House of Commons Hansard #81 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was price.


The House resumed from October 3, consideration of the motion that Bill C-55, an act to amend the Criminal Code (high risk offenders), the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the Criminal Records Act, the Prisons and Reformatories Act and the Department of the Solicitor General Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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10 a.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to this bill today. It is an important criminal justice bill which has been talked about and anticipated for a long time and parts of which have been demanded for a long time by members on this side of the House and by Canadian citizens.

There is both good and bad in the bill, as is the case in many bills the government brings forward. I would like to go through some of the positive things which are in this bill and some of the things which we think are mistakes, and to offer my advice and enter into the debate on whether Bill C-55 should be supported.

Usually on this kind of bill which is of a technical nature I try to do work on behalf of my constituents to bring forward what I think would be their analysis and their concerns. The criminal justice system is an issue which is often top of mind in my riding. From my own phone surveys and from more technical surveys that I have had done and from the letters and phone calls I receive in my office, I can say that people are not convinced that the criminal justice system is operating on behalf of the best interests of law-abiding citizens. There is a feeling in many parts of the country, and certainly in my own riding, that there is too much emphasis on the rights, opportunities and demands of the prisoners and not enough emphasis on the rights of the law-abiding citizen.

I would like to talk about an individual case that happened in my own constituency which has ramifications for this bill. Many members of Parliament will probably be able to relate to stories like this because we all have situations which we confront from day to day.

This constituent's name is Carol. She was married to an abusive husband. Her story is really the plight of thousands of women, and even some men I suppose, across Canada. Day in and day out they live in silent fear, not just fear of abuse, but in Carol's case fear for her own life. She was badly beaten by her husband in 1993. She did the right thing, the one which I always encourage spouses in abusive situations to do, and that is to get in touch with the police. She called the police and her husband was charged.

Unfortunately, as is often the case this made her husband very angry. Instead of becoming a chastened man who realized the error in his ways, he became a very angry and dangerous man. And this is where our criminal justice system failed my constituent.

As a bit of an aside, in the October 3 Ottawa Citizen it was stated that even the police are angry at the courts for granting bail to a man accused of forcing a woman out of a 10th storey window. Is there no sense of justice in the justice system? People must ask: How on earth can we grant bail to some of these horrible people? How can the immigration minister grant bail to dangerous offenders? A person who has been convicted of a crime and has escaped justice in the United States can come to Canada, throw himself at the mercy of the Canadian system and say that he needs refugee status, that he is a poor abused person.

The justice system is not balanced. It does not understand that when people do serious crimes, especially personal injury crimes, they need to be addressed in a serious manner. That has not happened to date.

In the same way, the system let my constituent Carol down. Her abusive husband came back with a vengeance. There was a restraining order against him, as there often is, but that was useless. The total protection offered to this poor lady was that the courts had a restraining order on someone who had already beaten her to a pulp. This scuzzy excuse for humanity stalked his former wife, eventually kidnapped her, stabbed her six times nearly killing her, and he was sentenced to two years less a day.

That sentence does not sound too horrible, but this is what it was about. He would come around and tap on her window with a butcher knife. When she would open the drapes there he would be. Although this was well known and well documented, that is what happened. He was charged with aggravated assault for what he did to Carol. He should have been charged with attempted murder but he was charged with aggravated assault and received only a two year sentence. This man will be out of jail any time now and his former wife, Carol, who has changed her name, once again lives in fear.

I sat in the office with this lady, who has made a remarkable recovery, and her father. As with many members of Parliament, these cases are outside my realm of reference. I had no way of knowing how to handle this case. I keep a box of Kleenex on my desk for the people who come in to tell me these stories which I just cannot believe.

They sat there and told me the lead-up to their story. The father said: "Chuck, what would you have me do when this happens again? There is no justice in the justice system. They knew he was trying to kill my daughter. He stabbed her six times and for that he gets two years less a day for aggravated assault. I will tell you what I am going to do. If he taps on my daughter's window again, I am going to kill him. What would you do in that situation?" I told him if he did that he would get 25 years for protecting his daughter, because it would be premeditated murder.

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10:10 a.m.


Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

He will be able to appeal after 15 years.

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10:10 a.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

As my hon. colleague says, he will be able to appeal after 15 years under the new regulations but I do not want to get into that.

What could I tell this father when he asked what I would do if somebody tapped on my daughter's window with a butcher knife and the police just said: "Hey, you take your chance"?

I wrote to the Minister of Justice and the attorney general of the province of B.C. to ask if there was something we could do to change the system. The system is broken. It is not working. It is not protecting people like Carol.

I wanted the standard of proof in the Criminal Code to be lowered in the case of attempted murder. I also wanted to allow probation to be imposed along with sentences longer than two years less a day, which was not allowed at that time, so that judges would be free to give inmates longer sentences knowing they could be supervised afterward. Let me run through what happened after that to indicate the sad sorry state of justice.

The attorney general of British Columbia, whom I do not see eye to eye with politically on a lot of things, did have the courage to undertake a study of the Criminal Code. He is not in charge of criminal law but he did undertake a study on my behalf and he in turn made the two suggestions to the Minister of Justice.

When I met with the Minister of Justice upstairs in Centre Block he gave me this advice: "Why not try a civil restraining order instead of a criminal, court ordered restraining order?" That was the sum total of advice and help for this lady: "Last time he was under a restraining order from the courts, he stabbed you six times. That did not seem to work too well. So why not try a civil restraining order? That ought to fix him". That was it for an answer and that is not good enough.

This lady is running, hiding, changing her name. She has been beaten with a rifle butt. He has tried to throw her in the river. She has been stabbed six times. She has been living in fear and is on the run. So get a civil restraining order because the courts cannot deal with it. That is not good enough and that is why I made the demands I did at that time.

This was one of the first cases I dealt with when I became an MP. Three years later, the B.C. attorney general and I have been badgering the Minister of Justice. He has asked to have the issue put on the federal-provincial Criminal Code review. Finally after three years we are starting to see some changes in the law, and some of those changes are reflected in Bill C-55.

But again the minister has fallen short. There is nothing in Bill C-55, nothing in the legislative agenda, nothing in the works anywhere, nothing in the hopper that I can find to deal with this problem of attempted murder. It is not dealt with in this bill of course. It is not dealt with in any bill. We just have to put up with it.

The reason attempted murder is almost never successfully prosecuted in British Columbia is that it has to be proven, without a doubt, that the person meant to kill their victim.

I will cite this example again. This woman was stalked for months. She was beaten with a rifle butt. She was stabbed coming out of her apartment. Thankfully she did not have her children with her. She was stabbed six times until she dropped to the ground and lay unconscious.

The man told the crown prosecutor that he had stabbed her a few times, that he had stalked her, that he had beaten on her window with a butcher knife, that he had beaten her with a rifle butt, that she had fallen to the ground unconscious with blood pouring out of her, but that he had not meant to kill her. He told the crown prosecutor that he was just sending her a message. He said he was warning her.

It is sicker than sick. What does it take? What does a person have to do to be convicted of attempted murder, sever the head from the body?

This is wrong. The minister has to address it. The attorney general of British Columbia has demanded that the law be changed to stop this from happening. Regularly in British Columbia they plea bargain away the attempted murder charge because it has to be proven, beyond any doubt, that murder was intended.

What does it take? The case against this man was plea bargained away. Worse yet, it was plea bargained away over Carol's objections. It was plea bargained away without telling her. It was plea bargained away when they had promised her they would not do it. It was plea bargained away when she had told them that she wanted the case to be pushed to the maximum degree. This animal has to go away not only for the protection of the woman but for the protection of her children.

It did not happen. Again it did not happen. I have to wonder what it takes. I sat down with the minister and he empathized with me. He said: "Yes, that is a tough one. Why do you not get a civil restraining order on the guy?" That is not what I want. That is not what Canadians want. Canadians want animals like this to be treated as animals.

I believe all members of the House could cite cases in which a victim of crime asked to be notified if the perpetrator was going to be transferred to a nearby prison. They want to know for their own security. I have chased these cases down to the warden of the prison where the guy is incarcerated. I have asked the warden to flag the guy so that when he is transferred to Chilliwack, for example, I will know it has happened and my constituent will know that it has happened. It can happen, but we deserve to know.

Do victims have rights? They do not. Prisoners are transferred. Sometimes we read in the newspapers that the guy has escaped from jail. The officials come back to us and say "gee, he slipped through the cracks". Victims were not notified. Victims have no rights. It is always written in terms of "we should consider notifying them". It may be that they will be notified. That is not adequate. That is why people continue to rise on this side of the House to speak on behalf of these people who say the minister is missing the boat.

There is something about mandatory supervision in the bill. The bill allows for some high risk offenders to be subject to ten years of supervision after release from their sentences. That is half of what I ask from the minister.

Up until this bill was introduced judges were frequently saying "I am going to give him two years less a day because then there can be some mandatory supervision afterward". If the guy gets 10 years, like he deserves, he cannot be supervised. He gets out and he is gone. This bill at least addresses that.

For that, maybe my three years of letter writing, begging and pounding doors and desks had an impact. I hope so. One never knows. The minister, I am sure, would not give me any credit. At least it is something I have been asking for, begging for, demanding, however you want to say it. At least it is there.

I want to note that there are provisions in the bill that I disagree with as well. There are accelerated parole provisions for so-called low risk non-violent offenders which will permit them to return to the community after serving only one-sixth of their sentence, a maximum six months in jail.

It seems there is something wrong. I do not know if this is the minister's idea of truth in sentencing. I do not know what it means. It seems there is an indictment of our entire penal system in this.

Why sentence criminals to jail time at all if the sentences are basically meaningless? They say to somebody, whatever the crime that if you do that, you are going to get a couple of years in jail. If you sentence the person, everybody walks away and says that should be the end of that.

Then they find out: "We do not want to punish them and, of course, we are not going to really rehabilitate them. We just do not want to have them, so jail sentence suspended". Off they go, one-sixth of their time.

This bill also gives courts the power to put people under electronic monitoring, even those who have never been charged with an offence. Do I want to see things toughened up in the criminal justice system? You bet. Do my constituents say that the criminal justice system is failing the law-abiding citizen? You bet.

They ask whether we should supervise and monitor dangerous offenders, pedophiles, sexual perverts, violent offenders and stuff. You bet. They want them supervised. They want to know where they are. They want to know who they are. They want to know when that person applies for a job in a day care centre. They want to know all that.

I do not think they want to take it the next step, which is to say that someone who has never been charged, I am going to put the shackles on him and he has no say. I do not know. Get tough on criminals, but criminals who have been convicted of something. We have to follow the rule of law.

The evidence points to a conviction in the case I mentioned. I think it is pretty clear. If the guy has attempted murder, at least I would toss the guy away and lose the keys. Besides that, people would say there is a due process that we have to follow. The due process includes getting before a lawyer, having their day in court. If they are found guilty, the full force of the law comes down on them. Protection of victims is paramount.

In our system people are innocent until proven guilty. I hope the government would listen to the concerns of many people who are concerned about civil liberties who say "I understand why you are doing it, I understand you want to protect the people, and so on".

I am not prepared to say that without their day in court, without a formal charge, without a hearing, without time to defend themselves, as some official says, that the person should be specially marked, the shackles thrown on him and we will be able to follow him around to the ends of the earth. I am not happy with that.

The government is schizophrenic on this. On one hand, it coddles the criminal. On the other hand, it lets people out after one-sixth of their sentence. On the other hand, it will not eliminate section 745.

It coddles the criminal in many ways. We could go into what goes on in the prison system. I could tell about the prison breakouts in my area. In prison now they refuse to wear certain coloured T-shirts. They just rioted in Kent. They say: "I can't be expected to wear a T-shirt that reflects my position as a prisoner. I want to wear whatever I want". They get away with it.

I wish I could say more. I have more private member's bills which I will be bringing forward on the criminal justice issue in the coming weeks. In my office I have a petition bearing 25,000 names dealing with sexual predators and the way the justice system treats them and what I and the people in my constituency would like to see done. I am happy to bring forward these concerns from my constituents and I hope that somewhere the justice minister or his people are listing to the concerns of Canadians. It is not evident in this bill.

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10:25 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Rey D. Pagtakhan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as I listened to the member for Fraser Valley East, I could not help but remember a truism that to give no information is bad but to give misinformation is worse. The member for Fraser Valley East just said there was nothing in the bill. He emphasized those words.

I would like to say to this member that all my colleagues on the government side are definitely committed to the safety of the entire Canadian citizenry. That member, of course, is again not telling the truth.

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10:25 a.m.

An hon. member


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10:25 a.m.


Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

I wonder if the member for Fraser Valley East and the other member would be polite enough to allow reasonable debate, which may be also part of civility in our society.

The member for Fraser Valley East said there was nothing in the bill. I wonder if the member has read clause 9(1) of the bill, dealing with potential serious personal injury offences. It is a special amendment to the Criminal Code. For the member to say there is nothing in the bill is entirely false. Where the attorney general feels there are reasonable grounds to fear that another person will commit a serious personal injury offence, as the expression is defined elsewhere in the bill, in respect of one or more persons, the attorney general may lay information before a provincial court judge whether or not the person or persons in respect of whom there is fear that the offence will be committed are named.

Within that section are enumerated the many grounds that could be included in that order by a court, including the non-possession of firearms.

I think the member for Fraser Valley East has to be forthright in the Chamber, forthright with the Canadian public that this bill is an advance in ensuring the safety of Canadians. I can see the member is finally agreeing with me.

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10:25 a.m.


Chuck Strahl Reform Fraser Valley East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I did not say there was nothing in the bill. As a matter fact, I said I was happy to see that after three years of my bashing my head against the minister's wall there are some provisions I approve of. I said that in my speech. I like the idea that there can be mandatory supervision for up to 10 years after. That is a good provision. I like that. I have been demanding for three years to get that. The AG of British Columbia has been asking for it.

I did not say there was nothing in the bill. I talked about some of the things that have not been addressed in their entirety in the criminal justice system and I used this opportunity to talk about a few of those. However, do I think that people who have uttered threats using a firearm should have their firearms taken away from them? You bet.

When it comes to firearms and threats with a weapon, I personally have a zero tolerance policy. If we had a better system in place in British Columbia we would not have had the tragedy in Kelowna. Somehow that person received permission to own a handgun even though he had threatened his wife's life. It turned out that he took not only her life but nine members of the family. It was a real tragedy.

The tragedy is that the government has taken the easy route, the publicity route, especially on firearms. It says we have to get the hunters of this world, the shooters of this world, the Olympians of this world to register their weapons and the world will be a safer place. That is the problem with the justice system, the law-abiding people are made to jump through the hoops.

Let me tell you a story of another case in my riding. A guy slipped across the Canada-U.S. border at Columbia valley. The police sent out someone to intercept him. A police women apprehended him. He lunged at her, grabbed her gun, shoved the barrel into her mouth and said: "It's curtains, lady". Thankfully a

passerby came over and talked him out of this, even though he had the gun cocked and shoved in her mouth.

Thankfully, because of this passerby, he eventually turned her loose. However, he stole the four-wheel drive cruiser and drove it into the mountains. He had the shotgun, his own illegal unregistered gun, the police woman's weapon, the police car. He set it all on fire, burning everything to the ground. The police got the dogs out and they caught the guy.

In Canada you can get five years for having an unregistered clip for your gun. This guy got two years. He is not that bad. He entered Canada illegally, he assaulted a police officer, he threatened to kill her, he stuck the gun to her head, he did $50,000 damage to federal property, he evaded arrest, he had possession, and he had a track record of former convictions. What he did not have was not worth talking about. What sentence did he get for these crimes? Two years, but he will be out in six or eight months.

Ask the police in my area what they think of the justice system. It is weak. A guy like that is an animal and probably should never be let out of jail. Instead laws are passed that make honest, law-abiding people jump through hoops. Many of them will become criminals through ignorance and this guy, instead of having the book thrown at him, is left to walk free in a few months. It is not right.

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10:30 a.m.


John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-55 mainly because I am a government MP. As a government MP I naturally would prefer to support my government in any legislation that it brings forward. Indeed I try to do so in all instances.

As a government MP I feel that I have a fundamental obligation to signal my concerns when I see something in the government's legislation that concerns me deeply. The reason this is important for a government MP is that when a law passes the courts go back to the parliamentary debates and examine the discussions and pay particular attention to what government MPs say about the legislation. They believe what they hear from both sides of the House represents the thinking of Parliament with respect to legislation. Judges use that as a means of interpreting the legislation.

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10:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Gun control legislation.

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10:30 a.m.


John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

I am coming to that, gentlemen, if you would just wait a minute.

My concern with this legislation has to do with electronic monitoring provision. Ironically I find myself in agreement with some of the observations of the member for Fraser Valley East.

Last night I took time at home in my apartment to read George Orwell's famous novel 1984 . George Orwell, if members recall, made famous the expression ``big brother''. The novel was written in 1949 just after the world had experienced the tyranny of Hitler and had just entered into the deepest phase of the cold war when red army troops had seized eastern Europe. Most of the former democracies and countries of eastern Europe had fallen under the totalitarian sway of Stalin. Orwell's book is a depiction of the ultimate totalitarian state in which big brother, the state, controls every aspect of human behaviour. Orwell creates a picture of this man-his name is Winston-in which Winston's only problem is that he wants to express a certain amount of individuality. He wants to be a human being, if you will.

However, the state has prescribed the type of behaviour it wants from its citizens and has set up an elaborate means of monitoring their actions. Ultimately the state's purpose, big brother in George Orwell's novel, is to put shackles on the freedom of movement of people in society so that they always have to act according to what the state prescribes as the correct behaviour.

Orwell in writing this novel created the ultimate nightmare. It led to a series of other books and popular culture stories that involved the state control of individual behaviour by electronic means, by implanting devices that controlled individuals and restrained them. You can see the parallels that come out of 1984 which in that period was regarded as the ultimate horror for society, state control.

Then I read in the proposed legislation that the government is now considering electronic monitoring. These monitors are intended to be a sort of bracelet. People are ordered to wear these bracelets to restrain certain forms of behaviour. The bracelet can be used to keep track of their whereabouts. If the judge wants to prevent a person coming near some home because it has been decided that the person is a threat to someone, this bracelet would electronically monitor the whereabouts of the person.

Once we enter into this whole business of an electronic shackle, and that is what it is, an electronic shackle, an electronic ball and chain, all kinds of opportunities present themselves in the George Orwellian model. We can have a bracelet that remotely inflicts pain on an individual wearing this bracelet should that individual be about to engage in behaviour that the state wants to prevent.

As the bill is currently constituted, it basically addresses people who have the potential of committing violent offences. It could also be used on, say, a heroin addict. With a smart chip in the electronic bracelet if the addict approached a drug dealer the chip could scent the heroin and could immediately administer an electric shock to the individual to prevent this behaviour. And so it goes. The possibilities with a smart chip in this kind of bracelet are endless. We could restrain all kinds of behaviour remotely.

According to this legislation it is proposed that this is going to be aimed at only a certain type of offender. The problem is that when we get into this kind of thing, we are addressing very fundamental liberties. We are going right to the bottom of our basic freedoms. It is the same thing as our freedom of speech and the constant struggle there is between how to put limits on pornography while still maintaining freedom of speech.

An electronic shackle is the ultimate limitation on liberty. It allows the individual some movement in society, but in fact it is the same type of shackle that the Romans used and that was used in the slave trade.

I will explain what a shackle is as opposed to a rope or a prison cell. A shackle is restraint. We have used the nice words judicial restraint. In fact a shackle is something that limits behaviour.

Let me give an classic example. When slaves used to work in the fields picking cotton or sugar cane, they were shackled with an iron bar, the idea being that if the slave attempted to escape through the fields the shackle would get caught in the underbrush restraining their movements so that they could not get away. The ball and chain held the same idea. The ball was a weight that they had to drag and they could only get so far before they became exhausted. These were the means used by overseers to restrain their slaves in the field for work and not actually have to keep them in prisons. It was an economic tool that was very useful in the days of the slave trade.

To me there is not a great distinction between this electronic shackle and the old ball and chain. Let me just finish a point here. As proposed, this electronic shackle is only going to apply to certain types of individuals who pose certain types of risks.

One of the things I have learned in my three years in the House of Commons is that the great danger when we pass legislation that contains a subsection of a subsection that actually impinges on basic liberties is that while in this particular legislation it may be restricted to one group of individuals, at a later time legislation may come along that will pass in this House that will extend the application of the provision.

I will give an example. Right now the legislation applies to individuals who pose a threat of inflicting bodily harm. I think it is directed primarily toward sexual offenders. However, drunk drivers are a threat to society. Drunk drivers are capable of inflicting physical injury and death. Why not some day have this bracelet imposed on people who have two or more convictions for impaired driving? As members can see, it is so easy to take it to the next step and the next step and the next step until we have an Orwellian state in which any form of dissent or some form of dissent results in an electronic shackle. We can do all kinds of things with that. We can prevent all forms of behaviour remotely.

Where does this concept come from? I suggest the concept comes once again from our neighbour to the south which is confronted with a major crime problem. It is an epidemic problem in the United States. The Americans are building prisons faster than any country in the world and they are actually experiencing economic difficulties because of the difficulty they have in providing enough prison spaces for the number of people they are incarcerating.

One of their reactions to crime, which has been a subject of much debate in this House, has been unlimited acquisition of firearms. Canada has reacted in quite a Canadian way to this issue. We have had a very aggressive debate in the House about the whole question of firearms. Regardless of what side we are all on in the House, we all agree that Canadians do not want to see the weapons possession that exists in the United States. The government has gone to great lengths with the gun control bill to create a different answer to violence that does not involve the availability of guns for protection. Therefore, Canadians have found an alternate solution to what the Americans have found with respect to arming themselves against the criminal menace.

The other side of the coin is that the Americans have come out with this electronic shackling as an economic measure. They are building so many prisons and it is costing them so much that it is cheaper and more economically feasible, instead of putting people in jail, to apply electronic shackles. I am not saying they have gone that far yet, but the opportunity is there. We can see in American society the advantages of using electronic shackles to prevent people from committing armed robberies. They could be used in the drug trade. If these things could be put on people, crime could be limited in certain areas.

The difficulty is that in the United States, crime is centred upon one group in society. The Americans collect statistics based on race. I hate to bring this issue up, but we must talk about the Americans. They feel they have demonstrated to their satisfaction that blacks in particular have a higher proportion of incarceration than other categories in their society.

That is a frightening statistic. I am pleased this is not the kind of statistic which is collected by Canada. Nevertheless, because the Americans are very conscious of this, if electronic shackling is pursued to its ultimate end, then we will see the re-enslavement of a people in the United States. Instead of being shackled to the ball and chain of the overseer on the cotton plantation, they will be shackled by an electronic device which will be more common in one racial group than in any other. This has the appalling potential of returning to the 19th century to an era which we must leave behind.

We as Canadians, on all sides of the House representing all points of view, must not be driven by the type of social forces and dilemmas the Americans are confronting, be it the question of the availability of firearms or the question of the availability of an electronic shackle, an electronic ball and chain. I am very concerned that my government has brought forward the suggestion of the electronic shackle.

I agree with my colleague from Fraser Valley East that it is particularly dangerous because it is not intended to apply simply to people who are convicted of crimes, it is also designed to apply to people who may be perceived as potential criminals. Before the suspect has actually committed the crime, they may be shackled. That is a huge step. I would say it is a dangerous and a frightening step.

There is an easy solution to the problem. We can have this type of restraint if we write into the legislation that it is voluntary. The person to whom the order is to be applied would have the option of electing whether they will go to jail or some other option instead of accepting the electronic shackle.

In some instances I would think that people would voluntarily accept the electronic shackle. If a heroin addict wants to shake his habit, or if a person is a pedophile and cannot control his or her impulses but wants to control them, they might want to have a shackle. Then it becomes a positive thing because we are respecting human will.

I hope the members of the justice committee will read my words and the words of others who have been worried about this one provision. I hope they will think very carefully about the option of making it a voluntary provision.

I will make another analogy. Anyone who is a farmer will recognize what is called a cattle grate. When a farmer has cattle in the field and he wants to go back and forth with his tractor and he does not want to go to the trouble of opening the gate every time he goes through, he takes the gate off and he puts in what is called a cattle grate. It consists of a few bars of a certain spacing and is about a foot deep. The cattle can never cross. When they approach, they see the grate. They know that if they try to cross they could get caught in the grates and could break their legs. The animals recognize this and consequently they are restrained in the field pen.

The grate works very well for all hoofed animals. It is very very good for cattle. It works for pigs, it works for horses and it works for sheep. One thing we do not want to do in any legislation we pass in this House is to reduce our allowance for human will. We are human beings with some freedom of will, some ability to decide between right and wrong. When we reduce human beings by a shackle or by any kind of restraint to the level of animals, I think we are creating a very sad and despairing problem.

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10:50 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


Rey D. Pagtakhan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I would like to comment on the very reasoned presentation by the member for Hamilton-Wentworth. I have always appreciated his sincerity on any issue of potential controversy and I am addressing this issue on that basis.

I can see his point that such a judicial restraint would be a limitation to freedom; that is a given. But even the charter of rights in the Canadian Constitution allows for limits to freedom where it can be demonstrated in a democratic society that such a limitation is allowable. Who will interpret this allowance? Ultimately it will be the Supreme Court of Canada. For example, the laws on hate where we may not spread hate propaganda definitely represent a limitation to freedom of speech.

The Supreme Court of Canada would like to establish that the goal to be achieved in any limitation to freedom is a very laudable goal for society at large. In terms of the subject under debate now, the limitation would be imposed in the case of serious injury to a Canadian citizen and there is no other alternative that we could use as a tool. I am sure that in this instance, any court of law in Canada would take that into account when trying to pass judgment on such an application by an attorney general of a given province. I am sure the courts would like to see that such a means would be capable of achieving that ultimate goal.

Being a non-lawyer, I do not recall all the tests that Canadian courts of law have applied when a balance must be struck, when limits to freedom have to be imposed. I continue to have faith in our judicial court system.

The very learned member spoke about shackles. I could imagine the physical shackles and not being able to move with the restraint of the weight on one's legs. I remember historical photos. But if electronic monitoring is used, it would likely be non-visible, non-intrusive to the eyes of others. Perhaps only the person upon whom this device would be imposed by a court of law would know that such a device existed on his body. I am sure this will be taken into account. To compare the electronic monitoring to shackles as we were used to imagining them is extending our imaginations a little too much.

The member indicated that this may be a return to enslavement. The only enslavement I can see in this would be the enslavement of risk. We will now have one additional tool with which to control risk of serious injury to others with this control being imposed on other members of society.

It is a huge step but the challenge of personal safety which is before society is very huge indeed. On that basis I would like to submit that such a provision in the bill is reasonable. Considering that it has only to be determined by the attorney general of a given province based on reasonable grounds of fear that the person is

about to commit a serious personal injury, there will be an examination of this during the hearings.

My last point is that electronic monitoring is not a monitoring that will be imposed on the person for eternity. It is only for a period of 12 months. In other words, there is a finite period. If the person's behaviour has been sustained such that such an occurrence is not likely to happen again, then the person will be freed of his electronic monitoring.

I submit that this is a reasonable approach to a serious problem that faces society. Therefore, I concur with this initiative on the part of the government.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.


John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have great respect for the member's judgment and sincerity in all the issues he addresses.

If I may say so, he put his finger on what is the precise problem with this kind of legislation. It is that it springs from consultation with the courts. He has said that the courts have been consulted on this legislation and then it was written.

I submit that this is one of the great problems we have in legislation in this House all the time. It is not remembered that this House of Commons is the highest court in the land. It is we the MPs who look to our constituency to try to understand the nation, to try to understand who we are as Canadians and to write the laws. It is wrong in my view to consider legislation and to consider how the courts will interpret that legislation rather than considering its moral and ethical impact on society. It is putting the cart before the horse.

I am not prepared to give the judges of the land who sit in their chambers a better acknowledgement of what Canada is all about than members of Parliament. It is we who have to interpret the ethics and the propriety of the laws.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Speaker

You seem to be on a roll. I was afraid to come in too fast but it being 11 a.m., we will proceed to Statements by Members.

Gravenhurst Achievement AwardsStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Andy Mitchell Liberal Parry Sound—Muskoka, ON

Mr. Speaker, many of the constituents in my riding have special programs in place to honour their residents and volunteers for their outstanding contributions and achievements, which is one of our fine rural Ontario traditions.

In my hometown for example, through the Gravenhurst Achievement Awards the community honours people who have made their mark in things as varied as music, sports, art and architecture. The objective of the program is to publicly recognize the achievement of the townspeople, thereby promoting pride within the community.

I applaud this positive demonstration of community spirit. I encourage all the communities in my riding to keep up the good work.

I congratulate this year's Gravenhurst Achievement Award winners: Stephen Brackley, David Dawson, Erin Edwards, Christine Harris, Wayne Hill and Nancy Snider.

The Fight Against AidsStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga—Maisonneuve, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to pay tribute to the organizers of "Ça marche", an event that took place last Sunday in Montreal and in over 30 towns and cities in Quebec.

This annual event is held to raise funds for the Farah Foundation, which distributes them to dozens of organizations serving people living with AIDS. Over the years, this event has become an ideal opportunity for expressing solidarity with those whose lives have been touched, even if only remotely, by the consequences of this terrible illness.

The march in Montreal this year was an unprecedented success. The organizers estimate the number of participants at 30,000 and the money collected at $582,000, $22,000 more than last year.

This event shows beyond a shadow of a doubt how important the fight against AIDS is to the people of Quebec and of Canada. Research in this field must be a government priority.

In closing, I would like to warmly thank the organizers, the Farah Foundation, the dozens of volunteers who made this event possible and all the community groups that, day after day, work on behalf of those living with AIDS.

Kuper IslandStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to inform the House that Chief Randy James and the Penelakut Band on Kuper Island in my riding of Nanaimo-Cowichan will be conducting a memorial service tomorrow, October 5, to honour the memory of those children who died while attending the Kuper Island Residential School.

While the Penelakut Band estimates the number of students who perished between 1890 and 1984 to be in the hundreds, the exact number may never be known because of the manner in which records were maintained.

Following the memorial service there will be a traditional native healing ceremony for the survivors and their families. Along with Chief James, I call upon members of Parliament to think of Kuper Island today and tomorrow and, in so doing, honour the memory of those who died not only on Kuper Island but also at residential schools across Canada and ask for the healing of those who survived.

Federal Conference On YouthStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Chris Axworthy NDP Saskatoon—Clark's Crossing, SK

Mr. Speaker, last week the federal Liberal government wined and dined over 100 hand picked delegates gathered in Ottawa for a three day national conference. The aim was to have these youth delegates help provide solutions to growing problems faced by young people in Canada today.

The problem is the federal government did not invite any student groups, where corporations were welcomed with open arms, showing once again how this government believes that only the wealthy and large corporations really matter.

Obviously the government believes that rising tuition costs, decreasing quality of education, high student debt, chronic student unemployment and decreased accessibility to university education are irrelevant and trivial issues for the youth of today.

The chair of the conference conveniently forgot to mention the government is backtracking on the Liberal Party's red book promise to fund a $100 million youth core program to employ 10,000 youth every year. He also neglected to mention the government's plans to privatize Canada's student loan program and the $7 billion cuts to provincial social transfer payments.

The corporations and the government were so successful at pulling off this farce that Canada's second largest bank, the CIBC, has generously offered to host the second national conference on youth next March. And why not? The government has already abandoned middle class and working people for banks and big corporations.

Mary Lou CarrollStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Larry McCormick Liberal Hastings—Frontenac—Lennox And Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, Mary Lou Carroll of Adolphustown is an extraordinary volunteer, and I am honoured to recognize her humanitarian achievements during Women's History Month.

Mrs. Carroll first contacted my office in October 1994 with a request for assistance in arranging an airlift of supplies on a DND flight to the Sisters of St. Joseph Orphanage in Haiti. Since that successful airlift, Mrs. Carroll has continued her efforts to aid the people of the village of Sen Rafael.

I recently received a note from Mrs. Carroll:

When Sister Cecilia Tallach started the school, the parents were less than enthused about sending their children. However, when the community became aware of what those children who did go to school could now do, then all the parents wanted their children in school.

As a result, 90 new students, some 20 years old in grade one, are attending this year.

Mrs. Carroll is presently organizing a fourth shipment. She has motivated countless people and gained broad community support. Her efforts have been assisted by individuals and groups.

Seager Wheeler Historical Farm SocietyStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Georgette Sheridan Liberal Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the Seager Wheeler Historical Farm Society. Named for Seager Wheeler, the internationally renowned plant breeder, the society was one of only 10 organizations to receive a Parks Canada award in 1966.

These awards are presented by the Government of Canada in recognition of exception or innovative achievement in the protection, preservation and presentation of Canada's natural and cultural heritage.

The recipients of these awards must have made a contribution in at least one of the following areas: responsible action and stewardship, education, research or policy development. The Seager Wheeler Historical Farm Society excelled in all categories.

Today Larry and Doreen Janzen will attend a special Parks Canada awards ceremony in Banff, Alberta to accept this prestigious award on behalf of the many volunteers like them whose tireless efforts have safeguarded and enhanced this Saskatchewan heritage treasure.

Francophones Outside QuebecStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, francophones outside Quebec are giving increasing thought to the development of economic strategies that will enable them to make an even greater contribution to the future of their community.

Three regional economic forums will be held to look at the best ways of furthering the economic development of our community, the first in St. Boniface, Manitoba, October 4 and 5, the second in St-André, New Brunswick, and the third in Ottawa. These regional forums will be followed by a national forum, to take place in

St-Georges, Quebec, in November. The purpose of the national forum will be to work out the necessary planning.

These forums will bring together municipal elected officials and the business community and will facilitate the establishment of economic ties and co-operation agreements among French-speaking Canadians with respect to economic development across Canada.

I wish all the participants good luck and much success. Thank you for your efforts.

Canadian Centre For Magnetic FusionStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Verchères, QC

Mr. Speaker, at the Bloc Quebecois's general council held last Saturday at Lac Delage, delegates voted unanimously in favour of an urgent motion calling on the federal government to maintain its $7.2 million financial participation in the Varennes Tokamak project.

The withdrawal of the federal government from this project will deal it a fatal blow, as layoff notices will start to go out at the end of this month. The talented researchers who work there will inevitably have to look for new work beyond our borders. The skills developed within this country and the $70 million invested over the last 20 years in this project will be lost forever, and Canada will be deprived of the spinoffs resulting from the development of new technologies related to Tokamak.

It is therefore imperative that the federal government rethink its decision to end its financial participation, which represents a large portion of the federal government's already too small investment in research and development in Quebec.

I appeal to the common sense of federal government representatives and call on them to reassess as quickly as possible this decision that may well be bitterly regretted. Time is running out for Tokamak.

JusticeStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, why is it that the heavy hand of the law always punishes non-violent citizens who fighting for the principle of freedom, while violent criminals who break in and destroy the sanctity of our homes receive a mere slap on the wrist?

Darren Watson of Saskatoon pleaded guilty to breaking into a Leask area farm in April and stealing two trucks. During the burglary three dogs were beaten to death and a truck was set on fire. Under the sentencing bill Watson's lawyer asked the judge to merely impose community service as an appropriate punishment.

Conversely, in the case of wheat farmer Andy McMechan of Manitoba, he was found guilty on all five charges laid against him in a dispute over the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly on grain sales. He was subsequently fined $13,000, jailed for four months, told to turn over his tractor and sentenced to two years of supervised probation.

Here we have yet another example of hypocrisy in our justice system. It is clear to me that one man poses a threat to society while the other does not. Why were alternative measures not suggested for Andy McMechan?

High TechnologyStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform you that the Canadian government has just announced the creation of a new service to encourage the economic development of Quebec in the high tech sector.

This was announced yesterday by the Minister of Industry. The partners for investment in Canada bureau will focus on identifying foreign investors and encouraging them to come to Canada and Quebec.

The categories of investment being sought by the members of this bureau will vary from province to province. We already know that pharmaceuticals, aerospace, biotechnology and telecommunications will be given priority in Quebec.

In announcing this new initiative, the Government of Canada is once again confirming its determination to actively encourage the creation of more jobs and a strong economy with development potential for the future of Canada and Quebec.

Robert BourassaStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Anna Terrana Liberal Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, when people hear the name of Robert Bourassa, they think of the father of James Bay comes to their mind. That was, of course, the high point in his long service at the head of the province of Quebec.

But remembering Robert Bourassa also means remembering the two major recessions he had to face during his time as premier and his epic battles with the big labour unions in order to preserve the delicate balance between the needs of workers and the economic needs of the state.

Remembering Robert Bourassa means remembering the man's devotion and determination in propelling his province into a new economic universe, by providing it with the tools essential for its prosperity.

Quebecers are, and will forever be, grateful for his exceptional contribution to the economic development of Quebec.

We have lost a great Canadian, who rendered exceptional service to his country and his province. I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to the Bourassa family, both personally and on behalf of the people of my province of British Columbia.