Bill C-75. She said that we are going to try to address this, because it is extremely important.

As a black Canadian, I am well aware that people in the black community are also victims. There were a lot of black inmates in the prison I visited in 2016, even though it was in a very remote area of Saskatchewan. This also indicates that there is a problem with systemic discrimination in our justice system. We need to address and resolve these issues. I am proud to say that the provisions of this bill will give us the opportunity to ensure that all services are provided, which is very important and can improve the chances that these individuals will be able to successfully integrate into society. That is the goal.

We are not like some people who believe that humans can be treated like animals, that you can put them in a cage, lock the door and throw away the key. That is not acceptable. That is inhumane. That view is not worthy of a civilized society such as ours. We must ensure that we properly address these issues. When people break the law, there definitely will be consequences. Those people deserve to be in jail, but we must plan for and consider the day that they will get out of jail.

We cannot just punish them. We also have to teach them how to be members of our civilized society and how to be good citizens. In order to do that, we have an obligation to ensure that they receive all services they need to better adapt and better reintegrate into our society. I encourage all my colleagues who have not yet done so to follow my lead and visit a penitentiary or a prison.

That will change their minds. That will encourage members to focus on finding solutions that will help these people to get out of jail, learn their lesson and learn to obey the laws and customs of a civil society. If they do not, there will be consequences. However, we want to ensure that these people are ultimately well reintegrated into our society. That is why I am delighted to learn that we will have services to try to help these people address their mental health issues.

JusticePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 19th, 2018 / 12:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition about Bill C-75.

Bill C-75 proposes to lighten the sentences for some very serious crimes, such as belonging to a terrorist organization, forcible confinement of a minor, forcible marriage of a child, and a number of other very serious crimes. The petitioners are calling on the Prime Minister to defend the safety and security of all Canadians by withdrawing Bill C-75.

Corrections and Conditional Release ActGovernment Orders

October 19th, 2018 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am speaking to Bill C-83 because I am concerned that the changes it would make may put in jeopardy the safety of our institutional staff and that of the inmates who are under our care and control.

I was confused when the government introduced the bill.

In February of this year, the government appealed a ruling by the B.C. Supreme Court that struck down Canada's law on indefinite solitary confinement, arguing that it needed clarity on the decision. Therefore, why is the government introducing legislation before receiving that clarity? Why are the Liberals fighting the court decision to strike down solitary confinement, while at the same time introducing legislation to do just that? Are they just changing the words and calling it a structural intervention unit?

I have a federal prison in my riding of Yellowhead, the Grande Cache Institution. It is a medium-security institution with approximately 300 employees and 240 offenders. I have a lot of respect for my constituents who work there. Working for Correctional Service Canada often means working with violent offenders. Proposed section 36 of the new act will deal with the obligations of service and the rights of prisoners in structural intervention areas. It states:

...The Service shall provide an inmate in a structured intervention unit

(a) an opportunity to spend a minimum of four hours a day outside the inmate’s cell; and

(b) an opportunity to interact, for a minimum of two hours a day, with others, through activities including, but not limited to,

(i) programs, interventions and services...

(ii) leisure time.

Proposed section 37 of the new act states that proposed section 36 does not apply if the inmate refuses or the inmate “does not comply with...instructions to ensure their safety or that of any other person or the security of the penitentiary.”

As part of their job, employees are responsible for providing a safe, secure and positive environment for offenders, which is an essential element in helping offenders reintegrate into society. However, is the government fostering a safe and secure environment for our prison guards to work within these institutions?

Solitary confinement is a common safety measure many western countries take to protect guards from dangerous and volatile prisoners. I wonder if any of our front-line workers have been consulted on taking this tool away from them. Are we properly training our guards who deal with the most dangerous of offenders, offenders with possible mental conditions and psychological problems? Are these guards being given the necessary tools and knowledge to recognize, work with, protect and, for their own safety, help reintegrate these prisoners?

I am concerned that the bill does not mention new training programs to assist prison guards in these changes or in the current programs. It is paramount that the guards dealing with the most dangerous of our offenders have the knowledge and expertise to deal with them. This is for everyone's protection and safety.

I have heard concerns from prison staff members that more training should be given to them when they are dealing with high-risk offenders, such as murderers, compared to someone serving six months for theft. We need to ensure they feel prepared and comfortable, instead of taking away the tools they use to manage inmates.

Instead of solitary confinement, the government would create structural intervention units, SIUs. Let us be fair: This is just white-washing with some finely tuned words.

Under the new SIU model, inmates who misbehave and cannot be safely managed in the mainstream population will get personal programs tailored to their own needs. Are we forgetting the protection and safety of other inmates and prison staff in order to meet the new guidelines as outlined under the SIU? The segregation of certain prisoners in some cases has been done to protect those persons from internal conflicts with other inmates because of their character or mental disposition. In other cases, it is done for legal reasons that could cause interference with an investigation that could lead to criminal charges or a charge relating to serious disciplinary offences within the institution.

Under the new act, prisoners segregated for their own safety may spend up to four hours outside their cells each day. This is where I am concerned. This will require more resources and will create longer periods for the chance of an incident to occur. The replacement of solitary confinement strips the ability of guards to use segregation for disciplinary purposes. This change will make prisons more dangerous for the guards as they deal with the worst and most volatile prisoners.

Because the guards are dealing with the most violent criminals and those who do not care to follow the prison rules, when an incident does occur, it is going to be a lot more serious and require more force. Why are we putting our front line workers at risk?

I am also concerned that these prisoners who are segregated for their own safety may demand equal opportunities under the new act. This may open up an opportunity for their safety to be jeopardized and also put the safety of our guards in question.

This is just another example of the Liberals going soft on criminals and showing indifference to everyone else. Once again, the Liberals are prioritizing the rights of Canada's most violent and dangerous criminals.

Let me remind everyone of Bill C-75, which proposes sweeping changes to the Criminal Code and reduces the penalties of crimes to fines. Through Bill C-75, the Liberals are reducing penalties for terrorism, gang members, prison breaches, human trafficking, and the list goes on and on. It is not a surprise to me that the Liberal government is now prioritizing the rights of convicted and violent criminals inside our prison system.

Another aspect of the bill that I find deeply concerning is the new provision that would allow the commissioner to sub-designate parts of institutions to be a different level of security. It reads:

The Commissioner may assign the security classification of “minimum security”, “medium security”, “maximum security” or “multi-level security”, or any other prescribed security classification, to each penitentiary or to any area in a penitentiary.

Theoretically, could the commissioner authorize that a room, say in a healing lodge, to be designated as maximum or medium security by adding an extra lock on the door? There needs to be clarification on whether this is to be used as a temporary measure or if this is a declaration that can be made indefinitely of an area. If so, what is the security protocol that would be put in place to change an “area” to a higher designation than the rest of the facility? Under what circumstances would it be used?

This provision will lead to more cases where higher security prisoners are allowed into lower security spaces, all based on technicalities. Why are we allowing prisoners who should be in maximum or medium-security facilities into lower designated facilities?

I agree with one part of the bill, and that is body scanners. Already in use in the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario, body scanners should be used to scan prisoners in federal institutions. The more effective we can be in our searches, the better. That means fewer drugs, weapons and other contraband entering our prison systems.

I wonder why the government decided to stop there, though. Why only scan prisoners? In 2014, the CBC broadcast an article on the statistics of contraband entering prisons. The data obtained by CBC showed that corrections seized almost 9,000 unauthorized and contraband items, up almost 2,000 from a few years earlier. That was an increase of 20%. The article noted:

CSC spokesman Jonathan Schofield said the spike is due to enhanced security measures brought in to stem the flow of drugs and other contraband into institutions, including increased searches, random urine tests, and tools such as metal detectors, X-rays, drug-detecting ion scanners and dogs.

Howard Sapers, the former correctional investigator of Canada, said that likely sources of contraband included other people coming in to the prison and sometimes even trusted personnel.

Maybe we should be using body scanners to scan everyone, not just the prisoners, entering our institutions. This will help ensure that everyone inside the institution, prisoners, staff and visitors, all have a safe and secure environment in which to live and work. There are different types of body scanners, some detect drugs, others detect metal. We use them in our airports, and there is no reason we cannot use the most sophisticated equipment in our jail system.

I am not in favour of the recently announced needle exchange program and a good scanning system would eliminate the need for such a program.

We must remember that any legislation brought in that changes how we manage our prisons must take into consideration the safety of our government employees and the safety of other inmates within our institutions. This to me is paramount over catering to the needs of convicted criminals. We must remember they are there because they have committed crimes and are being punished for those crimes. Yes, they have rights to a certain extent, but our institutions are not summer camps or recreational retreats.

Corrections and Conditional Release ActGovernment Orders

October 19th, 2018 / 10:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of concerns.

The member mentioned in her speech that extensive consultations were done, but my understanding is that the government did not consult with the union of correctional officers, who certainly will be impacted.

In addition to that, I am concerned about the Liberal direction of making life easier for criminals, beginning with Bill C-51 and then Bill C-75, where penalties for very serious crimes, such as forcible confinement of a minor and terrorism, were dropped. The government has brought ISIS terrorists back and now is trying to make life easier for criminals.

Why are the Liberals doing that as a priority?

Corrections and Conditional Release ActGovernment Orders

October 18th, 2018 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with my remarkable colleague from Cariboo—Prince George. I use the word “remarkable” because the word “incredible” has been overused for him recently.

I am proud to speak today to Bill C-83, which amends the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another act. This is also known as another case of Liberals putting interests of criminals ahead of everyone else, with little thought put into it. It should not be confused with Liberal Bill C-71, or Bill C-75, or Bill C-28, or any other myriad number of bills in which they have put criminal rights ahead of those of regular citizens.

We all know the horrific story of the case of Ashley Smith and her unfortunate death. That never should have happened within our prison system, and the government should make moves to prevent situations like that from recurring. However, it should not impose a poorly thought-out, outright ban on segregation.

There are some good parts to the bill and I congratulate the government on it. I support the idea of body scans to prevent contraband and drugs coming into prisons, but it should be extended to everyone entering the prison, not just certain people. I also like that it gives more consideration to indigenous offenders.

But, and it is a big but, there are a few key points in the bill that would directly impact the safety and security of our corrections officers and those who need segregation for their own safety. This is another example of the government's obsession with making criminals' lives easier while making our front-line officers' jobs more dangerous.

I want to talk about the reality of the most common use of segregation. Inmates who commit crimes in prison do not always get the segregation. Very often, it is the victims who are segregated to protect them from those inmates. It is often used as a means of ensuring the safety of the targeted inmate from further assault, often because the target does not want to name the inmate who assaulted them. This means the assaults continue and the inmate who went into a segregation unit has to eventually reintegrate somewhere else in another unit or institution, or even in another region in the country.

It is relatively uncommon that segregation is ordered as a disciplinary sanction. In fact, most inmates view segregation time as a holiday rather than a consequence, especially since they must receive all their possessions, such as a television and their other belongings on their property card, within 24 hours of admission.

A report from CBC that came out last April quoted the Ontario Public Service Employees Union as saying that segregation isn't the deterrent it once was, because the maximum time inmates can spend in segregation has been halved and increased privileges for those in segregation mean that inmates are no longer as skittish about being sent there. It also confirmed that in fact there are not enough segregation units, at least in Ontario, because most are being used by inmates who have mental health issues.

That is the provincial system, but it correlates to the federal system as well. It leaves violent inmates out in the general population, where they can continue to commit assaults against other inmates and corrections officers themselves.

Another CBC report quotes an officer as saying, “Where [the more violent inmates] used to be in separate containers, now they're all in one bag, and we're just waiting for one to go off. And that sets the rest of them off and you end up with murders, stabbings, slashing, and officer injuries higher than ever.”

Another officer is quoted as saying, “The inmates, they can get away with a lot more than they used to in the past, and that contributes to the growing violence and the crisis in corrections.”

As I mentioned, with previous changes to segregation policies the maximum time in segregation has already been cut in half. Also, the increase in privileges available to those in segregation means it is not as strong a deterrent as it used to be. All removing segregation does, especially disciplinary segregation, is soften reprisals for bad behaviour. Inmates know there is one less tool for correctional officers to use to maintain order and ensure their own safety and that of other inmates.

A CBC report from September 2017 indicated that the stricter limits on segregation have led to a massive upswing in inmate assaults. Between 2012 and 2017, the number of violent repeat offences after leaving segregation increased 50%.

Statistics released recently for corrections in Ontario show close to 800 reported incidents in 2016. By halfway through 2017, the last time we had the numbers available, there were almost as many violent incidents in our prisons. The report quotes Jason Godin, president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, who pointed out that segregation is a tool for a reason and that restrictive policies only transfer the problem of violence.

The creation and integration of structured intervention units makes violent and non-violent inmates equal, regardless of the quality of their conduct while they serve their time. They get access to four hours per day outside their cells from the structured units, and they also get two hours of “significant human contact”. This is going to require significant increases in resources for the officers, but there is no money set aside for this.

Now, every time someone is moved into segregation, or out of segregation for their two hours out in the open, it requires two officers to accompany them. That is for the safety of the officers, to ensure they always have enough manpower to protect themselves. Where is this money going to come from?

If we look at the government's departmental plan signed by the Minister of Public Safety, allowing for inflation it is actually cutting 8.8% of the funding to Correctional Service Canada over the next four years. Where is this money coming from?

I am sure the minister did not even look at the plan before he signed off on it, and I am sure my colleagues across the way have not read the plan either. It actually calls for a reduction in officers in Correctional Service Canada over the next years, but it is going to increase the workload and the costs of these units with what money? We do not know.

The officers themselves are left with one less tool that allows them to deter assaults and violence from taking place in the cellblocks. Corrections officers already face a host of challenges. Even though it is their choice to work in these jobs, keep in mind that these men and women are still in a prison themselves. They are subjected to the same environment that the inmates are.

Statistics from a 2018 report prepared for the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers show that between 60% and 65% of correctional officers report their work has a negative impact on their life away from work. A substantial proportion of correctional officers, about 75%, report that the psychological demands of their job have increased in the last five years. Nearly 55% of long-serving officers report that their physical ability to properly do their work is worse or much worse in the last few years. The report summarizes:

[T]here is a particularly poor fit between interest in work and the psychological and mental disposition of [the] officers...on the one hand, and the environment and working conditions set out and maintained by CSC, on the other. Such a poor fit cannot go on forever, nor be ignored, other than to the detriment of both the correctional officers...as well as public interest as embodied in CSC's mandate and social mission.

I want to look at an another area where the government has failed our corrections officers. They are one of the main victims of the Liberal Phoenix fiasco. Roughly 85% of corrections officers across the country have been affected by Phoenix. This is because many of them are shift workers with irregular schedules that require manual entry into the system, something the government could have prevented had it not botched the entire rollout.

In fact, the Treasury Board was specifically told this was a failure in the Phoenix system when it was doing the pre-testing, yet the government chose to ignore it, just like the President of the Treasury Board ignored the Gartner report when it advised not to proceed with Phoenix.

I find it very amusing that the President of the Treasury Board justifies his meddling in the Davie supply ship contract on behalf of Irving as part of his job, but apparently it was not part of his job to act on the Gartner report on Phoenix, which, by the way, he commissioned himself.

The UCCO president has already called for help for its members because, like many public servants, they are renegotiating their mortgages and taking out loans to ensure they can keep a roof over their heads because of the pay problems. Unfortunately, we do not see an end in sight for those suffering from the Phoenix pay problems.

I want to talk about the government's priorities. I mentioned before that its priorities seems to be on criminals, not on average Canadians. Page 210 of last year's budget proposes $21.4 million for the mental health needs of RCMP officers and the same amount for the mental health needs of federal inmates. There are a lot more RCMP officers than there are inmates. For the average RCMP officer, the people putting their lives on the line every day and fighting for us, we have from the government $1,100 per officer for mental health. For prisoners, it is $1,400. Where is the justice?

Of 1,400 words in the CSC's much-ballyhooed mandate letter, the first time a corrections services lead has had a mandate letter, there were 24 words on victims and 52 on the workers. Those 52 words on the workers included such gems as, “I encourage you to instill within CSC a culture of ongoing self-reflection.”

There are the government's priorities in a nutshell: more money for criminals, less for the RCMP and for our valued officers in the prisons. Perhaps it is time for self-reflection on the issue.

JusticePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 17th, 2018 / 3:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition about Bill C-75, which proposes to lighten the sentences on some very serious crimes.

The petitioners are calling on the Prime Minister to defend the safety and security of all Canadians, and to withdraw Bill C-75.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

October 16th, 2018 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I am honoured to have the opportunity to talk about Bill C-65, which deals with workplace harassment and violence.

Violence against women is not new. While I would like to believe that in a predominantly rural riding like mine in eastern Ontario violence against women is an urban problem, we know that is not the case. Violence against women continues to be a fact of life in Canada and in rural Renfrew County.

Carol Culleton, Nathalie Warmerdam, and Anastasia Kuzyk were killed on September 22, 2015. Their killer was known to all of the women and to police for a long history of violence. He had been released from prison just shortly before the murders. The system failed these women.

On average in Canada, one woman is killed by her intimate partner every five days. The man arrested and accused of their murders had a long criminal history, including charges involving two of the three women. I am not prepared to let Carol, Nathalie, Anastasia and all the other women who have been murdered by their intimate partners die in vain. My memory of their senseless murders pushes me to speak out in this debate.

When I was first elected in 2000, I immediately recognized the transient and precarious nature of politics in general, and Parliament Hill in particular. For a female in a new political party with an evolving political culture, my position was even more precarious. Uncertainty after each election, and with the change in assignments in the ebb and flow of duties, was compounded by the hierarchical nature of Canadian politics and the fact that we serve at pleasure.

To quote one of my colleagues:

At any moment, everyone here weighs the opportunity cost of making a complaint or committing an non-acquiescent action with the threat of quiet dismissal, being overlooked for a promotion, being shuffled out of a spot, having a nomination candidate quietly run against us, or not having our nomination papers signed at all.

She went on to say:

To say that there is a power imbalance here is an understatement. Further, for all the talk of feminism and pursual of women's rights, there is not gender equality in the broader context of Parliament Hill. Women are still used as photo-op props, included for quotas or optics without having the authority of real decision-making automatically attached to their perceived utility. For that, women have to fight, and fight hard, and put up with being accused of not being a team player, or being an “insert choice of gender expletive here” when they do. That is only for those of us who are lucky enough to have built a platform and a profile that allows us to do that without those in the top tiers of power having to take a bit of damage in order to suppress our voices.

When this legislation was debated in the House of Commons previously, I did not have an opportunity to be part of this discussion. I was successfully defending my right to represent my party in the next federal election.

Bill C-65 is being supported by the Conservative Party. Today we are discussing amendments made by the other place, which allows for a re-examination of the legislation and the context in which it has been brought forward. At the time the legislation was previously in this chamber, it was presented by the government as partisan politics being set aside for a common purpose. All parliamentarians were prepared, or so I thought, to stand together and send a strong message to all Canadians that workplace harassment and sexual violence are unacceptable and that they will not be tolerated any longer, period.

It was that implied spirit of co-operation that encouraged my party to support Bill C-65. As a long-standing female member of Parliament, I am very cognizant of my position as a role model. I am reminded of my responsibility as a positive role model by the Daughters of the Vote program.

Young women are smart enough to spot a hypocrite when they see one. All parliamentarians have a responsibility to be a positive role model, starting with the Prime Minister.

I was hopeful that Bill C-65 would not be just another example of virtue signalling by the Liberal Party, where the Prime Minister directs his attack dog Gerald Butts to throw social media mud from the political ditch he occupies while claiming to take the high road. Subsequent events have proven me wrong.

Sexual violence and harassment in the workplace are nothing new.

I was particularly encouraged by the comments made by newly elected members of Parliament on the government side, such as the member for Oakville North—Burlington, who talked about taking a stand together. She shared her personal experience of harassment and bullying on Parliament Hill when she worked as a staffer prior to seeking elected office. She made reference to the #MeToo movement, #AfterMeToo and Time's Up and to having the courage and the strength to speak out and be a positive role model. In that context, her brave words in the House of Commons and her subsequent total capitulation to the Gerald Butts, “Kokanee grope” talking points were all the greater disappointment.

The greatest disappointment in this entire discussion has been the deafening silence from the female caucus on the government benches, who have quietly condoned the Prime Minister's behaviour with their silence. Not one female Liberal MP rose to defend the female reporter who was subjected to an unwanted sexual advance by the Prime Minister in her workplace. Not one government MP rose to demand a coherent explanation of what the Prime Minister admitted to doing when he belatedly provided an apology to the young female reporter who was the subject of his unwanted advance.

Enabling bad behaviour almost guarantees that it will continue. After all, is that not the subject of Bill C-65, which is what we are discussing here today? Silence is tacit approval.

Certainly in my career as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, spanning six elections over 18 years, I have experienced sexual harassment and bullying. It would be impossible to find a woman in politics who is not expected to put up with misogynist fools like Dan Leger or the tiresome Dick Mercer, let alone similar dinosaur attitudes in their own parties.

From the time Bill C-65 passed third reading and returned from the other place with amendments, something has changed. Canadians learned something about the leader of the Liberal Party. Canadians learned that the Prime Minister admitted to groping a young woman reporter at a music festival before he sought elected office. This is a very important discovery.

Unlike the recent events in the United States during the confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh about alleged events before he started his professional career, the Prime Minister has avoided a rigorous examination of his inappropriate behaviour.

South of the border, the Prime Minister has been referred to as the Bill Clinton of the great white north.

The Prime Minister had an opportunity. Rather than making up one answer, the Prime Minister chose to come up with a series of tortured explanations for the groping allegation against him. Constantly changing his story, he had an opportunity to come clean with Canadians.

In the process, the Prime Minister dodged questions about the need to call an investigation on his own conduct, the way he did with Liberal MPs Scott Andrews and Massimo Pacetti in his caucus, who faced similar allegations in the past and were removed from the Liberal Party.

The Prime Minister has single-handedly “terribly set back”, to quote Kathleen Finlay, founder of the Zero Now campaign to fight sexual misconduct in the workplace, progress on women's issues.

Ms. Finlay said:

He went from saying he had a good day and sort of smiling about it, and dismissing it that way...and then he went on to explain it, in a tortured explanation about different perceptions, how men and women can perceive things differently. And from where I was sitting, that just re-opened the whole “he said, she said” kind of explanation...which is something women who have suffered incidents of sexual misconduct do not want to hear.

The incident was first published in an editorial in the Creston Valley Advance, a community newspaper in British Columbia. The Prime Minister, who was in Creston to attend the Kokanee Summit festival, put on by the Columbia Brewery, admitted later to inappropriately groping the reporter while she was on assignment.

In addition to being on assignment for the Creston Valley Advance, the female reporter was also on assignment for the National Post and the Vancouver Sun. While her connection to the big city newspapers may have prompted remorse after the fact, that is a topic for a proper investigation.

The incident resurfaced online, including in a scandal magazine earlier this year. The allegation came into wider circulation the first week of June, when photos of the Creston Valley Advance editorial were widely shared on social media, and it received further comments when prominent online media outlets reported on it that same week.

The now former female reporter for the Creston Valley Advance community newspaper, the Vancouver Sun and the National Post confirmed that the Prime Minister groped her, or in his words, “inappropriately handling”, while she was on assignment at the festival.

After the incident, she wrote an unsigned editorial blasting the Prime Minister for his misconduct. The editorial did say that the Prime Minister told the female reporter that had he known the reporter was working for a national paper, he never would have been so forward.

The reporter wrote this about the Prime Minister:

...shouldn't the son of a former prime minister be aware of the rights and wrongs that go along with public socializing? Didn't he learn, through his vast experiences in public life, that groping a strange young woman isn't in the handbook of proper etiquette, regardless of who she is, what her business is or where they are?

After the incident, the female reporter, who is not in journalism anymore, held meetings with Valerie Bourne, the then publisher, and Brian Bell, the then editor of the newspaper, and communicated her displeasure about the Prime Minister's conduct. In a statement, the female reporter said she reluctantly went public to identify herself and to confirm the incident because of numerous media requests. She would not offer any comment or take part in any discussion on the subject, she said, adding that the incident happened as reported.

This is what the Prime Minister stated on CBC Radio, on January 30, 2018, before details of the groping incident were reported in the national and international media. He stated:

I've been very, very careful all my life to be thoughtful, to be respectful of people's space and people's headspace as well. This is something that I'm not new to. I've been working on issues around sexual assault for over 25 years.

My first activism and engagement was at the sexual assault centre at McGill students' society where I was one of the first male facilitators in their outreach program leading conversations—sometimes very difficult ones—on the issues of consent, communications, accountability, power dynamics.

To connect the dots, it was after the Prime Minister left university in Quebec when the groping incident occurred.

The following is from the newspaper editorial following the groping incident. It states:

It’s not a rare incident to have a young reporter, especially a female who is working for a small community newspaper, be considered an underling to their ‘more predominant’ associates and blatantly disrespected because of it. But shouldn’t the son of a former prime minister be aware of the rights and wrongs that go along with public socializing? Didn’t he learn through his vast experiences in public life, that groping a strange young woman isn’t in the handbook of proper etiquette, regardless of who she is, what her business is, or where they are?

And what makes the fact that she was working for the Post of any relevance? Big stories break first in community newspapers after all.

It may not have been an earth-shattering find, but one thing could have been learned from the experience. Like father, like son?

That was from the Creston Valley Advance, Monday, August 14, 2000.

What are Canadians expected to take away from this incident of groping that took place between the Prime Minister and a young female reporter? First and foremost, this incident is about hypocrisy, saying one thing and applying a different set of rules to one's own behaviour. It is about believing women, until it happens, then it is deny and hope that the clock runs out on the media cycle.

It has been noted by the CBC that there is no dispute that this incident happened. In 2018, the excuse “I did not think I was doing anything wrong” does not pass the smell test. Worst of all, the Prime Minister has shown no ability to grow with the job and learn from his mistake. Women in Canada deserve better from a Prime Minister who claims to be a feminist.

What this incident has also taught Canadians is that they cannot trust the Prime Minister, when he tells the public he is doing one thing but legislatively does another. It was finally figured out by the temporary socialist government of Alberta that the current government has no intention of seeing any pipelines built, let alone the Trans Mountain pipeline. In response, the NDP in Alberta pulled its support for the scam carbon tax, which is all about getting the provinces to take the blame for raising taxes while using the environment as an excuse to raise taxes.

If dragging the government's feet on this issue somehow does not work, Bill C-69 will be sure to suffocate any resource project from going forward.

There are ethics rules for parliamentarians, versus the Prime Minister's trip to a tropical island. When the Ethics Commissioner rules that opposition members are in violation of the rules, charges are laid by the RCMP. Where are the charges against the Prime Minister for his breaches of the code of ethics for parliamentarians?

In public, the Prime Minister claims that his government is going to crack down on guns and gangs but it cranks out Bill C-71 instead, which cracks down on law-abiding citizens who are already obeying the law. Then there is Bill C-75, which would soften the penalties for gang violence, among other atrocities.

The biggest lie of all is the Prime Minister's betrayal of veterans. It was announced by the government that no Canadian Armed Forces personnel would be medically released until their benefits were in place, yet last week, not only was it confirmed that soldiers are being released without their pension amounts and benefits confirmed but that soldiers should be told to wait longer.

In the last election, the Prime Minister claimed that the problem was that there were not enough offices open to service veterans. The government went ahead and spent funds intended for veterans to open offices in government ridings, and it now tells veterans that it has just doubled the official wait time, if they even qualify.

How much is the political decision to direct shipbuilding contracts going to cost Canadians?

I had high hopes for Bill C-65. It now appears that Canadians will be disappointed, as they have been disappointed with everything else this Prime Minister has touched.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2018 / 5:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Madam Speaker, it is true that the record of the current government has not been a particularly positive one when it comes to standing up for victims. The fact that we have now waited three years for this bill to be introduced is instructive.

We see another bill before the House right now, Bill C-75, which would water down sentences for serious indictable offences. We saw the government defeat a private member's bill, introduced by the hon. member for Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d'Orléans—Charlevoix, Bill C-343, which would have made the victims ombudsman truly independent by making the position an independent officer of parliament rather than one housed within the Department of Justice. Finally, we saw the failure of the current government to fill the victims ombudsman position for nearly a year.

Contrast that with the prisoners ombudsman. It took the government a matter of two weeks to fill the position of the prisoners ombudsman. It was two weeks for the prisoners ombudsman and one year for the victims ombudsman. It speaks to the priorities of the government.

National Defence ActGovernment Orders

October 15th, 2018 / 4:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a great honour for me to rise in the House to debate Bill C-77.

I would like to begin by thanking the previous Conservative government for its excellent work on the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, which was an important first step in advancing victims' rights in Canada. Next, I would like to thank the former minister of justice in the Conservative government, Peter MacKay, for his excellent work on the act that enacted the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. Finally, I would also like to thank the previous minister of national defence, Jason Kenney, for his work on the Victims Rights in the Military Justice System Act.

Unfortunately, this last bill did not reach second reading stage. These two bills prove that the previous Conservative government has always been committed to defending victims, and that the Conservative Party will always uphold this principle in its justice policies. Unfortunately, that is not the case for the Liberal government.

The current government introduced Bill C-75, which reduces penalties for offences such as membership in a criminal organization and administering a noxious thing. This government is also the one that refused to send Terri-Lynne McClintic, a child murderer, back to prison. It was also this government that awarded benefits intended for veterans to the man who killed Constable Campbell. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister was telling veterans that they were asking for too much. This government always seems to side with criminals, even when the right thing to do, morally speaking, seems obvious.

This bill is very important to victims' rights in Canada. It provides victims with very important protections. For instance, the bill guarantees victims' privacy in crimes of a sexual nature. It also provides additional protections for victims under the age of 18. Thus, the bill will protect the rights of vulnerable witnesses by allowing them to testify using a pseudonym and providing them with other supports.

These are important reforms, because they provide victims with the resources they need to understand the legal process and feel safe as the process unfolds. It is also important to show victims that they are not alone and that people are available to help them through this extraordinarily difficult time.

Looking at Bill C-77, it is quite clear that the Liberals took inspiration from the previous Conservative government. The wording of the bill is identical to that of the bill introduced by the previous Conservative government. I am very pleased that the Liberals have decided to copy the Conservative bill. That was the right thing to do, and it would be nice if they did more of that.

Obviously, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party are not the same, so the two bills do have some differences, although they share the same objectives. That is why I would like to see this bill referred to committee, so we can look at how to improve it and come to an agreement between the Liberals and Conservatives.

This bill is a good start, and I would like it to go to committee so it can be improved.

The committee should also study this bill carefully to ensure that each provision complies with the Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and to ensure that there are no deficiencies in this bill.

I hope that the committee will make substantive amendments to improve the bill.

I will vote in favour of this bill, so that it can be sent to committee for a more thorough review.

We have a bill here, Bill C-77, that adopts in many respects the work done in the previous Parliament by the then defence minister and future premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney. The bill began a process, and it is good to see that occasionally the Liberal government sees the wisdom of continuing the good work Conservatives have done. The Liberals have often been reluctant to recognize the heritage they bring forward in these cases, but nonetheless, we will accept that even if they need to engage in some reinvention of the record about the trajectory of this issue, we see some progress being made on initiatives that were carried out previously.

The unfortunate thing about the current government is that this one bill dealing with the rights of victims is so out of step with the vast majority of the Liberals' agenda. It is curious to hear members of the government talk about victims, because in so many other debates on so many other bills we deal with in the House—sometimes on opposition day motions that we put forward, as well as legislative initiatives—we hardly hear the Liberals talk about the rights of victims.

There are many issues where we need to recognize the problems specifically created by the current government when it comes to the rights of victims. We see legislation coming forward to weaken sentencing. We see perverse outcomes and the failure of the government to intervene. I note in particular the opposition day motion that we put forward that no members of the government had the courage to vote in favour of, even though I am sure they were hearing from their constituents about it. Coming off a constituency work week, that is one of the things I was hearing about again and again from different constituents. Many people were very engaged with the particulars of that issue, because they understood that having a convicted murderer in a facility where there is no fence and children are present is obviously inappropriate. I think Canadians of all backgrounds and all political persuasions understood that, but unfortunately our colleagues across the way do not seem to share in it. We did not see a single Liberal stand up for the protection of society and for victims in that case. They could have done much better; unfortunately, they did not.

There are other areas where we see a lack of regard for the protection of victims, namely the backlogs that the Liberals have allowed to emerge in our justice system. My colleague from St. Albert—Edmonton raised this issue right at the beginning of this Parliament, the fact of court delays and the lack of a government response to actually do its job of ensuring that we have judges in place so that cases can move through in a timely way and that people who have committed a crime actually pay the consequences. We have seen this problem exacerbated by the continued lack of effective response by the government. This is important to Canadians and to victims. Of course, we have the failure of the government to effectively respond to the issue of ISIS or Daesh fighters who are coming back to Canada. Again, the government has not responded by taking seriously the needs of society and potential victims, and so forth.

While I am pleased to support Bill C-77 through to committee, I wish that the Liberals would adopt more of our Conservative legislation and more of our respect for victims. I will not hold my breath, but here is hoping.

Public SafetyPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

October 15th, 2018 / 3:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition in regards to Bill C-75, an enormous 302-page omnibus bill, which proposes lightening sentences on such things as obstructing or violence to or arrest of officiating clergymen participating in terrorist activities, impaired driving causing bodily harm, polygamy, marriage under the age of 15 years and forcible confinement of minors.

The petitioners call on the Prime Minister to defend the safety and security of all Canadians as well as the rights of victims by withdrawing Bill C-75.

JusticeOral Questions

October 5th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
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Vancouver Granville B.C.

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, without question, our hearts go out to the family of Constable Beckett in this tragedy.

I will say that our government is incredibly proud to have introduced and passed legislation that is among the toughest impaired driving laws in the world. I will say, with respect to Bill C-75, that it does not in any way, shape or form change the principles of sentencing, which are proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the grave responsibility of the offender.

What Bill C-75 does is that it gives prosecutors the necessary discretion to determine—

JusticeOral Questions

October 5th, 2018 / 11:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, Constable Sarah Beckett paid the ultimate sacrifice when she was killed in the line of duty by an impaired driver.

This week her husband, Brad Aschenbrenner, spoke out against Bill C-75, which waters down sentences for impaired driving causing bodily harm.

Will the Liberals listen to Sarah's husband and other victims, and remove from Bill C-75 the watering down of sentences for this serious crime?

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

October 4th, 2018 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's comments regarding Bill C-75.

in the course of the member's speech, he talked about the fact that in most circumstances it is in the best interests of the child to have both parents involved in the child's development and for there to be ongoing contact and support with both parents. One of the criticisms some have put forward with respect to Bill C-78 is it would not provide for a presumption of shared parenting. As the hon. member for Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek noted, sometimes shared parenting is not in the interests of the child. Would the member agree that perhaps one flaw of the bill is that it does not contain a provision for a rebuttable presumption for shared parenting?

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

October 4th, 2018 / 4 p.m.
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Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Mr. Speaker, as I have said about the bill, it is largely laudable. The unified court is a good thing.

Again, we have to hold the interests of the child at heart. That is the best part of the bill. Divorces can absolutely ruin children for life. I think we are on the right track, but we should also be consistent. If we are looking out for the interests of the child, let us look out for the interests of the child not just in this bill but also in Bill C-75.

Divorce ActGovernment Orders

October 4th, 2018 / 3:50 p.m.
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Conservative

Kerry Diotte Conservative Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Mr. Speaker, we all know that divorce is a very terrible thing. It can be a traumatic experience for families, children and parents. However, when it does occur, it really is imperative that the best interests of children should be at the heart of any divorce proceeding they may be caught up in.

According to the 2016 census, more than two million Canadian children are now living in separated or divorced families and 38% of the five million separations and divorces in Canada between 1991 and 2011 involved a child. Therefore, divorce has, sadly, become a regular part of the lives of everyday Canadians. With this legislation, we really have a duty to try to minimize the trauma of divorce as much as possible, especially on children.

Overall, the intention of Bill C-78 is good. I am especially glad to hear the legislation will be centred on the child. Too often, children become pawns in bitter divorces. We have all heard those heart-wrenching horror stories.

A woman near and dear to my heart has been going through a living hell, battling to get what is best for her daughter for years after her divorce. Under shared custody, the daughter was succeeding in school and attending regularly, especially when she was at her mother's home. However, at subsequent family court appearances, the daughter's dad managed to convince the family court it would be in the best interest to have the daughter spend all of her time at his residence. After that happened, the teenage daughter's marks plummeted. She missed a ridiculous amount of school and got into trouble with police. It is a very sad story.

Despite fighting tirelessly in family court, this woman's daughter is now hopelessly alienated because one parent wanted to punish the other. This child was used as a weapon and essentially brainwashed by one parent to punish the other parent. This daughter will now no longer speak to her mother, her grandmother, her aunts, uncles or young nieces and nephews, who absolutely adore her.

Alienation is one of the most terrible things that can be inflicted upon a child. It is something that can literally ruin a person's life and could take years of psychological help to overcome.

Part of the problem I have witnessed in family court is people who appear there do not even testify under oath. Remarkably, there is no requirement to actually tell the truth. Therefore, how can a judge truly make a correct decision in the best interests of the child if there is little or no ability to compel people to tell the truth? It is really quite ludicrous and it is no wonder that some people criticize family courts as kangaroo courts.

That is also why subsection 16(10) of the act is an important first step and states the principle that children should have as much contact with each parent within the confines of their best interest. It also takes into account the willingness of the parent to facilitate visitation as a consideration in custody disputes. It is a move that will penalize parents who, for petty reasons, try to limit visitation and access of the child or children to the other parent. It is a positive first step to ensure that even in acrimonious divorces, the best interests of the child are always first and foremost, and that is as it should be.

Promoting the use of alternative dispute resolutions, such as divorce mediation, to settle divorce cases is also an encouraging move. It should help make divorce proceedings as amicable as possible in very bitter situations at times.

Being caught up in the middle of an acrimonious divorce is never in the best interests of children. Therefore, taking steps to create a valuable alternative to litigation in family court is a sensible idea. It obviously would not solve the worst of cases, like the case I mentioned, but it is a start. If done correctly, it could have a meaningful impact for millions of Canadians.

Ultimately, Canadian children are best served when the custody and divorce proceedings are as harmonious as possible, with both parents having a meaningful relationship with their children.

A third important part of the legislation is the introduction of measures on combatting domestic violence and child abuse. That is a laudable goal. Having dispute mechanisms and courts taking into consideration domestic violence and child abuse is imperative, considering the move to a more dual parenting framework.

As I stated before, it is always in the best interests of the child to have both of their parents having meaningful relationships. That, however, is definitely not the case in situations where one of the parents is violent, neglectful or abusive. I see the government is committed to creating 39 new judicial positions in Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. That is another positive step, especially considering the extraordinarily slow pace the current government has taken in appointing badly needed new justices and judges. Let us certainly hope they appoint them a lot faster than they have been filling other judicial vacancies.

Unfortunately, my colleagues across the aisle's support of the best interests of children rings somewhat hollow. Let us talk about another case from the headlines about which everybody is talking.

It is the case of Terri-Lynn McClintic, a convicted child murderer who is now living at a healing lodge. Canadians are saying, loudly and clearly, that she should be back behind bars. The Liberals are refusing to act on that, saying that the Conservatives are ambulance chasers, that we are just creating this whole controversy and that it is very low of us. However, all we are doing is reflecting on what the father wants. He has spoken about it very clearly on CBC and other media.

For instance, I just am not sure how it can be said that promoting the best interests of the child is best served. She was murdered. The Liberals talk about promoting the best interests of the child in this legislation, yet her murderer is not even behind bars. She is in a healing lodge. Would Tori's best interests not be ensured by her murderer being held behind bars?

I also do not see how having a child murderer at a healing lodge is in the best interests of the children who are often present there, yet this is the position the members across the way supported in votes. It is really enraging Canadians. One day there is what seems to be a flippant disregard for what is Tori Stafford's best interests and the best interests of children at that healing lodge. Then on the next day we hear the Liberals' talking points about this bill and how much they care about children. It is rather shameful, to be honest.

This is also the case with Bill C-75, the government's new crime bill. Again, l am not sure how many parts of that bill mesh with the priority of the best interests of the child, which my colleagues across the aisle seem to believe today. How is giving a mere fine in the best interests of children who are forced into marriage, or marriage under the age of 16 or the abduction of a child under the age of 16? How does that act in the best interests of the child? I fail to see that.

How do any of these reforms put the interests of the child first? Very simply put, I do not believe they do and that it is not the government's position. If the minister would like to truly put children first, as she should, I recommend she do so in a consistent manner and go forward from there.