House of Commons Hansard #177 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.


War Measures ActPrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Maurice Bernier Bloc Mégantic—Compton—Stanstead, QC


That, in the opinion of this House, the government should immediately make an official public apology, accompanied by financial compensation, to the hundreds of citizens of Quebec who were victims of arbitrary arrest and unjustified detention during the enforcement of the War Measures Act in the early '70s.

Mr. Speaker, it is with some emotion, not to say very strong emotion, that I rise in this House today to recall tragic events in the memories of Quebecers, involving individuals and the exercise of democracy in the 1970s. I will also be referring, in the course of this motion, to actions and events that continue today.

You have just read, Mr. Speaker, the motion that I tabled on October 5, 1994 in this House, which, in brief, has two objectives: to put the record straight with regard to the October events, in particular the imposition of war measures, and to recognize the victims of the imposition of the War Measures Act, on the one hand, and on the other, to disassociate the sovereignist movement from the unfortunate events of the time initiated by members of the FLQ. I refer, naturally to the death of Pierre Laporte in 1970.

Why are we making this motion in the House today? First, I repeat that it was tabled in October 1994, at the time of the release of the movie "Octobre" by director Pierre Falardeau, depicting the days leading up to the death of Pierre Laporte. This film was subsidized in part by the National Film Board, if I am not mistaken, and aroused the indignation and ire of some of my hon. colleagues in the Reform Party and in the Liberal Party in this House.

What did my hon. colleagues say? I refer simply to the remarks of the Reform member for Calgary Southeast, who, in her criticism of the funding of Mr. Falardeau's film, linked separatists, members of the FLQ and the cause of sovereignty in Quebec. They implied-and so did several members of the Liberal Party, this being the argument of our federalist opponents-that such organizations were part of the same camp as all the pro-sovereignty groups and individuals who have been supporting the cause using democratic means for over 25 years; I am referring naturally to the Parti Quebecois and its predecessors, the RIN and RN, and to the Bloc Quebecois, which has only been on the scene for the past few years.

I would first like to state loud and clear that no sovereignist, no official spokesperson of the democratic sovereignist movement, has never even considered supporting, in any way whatsoever, the criminal acts committed by certain individual members of the FLQ. On the contrary, in 1970, just days after the assassination of Pierre Laporte and the imposition of war measures, representatives from all sectors of Quebec society denounced these actions, especially the late René Lévesque, leader of the Parti Quebecois at the time. Making this distinction is important because the individuals who perpetrated the crimes assumed the consequences, were judged, sentenced and have paid their dues to society.

I would first like to demonstrate the impact these incidents, in particular the enforcement of war measures, have had on the lives of many fellow Quebecers and on our collective democracy in general.

In 1970, I was a member of the Parti Quebecois, and still am, and back then, I was garnering support in the riding of Frontenac, a rural riding in which Lac-Mégantic was the biggest town at the time. I was working for the Parti Quebecois. We had just been through our first election, on April 29, 1970. Please bear in mind that back then being a member of the Parti Quebecois was not easy in that kind of a community, a community that I respect and which was adamantly against all "ists": communists, separatists, socialists, péquistes. It was not easy garnering support democratically for the sovereignty cause in such a context.

When Mr. Pierre Laporte was assassinated, it struck a dissonant chord within me, I was bowled over, indignant, frightened.

In my heart of hearts, I did not feel that the cause I was fighting for justified killing a man in order to achieve our goal. Like hundreds of thousands of my fellow citizens, I was and still am convinced that this should be accomplished in a democratic

fashion. That is why we, sovereignists, will not allow anyone to question our desire to act democratically.

Second, I wish to point out that I was even more staggered and even sickened when, a few years after the October 1970 events and the imposition of the War Measures Act, I realized-like all of Quebec-that the federal government of the day, of which the current Prime Minister was a member, used the unconscionable acts of a few individuals to plan what can be called a political coup intended to destabilize the sovereignist movement.

I hear my colleague from the Reform Party groaning. I would ask him to show a little respect and forbearance. He will be able to speak after I have concluded. I am expressing what thousands of Quebecers felt at the time. They were mistreated and felt betrayed by the federal government, when they realized that it was all just a political plot. In 1969, long before the October 1970 events, discussions about these groups of individuals acting illegally in Quebec were held at the highest level of government, also known as the cabinet. They knew that these groups existed and surely knew who their members were, but were careful not to intervene. They waited for the right moment to impose the War Measures Act.

After this act was imposed, hundreds of people were arrested and detained illegally, without any charges being laid against them. I would like to quote a few figures and I would ask all my colleagues to pay attention. It is not only two or three people who were arrested, but more than 500. Five hundred people were arrested and detained, in some cases for a few weeks, without any charges being laid against them either during the October events or afterwards.

There were 4,600 cases of search and seizure were carried out throughout Quebec. The police entered private homes for all kinds of reasons, conducting searches and frightening ordinary people. Some 31,700 searches were carried out. These figures, in my opinion, demonstrate the significant consequences of imposing the War Measures Act. This act was enforced twice in Canada, the first time in 1918 and the second time during the October events.

I would just like to come back to another point, namely the fact that this is still going on today. Our friends from the Reform Party should pay particular attention to what I am about to say. Let us think back to the Grant Bristow affair, a few months ago. Bristow, a Heritage Front militant and known agitator infiltrated the Reform Party and moved in circles close to the leader of this party. We must realize that this is still happening today. And on the eve of the referendum debate, I ask the federal government, our Liberal friends and our Reform friends to respect the wishes of Quebecers. I ask that the federal government give the people of Quebec the assurance that every effort will be made to ensure that a democratic debate can take place, without the secret services or CSIS attempting to manipulate public opinion in Quebec.

War Measures ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

War Measures ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Maurice Bernier Bloc Mégantic—Compton—Stanstead, QC

I would like to take the few minutes remaining to emphasize that such activities went on after the War Measures Act was repealed, activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency (CSIS) which, I repeat, are known, having been brought to light by a number of inquiries, such as the Keable Commission in Quebec, which uncovered a whole string of illegal acts committed by various individuals linked to the Canadian secret service. The Macdonald Commission of Inquiry also uncovered many illegal activities by RCMP officers.

I would also like to show how such activities affected the lives of these citizens. Just take the case of this man, a respectable Montreal lawyer by the name of Pierre Cloutier, who was investigated by the RCMP without his knowledge. Mr. Cloutier was under RCMP supervision for 11 years. What does Mr. Cloutier do for a living? This gentleman is a respected lawyer who was never accused of any wrongdoing and who acts as arbitrator in Quebec labour conflicts. For some ten years, employers and unions have called on him to settle their disputes. His credibility therefore is unimpeachable. Again, because Mr. Cloutier was somehow connected with individuals who were involved in the FLQ, or because he is still active in the sovereignty movement, the RCMP secretly followed him for 11 years, from 1970 to 1981.

War Measures ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.

An hon. member

This is a shame.

War Measures ActPrivate Members' Business

11:15 a.m.


Maurice Bernier Bloc Mégantic—Compton—Stanstead, QC

When Mr. Cloutier asked to see his file, what did he find? First, he found a file which is 1,500 pages thick.

Just imagine: fifteen hundred pages on a single individual who never ran into any trouble with the law. Moreover, 1,000 of these pages are censored. This is the work of institutions which monitor the activity of sovereignists who want to act in full compliance with the democratic process. We all remember the case of an individual arrested in 1970, and his wife too. I am referring to Mr. Gérald Godin and Mrs. Pauline Julien. We all know about the illegal and criminal activities of Mr. Godin: he was a member of Quebec's National Assembly, and a Quebec minister for some ten years.

There is no doubt that this suspicious individual was under close surveillance by our federal institutions. Mr. Godin was illegally imprisoned in 1970. He was detained without any charges laid against him. What conclusion did he draw from those days? Let me read you a poem written by Mr. Godin after the October 1970 events. The poem is entitled "October". I

apologize for my English pronunciation, but I must read this poem in the language in which it was written by its author. In reference to those events, including his arrest, Mr. Godin wrote:

They followed me, they taped me They spied on me, they tripped me They broke in on me, they fell down on me They hooked me, they trapped me

They arrested me without a warrant without a reason, without a word, without a look and they frisked my brain

They jailed me, they banned me, they exiled me They laughed at me, they tried to destroy me

And there was a big silence around here then There was a sort of continental silence All my friends had left town

None of the usual talkers could find his words or his breath None of the usual writers could find his pen or his ink

But still I am here tonight and I'm gonna be here for a long long time decades and decades after they'll have disappeared from here

I'll be hanging around looking for justice, looking for peace looking after my brothers and sisters

This is what Mr. Godin wrote following the October 1970 events, and I think we should all reflect on these words. Again, the purpose of this motion is to ask the federal government to apologize to the victims of illegal arrests, and provide financial compensation.

War Measures ActPrivate Members' Business

11:20 a.m.


Raymond Bonin Liberal Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, it has been suggested that the House of Commons make an official apology to those who were incarcerated during the enforcement of the War Measures Act in the early seventies and that these people receive financial compensation. According to section 2 of the War Measures Act, the governor in council may issue a proclamation that real or apprehended insurrection exists, and this proclamation shall be conclusive evidence that apprehended insurrection has existed.

Once the proclamation was issued, the governor in council had the power to make orders and regulations to deal with the situation. As a number of members will recall, the provisions of the War Measures Act were invoked in October 1970, with the announcement that a state of apprehended insurrection existed in the Province of Quebec, in response to serious concerns expressed at the time by the Quebec Premier, Robert Bourassa, and the authorities of the city of Montreal.

In a letter to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Premier of Quebec used clear and direct language to describe the dangerous situation facing the provincial government. As he said: "The Quebec Government is convinced that such powers are necessary to meet the present emergency. Not only are two completely innocent men threatened with death, but we are also faced with an attempt by a minority to destroy social order through criminal action".

According to commentator Denis Smith, in referring to the events of the fall of 1970: "During an interview televised on the CBC network, Robert Bourassa mentioned a five-step revolutionary program: demonstrations, explosions, kidnappings, selective assassinations and urban guerilla warfare. The first three having apparently been carried out, Mr. Bourassa was sufficiently convinced, on October 16, that the "program" was being systematically implemented to believe that exceptional measures was necessary. We may question the nature and the reliability of the evidence available to Mr. Bourassa, but there is no doubt that at the time, Mr. Bourassa felt it was conclusive".

Mr. Bourassa and the Montreal authorities felt the evidence was conclusive and, on that basis, the federal government proclaimed the existence of a state of apprehended insurrection, pursuant to section 2 of the War Measures Act. On the basis of that proclamation, the government passed the Public Order Regulations, 1970.

On October 16, 1970, during the debate following the tabling of the regulations in the House, the then Minister of Justice, the Right Hon. John Turner, gave his colleagues the following assurances: "The procedure by way of proclamation is found within the War Measures Act. This is a completely constitutional technique. Let me point out more particularly that the regulations were issued under powers granted to the Governor in Council by Parliament; so that the constitutional source of this enactment was, and is, Parliament itself".

The constitutionality of the procedure and of the War Measures Act was subsequently also recognized by the courts. In Gagnon and Vallières vs. Regina , the Quebec Court of Appeal found, as had all court decisions up to then, that, under the War Measures Act and the constitution as it existed at the time, no judicial control could be exercised over the evidence in support of the decision by the governor in council to declare that a state of insurrection was feared. This decision was the exclusive jurisdiction of the governor in council.

The Quebec Court of Appeal also implicitly recognized the considerable precedents confirming the constitutionality of the War Measures Act. The courts have always held that the law is a valid exercice of Parliament's authority to adopt legislation for peace, order and good government in Canada.

The government of the time made a value judgment, which it was legally and constitutionally entitled to make on the basis of information available at the time.

It must also be pointed out that the federal government got involved in the Quebec crisis at the express request of the Government of Quebec. Following the crisis, the Quebec ombudsman investigated complaints of unfair treatment made by a number of people involved in the matter. Some of the complainants were compensated. Others had their claims dismissed. In

his annual report for 1971, the ombudsman noted that he felt obliged to investigate each complaint submitted to him. He said that he investigated the facts and reconstructed them insofar as possible. He tried to understand each person's situation and was able to consult files that seemed relevant.

The matter was settled provincially, and it is not up to this government or to Parliament to re-examine it.

Almost 25 years have passed since the events of October 1970. In this period, the legislative and political climate in Canada has changed considerably. We have witnessed the emergence of a strong tendency to protect individual rights, expressed more specifically in the enshrinement of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the constitution. Canadians' changing attitude is also reflected in the broad interpretation the courts have given to the charter.

Not only has the constitutional landscape of Canadian society changed since 1970, but also the legislation itself. The Government and Parliament of Canada have replaced the War Measures Act with the Emergencies Act, which limits the amount of force which can be used to deal with an emergency. The government would not be able to tap the wide-ranging powers it did in 1970 as easily today. This is also a reflection of how societal attitudes have evolved.

Judged within today's legislative, judicial and philosophical framework, some people would question the government's response to the events of 1970. Nevertheless, the fact remains that, at the time, the government did what it judged was necessary and what the constitutional and legislative framework in place then legally entitled it to do.

During the November 4, 1970 debate in the House on the legislation introduced to replace the regulations, Mr. Turner said the following: "And to suggest, as some members of the opposition have, that because an insurrection did not occur, therefore it could not have been apprehended, is an exercice in false logic".

This statement is more revealing 25 years after the fact than it was immediately following it. In 1970, the Government of Quebec apprehended an insurrection. The federal government acted, and its actions were driven by that apprehension. The measures it took were approved by tribunals and deemed to be in step with the powers which the law conferred to the government at that time.

We can and must learn from the past. The question begging an answer is whether we should review the past or invest in the future. We believe that the best choice is to use the government's limited resources to secure a brighter future for generations to come.

Any residents of Quebec who had been unjustly or arbitrarily targeted by the measures have been compensated by the Province of Quebec. In my opinion, it would be futile to rehash yet again this rocky period in Canada's history.

War Measures ActPrivate Members' Business

11:30 a.m.


Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to read the motion to make it clear. Motion No. 332 reads:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should immediately make an official public apology, accompanied by financial compensation, to the hundreds of citizens of Quebec who were the victims of arbitrary arrest and unjustified detention during the enforcement of the War Measures Act in the early '70s.

Should the War Measures Act have been invoked? The answer is very debatable.

It might serve the purpose of the House to go through a bit of the history of the time. In late 1969 some bombs were detonated in Montreal at the Board of Trade and le Club Canadien. In February 1970 Charles Gagnon, the FLQ leader, was freed on bail. In May 1970 Pierre Vallières was freed on bail. In June 1970 the justice minister of Quebec, Jérôme Choquette, announced a $50,000 reward for information on activities leading to the arrest of key members of the FLQ. The reward led to tips which allowed the various police forces, the Quebec Provincial Police, the Montreal police and the RCMP, to make arrests.

It is helpful to realize all those forces were at work. It allowed them to make a series of arrests and uncover information which cited the FLQ's intent to kidnap the Israeli and American consuls as a sign of protest against American imperialism and the FLQ's solidarity with the Palestine liberation movement.

On October 5, 1970, James Cross, the senior trade commissioner at the British Trade Commission was abducted by the FLQ. On October 10, Pierre Laporte, the minister of labour in the Bourassa cabinet, was kidnapped. On October 15 the federal cabinet agreed to use the War Measures Act if the situation deteriorated. On October 16 the cabinet made the decision and implemented it. On October 18, two days after the implementation of the War Measures Act, the body of Pierre Laporte was discovered. On October 19, one day later, the House voted to support the government's decision.

On November 2 a bill called Public Order Temporary Measures Act was introduced to replace the War Measures Act. That bill correctly was limited to the FLQ. On December 1 the bill was passed in the House, 174 to 31.

Meanwhile, earlier in November the famous Montreal five: Lemieux, Vallieres, Gagnon, Chartrand and Larue-Langlois, were charged with seditious conspiracy and membership in the FLQ. On December 3 Mr. Cross was freed. Finally in January the troops were removed.

I would like to run that measure of events against my own memory of the incidents. In 1964 I was a staff officer at the headquarters of the eastern Quebec area when the Queen was about to visit. The FLQ at that time was making a lot of noise. In fact, the Queen's life was threatened. The general officer command in Quebec command at that time went to Quebec City and talked to me, among others, asking if the Queen's visit should be cancelled. My counsel to that general at the time was that we should not because we did not know the extent of the FLQ presence. Surely this would be taking too reactionary a step against an enemy that was supposedly very small and turned out to be quite small. I think the counsel was correct at the time. It was saying, do not over-react.

In 1970 I found myself as the commanding officer of the Cinquième battalion de services à Valcartier. I was living through all of these events. I was kept fairly busy because I was first of all told to provide some of my troops to help the infantry. I had to establish an advance base in Montreal and take part in the security of base Valcartier.

My personal conclusion from all of these events was that the invocation of the War Measures Act was not justified. The same conclusion can be reached by others. If we look at the "Queen's Quarterly" the Commissioner of the RCMP at the time, William Higgitt, was even more blunt.

He made it clear that he had never been asked for his opinion on the efficacy of invoking the act but only on the mechanics of implementing it. He added that if it conferred certain advantages to the police, there were many disadvantages, not the least of which were the excessive powers granted the Quebec police and the misuse of these powers that went on unchecked.

The commission pressed for documentation of the apprehended insurrection. Higgitt said that there was none. He went further to insist that he would have stopped somewhat short of using the words "rebellion" or "open rebellion". I had greater faith in the people concerned than that.

From all these things I would conclude that the Liberal government of 1970 was a bit like the Liberal government of today. It could see this thing coming but failed to act, or it deliberately invoked the War Measures Act for political purposes.

I can see the current Liberal government acting in the same way. Look at the dock strikes. Look at the stevedore strike, the railway strike. It is either too little, too late or it is just the opposite, a total over-reaction. As one critic said at the time, it is like cracking a peanut with a sledgehammer.

My conclusion on this motion is that the problem in Quebec was with the Quebec forces as much as with the federal forces. As we have seen, all the Quebec police forces; the QPP, the Montreal city police and the RCMP were all involved in this.

In my judgment, the Bloc Quebecois is not wrong in making this motion. I cannot go along with it but it is not wrong. It is being used as a warning of what can happen in a democratic country such as ours. At the same time, nothing can excuse the crimes that were committed nor is the Bloc trying to excuse them. Crimes were committed by the FLQ and nothing can excuse that.

In my view the government of today is not in a position to make an apology nor should it make financial compensation. Undoubtedly there were some innocent victims in all of this but we cannot prove it today. It would be of no value to try to bring it all to light again and find out who was innocent and who was not. The blame should be shared around. But I cannot condemn the Bloc Quebecois for bringing the motion up today. Let it act as a warning of what can happen in a democratic society.

War Measures ActPrivate Members' Business

11:40 a.m.


Ghislain Lebel Bloc Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my Reform colleague for his good judgment and honest approach. As for the hon. member for Nickel Belt, once more he did what the federalists have always wanted done when dealing with Quebec, that is getting a French Canadian to use strong arm tactics against other French Canadians.

I am pleased to rise on this motion, introduced by my friend and colleague, the hon. member for Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead. In 1970, I was 24, I was married and the father of a young child, therefore old enough to appreciate what was going on in Canada at the time.

Young Quebecers, troubled by inequalities, injustices and the lack of opportunities in Canadian businesses, had joined in the fight against the injustices suffered by the Quebec people. They used means which we still disapprove of and which were definitely wrong.

The Prime Minister of the time, Mr. Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was in the third year of his mandate and he decided, after several cabinet meetings, to put Quebec back in its place. Several Quebec ministers sat in on those cabinet meetings, including, to name just a few, the present Prime Minister, then Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development; Mr. Jean-Luc Pepin, Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce; Mr. Gérard Pelletier, Secretary of State and Jean Marchand, people who used to be called, in Quebec, the three doves, but whose hearts were

blacker than the blackest raven to be found along Highway 417, coming into Ottawa.

This small group decided at cabinet level to invoke the War Measures Act, an act which, previously, had only been used in wartime. Invoking the War Measures Act was enough in itself to traumatize the people of Quebec which, at the time, was overwhelmingly federalist and solidly disapproved of the actions of the Front de libération du Québec.

The only other time this legislation was implemented was during the conscription riots, in Quebec, in 1918. What was different in the October crisis is that Canada was not at war. In those days, Canada had three guns; I will remind you that two of them were pointing at the crowd in Quebec City, while the third one had gone to war in Europe. This is the kind of attention that was paid to Quebecers in those days. And the great Canadian army in all this? October 16, 1970 marked the first instance of what was to become the army's trade-mark, namely action involving civilian populations.

We saw what it led to, last year, in Mogadishu, in Somalia. We saw the results of such involvement. The military trained in Quebec City and in Montreal, and had their finest moment in Somalia. I remember when the soldiers arrived in Montreal. I was 24, I remember well. They wore helmets and battle fatigues with locust tree branches stuck here and there. They carried a canteen, their pants were dragging on the ground, and they jammed their loaded M-1s in the ribs of secretaries and workers on their way to the bus. What a show our great beautiful military gave. During the Gulf War, it cost us $300 million to send our soldiers to keep watch over latrines and tanker-trucks. This was the same army which had practised on Quebec civilians. There is nothing to be proud of. At any rate, I am not.

The War Measures Act gave certain powers to the governor in council in case of war, invasion or insurrection. It stripped citizens of their democratic and civil rights. The executive reigned supreme and could act unchecked. The state of insurrection only existed in the mind of the then Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, and of the members of his Cabinet, including the current Prime Minister who was there then.

Things had been on the move in Quebec from the early 1960s. Instruments of democracy were sprouting left and right. The Caisse de placement et de dépôt du Québec, the nationalization of electricity and the health insurance plan threatened the very existence of powerful economic interests owned by the English Canadian and British establishment. This situation had gone on for too long, and it was time to end any idea of Quebec autonomy.

The then prime minister attacked Quebec nationalism, just as the military commanders of ancient times tried to batter down the main gate of towns under siege, for once this gate was breached, the towns were sure to fall. On closer examination, this was not the first time the military machine had gone to the aid of the political arm when the latter had exhausted its means of persuasion.

In addition to the episode in 1918 that I mentioned earlier, there were also the incidents involving native peoples and Métis in western Canada between 1870 and 1884. A truly magnificent army.

In 1837-38, there were not only francophone Patriotes, there were also anglophone Reformers, and they were simply asking for the establishment of responsible government and the application in their jurisdiction of the principles of justice, fairness and freedom.

Terrorism, from whatever sector of society, is no less an attack on the basic principles of human existence, and Central Canada and several English-speaking provinces have resorted to it too often. I would remind the brilliant senator, who in his time, sympathized with the Parti national social chrétien-the famous blue shirts of Adrien Arcand-and who recently expressed his concerns about Quebec nationalism, that the Governor General drew a comparison between the deportation of the Acadians and an all-expenses-paid Club Med vacation.

Manitoba's language laws, which were declared ultra vires by the Supreme Court of Canada nearly 100 years after they produced their perverse effect; and the unilateral abolition of powers at the Privy Council in London, which deserves a closer look. It is a little like divorce. Both spouses would like to go before the court to settle their differences but the wife could say, for example: "No, my mother will decide which one of us is right". That is about what the abolition of powers at the Privy Council in London amounts to. Imagine the kind of justice that can come out of this. It was then the only body still able to look at both sides and to occasionally restore a semblance of justice for Canada's francophones.

There was also Ontario's famous Regulation 17 prohibiting French-language schools on its territory. That is an act of terrorism. The Indian Act-back when the legislation referred to them as savages-was aimed at confining this country's first inhabitants to well defined areas. I would remind this brilliant senator that his art would never have taken him to the pinnacle of his career in the other place where he now sits, if he had worked in Sault Ste. Marie or Queen's Park. The Minister of Canadian Heritage summed up my thoughts the other day in this House when he started talking about sheep; you can imagine the rest.

Do this brilliant senator and the Minister of Industry know that the first Jew to be elected to public office in Canada was Ezechiel Hart, who became the member for Trois-Rivières in Quebec's Legislative Assembly in 1908, and that he was dismissed by order of the British government? He did not have the right to sit in Parliament because he was Jewish. Catholics were only recognized by the government in London in 1828. Senator

Roux and the anglophones who claim that Quebec nationalism is unhealthy should be reminded of that.

Everyone agrees now that the War Measures Act denied the most fundamental rights to hundreds of Quebecers. Take for example the arbitrary arrest of these individuals by police bursting into their homes, arresting them without a warrant and detaining them for several days, and even weeks in some cases, without even allowing their families to be informed.

I am not denying that this was an extremely volatile situation, but the measures taken were far too extreme. Did our so-called civilized society not assume, for a short while, the likeness of a dictatorship? I would have so much to say, but I know that a strict count of time is kept. Let me just say that, for these 32,000 searches, Quebecers are entitled if not to financial compensation, at least to an apology. It is the least once can expect.

Apologies have been made to the Italians, the Japanese, the Chinese. It seems to me that apologies should also be made to every francophone in Canada, and more particularly to those in Quebec, for blunders such as the one made in 1970.

War Measures ActPrivate Members' Business

11:50 a.m.


Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to discuss this motion asking the federal government to make an apology to those who, let us not forget, were the victims of arbitrary arrest and unjustified detention. No charges were ever laid against these people. The government ordered that these people be arrested and long searches were conducted to see if there were any grounds to lay charges. No charges were laid because no such grounds existed. People were arrested based on claims, without any regard for the habeas corpus procedure.

Let me tell you an anecdote. In 1970, I was a student at the Saint-Augustin seminary, in Cap-Rouge. I was a member of the Parti Quebecois, and so was my roommate. The evening that Mr. Laporte died, my roommate tore up his PQ membership card. I kept mine, and we debated an issue which is still topical today, namely that the federal government of the time used the reprehensible actions of the FLQ to kill the sovereignist movement. The real aim of the operation was to kill the sovereignist movement.

Because of adverse propaganda, membership in the Parti Quebecois dropped significantly. However, Quebecers also learned a lesson from this episode, a lesson which they will remember for a long time: Quebecers opted for democracy. In fact, that choice had been made long before, since Quebec has the oldest parliamentary institution in North America, as well as an appropriate motto which says "Je me souviens". We are patient; we are prepared to wait, but we will reach our ultimate objective, which is Quebec's sovereignty.

In all its efforts to kill that project, the federal government only succeeded in attacking the will of Quebecers to reach their objective not by resorting to violence, but through democratic means, and they will succeed.

The hon. member for Mégantic-Compton-Stanstead referred to Mr. Gérald Godin, who was arrested in 1970. The best proof that Quebecers did learn their lesson is that, in the 1976 election, the same person beat Robert Bourassa, who was then the federalist on duty. Quebec's long march toward sovereignty is based on respect for democracy. The events of those days had consequences which can still be felt. The federal government's constant attempts to instill fear in Quebecers have their roots in the actions taken then, and perhaps also in the events which occurred with the patriots, back in 1837. They are always trying to rekindle this fear.

No one among the federalists in Quebec is selling Canada as an option for the future. They are only attacking the other option, as if it was always necessary to come back to the same arguments: "Things will not go well, because the sovereignists do not want a bright future for Quebec." This is in line with the oath taken by Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1970 to rekindle fear, to ensure that one can, in a roundabout way, either as Minister of Justice or as prime minister, achieve the same results.

During the October crisis, when Mr. Trudeau went on national television to make a statement on the kidnappings, he said: "Next time it could be the manager of a credit union." This was a demagogic way to say that the FLQ was such a well-organized group that it could strike almost anywhere in Quebec, but now we know that some of the FLQ cells were backed by the RCMP. This makes it a planned strategy to kill the sovereignist movement.

What we can say today is that the sovereignist movement will not die, it is here to stay. We have been using all the democratic tools at our disposal since then. We have elected the Parti Quebecois, as well as the newest offspring of our movement, the Bloc Quebecois, which is here to represent a very strong and very clear movement in Canada. It is obvious that as long as the Constitutional crisis in Canada is not settled, we will remain here, because we have a good memory and we will keep on using existing democratic tools. This is how we have decided to carve out a place in the sun for ourselves, and this is what we will do in the future.

In conclusion, I would like to say that it would be nice for those who were illegally arrested and who were never sent to trial to get an apology, because their rights were indeed violated. The purpose of the motion before us is also to send a message to Quebecers and Canadians of the future, to my children, to your children, to all young people who are growing up in our society, that when errors are made in the system, when the system forgets

that it is supposed to be democratic, we must have the courage to rectify this situation. We must be able to tell all these young people that, in Quebec and in Canada, things are done democratically and that it is possible to achieve our goals that way.

If this motion were adopted by the House, it would show people not only that the federal government made mistakes in the seventies, that it deliberately took actions that were unacceptable, but also that these actions will no longer be tolerated.

In any case, I think that Quebec will always respond through a democratic vote. It will do so again in 1995, or whenever it is deemed appropriate, so that Quebec can become sovereign at last and not encounter obstacles like those that the federal system put in its way in the seventies.

I urge the government to think about that. I believe that the Reform Party must also think about the appropriateness of the federal government making the official apology that the motion calls for and to ensure that all those who were illegally arrested are informed that the present federal government regrets the actions taken by the government of the seventies.

It would be an indication that members on both sides of the House really want to promote democracy as the sole foundation of political debates like the one that is going on right now in Quebec and in Canada.

War Measures ActPrivate Members' Business


The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The time provided for consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired. Pursuant to Standing Order 96, the order is dropped from the Order Paper.

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Etobicoke Centre Ontario


Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-72, an act to amend the Criminal Code (self-induced intoxication), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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Peter Milliken Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

I think you will find there is an understanding in the House that in respect of this bill the minister will be the one speaker for the government. For the official opposition there will be two speakers who will divide the 40-minute period allotted to the second speaker in this debate without questions or comments. For the third party in the House there will be a similar arrangement in respect of the 40-minute period they would otherwise have. Then there will be a 20-minute speech from a member of the New Democratic Party. That should conclude the debate.

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The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Just to make this very clear, the government will present one speaker, the Bloc Quebecois will have two speakers, the Reform Party will have two or three speakers, two speakers will also divide the 40 minutes, and finally I understand the New Democratic Party will have a spokesperson for 20 minutes. Is that agreed?

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Some hon. members


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Allan Rock Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on September 30, 1994 the Supreme Court of Canada released its reasons for judgment in a case called Daviault. The effect of that judgment was to change the common law rules concerning criminal liability in cases where the accused is extremely intoxicated at the time of the alleged offence. The nature of that change, its effect in subsequent cases and the concern it caused about the principle of accountability in the criminal law lie behind the government's decision to introduce Bill C-72 which we are debating today at second reading.

With this bill, Parliament would abolish self-induced intoxication as a defence in the case of general intent offences involving violence, where basic intent is the only criminal intent required. Parliament would thus recognize a standard of care, any departure from which would make an unlawful act a criminal one.

In leading off second reading debate today, I propose to develop the principles underlying the bill and to explain why the government believes that Bill C-72 represents a prudent, necessary and valid amendment to our Criminal Code.

May I first touch upon the state of the law before Daviault. There has never been a formal defence of intoxication in the Criminal Code. Judges in the facts of specific cases have been left to formulate those rules by themselves.

Over the decades past, courts have approached this issue by creating two categories of intent in the criminal law: general and specific.

General intent has been taken to mean the basic intention to commit a criminal act in a broad category, such as assaulting someone or committing a sexual assault on someone.

The courts held that by way of distinction, a specific intent involves a special purpose in addition to the basic intent. The crime of murder, for example, requires the proof of a specific intent. It must be established that someone intended to cause a death. In theft it must be proven that the specific intent was there to achieve the special fraudulent purpose of depriving someone of specific property. With respect to the crime of breaking and

entering with intention to commit an indictable offence, again the crown had to prove that there was a special purpose in the mind of the accused.

Over the decades, the common law courts developed the rule that intoxication could be a defence to crimes of specific intent but were never a defence to crimes of general intent. As a result, if someone was acquitted of a crime of specific intent by reason of intoxication, they were almost invariably convicted of an included general intent offence. Therefore someone who might not be convicted of murder because of intoxication would be convicted of manslaughter which required a general intent. A person who was acquitted of robbery because of the lack of specific intent might be convicted of assault.

This approach to intent and the effect of intoxication upon criminal liability was one of the topics identified in the review of the general part of the Criminal Code launched by the Department of Justice last fall. It has been felt for many years that it is about time Parliament became involved in clarifying the rules with respect to defences and intention rather than leaving it to the courts to fashion their own approaches. It was in the course of that review of the general part that the Daviault judgment was released and its effect became known.

As to the judgment in Daviault itself, the effect of that judgment was to uphold the traditional distinction between crimes of general and specific intent. Another effect was to hold that extreme intoxication in some circumstances could be a defence even to a crime of general intent.

The underlying analysis was that extreme intoxication can cause a form of automatism. In the case of Daviault the evidence related to the ingestion of alcohol. The court held that in that automatic state, the state of automatism, a person would be unable to appreciate the nature of the consequence of their actions and would be unable to form the intention to commit the offence in issue. The court also held that it would be a question of fact in each case to determine whether that was so. The onus would be upon the accused person to establish that it was so and that scientific evidence would almost always be required to establish those facts.

The majority of the court also held in Daviault that under the current common law where self-induced intoxication was not held to be a sufficient basis for criminal fault, it would be contrary to the principles of the charter of rights and freedoms to hold someone criminally responsible for their conduct when they are intoxicated to the point of automatism.

I observe in passing that although the charter principles were touched upon in the facta filed by counsel in Daviault and although there was some reference to them in argument, the charter principles were not argued extensively or developed in detail. Furthermore, I observe that there was no section 1 evidence tendered by either party in the Daviault case. I also observe that the Attorney General of Canada was not invited to intervene in that case.

The Daviault judgment raised obvious concerns for members of Parliament and indeed for all Canadians. The whole question of accountability under the criminal law was brought into sharp focus.

Specific concerns related to crimes of violence against women and children. Indeed the Daviault case itself involved an allegation of sexual assault against a woman. In the weeks that followed the release of the Daviault case, there were other cases in various parts of Canada applying its principle, each case involving allegations of violence against women.

Concern grew that a person might be charged with murder and defend on the basis of intoxication. If the extent of intoxication was established to be sufficiently extreme, that person might walk out of the courtroom entirely free because they were incapable of performing a specific intent involving murder and because the intoxication was such that they were exculpated from the general intent crime of manslaughter. The result would be that they would face no sanction at all.

Concerns were also expressed that people might manipulate the legal principles so as to intoxicate themselves to some extent for the purpose of committing a crime. They would then intoxicate themselves further afterward before apprehension and rely upon the degree of intoxication overall to escape liability for the crime.

Following the release of Daviault and recognizing that change was needed, the government examined a variety of options. It looked at the prospect of legislating criminal intoxication as an offence under the law. Indeed, this suggestion was made almost 10 years ago by the Law Reform Commission. It suggested that we might approach the matter in that fashion. We rejected that option for a variety of reasons.

The first reason was the penalty. Clearly, it was the view of the government that if there was to be accountability in the criminal law, then the maximum penalty for any new offence of criminal intoxication would have to be the same as the maximum penalty for the original offence. Otherwise, we have the spectre of having created a drunkenness discount which would give people who intoxicate themselves an option to have a lesser penalty for the same crime. That obviously is unacceptable. If the maximum penalty for the new offence of criminal intoxication was to be the same as for the original offence, this would essentially be a long and complicated way of saying that intoxication is no defence.

The second reason for not pursuing the option of creating the criminal intoxication offence related to the labelling of the offence. The criminal intoxication option rests on the person being found not guilty of the original offence and instead found guilty of the new offence of criminal intoxication. The govern-

ment believes that a person who becomes voluntarily intoxicated to the point of losing conscious control or awareness and in that state causes violence to another person is at fault for the assault and should be held criminally accountable for that offence and for nothing less.

To acquit the person of the assault and convict them instead of a new offence of criminal intoxication would send the message that they were not criminally responsible for the assault itself. This would feed into the syndrome of blaming the alcohol instead of the man for the act of violence.

Third, a detailed examination of the criminal intoxication option in its various forms established that many of the charter and legal theory problems identified by the Supreme Court in relation to the common law rule as it applies to basic intent would apply with almost as much force to any such new offence.

If the new offence were required to be charged, there would be no opportunity to do so until trial, when the accused person invariably raises the intoxication as a defence and the crown becomes aware of it for the first time.

If the new offence were to operate as an included offence with conviction to follow automatically from acquittal on the main offence, a successful defence to that main charge which needs to be proven by the accused only on a balance of probabilities would be taken as proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the new offence of criminal intoxication. That anomaly might itself raise serious charter concerns.

If conviction for an included offence of criminal intoxication were to be not automatic but at the discretion of the judge or jury, the question arises whether the simple fact of the acquittal would be sufficient to form the foundation for liability for criminal intoxication. Would the crown be required to adduce additional evidence? If so, how?

The question arose of whether the offence of criminal intoxication would include an element of causation to prove for example that intoxication caused or led to the harm complained of.

Last, the prospect of the charge of criminal intoxication raised the spectre of the prosecuting crown attorney being required to argue contradictory positions at trial. One position would be that the person was not so intoxicated as to escape responsibility but in the alternative the person was intoxicated and therefore should be convicted of criminal intoxication.

The government also examined the prospect of a charge of criminal negligence as a separate offence, criminal negligence causing the harm contemplated by the crime in the code based upon self-induced intoxication.

Once again we rejected that approach. It avoided accountability for the central misconduct and provided a lesser label for the underlying harm which we believe should be addressed directly.

Having rejected those alternatives, we settled on the approach disclosed in Bill C-72. Fundamental to that approach is the principle of accountability. We are saying in substance that it is no defence to violent crime that you have intoxicated yourself.

For Canadians this is not just an issue in common law. This is a matter of common sense. I believe it is common sense which is reflected in this legislation. The bill applies to the basic intent element in all crimes of violence, including sexual violence and domestic assault which are of particular concern in relation to women and children.

This is not a course of mere technicality. The bill addresses an important point of principle. People cannot be permitted to hide behind drunkenness or other forms of intoxication to escape responsibility for their criminal conduct. What the government has said in this bill quite plainly, and as a principle of law, is that those who make themselves intoxicated and while in that state do harm to others cannot rely on their intoxication to escape the consequences in law.

The government also believes the approach of Bill C-72 avoids the conceptual and procedural problems I have identified in relation to criminal intoxication. I can report that in January when I met with the provincial and territorial ministers of justice and attorneys general it was this approach in Bill C-72 that was favoured by all present.

The question of the validity of Bill C-72, the constitutional validity, has also been carefully considered by the government in formulating this legislation. I observe at the outset that in the course of the Daviault judgment the Supreme Court of Canada in the majority ruling observed it was dealing not with a statute of Parliament but with judge-made common law rules and therefore did not feel obligated to show the deference it usually pays to a statute in determining the validity of the rule to which it created an exception in that case.

In Daviault the court expressly invited Parliament to legislate, to fill the gap created by its analysis of the common law. In essence the majority of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Daviault judgment said that while there is some fault in becoming intoxicated, the legal logic of the common law did not allow the court to relate that fault to the criminal fault underlying the charge.

Bill C-72 provides for the link between the fault in self-induced intoxication and the harm or fault in the criminal conduct which forms the basis of the charge. Bill C-72 creates a

legislative standard of care. It says expressly that if you intoxicate yourself to the point at which you lose conscious control and do harm to another, you have departed from a standard of care we are entitled to expect from each other.

With that criminally blameworthy misconduct you are not entitled to rely on your self-induced intoxication as a defence in law. That is the link that was missing when the court analysed the common law rule in Daviault. By this bill we are inviting Parliament to provide that link and to demonstrate that self-induced intoxication will not be a response.

While we are creating a legislative standard of care it is not the case that the crown attorney will have to prove in each case that there was a departure from the standard. It is not the case that standard is open to different interpretations depending on who is prosecuting, who is judging and where the case is being tried. We are stating in Bill C-72 conclusively that intoxicating yourself to the point at which you lose conscious control and harm others is a departure from the standard of care.

That is not going to be an issue at a future trial. It is a conclusive assertion by the House of Commons and the Parliament of Canada as the starting point for determining criminal liabilities.

Another important feature from a constitutional perspective is that the Daviault judgment was in relation to all crimes in the Criminal Code. The analysis of the Supreme Court of Canada was in relation to the criminal law generally.

Bill C-72 has been crafted so that it is relevant to crimes of violence. Having narrowed the ambit of the principle for the purposes that we have identified in this statute, we have demonstrated this parliamentary response is proportionate to the threat of violence and association with intoxication. It is a reasonable response from the legislature in that regard.

While there was no section 1 evidence before the court in Daviault, I hope when the bill is heard by committee there will be evidence to establish the facts referred to in the preamble, the close association between violence and intoxication, the disproportionate effect of such violence on women and children, and the extent to which that violence deprives women and children of the equality rights to which they are entitled under the charter so that a firm foundation will be laid for demonstrating the valid purpose and power of Parliament in enacting this legislation.

We must not underestimate the value and scope of the preamble to the bill. It is an expression of the reasons and considerations that have led Parliament to legislate in this way. These reasons and considerations have been written down and may usefully guide the courts in applying these amendments to cases that come before them.

It was suggested during the consultation process leading to the bill that as a matter of perception if we left Daviault alone and did not legislate, the perception would be clearly given that self-induced intoxication could excuse criminal behaviour with the result of a decrease in the reporting of crime, including in particular crimes of violence by men against women.

The feeling is if in the end result in any event the man were to be held not accountable, what is the purpose of going through the reporting of the prosecution. The preamble recognizes violence and the threat of violence have a disadvantaging effect and play a significant role in placing women and children at risk and denying them the right of security of the person and equal protection of the law guaranteed by the charter.

The new standard of care requires all members of society to take responsibility for not harming others. It would thereby assist in protecting the rights of all Canadians to the security of the person and the equal benefit and protection of the law.

The 1993 violence against women survey demonstrated that alcohol played a prominent role in violence against women. In more than 40 per cent of violent incidents the abusers had been drinking. The rate of assault for women living with men who drank heavily was six times higher than for those whose partners did not drink at all.

The preamble recognizes the close association between violence and intoxication. A number of studies have suggested that without necessarily being the cause, intoxication creates an environment that is conducive to violence. The new standard of care will reinforce among Canadians the obligation we all have not to do violence to others, whether we are sober or in a state of extreme intoxication.

It is important that the bill go to committee so that a parliamentary committee can hear evidence on these important factual points to provide a foundation for establishing the need for this legislation. I have already identified as an option which the government is considering the prospect of referring the legislation, after its enactment and before its proclamation, to the Supreme Court of Canada to establish its validity before it is proclaimed in force. That judgment will be exercised once we have the opinions of Canadians on the issue of validity. If we feel there are significant questions which require reference we will keep that option in mind.

Above all, we are anxious to have this law in place to restore certainty and particularly accountability to criminal law.

I take this opportunity to acknowledge the government's indebtedness to the initiatives shown by Senator Philippe Gigantès in the other place. Senator Gigantès presented Bill S-6 in the Senate shortly after the release of the Daviault judgment. Bill S-6 proposed the offence of criminal intoxication. There was an outstanding effort by Senator Gigantès to address the underlying public concern arising from this judgment. In the final analysis the government did not favour the precise approach he described in that bill. However, we are indebted to him for his initiative. In examining both his bill and his assessment of the issues we were better prepared to address those issues in Bill C-72.

I also acknowledge that the co-operation and collaboration of the other parties today is making it possible for us to deal with second reading on this one occasion. The bill will thereafter go to committee for the consideration needed. I am indebted to hon. members opposite for their collaboration in that regard.

I commend this legislation to the House for approval in principle at second reading. It will improve and strengthen the criminal law of the country.

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12:25 p.m.


Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to remind you that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Québec.

As the Minister of Justice mentioned earlier, it is in response to the Supreme Court ruling in the Daviault case, among others, that the minister finally tabled Bill C-72 on February 24, 1995.

As he said, that bill amends the Criminal Code and prohibits self-induced intoxication as a defence in the case of violent crimes.

Persons who become intoxicated to a degree where they are unable to control their behaviour shall assume criminal liability for their actions. Later on, I will examine in detail the criminal acts affected by this bill, because it does not apply to all criminal acts.

We are still a long way from a comprehensive reform of the Criminal Code sections which set forth the fundamental principles of criminal liability and the grounds for defence in case of accusation.

This is still the stone age as far as criminal legislation is concerned. The rules of criminal law have not really been modified over the last 100 years. It was the Supreme Court that urged the minister to take action. Without that ruling by the highest court in the country, would the Minister of Justice still be consulting the population and the various stakeholders?

Let us review the facts of the Henri Daviault case. Mr. Daviault knew the victim, since she is one his wife's friends .She was 65 years old at the time. She is partially paralysed and confined to a wheelchair.

One evening, around 6 o'clock, she asked Mr. Daviault to bring her a quart of brandy.

The victim, that is the lady, drank less than a glass and fell asleep in her wheelchair. When she woke up during the night to go to the bathroom, Mr. Daviault grabbed her wheelchair, pushed her into the bedroom, made her lie on the bed and sexually assaulted her. He left the apartment around 4 o'clock in the morning. Henri Daviault is now 73 years old; when the accusations were laid against him, he was 70.

At the first trial, he said that he had spent that day in a bar where he had drunk seven or eight bottles of beer. He remembered drinking a glass of brandy when he arrived at the victim's apartment, but did not remember what had happened between that time and the moment where he woke up naked in his victim's bed.

Mr. Justice Bernard Grenier acquitted him because he was not absolutely sure that Mr. Daviault was conscious enough to form the guilty intention, that is the intention to commit the sexual assault.

The Quebec Court of Appeal quashed Mr. Justice Grenier's decision and found Mr. Daviault guilty. On September 30, the Supreme Court of Canada decided that an intoxication defence could be made in this particular case and ordered a new trial.

So, time is short. The Bloc Quebecois has always asked that people who voluntarily intoxicate themselves and then commit violent acts be held more accountable for these acts. It is time that legislators take their responsibilities and alleviate the increasing concerns of the public as the result of the Supreme Court decision in the Daviault case. We should not delude ourselves: the Daviault case is only one example among many, all equally revolting.

The results of a national survey on assaults against female spouses, in which more than 12,300 women participated, were released in March 1994. This survey reveals troubling facts on spousal abuse. I use the word "troubling", but "revolting" would be equally appropriate. But no matter what words are used, the majority in this House will not listen.

Violence against women is disturbing, so certain people prefer to ignore it instead of looking at it. As long as it happens to someone else, people do not feel that concerned. It is absurd to think that just saying that violence is everyone's business has become a cliché, something that everybody is tired of hearing.

I am not referring only to physical violence but to psychological violence as well, which has effects just as harmful and lasting. Disparaging remarks, abusive language and insults can

be just as harmful as a slap in the face or a punch. They leave deep scars that almost never disappear.

When a woman is told by her husband that she is good for nothing, that she is too stupid to understand, that she is not a good mother and spends too much time with friends and not enough time at home, when her husband tells her that he should have left her long ago, she gradually loses all self-esteem.

Life is a nightmare. Fear replaces the feeling of well-being that every human being needs. Isolation prevents victims from blowing the whistle on their abusers and it becomes very difficult for anyone to guess that a shy smile may hide terrible secrets. Injuries to the soul are the most painful, but they are the most difficult to see.

The national survey done last year by Statistic Canada on violence against women attempted to verify the theories on the existence of a link between physical and psychological violence. About one third of the women who are, or have been, married reported that their spouse or estranged spouse had been psychologically violent against them. Former spouses are considered more violent psychologically speaking than present spouses in a proportion of 59 per cent. Although psychological violence can occur without physical violence, the two types of violence occur together in a majority of cases.

Three-quarters of the women who said they were victims of physical or sexual violence reported having also been victims of psychological violence.

Eighteen per cent of the women who are not subjected to physical abuse at the hands of their partner have said that they experience psychological abuse. Physical abuse can take many forms. The main types that are described in the survey are pushing, grabbing or shoving around one's partner. The next type is threatening to hit, slapping, throwing objects at, kicking, biting and punching one's partner. Many women have been battered, sexually assaulted, choked, struck with an object, or threatened with a firearm or a knife. Mr. Speaker, could you ask my colleague behind me to listen quietly during my remarks? I will do the same when he takes the floor.

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12:35 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

The member for Saint-Hubert is asking that the House co-operate in terms of any ongoing discussions, that possibly they could take place behind the curtains. I ask for the co-operation of the House.

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12:35 p.m.


Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will continue with my remarks. I was just saying that many women have been battered, sexually assaulted, choked, struck with an object, or threatened with a firearm or a knife. Very few cases are reported where only one form of abuse is involved. The most frequent injuries, in 90 per cent of all cases, are bruises. Then we have cuts, scratches, burns, hairline fractures or broken bones. Almost 10 per cent of injured women said they had suffered internal injuries or had had miscarriages.

The worst part of it all is that the victim of such abuse finds excuses for the abuser. Victims seldom lay charges. On average, the police are notified in only one-quarter of all of the cases of spousal abuse. When charges are laid, the victims withdraw their complaints or decline to testify. Those victims are afraid and, by that very fact, sanction the actions of the aggressors. How often have the courts heard victims say that they have decided on reconciliations, that the husband's actions were not that bad, that he had problems at work or because he had no work, that the children were annoying that day, that he was tired and that he had been drinking?

Precisely, he had been drinking. As if it were an excuse. It is not; it is an aggravating circumstance. The survey in question shows beyond a shadow of a doubt the relationship between alcohol and violence. It reveals that alcohol is a prime factor in spousal assaults. The aggressor had been drinking in half of all the reported incidents. More specifically, the rate of assault on women living with men who drank regularly, that is at least four times a week, was three times higher than for abstinent husbands.

Women whose husbands drink often-five drinks or more at one time-were six times more exposed to assault than women whose husbands do not drink. In 1993, fifty-five per cent of the men who killed their partners had consumed alcohol. Native women are particularly at risk when alcohol is present. It was a determinant factor in nearly every case of sexual assault on native women. Alcohol also played a part in every other offense against native women.

The Criminal Code contains no provisions dealing specifically with intoxication. Bill C-72 will change all that by adding to the Criminal Code section 33.1, which will prohibit the accused from using intoxication as a defence for violent acts.

Before specifically speaking of the use of intoxication as a defence, I must stress that it is important to understand the elements of a criminal offence and the types of offences for which the drunk defence can be invoked.

The concept of criminal responsibility requires that all material and mental facts, the elements of fault, be proven beyond any reasonable doubt for there to have been a criminal offence.

So, on the one hand, self-induced intoxication can diminish moral responsibility for normally criminal behaviour. But, on the other hand, the person who has committed a criminal offence while in a state of self-induced intoxication should not absolved of his or her responsibility.

Since the drunk defence does not exist in the Criminal Code, it must be drawn from case law. Where intoxication was not the result of a deliberate act, the accused could always plead the drunk defence.

Involuntary intoxication may come about through fraud or the actions of another person or through the bona fide use of a drug prescribed by a doctor, the effects of which were not known to the user.

So Common Law recognizes involuntary intoxication as a defence. By maintaining this defence, Bill C-72 codifies the jurisprudence. The new section 33.1 will still allow the involuntary intoxication defence, as is now the case.

Before Daviault, the question was whether the intoxication was self-induced, whether it resulted from the fault of the accused; it could not always be used as a defence.

However, in the case of offences requiring specific intent, such as manslaughter or robbery, intoxication can be used as a defence. Courts went to great pains to distinguish between the two categories. Even today, many legal scholars are hard put to understand the distinction between the two. Yet, this distinction is very important when the defence is based on the intoxication of the accused.

In the grey area of criminal law, there is no clear dividing line between specific intent offences and general intent offences. I will give an example. According to the Criminal Code, a murder is first degree murder when, and I quote the code: "it is planned and deliberate". This is a specific intent offence. The homicide must be premeditated, the accused must have planned the ultimate consequence of his action, that is the death of the victim.

Under section 322 of the Criminal Code, for a theft to be considered a theft, it must be committed, and I quote: "with the intent" to deprive, temporarily or absolutely, the owner of the object which has been taken. Here again, one could plead intoxication as a defence because it is also a specific intent offence.

We must remember that Bill C-72 does not change in any way the distinction between a general intent offence and a specific intent offence. In other words, a person accused of severe offences such as murder, theft, robbery, extortion, breaking and entering, and torture, will still be able to plead self-induced intoxication as a defence.

Sexual assault becomes murder when it results in the death of the victim. In this case, murder being a specific intent offence, the offender will be able to use the intoxication defence. He could not have presented such a defence if his victim had not died, since the offence he would have charged with would been sexual assault causing bodily harm, which is a general intent offence.

Which leads to the following nonsense. If the aggressor hits his victim hard enough to cause her death, he can plead that he was too intoxicated to know what he was doing. If his victim recovers from her injuries, he will no longer be able to use this defence. We must eliminate the arbitrary distinction between crimes of general intent and crimes of specific intent.

This legal fiction was created solely for the purpose of allowing drunkenness or intoxication as a defence. Criminal intent should include specific moral elements for each offence. Offences should no longer be divided into two distinct categories, but classified on a gradual basis according to their seriousness.

Bill C-72 is a step in the right direction, and I am convinced that it is constitutionally valid. The preamble to the bill will make it possible for judges to interpret section 33.1 in a way consistent with the principles of a free and democratic society. It will stand the test of section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

However, the justice minister should amend the general part of the Criminal Code without delay. The rules of criminal law are archaic and many of its fundamental principles are not included in the general part, as they were elaborated by the courts.

Precedents shape the law, and lawmakers are always lagging behind the judiciary. The time has come to reverse the roles, and for lawmakers to act responsibly. Thus, the justice minister will be able to stop trying to play catch up, and Parliament will be able to decide in which direction criminal law will be heading in the coming years.

Stopping violence against women will have to be part of this new direction. I urge the justice minister not to wait for another Daviault case to happen before he finally acts.

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12:45 p.m.


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on this debate regarding Bill C-72, introduced in the House by the Minister of Justice.

This bill is of particular interest to women and is part of the legislative process aimed at curbing violence against women and children. I will therefore analyze it in this context.

First of all I will try to resume the historical background of legislation regarding the defence of self-induced intoxication,

since it is the topic of this bill. Then I will establish the relationship between violence against women and the aggressor's intoxication. I will then look at the bill itself and I will conclude with its consequences for the problem of violence.

The authors Côté-Harper, Manganas et Turgeon define self-induced intoxication as follows: "There is self-induced intoxication when a person over-estimates his or her resistance to alcohol or drugs, with the result that, then, his or her actions cannot be considered intentional".

Therefore, if I consume more alcohol that my body can take I will be responsible for my actions. Self-induced intoxication was accepted as a defence by the courts in 1920, in the decision Director of Public Prosecutions vs. Beard . In that case, the court decided that a person whose self-induced state of intoxication was such that he could not form the intention of committing a crime could not be found guilty.

Therefore in the case of murder, the Crown must prove that the accused was seeking to cause the death of the victim. If the accused was intoxicated to such a degree that he could not gauge the consequences of his actions, he cannot be found guilty of murder. He will, however, be charged with manslaughter, with an included offence, because his intoxication did not prevent him from forming the desire to carry out the action which led to the death.

It is understandable that the courts have developed, uniquely for the defence of self-induced intoxication, two types of offences: those requiring specific intent-to cause death, in our example-and those requiring general intent-such as to beat a person, who then dies. In R. v. George , 1960, Mr. Justice Fauteux of the Supreme Court of Canada explained the distinction as follows: ``A distinction must be made between the intention to commit an act in terms of the intended purpose and the intention to commit an act independently of the intended purpose. In certain cases, the intention to commit an act is sufficient for there to have been an offence, while in other cases there must be, in addition to the general intention, a specific intention to commit the act''.

The courts had always maintained this distinction, when allowing the accused to use the defence of self-induced intoxication. It was reserved for crimes of specific intent.

On September 30, 1994, the Supreme Court of Canada set off in a new direction when it handed down its decision in the Daviault case. Very briefly, it allowed the accused, who had been charged with sexual assault, therefore general intent, to plead self-induced intoxication.

The court relied on the interpretation of sections 7 and 11(d) of the Canadian Charter in concluding that it was unjust not to allow a seriously intoxicated accused the right to use this defence because a crime of general intent was involved. In an obiter dictum , the court recommended that Parliament resolve the issue through legislation. The decision raised a general outcry, both from groups defending women's rights and from police forces and some members of the legal profession.

I will not go into the details, but rather move on to certain aspects of the wife abuse problem and then come back to the Supreme Court decision.

Studies have shown time and time again the link between violence and intoxication, whether produced by alcohol or by drugs. This link is common in spousal abuse.

A Statistics Canada study conducted in March 1994 on spousal homicide revealed that, in 1991-92, thirty-seven per cent of the wives and 82 per cent of the husbands who were killed had been drinking. Based on statistics on murderers reported by police, 55 per cent of the men and 79 per cent of the women were under the influence of alcohol, and 18 per cent of the men and 13 per cent of the women were on other drugs.

A previous investigation by the same organization had revealed that alcohol played a major part, i.e. 40 per cent of abusing spouses were under the influence of alcohol.

It also indicated that the risk of becoming victims of violence was three times higher for women living with a man who drank regularly than for other women.

Alcohol is therefore a factor that should be considered when dealing with violence against women. We need to ask ourselves what impact a decision like the one rendered in the Daviault case, which allows a man who assaults a woman while under the influence of alcohol to plead drunkenness in defence, will have on the spousal abuse issue.

Let us start by looking at the general effect on the abusing spouse. Officials who work with violent men agree that the key to eliminating violent behaviour in men is to make them aware of their responsibilities by punishing them and making them aware of the fact that they could benefit from therapy.

Ginette Larouche is a social worker who has written three books on domestic violence. She also participated in the soon to be defunct Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women. In her opinion, by not sending abusers to jail or by doing so only for a ridiculously short time, which is often the case, society is trivializing the criminal act they have committed. Then, by having them join support groups, we are telling them they only have a little behaviour problem to deal with.

This analysis is supported by Steven Bélanger, a psychologist heading Pro-Gam, the first therapy group for violent men in Quebec, which was founded in 1982. Listen to what he says. "A long term solution must be sought at a more comprehensive

level. We must stop thinking that violence concerns only those who batter their spouse. Everybody is concerned. Having said that, I believe that the immediate solution lies in both court action and psychological assistance."

As we can see, both of these experts consider referral to the court as both a deterrent and a cure.

Women, even those not subjected to spousal abuse, live in fear. Why? Two professors at the School of Social Work of the University of Montreal published, in the International Review of Community Action , the results of a study on women's fear of crime and the various forms of violence to which they are subjected.

First of all, their report is a reminder that our published statistics on crimes committed against women are distorted. One of the reasons is that many women feel guilty for being assaulted, particularly if it happens while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs or when they are in places that are "not nice".

I also mentioned previously the statistics on drinking in cases where one spouse murders the other, which is the ultimate form of spousal assault.

The authors also establish a link between spousal assault and society's attitudes in general. They blame the psycho-social approach used until very recently to deal with the issue.

The family being considered as a dynamic unit, responsibility for violent crimes committed within it had to be shared by all members. At that time, the expression "dysfunctional family" was used instead of referring to victims and assaults, in order to trivialize and decriminalize aggressions.

The authors also maintain that their study shows that women in general live in fear of being assaulted, that victimized women are also afraid of denouncing their assailants and finally that the women who have the courage to go to court must deal with the confrontational nature of our legal system. The traditional attitudes in our society are of no help to these women, especially since they are conveyed by men who do not have to face the same reality.

How does Bill C-72 help to somewhat improve the current situation of victims of assault?

First of all, it is important to remind people that this bill was introduced to neutralize the negative effect of the judgment made in the Daviault case and dealing with violent crimes. The bill makes it clear that a defendant will not be allowed to use intoxication as a defence when a crime of general intent was committed involving interference, or the threat to interfere, or any kind of assault vis-à-vis the integrity of another person.

So, the bill covers the majority of violent crimes, the others falling into the specific intent category, which can lead to a conviction for an included offence, as I said at the beginning of my speech.

To answer the question, we can say that the bill will facilitate the conviction of the aggressors. At the present time, a person charged with a general intent offence can plead voluntary intoxication. If this defence is allowed, the person will be cleared of all charges. So the bill takes us back to the situation that existed before the Supreme Court decision.

Such a move will send a message to society that aggressors must be punished because acts of aggression are serious and cannot be tolerated. At the same time, victims will feel encouraged to file a complaint. The cycle of spousal abuse can be broken only if violence is denounced, the aggressors punished and the victims helped.

Furthermore, like many other pieces of legislation, this bill will serve both as an educational and a dissuasive tool. It clearly states the zero-tolerance position of this Parliament against violence. We find the policy position of the House in the preamble to the Bill. Thus, the direct link between violence and the violation of women's rights to security of the person and to the equal protection and benefit of the law is mentioned. The principle of criminal accountability of the person who deliberately becomes intoxicated is also recognized, and that is very important. And, in addition, the victims' right to protection is recognized.

Finally, the bill refers to a standard of care defined in relation to the prohibition of violent behaviour towards another person.

This legislation is a step in the right direction and it meets the expectations of human rights groups, particularly those who are involved with women who are victims of domestic violence. Violence is a problem that must be eliminated, and we recognize that this bill is part of the solution. That is why we will support it.

However, other measures must be taken both in terms of legislation and government decisions. We have to make sure that groups who work with victims have all the support they need to reach their goals.

We can deplore the fact that the government has been withdrawing part of its funding for anti-violence support programs. In six years, financial assistance to these organizations has been reduced by 23 per cent. The number of grants has also been reduced by 47 per cent. The best intentions will never be more than intentions if they are not followed up with financial support.

The recommendations made by the various task forces and commissions will also have to be examined and implemented if we want to be able to say one day that gender equality really does exist in our society.

The government will also have to be consistent and adopt other pieces of legislation concerning other forms of violence towards women, including those involving genital mutilation.

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12:55 p.m.


Ian McClelland Reform Edmonton Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to this very important bill. At the outset I remind the House that I will be sharing the time with my hon. colleague from Wild Rose.

The Reform caucus supports the bill 100 per cent, without any question, without any equivocation whatsoever. We are solidly behind both the intent and the desire of the government in the bill.

The Minister of Justice in his comments spoke for quite some time and quite well about the notions of specific intent and general intent. He lost me after about five minutes with the various intents going back and forth. I guarantee that he lost the vast majority of Canadians when the whole issue of intent, specific versus common intent, was raised. That highlights the problem I would like to address in my comments today.

It took 15 minutes for the justice minister to use the words most associated with what should be common law in our country, that is common sense. Without the foundation or without the basis of common sense in law it does not really matter what happens because we lose everybody else.

The basic test our laws must meet is the standard of common sense. Before I get into addressing that I point out that a week before the Minister of Justice introduced the bill I introduced Bill C-303, largely based on Senator Gigantes' bill introduced from the Senate.

My bill is on dangerous intoxication which addresses the issue from the perspective already covered by the Minister of Justice. When the bill was drawn in the lottery I went before the committee of the House of Commons which was to make the decision on whether or not it would become a votable bill. My advice and my suggestion to the committee was that anything which could possibly impair the development of or hinder in any way the application of Bill C-72 should be withdrawn. The decision should be made by people in the Department of Justice who are far more qualified than I am to make such decisions.

As parliamentarians we do not want anything to confuse the issue. Our caucus is solidly behind the Minister of Justice when he says that intoxication is no defence and no reason to slide out from under personal responsibility for the results of one's actions.

The bill rests in kind of a limbo waiting to see what happens. If it is necessary or if there is a problem, there are other ways to address the issue which may not be as efficient or as good as the bill. The reason we have come to this point is that in the first place the Supreme Court of Canada misread the intent and where it is relative to the Canadian population at large.

We do not really have a problem with the common law statutes that existed prior to the Daviault decision. In my view we have a problem with the Supreme Court expanding the envelope of its jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court does not have the responsibility to make laws. The Supreme Court has the responsibility to interpret laws. If this were a single instance where the Supreme Court were seen to lose touch with reality, we could say that perhaps it had a bad day or perhaps it was having tea or sherry in a club and thought: "What can we do? How many angels will dance on the head of a pin? Why don't we get the Minister of Justice to dance around a bit to see how he responds to this bone headed decision?"

If it were in isolation we might be able to say that but the reality is that it is not in isolation. This is a consistent pattern the Supreme Court has laid down over the last few years.

About 10 years ago late Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Bora Laskin, said: "The Supreme Court is a quiet court in an unquiet land". How things have changed as a direct result of the charter of rights and freedoms. The charter of rights and freedoms essentially says that individual rights in society are paramount. The Supreme Court is kind of between a rock and a hard place, which is why many of its decisions that seem to defy reality are split decisions.

If the Supreme Court does not defend the notion of due process-and by due process I mean dotting the i 's, crossing the t 's and making sure everything is done absolutely correctly-decisions would be overturned based on the charter of rights and freedoms or other considerations.

Meanwhile Parliament and the vast majority of Canadians are concerned with crime control and common sense. We have the Supreme Court on the one hand and the population and by and large parliaments assembled all across the land on the other hand. Somewhere in the middle, I suppose, is justice.

Recently the Supreme Court brought down a decision in which a woman arrested for impaired driving before she blew the breathalyser was allowed to go to the washroom. When she was in the washroom the woman alleged that she consumed more alcohol and that when she blew over the limit it was as a result of having alcohol subsequent to her arrest. Therefore they could not prove that she was driving impaired. The Supreme Court, in a move that defies logic, in a move that defies the last 30 years of trying to get drunks off the road, chose to say that the woman was innocent.

Recently the Supreme Court decided that someone arrested for impaired driving has x amount of time to find a lawyer of choice. If one is nailed for impaired driving, one is nailed for impaired driving. The benefit of the doubt rests with the potential victim: the innocent bystander who gets hit by a drunk. We are trying to stamp out drunk driving. We are not trying to figure out what is legal.

What about ordinary Canadians when laws come down from Parliament that are written for lawyers and not for ordinary people? They should not need law degrees to figure out what is right or wrong.

The Supreme Court may review debate in the House when the time comes to review the law again because it wants to get the judgment of the people. We in the House represent the people of Canada who are upset and disgusted with a Supreme Court that comes out with decisions such as it has recently. I want the Supreme Court to be cognizant of the debate. I want the Supreme Court to hear me speaking about it in the House of Commons, saying that average Canadians have gone beyond the point of being filled with contempt for it. People are just dismissing it.

If the Supreme Court continually comes out with decisions better suited for a faculty club, with no basis of reality, obviously the laws will not connect with people. It is like a municipal police force installing a new sign which says 60 kilometres an when everything is designed for 100 kilometres an hour. People will ignore the law, get tickets and feel resentful.

When the Supreme Court makes decisions that do not make sense it brings discredit and disrepute not only to the Supreme Court but to Parliament as well. That includes all members who were elected to represent the people.

It is the righteousness of law, the essence of law that ordinary people instinctively understand is right, which imparts moral authority to law. If a law does not enjoy moral authority, if it does not enjoy the goodwill of the people, if ordinary people cannot look at it and say that it makes sense and they will obey it, what good is it?

In the absence of a foundation of common sense, laws will be ridiculed and with them the people who write the laws and the people who interpret the laws. That is the bottom line. We do not want to bring discredit to the whole notion of jurisprudence and the law in the way we work as citizens and in the way we relate to one another. Laws keep us civilized and we must respect them.

This brings to mind what we can do about it. We have a charter of rights and freedoms, which in my view would be greatly improved if it were the charter of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. We are not likely to lose the charter of rights and freedoms because people feel that it gives great protection.

Perhaps it is not all bad, but it has changed the way the country works. It has changed our relationship as legislators to the process of making and interpreting laws. As parliamentarians we have to start looking at a new way or another way of confirming people appointed to the bench.

When a person is appointed to the bench historically the procedure has been that the decision will have a host of considerations: where the person lives in the country, what language the person speaks, whether the person has standing in the community, whether the person has standing in the legal community, and whether the person has standing within the community of the political party that makes the appointment.

That might have been okay. By and large Canadians can be very secure in the knowledge that over the years we have had and do have a court that has the most profound respect of people from coast to coast. We have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

There has been and is a continuing concern about the wisdom of decisions coming out of courts all across the land and not just the Supreme Court, decisions interpreted by some as decisions to promote or to enhance a particular lifestyle or a particular point of view. There seems to be tremendous inconsistency in the interpretation and the application of law from coast to coast and from court to court.

Perhaps it would not be a bad idea to consider after a person has been appointed to the bench, not just the federal benches but all benches, holding some sort of ratification process. I do not think it would be advisable to have members of the bench or of the Supreme Court in particular fearing for their jobs or being recalled.

I concur the positions should be until retirement because we need consistency and long range thought. We want to make changes slowly, not arbitrarily. We want to ensure that institutions of the country such as the Supreme Court do not reflect a bias that is here today and gone tomorrow. We need it to apply long range thought to decisions.

When the Prime Minister, in consultation with the Minister of Justice, makes a decision to appoint someone to the bench, it would not be a bad idea if the appointment were further ratified, not turned over or dismissed, by a committee of the House, probably the justice committee.

The terms of reference would have to be well defined. I do not think Canadians want or would put up with the confirmation hearings of our friends to the south that we see reported and that become partisan attacks. It would be an extremely important idea at the time of appointment that judges to all courts, particularly the Supreme Court, be very clearly told and understand that their job is to interpret laws and that our job is to write

them. Their job is to push the envelope to ensure that what we do is done correctly and that the checks and balances work.

A confirmation of some description would have far more value not to the judge who has been appointed but to those who are making the appointment to know that if they are making an appointment of someone who does not bear the scrutiny of a carefully crafted confirmation hearing they probably should not be there in the first place.

It would be a check and balance to those of us who are elected and make these appointments to make sure the appointments will stand the test of time, the test of open debate and the test of a little sunshine coming in so people understand these laws and the people who interpret them belong to the people of Canada. Our laws do not belong to the court. They do not belong to the Queen. We live together in society in a social contract because we have confidence and faith in our laws.

When someone commits a crime in all of our courts it is always the Queen, Regina versus the defendant. Perhaps we should expand that and say it is the Queen representing Canada at large and the person affected, the family affected versus the defendant. It is not an abstract third party deal if one has lost a friend or a mother, a father, a brother, children or a spouse either through criminal activity like murder or through violence or second degree offences such as impaired driving where there was no necessary intent.

We have to realize we are not talking about abstract ideas. We are talking about real honest to God people impacted on positively and negatively by the results of our actions, by the results of actions of others.

I put these suggestions on the table. These are the things Canadians from coast to coast want. Whether in British Columbia, the maritimes, Ontario, Alberta, in the north or in the south, whether Canadians are French speaking, English speaking, male, female, black, white, have been here for 10 generations or 10 days, we want security of the person. We want to feel secure when we leave our homes. We want to know that if we have been hurt or injured by someone else, the law of the land is here to protect us, not to protect the guilty, not to protect the perpetrator. The due process should belong to the innocent victim.

Unless we start to put the rights of the victim ahead of the rights of the criminal we will never ensure that people in the social contract between independent citizens who have given of themselves to the state, given their duty and fidelity to the state, get a fair return in exchange.

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1:15 p.m.


Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I endorse what my colleague said at the beginning of his statement, with all due respect to the minister and the speaker from the official opposition. It is rather difficult for an ordinary fellow with my education to keep up with lawyer talk. I get lost from time to time. If we use lawyer talk we might as well use doctor talk because I do not understand that either. However, I do understand the intent of this legislation. I commend the minister.

My colleague felt we were caught between a rock and hard place. I am going to change that from a stone to a hard place in respect of our minister so there will be absolutely no confusion.

I hope my speech will reflect the voice of ordinary Canadians, that which I have heard for quite a while on this issue. As we live from day to day we all have a habit of taking things for granted.

When I hear of a crime being committed by someone who is intoxicated I immediately take it for granted that he will be charged and probably convicted. However, when I learned there is no conviction because he was drunk, I am flabbergasted. I never dreamed for a moment that being drunk would be a successful defence. I began to ask myself how this could be. Who would ever have imagined being drunk would be an excuse to commit a crime?

My life prior to becoming a member of Parliament allowed me on many occasions to come to the aid of those involved in family problems in general and specifically in family abuse. In about 90 per cent of the cases liquor was a contributing factor. In other words, the physical abuse would probably not have occurred if the assailant had been sober.

With courts now deciding drunkenness can be used as a defence all our efforts to stop spousal abuse and child abuse would be for not. One only has to be drunk to be declared innocent. How ridiculous can we get?

Laws are written to protect the public. I find it unbelievable that normal human beings would decide that drunkenness is a defence. If it is because of the wording of legislation or the wording in the charter of rights and freedoms, for heaven's sake let us fix it.

I support and commend the efforts of the justice minister in preparing legislation to deal with this problem. I encourage each member to support it to the fullest so every judge in this country will get the message that the law makers of this land clearly state that under no circumstances will drunkenness be used as a defence in criminal activity. The best message we can send is that this legislation receive 100 per cent support, and the sooner the better.

As members of Parliament we are responsible for addressing the concerns of our constituents. As members of this House we are responsible for instituting legislation wanted by our constituents. Therefore the Supreme Court should be listening to

Canadians and parliamentarians when deciding the difference between what is law and what is legal.

No member of this House can say the people of Canada agree with the Supreme Court decision that drunkenness can be a defence for violence or actions that deprive someone of their personal dignity. Conversely, no Canadian can understand how the Supreme Court can condone voluntary extreme intoxication or that voluntary consumption of large quantities of an intoxicant absolves a criminal of all blame for actions following drunkenness.

It is time to force the Supreme Court to decide whether it will continue to be a law unto itself or whether its decisions will follow the wishes of the people. It is time to send the Supreme Court a message that making decisions not accepted by Parliament or the people of Canada will result in change. That message can be sent today. We have no need to wait or build a body of evidence for or against extreme intoxication as a defence for criminal action.

All Canadians want those who choose extreme intoxication to be held accountable for their crimes. All members expressed outrage that voluntary extreme intoxication can be used as a defence for criminal action. Everyone but the Supreme Court it seems understands there is some responsibility that must be accepted for a criminal offence that follows when choice was not impaired.

Let us send a message to all Canadians that parliamentarians acting on behalf of the citizens of Canada determine what is right and what is wrong, what is legal behaviour and what behaviour must be punished.

The justice minister wishes to send this to committee to solidify the foundation to implement the bill. I believe he suggested something along those lines. The foundation for the implementation of the bill has been built by the people of Canada in their outcry against the recent decisions in the courts of Canada regarding drunkenness. This outcry was heard by each one of us in the House. The voice of Canadians has provided the strong foundation necessary to make the bill law.

Therefore, I ask unanimous consent for the following motion:

That Bill C-72, an act to amend the Criminal Code (self-induced intoxication), be now not only read the second time but sent to committee of the whole and passed at third reading this day.

I ask this so all Canadians and parliamentarians can send a clear and loud message that states no one can or will accept voluntary extreme intoxication as abdication of responsibility for criminal actions, and that intent of or criminal action is decided by all Canadians, not by an appointed few.

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1:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Kilger)

Is there unanimous consent?

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1:25 p.m.

An hon. member


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1:25 p.m.


Allan Rock Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I will explain briefly why I do not agree to the suggestion made by the hon. member for Wild Rose.

The government is considering the possibility of referring this law to the Supreme Court of Canada for a ruling with respect to its constitutional validity before it is proclaimed into force. We may not do that but it is an option we are considering. Whether or not we do that, the validity of this law may be challenged in the fullness of time and may be considered by the courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada.

If this issue is to be before the court, it is terribly important the court have before it not only the statute but the evidence on which the Parliament of Canada opted for this approach to the issue.

When the bill goes to committee it is our intention to call witnesses who can speak to the nature-

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1:25 p.m.


Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

How long will it take?