An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)

This bill was previously introduced in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session.

Sponsor

Bill Blair  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to, among other things,
(a) increase, from 10 to 14 years, the maximum penalty of imprisonment for indictable weapons offences in sections 95, 96, 99, 100 and 103;
(b) establish a regime that would permit any person to apply for an emergency prohibition order or an emergency limitations on access order and allow the judge to protect the security of the person or of anyone known to them;
(c) deem certain firearms to be prohibited devices for the purpose of specified provisions;
(d) create new offences for possessing and making available certain types of computer data that pertain to firearms and prohibited devices and for altering a cartridge magazine to exceed its lawful capacity;
(e) include, for interception of private communications purposes, sections 92 and 95 in the definition of “offence” in section 183;
(f) authorize employees of certain federal entities who are responsible for security to be considered as public officers for the purpose of section 117.07; and
(g) include certain firearm parts to offences regarding firearms.
The enactment also amends the Firearms Act to, among other things,
(a) prevent individuals who are subject to a protection order or who have been convicted of certain offences relating to domestic violence from being eligible to hold a firearms licence;
(b) transfer authority to the Commissioner of Firearms to approve, refuse, renew and revoke authorizations to carry referred to in paragraph 20(a) of the Act;
(c) limit the transfer of handguns only to businesses and exempted individuals and the transfer of cartridge magazines and firearm parts;
(d) impose requirements in respect of the importation of ammunition, cartridge magazines and firearm parts;
(e) prevent certain individuals from being authorized to transport handguns from a port of entry;
(f) require a chief firearms officer to suspend a licence if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that the licence holder is no longer eligible for it;
(g) require the delivery of firearms to a peace officer, or their lawful disposal, if a refusal to issue, or revocation of, a licence has been referred to a provincial court under section 74 of the Act in respect of those firearms;
(h) revoke an individual’s licence if there is reasonable grounds to suspect that they engaged in an act of domestic violence or stalking or if they become subject to a protection order;
(i) authorize the issuance, in certain circumstances, of a conditional licence for the purposes of sustenance;
(j) authorize, in certain circumstances, the Commissioner of Firearms, the Registrar of Firearms or a chief firearms officer to disclose certain information to a law enforcement agency for the purpose of an investigation or prosecution related to the trafficking of firearms;
(k) provide that the annual report to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness regarding the administration of the Act must include information on disclosures made to law enforcement agencies and be submitted no later than May 31 of each year; and
(l) create an offence for a business to advertise a firearm in a manner that depicts, counsels or promotes violence against a person, with a few exceptions.
The enactment also amends the Nuclear Safety and Control Act to, among other things,
(a) provide nuclear security officers and on-site nuclear response force members with the authority to carry out the duties of peace officers at high-security nuclear sites; and
(b) permit licensees who operate high-security nuclear sites to acquire, possess, transfer and dispose of firearms, prohibited weapons and prohibited devices used in the course of maintaining security at high-security nuclear sites.
The enactment also amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to
(a) designate the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness as the Minister responsible for the establishment of policies respecting inadmissibility on grounds of transborder criminality for the commission of an offence on entering Canada;
(b) specify that the commission, on entering Canada, of certain offences under an Act of Parliament that are set out in the regulations is a ground of inadmissibility for a foreign national; and
(c) correct certain provisions in order to resolve a discrepancy and clarify the rule set out in those provisions.
Finally, the enactment also amends An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms so that certain sections of that Act come into force on the day on which this enactment receives royal assent.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

May 18, 2023 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)
May 18, 2023 Failed Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms) (recommittal to a committee)
May 17, 2023 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)
May 17, 2023 Passed Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms) (report stage amendment)
May 17, 2023 Passed Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms) (report stage amendment)
May 17, 2023 Failed Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms) (report stage amendment)
June 23, 2022 Passed C-21, 2nd reading and referral to committee - SECU
June 23, 2022 Failed C-21, 2nd reading - amendment
June 23, 2022 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms) (subamendment)
June 21, 2022 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)

Alleged Inadmissibility of Amendment to Motion, Government Business No. 34Points of OrderGovernment Orders

February 13th, 2024 / 3:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Andrew Scheer Conservative Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your accommodating the timing of this. I apologize to the members who are involved in debate, but because the matter is currently under consideration by the House, I think giving the Speaker as much time as possible to consider it would be appropriate.

I am rising to ask that you rule the amendment made to the motion, Government Business No. 34, out of order, since according to Bosc and Gagnon, at page 541, it introduces a new proposition which should properly be the subject of a separate substantive motion.

The main motion proposes two things in relation to Bill C-62. Part (a) would establish committee meetings on the subject matter of Bill C-62. It proposes one hour to hear from a minister and two hours to hear from other witnesses.

Part (b) deals specifically with the time and management for each stage of the bill. Part (b)(i) would order the consideration by the House of a second reading stage and provides for the number of the speakers, length of speeches, length of debate and deferral of the vote at second reading. It would also restrict the moving of dilatory motions to that of a minister of the Crown. Part b(ii) would deem that Bill C-62 be referred to a committee of the whole and be deemed reported back without amendments, and it would order the consideration of third reading on Thursday, February 15, 2024.

Nowhere does the motion deal with the substance or the text of Bill C-62; it is a programming motion dealing with process, not substance. While this can and has been done by unanimous consent, it cannot be done by way of an amendment. The consequence of an amendment to allow for the expansion of the scope of Bill C-62 and, at the same time, proposing to amend the text of Bill C-62, is that it would, if accepted, expand the scope of the motion.

The process to expand the scope of the bill outside of unanimous consent is to adopt a stand-alone motion after the proper notice and procedures were followed. Page 756 of Bosc and Gagnon describes that procedure as follows:

Once a bill has been referred to a committee, the House may instruct the committee by way of a motion authorizing what would otherwise be beyond its powers, such as...expanding or narrowing the scope or application of a bill. A committee that so wishes may also seek an instruction from the House.

Alternatively, a separate, stand-alone bill would suffice to introduce the concept of the subject material that is under the amendment for MAID. It is not in order to accomplish this by way of a simple amendment to a programming motion dealing with the management of House time on a government bill.

If you were to review the types of amendments to programming motions, and I am not talking about unanimous consent motions, they all deal with the management of House and committee time, altering the numbers of days, hours of meetings, witnesses, etc. As recently as December 4, 2023, the House disposed of an amendment that dealt with the minister's appearing as a witness and the deletion of parts of the bill dealing with time allocation. This was also the case for the programming motions for Bill C-56, Bill C-31 and Bill C-12.

Unless the main motion strays from the management of time and routine procedural issues and touches on the actual text of the bill, an amendment that attempts to amend the bill is out of order. For example, on May 9, 2023, the House adopted a programming motion for Bill C-21, the firearms act. Part (a) of the main motion then stated that:

it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, that during its consideration of the bill, the committee be granted the power to expand its scope, including that it applies to all proceedings that have taken place prior to the adoption of this order...

The motion went on at some length, instructing the committee to consider a number of amendments to the act. This in turn allowed the Conservative Party to propose an amendment to the programming motion and offer its own amendments to the bill itself, which addressed illegal guns used by criminals and street gangs and brought in measures to crack down on border smuggling and to stop the flow of illegal guns to criminals and gangs in Canada, to name just a few.

The point is that if the main motion does not address the text of the bill, an amendment cannot introduce the new proposition of amending the text of the bill to the programming motion, which should properly be the subject of a separate substantive motion.

Opposition Motion—Auto TheftBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

February 6th, 2024 / 11:15 a.m.
See context

Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I was just saying that this man, Jacques Lamontagne, is a seasoned professional and he said the following:

There are more legal consequences to crossing the border with four kilos of cocaine than with stolen vehicles. Both crimes pay big dividends [to criminal groups and] the criminal underworld. Young thugs run less of a risk if they steal a Jeep Wrangler than if they sell narcotics on the street....There's not much of a deterrent if people know that they'll probably be let off for a first [offence] or, at worst, serve four to six months for car theft compared to a sentence lasting years for selling illicit substances.

I will return to Mr. Lamontagne's use of the term “young thugs”. The phenomenon is fairly widespread. Crime gangs often use young people who often have no criminal record and are sometimes minors. They are asked to steal cars or transport illegal guns because the punishment for first offences is rarely harsh. It is a kind of strategy that these people use. I am not saying that the thieves should not go to prison, but I think that we need to focus primarily on going after these criminal gangs and their leaders.

Where the Conservative Party goes wrong is in assuming that this entire crisis was created by the Prime Minister himself and by lax policies, like Bill C-5, as the Conservatives are claiming.

The motion specifically calls on the government to "immediately reverse changes the Liberal government made in their soft on crime Bill C-5 that allows for car stealing criminals to be on house arrest instead of jail.” Reading the motion, it is clear that the Conservatives are trying to link the increase in auto theft since 2015 to Bill C-5. As my colleague mentioned earlier, Bill C-5 received royal assent at the very end of 2022. I have no idea how the Conservatives came to the conclusion that Bill C-5 is to blame, since auto theft has been increasing since 2015. I do not think there is one simple explanation. The Conservatives are trying to find simple solutions to complicated problems. They say that this Prime Minister has been in office since 2015, so he is responsible for all of society's problems. Again, I am not defending the Prime Minister, but at some point, members have to put forward serious arguments.

Contrary to Conservative claims, Bill C‑5 did not do away with minimum sentences for auto theft. Subsection 333.1(1) of the Criminal Code provides for a minimum sentence of six months in the case of a third offence. The Conservatives may well say that is not enough, but there is one major problem with their assertion. Are they aware that subsection 333.1(1) was added to the Criminal Code by the Conservatives themselves in 2010 via Bill S‑9? If they now find that that is not enough, they have only themselves to blame.

In this motion, the Conservatives also say that Bill C‑5 allowed for conditional sentences for auto theft. These are also known as house arrest, or what the Conservative leader likes to call Netflix sentences. It is true that the Liberals repealed subparagraph 742.1(f)(vii), which prevented conditional sentencing for auto theft. However, the other paragraphs in section 742.1 set out conditions for conditional sentencing: The court must be convinced that there is no risk to society, and the term of imprisonment must be less than two years. The judge may also impose any conditions they deem necessary. In other words, there is nothing preventing a judge from saying no to a conditional sentence. A judge should be able to exercise judgment. The Conservatives are assuming judges are not capable of doing that.

A conditional sentence cannot be imposed for a sentence of two years or more, so it is not an option in the most serious cases, because the maximum sentence is actually 10 years.

The Conservatives are also forgetting that there is always a bail hearing to determine whether an offender can be released while awaiting trial. Unless there are aggravating factors, it is rare for a person to remain in jail while awaiting trial for auto theft. In other words, the Conservatives' claim that criminals are being caught and and then immediately released because of Bill C‑5 is unfounded, because that was happening long before Bill C‑5 came into force.

Once again, it is up to the judge to decide whether an offender should be kept in jail while awaiting trial and what conditions the offender must meet, especially since, as I mentioned earlier, criminals often use minors because they are handed lesser sentences.

I agree with the Conservatives about one thing in every case. Part of the problem is that Ottawa has done absolutely nothing to control auto theft. Under the current conditions, even life in prison will not act as a deterrent, because the federal government is doing absolutely nothing to monitor the port of Montreal, where criminals can easily ship stolen vehicles overseas. I will come back to that later.

However, I want to close by talking about the second part of the Conservative motion, which seeks to “strengthen Criminal Code provisions to ensure repeat car stealing criminals remain in jail”.

Once again, it was the Conservatives who created a specific offence for auto theft, with their Bill S‑9 and section 333.1 in 2010. If they believe that sentences are not long enough, they have only themselves to blame.

The Conservative leader proposed that a third offence be punishable by three years in prison instead of the six months set out in the Criminal Code. The current six-month sentence in the Criminal Code was a Conservative initiative. What the Conservative Party is proposing today are changes to measures it put in place when it was in power.

The Conservative leader is also talking about eliminating house arrest, or conditional sentences, for thieves. As I said, a sentence of two years or more already cannot be served at home. That said, Bill C-5 did allow judges to impose house arrest if they deemed it appropriate, but not automatically, as the Conservatives like to claim. However, the bill did not make any changes to release pending trial.

Let us make one thing clear: The Bloc Québécois is entirely open to revising the Criminal Code to deal with auto theft. That is what the Montreal police department wants as well. This time, they believe that new sections should be added concerning the export of stolen vehicles and that there should be stricter penalties for ring leaders. I think that might be a good solution. I imagine that will come out in the discussions at the national summit on Thursday.

The last proposal in the Conservative motion concerns the Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA, and the export of stolen vehicles. It asks that the CBSA be provided with the resources it needs to prevent auto theft in Canada. I could not agree more with this proposal.

I spoke about this a few months ago. I think that the CBSA, which is under federal jurisdiction, needs to do more. Some people say that it does not have the resources it needs to do more right now, that it is short on labour and funds. They need to figure out what the problem is. Clearly, the CBSA is not doing enough right now.

I spoke about auto theft and how thieves steal vehicles; that is the first step. The second step is exporting the vehicles. Like auto theft, shipping the vehicles out of the country is practically risk free. Clearly, for criminal gangs, it means higher costs and more organization, but it seems to be going well when you look at what is happening at the port of Montreal. That is because it is a sieve.

Around 700,000 containers leave the port of Montreal every year. According to the Customs and Immigration Union, only 1% of all containers are searched. According to the Montreal Port Authority, or MPA, the law does not allow employees or the port authority to open a container unless a person's life is in danger or there is a serious environmental hazard. According to the port's director of communications, when the containers arrive at the port, it is already too late to do anything. The containers remain sealed unless law enforcement intervenes for a specific reason. They need a warrant to open them, so they need reasonable grounds.

Police forces have access to the port and can intervene. However, they do not patrol there because the MPA already has its own security guards. The MPA does not intervene because the police can do it and the police do not intervene because the MPA has its own security guards, so that is just great.

As for customs, the CBSA is responsible for controlling goods for export. CBSA agents can open containers. However, in October, we learned from the Journal de Montréal that there are only five border agents to inspect the containers in Montreal, which makes the task practically impossible. Yes, the CBSA is responsible for overseeing exports, but its mandate is more focused on imports. It also needs to look at what is coming into the country. That is understandable. Do changes need to be made to the CBSA's mandate to ensure that exports are better monitored? I think that is something we need to think about.

Another reason why it is easy to export stolen cars is that anyone can rent a container by filling out a simple online declaration form for the shipping company. We could do it without any problem, just as a small business could. Anyone can change their form up to 48 hours after shipping, so that obviously makes it possible for thieves to cover their tracks once the goods are already on their way to Europe, the Middle East or Africa.

Finally, criminals use numbered companies to fill out those forms. They often use the same or similar serial numbers to defraud the CBSA on their export declaration form.

It should be easy for the Canada Border Services Agency to spot, easy to see that a vehicle serial number comes up repeatedly. At least, Le Journal de Montréal was able to do just that and identify the issue using a simple Excel document. However, for some unknown reason, it seems too difficult for the CBSA.

As early as the fall of 2015, an Auditor General's report stated that export control at the border is ineffective and that only one in five high-risk containers was inspected. Now, we are being told that there are almost no inspections and that, even when there is a concern that there may be high-risk contents, only one container in five is searched and checked. It is easy to understand why there are a huge number of stolen vehicles passing through the port of Montreal without anyone noticing.

I asked the customs union to come testify before the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security on Bill C‑21. The union told us that a lot of illegal or stolen material is shipped in containers that travel in and out of Canada not only by water, but also by train, and that the agency performs almost no inspections. At the time, the government dismissed the criticism out of hand, saying that it did not consider this information important.

What Le Journal de Montréal's investigative bureau reported, in a nutshell, is that only five officers at the Port of Montreal conduct searches. They rely on a temperamental cargo scanner that is constantly breaking down. The agency refuses to second an investigator to a special stolen vehicle export squad. The same serial numbers come up again and again. Critical information is not being forwarded to port services or police in a timely manner, and the agency apparently omits to report high-risk containers to its partners.

We see that many organizations are involved, but, despite that, nothing is getting done.

I would be very pleased to answer my colleagues' questions and I hope the summit being held next week will contribute to finding solutions to address this scourge.

February 1st, 2024 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Michelle Ferreri Conservative Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

Thank you.

Just for the record, obviously we've been pretty candid about where we sit with Bill C-21 in terms of it going towards law-abiding hunters and sport shooters. I think we just want that on the record.

I also want to say to my colleagues that there was an abrupt move to adjourn the last meeting. The reason is that it's really important that I hear from the senator when we're dealing with this and hear that he is okay with this. This is his bill, so it's to make sure that I am listening and that I have all of the right information.

It's not a partisan hack or something like that. I just want it on the record that Senator Boisvenu put this bill forward with so much heart, and he is retiring. His daughter was murdered, as we said into the record many times. I'll talk with my colleague from the NDP about this. We know that we want to get this to the House and we want to get it there correctly, but I just want to say for the record that this was the issue. It is just trying to coordinate, and that's why we had to suspend. It was to make sure that he is okay with this. That's really what we're here to do—to be his vessel to make sure that his daughter's honour is in the right tack.

I just want that on the record.

Thank you.

February 1st, 2024 / 3:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Lisa Hepfner Liberal Hamilton Mountain, ON

Thank you, Chair.

I am happy to move this amendment. This is an amendment to coordinate with Bill C-21, which is also in the process of being passed through Parliament. This is a technical coordinating amendment to ensure that this bill will align with other bills in Parliament that we're studying.

December 11th, 2023 / 4:45 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Leslyn Lewis Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

I'm just not content with that.

I would like the record to show the objections that we had to the other clauses, because I think that should be on the record. There are a number of clauses that impact Bill C-21 and also Bill C-233. There are a number of clauses that impact other bills.

December 4th, 2023 / 5:20 p.m.
See context

Acting Senior Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Department of Justice

Chelsea Moore

This amendment, G-14, would make some changes to ensure that some of the changes in previous clauses line up with Bill C-21, and the previous clauses include clause 2. There's a condition that would be proposed under the new peace bond provision. Currently, it's proposed subsection 810.03(9) on page 4 of the bill. That's a list of conditions the defendants would have to comply with, or potentially comply with, if they're on a peace bond.

In that list, the words “firearm part” are missing. “Firearm part” would be added by Bill C-21.

I don't exactly know all the rules, but I don't believe it can be debated, since it deals with that clause. We haven't changed the numbering in that clause yet. This provision proposes new numbering to reflect a motion that would have passed.

December 4th, 2023 / 5:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Leslyn Lewis Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

I actually see this very differently. When you look at G-3, clause 2, under.... I don't even know how to read this.

In proposed subsection 810.03(8) on page 2 of the committee stage document, you will see that there's a reference that.... Proposed subsection 810.03(8) completely changes subsection 810.03(7), which references the firearms section. That actually doesn't make any sense. It changes it to subsection 810.03(9), which is not the firearms section.

When you go farther down to proposed subsection 810.03(11), you'll see that it does it again when it speaks about “the defendant makes an application under subsection (10)”. It's changing.... It's amending the firearms section.

This G-14 deals specifically with the firearms section. Technically, the firearms section in these two provisions should be dealt with before you contemplate anything dealing with G-14, because G-14 contemplates that Bill C-21 must be introduced prior.

It may be moot if you deal with the firearms section. You can't deal with this without dealing with those two amendments first.

December 4th, 2023 / 5:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Sonia Sidhu Liberal Brampton South, ON

This is a technical coordinating amendment to ensure that Bill S-205 is in line with another bill that Parliament is studying, Bill C-21, should both bills be passed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 30th, 2023 / 4:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands for outlining that important situation. It reflects the needs and concerns of communities right around this country, particularly with respect to firearms.

What I would identify for him is that we have firearms legislation that is currently in the Senate: Bill C-21 is geared toward promoting community safety.

I would also refer him to the specific provisions asked for by Conservative, Liberal and NDP premiers right around the country about ensuring that bail is not provided when people have violated the rules relating to having a loaded, prohibited or restricted firearm. We have added to those and have actually gone further than what was asked for by the premiers to include those who break and enter to steal a firearm, use robbery to steal a firearm or make an automatic firearm.

There is no doubt that ensuring that we get tough with firearms and those who use firearms to commit crimes is part and parcel of keeping our communities safe. This bill will help do that by ensuring those types of people do not get bail, as will Bill C-21.

Democratic InstitutionsOral Questions

November 28th, 2023 / 2:50 p.m.
See context

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, let us keep talking about respect for democracy in the House of Commons. Unelected Conservative senators are blocking the passage of an important gun control bill that passed the House. If our friends across the aisle want to do something for democracy, they should ask the Conservative senators in their caucus to pass Bill C‑21, which was passed by the House of Commons, to protect Canadians from illegal firearms in Canada.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

November 9th, 2023 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to speak to Bill C‑332, which amends the Criminal Code to create an offence of engaging in controlling or coercive conduct that has a significant impact on the person towards whom the conduct is directed, including a fear of violence, a decline in their physical or mental health or a substantial adverse effect on their day-to-day activities.

The issue of controlling and coercive conduct has been an interest of mine for quite some time. This type of conduct includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse, financial control, and implicit or explicit threats to the partner or ex-partner and to their children, belongings or even pets.

First I will spend a little more time talking about the definition, before moving on to other measures we are currently looking at to address violence. I will conclude by explaining some of our concerns with the bill.

First, I have discussed the topic with my colleague from Rivière‑du‑Nord on a number of occasions. That is how I found out that Megan Stephens, one of the witnesses who participated in the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights' study, had mentioned a minor complication, namely, the fact that there is no universally accepted definition. However, the following are some of the definitions that were given over the course of the study: limiting transportation, denying access to household, controlling food consumption, disconnecting phone lines, breaking cell phones and preventing them from going to work or going to school. Combined together, all those forms of behaviour fall under coercive control.

Abusive partners uses isolation, both physical and psychological, as a means to control their partner's contact with friends and family to emotionally bind the partner to them with the shackles of fear, dependency and coercive tactics of control.

In some cases, the violent partner uses state-sanctioned structures to continue to coerce and control their victim by creating problems related to custody of the children and visitation rights. The justice system is used as a weapon against the victim. According to a study published by Statistics Canada in April 2021, intimate partner violence is a serious problem, and controlling and coercive behaviours are an integral part of that. It is difficult to know the exact scope of this type of violence in Canada, because most cases are not reported to the police.

I want to point out that, in 2021, we were in the midst of the pandemic and victims were at home with their abusers 24-7. The fact that most cases of intimate partner violence are not reported to the police is the biggest impediment to determining how many people are affected, documenting the situation and implementing solutions for the victims of these types of behaviour. It is difficult for them to find a way to talk so someone.

During her testimony in committee, Lisa Smylie, the director general of communications and public affairs for the research, results and delivery branch at the Department for Women and Gender Equality, said that only about 36% of domestic violence incidents and 5% of sexual assaults are reported to the police. Those numbers are very low.

According to the data reported by the country's police forces in 2018, women living in rural areas experience intimate partner violence the most. That is also important to note. What is more, even though coercive and controlling violence may be present in other cases, it is present in 95% of cases of domestic violence as we know it.

Today, it is facilitated by technological advances such as geolocation systems, miniature cameras, smart phones and social media platforms. This makes everything more complex. All these things make it easier for the abusers when they want to continue to inflict harm and reinforce the isolation and control, regardless of where their victim may be. There are also the traditional forms of blackmail on social media, such as identity theft, the repeated sending of threatening messages or the disclosure of personal information or content about the victim that is sexual in nature.

In light of the testimony offered during the study at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, a rather high number of offences under the Criminal Code can apply to domestic violence. The committee noted a few problems with the enforcement of the current legislation in the cases of victims of coercive or controlling violence.

Victims are wary of and have little confidence in existing mechanisms, police services and the justice system to adequately deal with their trauma. A number of stakeholders noted that victims believe that they will not be taken seriously and they worry about myths. They do not want to be judged by institutions on their credibility when they report their abusers.

Abusers often create financial and other forms of dependence, which limits the actions that victims caught in this vicious circle can take, because they could lose everything, end up on the street or lose custody of their children.

The divide between the criminal justice system, family courts and community organizations needs to be addressed.

When elements of coercive control and other forms of control are present, the criminal and judicial systems too often say that simply telling one's story is not enough to file a complaint.

Lastly, one of the most serious obstacles is the under-enforcement of the law. Multiple charges against violent men are often reduced to a single charge, usually assault. This charge is then often withdrawn in exchange for a peace bond. This is the infamous section 810.

The many femicides and cases of harassment demonstrate the limitations and the weakness of section 810 in cases where violent men pose a high risk of reoffending. They must be treated differently and required to wear an electronic monitoring device.

Second, the bill proposed by the member for Victoria is part of a growing trend among legislators to focus on coercive violence. In recent years, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights released a report on this issue, which was presented in the House on April 27, 2021. The Standing Committee on the Status of Women also touched on the issue during its study on intimate partner violence and made two motions a priority for the winter of 2024, one of which was my study proposal to look at international best practices in this area and try to learn from them.

I also examined this issue to a lesser degree at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, when I participated a few times in its study on safe practices in sport and the topic of coercive control came up.

More recently, the Liberal member for Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle's Bill C‑233, which was also examined by the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, received royal assent on April 27.

The bill amended the Criminal Code to require judges, in cases of domestic violence, to consider whether it is appropriate for the accused to wear an electronic monitoring device before issuing a release order. In addition, the bill amended the Judges Act to include an obligation to hold continuing education seminars on issues of sexual assault, intimate partner violence and coercive control.

To a lesser extent, Bill C-21, which is currently before the Senate, focuses primarily on gun control and revoking possession when an individual is suspected of, or has engaged in, domestic violence, including coercive and controlling behaviour. This is part of a trend.

Third, Bill C-332 amends the Criminal Code, after section 264, by introducing the concept of controlling or coercive conduct as a criminal offence. The Bloc Québécois supports the objective of Bill C-332. However, we see several major shortcomings that will have to be studied in committee. The scope of the bill should be expanded to allow former spouses or other family members who are not part of the household to testify, in order to break the infamous “one person's word against another's” system. That is good.

What is more, consideration of testimony from neighbours, colleagues or others might also make it easier for victims to come forward. The severity of sentences and the consideration given to children in cases of coercive or controlling violent behaviour are other important factors. Reviewing the grounds on which prosecutors drop several charges and opt for the lowest common denominator shows that this can hinder the administration of justice and undermine public confidence and the victims' confidence in the courts that deal with these issues. We have to study all of that.

There are already 35 sections in the Criminal Code that can apply to domestic or family violence. They just need to be rigorously enforced, and we need to think of ways of ensuring that prosecutors rely on these sections more often in cases of coercive or controlling violence. We also need to address the difficulties associated with collecting evidence and ensuring solid and sound prosecution.

Megan Stephens, Executive Director and General Counsel at Women's Legal Education and Action Fund argued that Bill C‑247 and Bill C‑332 can make the legislation unnecessarily complex because new concepts are being introduced when the Criminal Code already contains very similar offences, particularly on criminal harassment and human trafficking. We will need to take a closer look at that.

The wording of the two NDP members' bills does not address the issue of victims having to relive their trauma. They will have to retell their stories over and over again, just as they do now, which has been roundly criticized. Furthermore, Bill C-332, as currently drafted, does not change how these matters are dealt with by the courts and the authorities.

In closing, if we want to ensure that this never happens again, if we want to put an end to this shadow epidemic, we must take action. We must take action because violence is not always physical, but it always hurts.

As a final point, the Quebec National Assembly has also made this call. I had a discussion with an MNA in Quebec City this summer. She told me that the Quebec National Assembly had done its part, that it had produced the report “Rebuilding Trust” and said that the ball was now in Ottawa's court. She said that the National Assembly does not have jurisdiction to study coercive control in the Criminal Code. I took it upon myself to heed the call from the Quebec National Assembly, a call made by female MNAs who did exceptional, non-partisan work.

Let us try to examine it intelligently in committee.

October 16th, 2023 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

As I've said several times since this debate began, I think it's extremely unfortunate that we're spending several hours debating numerous motions that all point in the same direction, when the committee has an agenda to follow: we should be debating Bill C‑20; some people have reminded us of how important it is to them. Indeed, we've all received emails from victims who have been harmed by the Canada Border Services Agency, and they deserve to have parliamentarians take a look at this important bill. Personally, I think it's a shame for these people. I'd even say it's disrespectful to the people who are watching the committee's work, hoping that we'll finally get around to studying this bill. It's also disrespectful to the civil servants who, let's put it this way, are wasting time here while we debate another subject.

I'm not saying this subject isn't important. Of course it's important. There are probably 50 other important topics related to public safety in Canada that we could be debating here. It's just that the timing isn't right. I think we've already wasted too much time and we should be debating Bill C‑20.

That said, I think my colleague Ms. O'Connell has proposed a reasonable compromise in introducing the motion before us. It's the Conservatives' desire to debate this subject, once the study of Bill C‑20 has been completed, and I agree. I would even have gone so far as to say that, since bills are this committee's priority, the debate on this subject could have been held after the study of Bill C-26. However, we agreed to consider this issue directly after the study of Bill C‑20. Ms. O'Connell has proposed a reasonable motion, which I think we could all agree on.

Of course, I'm against the amendments and subamendments proposed by the Conservative Party. We've had ample opportunity to discuss and negotiate behind the scenes so we can't do it here in committee and waste a lot of people's time. The Conservatives always come up with a new proposal to stretch out debate time. They want to politicize the debate and that's really deplorable. It's no secret that they're politicizing the debate. As I've already said, I'd like to take the question even further: should we politicize this process too? The Correctional Service of Canada exists for a reason, it has specific tasks to accomplish, so I don't understand why we're bringing the minister into this.

I agree with a few things Mr. Julian mentioned about public servants, whom we once again allowed to leave after several hours of hearing us debate this.

Out of respect for the people who expect us to do our job, I'd like us to go ahead, vote on the subamendments, on the amendments and on the motion, come to a consensus and proceed with Bill C‑20. There are people who have been waiting for this for a long time.

I said that some of the blame lies with the Conservatives, who are filibustering in Parliament and stretching out debate time on this issue, but it must also be said that the committee spent a lot of time studying Bill C-21 because the government had more or less done its job well. In the case of Bill C‑20, this is the third time in a few years that a similar bill has come before the House of Commons. In the meantime, there has been prorogation and an election; obviously, this is coming from the Liberal side.

So I see political jousting on both sides and I find it deplorable. It's a subject that shouldn't be politicized.

I ask that we vote on the proposal before the committee at this time.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

October 16th, 2023 / 11:05 a.m.
See context

Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the Bloc Québécois to speak to Bill C‑325. I would like to say from the outset that we will be voting in favour of the bill so that it can be studied in committee. I am confident that my colleague from Rivière-du-Nord will make a constructive contribution. I will begin my speech with a summary of the bill. I will then go over Quebec's requests. Lastly, I will briefly go over some highly publicized cases, such as the one involving Marylène Levesque.

First, the bill would create a new offence for the breach of conditions of conditional release for certain serious offences with a maximum sentence of two years, or at least in relation to a summary conviction. It would require the reporting of the breach of conditions to the authorities, and it would amend the Criminal Code to preclude persons convicted of certain offences from serving their sentence in the community.

The reality is that judges have the discretion to impose a community-based sentence, but are not obligated to do so. Judges must weigh a series of factors before handing down a sentence. Crown prosecutors could also agree with the defence on a community-based sentence if they felt that the circumstances warranted it.

The bill is short. It contains only three clauses and amends two acts, namely the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

Clause 1 of Bill C‑325 adds a subsection to section 145 of the Criminal Code. It adds a criminal offence after subsection 5 for the breach of conditions of conditional release; for the breach of a condition of parole; and for breach of a condition of a release on reconnaissance. As mentioned in Bill C‑325, schedules I and II of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act include a wide range of offences, from child pornography to attempted murder. The intention is to tighten up the legislation for breaches of conditions of parole or statutory release, which is the almost automatic release after completion of two-thirds of a sentence. However, there is no evidence that Bill C‑325 is necessary, since the Parole Board of Canada, or PBC, already has the power to revoke parole. For example, a sexual predator in Montreal recently had his parole revoked by the PBC for breach of his conditions.

Subclause 2(1) of Bill C‑325 replaces paragraph 742.1(c) of the Criminal Code, which specifies that a sentence may be served at home for certain offences, to simply disqualify a sentence from being served in the community for any offence that carries a maximum sentence of 14 years or more. The current paragraph 742.1(c) of the Criminal Code states that a community-based sentence cannot be handed down for the following offences: attempt to commit murder, torture, or advocating genocide. Bill C‑325 is therefore much broader than paragraph 742.1(c), since many offences now carry a maximum sentence of 14 years, such as altering a firearm magazine once Bill C‑21 receives royal assent.

Subclause 2(2) adds two new paragraphs after paragraph 742.1(d) to specify that a conditional sentence, that is, a sentence to be served in the community, cannot be imposed for an offence that resulted in bodily harm, that involved drug trafficking, or that involved the use of a weapon. In addition, a community-based sentence cannot be imposed for the following offences: prison breach, criminal harassment, sexual assault, kidnapping, trafficking, abduction of a person under the age of 14, motor vehicle theft, theft over $5,000, breaking and entering, being unlawfully in a dwelling-house, and arson for a fraudulent purpose. That is a pretty broad list, and we will have to see in committee whether certain offences need to be added or removed.

Clause 3 amends the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. It states that, if a parole supervisor discovers that an offender on conditional release has breached their parole conditions, they must inform the Parole Board, the Attorney General and the police force with jurisdiction where the breach occurred of the breach and the circumstances surrounding the breach.

It is important to note that, contrary to what the Conservatives suggest, judges have discretionary power to give individuals community-based sentences. It is not automatic, and judges must factor in the risk of reoffending and the consequences of a sentence served at home.

Second, the Bloc Québécois intends to introduce a bill that addresses problems with Bill C‑5. The member for Rivière-du-Nord talked about the upcoming introduction of a bill to close some of the gaps in Bill C‑5. According to my colleague, conditional sentences should be not be allowed for most sexual assault cases and gun crimes, and he will be introducing a bill in the coming weeks to reinstate minimum sentences for those crimes. While Bill C‑5 was up for debate, the National Assembly unanimously passed a motion condemning its controversial provisions. My colleague's bill is based on that motion.

The motion accused Ottawa of setting back the fight against sexual assault. The member for Rivière‑du‑Nord had already moved an amendment to the bill that would have retained minimum sentences while giving judges discretion to depart from them in exceptional cases, with justification. This amendment was defeated, but the Bloc Québécois ended up voting for Bill C‑5 anyway, since it also provided for diversion for simple drug possession offences. As justice critic, the member for Rivière-du-Nord intends to call for the government to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new bill that, in his opinion, could satisfy both the Liberals and the Conservatives. I know that he has spoken about this a few times.

Third, I will talk about a few cases to provide some food for thought in this debate. A man who assaulted a sleeping woman benefited from the leniency of a judge who sentenced him to serve his sentence in the community, even though he himself was prepared to go to jail.

On Monday, a Crown prosecutor expressed outrage that, after eight years of legal proceedings, a sex offender was let off with a 20-month sentence to be served in the community. In his words, the federal Liberals “have a lot to answer for to victims”. Since the passage of Bill C‑5 in June, it is once again possible to impose a conditional sentence, or a sentence to be served in the community, for the crime of sexual assault, which had not been allowed since 2007. The Crown prosecutor blames Parliament for passing Bill C‑5, which reintroduced conditional sentences.

The other highly publicized case is that of Marylène Levesque. Coroner Stéphanie Gamache determined that an electronic bracelet with geolocation could have prevented Ms. Levesque's murder in January 2020 in a Quebec City hotel room. The coroner recommended that all offenders convicted of homicide tied to domestic violence should be required to wear the device upon release as part of their correctional plan. As a result of pressure from Quebec, the matter has now made its way to Ottawa. I even had an opportunity to study the bill on the device at the Standing Committee on the Status of Women following pressure from Quebec. It was a recommendation in the report entitled “Rebâtir la confiance”, on rebuilding trust in the justice system. Some progress has been made on advancing the issue in Ottawa through the work of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.

Following Marylène Levesque's murder, Correctional Service Canada and the Parole Board of Canada reviewed their practices and adopted a series of measures to ensure better monitoring of offenders. However, the coroner ruled that this is not enough. It is not just a question of electronic bracelets, either. According to the coroner, the correctional plan of the murderer, Eustachio Gallese, should also be reviewed in order to identify what elements may have led to his lack of accountability.

This could help prevent another similar tragedy. In her report, coroner Gamache wrote that the comprehensive correctional intervention plan prepared for this offender was a resounding failure. Marylène Levesque's murder occurred less than a year after he was granted parole. At the time, Eustachio Gallese was on day parole for the 2004 murder of his ex-wife. His parole officer had given him permission to visit erotic massage parlours once a month, but in reality, according to the police investigation, he was going up to three times a week. In short, an electronic bracelet with geolocation would at least have made it possible to detect these lies and subterfuges and to take action before it was too late. That is what the coroner argued. This bracelet allows for better monitoring, but that is not all.

In conclusion, for all these reasons, this bill must be referred to committee. We need to go back to the drawing board and rise above partisanship. The Bloc Québécois intends to make a constructive contribution to this debate.

We have made a lot of progress in Quebec, and we have done a lot of thinking. I hope to have the opportunity to come back to this, but on Thursday evening, I celebrated the 50th anniversary of the community organization Joins-toi, which works to help people who have committed crimes re-enter society. Working to reintegrate people and offering them alternatives to the criminal lifestyle is an intrinsic value that we cherish in Quebec. At the event, we heard about all the progress that has been made thanks to the community and to dedicated stakeholders who believe in restorative justice. This is a model that Quebec has done a lot to develop. I would like to pay tribute to the entire Maison Joins-toi team. I hope that I will have another opportunity to commend its members and highlight their work, as I was able to do on Thursday on the occasion of this milestone anniversary.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

October 4th, 2023 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the hon. member to the justice committee. When we are seized with Bill C-21, we will look at those amendments, as I do share a concern around some of them.

It is one thing to say that we want Canadians to be safe. It is another thing to put in place the legislative measures to make sure that happens. I am committed to working with all parliamentarians, including the hon. member, to pass legislation that allows us to protect our streets, protect our communities and protect victims.

Opposition Motion—Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

September 28th, 2023 / 11:10 a.m.
See context

Bloc

Yves-François Blanchet Bloc Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to start by saying that I have the pleasure of sharing my time with my esteemed colleague, the hon. member for Jonquière.

Next, I want to quickly thank our Conservative friends. They have given us an amazing opportunity to expose their battle tactics. In my view, they have given us this opportunity far too early, to their own disadvantage. These tactics could prove to be their undoing. In summary, their strategy is to say the opposite of the truth or, to put it more bluntly, to lie.

The example of the firearms bill made that quite clear. The Conservatives brag like there is no tomorrow, but the removal of hunting rifles from Bill C-21 is due solely to the efforts of the member for Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia. To say otherwise would be a crude and vulgar lie.

The example of the emissions regulations is another good joke. We do not get to vote on regulations. Let everyone take note. However, true to form, relying on rather old-fashioned tactics, the Conservatives have cobbled together a motion containing one point and a whole lot of vitriol. Now they are saying that if we do not want the point, we have to swallow the vitriol. Obviously, we vote against these kinds of Conservative motions. That is the natural reflex of an intelligent person.

The carbon tax does not apply to Quebec. I am almost tempted to say it in English, so there will be a small chance that three people or so will understand me. The carbon tax does not apply to Quebec. Quebec has a carbon exchange. It is a cap-and-trade system that was negotiated by successive ministers of the environment. The minister of the environment who was in office when the system was introduced in 2013 is someone I know well. It is me.

I just want the Conservatives to know that their attack ads are not working on Quebeckers. They can make all the dumb little jokes they want and buy ad spots on television because their coffers are full, but it is not working on Quebeckers. The Conservatives do not realize it. What do they know about Quebec? They held a convention in Quebec City where they somehow managed to avoid talking about Quebec and adopted proposals that run counter to what Quebeckers want. The Conservative leader comes to Quebec once a year, but he wants people to think that he has a second home there.

It was a tactical error to do this so early and to tell these lies so early. I have a whole year to debunk these lies, expose these tactics and show that the Conservative leader is not worthy of Quebeckers' trust, whether he becomes prime minister or not.

Canadians are caught between a rock and a hard place. They are caught between right-wing activists and proponents of fake left-wing individualism. They are caught between the Conservatives and the Liberals. However, that is not the case in Quebec. In Quebec, Quebeckers have the Bloc Québécois. They may even have the balance of power without any risk. We vote for what is good for Quebec, whether it comes from the Conservatives or the Liberals. We vote against what is bad for Quebec. In the meantime, we try to improve what is presented.

Let us look at the contents of the latest narrow-minded Conservative propaganda motion. First, as I was saying, the Bloc Québécois did not support anything because we do not vote to pass regulations. As usual, the Conservatives cooked up a motion today to try to trick the House. We will vote against the motion again today because it is bad for Quebec.

Still, the Conservative leader has done us a favour. I am pleased because, in between buying a tight T-shirt and a pair of Ray-Bans, by attacking us, he is admitting that it is the Bloc Québécois that will prevent any party from having a majority in the House, as it did in 2019 and 2021.

When we are talking about these two parties, a majority spells bad news for Quebec. The Bloc Québécois has never asked for new taxes or an increase in taxes. That is untrue. That is on the Conservatives. It is fake news.

Yes, the cost of living is a concern. Gas prices are concerning. The cost of groceries is concerning. Costs for farmers are concerning, as are costs for truckers. The plight of seniors is concerning, or at least it is to us. However, none of that is because of the carbon tax in Quebec. It does not apply in Quebec.

There is a question I often want to ask the Conservatives. I want to know what their issue is with the truth. I will explain why things are so expensive. I will explain why the Conservative leader's wacky idea of imposing partisan Conservative rule on the central bank is a ridiculous idea.

Here is a number: $200 billion. That is how much the oil companies made in profits in 2022. I repeat: $200 billion. There are 11 zeros in that number. In Canada, there are 40 million people, including Quebeckers. Let us do the math. Let us remove seven zeros from the $200 billion. That adds up to $5,000 per capita in profits for the oil companies. That includes babies, seniors, everyone.

The Conservatives claim that fighting climate change is increasing the cost of living. That is false. It is big oil's despicable profits that are increasing the cost of living. That is $200 billion in 2022 alone, on the backs of farmers, seniors, truck drivers, families. They need to stop with the lies. They are just knock-off lobbyists for big oil.

The Liberals are no better. There is one group that lies and another that covers up, and the oil companies are profiting from the $200 billion in generous subsidies.

Neither one of these parties is working for the environment. Neither one of these parties is working for Quebec.

The Bloc Québécois will continue to work in good faith to keep Parliament running, even though some members are in campaign mode. We will continue to fight against inflation in a responsible and clean way. We will not put up with lies or deceit.

We will be voting against this motion. If the Conservatives or Liberals are looking for Quebec, if they are looking for the Bloc Québécois, they know where to find us.