House of Commons Hansard #135 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was income.


Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.


Brenda Chamberlain Liberal Guelph—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be pleased to give my speech.

I am pleased to participate in this debate on Bill C-59, an act to amend the Income Tax Act and the income tax application rules. Last February the Minister of Finance told this House that he was restoring fiscal sanity to government.

That budget was about jobs for Canadians now and lasting jobs for their future. More important, that budget also offered Canadians for the first time in memory real deficit reduction and comprehensive changes to government programs.

Guelph-Wellington residents are concerned about their future. They know that in the past governments have overspent. They are also concerned that our current debtload includes increased borrowing from foreign lenders. They see their money being sent abroad and they would prefer that we concentrate on programs that will encourage domestic growth.

They know that the only way to show the world that Canada is committed to real deficit reduction is to prove our commitment to fiscal discipline. This bill is an example of this commitment and I am sure that all members of Parliament will want to support this government in these measures.

Guelph-Wellington residents voted Liberal because they know we promised to bring the deficit down to 3 per cent of GDP in three years. That is a real commitment we intend to make. They knew then and they know now that the Reform Party does not have the plan for deficit reduction. They know that the Reform Party has admitted that Reformers have no idea what impact their ideas for spending cuts will have on Canadians.

Guelph-Wellington residents want spending cuts and government action to be wise, made with their well-being in mind. They want a government that is serious about its commitment to Canadians.

Let me remind this House that our program of net spending reduction over the next three years is the most significant of any budget in a decade. Eighty per cent of the net fiscal improvements set out by our government will be from spending cuts.

These cuts as demanded from my constituents and constituents all across Canada will reduce the operating budgets of government departments by $400 million in the next fiscal year, with savings rising to $620 million annually in 1995, 1996 and beyond.

As well, the extension of the freeze in government salaries including those of members of Parliament will provide an additional saving of almost $1 billion annually by 1996-1997.

We have extended our ideas to include all facets of government. Grants and contributions made by government including foreign aid and grants to businesses have also been trimmed for savings of $253 million this year and $409 million in 1996-1997.

Changes to unemployment insurance will reduce expenditures by $725 million this year and $2.4 billion annually thereafter. We are reducing. There is no question. We are making changes to our social security system. These changes are necessary in order to respond to a different and more challenging society.

In an earlier speech in this House I outlined the support that my constituents have shown for changes to social security. They know that I as their member of Parliament and we as government are listening, but they also know we can no longer provide everything to everyone.

Social security changes like those announced to unemployment insurance will recognize our diverse society, our difficult economic situation and our commitment to ensuring that our children, and my children, have a future.

Our budget is about co-operation. We have launched various consultation initiatives asking Canadians what they want in our future. These consultations have been welcomed by my constituents. They also welcome co-operation with the provinces and local levels of government which study reforms and test new approaches. The challenge for deficit reduction and wiser spending is not only going to result from spending cuts but also from revenues.

My constituents have told me that taxes are too high and I agree with them. Lower deficits will mean lower taxes. People in Guelph-Wellington do not mind paying taxes as long as they are fair and as long as they know the money is well-spent.

Bill C-59 answers some of those concerns. Included in this legislation are changes to the corporate tax system that make it fairer and also allow it to better target the tax assistance made available to certain businesses. These include the reduction in the business income tax deduction and GST credit for meals and entertainment expenses; the elimination of certain tax preferences aimed at small businesses that are utilized by some large, private corporations; the elimination or reduction of certain regionally based investment tax credits that have not been cost effective in attracting new investment.

This legislation is about tax fairness and further broadening the tax base. For example, the full value of employer paid life

insurance premiums will now become taxable. This will remove the advantage that people with corporate plans enjoy over self-employed Canadians or those whose employers do not offer insurance benefits.

The $100,000 lifetime capital gains exemption will no longer be available for gain realized after budget night. The income tax credit provided to persons over the age of 65 will be income tested, affecting one out of every four seniors in Canada.

This legislation also modifies the provisions of the home buyer's plan, extending it indefinitely for first time home buyers, a move welcomed by real estate people in my area and all across Canada.

The 1994 budget and this legislation are only the beginning. These fiscal measures are but the beginning to our efforts to reach our goals. Action must be taken. Our response must be comprehensive and wide reaching.

Last year we spent $38 billion on interest payments, money my constituents believe could have been used for programs and services. My constituents have asked me to come to Ottawa and end the past excesses. Most are prepared to do without certain government services if it means we really make an effort to end that cycle of deficit and debt.

Our government is committed to action. We will meet our budget targets. There is no question. We have put an end to unrealistic projections. We are serious about meeting our commitments to the Canadian people. The measures included in Bill C-59 deserve speedy passage so we can move on to the next stage of our fiscal challenge. This legislation includes significant measures that will improve the fairness of our tax system while at the same time improving our fiscal situation.

These measures originated in last February's budget. This was a budget that took concrete committed action to bring government finances under control, action that is an essential step in Canada's economic revitalization.

My constituents heard the message in February. They accepted it during the last election. My constituents want a return to fiscal sanity. If we accept the challenge of fiscal management we will not only restore our faith in ourselves, but we will have made a real step in ensuring that our children will have faith in us because we have acted for them and for their future.

We cannot turn back, and this legislation today calls for our support.

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the hon. member for her fine statements today in support of this bill. I know that she is very concerned about social justice within our country, to ensure that we are taking care of those in most need and certainly the children.

We listened to the words of the member for Calgary Centre who somehow decided he was going to outline for Canadians a simple one page tax return that you fold over and just send in, that this somehow is going to make the world a panacea and that we can reduce taxes all of a sudden by having a smaller form. I know that the hon. member who just spoke shares my view that having a shorter form is certainly one thing and lowering a tax rate is another.

She probably also would agree that the income taxes, for instance, for an ordinary member of Parliament under the Reform Party proposal would be reduced by about 13 per cent. Of course, that 13 per cent, if we assume that the total amount of revenue still has to be collected, would have to be collected from somebody else which means that under the plan it would certainly be unfair to lower income Canadians.

I want simply to ask the member if she feels that the finance minister has brought in appropriate changes and that more changes would be required, particularly in the areas of child tax credits or child care expense deductions which would maybe assist even further those most in need in our society.

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.


Brenda Chamberlain Liberal Guelph—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my hon. colleague from Mississauga South. There is no silver bullet to the mess that we are in, quite frankly. That is the reality. I think it is going to take numerous methods and types of procedures to decrease this deficit. I think that we all have to be committed in this House, every party in this House. It is going to be necessary that we put our energies together to bring some sort of financial stability to this country again.

Some of the methods that my colleague from Mississauga South has talked about are certainly going to be some of the options that the finance minister is going to explore.

As the finance minister has spoken about many times, we are going to hit our budget targets and that is going to make things a lot better in this country.

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Essex—Windsor Ontario


Susan Whelan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to support Bill C-59 today. Action that increases the fairness of Canada's tax system, as this legislation does in a wide range of areas, deserves non-partisan support from all members of the House. I am surprised there is any debate on this bill at all.

The specific measures in this legislation have already been amply highlighted but I think it would be worthwhile to remind members of the context which set out this legislation, the February budget.

I believe it is fair to say that our 1994 budget set in motion the most comprehensive, fundamental change in decades. It is change that focused on three central goals, goals that directly answer the concerns and priorities expressed by Canadians during last winter's first ever series of consultation conferences. Canadians wanted to see action to restore our country's economic vitality and to create the jobs so many people desperately need. The budget took that action through funding for the

infrastructure program, a commitment to rolling back unemployment insurance premiums and through new strategies to promote small business and technological innovation, the sinews of the new economy.

It is worth pointing out that the Canadian job situation has seen a substantial improvement. So far this year, about 307,000 new jobs have been created. Just as important, those are full time jobs.

Second, in last year's consultations Canadians also told us they wanted reform of the social security system to ensure it is fair, compassionate and affordable, a reform that delivers incentives for work and creates jobs and opportunities. That reform has been launched by the Minister of Human Resources Development. The budget highlighted important steps in meeting this challenge. The link between the length of time a person works and UI benefits was strengthened. Assistance was enhanced for those with dependents. These and other actions growing from the sweeping policy review process now taking place should reduce the cost of the program further and allow premiums to come down.

The 1994 budget consultations delivered the third blunt message: get government finances under control and make government more effective, cost conscious and less of a burden that undercuts job creation and entrepreneurship.

The government has consistently made clear that these are obligations we must accept, not options. That is why the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance have staked out a concrete commitment to reduce the deficit to just 3 per cent of gross domestic product in three years. They have made clear that this is just a first step toward the ultimate goal: a balanced budget.

To support this goal the 1994 budget took fiscal action to bring the deficit under $39.7 billion this year. Just as important, the action plan was based on $5 of cuts in spending for every $1 of action on the revenue side. It is aspects of this revenue side action that are included in Bill C-59. Measures such as the elimination of the $100,000 lifetime capital gains exemption and the reduction of the meals and entertainment expense deduction for business will help the government's bottom line.

These actions do not respond to fiscal pressures alone. They are also based on improving the tax system and ensuring that all Canadian taxpayers are treated equally and equitably. To me that makes such measures an example of win, win action at its best.

Let me return to the overall fiscal challenge of the budget and our commitment to bring the deficit down to 3 per cent of the economy. I know that some hon. members feel this is too little, too slow. But I and the government continue to share the view of many Canadians, that too drastic action could risk the economic progress needed to sustain consistent fiscal improvement.

One issue that I believe most members here can agree on is that reducing the fiscal burden of government is not enough. We must give better value for the taxpayers' dollars. That includes eliminating unnecessary or cumbersome barriers to business. The 1994 budget highlighted action here as well, including our continuing commitment to replace the GST and an intensified effort to eliminate program overlap and duplication between levels of government.

As members can see the 1994 budget undertook vitally necessary measures of which Bill C-59 represents merely a few. This wide ranging action plan is still not enough. That is why we emphasized that the 1994 budget was just the first important step in a two stage process.

Canadians have made clear that further, more fundamental change is needed in virtually every area of government activity if our country is to face the future with renewed confidence. They have told us that they must consulted on these changes. That is why the budget highlighted an extensive process of policy review and consultation to improve a wide range of policies and programs. The House has seen this process at work in the papers and reports such as those dealing with social assistance reform and financing for small business.

Based on the continuing process of policy reviews and consultations, future budgets will carry forward further detailed strategies to encourage growth and new jobs. These will also be strategies that will help ensure continuing progress on deficit reduction.

Let me remind all Canadians that this two stage approach is not a case of deferring action and evading responsibility and leadership. Rather it reflects the dimension of the challenge facing us all. As the finance minister has said, for Canada to recover and grow we must regain a sense of national purpose, a sense of national will. What we require now is the kind of effort that we have agreed to expend only a few times in our history.

To achieve this effort we must accept a fundamental fact of Canadian life. Without reasonable consensus and real consultation, dramatic change can become a disastrous failure. We do not intend to fail because Canadians deserve success.

It is timely to highlight another aspect of our commitment to consultation and more effective government. This is the change we have made in the budget planning process itself. In the time available before last February's budget we undertook public consultations across the country, through conferences organized by independent institutes. The Minister of Finance issued a report on this process, openly addressing the advice we re-

ceived, how the budget has responded, and why we did not accept some suggestions.

This was just the start of a deeper process of reform to bring budget planning from behind closed doors and to enlist the insight and wisdom of Canadians, including parliamentarians. As was promised in February the government has acted to further expand the consultation process for the 1995 budget. This has included the cross-country hearings by the finance committee, ongoing town hall sessions by the finance minister and other members, and the debate on budget options that occupied the House yesterday.

To support this process of public consultation, to ensure that interested Canadians are fully informed of the fiscal challenges we face, the government has arranged for a range of materials to be made available. This includes the workbook prepared by the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education which has been acclaimed for its ability to make the fiscal facts accessible and engaging.

Bill C-59 is just one part of the 1994 budget that delivered real action while setting in place the policy reviews and consensus building that will deliver further action in the years ahead. It was a budget that took steps to spur job creation while recognizing the need for real fiscal discipline and improvement. It is a budget that refused to abandon the values of compassion and support for those in real need in Canada.

Politics has been described as the art of the possible but Canadians want more than possibilities. They want to see a government committed to doing all it can through concrete, measurable action to help build a future of real opportunity and real growth.

That is the challenge the government has accepted. That is the goal the budget acted on, through the measures before us today. That is the vision we will continue to build on in the next budget and those the government will deliver in the many years ahead.

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, I really enjoyed the reference to balancing the budget, being fiscally responsible and making sure that expenses are under control. Those are the absolutely right things that one should be saying. We have been saying them over here.

I failed to discover in the remarks made just a moment ago exactly how this would be done by actually making a promise to people that says we would reduce the deficit to 3 per cent of GDP. This really does not ever get to the point of reducing the deficit to zero.

We need a particular sort of plan. In my opinion it is not good enough to say that it will be reduced to 3 per cent of GDP. That means a deficit in perpetuity. Or is there something I missed in the speech that shows us clearly that there will be a reduction of the deficit to zero at some time?

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Susan Whelan Liberal Essex—Windsor, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member may want to take a look at the red book and the government's commitment. We stated very clearly that our goal was to reduce the deficit to 3 per cent of GDP in the first three years. Our ultimate goal is and always will be a balanced budget. If we can achieve it sooner, we will. The finance minister will set out a new fiscal plan in the next budget. I anticipate that Canadians will review this plan and be very pleased.

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Alex Shepherd Liberal Durham, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for her excellent presentation.

I wonder if she could make a comment in the area of accountability. Members of the Reform Party have been speaking about this quite aggressively. They presented one of their proposals to the finance committee last Friday.

I took the time to add the figures up. There are five sections in their program. The bottom line when we add up their $10 billion reduction program is it adds up to $9.035 billion. It is short $1 billion. It is a $10 billion program for deficit reduction by the Reform Party that is already short $1 billion.

I wonder if the hon. member would comment on a party that would propose that sort of accountability.

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Susan Whelan Liberal Essex—Windsor, ON

Mr. Speaker, Reform members have said over and over again that we should be reducing the deficit to zero tomorrow. They made a proposal to reduce it by $10 billion and the figures did not even add up to $10 billion.

Canadians need to take a second look at what the Reform Party has been talking about before, during and since the election. They should also take a more serious look at what the government has been talking about, what the Prime Minister, the finance minister, and what all the government members have been talking about.

We are serious about meeting our commitment. We are serious about going beyond that commitment. We are serious about reaching a balanced budget in the future.

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, given the closeness of 5.30 p.m., I wonder if the House would consider calling it 5.30 so this debate would not expire and we could resume it tomorrow. If there is unanimous consent to call it 5.30, perhaps we could proceed now to private members' hour.

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The House has heard the suggestion of the chief government whip. Is there unanimous consent that I see the clock as being 5.30 p.m.?

Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Some hon. members


Income Tax ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

It being 5.30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

The House resumed from October 7 consideration of the motion that Bill C-240, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Criminal Code, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

5:25 p.m.


Gordon Kirkby Liberal Prince Albert—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member from the Reform Party has made a proposal concerning the safety of the Canadian public.

We as the legislative body of this great nation must take a lead role in ensuring that our citizens live in safe communities. That responsibility extends even with greater seriousness to those who are simultaneously most vulnerable and most vital, those who carry our future in their hands, our children.

Let me take a moment to tell of some of the things we in Parliament have done to date to try to give both immediate and long term protection to our citizens from people who have shown little regard for the welfare of others.

In Canada's early history, clemency was unconditional and only granted through the royal prerogative. In 1899 Parliament passed the ticket of leave act which established conditional release and a system of supervised freedom. The Governor General could grant conditional release to anyone as a method to bridge the gap between the controls and restraints of institutional life and the freedoms and responsibilities of community life, as one historian has noted. The Department of Justice provided supervision and eventually established the remission branch in 1913.

In 1938 the Archambault commission recommended that rehabilitation become the purpose of incarceration. The Fauteux report recommended the creation of the National Parole Board which came into existence with the passage of the Parole Act in 1959.

It is important to note that in 1969, 31 years after the Archambault report, the Ouimet report reaffirmed that rehabilitation was the major purpose of conditional release. More recent developments suggest that the protection of the public is the primary goal of conditional release.

In 1978 Parliament amended the Penitentiary Act to permit offenders to earn time off for good behaviour. Good conduct in a penitentiary, it was hoped, was some indication that an offender had changed the type of behaviour that led to incarceration in the first place. In 1978 this period of remission when offenders were in the community was called mandatory supervision.

By 1981, the Law Reform Commission expressed concern about the small group of offenders who constituted an imminent danger to public safety but had to be released under the provisions of that law.

In 1982 the National Parole Board began suspending the release of a small number of offenders who it believed presented a danger to public safety.

The Supreme Court of Canada struck down this practice in 1983, saying that the board could only suspend in reaction to an offender's behaviour on release, not in anticipation of problematic behaviour.

In 1986 Bill C-67 amended the Parole Act to permit the National Parole Board, after a referral from Correctional Service Canada, to detain in custody until the end of their sentence those offenders it deemed likely to commit an offence causing serious harm before the expiration of their sentence. The legislation introduced a schedule of offences which were considered to have caused serious harm and required CSC to review the cases of all offenders convicted of one of these scheduled offences to determine whether they should be referred to the board for a detention hearing.

On November 1, 1992 the Corrections and Conditional Release Act replaced both the Parole Act and the Penitentiary Act. This new act, known as the CCRA, eliminated the previous system of earned remission and provided that statutory release take effect at the two-thirds point of the sentence for offenders who had not been granted parole earlier. In addition, it included and amended the provisions for detention that had been added to the Parole Act through Bill C-67.

The CCRA expanded the schedule of offences to include a greater number of specific sexual offences. As well, the CCRA calls for notifying victims upon their request of when detention and other hearings are to take place and permits them to observe such hearings.

Other measures in the CCRA include requiring an annual review of offenders ordered to either remain in prison or to reside in community facilities and one chance provision for statutory release which means that certain offenders felt to represent a certain level of risk but probably manageable in a residential facility are given this one chance to prove themselves.

Any breach of condition or increase in risk requires that they return to prison until the end of the sentence with no further opportunities to complete the sentence in the community.

These steps have all been designed to give immediate, short term protection to society by removing dangerous offenders from the streets and, more important, to give long term protection by effecting change in the behaviour of offenders so that they will never commit another crime. The bottom line, however, remains the same. We must do more to protect our children.

We said in the red book that we share Canadians' concerns that more must be done to better protect society from repeat sex offenders. These measures are part of ongoing reforms to improve our handling and management of these offenders in federal correctional systems, especially those who victimize our children.

We are all outraged by crimes perpetrated against our children. We are angry and we demand measures that will protect them.

At present, the CCRA permits the National Parole Board to detain sex offenders and certain other high risk offenders until the end of their sentence if they cause serious harm and if they are likely to commit an offence causing death or serious harm if released.

What about when the victim is a child, a person who cannot articulate the problem or even realize that there is a problem until many years later? We now know that when the victim is a child, the serious harm caused by a particular offence may not become evident for a number of years.

In addition, the victim may be too young to communicate adequately the trauma inflicted by the offence. We must protect and support our vulnerable children. It has been difficult for the National Parole Board and CSC to determine that a child was seriously harmed using the legal meaning of the term serious harm.

Without this determination, the National Parole Board could not legally detain the offender until the end of the sentence. The Solicitor General has already introduced amendments that make it easier for the National Parole Board to keep sex offenders who victimize children in a penitentiary until the end of their sentence.

This amendment removes the requirement to establish serious harm as a criterion for detention in these cases. This gives the board the authority to detain a sex offender if a further sex offence against a child is likely. I would like to add that the government has proposed to expand the list of offences for which an offender could be referred for detention until the end of the sentence.

This list includes criminal harassment, commonly known as stalking, conspiracy to commit serious drug offences and serious drinking and driving and criminal negligence offences which result in bodily harm or death.

These behaviours also put our citizens at risk, including our children. We all have a responsibility to protect our most vulnerable citizens, our children, from predators like paedophiles.

The National Parole Board must now detain offenders who it feels may cause death or serious harm before the end of their sentence. With the proposed amendments, if the victims are children, the board will not have to determine serious harm. It is assumed. This means that whenever the board finds that an offender might reoffend against a child, it must detain that offender.

The hon. member from the Reform Party oversteps the bounds of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. No administrative tribunal such as the National Parole Board would be granted such broad powers of post-sentence detention without due process nor would the courts countenance this.

No government would put into place a system it knows would be struck down by the courts, a system that is presently being proposed by the hon. member from the Reform Party who is promoting this private members' bill.

This government is certainly committed to strengthening Canada's criminal justice system to protect the public and most especially our children from dangerous offenders. Our government has acted in an increasing number of ways to bring about public safety, whether it be revisions to the Young Offenders' Act, whether it be much tougher action against criminals who utilize guns during the commission of a criminal offence and other progressive change which will greater ensure the protection of all our citizens.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.


Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, after the news we just heard about Mr. Bouchard's illness, I can assure you that I will do my duty as I am expected to do as a member of Parliament.

Bill C-240 is a prime example of a philosophy that is both reactionary and repressive. The Reform Party is pulling out all the stops to give the impression that this is a crisis and they are the only ones who can save us. The bill introduced by the hon. member does not provide any realistic or practical answers to the problem of repeat offenders.

In fact, it favours a drastic and simplistic response to a complex problem. The bill consists of two parts. The first part concerns the conditions to be met for conditional release, in the case of an offender convicted of sexual assault involving a child. Under the new conditions it would be easier to continue the detention of such offenders by denying them a conditional release.

They would have to serve their full sentence. The second part of the bill concerns new regulations that would permit danger-

ous offender findings to be made after sentencing. The concept already exists in the Criminal Code. At the present time, the dangerous offender finding can be made at the time of sentencing. In the bill before the House today, this finding could also be made just before the end of the sentence.

Once a dangerous offender finding has been made, the offender's prison sentence may be extended for an indeterminate period, irrespective of the original sentence. I will first consider that part of the bill that concerns individuals convicted of sexual offences involving young victims. These are among the most repugnant crimes we can imagine. As I have said before, society must protect itself against this kind of individual.

Bill C-240 has the advantage of preventing the premature release of these offenders. However, similar provisions already exist in Bill C-45, whose purpose is to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. In fact, Bill C-45 provides that in the case of a sexual offence involving a child, the National Parole Board would not have to establish the existence or probability of serious harm.

The Board must be satisfied that an offender is likely to commit a sexual offence involving a child before the expiration of his sentence. These provisions may be found in section 43(1) of the bill to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. Bill C-45 has been referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs where it is now under consideration. Since the amendment proposed by the hon. member is in all respects identical to the amendment from the Department of Justice, I think it would be premature to comment at this stage.

The second part of the bill presented by my colleague deals with finding an offender to be a dangerous offender. Clause 26 introduces an important amendment to the Criminal Code, which would make it possible to detain in a penitentiary for an indeterminate period an offender found to be dangerous. It would be post-sentencing detention since this penalty would be imposed after sentencing.

By presenting a bill of this kind, the Reform Party member shows to what extent repression and vengeance underly that party's policies with respect to criminal law. Looking at this bill, I have the feeling that Reform members have never heard of the principles of fundamental justice, procedural fairness, and presumption of innocence. These are the principles which make our society free and democratic.

To undermine these principles puts our society at risk. As members of this House, we must be on guard and defeat rightist proposals, which are taken up by a press eager to make us believe that we are still in the midst of a crisis. Before commenting further on this, let us first look at what constitutes a dangerous offender.

Section 753 of the Criminal Code allows the court to find to be a dangerous offender an individual convicted of a serious personal injury or sexual offence. These offences are listed in section 752 of the Criminal Code. Once the accused is found guilty of any one of the offences listed in section 752, the court hears the evidence presented by the Crown and hands down its decision based on the following factors, as listed in section 753:

A pattern of repetitive behaviour showing that the offender is failing to restrain his behaviour; the offender is showing a substantial degree of indifference respecting the consequences of his behaviour; the behaviour associated with the offence is of such a brutal nature that it is unlikely to be inhibited by normal standards of restriction of freedom.

The decision of the court is given after the offender has been convicted, but before sentencing. The court finds the offender to be dangerous and, instead of imposing a regular sentence, imposes a sentence of indeterminate imprisonment. This is the harshest sentence that can be imposed by a court, since the offender is not eligible for mandatory parole.

The case of the person is reviewed three years after the conviction and every two years thereafter. In practice, these are pro-forma reviews, since officers of the National Parole Board never hesitate, except in a few rare cases, to recommend the continuing of the sentence.

In her bill, my colleague proposes that the whole judicial process be repeated just before the end of the sentence of a given offender. Bill C-240 proposes nothing short of a new trial, with new evidence and a new sentence. Let us remember that this new procedure would not apply to a crime already committed, but to a crime that might be committed.

In fact, it would amount to convicting again someone who has already served his sentence. May I remind this House that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects individuals against double convictions. Section 11(h) says, and I quote: "Any person charged with an offence has the right- if finally acquitted of the offence, not to be tried for it again and, if finally found guilty and punished for the offence, not to be tried or punished for it again".

As we can see, this bill would not withstand a constitutional challenge. It also seems incompatible with the principle of basic justice to go after an individual by reopening the investigation and introducing new evidence on which the initial verdict could not be based.

Another issue raised by this bill is that of relevance. The hon. member herself admitted in this House that her bill only affects

a very small number of inmates. The problem of repeat offenders is much broader and requires more comprehensive solutions than those proposed by my colleague.

She even wildly exaggerated an isolated case, arguing that her bill would solve that kind of problem. The truth is that Bill C-240 suggests only partial solutions and affects only dangerous offenders representing 0.5 per cent of all Canadian inmates now in federal correctional institutions.

If we look at the statistics a little more closely, we will see that, as of December 17, 1992, there were 121 offenders designated as dangerous in Canada. Interesting enough, none of them were in Quebec, the vast majority of them being found in Ontario and the Western provinces. Between 1985 and 1992, the number of dangerous offenders on parole was limited to one per year, a number which has always remained constant.

There are no facts which justify such drastic action. The reactionary measures proposed by my colleague are also superfluous, as the courts already have tools to identify as dangerous any offender before them. Judicious enforcement of the Criminal Code could solve many problems.

It is not enough to respond to public opinion as conveyed by tabloids trying to boost sales and it is not enough to go after a very small number of individuals. From now on, the Liberal government must decide, in co-operation with the provinces, on a global approach to identify repeat offenders and ensure that society is better protected.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.


Margaret Bridgman Reform Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-240, an act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act in the Criminal Code.

I would like to thank the member for Surrey-White Rock-South Langley for introducing this much needed legislation. The member is my southern neighbour and we share the same community of Surrey, a growing vibrant community but also a community which has experienced many tragedies over the past few years. The number of murders in Surrey and the surrounding area is astonishing.

It is also completely unacceptable, most of all to the people of Surrey. A day does not go by without someone from the community contacting me or my staff about problems with our justice system in such areas as lack of deterrence, repeated offenders, parole, young offenders, criminal intoxication defence, and so on.

It is these concerns that we in this Chamber must respond to. Canadians across this nation will no longer accept a slap on the wrist justice system or a system which holds the rights of criminals above the rights of victims.

Canadians from all walks of life are demanding action from Parliament, not tomorrow or not next week, but now.

My colleague has responded to that demand by introducing this legislation aimed at preventing violent offenders from perpetuating further violent crimes upon our community and the country.

This bill is the result of the concern that many Canadians have with regard to repeat offenders repeating violent offences, particularly sex offences. This bill would amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to permit offenders convicted of certain serious offences to be denied statutory release if they are likely to commit sexual offences involving children.

This amendment would change the current legislation basically by removing the serious harm aspect. Under this bill it would only have to be established that a sexual offence was committed by the offender and that further sexual offences against a child are likely upon release. This bill would also amend the Criminal Code to permit dangerous offender findings to be made after sentencing but near the conclusion of the offender's sentence.

The reason for permitting dangerous offender findings to be made after sentencing and near the conclusion of the sentence is that the court would have evidence as to how the offender responded to the treatment and the degree of his or her progress while in custody. This corrects a flaw in the present system where dangerous offender findings must be made at the time of sentencing. Only those who are still considered dangerous near the end of their original sentences, as opposed to the beginning of their sentences, would be detained.

How one will behave after a course of treatment and educational sessions cannot be judged before they participate in the sessions. Prejudging in this manner is not a motivating factor for any individual to make an effort to change their behaviour while they are in these courses of treatment.

The process that this bill proposes for identifying and detaining offenders is as follows. The correctional service act of Canada would identify those who are likely to commit offences causing death or serious harm if they were released at the end of their sentence. These offenders would then be referred to the National Parole Board. If the parole board agreed that this person were likely to commit such an offence, the board would then refer the person to the appropriate Attorney General. The Attorney General would then consider asking the court to find that the offender is still a dangerous offender.

If the court accepts the application it could make an order for continued detention. The results of this process continued custody for an indefinite period of time, continued custody for a

definite period of time, or supervised release in the community for a period of 10 years.

This is fair and reasonable and serves two essential purposes. It allows dangerous offenders to be kept out of the community, and it ensures that the state or justice system does not detain persons at its whim without good reason and due process.

When this bill was debated in the House on June 10 of this year some members were concerned that this bill would be contrary to certain sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Specifically the resentencing provisions of this bill were thought to contradict section 11(h) of the charter:

If finally acquitted of an offence, not to be tried for it again and, if finally found guilty and punished for an offence, not to be tried or punished for it again;

The judiciary is the final arbitrator with regard to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. However, this bill does not contradict section 11(h). This section guards against being found guilty or punished for an offence for which one has served the full sentence.

Bill C-240 amends the serious harm definition of the dangerous offender's designation. This means that those who are designated a possible dangerous offender by the process outlined earlier are done so on the basis of their past history, their treatment and progress which incarcerated and the likelihood of their offending again. This does not equate with resentencing a person for the same offence.

Also this legislation is almost identical to the current dangerous offenders legislation which was found to be constitutional.

In October of this year the community of Surrey experienced another tragedy when Pamela Cameron was murdered. It appears that the chief suspect in this case could have been detained had post sentencing detention legislation such as my colleague is proposing been in effect. This is something which all members of this House should carefully consider.

What we do in this Chamber with this proposed legislation shows how serious we are in combating violent crime in our nation and in providing for the offenders positive rehabilitation programs that are not cut short of their effectiveness by a date on the calendar.

I urge all members of this House of all political parties to respond to the nationwide concerns over the justice system and support these reasoned amendments to our existing system.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Similkameen—Merritt, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Surrey-White Rock-South Langley for providing me with this opportunity to speak on her private members' bill C-240. I strongly believe in the merits of the proposed legislation and what it endeavours to address. I encourage all my colleagues on both sides of the House to support it.

There are two essential components to the proposed legislation before us today. The first deals with the application for dangerous offenders designation. The second part would eliminate the requirement of the crown to prove than an offender is likely to commit serious harm, especially as it relates to assaults of children. It is this second component on which my remarks will focus this afternoon.

Childhood is supposed to be a time of innocence, of exploring, learning and growing. For far too many kids, however, their childhood has become an unending nightmare created by those repugnant sexual predators who prey on children. It is a sad commentary on today's society that more and more frequently we read in our newspapers about cases of sexual abuse or assault where innocent children have been the victims, in some cases ending with the death of a child.

Imagine the terror in those instances where the abuse continues for years, where the child is terrified into silence by threats against themselves or their parents and family. This is a common tactic used by these monsters to control their victims. Not one of us in this Chamber can forget the atrocities of Clifford Olson. The very fact that man still breathes today is an affront to the memory of his victims, defenceless, innocent children.

This bill addresses these problems. Bill C-240 provides for indefinite incarceration of dangerous offenders who prey on our young society.

Whose rights are more significant here, the rights of a convicted sexual predator or the rights of a child? Who among us wants to condemn any child to the danger posed by these offenders? Do they pose a threat? That is the question we should ask. Cases upon cases show that upon release these predators are likely to reoffend. Research shows a very poor rate of rehabilitation in these cases. The very least we can do is make provisions for the courts and the judicial authorities to protect our children from those who are likely to turn another child's life into a nightmare, or even murder a child.

Law-abiding Canadians, and maybe that is too legalistic, or ordinary Canadians like you and me and the people who live on our main streets in our communities are absolutely fed up with hearing about offenders' rights. What about the rights of the little child? How can the House even consider any measure that puts the perpetrators' rights above those of innocent victims? If these offenders pose a risk of any sort to the public, to little children, for goodness' sake let us keep them in jail. Some would say let us keep them in jail until they rot.

Canadians will no longer tolerate the lenient Liberal justice system of the past 20 years. They are struck with disbelief of the travesties of justice about which they have read in their daily newspapers of repeat offenders who are released on parole or on work release into unsuspecting communities.

The rage that is felt by the public at these crimes demands that we in this place, their representatives, take action and take action now. The public no longer has the patience to deal with MPs who will not respect their constituents' wishes. If the members opposite have any doubt in their minds about that, they had better consult with their constituents.

This fall 16-year old Pamela Cameron of Surrey, B.C., was raped and murdered. The man charged with the murder, James Owen, is in the words of the director of the Canadian Police Association "a walking advertisement" for the dangerous offender legislation before us today. He has a record of 28 prior criminal convictions, including rape, and refused all sexual behaviour and substance abuse treatment programs that were offered to him in prison. The authorities should be able to look at this case and keep offenders like Owen in prison beyond their sentence. Perhaps, just perhaps, maybe Pamela Cameron would be alive today.

I have held a number of townhall meetings in my constituency. My constituents have voiced their concerns and outrage at this crime and many others. They have called on hon. members in this place to act.

Perhaps little eight-year old Mindy Tran of Kelowna would be alive today if the provisions before us had been enacted.

Today in my riding alone there are some eight cases of sexual assault before the courts involving children: eight lives damaged, eight kids forced to go through the hell of abuse. Recently a school principal was convicted of molesting his 15-year old foster child. There have also been two recent cases where fathers were convicted of sexually abusing their children. There is another case before the courts where a neighbour sexually assaulted a little girl for two years before it came to light, and this suspect, a known sexual offender, had been released.

Even the B.C. attorney general has recognized the need for more severe sentences in these cases and, as my local newspaper, the Penticton Herald , reported in an editorial: ``Respect for the individual rights should not take precedence over public safety''.

These crimes involving children tear into the heart of the communities where they occur. Every parent must shudder in horror at the atrocities committed on these poor children.

What of these young victims? Currently the onus is on the system to prove that an offender is likely to commit serious harm in cases that involve sexual assault on children. The actual harm to the child may not be evident for several years or even decades. It is difficult for adults, let alone children, to adequately communicate the effects of a sexual crime on them. It is our responsibility as a society and as members of this place to protect children from these vile, sexual predators.

Parents in communities across the land raise a hue and cry when such criminals are released into their communities. Why? It is because experience shows that there is a very good chance they will offend again, and this time the victim could be their own child.

Parents want to protect their children. Short of imprisoning kids at home they cannot because the judicial system does not give them a chance to do so. Even courts have ruled that convicted child molesters have the right to hang around schoolyards and playgrounds. They have that right. That is absurd. If the benighted charter of rights is causing this insanity then it had better be amended.

Many of my hon. colleagues in this place are parents or grandparents. This tragedy has to strike in their own homes before the House hears their cries of outrage. Can we as people stand by and see even one more defenceless child brutalized or murdered by a sexual predator? I think not.

I call on all members of the House to unite on Bill C-240 and protect our children. We have a chance to make a difference. Let us not throw it away. Canadian kids are counting on us.

In closing, I would like to remind everyone how this day started and each day starts in the House when the Speaker says these words: "Grant us the wisdom, knowledge and understanding to preserve the blessings of this country for the benefit of all and to make good laws and wise decisions".

Bill C-240 is a good law and I pray all members make the wise decision and vote yes to Bill C-240.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

I know the hon. whip of the Reform Party is very vigilant. I will try to be equal to the task.

Seeing no members rising for debate, I have received notice from the the member for Surrey-White Rock-South Langley who moved Bill C-240. Under right of reply she will have two minutes to conclude the debate. Members must understand that no one else can rise and that this will in fact conclude the debate.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to close debate on Bill C-240.

I have appreciated the level of debate the bill has received in the House. It has been interesting to see that members of the Bloc have continued to debate against any changes of this nature. They find them draconian. I suggest that they are not listening to their constituents. A poll was taken by Léger et Léger which indicated that 76 per cent of the people in the province of Quebec support this type of legislation. It is nice to

know that although Bloc members do not support it the people of Quebec support it.

I have heard the argument on the opposite side that Bill C-240 may not withstand a court challenge. While there are countless pieces of legislation that may not withstand such a challenge, I believe that as parliamentarians we cannot abrogate our responsibility as lawmakers because of the possibility of a court challenge. I certainly hope that feeling is shared by all my colleagues here. We cannot afford to shy away from legislation solely because of a court challenge.

When I first introduced the legislation I did not think that it would hit home quite so quickly. However, on October 4, as my hon. colleague mentioned, a 16-year old girl was pulled off one of the busiest streets in my community in the middle of the afternoon and murdered. This legislation may have prevented her death.

If this bill is not passed it is inevitable that in the future there will be more such deaths. This bill will not put an end to all murders but if it prevents even one, it would succeed.

I ask all members of this House to please be concerned about the lives of our children, the lives of the victims and support Bill C-240.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee.)

Corrections And Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

For proper verification, is there unanimous consent to proceed to the proceedings on the adjournment motion?

Corrections And Conditional Release ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Some hon. members


A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:10 p.m.


André Caron Bloc Jonquière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I put a question to the minister of Indian affairs concerning the pitiful state of public health in aboriginal communities on reserves. According to Statistics Canada, the tuberculosis rate among status Indians is 43 times higher than for Canadians born in Canada.

This rate is comparable to those found in the third world, whether we are talking about Africa or Asia, in countries that do not enjoy the benefits of the kind of economy we have in this country. The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development let the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health reply on his behalf. The parliamentary secretary mentioned the amounts now being spent by her department to improve the health of aboriginal communities.

She mentioned one million dollars this year and several million dollars over the next couple of years. I think this is not a satisfactory answer, considering that such a high tuberculosis infection rate, according to many experts, is an indication of sub-standard housing conditions. I think it would have been appropriate for the minister of Indian affairs to answer the question, since he has a fiduciary responsibility for aboriginal communities, for aboriginal reserves in this country.

Moreover, the minister could have mentioned that two years ago, the aboriginal affairs committee had examined the state of aboriginal housing and that the title of its report was Time to Act . In its report, the committee found there was a backlog in housing construction on reserves, and it also pointed out that there was a lack of funding to renovate existing units.

Furthermore, in recommendation No. 7, the members of the committee asked the government to deal immediately with the health and safety problems arising from the condition of aboriginal housing.

Finally, it is essential that the minister of Indian affairs, until such time as appropriate and much needed action is taken, make it clear to his colleagues at Health, Public Works and Finance that budgetary cutbacks are not to be used as an excuse for allowing these appalling conditions in aboriginal communities in Canada to continue, shaming us in the eyes of the rest of the world.

I would like to know whether the government really intends to do something about this.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

Moncton New Brunswick


George S. Rideout LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, when we look at the frequency and the situation of the disease, we must consider not only where we are but also where we have come from and where our strategy to reduce the frequency of this disease should take us.

In the 1930s we were faced with death rates, not incidence rates but death rates, of 700 per 100,000 population among Canadian Indians.

An extensive program to discover and treat active cases of TB was begun in 1938. In the late 1940s the necessary funding and expertise were provided, new sanitoria and nursing stations were built and aggressive case finding, extensive vaccination and new treatment regimes were begun.

These early efforts bore fruit and today the mortality rate is almost negligible while the incidence of TB has been dramatically reduced. In 1992 the rate was 60 per 100,000 population using official population figures for the First Nations communities.

The reason we were allocating additional funds to implement a national strategy for the elimination of aboriginal tuberculosis was because the decrease in rates had stalled. There remains a number of active TB cases in older people who continue to harbour tuberculosis and who become infectious as they get older and suffer from other diseases and debilitating conditions.

The government has been spending $1 million per year to address this problem and has allocated an additional $2.8 million over the next three years.

While the spread of TB to other people is facilitated by overcrowding and other personal and environmental conditions, the main way to eliminate the disease from the population is to find active cases at an early stage and treat them before the bacterium is spread to contacts, particularly young children who are especially susceptible.

The strategy which this department in partnership with First Nations communities is putting in place aims to reduce the incidence of TB to less than 20 per 100,000 by the year 2000 and to eliminate the disease by the year 2010.

Corrections And Conditional Release ActAdjournment Proceedings

6:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Pursuant to Standing Order 38, the motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24.

(The House adjourned at 6.18 p.m.)