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

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.

Sponsor

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

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 a term of 14 years or more 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) re-enact the victim surcharge regime and provide the court with the discretion to waive a victim surcharge if the court is satisfied that the victim surcharge would cause the offender undue hardship or would be disproportionate to the gravity of the offence or the degree of responsibility of the offender; 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 19, 2019 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments to 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 19, 2019 Passed Motion for closure
Dec. 3, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption 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
Nov. 20, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage 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
Nov. 20, 2018 Failed 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 (report stage amendment)
Nov. 20, 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
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

Consideration of Senate AmendmentsCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 1:35 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I am very happy to be participating in today's debate on Bill C-51. I find it unfortunate, however, that the government has again had to resort to time allocation on a justice bill. The bill passed the House of Commons. I was certainly one of the members who voted in favour of it. However, I find myself in the awkward position of actually agreeing with what the Senate has done to the bill, because it very much mirrors the attempt I made at the justice committee last year to codify the nature of consent and provide a bit more definition in the Criminal Code.

Before I get to the Senate amendments more specifically, I want to talk more generally about the government's record on justice bills. While I do have a great deal of respect for the Minister of Justice and I very much agreed at the start of the government's mandate with what she was attempting to do, the pace of legislative change from the Minister of Justice has been anything but satisfactory. We started off with Bill C-14. It received a lot of attention and debate in Canada, as it should have, but we have to remember that the only reason the government moved ahead with Bill C-14 and we passed it in 2016 was that the government was operating under a Supreme Court imposed deadline. There was really no choice in the matter. Furthermore, when Bill C-14 was passed, we very nearly had a standoff with the Senate because of the provision in the bill about reasonable death occurring in a predetermined amount of time. We knew that that particular section would be challenged in the court system.

The other substantive piece of legislation the government has passed is Bill C-46, which was designed to move in conjunction with Bill C-45. Of course, Bill C-46 was problematic because the government has now removed the need for reasonable suspicion for police officers to administer a Breathalyzer test. They can basically do it whenever a person is legally stopped, whether it be for a broken tail light or for not stopping completely at a stop sign. If an officer has a Breathalyzer test on their person, they can demand a breath sample right then and there, without the need for reasonable suspicion. I have seen mandatory alcohol screening operate in other countries, notably Australia.

In my attempt to amend that bill, I stated that if we were going to apply such a draconian measure, it should be applied equally, because if we start giving police officers the ability to decide when or where to test someone, we know from the statistics, notably from the City of Toronto, that people of a certain skin colour are more apt to be stopped by the police than others. If such a provision were to be implemented, it should be applied equally at all times.

Moving on, there is Bill C-28, which deals with the victim surcharge, but is still languishing in purgatory at first reading.

The government then moved forward with a number of cleanups of the Criminal Code, the so-called zombie or inoperative provisions and the many redundant sections of the Criminal Code. That is the thing about the Criminal Code: It is littered with out-of-date provisions that are inoperable because of Supreme Court or appellate court rulings, but they are still faithfully reprinted every single year because Parliament has not done its work to clean up the Criminal Code. As my college the member for St. Albert—Edmonton has noted, it has led to some very bad consequences, notably in the Travis Vader case, where the judge used an inoperative section of the Criminal Code to convict someone. That conviction was then overturned. So these section do have very real consequences.

My contention has always been with section 159, which was brought forward in Bill C-32. Bill C-32 was then swallowed up by Bill C-39. Then Bill C-39 was swallowed up by Bill C-75, which has only just passed the House and now has to clear the Senate. We have no idea how much longer that is going to take. The House is about to rise for the Christmas break. We will be back functioning at the end of January, but Bill C-75 is a gigantic omnibus bill and full of provisions that make it a very contentious bill.

My argument has always been that for such an ambitious legislative agenda, especially if we are going to clean up the Criminal Code as Bill C-51 proposes to do, I contend that the Minister of Justice, had she had a good strategy in dealing with the parliamentary timetable and calendar and how this place actually works, would have bundled up the non-contentious issues in Bill C-39 and Bill C-32, which was morphed into Bill C-75, together with the non-contentious issues of Bill C-51 and made it a stand-alone bill, and we could have done that work.

These are issues that we cannot really argue against because it is a moot point; the Supreme Court has already ruled, so keeping them in the Criminal Code just leads to further confusion. Here we are, three years into the government's mandate, and the Criminal Code has still not been cleaned up to this day. For an ambitious legislative agenda, that leaves a lot to be desired. I heard Michael Spratt, who regularly appears as a witness before the justice committee, describe Bill C-51 as dealing with the lowest of the low-hanging fruit. Therefore, if we had been serious, we could have made some very reasonable progress on that. Be that as it may, we have Bill C-51 before us and we have to go over it.

Before I get into the specific amendments brought forward by the Senate, I think it is worth going over some of the things we are talking about. Among the things Bill C-51 would repeal is the offence of challenging someone to a duel. It used to be illegal to provoke someone to fight a duel or to accept the challenge. We will get rid of that section because it obviously reflects an earlier time in Canada's history. It is the reason why in this place we are two sword lengths apart. Members of parliament in the U.K. used to go into that place with swords on their hips. The bill would also get rid of section 143 dealing with advertizing a reward for the return of stolen property. It would get rid of section 163, dealing with the possession of crime comics, a legacy of a 1948 bill by a member who thought that crime comics negatively influenced kids by encouraging them to commit crimes, and that they were not a part of a good upbringing. The section on blasphemous libel would be dropped. Fraudulently pretending to practise witchcraft is probably one of my favourite ones.

While Bill C-51 is making some much needed changes to sections of the Criminal Code, as I said earlier, we would not be arguing these cases in the House three years into the mandate of the current government if the bills had been bundled up into a single bill, which I am sure could have had royal assent by now.

We did have a very interesting discussion at the justice committee on section 176. When I first read Bill C-51 and it mentioned that this section would be repealed, I read right over it. However, when hearing witnesses at committee, it became quite apparent that section 176 had a lot of very deep meaning to select religious groups. After hearing all of that testimony about the importance of having section 176 remain in the code, I am glad to see that the committee members were able to work together to polish the language to ensure that it would now be applicable to all religious faiths, and not just single out the Christian faith. Now, if someone were to interrupt the religious proceedings of any faith, that would be dealt with appropriately under section 176.

The heart of the matter before us is the Senate amendments to Bill C-51. As I mentioned, it is kind of awkward for a New Democrat to be recognizing the work of the Senate. I value the people who sit as senators. I know there are some very determined people who certainly try to do their best there. My problem has always been with a 21st century democracy like Canada having an unelected and unaccountable upper house. I have to face the electorate for the decisions I make and the words I say in this place, and for what the Senate as a whole does.

I am going to be rejecting the government's motion on Bill C-51, because I agree with the substance of what the Senate was attempting to do in Bill C-51. It very much reflects some of the testimony that I heard at committee, and I have also reviewed some of the Senate Hansard transcripts of the debates it had on Bill C-51. While it is true that the amendments were not passed at the legal and constitutional affairs committee of the Senate, they were passed at the third reading stage. When we see the transcripts, we can see that the hon. senators in the other place were trying to codify what they saw as some missing aspects of the bill.

If we look at the heart of the matter, it comes down to the Supreme Court decision in R. v. J.A. The Supreme Court ruling reads:

When the complainant loses consciousness, she loses the ability to either oppose or consent to the sexual activity that occurs. Finding that such a person is consenting would effectively negate the right of the complainant to change her mind at any point in the sexual encounter.

In some situations, the concept of consent Parliament has adopted may seem unrealistic. However, it would be inappropriate for this Court to carve out exceptions to the concept of consent when doing so would undermine Parliament’s choice. This concept of consent produces just results in the vast majority of cases and has proved to be of great value in combating stereotypes that have historically existed. In the absence of a constitutional challenge, the appropriate body to alter the law on consent in relation to sexual assault is Parliament, should it deem this necessary.

The court in a sense is recognizing the very important part that Parliament plays in this. One thing I have learned during my time as our party's justice critic is that, in looking at the Criminal Code, ultimately, we in this place are responsible for drafting and implementing the law and it comes down to the courts to interpret it. There is this kind of back and forth. When the justice aspect of the government and the parliamentary part of it work in tandem like that, we hopefully arrive at a place where the law is reflective of today's society.

However, it is not only the J.A. decision that we should be looking at. On October 30, which coincidentally was the very same day that the Senate sent the bill back to the House, there was a decision in the Alberta Court of Appeal, R. v. W.L.S. In that particular case, an acquittal on sexual assault charges was overturned by the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal acknowledged in its decision that the complainant was incapable of consenting.

Senator Kim Pate provided us with a message. She said:

In regard to our discussions concerning Bill C-51, I write to draw your attention to the recent case of the Alberta Court of Appeal, concerning the law of incapacity to consent to sexual activity. Please find a copy of this case attached.

The Alberta Court of Appeal heard this case on October 30, the same day the Senate passed the amendments to Bill C-51. The court overturned the trial decision on the grounds that the trial judge had wrongly held that nothing short of unconsciousness was sufficient to establish incapacity. While this erroneous understanding of the law was rectified on appeal in this case, as we know, the vast majority of cases are never appealed. The trial judge's decision demonstrates the very error, fed by harmful stereotypes about victims of sexual assault, that many of us are concerned the original words of Bill C-51 risks encouraging.

Senator Kim Pate is basically acknowledging that there is a role for Parliament to play in providing a more explicit definition of consent, what it means and when consent is not given. While I am certainly one of those people who trusts in the power and ability of judges to make decisions, the judicial discretion, I align that thinking more with the decisions that they make and not in the interpretation of the Criminal Code. There is room in some parts of the Criminal Code to be very specific so that there is no judicial discretion, and that we are very clear on what consent means and what it does not mean.

Turning to the actual Senate amendments, they would be adding specificity in both clause 10 and clause 19. Basically, those particular aspects want to ensure:

(b) the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity in question for any reason, including, but not limited to, the fact that they are

(i) unable to understand the nature, circumstances, risks and consequences of the sexual activity in question,

(ii) unable to understand that they have the choice to engage in the sexual activity in question or not, or

(iii) unable to affirmatively express agreement to the sexual activity in question by words or by active conduct;

Adding this kind of specificity to the Criminal Code is very much a good thing. In paragraph (b), it says “including, but not limited to”. I think adding that kind of specificity will help with certain cases. From the very interesting Senate deliberations on this subject at third reading, we can see that senators were not very happy with how Bill C-51 left a bit of a hole.

We have made much of the witness testimony at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Professor Janine Benedet did look at this particular aspect of the Criminal Code. As I said in my exchange with the member for Mount Royal, one thing she stated was:

Any clarification we can give will be beneficial. It doesn't have to be an exhaustive list, but there has to be the idea that consent has to be informed, that you have to have the ability to understand that you can refuse—because some individuals with intellectual disabilities do not know they can say no to sexual activity—and that it has to be your actual agreement. Those are all things that can be read into the code as it's currently written, but sometimes are not fully realized in the cases we see.

Adding that specific part would be very much in line with what Professor Benedet was saying at the committee. That is why I will be rejecting the government's motion and voting in favour of the Senate amendments.

Turning to the Senate deliberations on this bill, in some of that debate it was said that R. v. J.A. outlines the requirement for active consent. However, the Senate very much found that without the specific amendment by Senator Pate to Bill C-51, we would have failed to capture the scope of consent laid out for us by the Supreme Court, supported by experts in the law of sexual assault in Canada.

Feminist experts in sexual assault law have advised that the inclusion of the word “unconscious” risks creating a false threshold for the capacity to consent. There were also deliberations that the current wording in Bill C-51 poses a serious risk that women who are intoxicated would be blamed if they are sexually assaulted. They would not be protected by this bill.

Further, some have noted that the weakness is in the definition of what constitutes non-consent. According to a legal expert who provides sexual consent training to judges, there is not enough precedent or awareness among judges to believe that the proposed wording in clause 10 and clause 19 of the bill is clear enough.

I see my time is running out, but I will end with some of the really scary statistics we face as a country. Statistics Canada estimates that some 636,000 self-reported sexual assaults took place in Canada in 2014. Shockingly, it also estimates that as few as one in 20 were actually reported to police. Those are statistics which should give us great pause and lead us to ask ourselves what more we could be doing. The Senate amendments are very much in faith with trying to keep that.

I would also note that this is probably one of the last opportunities I will have to rise in this particular chamber to give a speech. I want to acknowledge the history of this place and what an honour it has been for me, in my short three years here, to have served in this House of Commons chamber. I know we will be going forward to West Block, and an admirable job has been done there.

I finish by wishing all my colleagues a merry Christmas. I hope they have a fantastic holiday season with friends and family, and that we come back in 2019 refreshed and ready to do our work on behalf of Canadians.

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, again to the question and comments of my colleague across the way with respect to section 159 and the legislation that has now been put into Bill C-75, removing this provision in the Criminal Code is a priority of our government, as are all of the provisions contained within Bill C-75. I am very pleased that Bill C-75 has passed third reading in this House and will be debated and discussed in the other place. I look forward to the results of the deliberations from the other place.

I would say that we are committed to ensuring that Bill C-75 moves through the parliamentary process, benefits from the parliamentary process and becomes law as soon as possible. From what I can account for from the member's comments is that there are major pieces within Bill C-75, if not the entirety of Bill C-75, that are in the interest of moving forward and amending the Criminal Code and addressing the issues that have been raised by members in this place.

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I believe I understand the member's question. With respect to section 176, he characterized it as backing down, but what we did is we listened to what the committee members sought to say around religious officiants and we recognized the recommendation in terms of the amendments that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights made and acknowledged that and accepted that. We did make some amendments to ensure that this reflected all religious officiants as opposed to the confined way it was drafted in terms of the amendments that were proposed at the House committee. Basically the answer is that we listened to what the House of Commons committee said. That is the importance of committees in this place that we take incredibly seriously.

In terms of hybridization of offences, we are proposing in Bill C-75, which is not the bill at issue here today, a number of offences to be hybridized, to contribute to the broad and bold criminal justice reforms that will address delays, efficiencies and effectiveness in the criminal justice system. By hybridizing certain offences, it gives prosecutors the ability to exercise their discretion and proceed in terms of criminal charges in the most expeditious manner as appropriate to the circumstances of a particular case.

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, I was appalled when I heard that the Liberal government was trying to remove section 176 of the Criminal Code. This is the only section of the Criminal Code that can directly protect the rights of individuals to freely practise their religion, whatever that religion might be. It was recently used in a case on June 9, 2017 here in Ottawa.

Why did the Liberals back down on removing section 176? Was it due to public backlash and they did not properly investigate this? Why are they not trying to hybridize this under Bill C-75?

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, in terms of reintroducing the Criminal Code, I am incredibly proud to be part of a government that has taken action, which has not been taken for decades, as the member mentioned, to ensure that we have a modernized Criminal Code, that we remove the unconstitutional provisions, the zombie provisions, that we update the laws around sexual assault and intimate partner violence and that we look at the victim fine surcharge as well as section 159. All of these are issues raised in government bills the member opposite has spoken to.

We are moving forward with comprehensive reform of the criminal justice system, and that starts with looking, in a substantial manner, at the Criminal Code. This is what we have sought to do and what is contained in Bill C-51 and also in Bill C-75.

I look forward these two pieces of proposed legislation becoming law so that we can do what has not been done for far too long, which is modernize the Criminal Code.

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I am not satisfied with the minister's previous response to my question. We can look at the legislative track record of the Minister of Justice, starting with Bill C-28, the victim surcharge bill, which was rolled into Bill C-75. We had Bill C-32, which was rolled into Bill C-39, which was then rolled into Bill C-75, and now we have Bill C-51.

I talked about tactics. Time allocation is a tactic. It would have been an unnecessary one if we could have dealt with the substantive provisions in all those bills, but instead, the government's strategy was to basically string us along with the introduction of these justice bills that would clean up the inoperative provisions of the Criminal Code and then leave them in some kind of purgatory stuck at first reading.

When the Minister of Justice took office, everyone knew that there were zombie provisions in the Criminal Code that had to be cleaned up. This has been a topic of discussion for decades, and every year, the Criminal Code is faithfully reproduced with all of these mistakes.

Again, why did the Minister of Justice, in 2016, the first year of her mandate, not take the provisions in Bill C-32 and Bill C-39 and elements of Bill C-51 and package them in one bill? We could have had that passed, done and dusted by now, but instead, they were rolled up with contentious provisions, and they are still being debated. Bill C-75 has only just been sent to the Senate. Who knows how long it is going to take there?

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, I am happy to speak to the comments and questions from my colleague across the way with respect to the then Bill C-39, which is now incorporated in the broad criminal justice reforms contained within Bill C-75.

I am very pleased that Bill C-75 has passed third reading in this place and is in the other place for debate and discussion. We look forward to its deliberations with respect to these very important and bold reforms presented in Bill C-75. I would look to all members in the House to assist in encouraging the members in the other place to proceed in an expeditious fashion so that the provisions the member opposite references will be passed as part of Bill C-75 and we can remove those provisions from the Criminal Code.

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Jody Wilson-Raybould Liberal Vancouver Granville, BC

Madam Speaker, my colleague across the way sat on the justice and human rights committee, which has debated many justice bills.

As for the member's characterization of parliamentary tactics, the only parliamentary tactic I employ and that our government employs is to work as co-operatively as we can with all members in the House to have informed debate about particular bills the government puts forward, seeking feedback from hon. members in this place and the other place and valuing the work done at committee.

With respect to all the justice bills that have been advanced, we have been working expeditiously to move forward with Bill C-39, Bill C-51 and Bill C-75 so that we clean up the so-called zombie provisions and the unconstitutional provisions. I would look to all hon. colleagues in this place to work with us to make sure that these pieces of legislation move forward as expeditiously as possible.

Bill C-51—Time Allocation MotionCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 10th, 2018 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Madam Speaker, I have found myself, as a New Democrat, in the awkward position of agreeing with the work the Senate has done. I was one of those who voted in favour of Bill C-51, because I agree with the focus of the bill and the provisions in it. Ultimately, what the Senate has attempted to do reflects very much what I attempted to do at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

My issue with the government's approach and its parliamentary tactics comes from the fact that for the various justice bills, Bill C-32, Bill C-39, Bill C-51 and Bill C-75, the Minister of Justice could very well have packaged many of the inoperative provisions of the Criminal Code in Bill C-39 and Bill C-51 in one bill that would have passed through Parliament relatively quickly. Instead, she packaged in some other provisions that have been more contentious, and therefore, has forced the government to use extraordinary measures like time allocation.

With all the evidence from legal experts over the years who have talked about the inoperative provisions of the Criminal Code, why could the Minister of Justice not have packaged the provisions in Bill C-39 and Bill C-51, which would not have had any argument, in one bill? Instead, three years into the government's mandate, we find ourselves still deliberating on these provisions, and nothing has changed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2018 / 1:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Erin O'Toole Conservative Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from London who spoke earlier and all members for their comments on Bill C-51 today.

At the outset, because I have some time today to give a bit of a longer speech, I want to address the fact that I am troubled that in government, the Liberals are doing exactly what they said they would not do when they were in opposition. In fact, this is our second omnibus justice bill.

I know my friend from Winnipeg, the deputy House leader of the Liberal caucus, likes when I quote some of his outrage in the past Parliament about the use of omnibus bills. However, when it comes to justice omnibus bills in particular, I think the need for a lot of these provisions to be considered independently is the best way to go.

Although the bill is certainly not as long as the government's latest budget implementation act, at 850 pages or more, weaving together a variety of unrelated things in the form of one bill, here we have another substantive piece of justice legislation being presented in an omnibus bill.

Breaking it down, there are some good parts and some parts we certainly have some challenges with. I would like to use my opportunity, if I may, to highlight both the good and the bad.

The good is that as a Parliament, we need to show that we can speak with a united voice with respect to zero tolerance for sexual assault and not respecting the consent of an individual in the case of sexual relations of any kind. Therefore, I think it is good that we are having a fulsome discussion on this part of the bill today. In fact, several members have quoted from some of the case law that has led to the need for Parliament to weigh in and be very clear that people cannot provide the consent necessary to engage in sexual activities when they are unconscious. We need to send a clear signal from Parliament. I think the Senate amendments actually take away that clarity somewhat, and I am glad we are having the debate here on proposed section 273.1 in the bill.

The Supreme Court case that drove clarity in this area was very clear. It said that it was not possible for people to provide consent if they were not conscious, even if express consent had been provided ahead of time, when they were conscious. I think Parliament needs to be crystal clear that consent evolves and that there has to be the constant presence of consent and respect. That is what this bill is intended to do. In fact, some of the Senate amendments, which would almost create tests with respect to the standards, confuse the issue. There needs to be a clear signal sent that consent has to be constant. I think that is a signal that, as parliamentarians, we have to send.

I can say, as someone of my generation, that the debate on campuses about no means no and all these sorts of things was not taken seriously in the early 1990s. We are still having debates today about it. An accused will try to suggest that consent was provided sometime earlier. If consent was provided in the context of alcohol or substances, and if someone was unconscious, consent could not be provided.

The Supreme Court was clear. I think Bill C-51 and our updates to the Criminal Code send a very clear message. There is no test to be performed. It is a bright line. Everyone, all Canadians, need to show respect and a commitment to consent in the context of sexual assault cases. It is basic respect. We are in the era of the #MeToo movement and discussions about unsafe workplaces. All these things have been positive in making sure that one has a positive obligation, with respect to one's relations with someone else, to make sure that there is always consent present. I think that is clear.

I am also glad that a number of speakers from several parties have referenced Bill C-337, the bill of the former interim Conservative leader, Rona Ambrose, on judicial training in the context of sexual assault trials. The bench comprises a cross-section of society, and those attitudes need education to make sure that judicial standards adhere to the expectations we have as a society of respecting consent.

We know, in Ms. Ambrose's home province of Alberta, the case of Justice Camp, where attitudes toward a victim by the bench showed just how disconnected some may be. The vast majority of the bench would be explicitly mindful of the complainant in those cases, but we have seen cases in recent years that show that judicial training with respect to consent, in the context of sexual assault trials, is needed, as is education for all members of the bar.

As a member of the bar, I am glad that a few years ago, law societies across the country incorporated continuing legal education requirements for lawyers to make sure that they are aware of expectations with respect to consent and the law. The very fact that there would be some reluctance to have same continual legal education for judges in the context of sexual assault cases is troubling. I know that most justices demand that level of CLE, so I hope that the government, in the context of my starting off my speech by talking about some of the positive elements of Bill C-51, pushes Bill C-337 through. It should not matter that it came from a former Conservative member of Parliament, Rona Ambrose. It should not matter that it came from this side of the chamber if it addresses the same elements I am saying I support in Bill C-51 today. Let us hope there is some movement in the Senate so that in the spring, we can ensure that it is an expectation that all members of the bench have that training so they can guarantee an environment of respect for all complainants who come forward.

The provisions in proposed section 273.1 also show that Parliament is clear in its direction with respect to consent always being a requirement, and if there is any uncertainty, we err on the side of complainants. Everyone should know that if circumstances change, be they the context, consciousness, alcohol or these sort of things, prior consent is not sufficient. We have to be crystal clear on that.

This is also similar to Bill C-75, an omnibus justice bill, which I have spoken to in Parliament. I have also spoken to Bill C-77, on modernizing criminal justice within the context of the National Defence Act. I supported a number of measures in that bill. In fact, the previous government introduced Bill C-71 in the last Parliament to try to update the National Defence Act and the treatment of criminal conduct by members of the Canadian Armed Forces. That is still in a state of flux. All these bills, particularly because they deal with the rights of the accused and the rights of the victims or complainants in these cases, should be given specific attention and not be put into omnibus bills.

I would like to speak for a moment about the fact that this bill is part of the process of requiring a charter statement from the government with respect to legislation before the House of Commons. I have some concerns about that approach, in two ways. First, I am worried that it may send some sort of chill to suggest that the government is trying to innoculate itself by saying that it reviewed the bill ahead of time and has a charter opinion on it, meaning, therefore, that we cannot raise charter concerns or that there is no reasonable basis to have concerns about its validity under the charter by groups that may be impacted by the decision of this Parliament.

The very nature of the charter itself was to give a back and forth test with respect to the will of Parliament, and the ability for the court to determine whether fundamental charter rights were breached directly or indirectly by legislation in the context of enumerated groups under section 15 of the charter, are expressly contained within the charter, or are analogous ground groups, provided by subsequent court decisions.

The balancing test under section 1 of the charter, the Oakes test, which I learned in law school and is some of the first charter jurisprudence, is that balancing of the charter. By issuing a charter statement, I am quite concerned the government is trying to suggest it is doing its own Oakes test, its own charter examination of issues at the time it is passing legislation. I am not suggesting it will cause chill, but I have not have heard an argument from a member of the government bench to suggest this is any different than any government since the mid-1980s, when the charter came into effect.

Suggesting that the seal of approval for the charter is granted by one of these statements is simply ridiculous. It is up to the court to provide that reasonableness and those limitation tests under the provision of section 1 of the charter, which allows a charter right to be violated by legislation, but applies a reasonableness and balancing test to it since the Oakes jurisprudence started.

I will give a couple of examples of why I have this concern. In this Parliament, we have seen many instances of the government acting in a way I firmly believe violates the charter rights of many Canadians. This is germane because just today, shortly before we rise for Christmas, the government is reversing its position on the so-called values screen for Canada summer jobs.

We all know the controversial values test was applied for the first time in the history of this summer employment plan for youth as a clear way the government intended to exclude faith-based organizations and other service organizations from funding related to students. There were concerns from a charter basis expressed from day one when it came to the values test. Is the government suggesting, with its charter statements, that its actions on a whole range of decisions are somehow inoculated because it is providing a charter assessment? That is political theatre. It cannot provide its own charter assessment. It tries to craft legislation that it feels strikes the right balance, but the actual charter determination is not made in this chamber, which writes the laws, but in other courts.

We bow to the Speaker. We have a bar. This is a court. We write the laws, but we do not adjudicate our own laws. This is a very big distinction I have not heard the government express any clear indication on yet.

I will use another example. There have been several violations, in my view, of indigenous peoples' rights with respect to the duty to consult. In fact, I believe Bill C-69 violates that duty. We can look at the approach the government has taken on the cancellation of the northern gateway pipeline, which is one-third owned by indigenous groups. The duty to consult is not frozen in time. It does not exist 10 years before one develops a pipeline or cuts trees in a forest. If one decides to change the circumstances of that consultation, or cancel something that indigenous peoples are a one-third owner of, one has a duty to consult them on the cancellation. This is an ongoing duty.

The fact that the government may have a piece of paper that says this is our charter statement, this is our validation that the bill conforms with the charter, is political and inappropriate, because the government is suggesting this legislation will withstand any judicial scrutiny before the judicial scrutiny is applied. The government is suggesting that this is A-okay. That is not the way it works.

I invite the Minister of Justice and Attorney General and the parliamentary secretary to walk a little past the Confederation Building on the Hill to a building called the Supreme Court of Canada. It is there that the Oakes test was born, the Oakes test where the section 1 charter clause was.

As I have said, the values test that the government did to politicize the Canada summer jobs program would not be inoculated because of a government-produced charter statement nor would some of its actions with respect to Bill C-69, Bill C-75, Bill C-77. These are court determinations.

I do not have any proof because the charter statement concept is part of the government's justice reforms, including in this legislation, but I do have serious concerns that it will send a chill to suggest that the government will not consider valid concerns people have with respect to their charter rights.

I would like subsequent members of the Liberal caucus, particularly the ministers or the parliamentary secretaries, to provide a substantive rationale for their approach with respect to the charter statements. Are they somehow suggesting that previous governments, both Conservative and Liberal, have somehow not conformed to the charter by doing exactly what we are supposed to do as a Parliament, which is to try and find the right balance between the will of the people and certain provisions within the charter? That is done by a court using the Oakes test, doing the balancing. Producing a charter statement does not protect the government from criticism.

As I said today, days before Christmas, the government suddenly admits that its approach on the values test for summer jobs is wrong. This is much like days before Christmas last year, when it broke its promise to veterans on the return to the Pension Act. The Liberals make very good use of the pre-Christmas period not just for parties, but for dumping out their dirty laundry.

I would like to thank the thousands of Canadians from across the country and many of my colleagues in this chamber for representing the charter rights of millions of Canadians with respect to the conduct of the Canada summer jobs program.

Why I am focusing on this part of the bill is because we have to make sure that Canadians, members of the media and members of both Houses of Parliament do not get fooled by the fact that the government validating its own legislation under the guise of charter approval is not actually charter approval.

I am hoping in the remaining debate we can actually hear a cogent argument from the Liberal caucus on this. Otherwise, it seems to be more of the sort of media spin that we hear from the government.

The Prime Minister just yesterday, while leaning on his desk acting like a professor, told the opposition what we should ask and what we should criticize. We know full well what we should ask and we know where our criticisms and critiques are warranted.

Quietly, when the House does not sit, the Liberals backtrack on things, like they did today on the summer jobs values test, like when we rose for Remembrance week, and Miss McClintic, another justice consideration, was quietly transferred to a prison as we had been demanding, and as the break week happened Statistics Canada suddenly pulled back its program.

Like the Chris Garnier criticism, the non-veteran murderer who is receiving treatment funds from Veterans Affairs Canada, on most of the criticisms we have been raising even though they make the Prime Minister uncomfortable, the Liberals have backtracked. We have been doing our job quite effectively.

In the remaining time for debate, I would like one of the Liberal members to stand up and provide a context and a rationale addressing my concerns in regard to charter statements with respect to the bill before us and others.

As I said at the outset, we support the amendments and update of our Criminal Code with respect to sexual assault.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2018 / 1:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I also want to say that right now, we have an outstanding bill sitting in the Senate, Bill C-377, put forward by the hon. Rona Ambrose. It is an opportunity for our justices to actually be engaged and trained on sexual assault. The government has not pushed that item whatsoever. Regardless of whether the government has put in more or fewer justices, they are not being trained properly. Bill C-377 has been sitting there for the last year and a half. The government could be doing better, especially in working with Senate colleagues, if it is serious about making sure that people alleged to have committed sexual assaults are actually convicted and go to jail. We need to have that sensitivity and empathetic understanding of what is going on for the victims of this crime.

As for Bill C-75, seeing that it is a hybrid bill, I cannot support what the government has done with regard to reducing sentences and convictions when it comes to those people who have victimized someone through sexual assault.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2018 / 1:10 p.m.
See context

Arif Virani Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the contributions of the member opposite to this important debate today, particularly on December 6, the 29th anniversary of the Montreal massacre.

My questions for the member opposite are twofold. First, she outlined the important issue of consent in sexual assault and how the statistics demonstrate that it remains an ongoing problem in Canada today. Part of what we are doing is improving education, sensitivity and outreach to all the actors in the judicial system. That includes training for lawyers and judges.

Would the member agree that the record of our government in appointing judges, 56% of whom are women, is a step in the right direction and compares favourably with the record of the previous government, which appointed only 30% women?

Second, she raised Bill C-75 and its relationship to this piece of legislation we are discussing. Bill C-75 includes an important provision to eliminate preliminary inquiries in sexual assault trials so that victims do not have to be revictimized by proceeding through a preliminary inquiry and having to testify again at the actual trial on the merits. Is that a step in the right direction in addressing the trauma sexual assault victims face, which was outlined by the member opposite?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2018 / 1:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Karen Vecchio Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for St. Albert—Edmonton for leading our Conservative caucus, the House and all Canadians through this legislative process to make the Canadian Criminal Code better.

This opportunity has provided me a chance to read, research and develop a much better understanding of the Criminal Code and its importance to all Canadians. I have read that one of the conveniences of the code is that it constitutes the principle that no person can be convicted of a crime unless otherwise specifically outlined and stated in a statute.

Today, we are discussing section 273.1 of the Criminal Code, which the bill would amend to clarify that an unconscious person is incapable of consenting. This reflects the Supreme Court decision in R. v. J.A. in 2011. The bill would also amend section 273.2 to clarify that the defence of mistaken belief in consent is not available if the mistake is based on a mistake of law, for example, if the accused believed that the complainant's failure to resist or protest meant that the complainant consented. This provision would codify aspects of the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in R. v. Ewanchuk in 1999.

Currently, the Criminal Code of Canada states that no consent is obtained where “the complainant is incapable of consenting”. Bill C-51, in subclauses 10(2) and 19(2), would amend this to clarify that unconsciousness is not the only situation in which an individual could lack capacity to give consent to sexual activity.

As indicated in the legislative summary of the bill, the amendment takes into account the Supreme Court judgment that was made in R. v. J.A., requiring active consent throughout every phase of the sexual activity. This is important to note, as this amendment would protect Canadian men and women against sexual exploitation.

I will relate a news story we heard back in 2017. When we were going through the bill put forward by our former colleague, Rona Ambrose, we talked about sexual consent and unconsciousness, and about judges being trained to understand sexual exploitation and assault.

This newspaper story told of a Nova Scotia judge who acquitted a Halifax taxi driver of raping a female fare. She was found unconscious in the back of his cab, partially naked and having urinated on herself. The woman, whose blood alcohol level was found to be three times the legal limit, had hailed the cab just 11 minutes earlier. The Crown has announced it will appeal Justice Gregory Lenehan's verdict, in part over concerns the judge did not properly apply the test for capacity to consent.

The proposed legislation also focuses on a Supreme Court case in 2011. It was very interesting to read the original case in the Court of Appeal in Ontario, and the appeal in the Supreme Court of Canada.

The case before the Supreme Court of Canada was Her Majesty The Queen appellant, and J.A. respondent, and Attorney General of Canada and Women's Legal Education and Action Fund on appeal from the Court of Appeal for Ontario. It reads:

Criminal law—Sexual assault—Consent—Accused and complainant consensually engaging in erotic asphyxiation—Accused...penetrating complainant during period of unconsciousness—Whether Criminal Code defines consent as requiring conscious, operating mind throughout sexual activity—Whether consent to sexual activity may be given prior to period of unconsciousness

For anyone who has a daughter or son, we want to make sure the laws are there to help and protect Canadians.

While I was going through the information regarding the Supreme Court decision, I read some of the background to the decision. I would like to put it on the record. This is from the Supreme Court ruling:

One evening, in the course of sexual relations, J.A. placed his hands around the throat of his long-term partner K.D. and choked her until she was unconscious. At trial, K.D. estimated that she was unconscious for “less than three minutes”. She testified that she consented to J.A. choking her, and understood that she might lose consciousness. She stated that she and J.A. had experimented with erotic asphyxiation, and that she had lost consciousness before. When K.D. regained consciousness, her hands were tied behind her back, and J.A. was inserting—

I will omit the details here, but suffice it to say that it was something a person should have a choice in, and it was not an act the complainant was prepared for. K.D. gave conflicting testimony about whether this was the first time J.A. had performed this act. Ten seconds after K.D. regained consciousness, J.A. ceased doing what he had been doing.

At the end of the day, we have to look at this and understand why there is an issue here. K.D. made a complaint to the police two months later and stated that while she had consented to the choking, she had not consented to the sexual activity that had occurred.

Chief Justice McLachlin and Justices Deschamps, Abella, Charron, Rothstein and Cromwell ruled, “The legislation requires ongoing, conscious consent to ensure that women and men are not the victims of sexual exploitation, and to ensure that individuals engaging in sexual activity are capable of asking their partners to stop at any point.”

Sharing the background to the Supreme Court's decision and the story of the woman in Nova Scotia provides a great illustration of the challenges and the need for changes to the Criminal Code. With regard to the amendments proposed by the Senate, I support our party's position and the government's decision not to accept these amendments.

This is a very complex issue. The complexity can be seen from Statistics Canada figures from 2009-14. In that period of time, 93,501 sexual assault incidents were reported to the police. Charges were laid in 43% of those, or 40,490 incidents; 49% or 19,806 incidents went to court, and 15,804 cases were completed in court, of which 55% or 8,742 resulted in guilty decisions. Of those, the number of adult cases sentenced to custody was 3,846, or 56%.

I want to look at the first number, the gross number, and the fact that over 93,000 sexual assaults occurred from 2009-15. Many of us would say that is extraordinary. If we think of the population of Canada and the fact that almost 100,000 Canadians have been sexually assaulted in that five-year period, we would be in total awe.

Sexual assault is a problem here in Canada. It is a very complex problem, and there are many key factors that must be assessed. One of the most critical ones, I believe, is consent. According to Planned Parenthood, sexual consent is an agreement to participate in a sexual activity. It states:

Consent is never implied by things like your past behavior, what you wear, or where you go. Sexual consent is always clearly communicated—there should be no question or mystery. Silence is not consent. And it's not just important the first time you're with someone. Couples who've had sex before or even ones who've been together for a long time also need to consent before sex—every time.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to listen to members of the community at the 519 Centre in Toronto, where I spoke to Glen Canning, the father of Rehtaeh Parsons. Although Rehtaeh is no longer with us, Glen advocates for education focusing on sexual consent. In a blog, he writes:

My years without Rehtaeh taught me that kids need to know consent. In the past three years l've learned that the most powerful tool to combat violence against women could very well be the minds of young men. l've learned that if we don't fill those minds with examples of virtue, empathy, affection, tolerance, trust, kindness, courage, and bravery, then those minds will end up being filled with ignorance, racism, sexism, hate, and anger. What would have happened to Rehtaeh Parsons if just one of the boys with her that night was informed about consent and his role in preventing sexual violence?

In summary, I am very glad that we are moving forward and reviewing the information in the Criminal Code, specifically when it comes to consent. This is an area where, as I indicated, a look at the statistics shows we can do better and we must do better. We cannot just be virtue signalling. We cannot just talk about what we should not do, yet do it in the privacy of our homes, or not own up to things we did years ago.

At the same time, as other members have indicated, a lot of the information and a lot of the things we are studying are in conflict with what we see in Bill C-75, specifically with regard to the sexual exploitation of women.

It is wonderful to go ahead with consent, expanding it and having a better understanding to make sure more people are convicted of sexual assault when necessary. However, when it comes to Bill C-75, a slap on the wrist is not enough.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2018 / 1 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to the beginning of this. When this bill was originally brought forward, there was an outcry regarding the measures being taken to minimize the offence of disrupting a service of worship, from which clergy are protected under section 176. We saw it on every social media out there. Twitter, Facebook and all of them were going crazy about the current government coming forward with those measures to repeal section 176. Thousands of people protested that it was wrong, and to the Liberals' credit they appeared to have backed down.

However, my point is that the Liberals backed down on this bill, yes, but then they turned around and put similar wording into Bill C-75, which as we know is now going to the Senate. Therefore, the Liberals hybridized section 176, turning much of it into a summary conviction with a lesser charge.

We live in a time when we recognize religious freedom. That means that as a Christian, I nevertheless expect that in every type of worship service, be it Jewish, Muslim, name the religion, people have the opportunity to worship whom they wish and how they wish. As long as it does not impede anybody else, they have the ability to do that. Lessening the offence of being able to come in and disrupt that service sends the wrong message.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 6th, 2018 / 12:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to stand in the House to debate Bill C-51, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another act.

I would first like to highlight the fact that this is an omnibus bill, containing many changes to a variety of different matters. Similar to many other Liberal promises we have heard in the House, or before the last election, the introduction of this bill breaks another promise not to table legislation of this nature. In debate in the lead-up to the election we had that commitment, just like we had a commitment on the deficit. However, it is another broken promise.

Ironically, Bill C-51 was introduced on June 5, 2017, just after the government House leader called for major reforms that, among other things, aimed to limit a government's ability to introduce omnibus bills. Just a couple of days later, it introduced an omnibus bill.

Second, it would remove a number of sections of the Criminal Code that no longer have any particular relevance. This includes section 365, some of which deals with witchcraft and sorcery; and section 71, related to duelling in the streets. Much of this we can support. Other aspects may be a little more problematic.

It also originally proposed to repeal section 176 of the Criminal Code, which makes it a crime to unlawfully obstruct, threaten or harm a religious official before, during or after he or she performs a religious service. It also makes interrupting or disturbing a religious service a crime. We have voiced our concerns in regard to that in the House many times.

As a number of my colleagues, including the former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, pointed out during debate on the bill, the Conservatives were the first to identify this grave mistake of the Liberal Justice Minister and to draw the attention of Canadians to this flagrant attack on their freedom to worship without fear in their own way.

I will be splitting my time, Mr. Speaker, with the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London.

Our highlighting of Bill C-51 and this offensive Criminal Code amendment resulted in significant backlash from tens of thousands of Canadians who signed petitions urging the Liberals to back down on minimizing an obstruction or disturbance of a worship service. The government finally relented, and as such, Liberal members of the justice committee were instructed to introduce an amendment that effectively stopped the repeal of section 176.

That is one of those times where Parliament works, when the Conservatives can bring forward a concern like that. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes the outcry of tens of thousands of Canadians speaking up about what the Liberals were trying to do to our worship services of all different faiths.

While many of my constituents of Battle River—Crowfoot are thankful the Liberals finally saw the light, I still remain stunned by the fact they even contemplated the removal of section 176 of the Criminal Code, let alone attempting to do it.

After steady but relatively small increases since 2014, in 2017, hate crimes in Canada rose sharply. We can see that on the front pages of most papers. It is up 47% over the previous year. For the year, police reported 2,073 hate crimes, 664 more than in 2016. Higher numbers were seen across most types of hate crimes, with incidents targeting Muslim, Jewish and black populations, as well as Christians. These increases were largely in Ontario and Quebec.

Barbara Perry, an expert on hate crimes and professor of criminology at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, was quoted in The Globe and Mail, on November 29, saying, “This is staggering. You don’t see this kind of increase in any sort of crime data”, adding that “the numbers should be a wake-up call for provincial and federal leaders.” She went on to say, “It’s an assault on our core values of inclusion and equity.”

In the same article, Leila Nasr, a spokesman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said, “We’re devastated to see the numbers go up yet again.”

As revealed in the Globe and Mail article:

Hate crimes also rose across all categories of religion, with those targeting the Jewish population accounting for 18 per cent of all hate crimes in the country. The surge echos B’nai Brith Canada’s tracking of anti-Semitic incidents, which saw a record last year.

Chief executive Michael Mostyn, in a release that recommended an action plan to counter online hate, as well as enhanced training for police officers, said, “We need real and effective measures to extinguish this rise in hatred”.

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation called the numbers:

....a warning against complacency and....a stark reminder that hate crimes are an attack not only on individuals and their communities but on the very fabric of our society.

As I pointed out, those remarks were issued or reported on just a week ago today regarding the 2017 hate crime statistics, the year in which the Liberals introduced the bill. Again, whatever motivated them to repeal section 176 Criminal Code?

What has motivated the government to retreat on the one hand, while still sending the wrong message that the disruption of religious service is not a serious offence? That is exactly what they have done by taking it out of this legislation and moving it into Bill C-75. Currently, it is a solely indictable offence which, as we know, are for the most serious offences. However, in Bill C-75, by hybridizing it, this offence could be prosecuted as a summary conviction offence which is reserved for less serious offences.

It is important to note that the maximum sentence under section 176, if prosecuted as an indictable offence, is two years. Making it a hybrid offence, the maximum sentence as a summary conviction offence would be reduced by only one day. It would fall into the two years less a day, with the indictable offence being much more than that. Therefore, why the change?

Again, we really have to question why, at a time when hate crimes against religious communities across Canada are significantly increasing, are the Liberals trying to downgrade the seriousness of these offences?

Section 176 is not unconstitutional, has never been challenged in court and is not obsolete. Furthermore, a number of individuals have been successfully prosecuted under section 176. It is the only section of the Criminal Code that expressly protects the rights and freedoms of Canadians to practice their religion without fear or intimidation, a freedom that is a fundamental freedom guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

One can only surmise that despite the outcry from all across the country and them retreating on repealing this offence, the Liberals really do not believe it is a serious crime, just like they do not believe impaired driving causing bodily harm is a serious offence. That is what they have changed again in Bill C-75.

This past Tuesday, the Minister of Justice and the newly appointed Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction took to the air waves to remind Canadians that in two weeks they would be subject to mandatory alcohol screening if they were stopped by the police, something I support, as I want the horrific loss of life and injury due to impaired driving stopped.

While one minister bragged this was a game charger and another defended the change because impaired driving remained the leading cause of criminal death in Canada, both were being disingenuous in that they failed to reveal the fact they had downgraded the offence of impaired driving causing bodily harm. Under Bill C-75, this offence, which is currently solely an indictable offence, becomes a hybrid offence and as such, if proceeded summarily, may result in two years less a day of prison time or worse, a monetary fine.

I would like to state my support for the government motion to reject a Senate amendment to the bill before us today, Bill C-51. Bill C-51 clarifies that consent can never occur when an individual is unconscious, which is consistent with the J.A. decision. The Senate amendment would only lead to added complexity and confusion over what evidence would be relevant to determine consent in sexual assault cases. Instead of adding certainty to the law, it would lead to further litigation.

We cannot afford further delays in our courts due to prolonged cases. Sexual assault victims should be supported, not subjected to undue delays, so for that we commend those measures within Bill C-51.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me a bit of opportunity to veer off and go to some of the things that were pulled out of this bill. I recognize that.