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Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-5.

JusticeOral Questions

December 16th, 2021 / 3 p.m.
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Conservative

Alex Ruff Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege of speaking to students in a grade 10 civics class this morning in my riding of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound. I asked for their feedback on Bill C-5.

They would like to know if the government is willing to amend the bill and keep mandatory minimums for extortion with a firearm; importing, exporting or possession of drugs for the purpose of exporting; and the production of hard drugs; that is heroin, cocaine, fentanyl and crystal meth. In their opinion, these serious crimes make sense with mandatory minimums.

If these kids get it, why does the government not get it?

Government Business No. 4—An Act to Provide Further Support in Response to COVID-19Government Orders

December 16th, 2021 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Michelle Ferreri Conservative Peterborough—Kawartha, ON

Madam Speaker, when we look at how we treat addiction and mental health, we have to change how we talk about it. We have to see it as the disease that it is. Consumption treatment sites absolutely are important when we look at harm reduction, but the bigger, long-term sustainable solution is treatment and intervention. We need to focus on that.

Right now we have a situation in our community of Peterborough—Kawartha where the criminals who are dealing these drugs that are killing people are being put back out on the streets. Things like Bill C-5 are not helping with that. We need legislation that actually deals with this issue, to make sure the people who are dealing these drugs are held accountable.

December 16th, 2021 / 11:50 a.m.
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Bloc

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

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I will pick up where I left off earlier. The minister said that some 74 weapons had been seized by the RCMP. That is good, but it is not enough. Some 700 weapons were seized by Montreal police last year. And, again according to TVA Nouvelles, there are almost as many guns coming across the border per week as police across Canada seize in a year.

What we understand from the minister's comments is that current gun control measures are adequate, but more are needed. However, according to journalistic investigations, these measures are clearly not sufficient and are therefore not adequate. We need a change of direction. In Montreal right now, an American-style gun culture is taking hold. People are thinking of getting a gun to protect themselves and their children and they are obviously getting their guns illegally. In Montreal, young people are dying in libraries or on the street, in broad daylight or when it's not very late at night. Yet, the only measure adopted so far by the government has been to introduce Bill C‑5, which provides for the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences for firearms-related crimes. We're calling for something a little more serious to control guns and stop their illegal trafficking.

Does the minister have a plan? In the coming months, what does his government intend to do concretely to fight against firearms trafficking?

December 16th, 2021 / 11:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Marco Mendicino Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

In fact, as I have said, Bill C-5 ensures that we would be raising maximum penalties for serious gun crimes, because we believe that is the right thing to do. I would simply point out that, in addition to taking that position on Bill C-5, we have put in place additional gun control that does focus on illegal gun crime. That is how we are going to ensure that we create safer communities, Mr. Lloyd.

I know that the Conservative Party sometimes takes a fundamentally different view—

December 16th, 2021 / 11:45 a.m.
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Conservative

Dane Lloyd Conservative Sturgeon River—Parkland, AB

Thank you, Minister.

A message from my constituents.... In your opening remarks, you said that there is one common denominator for all of these crimes and that's a firearm. Well, you're missing the obvious thing, Minister. The other obvious common denominator is the criminals themselves, and it's time to focus on the criminals in this matter.

You also claimed in your statement that you want to increase penalties on gun smugglers, yet Bill C-5, your government's policy, is seeking to reduce mandatory minimum sentences. In fact, in the last Parliament, when our Conservative colleague Bob Saroya brought up Bill C-238 to increase penalties for the possession of smuggled firearms, you and your party voted against that policy.

Why do your actions not match your words, Minister?

December 16th, 2021 / 11:40 a.m.
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Conservative

Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I just want to make it clear, Minister, that your government has been in power for six years. For six years, we've seen violent crime go up. We've seen violent crime with guns go up. We've seen deaths from drug traffickers go up to extraordinary rates. Again, 7,000 Canadians a year are dying from opioids. We're seeing this problem raging in Winnipeg, Toronto and especially Vancouver, where the NDP member is from. This is a serious issue, yet with Bill C‑5, we're seeing a reduction of or no mandatory minimum prison time for the people responsible for those deaths.

For my question, I'd like to now focus on the issue of gun smuggling. You talked a little bit about it, but what frustrates me in particular is where your government is investing its resources. We see the buyback program, in which we know no criminals will be providing their guns back to the federal government. That's not going to impact criminal gun behaviour, yet we know the buyback program will cost.... I've seen estimates from $1 billion to even $3 billion. It's going to cost the taxpayer maybe $3 billion. We know that RCMP resources, which are already stretched far too thin, are going to have to put thousands of hours towards this buyback program.

We do feel that the resources your government is focusing on the buyback program are misplaced. If you would invest $1 billion to $3 billion at our borders, I think we would see a lot fewer illegal guns from the United States smuggled in by gangs, used in drug trafficking and used to kill innocent Canadians.

I do want to ask you something specific about the smuggling across the border. We know that border communities are being used to smuggle guns and dangerous drugs through. We know that there are some first nations communities in Quebec, for example, that border the American and Quebec border. I'd like to know what discussions you've had with those first nations communities about providing them with resources to keep their people safe and to stop the smuggling of any illegal substances or firearms that may be coming through the border in those areas of our country.

December 16th, 2021 / 11:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Thank you, Minister.

We don't share your belief that allowing criminals who use firearms in robberies, for extortion and serious gun crimes like that.... We believe they should go to jail and that would help clean up our streets. We are concerned that Bill C-5 is allowing these criminals to return to our streets and ensure violence continues.

Another issue that we know is deeply tied to gun violence in Montreal and Toronto is, of course, drug trafficking, pushing of opioids, fentanyl and heroin. We know opioids kill 7,000 Canadians a year, yet Bill C-5 also eliminates the mandatory prison time for drug traffickers, so we're quite concerned. We know gang violence and gun violence are deeply interrelated with drug trafficking, yet you're taking away the ability for mandatory prison time for those who commit dangerous, violent gun crime and those who are pushing drugs on people, which is killing 7,000 Canadians a year.

Again, we see Bill C-5 as completely opposite of what needs to be done to address gun violence and the gang and drug-trafficking activity that is fuelling that in our cities. In Manitoba alone, we had 372 drug-related deaths in 2020, so we find this to be very serious.

Does the minister believe leaving criminal drug traffickers on our streets, rather than putting them in prison where they rightfully belong for killing thousands of Canadians, will stop gang violence in Montreal?

December 16th, 2021 / 11:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Marco Mendicino Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Ms. Dancho, I do. Before I tell you why, I want to thank you for your advocacy and for bringing your experiences, both in Winnipeg and Montreal, to this committee.

I will say that Bill C-5 does ensure that a number of mandatory minimum penalties with regard to firearms offences, serious firearms offences, remain in place. Not only that, but as I have said, there are a number of serious firearms offences to which we propose to increase maximum penalties, which of course we trust our independent judiciary to dispense where appropriate.

I will also say, as I outlined in my remarks, that our government takes this issue very seriously, which is why we have introduced additional gun controls, particularly the banning of assault rifles. We are now going to take the next steps to do whatever it takes to reduce gun violence, because I believe we are all joined in that cause.

December 16th, 2021 / 11:15 a.m.
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Conservative

Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I thank the minister for being with us today on relatively short notice.

Minister, I've lived in Montreal for a number of years. It's deeply important to me that we see the issue of gun violence solved in that country, but we also see violent crime across Canada. I represent a riding in Winnipeg, and we're seeing increased violence there as well. In fact, across Canada, in five of the last six years, violent crime has gone up. Firearms-related offences have increased for six years in a row now. Homicides are at a 30-year high, and we know that at least one-third of homicides are committed with firearms. As long as I've been alive, homicides haven't been this bad. I think that's pretty serious, and we're hoping for serious action from your government.

Winnipeg itself is on track to surpass its 2019 homicide record, and it was also ranked the violent crime capital of Canada in 2020. Conservative members are taking the violent crime we're seeing surging across the country over the last six years very seriously.

However, we are also disappointed following one of the shootings this fall in Montreal. I think it was even the day after your government introduced Bill C-5, which removes mandatory prison time, as you know, for robberies with a firearm, extortion with a firearm, weapons trafficking, discharging a firearm with intent to injure, and using a firearm in the commission of a crime. We're quite concerned that, on one hand, we're seeing criminals using often illegally smuggled guns to harm our communities, and on the other hand, your government is taking away the ability to ensure mandatory prison time.

I'd like to know if you believe Bill C-5 will keep criminals responsible for the shootings in Montreal, and others across the country, off our streets.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 15th, 2021 / 6:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Lianne Rood Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, as this is my first time rising to give a speech as a member of the 44th Parliament, I want to take a moment to thank the people of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex for re-electing me to this place on their behalf. It is a responsibility, honour and privilege that I do not take lightly. I am really grateful to them for sending me back here.

My re-election was made possible by everyone who supported my campaign, believed in me, had my back and helped me through this journey. With the dedication and professionalism of my team, the passion and commitment of our volunteers, the generosity and sacrifice of our donors and, of course, the love and support of family and friends, we were able to share our positive Conservative vision. I am grateful beyond words.

I would not be here without my amazing campaign team. I thank my campaign manager David Sverginsky, my official agent Doug Plummer, and the rest of my core team and staff without whom I would not be here. They are Russ Kykendall, Tony Reznowski, Yvonne Hundey, Anna Marie Young, Todd Gurd, Cheri Davies and Kim Heathcote; and the group of volunteers who canvassed with me almost every day: Archie Nugteren, Mark Etienne, Gerry Rupke, Steve Stellingwerff, Marius, Juliette, Hannah Kurjanowicz, Brandon MacDougall, and my predecessor, Bev Shipley.

I would also like to thank Julie, Angela, Holly, Candice and Jennifer for always being there and for their steadfast support throughout my political journey.

The sign crew put up over 3,000 signs. I thank them for their hard work and dedication.

A special thanks to my parents, Diane and Theo Rood, for their love and support. My dad took on the enormous task of installing the signs, removing them and just being there for me throughout this.

I thank my brothers Jeremy Rood and Steele Leacock, and my grandma, Helen Jamrozinski, for their love and support throughout this journey.

Going on to the bill that is before us, it should come as no surprise when I say the Conservatives are the party of law and order. We are the party that stands with victims of crime and their loved ones. We are the party that applies common sense and outcome-based principles to protect innocent Canadians from violent criminals who would harm others. We are the party that understands that it is criminals who are committing these crimes, not law-abiding firearms owners, anglers, hunters and sports shooters.

The Liberals claim to be serious about getting tough on crime, but their hypocritical actions speak louder than words. Last February, in the previous Parliament, the government introduced Bill C-22. The goal of this harmful legislation was to reduce the sentences for illegal gun smugglers and remove mandatory minimum sentences for many serious offences. That bill died when the election was called, but here we are again with the same bill, but with a different number.

Just months before the Prime Minister called an unnecessary election in the middle of a pandemic, my Conservative colleague introduced a private member's bill, which would have imposed tougher sentences for criminals who were caught smuggling or in possession of illegal guns, which is the larger problem.

Brian Sauvé, who is the president of the National Police Federation, has said that policies like what the Liberals are advocating for may be politically popular, but they fail to address the root cause of gun violence. He says:

The narrative is that we need to restrict gun ownership because that will curtail crime, when really the evidence is that illegal gun trafficking leads to criminals owning guns, which leads to crimes with firearms.

Therefore, we need to look at the source of the problem.

Crimes with firearms are exactly what the government claims it wants to stop, yet it voted against a bill and continues to fail to support legislation that will do just that. Does that sound like a government that is serious on tackling gun crime for the people of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex? It sounds kind of hypocritical to me.

Bill C-22 is back as Bill C-5, but with the same purpose. This legislation is a revolving door for criminals. It would do nothing to stop crime. It would do the exact opposite. It would repeal the penalties for crimes like weapons trafficking, reckless discharge of a firearm, discharge with intent to wound or endanger and armed robbery. It would also remove conditional sentencing for heinous crimes like sexual assault, kidnapping, child abduction, human trafficking, vehicle theft and arson.

That tells me the Liberal elites in Ottawa do not care about our safety or the safety of our loved ones. Conservatives like myself will always fight against harmful legislation like Bill C-5. Canadians do not want the justice system to be a constantly revolving door. Common sense must prevail for all common good.

I studied criminology in university, and I have friends who are corrections officers, probation and parole officers. I hear the same thing from them all the time. It is the same people revolving through the doors committing the same crimes over and over again. If it is a provincial offence, which is two years less a day, they will not get the kind of help they would need. If they were sent to a federal facility, they would have help for mental health and addictions problems.

The government has a role to play in ensuring that Canadians, victims of crime and their families can exist freely and without fear in our society, but in Bill C-5, the Liberals are telling Canadians that these offenses are no big deal. Is it no big deal that someone could leave prison, steal a car, rob several businesses, assaulting the occupants with a weapon, and then attack a police officer on their way out? Apparently, the Liberal government thinks that scenario only deserves a slap on the wrist, not a guaranteed minimum punishment for harmful criminal behaviour. In fact, what is proposed in this bill would allow someone who did all the above the opportunity to not even spend a single day in jail.

Again, as a Conservative, I have to stand here and attempt to bring common sense to a government that is clearly showing no indication that it has any sense left, common or not. In fact, some days it feels like the Liberals have removed the words “common sense” from the dictionary entirely.

At the end of the day, Bill C-5 gets soft on gun crime and gives great relief to criminals and offenders. It is missing any good reasons why this policy cares for, protects or prevents repeat offences against victims of violent crime in Canada. It misses the mark on what should be targeted to stop crime and illegal guns. As Winnipeg police constable Rob Carver said, “When we seize handguns, the handguns are always, almost 100 per cent, in the possession of people who have no legal right to possess them. They're almost always stolen or illegally obtained.” Again, it is not the law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters who are committing serious crimes.

Let us now look at the final part of this so-called landmark progressive legislation. During an unprecedented national overdose crisis, we have a government that is actively trying to enable the criminal proliferation of drug trafficking, importing, exporting and production. Where is the sense in that?

I heard from Louis, a constituent in my riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, who asked me, “Can we address the fact that known drug dealers are getting away with murder? We lost a grandchild.” What Canadians want and need is a compassionate approach to mental health and addictions recovery, and this is not found in Bill C-5. In fact, no part of this bill even attempts to touch on the subject, and it is too busy enabling the pushers.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health estimates the economic burden of mental illness in Canada at $51 billion per year, which includes health care costs, lost productivity and reductions in health-related quality of life. Addictions and mental health issues have costly and far-reaching impacts in our society and must be given proper attention in legislation to combat the crisis.

When will the government put forward legislation to address this impact instead of using a real crisis to score cheap political talking points at the cost of protecting Canadians? The Prime Minister and the Liberal members across the floor are all talk. They talk big and they make sweet-sounding promises to address serious concerns about gender-based violence, opioid addiction, systemic racism and other forms of discrimination. They make boldfaced claims to be helping Canadians, but then offer nothing of use.

What I see, and what the constituents I represent see when the Liberals grandstand, is hypocrisy. I see before the House a bill that is soft on gun crime and soft on the criminal drug enterprise. Canadians know bills like Bill C-5 are contrary to evidence, countless news stories and the testimony of victims. It should be impossible to ignore the madness of the government’s relentless attempts to gaslight Canadians otherwise.

Canadians expect the government to stand up for the rule of law, to protect victims first and to stand up for their rights. The government should be targeting violent criminals, sexual offenders and criminal gangs, and ensuring that the Criminal Code protects Canadians. Any changes should be made in a well-informed manner that protects public safety.

As legislators, we must represent and reflect the values of the average Canadian, and Canadians consider the crimes that Bill C-5 relaxes measures against to be extremely serious. By reducing mandatory sentences for serious crimes, Bill C-5 says elected representatives do not need to be accountable to the victims of these crimes. The utter hypocrisy of this bill and those who vote for it is staggering.

To vote in favour of this bill signals a victory for violent criminals who commit some of the most heinous crimes against the most vulnerable victims in Canada. It comes at a cost to victims and their families, present and future, and to the dignity of our great nation. That is a fact I find unacceptable, and it is why I will be voting against the bill.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 15th, 2021 / 6:10 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, just following on from the previous question, Bill C-5 would amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act by adding a new section after section 10. It would add a declaration of principles and a warning and referral system.

Many jurisdictions across Canada, including the Province of British Columbia, have flatly asked the federal government for decriminalization. It includes the chiefs of police. I wonder if my colleague can comment on the fact that this bill was probably a great missed opportunity to address that fundamental aspect of our justice system.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 15th, 2021 / 6:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague is asking about whether people should be going to jail for simple possession. I would ask her if she shares my interpretation of the legislation.

Here is what the minimum penalties with respect to drugs are in Bill C-5: with respect to drug dealers, trafficking or possession for the purpose of trafficking, which does not sound like simple possession to me; importing and exporting, or possession for the purpose of exporting, which to me sounds like drug smuggling across the border; production of a substance in schedule I, including heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, crystal meth, which sounds like illegal drug manufacturing.

This bill is not addressing the simple possession issues my colleague is talking about. We can have a discussion about those kinds of things for simple possession and addictions all day long, and I would be happy to have the conversation with her.

This is about criminality and organized crime. Why would we be conflating that with simple possession? These are criminal organizations that are smuggling and manufacturing and distributing drugs. They should go to jail.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 15th, 2021 / 5:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my good friend, neighbour and colleague for Red Deer—Mountain View for his excellent speech.

As this is my first opportunity to deliver a speech on behalf of the constituents of Red Deer—Lacombe in the new Parliament, I want to thank all of my volunteers and my family. Of course, I thank the voters of Red Deer—Lacombe for sending me here for a sixth term. My commitment to them is to do my best in representing the issues and values that we hold deer in central Alberta. One of those is addressed in this proposed legislation.

Many of the hard-working people in central Alberta are law-abiding firearms owners. They get up every day, go to work, follow all the rules, follow the law, work hard and pay their taxes. In return, they simply want to be treated with dignity and respect by their government. They want their tax dollars used effectively and efficiently, and none of them feel very good right now about the direction that our country is heading, particularly when it comes to the legislative agenda of this current government. They are very concerned and very worried about government's approach, which is soft on violent and dangerous crime.

Bill C-5 is another iteration of Bill C-22, which appeared just before the election was called in the last Parliament, and the bill is absolutely abhorrent, I believe, in the minds of most of my voters back in Red Deer—Lacombe.

I am a law-abiding firearms owner, and I am a former law enforcement officer in the conservation law enforcement field. My job was to go into situations and deal with law-abiding hunters and firearms owners on a daily basis. I would go into situations as a conservation officer or as a national park warden where virtually every person I dealt with had an axe because they were camping; a knife because they were fishing; or a firearm, bow or crossbow because they were hunting.

I did this with complete confidence that the people I was going to deal with and work with were going to be honest and forthright people for the most part, and I had nothing to fear and nothing to worry about from law-abiding hunters and firearms owners in this country. I am proud to say that I safely did my job with a respectful group of hunters, anglers, campers and outdoor enthusiasts for a number of years before I ended up in this place.

These are good people, and they do not deserve to be demonized by this current government. They certainly do not deserve to be taken to task or held accountable for dangerous, violent criminals who are operating under the auspices of organized crime in our large urban centres, such as Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. Even in one of the largest cities that my colleague for Red Deer—Mountain View and I share, Red Deer, Alberta, which is a beautiful city full of good, honest, hard-working people, there is the odd one that causes problems. We need to be focusing on the ones that cause problems, which is the problem with the legislation before us today.

Ladies and gentlemen of Canada, and ladies and gentlemen of Toronto, who are watching need to know the crimes the people they voted for are actually reducing and eliminating mandatory minimum penalties for. One is robbery with a firearm. We would think that in a city such as Toronto, where there are virtually daily shootings being reported, that somebody would say, “Robbery with a firearm is a fairly serious thing and people should probably go to jail for that”, but not according to a Liberal member of Parliament members from that city.

Another is extortion with a firearm, which must be a pleasant experience for the victim. Why do we not do what Liberals do and get rid of any mandatory minimum prison sentences for somebody who is being extorted with a gun to their head? the thirds is weapons trafficking, excluding firearms and ammunition. Weapons trafficking is the illegal movement, sale and acquisition of firearms. This is the problem.

We know from people like professor emeritus Gary Mauser from Simon Fraser University that a person is very unlikely to be a victim of crime from a law-abiding firearms owner. In fact, when we take a look at the statistics from Statistics Canada going back to 2012, we know that 0.6 in 100,000 murders in this country were committed by law-abiding firearms owners. That is less than the average of 1.8 murders per 100,000 in the country.

The safest person we can be around in this country when it comes homicide is a law-abiding firearms owner, but we are going to make sure that smugglers and people who traffic firearms and bring these guns into the country would potentially face zero jail time for their actions. There is also importing or exporting knowing that a firearm or weapon is unauthorized, which is called “smuggling”, and it is smuggling firearms across the border.

This is the problem. This is what Liberals in la-la land think deserves no jail time whatsoever. If voters are in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, these are the people that they voted for and sent here and this is what they are doing to the community. The Liberals are saying to the people who voted for them that they are going to remove mandatory minimum sentences for people who smuggle guns across the U.S. border and instead blame and conflate issues on law-abiding firearms owners. It is absolutely disgusting.

Discharging a firearm with intent, when does that happen on the streets of Toronto? Daily, but if someone is the one with the gun, apparently in Liberal la-la land, they do not need to go to jail.

With regard to using a firearm in the commission of an offence, holding somebody up, committing a robbery, committing a carjacking, using a firearm, in theft or any of these other types of activities, if people take a firearm along with them, they should not worry if they voted Liberal. The Liberals are looking out for their interests and making sure they spend no time in jail as a result.

On possession of a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized, these are people that are not getting firearms licences like every law-abiding firearms owner in this country actually does. Canadians might be surprised to know that every single day all 2.1 million of my fellow law-abiding firearms owners are checked by CPIC to make sure that we are eligible to continue to possess firearms.

As a matter of fact, the law is written in this country that people cannot possess a firearm at all. Every firearm is illegal, unless they have a licence to have one. That is what the law currently says. Law-abiding Canadians by the millions in this country follow those rules on a daily basis and we are checked on a daily basis to make sure that we can continue to lawfully possess our property.

Instead of harassing people like me, the government is going to make life easier for people who are unlicensed. If people are found in possession of a basketful of handguns in downtown Toronto, they should not worry; they do not have an RPAL, the guns were smuggled and they might even be the smuggler. Guess what? They have the option of going home and sitting in their house and thinking hard about how bad they are because that is the Liberal solution to organized crime in our country. This is absolutely ridiculous.

On possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition, these are guns we are not even allowed to have, so now we are talking about illegal owners. They should not worry; the Liberal Party of Canada has their back. If they have one of these, they do not have to go to jail, here is a “get out of jail” card just like in the Monopoly game; they do not have to face the consequences.

Possession of a weapon obtained by commission of offence is theft. That is someone who comes into my home and steals my gun. That is someone who comes into a rural property in the County of Red Deer, the County of Lacombe, the County of Ponoka, or any one of our communities, steals from us and may be purposefully there trying to steal our firearms. The Liberal response is because our disarmament policy for law-abiding Canadians is not working, they are going to let thieves out of jail for free for stealing a law-abiding citizen's property.

This legislation is absolutely ridiculous. It flies in the sensibilities of everybody. On these mandatory minimums just on the firearms, and not getting into the drugs and all of the other things that the government is reducing or limiting minimum penalties for, in this legislation, virtually all of them except for one, guess who introduced these pieces of legislation in the Criminal Code? Was it Stephen Harper or Brian Mulroney? One of them happened under the government of Stephen Harper. The other dozen of these provisions in the Criminal Code were put in place by none other than Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Jean Chrétien. Today's Liberals are certainly not yesterday's Liberals, ladies and gentlemen. Our country is not any safer with these guys at the helm.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 15th, 2021 / 5:40 p.m.
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Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak to Bill C-5, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. I have numerous concerns about the legislation that directly affects my constituents.

By proposing this legislation, the Liberals have illustrated just how out of touch they are with the long-lasting effects of criminal activities on Canadians. Their commitment to protecting the rights of criminals tramples on the legal rights afforded to victims of crime and does little to address systemic inequities, including the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples, Black and marginalized Canadians in the criminal justice system. Instead, Bill C-5 would reduce the accountability of violent offenders and encourage their release back into the community instead of facing legal consequences that are proportionate to the crimes they have committed.

My Conservative colleagues have spoken at length about the impacts of the bill on firearm-related offences and weapons trafficking. Has the Liberal government forgotten how gun violence impacts people and communities across Canada?

Violent crime involving firearms is a growing threat to public safety in our communities. Even with the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, my constituents still rank rural crime and gun violence as one of their main concerns. These crimes continue to rise, and almost half of Canadians feel that gun violence is a threat to their community.

Bill C-5 would do nothing to stand up for Canadians. It instead chooses to weaken our laws and empower criminals. It would give more liberties to criminals who have guns than law-abiding Canadians who own guns.

When we look at the text of Bill C-5, we see that it actually would help those who prey on the vulnerable. It would reduce sentencing for drug trafficking, for gun crime and for importing drugs. I believe the average Canadian can clearly distinguish the difference between drug trafficking and someone who is suffering from addiction issues being caught with a small amount of drugs.

This bill would not help the latter. It instead would roll back the offences for the producers and manufacturers of schedule 1 drugs. It uses vulnerable Canadians to cover the true intent of this bill, which is to soften accountability for criminals.

On Monday, my Conservative colleague was attacked for not mentioning systemic racism in his remarks, as if to imply that Bill C-5 has anything to do with correcting racial injustices in our legal system. It is important to point out that in the six years that the Liberals have been in power, the proportion of federal prisoners who are indigenous rose from 24% to 30%.

I am also compelled to bring attention to the fact that the group of Canadians who are disproportionately affected as victims include women and girls, visible minorities, LGBTQ people, children and youth, lower-income families, those living in poverty, and people in northern and remote communities.

Bill C-5 does not mention the victims of crime. Instead the government wants us to believe that racial inequality exists only when we discuss offenders. Bill C-5 would decrease criminal accountability and ignores issues such as addiction, poverty and mental health issues. It ignores that the communities that experience higher levels of crime are most adversely affected themselves.

I would like to talk about the expansion of conditional sentences for crimes such as sexual assault. It is a complete affront to combatting violence against women by a government that hides behind the optics of feminism. Sexual assault victims already face a litany of traumas in our justice system, as they must contend with disclosing information that is intensely personal and private, which could result in victim blaming and often shame.

The bill would add even more obstacles to those trying to heal from sexual assault by allowing sexual offenders to serve their sentence at home. People on house arrest are generally not limited to constantly staying at home, as they can be permitted to leave for certain pre-approved locations and activities. Their movement and freedom may be controlled and monitored, however, unlike being incarcerated, house arrest allows them the ability to continue participating in society and at home.

I want to focus for a moment on the selected phrase “continue participating in society”, because I am unable to understand why sexual predators should be allowed this privilege, when the victims of their crime are not afforded the same respect.

There is no shortage of information about sexual assault survivors and the challenges our legal system faces in prosecuting it, not to mention the traumatization and re-traumatization of survivors throughout the process. Law reform and policy changes have brought about some necessary improvements to the way the criminal justice system processes sexual assault cases, but Bill C-5 is not one of those. It would violate a victim's right to protection, diminish the strength of our court system and may even be responsible for impeding a survivor's reintegration and participation in society.

The Liberals say that they are helping addicts and communities, but they actually would be reducing sentences and eliminating accountability for traffickers and manufacturers, while continuing to punish law-abiding firearm owners. My rural constituents continue to be the target of restrictive gun laws, while the government supports weakening the consequences for weapons trafficking.

The Conservatives believe we must take strong action to prevent criminal activity. We stand for victims of crime and we fight to defend their rights. Shorter sentences and house arrest are not a deterrent for sexual assault or firearms offences. The Liberals have promised that conditional sentences, such as house arrest, would never be considered over public safety. If so, why would they offer this sentencing option for sexual assault charges? I am unsettled at the thought that they believe there is a need for legislation that would allow sexual predators to serve their sentences within their community.

Conditional sentencing, as presented in Bill C-5, would not advocate for restorative justice; it instead would give offenders the opportunity to not only escape consequences for their actions, but would cross the line into revictimizing survivors of sexual assault, kidnapping and human trafficking. How can we expect to feel safe and protected when the government is advocating for offenders who are kidnapping 13-year-old children to serve their sentences in our neighbourhood? How is this any regard for public safety?

The government needs to work with its provincial counterparts to combat the increase in rural crime, not pass sweeping legislation that would lessen the penalties for the criminals.

There is nothing in Bill C-5 that explains how eliminating mandatory minimum sentences would undo the systemic racism the government claims plagues our justice system. It would blatantly miss its mark. It would endanger public safety, while doing nothing to help vulnerable Canadians in our criminal justice system struggling with addiction and mental illness.

Bill C-5 ignores the fact that, on its face, minimum mandatory sentencing is unbiased. There is ample administrative law jurisprudence that defines that where the statute gives discretion to decision-makers and they come to an unfair decisions, the problem is the “maladministration” of the statute rather than the statute itself. If the LIberal government believes that mandatory minimum sentences perpetuate systemic racism because of the prevalence of racist policing and improper use of prosecutorial discretion, then why are they not introducing solutions to this problem?

It is disingenuous to say that this bill is being put forward to address the over-incarceration rate of marginalized Canadians. It is also false that Bill C-5 considers public safety over the rights of criminals. Punishing criminals and holding them accountable is only part of the Conservative Party's response to crime. We must also ensure that crime victims and survivors are treated with respect.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 15th, 2021 / 5:35 p.m.
See context

Scarborough—Rouge Park Ontario

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's intervention was very thoughtful and I agree with most of what he said. I want to assure him that the issue of gun violence is something we are very concerned about, and our government will take decisive action in that regard.

With respect to Bill C-5, I wonder if the member could speak about conditional sentencing orders and how they will impact the criminal justice system, and about the need for judges to have the discretion to make important decisions about individuals who are before them in their courthouses.