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


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1 p.m.


Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from Nanaimo-Cowichan. I would like to express my thanks for the opportunity to rise today and address the motion to introduce a victims' bill of rights.

Every act of violence touches each one of us. It crosses party lines, gender lines, cultural, sociolinguistic and economic lines. Our concern is the reality that brings us together as we all struggle with the infuriating, frustrating and heart wrenching results of violent crime.

While all aspects of this bill of rights are of great significance, as critic to the department of status of women I am particularly concerned with issues that address victims of domestic violence.

Since my election to Parliament I have seen any number of times the consequences of a justice system that neglects the welfare of victims of crime. These consequences are particularly stark and devastating for the victims of violent crime and domestic violence. The following will bring to light how devastating, as I share with members a few of the numerous cases I have dealt with in my riding of Calgary Southeast.

These cases specifically involve domestic violence including pedophilia and stalking. The sensitivity and confidential nature of some of these cases means I will not make reference to the names of the constituents concerned except for the case of Helen Leadley. Helen has courageously brought her story to the public, and Parliament is already familiar with it.

In early 1994 Helen Leadley approached our office for assistance. Her concern was that a convicted violent offender by the name of Robert Paul Thompson was up for parole in 1995 and she feared for the safety of her family. She explained to me that Thompson had been convicted for the murder of her daughter, his common law wife, Brenda Fitzgerald. Mr. Thompson's record dated back to 1969. The crime of murder, for which he is currently serving time, he committed while on a day pass from the Bow Valley correctional institute where he had been incarcerated for two counts of hit and run. Thompson was caught, found guilty by a jury trial and put in jail for his crime.

Helen and her grandchildren have never had the opportunity to go on with normal lives. Helen would spend the next 10 years fearing for the life of her family. Thompson sent death threats to Helen and her family promising that once released, and he remains quite confident that he will be released, he would follow through on these threats.

While Thompson is being provided for by the state, Leadley family members live in fear for their lives, never able to put the tragedy of Brenda's death to rest, as they have spent countless hours agonizing over and working to prevent Thompson's release.

On June 13, 1995 I attended Thompson's parole hearing in Renous, New Brunswick. There I was able to present a written statement to the parole board on Helen's behalf requesting that Thompson serve his full life sentence. Helen was denied permission to make any verbal statement to the parole board. As unimaginable as that ruling is, it remains that victims are not permitted to speak during the parole hearing.

Fortunately the board ruled against Thompson's release but he will be allowed to apply again and again in the years to come until he is successful.

As Helen works valiantly to keep the shattered pieces of her family life together, she must also find the strength to go on fighting to secure her own protection because the state seems incapable of doing that. When will she be free from this burden? As long as we continue to neglect the victims of crime, people like Helen will continue to live in fear and sorrow.

More recently, another constituent came to see me, this time for assistance in protecting her family against a sex offender who had sexually abused not only her daughter but six other little girls including his two daughters. The individual in question was convicted on seven counts of sexual assault three years ago, sentenced to nine years in prison but became eligible for early parole this past February, ludicrous as that may be.

The constituent asked that I attend the parole hearing at the Bowden Institution in Alberta. Once again neither the victims nor their parents were allowed a voice at the hearings. In this case the decision was made in favour of society and the victims, as the offender was denied earlier parole.

However, the positive outcome was outweighed by the uncertainty felt by the victims as they awaited the process as well as the emotional anguish of having to relive the violation as they revisited the horrible memories of the crime. The very intrusive representation by the pedophile as he used this hearing to absolve himself was truly offensive.

I will share with members the story of a family haunted by a former spouse who while in prison issued death threats to his ex-wife and her husband. The offender in question was scheduled for release sometime around April 4, 1996. Authorities informed me that in all likelihood his release would be granted. I was informed by those same authorities that this man is capable of following through on his threats. He has been diagnosed with degenerative personality disorder, a disease that causes him to become increasingly aggressive and increasingly dangerous.

This offender has made threats against me and my staff in the constituency office. When I contacted the RCMP to find out what could be done to protect not only my constituents from this dangerous man but also me and my staff, I was told that until he reoffends there is not much that can be done short of surveillance. While our justice system fulfilled its promise to release the criminal as scheduled, it continues to neglect the very real and overwhelming threats to the lives of its victims and the rest of our community.

In light of the above, I take this opportunity to express my support for the victims' bill of rights. For too long we have worked to protect the accused at the expense of the victims. While I understand the need to ensure the accused are treated with fairness under our laws, must it be done at the expense of those innocent individuals who have already experienced abuse and humiliation and who have to suffer the further insecurity of never knowing if they will ever be safe again?

How much longer will we buy into the argument that what is needed above every possible consideration is rehabilitation? What of protection for our citizens? What of making individuals accountable for their actions? What of the rights of the victims and of potential victims in society? It is time to stop giving priority to criminals and violent offenders who prey on our families and children.

As we see cases of domestic violence increasing we must ask what are we doing to alter effectively that reality. While I am a strong advocate of prevention and the incorporation of preventive measures to curb the tide of the growing number of violent offences being perpetrated within families, I also believe it is well past the time that we put in place effective measures to respond to the needs of the growing numbers of victims in the nation.

As we can see from these real life examples, victims are not being accorded the protection they need or even a say in the process.

Domestic violence presents particular problems for the criminal justice system. Some of the most violent crime in our communities is committed in the home by close family friends and family members. Unfortunately children and women bear a disproportionate amount of this aggression.

In one of the most widely referred to studies on domestic violence, a 1993 government publication entitled "Changing the Landscape: Ending Violence-Achieving Equality" found that 34 per cent of Canadian women have experienced a physical assault from a partner in an intimate relationship. Five per cent of the women reported being threatened, 39 per cent were sexually assaulted, while 50 per cent of Canadian women say they have been abused in some way. A shocking 45 per cent of women have faced violence at the hands of husbands or boyfriends they live with.

Children have also been the target of abuse and violence. What is equally damaging for children is the relationship that exists between the witnessing of violent domestic abuse and the probability of becoming abusive later in life. Government of Canada research illustrates that children who witness violence, especially against a mother, are more likely to be abusive as adults. This is tremendously troubling, considering that 39 per cent of women have reported that their children were witnesses to violent acts committed against themselves.

This points to a growing crisis that has dangerous social implications for Canadian society. One of the problems in overcoming domestic violence is the inability to break the cycle of repeat abuse after a conviction has been made and a sentence has been served. Ex-convicts regularly attempt to re-establish contact with former spouses or family members with devastating effects. Oftentimes victims are not aware their abusers are not back on the street. They show up unannounced, occasionally with violent intentions. Victims should be notified when a convicted abuser is freed from jail so they may take precautions to protect themselves and their children against repeat aggression.

Again, there is an imbalance here, which the Minister of Justice suggested a few moments ago. The criminal justice system in my view must become more focused on protecting victims from harassment and intimidation.

The victims' bill of rights challenges the criminal justice system to follow through, from beginning to end, charges related to domestic violence. The system has learned to effectively take into consideration the rights of the accused and the convicted, but it has no corresponding capacity to link the victims of crime to the process of justice. Without question a victims' bill of rights would have a positive effect in redressing the imbalance which presently exists.

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1:10 p.m.

Prince Albert—Churchill River Saskatchewan


Gordon Kirkby LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her comments. I join with her, as do all members, to discuss and debate what can be done to assist victims within the criminal justice system.

A statement of principles was adopted in 1988 by the federal and provincial attorneys general and ministers of justice. Since that time concrete legislative steps have been taken at the federal level and in some cases at the provincial level to assist victims of crimes.

At the federal level we have implemented such legislation as Bill C-68, gun control measures with the universal registration system in place. Those who have been victims of violence from a spouse through court process can initiate proceedings. The police when guns and firearms are registered will be able to seize the firearms of a person who has threatened or assaulted another.

I would like the hon. member to explain, when we are all doing our best and what we can within the federal purview to assist victims, why the Reform Party would vote against the registration of firearms, which would make the world a safer place for victims.

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1:10 p.m.


Jan Brown Reform Calgary Southeast, AB

Madam Speaker, at issue today is the victims' bill of rights. The Minister of Justice expressed in his delivery the appreciation for the broader debate that does cross partisan lines.

I thank the hon. member for his comment but it seems he has a singular focus today on the very flawed legislation of Bill C-68. That is all I will to say with respect to that question. Some elements of it are very good and there was certainly an indication of that on our side of the House, but some elements of it are very wrong

minded, create great inequities, are totally unfair and have very little merit in terms of addressing the issue of crime in Canada today.

I am a copious note taker. I was at the parole board hearing in Bowden, Alberta on February 29 when the pedophile I mentioned in my speech presented his arguments and his remorse. It was a very self-centred presentation to the parole board hearing. All of us sat in silence, as we were requested to do by the parole board.

If concrete steps have been taken, as the hon. member has suggested, in addressing the issues of victims, which cover a host of areas, I would be most happy to photocopy for him the dozen or so pages I have that clearly point out that in spite of the concrete steps he believes may have been taken they really do little to address the issue.

When we have someone who has been incarcerated and has taken a homecoming program to address his inner child, a human sexuality course to address his sense of relationship, stress management courses, an alternative islands program, self-esteem programs, grief recovery programs, I would like to ask the hon. member, and I certainly will in private, exactly what has been done for the victims of the man who committed these horrendous crimes against seven little girls.

I would like him to explain the concrete steps that have been taken by the government to address the whole issue of victims and the pathetic attempt to address the issue of the resources they have no access to and the ridiculous matter he raises of gun control with respect to a victims' bill of rights.

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1:10 p.m.


Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak on this motion before us advocating a victims' bill of rights. It might be appropriate for me to remind everyone of what the motion states:

That the House urge the government to direct the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs to proceed with the drafting of a victims' bill of rights, and that, in such areas where the committee determines a right to be more properly a provincial concern, the Minister of Justice initiate consultations with the provinces aimed at arriving at a national standard for a victims' bill of rights.

I am very pleased to note that this is a votable motion.

It is a timely and long overdue initiative which seeks to establish the rights of victims and their families as a cornerstone of our judicial system. That it has not been attempted in any substantive or meaningful way by the government is a sad commentary on its lack of commitment to safer streets and communities, although I am heartened by some of the words I heard the Minister of Justice speak in addressing this motion a short while ago.

Some colleagues across the way will no doubt disagree with some of what we say on this issue. I also expect some of them will vote against these proposals. If they listen, I am confident that our discussion today will draw attention to the subject of victims rights. In doing so, it is my hope to provide a voice in the House to the thousands of people who are the real sufferers of crime each year, the victims.

Victims for the purpose of this initiative also include the families of the persons against whom the offence was perpetrated. For them there is sometimes no escape from their suffering. All victims will bear the psychological scars of their ordeals for years to come.

While a victims bill of rights may not address all their concerns, the measure contained in this initiative in part would allow them a say before every legal proceeding that deals with the disposition of an accused. It is on this aspect of the victims bill of rights that I would like to spend the remainder of my time.

Clause 3 of the proposed bill declares that every victim has the right to choose between giving an oral and/or a written victim impact statement before sentencing, before parole hearings and before any judicial review. Simply put, victims and their families are not presently guaranteed the right to make oral impact statements at the trial of an accused, yet the accused seems to have every right.

If accepted, this bill of rights would ensure that a victim could choose to make such a statement at each stage where the legal system deals with the accused or the convicted. It would also allow them to determine if they want to give that statement verbally, in writing, or both. I do not think that is an unreasonable proposal.

Being allowed to do both is significant. It would prevent the courts from altering or editing a written victim impact statement. That was done to the statement submitted by Mrs. Mahaffy in the trial of Paul Bernardo. In that case, Mrs. Mahaffy submitted a statement only to find that it had been edited to the point that it no longer reflected what she wanted said about her daughter's death and the impact it had on her family.

The bill does not stop there. The bill would also allow a victim and their family to make a verbal impact statement at the parole hearing of a convicted criminal. In this regard, I will share with members in this House the tragic experience of a constituent of mine.

Her name is Inge Claussen. Many in my riding of Nanaimo-Cowichan will know her as my very capable constituency assistant in Duncan. Seventeen years ago, Mrs. Claussen's teenage daughter was abducted and brutally murdered. An individual with a known criminal history was subsequently charged and convicted of the crime.

Now, 15 years after being sentenced, this person-no, not person-this animal is now scheduled for a section 745 parole hearing asking for early release. Meanwhile the family of the slain girl does not have the ability to give a verbal impact statement at a parole hearing, after which this animal could be put back on the

street where again it will have the opportunity to prey on more innocent children.

I sincerely hope no one should every have to endure the horror this woman and her surviving family had to go through. Sadly though, given reality, I must expect there is still a possibility of that.

Rather than contribute to the pain and anguish of the victims and their families, rather than sully the memory of those victims killed, every effort should be made to give them a voice.

In the case of parole hearings, the right to make an oral victim impact statement should be guaranteed, if only to serve as a poignant reminder of the impact the offence had on a victim and the victim's family. Just as important, such measures should ensure victims of crime are treated as something more than observers of the judicial process. In point of fact, it would allow them to be active participants with something relevant to say, something beyond what happened during the commission of the offence.

Victim impact statements allow an individual to share with the court and for that matter share with the accused what the crime has done to them. It makes all involved acutely aware of the suffering endured by the victim and the victim's family. The catharsis of being able to do so helps in the healing process of the victim and allows them to form some semblance of closure on the incident.

However if the past actions of this government are any indication, we are not likely to see the reforms we want as they are outlined today any time soon. I hope from the words of the minister today I am wrong in saying that.

As I reflect upon this government's effort in the area of criminal reform addressing the rights of the victim, I am not encouraged. The approach used seemingly and invariably puts the rights of the accused ahead of the victim.

In recent years this country's criminal justice system has fallen into disrepute among Canadians. Increasingly, there exists a cynical opinion among many people that justice in this country is spelled and hence viewed in two different ways. There is "justice" which is viewed and spelled in the traditional way and incorporates the sacrosanct ideals of equality and fairness. Then there is "just us", the albeit harsh reality exploited by defence attorneys and their clients that the only people entitled to the principles of justice are the accused.

Sadly, recent tinkering with the Criminal Code has done nothing except enhance this unfortunate perception among Canadians. Real reform and leadership is needed on the issue. Only courage by legislators in this House will set things right.

I want to end my remarks by urging members opposite to put aside any partisan beliefs they might have and consider very seriously what is being proposed here. At the heart of this effort is a sincere attempt to assist victims of crime and to put more justice into the justice system.

When we vote on this motion, it does not have to necessarily be about winning or losing. As long as we work from the premise that these measures would benefit all Canadians who might one day find themselves victimized by crime, we will have accomplished something.

I ask members from all parties to join with me and support the initiative before the House today.

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1:20 p.m.

Saskatoon—Dundurn Saskatchewan


Morris Bodnar LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Industry

Madam Speaker, the statements made by the hon. member refer to justice as being fairness, equality and the protection of victims rights. I take it then the hon. member feels that is the appropriate way to deal with it, since we want to treat people equally.

In dealing with amendments such as sexual orientation, human rights legislation or amendments to the Criminal Code and the treatment of people in the criminal justice system, justice is the equal treatment of people, not preference for one group or another, but equal treatment. Does the hon. member feel that the justice he quotes, and not "just us", refers to members of gay communities as well as heterosexual communities and their equal treatment in all aspects of law, sentencing and in human rights legislation?

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1:25 p.m.


Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Madam Speaker, I certainly believe in justice for everyone.

The member in his intervention really is trying to take our focus off the motion before us to say now that the rights of the gay community are coming up, can we get a commitment from the member. Justice is justice. I do not think we should single out any particular group and say they should be given special rights. We are saying justice for all.

The issue before us today is justice for the victims of crime as opposed to the continued over justice for the perpetrators of crime. That is what I would like us to zero in on.

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1:25 p.m.


Glen McKinnon Liberal Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, before I commence the formal part of my address, let me simply add that all members in the House know of some event or some circumstance which has impacted either on them or on close friends whereby the victim has had some long term scarring and

would appear to have had very little public recourse in terms of addressing that level of hurt.

My colleague for Erie who will be sharing my time with me, will be adding to my comments today. I personally support the thrust of the proposal members opposite are making today.

Throughout the country over many years there have been attempts to put something in place. Manitoba has had some pilot projects on victims services. I am sure that is true of other parts of the nation as well. Various municipalities have engaged personnel to attempt to assist a family or the victim of a crime, whether it be vandalism, theft, or some other sort of violation. A system has been put in place because of the difficulty in handling life after the fact.

The hon. member's concern for victims of crime is very admirable. We have often heard the public criticize the judicial system for placing the rights of the offender ahead of the rights of victims. That was addressed to some degree by the previous member with regard to justice for all. One cannot defend one side or the other on that one.

I agree that more needs to be done to protect the rights of a victim. I would also emphasize that we must be cautious. It is not to imply that one way to achieve protection of a victim is to diminish the rights of an offender. Therein lies the tricky part; not to allow the legislation currently in place in human rights legislation or in the charter.

We would ask ourselves whether there is a necessary trade off between competing rights. Is justice better served by somehow reducing the rights of an accused person? The emergence of the victims' rights movement in Canada is one of the most important criminal justice trends we have seen in the last 20 years. Yet I doubt any victim organization in Canada would advocate eliminating the right of an accused to a fair trial, the right of due process, the protection of habeas corpus or the protection of an accused against self-incrimination. Do I need to remind the House there are rights guaranteed to all Canadians under sections 7, 10 and 11 of the charter of rights and freedoms?

I will not dwell on this matter of comparing the rights of the accused with the rights of the victim, but this may be necessary in considering the content of a bill of rights. I believe a more constructive approach is simply put to determine where and how the victim should be involved in the criminal justice process.

The concept we should embrace is access to justice for the victim. At what point in the criminal justice process does the victim deserve to have input? There were some suggestions in my colleague's speech and I would not attempt to diminish the thrust my colleague was putting forward.

However, are there various points along the process where we can examine with close scrutiny where access should be made? Should there be input to the police, to the investigation, to the trial of the accused, at the sentencing stage and later at the parole decision making stage and finally when the offender is released from custody assuming that guilt is determined in the issue?

If we can provide the victim or the victim's family with appropriate access to the criminal process in a timely fashion, maybe we can be a little less concerned about who has more or who has fewer rights.

Let us examine the progress made over the last two decades both in terms of general recognition of the needs of the victim and specific measures. Much of the policy and programs dealing with the victims is derived from a report by a federal-provincial task force on justice for victims of crime in the early 1980s, which offered 79 recommendations to both levels of government for improving social criminal justice and health responses to victims of crime.

In 1985 Canada co-sponsored the United Nations declaration of basic principles of justice for victims of crime. It was widely and universally accepted that Canada was a leader in this movement. This document soon became the basis for a unique Canadian statement of principles. This statement was endorsed by the federal government, the provinces and the territories in 1988. It has provided a reference point for provinces to develop their own policy and legislation on victims' rights, and most jurisdictions now have victims oriented legislation.

It is important to note provinces' perspectives since provinces' responsibility for the administration of justice means that not all access to justice issues are under federal control.

The law now provides for victim impact statements. Section 735 permits provinces to determine the forum for the victim impact statement in their jurisdiction. In effect this provision creates flexibility, for example, by allowing police based victim witness service programs to generate victim impact statements or alternatively crown or court based services as appropriate.

Victim fine surcharge provisions were also added to the Criminal Code by Bill C-89. The victim fine surcharge is an additional monetary penalty imposed on an offender at the time of sentencing. A victim fine surcharge is required to be imposed in addition to any other punishment imposed on an offender convicted or discharged of a Criminal Code offence or an offence under part III or part IV of the Food and Drug Act.

In addition to these surcharges, several provinces have passed legislation to impose a victim's surcharge on provincial offences and this revenue may also be used for victims' services in those provinces.

I will do my personal best to bring forward concerns and information which will support this thrust by members opposite.

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1:35 p.m.


Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the member exactly what he meant when he said do not let what we do for victims interfere with what we need to do for criminals. A statement like that bothers me when we are addressing victims' rights. Is he fearful that criminals will lose rights because of our efforts?

Numerous victims' groups have been formed across the land. There is FACT, Families Against Crime Today, which is led by Stu Garrioch in Calgary. There is CAVEAT, which I am sure everyone is familiar with. There is CRY in British Columbia. There is the Move the Rock group. There is the kid brother campaign in southern Ontario. There are thousands of people who belong to victims' groups. The one thing they tell me is they would really like to return to having some sort of a life; if only the government would listen.

This government has been here two and a half years. These groups are increasing. Would the hon. member comment on why he thinks these groups are continually growing and why these people cannot return to their previous lifestyles.

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1:35 p.m.


Glen McKinnon Liberal Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, the member opposite raised two very legitimate concerns.

It was not my intent to create the impression that we need not worry about the victim, that we need worry only about the perpetrator. The point I was making is we have to be cautious in carrying through with our fundamental legal positions in legislation and in the charter of rights and freedoms so that victims' rights are not seen as removing the rights of offenders.

The second comment concerned the growing number of victims' organizations. The member was adding to the number of persons involved in those organizations. Those organizations are symptomatic of the communications industry and how it has been growing throughout the country. Nothing happens in Vernon, as an example, that we do not hear about instantaneously throughout the nation or throughout the world.

I have a daughter in Australia. We have already had communications from that area because of the massacre that happened there yesterday.

Let us not refocus the impact. We are simply attempting to ensure victims and their families have some involvement in the total criminal justice system. It is for that reason that I support the member opposite in his opinions.

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1:40 p.m.


John Maloney Liberal Erie, ON

Madam Speaker, at the outset I wish to advise that I will support this initiative by my Reform colleagues and will vote in favour of it.

I will endeavour to take a different approach in my remarks in support of this position. I am pleased to address the House on this motion for a bill of rights for victims because it is crime that creates victims. I take this opportunity to look at the collective measures all sections of society can take to give further importance to the prevention of crime and victimization.

Crime prevention, particularly through social development and multi-disciplinary approaches, addresses the underlying causes of criminality and victimization and can provide long term safety and security.

In Canada the need to prevent crime meaningfully is mobilizing every sector of society, starting with citizens and the grassroot organizations, service providers, the private sector and all levels of government.

No country or community is immune from crime and its devastating effects. However, a growing body of knowledge is emerging with respect to comprehensive strategies, and this information can assist communities that want to take action. There is knowledge on how to mobilize our institutions and our citizens and develop a partnership effort on assessing social, situational and other factors associated with crime, planning and co-ordinating a multi-disciplinary approach.

For a crime prevention plan to be truly representative and responsive to local crime problems, the community should be involved at all stages and in all aspects. It has been established that the greater the degree of community participation and solidarity in addressing social and crime related problems, the higher the level of urban security.

The need for close co-operation between governments and communities and for the establishment of broad coalitions of all those concerned with crime problems cannot be stressed strongly enough.

A meaningful strategy for the prevention of crime and victimization encompasses four key elements. First, crime prevention through social development consists of a comprehensive approach to systemic crime prevention through social development which targets the combination of social, personal, educational and economical factors which place individuals at risk and contribute to crime.

Our research suggests the various aspects and causes of criminal behaviour share common characteristics such as personal, familial and social breakdown. A social intervention approach, which seeks actions through policies, programs and services already present in the social development field such as social housing, health, education, income security and social services, may lessen the factors which may lead a person to crime.

The second is crime prevention through community mobilization. The involvement of all sectors of the community in the

planning and implementation process of crime prevention strategies must be an integral part of crime prevent. Community safety and crime prevention strategies should address factors associated with the prevention of crime and the needs and priorities identified by their communities.

Third, situational crime prevention strategies or opportunity reduction approaches such as neighbourhood watch, block parents and crime prevention through environmental design have considerable potential for reducing crime in Canada. Most police agencies have established crime prevention units which promote various community based programs aimed at reducing opportunities for a specific crime such as vandalism, theft and break and enter. However, such programs have limits, especially over the long term, as offenders become displaced to other areas or choose to commit other types of crime.

The fourth is effective justice approaches. The maintenance and improvement of a fair and equitable criminal justice system is the foundation to effective crime prevention. Actions such as the control of firearms, the recognition that spousal abuse and child abuse are crimes and that timely responses to young offenders through appropriate and effective legislation and enforcement will help to ensure that crime prevention is a reality.

Crime prevention targeted to the social causes of crime requires a longer term and less visible effort than does catching perpetrators or installing mechanical devices. Their concept requires a new approach, where the belief that it can be done accompanies the commitment to make it happen. More can be done to prevent crime by interceding in practical ways and through social development situations.

Key research on the benefits of crime prevention through social development must be brought to the attention of all concerned citizens, communities and the media. Canada has taken an important step in putting greater emphasis on crime prevention by developing a national strategy on community safety and crime prevention. This took place following a major consultation with stakeholder groups, through an in depth examination by a parliamentary standing committee and through a national symposium.

The national strategy is a broad framework of action which brings together a number of partners and a special focus on the development of information and tools to help communities develop and implement specific measures to meet its needs.

The strategy was developed in close co-operation with stakeholders, including provinces and territories, which are primarily responsible for many aspects of crime prevention and which contribute to individual and community safety, such as education, health, social services and the administration of justice.

Measures implemented on the national strategy by governments and by non-governmental organizations include greater co-ordination and communications, public education and awareness, enhancing knowledge, support to communities, incorporating crime prevention legislation and official mandates and developing innovative funding strategies.

The establishment of a National Crime Prevention Council in July 1994 was a key element of the national strategy. This body is made up of 25 members from a variety of disciplines, including education, social work, police, victims, private sector, criminologists, public health, and so on. It serves as an adviser to governments and a central co-ordination and information sharing structure to unify crime prevention efforts and develop practical solutions for communities.

The mandate of the council is very broad and reflects the fact that Canada is only beginning to understand what can be done to define the prevention of crime and victimization and help communities become safer places.

The National Crime Prevention Council has adopted social development as the most effective approach to crime prevention. Children and youth are their key priorities, as a focus on early prevention is the means to prevent victimization and criminal behaviour later on.

It is developing prevention strategies that address the underlying factors associated with crime, such as poverty, unemployment, inadequate parenting, family violence, lack of opportunities, systemic discrimination. Its members believe that the long term solution lies in targeting services and resources that diminish the effects of hardship and disadvantage and that provide children with the best possible opportunity to fulfil their potential. The positive results from these actions will benefit society in many ways and will assist in reducing the rates of crime and victimization.

The council's work also includes looking at measures aimed at strengthening families to safeguard children at risk. Earlier work has pointed to the need for such measures to be comprehensive and implemented at the national and international levels.

These measures should focus on mitigating the situation of dysfunctional families or families characterized by erratic, absent or excessive discipline, a high probability of mistreatment and a lack of positive role models. Early intervention can help put an end to the cycle whereby child abuse and the delinquency associated with such abuse is passed on from generation to generation.

While the national strategy for community safety and crime prevention and the national council are at early stages, I believe that this work is very promising and that we have taken a decisive

step toward safer communities. This is the type of work that in the long term will prevent victimization.

As I indicated to our Reform colleagues, a positive and constructive initiative such as this can and will be supported by this member and can and will be supported by this Liberal government.

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1:45 p.m.


Paul Forseth Reform New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to address a comment and a question to the member.

To bridge the gap from the volunteer status for victim services and the position of victims in the whole process, does the member not see that specific legislation is needed to change the situation from statements of principle and words of good intentions? This would bring the status of victims into the mainstream of operations where the victims have in law rights that can be enforced and they have legal benchmarks to which the justice system can be held to account when it fails to deliver on behalf of victims?

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1:45 p.m.


John Maloney Liberal Erie, ON

Madam Speaker, I agree with my colleague. We have already commenced some of these initiatives. Perhaps I can refer to a few of them. Bill C-37 acknowledged victims' declarations; Bill C-41 amended section 745 to ensure that the victim could take part in deliberations; the Criminal Code which allows for the victim's role in the entire process, victim's statements and so on. There is a whole list of initiatives here which certainly satisfy the suggestions my friend has made. Yes, I agree with him, and yes, we are doing something about that.

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1:50 p.m.


Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Madam Speaker, as a physician in my life before Parliament I would like to address the final victims bill of rights statement that the victim should know if a person convicted of a sexual offence has a sexually transmitted disease. I would like to relay the specific case of Margot Blackburn. In September, 1992 Margot was working in a church rectory. A convict was in the church doing community service on a day pass. The convict had a bad past record and he raped her.

He was caught of course, convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Margot, being up to date on medical issues, knew there was a possibility of an infectious disease being transmitted to her. This man was convicted. He admitted he had raped her. He said he was sorry and all the other things.

Margot asked if he could have given her AIDS. She applied to the court and asked for the perpetrator, Louis B., to have an AIDS test. When I tell this story to high school students across the country they look at me with horror when I say that the result was no chance, no AIDS test, zero. The convict and his rights take precedence over Margot Blackburn.

She wanted an AIDS test, and an eminently reasonable request it was in my view, since there would have been a significant gap between the time of infection and when a test would show positive in her. If the convict was positive, she would know full well she had reason to worry.

In Canada, the rights of the criminal in this case collide directly with the rights of Margot, and take precedence. I say to the kids: "You young ladies in this class, what do you think of the Canadian justice system when I tell you that? Whose rights should take precedence?" I have not had a single, solitary student in grade 12 say to me that Louis B.'s rights should take precedence over Margot's. They say absolutely not.

This issue, without question, puts the justice system into disrepute. Reformers want to change that. If a conflict exists between the rights of the victim and the rights of the criminal, the rights of the victim must take precedence.

I found a very interesting recent editorial in a newspaper written by someone who sits in this House, although not on this side, who very eloquently said that. The Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime proposed in 1993 that the Criminal Code should be amended so that a blood test can be ordered when the court is satisfied that (a) reasonable grounds exist that the victim has been exposed to risk of infection, and (b) the taking of blood can be done without jeopardizing the life or safety from whom it is taken. In my view, no one can argue with that.

I will discuss a second case of a victim in Canada who I consider to be abused by our system. His name is Miles Fritz. He is a young man who lives in Cayley, Alberta. He is a master electrician and was working in the Yukon.

One evening while doing his dishes he heard a cry from outside. His 64-year old neighbour had been set upon by three thugs. Miles is a scrawny buzzard, something like me. Nevertheless he rushed out to save his neighbour. He found the three thugs literally kicking his neighbour unconscious. He leaped on them and beat them off. However, one thug drew a knife and stabbed Miles in his right forearm. Miles almost bled to death but they saved him with transfusions. As a result of this, he has a permanent disability.

A master electrician uses his right hand a lot. Miles has lost some nerve function, he has lost some power and activity. He will never again work as a master electrician.

The guy who stabbed him had been released on probation that very morning from prison. He received a sentence of nine months with two years' probation. What does Miles receive? Miles, who is a hero in my eyes, who saved his neighbour's life, receives nothing. Too bad, Miles, there is nothing for you.

The perpetrator gets counselling in prison for his drug addiction, for his past, for the way his mom and dad treated him, for the poverty that he underwent. Miles, the hero, gets a kick in the shins.

Miles puts our criminal justice system into disrepute. Reformers, every one of us, stand here today saying that if the rights of the victim collide with the rights of the perpetrator, the rights of the victim shall take precedence. We need a victims' bill of rights in Canada. I call on my colleagues in a non-partisan way to bring this to fruition quickly.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

My dear colleague, when I showed you two fingers, I did not mean that you actually terminate your speech at the time. I was just indicating that time when I was going to go to statements. If you wish to take the floor at the end of question period, you still have time. Would you please indicate what you would like to do?

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.


Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, since I was splitting my time with the member for Surrey-White Rock-South Langley, my time was over.

SupplyGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

It being approximately two o'clock, we will now proceed to Statements by Members.

PakistanStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


John English Liberal Kitchener, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express both sadness and outrage for yesterday's cowardly bomb attack on Lahore, Pakistan, where over 40 people, mostly women and children, were burned beyond recognition. A bomb was placed under the gas tank of a public bus, and as a result numerous lives were lost and countless injuries sustained.

This senseless attack is only one of many in Pakistan's recent history, where terrorist activity has become a part of everyday life for many of its citizens. Canada will always condemn those who choose the path of violence for political gain and support nations which seek to eliminate these terrorist groups whose courage is no more than the end of a gun barrel or the chemicals of a bomb.

I am confident that all Canadians support the determination to rid Pakistan and other countries of terrorist activity. I wish to offer my sincere condolences to the families suffering as a result of this terrible bombing. Certainly it is the strength and determination of the people of Pakistan to persevere that inspires many other nations of the world enduring similar tragedies.

Death Of A Cum Police OfficerStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Richard Bélisle Bloc La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, at 10 o'clock this morning, we learned about the death in the line of duty of an investigator assigned to road safety for the police department of the Communauté urbaine de Montréal, District 11, in Senneville.

During a routine operation, three shots were fired, and the victim was mortally wounded. The unfortunate man was only two months away from a well-deserved retirement after years of work for the Montreal community.

We vigorously condemn this vicious murder of a law enforcement officer. I join with all my colleagues in expressing our heartfelt condolences to the victim's family and fellow officers at the CUM.

I invite my colleagues from all political parties in this House to observe one minute of silence in memory of this law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty.

JusticeStatements By Members

April 29th, 1996 / 1:55 p.m.


Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, one of the founding principles of the Reform Party is that the punishment of crime and the protection of law-abiding citizens and their property should be placed above all other objectives of our justice system.

Instead, the Liberals emphasize apologizing to criminals and offering them personal compensation when they participate in riots and are injured.

Canadians want their government to send a strong message to criminals that if they violate the rights of law-abiding citizens they will be held accountable and society sanctions will have real teeth.

The Liberal government's refusal to listen to the people on such measures as the repeal of section 745, the early parole provisions of the Criminal Code, shows how out of touch it is with Canadians.

When Canadians go to the polls in the next election they will ask themselves who has shown real commitment to protect them. Who is willing to stand up and introduce common sense legislation that puts the safety of our families and communities as its first priority? On both accounts there is only one answer, the Reform Party of Canada.

Gasoline PricesStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


John Solomon NDP Regina—Lumsden, SK

Mr. Speaker, this morning my private member's Bill C-220 calling for an energy price commission was debated. The purpose of the legislation is to protect consumers from gas price gouging by having oil companies justify price increases.

The Reform Party opposed the bill and supported the oil companies in their initiative to charge whatever the market will bear. Liberals opposed the legislation because they believe the oil companies are charging fair prices and should be encouraged to charge higher gas prices.

In a referendum of nearly 4,000 people conducted in Regina after hearing the oil companies' reasons for price increases, 93 per cent voted in favour of regulating gas prices.

Why do Reformers and Liberals stand four square in support of high gas prices? Why when farmers, business people and consumers need and ask for protection from Parliament do the Liberals and the Reform Party side with big business, the big oil companies? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that both these parties receive substantial political contributions from the oil industry.

Gun ControlStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, like many Canadians, I awoke this morning to the horrifying news that 32 people had been cruelly murdered and countless others injured in Tasmania last night.

Tasmanians have not had the benefit of gun control laws like those in Canada. Automatic and semi-automatic weapons are freely available. While people are licensed, their guns are not registered.

Canadians can take some measure of comfort knowing they have done their part to ensure that in Canada we have a gun control system second to none. Canadians elected a government that campaigned on tougher gun control, a government that delivered. Canadians supported a justice minister who remained courageous and MPs who voted for reasonable protections.

On behalf of my constituents and all Canadians, to those who lost a loved one and to those who are recovering from their injuries, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

StrategisStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Walt Lastewka Liberal St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, Industry Canada recently announced an exciting new project called Strategis. Strategis is Canada's largest business web site.

The goal of the government is to create a climate of opportunity for businesses. Strategis supports this goal by putting the knowledge, experience and expertise of Industry Canada in the hands of small and medium size businesses.

Strategis is based on partnership with government, industry, universities and community colleges all working together to provide better access for businesses to the information they need to compete.

Smaller communities like my riding of St. Catharines may not be close to the hub of technology or government research, but with Strategis the latest information on industries and companies, market opportunities, advanced technologies and trade is available on the business Internet.

I congratulate Keith McDonald from McDonald Systems & Consulting for taking the initiative to spread the message of Strategis. Strategis is about giving businesses a leg up. It is about helping them succeed, grow and create jobs. It is up to the federal government to create that opportunity.

Workplace SafetyStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Jean Payne Liberal St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, on April 28 Canadians recognized a national day of mourning for all Canadian men and women accidentally killed in the workplace.

While accidental deaths and serious injuries in the workplace can never be completely eliminated, the federal government is determined to continue to work closely with provincial governments, businesses, unions and workers in the area of occupational health and safety to help identify hazardous and potential high risk situations and to ultimately find solutions.

To the families, relatives, friends and communities that have suffered the loss of a loved one or a friend to a work related accident, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. One work related accident death is one tragedy too many. We must never let up on our commitment to improve safety in the workplace.

Race Car Driver Jacques VilleneuveStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, only a few days before the museum dedicated to race car driver Gilles Villeneuve is officially inaugurated in Berthierville, his son Jacques demonstrated yesterday at the European Grand Prix that the Villeneuves' achievements are not over yet.

By winning the Formula I Grand Prix on the course in N«rburgring, Germany, Jacques Villeneuve showed that he is a great driver just like his father.

Jacques, the people of Quebec admire you and the people of Berthier are very proud of your victory.

Given Jacques Villeneuve's tremendous self-discipline, great panache, determination and nerves of steel, this first checkered flag is certainly not his last. This stunning victory is only the first step on his way to the top.

Fasten your seat belts; Jacques Villeneuve is on the path to glory.

JusticeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Paul Forseth Reform New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, exactly one week ago a Vancouver woman was awarded a record $473,000 in civil damages as a result of charges that her father sexually assaulted her from age three to well into her teens.

Some may laud the justice system for recognizing the plight of the victim. She sued and she won. However, there are loopholes which can prevent an innocent victim from ever being awarded compensation. In this case the perpetrator has no intention of paying. With the way Canada's bankruptcy laws operate the defendant is able to claim personal bankruptcy and be freed of having to pay these kinds of court orders. The offender gets off and the victim is victimized all over again.

Members of the House industry committee will have the opportunity to accept amendments as a result of my private member's bill. Having the victim suffer once is bad enough. Suffering twice for the same crime should be unthinkable.