Evidence of meeting #46 for Justice and Human Rights in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was religious.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Yes.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

They should be treated equally, but I was given advice that including private property would go much beyond the scope of this particular section.

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Okay. Thank you.

In proposed paragraph 430(4.101)(c), you refer to buildings or structures that are used for “administrative” activities or events. Is this limited to public administration? Or is it for administration more generally? Do you see a need to provide a definition for additional clarification there?

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

No.

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Do you want to leave it more for broader interpretation?

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Absolutely.

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Okay.

You've already had the questions about what Mr. Casey proposed. He stated that the underlying rationale for subsection 430(4.1) of the Criminal Code is to protect freedom of religion. Do you think that is the case?

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

No, in my view, it should not be limited to religious properties alone.

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Okay.

I think that's just about all I have for questions, Mr. Chair. Thank you.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Anthony Housefather

Thank you very much, Mr. MacGregor.

We're going to go to Mr. Fraser.

February 16th, 2017 / 3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for being here, Mr. Arya, and for your good work on this bill and for your clear and articulate presentation today.

I'd like to ask questions that have been touched on by a couple of questioners, with regard to adding gender expression and language that is consistent with Bill C-16, currently before the Senate. I know that when we considered another piece of legislation, we added a coordinating amendment so that, if that bill becomes law, we'd be using the same sort of language. Would you be open to that sort of coordinating amendment depending on which bill, if either one or both become law? Would you be open to having that added as an amendment?

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Absolutely.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Okay. So there is no issue at all then with coordinating all of the language.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Yes, there's no issue.

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

All right.

First of all, I would like to hear you talk about the current state of the law right now.

If someone were charged with mischief, convicted of that, and underwent sentencing, it's true that the place where the mischief took place and motivation behind it can be considered as an aggravating factor in sentencing. Can you explain a little bit why that's not sufficient, why you see an insufficiency there in the law right now in considering those things as an aggravating factor for mischief?

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

The very fact this subsection was inserted, in fact, shows that we had to highlight and separate certain things that are much more hateful, those things that affect the community much more than under any of those subsections. That's why this particular subsection was brought forward in 2001. However, when it was brought in, it was limited to religious properties. In my view, that should have been made to religious and public properties.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Okay.

One of the things that's very important in the law, of course, is certainty and clarity, to ensure that people understand not only the definition of the prohibited offence but also what could be the consequence. In that regard, clarity of language is important. Do you know of any problem in the current subsection 430(4.1) with naming religious places of worship or part thereof and...? Has there ever been a case that you know of where there has been any problem for the courts in interpreting those or there's been an argument made that it wasn't clear whether or not it was primarily for the purpose of religious worship?

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Personally, I'm not aware of any particular case.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Okay. Do you see any issue or do you have any concern over expanding this to include other buildings and partial structures and making it broader in language so that people wouldn't have clarity or certainty about whether they would fall under this section of the law? Have you turned your mind to that?

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

I'm open to that, yes.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

No, but have you had any thought about whether or not the law would become less clear if we started adding all of these other structures? Is that a concern at all to you?

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

No, I'm not talking along those lines, but I don't think that should be of much concern.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Okay. One of the important things in considering an appropriate sentence is deterrence. Obviously, we're talking about including a larger swath here, so people would be subject to a higher penalty, hopefully, with the consequence of deterring these sorts of crimes from happening. Can you talk a little bit about why that would be important for deterring certain future activity and whether you think it would act generally, so that it would be understood that these sorts of offences are not permissible?

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

As I mentioned, to eradicate hate crimes, law by itself is not sufficient. Education is also important. However, education and the law should go hand in hand. Whenever there is a threat of a very severe punishment, that will change the habits of men. That could change the habits of perpetrators. A strong law sends a strong message that we will not tolerate these hate-based crimes. I think that is much more important.

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Colin Fraser Liberal West Nova, NS

Thank you. Those are my questions.