House of Commons Hansard #62 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jury.


Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario


Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-45, an act to amend the Criminal Code (judicial review of parole ineligibility) and another act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure this morning to lead off second reading debate on Bill C-45 and to put forth the reasons of the government why this legislation deserves the support of members of the House.

First of all, I would like to say that the purpose of this bill is to amend the scheme set out in section 745 of the Criminal Code the provision that provides for judicial review of the parole ineligibility period for life sentences imposed on persons convicted of murder or high treason.

In cases of first degree murder or high treason the parole ineligibility period is set by law at 25 years. In the case of second degree murder the parole ineligibility period is 10 years unless the trial judge sets it higher at a point between 10 and 25 years. An offender is not eligible to apply under section 745 until after that offender has served at least 15 years of the parole ineligibility period.

The decision in a section 745 review is made by a jury composed of ordinary citizens drawn from the community. As the section currently reads, the decision can be made by two-thirds of the jury, eight of the twelve members.

After hearing evidence called by the applicant and by the crown attorney in response, the jury decides whether to reduce the parole ineligibility period and to what extent. If it decides not to reduce the parole ineligibility period, the jury must decide when the offender may apply again, if at all, under section 745.

In cases where the parole ineligibility period is reduced, the offender becomes eligible to apply to the National Parole Board when that period as reduced by the section 745 jury is up. The parole board then consider the case and may grant parole only in appropriate cases. In making its decision the parole board must consider whether the offender's release would pose an undue risk to public safety.

I emphasize a point crucial to an understanding of the issues that arise with respect to Bill C-45, a point I do not believe is much discussed or well understood generally. The life sentence imposed on someone convicted of murder or high treason continues literally for the offender's entire life. In that sense, life does mean life.

In those cases where such an offender is released on parole, the offender continues to be subject to the sentence and can be reincarcerated at any time should he or she breach the conditions of release imposed by the parole board. They are accountable for the balance of their lives.

I would also like to stress for hon. members the legislative history of section 745. It is said by some that this provision was included in the Criminal Code by stealth, that it somehow resulted from trickery or deception.

Section 745 became part of our Criminal Code 20 years ago in 1976 as part of the amendments by which the House of Commons and Parliament abolished capital punishment.

Section 745 was the subject of full and vigorous debate. It was not slipped into the statute books as a surprise to the unwary. It is a fundamental aspect of the resolution reached by the House on the very difficult question of the appropriate penalty for murder.

It was enacted as a response to the recognition that a 25 year parole and eligibility period is significantly longer than murderers were serving before parole at that time.

In cases of non-capital murder, the average time served before parole release was between 12 and 13.2 years. In cases of capital murder commuted to life, the average time served was between 6.2 and 7.7 years.

Section 745 was enacted in recognition that 25 years without parole eligibility was and still is longer than comparable periods in many of the western democratic countries. I hesitate to draw comparisons with the United States because capital punishment is

still used there. Nevertheless, even in the United States of America, a country known for its firmness in response to crime, the average time served by murderers who are not executed is 18 years at the federal level and 15 years at the state level.

If I may be permitted to paraphrase some of the language used in the 1976 debates with respect to this section, section 745 was enacted to offer a degree of hope for the rehabilitation of convicted murderers, as a protection for prison guards and in recognition that in some cases the public interest would not be served by keeping offenders in prison beyond 15 years.

As many members will know, there are those who would repeal this section in its entirety. I have been presented with strong demands from some quarters for the repeal of this section outright based on the arguments about public safety, about the appropriate denunciatory statement for what is arguably the worst crime in the Criminal Code and about the prospect of victims' families being revictimized by the public review conducted in front of a jury where the offender might have no reasonable prospect of succeeding.

The position I have stated publicly is that I have been looking at ways to amend section 745 in order to re-focus the provision so that it is available only in deserving cases. In my view, the status quo is simply not on and Bill C-45 is proof of that.

By the same token, I am not prepared to propose to this House, as others have done, that section 745 be repealed. In my view, as a matter of policy and as a matter of principle, this would not be the right thing to do.

Section 745 exists to recognize the possibility that offenders can change after serving 15 years of their sentence. Unless we are prepared to abandon all hope that people who have been convicted of murder can change, our challenge is to find a way to refocus the provision so that it is available only in those exceptional and deserving cases.

The amendments proposed in the bill now before the House are designed to achieve that objective.

Let me describe briefly the three elements of these changes. First, it is proposed to eliminate access to section 745 and the jury review entirely for all multiple murderers who may offend in the future. For this purpose, a multiple murderer would be understood as someone who murders more than one person, whether on the same occasion or not.

The rationale for this proposal is very simple. It is based on a principle found throughout the Criminal Code and criminal law jurisprudence that repeat offenders should be treated differently. The fact that it is a second or subsequent offence should be reflected in the penalty that person receives.

Second, it is proposed to create a screening mechanism whereby the chief justice of the superior court, or a judge designated by the chief justice, would conduct a paper review of the application brought by the person under section 745 to determine if there is a reasonable chance of success. That would be done before the application is allowed to proceed to the review jury. This proposal would apply not only to future offenders but to the present prison population as well, provided they have not brought an application before the amendments come into force.

The purpose of the screening mechanism is to help ensure that only those meritorious cases get a hearing before the section 745 jury. This is intended to address directly the concern of the families of victims that they may be brought into a hearing process by an offender who has no reasonable prospect of success.

Finally, it is proposed to change section 745 to require that the review jury must be unanimous in coming to the decision that the offender's parole ineligibility period should be reduced. Again, this proposal is to apply to the present prison population as well as to future offenders. This new requirement of jury unanimity will strengthen the role of the community jury in the review process.

Let me mention this on the subject of the role of the jury in the section 745 process. It is said by some that section 745 demonstrates that the criminal law is out of touch with the common view, that it is out of touch with the perspective of the average Canadian, that it does not reflect the community's desire in responding to crimes of violence. To that, I say that section 745 is just the opposite. It is an example of the community being directly involved in the administration of the criminal justice system.

In the amendments proposed under section 745, the first step would be that the offender has to persuade a judge, based on a written application, that the person has a case for a jury which has a reasonable prospect of success, based on the tests in section 745 itself.

The unmeritorious applicants will be screened out. Only those ones will go forward that in the eye of an experienced judge have a reasonable chance of success. Those cases that do go forward will not be considered and decided by a judge, will not be considered and decided by lawyers, nor by bureaucrats, nor by parole members or members of other administrative boards or tribunals.

Those cases that are screened as meritorious and go forward for hearing will be decided by 12 members of the community, often the very community to which the offender seeks to return if parole is eventually granted. Those 12 members of the community will be drawn from the streets, the coffee shops, the buses and offices, the

very people who elected us to Parliament, the very people in whose name it is said that section 745 is out of touch with the community and its values. It is members of those communities who will make the decision under section 745 about whether there is any further public interest to be served by that offender remaining in prison, perhaps for a period of 10 years more.

Jury members will have before them particulars of the offender and the offence. They will have before them any evidence that the victim's family may wish to give. They will have arguments from the applicant and also from the crown attorney who may oppose the application. Under the amendments proposed, that jury will have to be unanimous. All 12 of those average Canadians will have to agree that in this case, already screened by a judge, the offender should be given some reduction in the parole ineligibility period.

It will not result in the offender walking free. It will simply result in the offender being permitted at that date, set by the jury, to make an application for parole. It then becomes a question for the parole board whether it is consistent with public safety that the person be granted parole. Even then the person, for the rest of his or her life will be subject to whatever conditions the parole board imposes, and if those conditions are not respected that person will face reincarceration. Those are the facts. Those are the circumstances. That is the role of the community.

That is the way average Canadians reflect their values, participate in the process, and ensure that decisions in all these cases are firmly rooted in the views and the values of average Canadians. That is the strength of community juries and it is those juries that will be deciding these cases.

Let me also point out that at the first stage, this screening process before the judge that we propose, the onus will be on the offender to prove on the balance of probabilities that the application has a reasonable prospect of success. It will be for the offender to persuade the judge. Where the judge says no, where the judge screens out an applicant and says there is no reasonable prospect of success in this case, the person may not have his or her jury hearing. The judge may decide if and when the applicant will be allowed to apply again, but in any event the applicant may not reapply before another two years' time.

The net effect of the amendments proposed will be that section 745 is not repealed. We do not believe as a matter of principle or policy that repeal is the proper course. Section 745, and the faint hope it represents, has been an integral part of the sentencing regime for murder for 20 years. In those cases where applications have been brought and succeeded and offenders have been released, the record shows that the existence of this mechanism has not endangered the public's safety.

After listening to all the stakeholders in the justice system over the last two years, from judges to crown prosecutors and police, offenders and victims' families, I am persuaded that the section should be changed. The section should be improved and it should be refocused. It should not be available automatically at the option of the offender. There should be a screen to take the unmeritorious cases out. The jury should be unanimous and in future offences, those who take more than one life should not be eligible to apply at all.

Simply repealing section 745 would constitute this Parliament saying to the hundreds of people serving life for murder that in every case, regardless of the circumstances, there is an inflexible and invariable rule that the period without parole must be 25 years or whatever period is fixed by the trial judge for second degree murder, between 10 and 25.

It would be an invariable and inflexible rule excluding the role of the community jury in taking a look after 15 years, ignoring the fact that 15 years is the average time now in the laws of many western countries to whom we like to compare ourselves, as the maximum for murder. It would be ignoring the fact that before 1976 the average time served even for capital murder was less than 15 years before parole. So we do not favour repeal.

We say that it is an excessive reaction. We say that the principle of this mechanism is sound, it provides a role for the community, but we also propose improvement.

The effect of the improvements is that these applications will be denied if the screening judge says there is no reasonable prospect for success, if the jury decides that the application should be denied, or the jury concludes that it is unable to decide unanimously to reduce the period, or a judge presiding over a jury concludes, after a reasonable period of time, that the jury will not be able to reach a unanimous decision to reduce the parole ineligibility period. The application will be denied by the jury in those circumstances or where the jury is unable to decide the offender will not be able to make another application at least before another two years' time or within such other period as the jury may fix.

I am prepared to do this, partly because of the charter, but also for reasons of pubic policy. Let me return to the view I expressed at the beginning of my remarks. Section 745 represents the hope that offenders can change after serving 15 years of their sentence. I believe that hope must be maintained for exceptional and deserving cases.

I commend this bill to the House. I ask my colleagues to support it. With its enactment an important principle in the criminal law will be preserved. We will have respected the need for public safety. We will have encouraged rehabilitation which is a fundamental principle of the sentencing process. We will have shown sensitivity to victims. We will have reserved this procedure for the exceptional and the meritorious case. With that I invite my colleagues to support Bill C-45.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


François Langlois Bloc Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, in his presentation, the minister has rewritten history as it relates to section 745 of the Criminal Code. I think that some clarifications, if not corrections, are in order.

First of all, if memory serves, the last time a death sentence was executed in Canada was in 1962, on December 6 to be more precise. After that, the government, represented by the governor general in council, systematically commuted all death sentences until 1967, when Parliament decided to abolish capital punishment for five years, a decision which was renewed for another five years at the expiry of the first five years.

It was in a debate held in this House around that time, in 1976, that was raised the matter of section 745 of the Criminal Code, which provides that, in cases of high treason-admittedly not the most common cases; we have to go a long way back in our history to find any-but essentially cases of first degree murder, that is to say planned and deliberate murders, and second degree murder, where the term of imprisonment is longer than 15 years, offenders be sentenced to life, but with a minimum sentence.

In 1976, about this time of the year, the Trudeau government introduced a bill to abolish capital punishment permanently-if anything can indeed be permanent in this world. The bill did not specify any dates and the practice was not restored by this House, even if there was a debate on the subject during the 33rd Parliament. There was no mention of section 745 at the time.

When did section 745 become an issue? When Mr. Trudeau, who was then Prime Minister, realized he did not have the majority he needed in this House to pass his bill on abolishing capital punishment. It was common knowledge at the time, and history also showed that, since the death sentence had been abolished on a temporary basis in 1967, a person sentenced to life imprisonment for murder usually was granted parole after a relatively short time, 12 years or so. Several members were quite irritated by this situation, as were their constituents.

The Prime Minister was opposed to section 745; the solicitor general, who was the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, was opposed to section 745. In fact, most cabinet members were opposed to section 745, and it was not the cabinet that proposed section 745 in the original bill. Section 745, which deals with a minimum sentence of 25 years, was included when the government realized that its bill was not getting support.

The six-vote difference that enabled the government to abolish the death sentence in 1976 was only gained through back room political negotiations between the government, its own members and members of the opposition, to secure the majority required. Otherwise, the bill to abolish the death penalty would have been defeated in July 1976, instead of being passed with a majority of six votes. As we can see, the balance of power is something very important.

The comments made earlier by the minister must be put in their historical context. The minister talked about the legislative aspect of section 745. Everything was done through discussions that took place in informal settings. People negotiated among themselves: "If I give you a minimum of 25 years, will you support my bill? Will you be in your riding? Can you be away?" The result, in July 1976, was that the death penalty was abolished on the strength of six votes.

It is wrong to try to rewrite history and claim this was a government policy. The issue must be put in its proper historical context, starting back in 1969, with the major criminal law reforms. The process began with a liberal approach, by this I mean small "l" liberal, in the non partisan sense, because nowadays the Liberals have a rather different approach. Criminal law underwent a reform. For example, the provisions of the Criminal Code which, until 1969, criminalized homosexuality and the prescription of anovulatory pills, were eliminated. Strange as it may seem, the use of such medication was considered a criminal act. Needless to say these provisions did not reflect the values of the time, or those of today.

Other reforms took place in the ensuing years, including bail reform. It must be remembered that, at the time, people could be released on bail in Canada only if they had the money. If they could hand over a chunk of money to the clerk of the Superior Court, in the case of Quebec, or the Supreme Court, in the case of other provinces, they could be released on bail for major crimes. Others lacking the financial wherewithal could not be released.

The more liberal approach I was referring to a moment ago led to release on bail subject to various conditions other than strictly pecuniary ones. Furthermore, essentially the same conditions have been retained, even though certain criteria for release on bail have

been amended, because it could be seen that with bills passed in the early seventies it was becoming extremely difficult to prevent release on bail. Adjustments were made in the periods that followed.

Basically, the possibility that citizens accused of a crime today will be released on bail while awaiting trial does not hinge solely on their financial ability to post bail or have someone else do so on their behalf.

Changes have taken place. Today, the government is backtracking, quietly rewriting history. Today we are presented with Bill C-45, which is not a bill that can just be tossed in the garbage. It still deserves a slightly more careful analysis, and it certainly deserves to go to committee for clause by clause consideration and also so that witnesses can be heard. This is not a bill that can be passed in two or three days. There are criminologists, social groups, victims' representatives, the Canadian Police Association and several other groups that will wish to comment on this bill.

Once again, the government is trying to play both ends against the middle. It knows very well that this House has already spoken on Bill C-226, introduced by the member for York South-Weston. The House has adopted in principle the abrogation of section 745, and the minister cannot ignore this.

Now we find in the philosophy of this bill, if there is one, or at least in its principles, that, yes, the House did hold a free vote on abrogation of section 745 of the Criminal Code, and the Minister has obviously taken this into consideration.

However, the minister does not want to be perceived as following the same political line as his former Liberal colleague, the hon. member for York South-Weston. He is therefore attempting to present something today, by juggling words or procedures, that differs from Bill C-226.

Is there really such a great difference? Perhaps not really, because, when it comes down to it, the parole conditions under 745 are made so difficult that, in future, if the bill is adopted as is, one wonders if it would not be better to merely propose its total abrogation.

Let us recall that, under the present circumstances, a person convicted of first degree murder is sentenced to life imprisonment, without eligibility for parole until he has served a minimum of 25 years of his sentence. If convicted of second degree murder, the sentence is life imprisonment with a minimum of 10 years. If the trial judge has set the minimum at 15 years or over, the individual may make use of section 745 as it now stands.

In other words, after 15 years of imprisonment, the individual may apply to the Chief Justice of the superior court of his or her province, in certain provinces the supreme court, but at any rate judges at equivalent levels, requesting designation of a judge to hear the application. The judge merely notes the application, having no power of discretion, meaning that he or she does not hear the evidence at this point, merely noting that the 15 years have been served.

The judge must then empanel a jury to hear the application, as if it were a court of criminal assizes. The jury hears the application, with a judge presiding, and determines by a two-thirds vote that the inmate's behaviour warrants his release.

Although the two thirds criterion is there-and it is a pretty stiff one-the determination by the jury is final, unlike in a criminal proceeding where the decision of the jury is final on the facts and cannot be changed by the trial judge. Neither can it be quashed by a court of appeal or the Supreme Court. All a court of appeal or the Supreme Court can do with a finding of not guilty in a criminal case is order a new trial. It is no longer possible for a court of appeal-and I admit that this is one of the Liberals' major reforms-to substitute a verdict of guilty for a jury's verdict of not guilty.

It can, however, do the opposite. That is, it can make a finding of acquittal after a jury has reached a verdict of guilt. The jury convened under section 745 determines by a two thirds majority whether an individual may apply for parole. In the end, it is not even the jury's decision, at the moment. The jury simply determines the inmate's eligibility to go before the National Parole Board to apply to present his case and his arguments. The jury's decision is not the final one.

We might ask ourselves why, in a trial, is the jury's verdict of guilty or not guilty final when, in the case of release on parole, the jury's decision is simply a recommendation to all intents and purposes to the National Parole Board. It is not particularly fulfilling for a jury, despite what the minister said earlier.

What then would be affected in section 745 if the amendments were accepted? First, the accused, actually the inmate, appears before the chief justice, who will designate a judge, and makes application. As regards the application, Bill C-45 provides a new step requiring the application to be made to a judge, who will hear the evidence. On the basis of the evidence, he will decide whether the inmate has a real or reasonable chance of success before the jury. This is therefore the first stage.

Depending on whether he is powerful or destitute, on whether or not he has a good lawyer, on whether or not the judge is in a good or bad disposition that day, the defendant or the inmate may be treated differently. This step, which may be unnecessary, is worth reviewing. If the judge gives the inmate the right to appear before a jury, the inmate will be required to do so.

This bill gives the jury a slightly different role by changing the rules of the game. The rule that any recommendation must be made by two thirds of the jury no longer applies. The bill now says that the recommendation must be unanimous. The criteria used for granting parole are the same as those used to determine if a

defendant is guilty. All this is closely linked to the rule of evidence, according to which the crown has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt and convincing 12 citizens that the defendant in a trial is guilty. This is no longer a matter of convincing a jury that a defendant is guilty. Rather, the crown must ask a group chosen among ordinary citizens if, in their opinion, the inmate ought to be granted parole. In fact, it is no longer asking for a decision, but for an opinion.

Why set such a high criterion as the criterion of unanimity? There will inevitably be someone among the 12 jury members who, for his or her own reasons, will object to the inmate's applying to the National Parole Board. The two thirds criterion should, in my opinion, be maintained, and that is an amendment we will certainly put forward at the committee stage, as the jury's recommendation does not have the same weight as in criminal proceedings, in which the jury must be unanimous. The group dynamics within a jury must also be considered. A two thirds agreement represents a significant degree of consent on the part of the jury, and this standard can generally be recognized as valid in a free and democratic society.

So a criterion to determine guilt must be seen quite differently from a criterion to grant parole. On what basis must the jury decide? Not on evidence beyond all reasonable doubt, but on a preponderance of evidence. Jury members hear the evidence and determine if they sincerely believe that the applicant deserves to be granted parole given his behaviour, his record, and so on.

Demanding evidence practically beyond all reasonable doubt because every member of the jury must be convinced is much too high a criterion. Following a unanimous jury decision, the inmate could and should apply to the National Parole Board, which is the only authority with the power to grant parole.

Contrary to what has been said by some members of the Reform Party and the Liberal Party, which has several wings-that party is, in fact, losing a lot of feathers lately-we are faced with some rather difficult situations. They are trying to have it both ways.

So this militant wing of the Reform Party and the Liberal Party argues that section 745 automatically grants parole to inmates. The inmate must file an application, convince two-thirds of a jury, and then appear before the National Parole Board.

We in the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs recently heard representatives of the National Parole Board, who explained to us that, under section 745, there were practically no subsequent offences. This clause has probably achieved its purpose.

It may be worthwhile to review it. Is it too cumbersome or too complex? As the minister said, should a person convicted of more than one murder be given the same latitude as a person who has committed just one crime? I think that first offenders should be treated with all possible leniency, especially after spending 15 or 20 years in prison.

We recognize society's right to protect itself against career criminals. There are not only inalienable individual rights but also a collective right to protection for all of society. I am not in any way defending the idea that convicted repeat offenders should be set loose on society.

We can still review the current criteria used to enforce section 745, without going to extremes. We should certainly consider the age at which the inmate was convicted of a crime. If he is convicted of first-degree murder at age 20, there is not much information on his past. It may be normal to want to keep this individual in prison for 15, 20 or 25 years to see what happens. There is a problem when a 20-year-old is convicted of first-degree murder.

But there are always exceptions, as we saw in the Quebec judicial district. This 62 or 63 year old lady, if I remember correctly, had been found guilty of first degree murder. In theory, she would not become eligible for parole until the ripe old age of 88. There are always exceptional cases like that.

This is a real-life story. Should persons who have been law-abiding citizen all their lives until the age of 65 or 70 be subject to the 25 year parole ineligibility criterion? This would certainly not be very consistent with the individualization of punishment principle, calling for the particular circumstances under which an act, fundamentally reprehensible in itself, was committed to be taken into account.

For the foregoing reasons, the official opposition will support the principle of Bill C-45, especially since it is only normal to take a second look and a good hard second look at section 745 of the Criminal Code after 20 years of operation. There are very valid provisions in this bill dealing, among other things, with criminals who are utterly beyond redemption, in other words repeat offenders, those who murder more than one person. I have no trouble understanding this part of the bill.

Where the jury is concerned, I think we should stick to a two thirds majority decision and hear more expert testimony on the need for the inmate to convince the judge before the application is allowed to proceed to the jury.

There is something wrong with the way our criminal justice system is administered. People should not have to make their case first before a judge and then before a jury. This is not in keeping with the way our criminal justice system generally works. Those who go before a jury have chosen to be heard by a jury and, in such cases, the judge is master of the law, but not master of the facts. Now it would all be jumbled. The bill would have the judge

examine the facts first and then the jury do it again. If section 745 and hearing by a jury are maintained, the judge should be only concerned with the law and let the jury deal with the facts, as in any other criminal matter.

For these reasons, we will vote in favour of Bill C-45 at second reading and make sure it is examined carefully by a parliamentary committee.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.


Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I realize I will not finish my address to Bill C-45 before we have to stop for question period. Nevertheless, I will touch on some of the points raised by both the justice minister and our colleague from the Bloc.

The justice minister addressed this business as to whether section 745 was brought into the Criminal Code originally by stealth or without the full knowledge of the people. Our hon. colleague from the Bloc touched on the backroom shenanigans that went on back in 1976 when capital punishment was being removed from the Criminal Code and when this section was brought in.

The people of Canada knew nothing about this, evidenced when the hue and cry arose across the country as these first degree murderers began to apply and receive a reduction in their parole ineligibility. There was not a great degree of awareness across Canada about what was happening in this area of the criminal justice system. I suggest the justice minister has not adequately and certainly not sufficiently or successfully addressed that point.

He also spoke highly about the protection that comes to the justice system as a result of the use of juries and that it is people from the community who will be deciding on the acceptability of a section 745 application. That is fine and that is good. Juries are our safeguard, but juries can only act and decide based on the information they receive. Juries have not always made decisions in the best interest of society because they have been deprived of the information they needed to make a just decision.

The Donald Marshall case, which was tried by a judge and jury and the decision was made by the jury, is an example of that. The Wilson Nepoose case, which I was personally involved with, again shows that if sufficient information is not presented to the jury it cannot make a decision in the best interest of society.

I suggest as well if we examine the limited nature of the juries that are called to act under section 745, what kind of information are they receiving? Do they receive information pertaining to the specific acts the individual committed, the circumstances around them, the pain and the horror caused by that individual's action to not only the victim but the victim's family and to society in general? Are they given that kind of information? I suggest they are not. They can make a decision only based on the information provided to them according to the rules.

If we look at the rules they fall far short. That has been the complaint from some of the vested interests in these section 745 hearings, concerning all the information about the consequences the actions of this applicant who is there because of first degree murder had on society and on individuals and whether this whole question of retribution and punishment has been fulfilled, and whether just the question of rehabilitation has been addressed before these juries.

Therefore when the justice minister suggests all is well simply because a jury of common people, picked from the community, will be addressing the issue, I suggest there is a weakness in that argument and that weakness is clear according to the information placed before the jury. The jury cannot act on any other information except placed before it. In most cases the rules are set, particularly in the 745 hearings, which leaves a lot to be desired in terms of the horror and pain caused by the applicant.

I have about five minutes left and so I will get into the main thrust of my concern about this bill. Of course I rise to speak in opposition to it. Bill C-45 demonstrates the justice minister seemingly has no real understanding of the horror inflicted on the murder victims, on their families and on society. If he does it is not reflected in the bill.

The truck driver who witnessed the horror on Melanie Carpenter's face as she sat captive in the front seat of her killer's car understands the terror endured by this victim. The jury which endured the vivid testimony of Karla Homolka and witnessed the graphic audio account of the torture inflicted by Paul Bernardo on Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy understands the pain and suffering of these victims. It understands the constant anguish the families of these young girls live with every day of their lives, lives that have been damaged and altered forever.

Bill C-45 shows the justice minister has little empathy with the family of murder victims. If he has, it is not reflected in the bill. The victims and the families endure nightmares as a result of the heinous crimes committed against their children and grandchildren.

The members of the Standing Committee of Justice and Legal Affairs witnessed firsthand the horror of Sylvain Leduc's grandmother whose grandson was viciously beaten to death. Listen to the horror of Sylvain Leduc's grandmother: "The most painful thing in life is to live with the knowledge that your child lies naked and cold in a morgue. My grandson was in the morgue for three days. I was frozen to death. I could not warm up. I was in a hot tub for three days. I could not stand it until I knew he had clothes on him. My

heart is a pump that keeps blood flowing through my veins. I have a special sacred place situated below my stomach. Some people call this intestinal fortitude".

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member will have the floor after question period.

BurmaStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Herb Dhaliwal Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, in July 1995 Burma's military dictatorship, known as the SLORC, released pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest.

While many of us were cautious in our optimism, we took SLORC's release of the Nobel prize laureate to be a sign of good faith. Under SLORC's oppression, Aung San remains powerless to bring about any democratic change. Given the limitations imposed on her, she remains in essence a prisoner.

SLORC continues to thwart democracy by arresting its supporters, erecting road blocks and even disrupting train schedules. It will stop at nothing to prevent citizens from gathering in peaceful assembly or meeting to hear the democratically elected leader.

SLORC's oppressive authoritarian regime has not changed. I urge my colleagues to continue to challenge the ongoing human rights abuses in Burma and to encourage democratic reforms.

ImmigrationStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


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

Mr. Speaker, on a daily basis members of the Bloc Quebecois try to convince the House Quebec suffers within Confederation.

However, one example it has not used to demonstrate the suffering is the Canada-Quebec accord. Under the terms of the accord Quebec receives a minimum of $90 million per year for immigrant settlement services. This represents 35 per cent of the $256 million the federal government spends on these services.

When the agreement was signed in 1991 the province of Quebec, with 25 per cent of the population, was accepting 22 per cent of immigrants. Today Quebec accepts only 13 per cent of all immigrants, yet under the terms of this accord it cannot receive less than $90 million.

This accord has resulted in the province of Quebec receiving $3,300 for each immigrant while the other Canadian provinces receive on average $863 per immigrant.

If the separatists really want Quebec to be treated in a fair and equitable manner, then I am sure they would agree to this accord being renegotiated.

Banks And BankingStatements By Members

11 a.m.


John Cannis Liberal Scarborough Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am disturbed by the big banks' insistence on gouging their customers at every turn. Industry Canada reports show that the big banks are charging fees on their credit cards that average 10.5 to 12 percentage points higher than the bank rate. Incredibly, even while prime bank rates decrease, credit card rates continue to rise.

"Not fair," cries the chairman of one of the large banks. "Caucus isn't friendly to the banks," states another representative. The banks are nickel and diming their customers to death. The next thing you know a customer will need to pay an entrance fee to have access to his or her money.

It is odd that the central bank rate goes up one day and the banks raise their rates the next day, but when the rate goes down, the banks might react in a week or never at all.

I am asking the banks on behalf of all Canadians to act as good corporate citizens, to work together with us in partnership for a better Canada today and tomorrow.

Canadian Broadcasting CorporationStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week Canada's national public broadcaster, the CBC, announced its new fall programming schedule for English television. I am pleased to see that Canadians will now have access to an all-Canadian programming schedule during prime time on CBC.

Working with the best and the brightest talent in our country, the CBC will be offering more dramatic productions highlighting issues and topics that focus on Canadian stories; children's programming that is educational, non-violent and entertaining; and current affairs programs that will tell Canadians about their country and its remarkable people.

Last December, the CBC formally pledged to canadianize its regular programming. The corporation kept its word and I congratulate it for doing so.

I also want to praise the CBC for its remarkable contribution to Canadian identity. I urge all Canadians to show their support of our

national broadcaster by watching its Canadian programs, which were created by and for Canadians.

Right To Self DeterminationStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, some people have been trying for years to downplay Quebecers' blueprint for society, starting with the Prime Minister, for whom our determination is tantamount to wanting "a flag on the hood".

The Prime Minister also says it is not a best four of seven as in hockey and he is right. It is much more than that. At stake is the survival of a people. By refusing to accept a simple majority vote, as is normally the case, he is playing with democratic principles. He does so because he feels the rug being pulled from under his feet.

To go against this democratic principle and to ridicule our determination is evidence of a lack of ethics. A country is more than a parliamentary structure, but it is through its members of Parliament that the public can express itself.

This is why Quebecers democratically chose to be represented, in Quebec City and in Ottawa, by two political parties advocating Quebec's self determination. This democratic choice alone clearly illustrates the will of our people.

The EconomyStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal York North, ON

Mr. Speaker, by keeping our promise and meeting our deficit targets, this government has helped restore market confidence in Canada and create a climate of lower interest rates and job creation.

The unemployment rate has fallen from 11.2 per cent in 1993 to 9.4 per cent. Over 636,000 jobs have been created. We have increased our investment to $315 million to help young Canadians get their first job and have doubled our commitment to summer jobs for young people. We have introduced the Strategis Internet service, Canada's largest source of business and trade information. We have hired young Canadians to hook up over 50,000 small businesses to the Internet. We have amended the Small Business Loans Act to make loans more accessible. Team Canada trade missions to the Far East, Latin America and India have generated over $22 billion in business deals.

We have invested wisely and have modernized our economy. By working with Canadians we are bringing about positive change to Canadians' lives.

Tribute To Steeve DignardStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Bernard St-Laurent Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 1980, a constituent of mine, Steeve Dignard, risked his life to save those of Claudette Bourque and Patrice Dignard, who were about to drown in the icy waters of Rivière-au-Tonnerre, in my riding.

On May 3, at 4 p.m., again at Rivière-au-Tonnerre, Diane Pagé-Touzel lost foot while working on a crab fishing boat moored at the dock. The icy waters, the eddies and the current were making any rescue attempt almost impossible. Showing once again tremendous courage, Steeve Dignard did not hesitate to risk his life to save that of Diane Pagé-Touzel. The exhausted rescuer and the woman were eventually helped to the shore.

I congratulate this man of exceptional courage, and I support his nomination for the Cross of Valour.

Election Campaign ExpendituresStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Stephen Harper Reform Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to note the recent unanimous Alberta Court of Appeal decision striking down once again the gag law which disallows anyone other than a politician or political party to spend more than $1,000 during a federal election campaign.

Supporters of the gag law among the Liberals, NDP and PCs have argued it exists to promote a level playing field. Rubbish. Elections law in Canada is riddled with clauses designed to prop up incumbents and traditional parties. The gag law exists to keep ordinary Canadians out of political debate, especially where the traditional parties have colluded on policy as they have on the MP pension scam.

Before the government appeals this decision once again, it should remember that it is precisely such antidemocratic restrictions which are being employed under Quebec's referendum law and aimed primarily at federalist supporters.

An appeal will probably be made in spite of this Liberal hypocrisy. In the meantime we can thank the National Citizens Coalition for what is indeed a great victory for freedom in Canada.

Fredericton-York-Sunbury EconomyStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Andy Scott Liberal Fredericton—York—Sunbury, NB

Mr. Speaker, most recent Statistics Canada figures note that the unemployment rate in Fredericton, New Brunswick is the lowest in

Canada east of Hamilton at 8.5 per cent. This is a 2 per cent improvement in the rate since this government took office.

Credit must go to the small businesses that more and more create our wealth and jobs, and those agencies such as the Fredericton and Oromocto chambers of commerce and the Greater Fredericton Economic Development Corporation which have distinguished themselves regionally and nationally in the area of community driven economic development initiatives.

It is fitting that these numbers come out during tourism week, the basis of many jobs in our region. That, together with the high tech sector, has resulted in our region benefiting from the more than 600,000 jobs that have been created since October 1993.

Congratulations to the federal government for meeting its campaign commitment to jobs, and the province and my community for making that prosperity work for Fredericton-York-Sunbury and its citizens.

Sheila CoppsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, on Monday the people of Hamilton will have a chance to once again re-elect Sheila Copps as their representative.

Throughout her career in politics Sheila has given of herself tirelessly. Sheila Copps has served her constituents for the past 12 years with dignity, perseverance and courage. Sheila Copps' commitment, her leadership, her integrity and her compassion are the elements that make her the best representative for Hamilton East.

Sheila, we wish you well on Monday. We look forward to your return to Parliament and cabinet.

Ghislain DufourStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Francis Leblanc Liberal Cape Breton Highlands—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, the man who, as president of the Conseil du patronat du Québec for the last ten years, set that organization's course, will soon step down from his position.

Mention the name Ghislain Dufour in Quebec City and you evoke a powerful symbol. This was a man who gave management in Quebec a consistency and a visibility without precedent in the annals of politics.

A federalist, as well as an ardent defender of Quebec's interests, Ghislain Dufour is an eloquent example of the fact that it is possible to work for the renewal of the Canadian federation while remaining deeply attached to Quebec.

For some, the resignation of Ghislain Dufour will mean the loss of a powerful ally, while for others it will mean the departure of a formidable foe. But for all Quebecers, the image that will remain is that of a man who gave a face and a voice to management in Quebec.

PensionsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Dick Harris Reform Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the MP for Winnipeg North Centre has just returned after travelling all over the country and talking with Canadians who are concerned about their public pensions. The travelling MP said that restoring faith in the CPP is as important as reforming the plan itself. No kidding.

While hardworking Canadians worry about their pensions, is the Liberal member from Winnipeg North Centre concerned about his? No. Did the member for Winnipeg North Centre care one bit about average Canadians when he refused to back away from the Liberal pension trough? No.

Did the Liberal government care one bit about Canadians when it firmly re-established its pension trough position last year? No. Did the Liberals care one bit that Tobin and Copps, the $7 million pension couple, are out campaigning at the taxpayers' expense today? No.

Where is the integrity in this government? Where is the leadership? There is none.

Women's National MarchStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Women's National March, which set out a few weeks ago from Vancouver and from St. John's, is converging today on Ottawa. It was organized by the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and the Canadian Labour Congress. This march is modelled on the one by Quebec women last spring.

Women are the first victims of the cuts being made by our governments in social programs, as well as in the unemployment insurance fund. These cuts have a profound effect on their financial autonomy. Some of the things the women who will be demonstrating tomorrow before the Parliament Buildings are calling for are a real job creation policy, an improved unemployment insurance system, an increase in the minimum wage, and better funding for day care and women's shelters.

I pay warm tribute to the courage of the women taking part in this march.

Mining IndustryStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Nelson Riis NDP Kamloops, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate Mr. Kevin Bennett, president of Cathedral Software, on being selected as the new face of mining by the Keep Mining in Canada campaign for his work in developing customized state of the art software with Highland Valley Copper at Logan Lake, British Columbia in my riding.

For Highland Valley Copper, Mr. Bennett has built two major computer systems for the mining industry. His "Concentrate Sales and Inventory Management" system allows Highland to easily track the production, movement and sale of mine concentrates. His "Speedy Bid" system eliminated the need for time consuming data entry by aiding purchasing departments in preparing, distributing, analyzing and awarding contracts for the supply of inventory items.

Kevin Bennett's work is indicative of how the Canadian mining industry is meeting international competition head on by becoming more efficient. It shows how the mining industry is pushing the frontiers of technology and software development.

I applaud Mr. Bennett and Highland Valley Copper for their innovative work preparing the mining industry for the 21st century.

Bread And Roses MarchStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, today the women's Bread and Roses March is arriving in Ottawa. Two streams of marchers began their journey on May 14 from Vancouver and from Newfoundland and passed through many Canadian communities on their way including my own of London, Ontario.

Our government views this as a very important event bringing Canadians together in a heightened awareness of the many issues that concern women. Their priorities are the same as those of the government and we have acted to address those concerns.

I would only point to the legislation we have brought forward to deal with violence: our anti-stalking, anti-harassment and drunkenness defence laws; our gun control legislation; our recent initiatives concerning female genital mutilation and prostitution. Women's economic progress and concerns are also at the forefront. The government has created nearly 700,000 jobs and fully 45 per cent of these, a number equal to the proportion of women in the workforce, have gone to women.

The government is concerned and is listening to women. It will continue to do so.

Sheila CoppsStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, Monday, June 17 is election day in Hamilton East. People in that riding will have a choice to make in determining who will represent them in Parliament.

One excellent candidate is former MP Sheila Copps. Sheila was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 1981. In 1984 she was elected to the House of Commons and was re-elected in 1988 and 1993. She was subsequently appointed as a minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

Sheila is by far the most popular woman ever to have sat in the House of Commons. She has been and will continue to be a great role model for all women in Canada and everywhere.

On a personal note and on behalf of Canadians everywhere, I wish Sheila Copps well. Parliament is not the same without her. Parliament will be enhanced by her return.

FisheriesStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Bill Gilmour Reform Comox—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, the fisheries minister's track record on the Pacific coast has been disastrous to say the least.

His announced licence buy back is a failure because it does not deal with the real issue: major reductions in the number of fish available to all sectors of the fishing community, commercial, sports and native fishermen.

When fish stocks are in danger, what does the minister do? He opens a native only fishery in the Alberni Inlet, a move which drew severe criticism of the minister from a federal court judge last Friday.

The minister has repeatedly favoured the native fishery at the expense of the commercial and sports sectors. It is time for the minister to cancel all native openings and when that is done, to deal severely with all fishermen who defy the law and fish illegally.

This government and this minister must first conserve fish stocks for future generations and then treat all fishermen equally regardless of their race.

AirbusOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, the Minister of Justice denied that there had been any formal offer or that there was any imminent settlement in the Airbus affair.

Last evening, we heard on the CBC that there had been a meeting at 3 p.m. last Tuesday afternoon in Montreal, between the two attorneys, Mr. Petteras for the federal government, and Mr. Irosky for the plaintiff, to discuss the conditions of an out of court settlement.

Will the Minister of Justice confirm that there was indeed a meeting Tuesday afternoon in Montreal, with a view to discussing an out of court settlement?

AirbusOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario


Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, what the lawyers may do between themselves in discharging their obligations to conduct the litigation is up to the lawyers. It is best left to the lawyers.

We have been sued; we have retained counsel. We are defending the action and let us see how the litigation goes. Whether or not there were meetings between the lawyers and what was discussed, the fact is we are defending the action and we are preparing for the next stage of litigation. What happens in the conduct of that litigation often is off the record and without prejudice. In any event, it does not serve anybody's interests to have an hour by hour report on what the parties or the lawyers are doing in the litigation.

AirbusOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.


Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski—Témiscouata, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the same source, the lawyer representing the government was indeed given a specific mandate.

Will the minister acknowledge that the mandate of the counsel for his department included offers with a view to an out of court settlement?

AirbusOral Question Period

11:15 a.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario


Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is not appropriate for me to go into what instructions may have been given in confidence to counsel in the course of litigation.

We are defending the action. We are preparing for the next stage of litigation and we shall deal with the litigation as it comes.