An Act to amend the Criminal Code (life imprisonment)

Sponsor

Frank Caputo  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Outside the Order of Precedence (a private member's bill that hasn't yet won the draw that determines which private member's bills can be debated), as of Oct. 4, 2022

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-299.

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.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

November 17th, 2022 / 6:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Frank Caputo Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to stand on behalf of the people of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo.

Standing here, for me, is a bit of a dream. As my colleague for North Okanagan—Shuswap mentioned, this is a bill that I drafted. As I stood behind him when he was speaking, I was moved because two years ago, I never would have imagined that I would be sitting behind him in the House of Commons or standing up on this point, which deals with an issue so close to my heart.

Making this a reality is key. When I stood on people's doorsteps, I would tell them that this is something I wanted to change when I got to Parliament, and I am indebted to my colleague for North Okanagan—Shuswap for using his spot in the priority to work together to get this bill passed.

Before I get any further on this point, I would like to say that, in my maiden speech, this issue came up. I implored everybody in the House to change the definition of the term “child pornography” because it is not pornography. It is not consensually made material. To be speaking to this bill here today is one of the greatest honours of my career.

I would like to read from somebody who was a mentor to me on the bench and also in the classroom, the hon. Judge Gregory Koturbash. Like most good lawyers, he was educated at the University of Saskatchewan faculty of law, and I would like to read a decision of his. He wrote:

The phrase “child pornography” dilutes the true meaning of what these images and videos represent to some degree. The term “pornography” reinforces the perception that what is occurring is consensual and a mutual experience between the viewer and the actor. These are not actors. It is not consensual. These are images and videos of child sexual abuse.

Judge Koturbash continued:

The problem is so pervasive that police are required to triage and pursue only those with extensive collections or those involved in dissemination. One judge describes it as a virtual firehose spewing depraved and disturbing images across the internet. In addition to the ever-increasing supply, changes in technology make fighting its growth increasingly challenging.

I am standing before members today as a legislator, but I am not the Minister of Justice and I am not the Prime Minister. I do not want to put words in the mouth of my colleague from the NDP who spoke before me, but I understood him to say that this is a change in the wording and not necessarily a change in what is happening in combatting what is occurring.

Let us not make any mistake. What is occurring in this sort of material is the repeated victimization of children. I say “repeated” because the act itself happens, and the act is recorded. Every time that media is disseminated, viewed or passed on to somebody else, that child is revictimized, and we cannot lose sight of that. The children do not ask to be abused. However, not only are they abused, but that abuse is also perpetuated. It is my view that sentencing must get in line with the pernicious and insidious nature of this offence.

As my colleague from the NDP just alluded to, I also thank the police officers. Most people do not know what police go through. If there is a large downloaded data extraction for the police, often a police officer will have to go through nearly all of those images to ensure there is not a victim that was offended against by the person in possession of them.

We will have police officers at a constable level who go through, literally, 3,000 media files. They could be out on the streets. They could be investigating robberies. They could be investigating break and enters, but no, they are looking at media that will probably harm them psychologically maybe for the rest of their lives, maybe for a few months.

As a former prosecutor, I remember that some of the most scarring things were reading about what was in these files. I did not generally have to look at them. Those times as a prosecutor that I had to deal with these things even in the written word, I can say I viewed it as traumatizing, disgusting, vile material.

Make no mistake. I am not in a position to legislate unfettered on this point, but I will say this. If I ever am in the position where I can legislate with respect to sexual offences unfettered, I have a message. Those who carry out these offences should be worried. In a world where children do not even know that they may be being victimized, I will advocate for real penalties. In a country where people repeatedly trade images of children being abused, I will not take my foot off the gas pedal, nor will my Conservative colleagues do so, until anyone who trades in these images sees the inside of a jail cell.

Why? They are perpetuating the victimization of children again and again and again. We will not stop until that is exposed. I will look under every single rock I have to legislatively to put an end to this. I can speak for my own Conservative colleagues that we will do the same and I hope that every single person in the House does the same and is prepared to commit to the same.

Some people may disagree ideologically, but house arrest, where a person can enjoy the comforts of their life, is not an appropriate sentence legislatively for people who produce these materials, who access these materials and who distribute these materials. I call for us to end conditional sentence orders for possession, distribution and production of child sexual abuse material.

One of our greatest failings as a society is to allow our children to be victimized in this way.

This is not a partisan issue, but I can say this much. When I would attend conferences with people in British Columbia, there would be people in the same room, police officers, who, again, investigated this work, oftentimes to the detriment of their mental health, as well as prosecutors, subject matter experts and people who worked for non-profits. I will never forget when someone in the room said, “I am not going to use the term 'child pornography' anymore. Let us call it what it is: 'child sexual abuse material'.” That person stopped saying what they were saying because it is not pornography.

I encourage the House to not stop here. Let us deal with Internet luring. Let us deal with sexual interference. Let us deal with all of these cases. It is time for sentences to get stronger, just like I proposed in Bill C-299.

I know that my colleague from North Okanagan—Shuswap is passionate about this. I can speak for my colleagues on this side of the House. We are prepared to do whatever it takes.

Again, I thank my colleague for using his position in the order of precedence to bring this bill forward. I hope that it is the first of many to come in which we take seriously the protection of children.

November 17th, 2022 / 4:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Frank Caputo Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Minister. It's always a pleasure to have you here before the committee.

I have to ask a bit of a selfish question, following up from the last time you were here. I asked about Bill C‑299, which would raise maximum sentences to life imprisonment for sexual offenders.

I'm wondering if you've had time to contemplate that and whether it's something you might be prepared to support.

October 24th, 2022 / noon
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Conservative

Frank Caputo Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

The reason I used intoxication by alcohol is that, as I recall, that was Daviault. Those were the facts.

For me personally, this is an area of significant concern. That's why, two weeks ago, I put forward Bill C-299, which would raise the maximum sentences for all sexual offences—or not all, but almost all sexual offences—proceeding by indictment to life imprisonment to reflect this epidemic and to reflect the seriousness of this, to reflect that victims themselves are often put into a psychological life imprisonment when they are sexually assaulted.

Is that something you could see yourself supporting?

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

October 4th, 2022 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Frank Caputo Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-299, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (life imprisonment).

Madam Speaker, it an honour to stand here on behalf of the people of Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo—