House of Commons Hansard #72 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jury.


Broadcasting ActPrivate Members' Business

12:45 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed.)

The House resumed from September 19 consideration of the motion that Bill C-45, an act to amend the Criminal Code (judicial review of parole ineligibility) and another act, be read the third time and passed; and of the amendment.

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12:45 p.m.

Essex—Kent Ontario


Jerry Pickard LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege today to participate in the debate on Bill C-45, a bill which addresses the concerns of Canadians, a bill which strengthens our justice system and will keep our streets and neighbourhoods safer for our families and our children.

I must first take issue with the motion by the members opposite that this bill be deferred for six months. I find it ridiculous that the Bloc would have put forth a motion that would delay the passage of this legislation. At this time when Canadians are expressing their concerns about safety, it would be totally unacceptable for us to put off the debate on this important legislation.

I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that I am speaking for the majority of members here when millions of Canadians are very anxious about what the government is doing to proceed on debate, passage and implementation of Bill C-45. We are anxious to do this because this bill will help law enforcement agencies to do their jobs. It will keep dangerous criminals off the streets and it will make our society a safer place.

We have as a government put in place a number of initiatives to address criminal and correctional law. Bill C-45 continues to fulfil our red book commitments to Canadians that we are serious about law and order and that we are taking this opportunity to address these issues. Bill C-45 addresses high risk offenders.

Several measures place controls over persons convicted of sex crimes and other violent offences. These measures aim to reduce the risk that persons previously convicted of sex offences and other violent offences commit further crimes. They also address public concerns about violent sexual offenders.

The dangerous offender provisions in the Criminal Code have proven to be useful mechanisms for sentencing serious offenders who pose a high risk of committing further violent offences. Through a special hearing, such offenders may be given an indeterminate sentence.

It is proposed that the Criminal Code be amended to make a number of improvements to benefit society.

Under the criminal law, a judge has discretion to sentence a dangerous offender to a fixed term. The task force on high risk violent offenders suggested that it makes little sense to go through an elaborate dangerous offender procedure only to obtain a definite sentence. Provinces have expressed support for this change.

Under the proposed changes the judge will no longer have the discretion but rather will be required to impose an indefinite sentence.

Currently a dangerous offender application must be made at trial. The crown will now have up to six months after conviction to bring a dangerous offender application.

Furthermore, the process has been streamlined. The number of psychiatrists required to testify at a hearing has been changed from two to one.

It is proposed that the initial parole review of a dangerous offender be moved from the third year of imprisonment to the

seventh year. This brings the initial review by the national parole board closer to parole eligibility calculations for many of the serious personal injury offences.

It is proposed that a new sentencing category to be called long term offender be added to the Criminal Code. The procedure would be similar to the process for dangerous offenders.

The long term offender procedure will apply to persons convicted of crimes such as sexual assault or weapons charges. Under the proposal a convicted criminal found at a special hearing to be a long term offender would be subject to an imprisonment sentence suited to the offence with an additional period for supervision of up to 10 years. A person who cannot be found to meet the narrow definition of dangerous offender could be found to be a long term offender provided the criteria were met.

It is proposed that a new judicial restraint provision be added to the Criminal Code. This procedure would focus on persons who pose the risk of committing a serious personal injury offence. The attorney general could bring an application where there are reasonable grounds to fear that an individual would commit a serious personal injury offence. These grounds would be examined at a hearing before a judge.

As one of the conditions the judge could order that the program of electronic monitoring be applied if such a program were available in the province. The judicial restraint would last up to one year. A breach of conditions would constitute a separate criminal offence.

As we can see from the foregoing comments, Bill C-45 deals directly with dangerous offenders, long term offenders and judicial restraint. These are safety issues which deserve debate in the House. These are measures which Canadians deserve in the law of this land.

The victims of violence, the families of victims and sadly, the survivors of victims have shown us the need for the type of measures that are outlined in the bill. Law enforcement agencies from across the country have asked us to give them the opportunity to tackle crime with the types of tools that are provided in the legislation.

I urge my colleagues on both sides of the House to support Bill C-45. I urge them to do so now, for to wait six months or even six weeks does nothing to address the concerns which Canadians have and does nothing to keep dangerous offenders off the streets. Why would we want to do that? How could we possibly go back to our constituents and say that we will do it down the road sometime? Why wait? Let us do the right thing today. Let us show the leadership and conviction for those who have placed us in the role of legislators. Let us legislate what is right for Canadians and pass Bill C-45.

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12:50 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to debate Bill C-45.

It never ceases to amaze me to listen to members opposite as well as to the official opposition. When it comes right down to it, they think very much the same when it comes to getting tough on crime and on criminals in this society. I note the Bloc members would like to liberalize criminal justice to such a point that I do not believe they would want to throw anyone in jail. They made that very clear in their support and the amendments to many of the proposals they put forward on section 745. I do not really see a whole lot of difference between the Liberals who are bringing forth this legislation and the Bloc members who want to liberalize things even further.

That is not what Canadians are saying. They are complaining right across the country for substantive changes to the Criminal Code. They want a government that is serious about that but we are not getting that message. There is a lot of rhetoric on the opposite side about getting tough on crime and coming up with some very significant pieces of legislation to do it but the government is not doing it.

The government is making more law, but what is that law really saying? On one side Bill C-45 comes forward and on the other side the Minister of Justice brings forward bills that would make indictable offences dual procedure offences. That is talking out of both sides of the mouth. The government is getting tough on one side and weakening on the other. What do we end up with as a result? Somewhere in between it is a status quo type of bill, but that is not what Canadians want.

Section 745 symbolizes the sorry state the Liberal social engineers and soft on crime politicians have put upon the criminal justice system. It symbolizes the welfare state criminology philosophy that pervades corrections, parole and sentencing in Canada today. It is a philosophy whose key promoters argue wrongly that one, criminals commit crime primarily because they themselves are victims, and two, that crime including murder is mostly a product of social conditions. In short, it is a philosophy that draws attention away from individual responsibility and personal accountability for one's actions. I will return to those two themes shortly.

Upon review of the proposed amendments to Bill C-45, I note that most are either minor or technical in nature. Quite frankly, they do very little to change the substance of the bill, which is to amend the Criminal Code to the extent that if Bill C-45 is passed by Parliament, the following changes will come into effect.

First, applicants, including those now serving time for murder, will no longer be entitled to an automatic right to a section 745 hearing. A screening mechanism will be utilized in that a superior court judge will first decide whether the application has a reasonable prospect of success before the applicant will be able to go before a community jury.

The member who preceded me in speaking to this bill pointed out that it is the opposition that has held up this phase of the bill coming into law. I will take exception to those words because it was the Minister of Justice who introduced this bill in the dying moments of Parliament prior to the summer recess because he did not want debate on the topic.

Most people want to see section 745 stricken from the code. However, that did not happen. The debate did not occur because the Minister of Justice left it until two weeks before the recess to ram it through, hoping that the opposition would take it and run with it.

The Bloc members, the official opposition of this country, the separatists of this country, decided that they were going to interfere with that process even voting against it in hope that they could change it and liberalize it even further. That is what happened but the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the Minister of Justice because the bill was introduced so late.

Another change that will come into effect with the passage of Bill C-45 is that persons convicted of multiple murders after the bill comes into force will not have the right to apply for early parole under section 745. That does not include the convicted murderers who were sentenced prior to this bill. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 600 murderers who have received a life sentence will be eligible to apply under the old provisions of the code. Often we talk about making retroactive changes. This is one place that legislation could come into play where they would not have that provision suitable for them.

The third point is the jury from now on will be required to reach a unanimous decision before the parole ineligibility is shortened, which is an advantage.

Those three points are an advantage in protecting the country. However, they do not answer the concerns of most people. They do not go far enough.

The effect of this legislation, which is most relevant, is that people like Clifford Olson and Paul Bernardo will be affected by the first and third proposals but not by the second. They may still apply for section 745 hearings and furthermore they may receive early release from life imprisonment. The possibility exists that they still could receive early release.

I often think about murderers like Paul Bernardo and Clifford Olson and what they have done to members in the community where I live. I know there are other families that struggle with knowing that Olson or Bernardo still have access to our courts, to the hearing process. There is no closure. I think more respect and dignity should be awarded in their direction, which does not seem to exist in this Parliament.

For this reason alone the Reform Party cannot support this legislation. We are not going to support this bill. My colleagues and I have travelled this country and we have listened to every response, often emotional, of representations by victims' groups, police officers, prison guards and rank and file law-abiding Canadians. They want section 745 scrapped.

Canadians are sending Liberal politicians a unified message that a killer who commits first degree, premeditated murder ought not to ever have the opportunity for early release.

I am going to refer to my own community frequently because it is reflective of others in the country where tragedies and murders have taken place and have victimized the community as well as those closest to the families. I remember a a few years back that a seven-year-old mute girl was murdered by an individual. He killed her after he picked her up in the playground. It was a premeditated murder. He was charged with first degree murder and convicted.

That crime is just as serious as those crimes that were committed against many families by Clifford Olson as well as Paul Bernardo. I do not think that killer should have any more of an opportunity to apply for early release than Clifford Olson or Paul Bernard. The bill falls short. Canadians tell us that life should mean life.

The first policy in our blue book under parole is that there should be no parole, that the full sentence should be served. That is what many Reformers are saying and it is quite reflective of what others in our society are saying as well.

This is a sentiment of which the justice minister is either unaware or more likely a sentiment of which the minister has a vested interest in not being aware. To whom is he listening?

The fact that there no longer exists truth in sentencing for killers outrages Canadians. They want to see a person who is sentenced to life get life. Consequently, a particular topic is finding its way into coffee shop and dinner table discussions. The feeling is that the return of the death penalty for capital murder is desirable and desperately needed. Therefore, I want to put the Liberal government on notice that a Reform government will hold a binding national referendum on the reinstatement of capital punishment. A Reform government will abolish, repeal and scrap section 745 of the Criminal Code. That is what Canadians are saying. As I pointed out, we are on record.

For the three years I have served in Parliament I have noticed how the justice minister conducts business. It is obvious that instead of listening to victims' groups, ordinary Canadians, police

officers or prison guards, the justice minister lends his ear to special interests, legal aid defence lawyers and other socialists soft on crime special interest lobbies.

I sometimes find it remarkable who the justice minister picks to imply endorsement of his policies. He may have a representative of the chiefs of police or a representative of the Canadian Police Association. But is that reflective of rank and file chiefs and is it reflective of police officers across the country? I think not. One example of that was the gun control issue. It was not reflective of rank and file officers across the country. I think that sometimes certain associations and organizations become too politically involved.

What a sad day it is when the minister, duly elected to serve the democratic wishes of Canadians, fails to do so. The government can be assured that Canadians will hold it accountable at the time of election. I look forward to that time. In fact, I am going to make sure that more of the government's position is clearly revealed in other areas of the country outside of my own. That is my campaign, to bring forward justice issues because I know it is close to the minds and hearts of a lot of people.

Prior to my election to Parliament I served for 22 years as a police officer. I was on duty on May 24, 1977 when my colleague, Constable William Shelver was shot in the back of the head. His assailant, Roy Glaremin also shot and injured another constable that night. Mr. Glaremin applied for judicial review under section 745 in 1993 and he has initiated proceedings for another review later this year. Lawyers tell me that he will likely be successful this time around. He shot a policeman.

Nothing contained in the proposals brought forward by the justice minister to Bill C-45 will stop a vile killer like Glaremin from seeking early release.

The bare truth about section 745 of the Criminal Code is that nearly 50 of the last 60 killers who have applied for early parole hearings using section 745 have had their eligibility period reduced from 25 years to 15 years. Most of these killers were imprisoned as first time murderers. Therefore, they are all eligible for early release under section 745. They can apply. Nothing proposed in Bill C-45 will change this reality. The claim therefore that the justice minister's tinkering with section 745 will toughen up parole criteria is not exactly that. It has been engineered to mislead Canadians to believe that real action has been undertaken by the government to keep killers in jail. The truth is that the justice minister has no intention of getting tough with criminals and the section 745 proposal is evidence of that fact.

A certain number of those 600 eligible killers will not apply, as has been the case in the past. I do not think that will really change a whole lot under this present system. The reviews that will continue on will not only open up cases for those victims who have had loved ones murdered, it will cost taxpayers a considerable amount of money for hearings on the applications that come forward.

I state for the record that the Reform Party will accept nothing less than the full repeal of section 745 of the Criminal Code. I also restate that the proposals put forward by the Liberal government do not properly address the concerns of the majority of Canadians. Anything less than a true life sentence is completely unacceptable where the killer has committed premeditated, first degree murder.

Poll after poll, survey after survey that have been conducted in this country clearly reflect that people want capital punishment for first degree murderers. Section 745 is anything but a faint hope clause. Rather it is a sure bet law for killers, and it must be repealed and scrapped, not modified, not tinkered with. Canadians want nothing less.

Another reason that illustrates why section 745 must be repealed is the case of Clifford Olson. Last April the serial child killer sent sneering personal notes to several MPs in which he boasted about his prospect for early parole under section 745. I notice this is continuing. His notes are generally signed: "Yours truly, Clifford Olson, the beast of British Columbia" .Truly he is a beast and should not even have the opportunity to do what he has done.

Later this fall, Olson will have served 15 years of his multiple life sentences for mass murder and rape. He made his application for early release under section 745 on August 12.

The case of Clifford Olson clearly illustrates that anything less than a true life sentence for killers, whether they be one-time murderers or multiple murderers, is completely unacceptable. Closure will come for victims, for communities, only when a true life sentence means exactly that. There will be no application for early release and victims will be able to rest easy.

I urge members opposite to reconsider this bill. Certainly it has some positive attributes, I do not deny that but it does not go far enough. It does not invoke closure. It does not send a killer away for life where he should be. That is Reform's proposal and that will reflect most positively across this country.

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1:15 p.m.


Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois will vote against the bill, but for reasons entirely opposite to those stated by my hon. colleague from the Reform Party.

As we know, this bill amends section 745, under which prisoners may eventually apply for parole. Parole is not granted automatically; it may be requested and may or may not be granted.

The amendments before us would require jury approval be unanimous rather than by two thirds majority, as it stands. What this means in real terms is that, at present, prisoners who apply for parole must first convince two thirds of the jury. It is no small task. It is not something that is easy to do. Let us face it, the burden of proof is already on the prisoners. It is an uphill battle for them.

Now, if the requirement provided for in section 745 is unanimity rather than a two thirds majority, prisoners no longer face an uphill battle, but an unscalable wall. Basically, all it would take is for one member of the jury to have any hesitation for the whole process to be stalled. We might just as well say that parole shall not be granted to anyone under any condition.

Section 745 would also be amended to deny serial killers, that is anyone who has committed more than one murder, access to this judicial review procedure. May I point out that an inmate's rehabilitation is not necessarily a function of the number of murders he may have committed as much as the circumstances surrounding these murders and the individual's character.

Let us consider, for example, the case of someone who commits a murder in cold blood, compared to that of another individual who kills two people in a panic. The latter may feel regret as he never had the intention of committing these murders in the first place, whereas the former may not feel sorry at all but still have access to the judicial review mechanism, while the repentant killer, on the other hand, would not.

The third amendment to Section 745 proposed in this bill provides for a selection mechanism whereby the chief justice of the superior court or the designated judge would determine, based on written representations, if the applicant has a reasonable chance of having his request approved by a jury. In other words, the convict who wants a judicial review must submit to the judge a written application outlining the reasons why he believes his request has a chance of being approved. The judge will then assess these reasons and determine if the application can be submitted to a jury, which must render a unanimous decision.

As you can see, these three amendments to Section 745 would make the implementation of the review mechanism triply ineffective.

Beyond these technical considerations, one has to look at the reasons why this judicial review process was originally put in place. We all agree that, when someone is handed down a very long sentence-such as imprisonment for life or 25 years-for a terrible

crime, one way of encouraging this individual to rehabilitate and to behave during his detention is to give him some faint hope that, if he does makes an effort to rehabilitate, he might eventually reintegrate society and become a good citizen. In other words, whether it is in jail or in any other sphere of human activity, motivation is always a powerful incentive.

Clause 745 would have the effect of destroying this motivation. Consequently, from the time an inmate knows that, for all intents and purposes, his chances of again becoming a member of society some day are nil, or that he will have to wait too long for such opportunity, why should he make any effort to rehabilitate? Why should he display good or even exemplary conduct in prison?

The proposed amendments to section 745 would have the effect of nipping in the bud any will to rehabilitate among those serving long sentences.

We have to look at the nature of the problem. As the English expression so appropriately says:

Is this an overkill? Let us look at the situation.

On December 31, 1995, 175 people in prison were eligible for a judiciary review. Of these 175 only 76 had made such a request. Of these, 13 had not been dealt with. That means 63 had been dealt with. Of these, 39 obtained a reduction in their inadmissibility delay. That does not mean they were released, it means that they could make another request after a certain period of time.

For those who had benefited from a release, as of December 31, 1995 only one was a repeat offender and the offence was armed robbery.

This is an overkill by the Minister of Justice.

Clifford Olson is a problem, but within the actual rules of the law he has virtually no chance at all of obtaining an early release. Are we going to change a system that has been fine tuned over the years to make totally sure that an individual with no chance really has no chance?

I believe that we are up against a situation here where the Minister of Justice is in the process of playing up to the Reform Party supporters, if I can put it that way, by applying rules similar to the ones Reform wanted to see implemented.

Under the circumstances, this ill-advised political opportunism would run counter to the interests of our society and would, without a doubt, move a piece of legislation that was drawn up carefully over time several decades back in time.

If I may, I would like to make use of the few minutes remaining to me to go beyond the bill to some more fundamental considerations. Essentially, the entire question of incarceration of an inmate has two purposes: first of all, of course, punishment for a crime, but also, and above all, public safety.

Often, although the crime committed requires punishment, the nature of the crime means that the person who has committed it no longer constitutes a risk to society and, provided a fine is paid or some other condition met, incarceration is not necessary, because public safety is not involved. When it is, however, imprisonment becomes necessary.

But every imprisonment involves release, eventually. The important thing is to ensure the individual no longer constitutes a risk for society when the release does take place. Now, an important point: does the prison setting offer the incarcerated individual the rehabilitation he or she needs to no longer represent a danger to our society on release?

Of course we could say: "Lock them up for life. They will not get out until after they are dead, and then they are no longer dangerous". Now that approach is extreme in the extreme, if you will pardon the overkill, and it does not reflect the basic values of a modern democratic society. We can do better than that. We can do better and we have the resources to do so.

The rehabilitation process should be such that, when the individual leaves prison, he no longer constitutes a risk to society and above all will be able to make a positive contribution to society. We must turn a passive individual into a person who will be an asset to society or at least give him that opportunity, since we cannot force people to change.

However that implies having a number of resources. It implies investing money to help this individual rehabilitate himself. As you know, I sit on the justice committee, and I had a chance to put questions to our experts in this field.

I simply asked them when, if a person is locked up for a certain period of time, let us say 10 years, does the rehabilitation process start? Believe it or not, it may take from 18 and 24 months, which means that, during most of the time he is incarcerated, there will be used no attempt at rehabilitation, and ample opportunity for his behaviour to deteriorate. Only in the final months is an attempt made to make him less of a danger to society, because eventually he will have to be released. Even if he is in for 25 years, eventually he will have to be released.

Our view of these issues goes back to the lack of resources only a few decades ago to help a person rehabilitate himself. Times have changed. If a person has some kind of chemical deficiency in the brain, we can treat that. We know that minute quantities of certain substances an individual may have too much or too little of in the course of his life can cause depression or manic states, in other words, they can significantly alter an individual's behaviour. It does not happen to everyone, but it does happen to some people.

We also know that the environment in which a young child is raised can influence his behaviour as an adult. And we also know, because of more advanced studies and research, how to make an individual become aware of his problems and to react effectively.

It is time that this knowledge was put to use in the prison system, so that, eventually, individuals would be kept in the system only as long as it took to turn them into full and productive members of society, who no longer pose a threat to the public.

Any longer and they become more dangerous, time bombs waiting to go off. In conclusion, you will understand that the Bloc Quebecois does not wish to support this bill, but fervently hopes that there will be a complete overhaul of approaches to incarceration.

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1:30 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to the member for Portneuf. I do not see very much difference in viewpoints by this member, certainly by his party, to that of the Liberals, especially to that of the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

The member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce says nothing can replace the life of the victim. In the same breath he also says it is a waste of a life to keep a murderer in jail. That is what came about from the architect of section 745.

I see no difference in what the member for Portneuf is saying to that which the architect of section 745 has said. I would like him to tell me and the rest of this country that the murderer of Constable Shelever, Roy Glaremin, is no more or less of a vicious murderer than Olson or of the murderer of Mrs. Morrison's seven-year old daughter who as a mute and who could not even scream out for help. Is he any more or any less of a vicious murderer than Olson?

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1:35 p.m.


Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not know personally any of these individuals and I am not a judge to make a judgment. I will say this. These murders should never have happened. As a society the important question we must ask ourselves is how could we have prevented this from happening.

At the moment we are speaking here to each other we know that young people are not being cared for, that some are hungry and are not attended to properly even at school. Why not? What are we doing to prevent this?

Second, I am hearing about punishment the second time someone commits a murder. For God's sake, I do not want the second time to happen, if the first time ever happens. Let us rehabilitate this individual. Even if we want it otherwise, this person eventually will be liberated, will have served his or her term. He or she will be

on the street and as dangerous as ever. We do not want this to happen. Let us rehabilitate them.

In the first place let us not have conditions of life which fabricate vicious people. They are the reflection of our neglect.

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1:35 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

It was very interesting, Mr. Speaker. The hon. member suggested we should prevent crime in the first place. I do not think anybody would ever disagree with that. Of course we would rather not have any crimes committed at any time, much less murder.

I was rather interested in the rehabilitation statement the hon. member made, that we should rehabilitate these criminals and make sure they become productive members of society. I do not think anyone would disagree with that.

The concern that I have, and I would like to ask the member to address this, is after we put all these special programs into place, after we put all these rehabilitation mechanisms in the place of work or the prison where this person is incarcerated and we go through all these machinations, what assurance would the hon. member require before the individual was released from prison that would give to society the assurance that person will not be a repeating offender?

Could the hon. member tell us what are the tests he would apply? What are the indicators that future behaviour will be fundamentally different from the behaviour that got the person to perpetrate a crime of killing someone else?

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1:35 p.m.


Pierre De Savoye Bloc Portneuf, QC

Mr. Speaker, we know that companies wishing to hire candidates have a battery of written and behavioural tests enabling them to determine in advance of hiring whether individuals will be able to perform the required duties, whether their behaviour, social values and abilities will meet their future employer's expectations.

We also know that great strides have been made in behavioural psychology in recent years. All the scientific knowledge for determining whether or not an individual has been rehabilitated already exists. Is it infallible? Science is human, and is therefore fallible, but the odds are in favour of success, while with the system we now have, the odds are against it. That is what I am saying.

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1:40 p.m.


Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question of the last speaker. Do we have time?

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1:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member was not recognized earlier because he is the next speaker and the 10 minute period has expired. The hon. member has the floor for 20 minutes.

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1:40 p.m.


Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by asking my friend, the member for Portneuf, if by any chance he has been discussing this issue with his constituents, because our views are so different that-

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1:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I think that the member has misunderstood me. The period for asking questions is over, and we are resuming debate. The hon. member for Nanaimo-Cowichan has the floor for his speech.

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1:40 p.m.


Bob Ringma Reform Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, on with the debate. I apologize for that little intercession. I was hoping to get a question in.

Rising to speak to Bill C-45, the Liberal government's response to calls for tougher parole eligibility guidelines, the reasons why I will not be supporting this bill are numerous, and many of my Reform colleagues have already touched on the legislation's shortcomings in this and in previous debates.

In deciding what to speak on in relation to Bill C-45 I had to choose between the bill's merits, of which there are few, and its apparent lack of consideration for murder victims and their families. I chose the latter if only to highlight the Liberal government's total failure in this regard.

Victims rights groups in Canada like Canadians Against Violence Everywhere Advocating its Termination, CAVEAT, Victims of Violence, Crime Responsibility and Youth, CRY, and others have been calling for the elimination of Bill C-45. These are victims advocates spokespeople. It is a request, as I say, that is long overdue and appears to have been once again ignored by this government.

Yet what is it that victims rights advocates and Canadians in general find so offensive about section 745 of the Criminal Code? Pointedly, Bill C-45 still allows section 745 to remain, albeit in a somewhat watered down form. However, the fact remains that section 745 is still there and murderers will still be able to use its provisions.

I know that some of my Liberal friends across the way and their Bloc supporters will argue this bill is too harsh, but Reform's belief is that this bill does not go far enough. Our belief that this is the case is grounded at least in public support. That was to be the question I was going to ask my friend, the member for Portneuf, how much public support he feels comes from his constituents.

I have listened to some hon. members, including the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, wax eloquent in defence of section 745. After all, that member was one of the driving forces behind the repeal of capital punishment during the Trudeau reign of error. He

and his Liberal colleagues were also instrumental in establishing section 745 in its present and soon to be amended form.

If Canadians think about it for a minute they will have as good an understanding as anyone about why the present Liberal government will not repeal section 745 of the Criminal Code. If the government chose to repeal section 745 in its entirety it would have to admit in front of all Canadians that it made a terrible mistake by putting it in the Criminal Code in the first place.

Imagine the media questions the poor Minister of Justice would have to answer if his government were to do the right thing and eliminate section 745. I think that is the crux of the issue here. If the government repeals and in essence admits it was wrong, it would be forced to admit that the Reform Party and every Canadian who wanted section 745 eliminated was right. It is not about to do that.

Beyond that, if Canadians accuse it of being wrong on the issue of section 745, it also leaves it vulnerable in just about every other area of criminal justice reform. By extension one would then be able to criticize every other area of Liberal policy making, which is easy enough to do already.

For example, the Liberals and their Tory predecessors have spent the country $600 billion into debt. They do not want the deficit to get to zero any time soon because to do so would mean that they would have to again admit that years of deficit spending were wrong. What do they do? Like with every other issue, they tinker around the edges but the problem remains. In essence, Liberal governments never treat the illness or underlying problem. They sort of stick band-aids on the patients in the hope they will not realize how sick they are.

I could go on about Liberal mismanagement but I have only 20 minutes and would be forced to stray from the subject at hand which is their half measure approaches to the issue of criminal justice reform. Half measures throughout.

In any event, the Liberals have decided it is in their best interests politically just to tinker with 745 rather than scrap it. It is my hope that when Canadians go to the polls the next time they will do what is in their best interests and scrap this Liberal government.

While Canadians are trying to fathom exactly why a government which claims to be responsible has a clause allowing persons convicted of first degree murder to get out of doing the full 25 years, they would be within their right to ask what opportunity do murder victims and their families have at a second chance. That is very basic to this whole argument. What about the victims and their families?

Canadians know the answer to that question just as readily as do Liberal members across the way. The answer is none. Murder victims and families do not have a second chance. Yet across the way they still insist that this bill is an enlightened approach. They call section 745 the faint hope clause. In reality they should have called it the get out of jail card.

It is not just the public calling for the elimination of section 745. A former member of the Liberal caucus has a private member's bill, Bill C-234, calling for this very repeal. Yet at every turn this bill has met with delay and obstructionist tactics by a government intent on burying the bill. Small wonder that Reform is cynical of Bill C-45 which is now before members.

I also want to touch on some of the points raised by both the justice minister and our colleagues from the Bloc. The justice minister in his previous speech addressed the business of whether section 745 was originally brought into the Criminal Code without the full knowledge of the people. Members from the Bloc have previously commented on the backroom shenanigans that occurred in 1976 when capital punishment was being removed from the Criminal Code and this section was brought it. The people of Canada knew nothing about this or its potential impact and they certainly did not give their consent to it.

All we need to do is look at the hue and cry which arose across the country as first degree murderers began to apply and receive reductions 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 am also going to suggest that the justice minister has not adequately or successfully addressed this point.

The justice minister also spoke highly about the protection afforded the justice system as a result of juries' being able to decide on the acceptability of a section 745 application. That is fine. I believe juries are an integral part of the judicial process, but juries can act and decide only based on the information they receive. Juries have not always made decisions in the best interests of society because they have been deprived of the information they needed to make a just decision.

I also suggest that if we examine the limited role juries will now have under this amended section 745, all kinds of concerns and questions are present. For example, what kind of information will a jury receive? Will it receive information pertaining to the specific acts the individual has committed, the circumstances surrounding them, the pain and horror caused by that individual's actions not

only to the victim but to the victim's family and to society in general? Will the jury get that sort of information? If the past is any indication, I suggest it will not. Then how can it make a reasoned judgment?

Therefore when the justice minister suggests that 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. That weakness is clear according to the information which may be placed before a jury.

I say to the Minister of Justice that a jury cannot act on any information except that which is placed before it. In the case of section 745 hearings this leaves much to be desired in terms of the horror an applicant has caused the surviving family and friends of a victim.

I do not believe this government and its justice minister truly understand the horror inflicted on murder victims by way of their families, friends and society. I can say this because it is most certainly not reflected in the bill we are debating today.

As I mentioned earlier, Bill C-45 shows the justice minister has little empathy with the families of murder victims. These families are survivors. These families have endured nightmares as a result of the heinous crimes committed against their own flesh and blood. The memory of a family member or a friend who has been taken away by the cruel act of murder is insulted by this bill which contemplates a reduction in the punishment of its perpetrator.

Back in June members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs heard firsthand the horror of Sylvain Leduc's grandmother whose grandson was viciously murdered. The committee also heard from the mother of Leslie Mahaffy. Leslie was brutally murdered by Paul Bernardo.

I know my Liberal friends across the way who are chatting about other matters will bleat plaintively that Bernardo has already been declared a dangerous offender and that this bill has no force or effect where he is concerned. That is not the point. When we hear these stories we realize and understand the pain that families and friends could be forced to endure every time one of these sick, twisted animals applies for an early parole. Any avenue such as section 745 which provides killers with a chance for early release makes a mockery of the term life imprisonment.

The penalty for premeditated first degree murder is life imprisonment without eligibility for parole for 25 years. A life sentence is not about rehabilitation, as we have heard today, it is about punishment and retribution for the most horrible crime in society, the unlawful and deliberate taking of an innocent life.

The justice minister does not believe in punishment or retribution as necessary to the sentencing process. He seems only to focus on rehabilitation, which we have heard echoed by the Bloc speakers. That is what we have been getting from his colleagues in every aspect of the Liberal red book promise for safer streets and communities.

The same applies to their half hearted overhaul of the Young Offenders Act, which my constituents are in the process of having their say on in a tele-vote. My constituents are going to give me their input and then I will come back to the House with a private member's bill reflecting their wishes.

I know this concept of voter consultation is alien to many Liberal members, but trust me on this one. If they were to ask Canadians whether they favoured scrapping or amending section 745, Canadians would vote to scrap it in a second. Section 745 of the Criminal Code nullifies the penalty for first degree murder. It provides murderers an opportunity for a judicial review of their parole ineligibility after they have served just 15 years of a life sentence.

As I mentioned earlier, victims' groups, the Canadian Police Association and a majority of Canadians believe section 745 should be eliminated completely. Nothing except the full elimination of that section is acceptable to the Reform Party, and 98 per cent of our delegates at our national convention in June voted for its complete elimination after debating and voting on this issue.

Bill C-45 strips multiple or serial killers of the right to apply for early parole. However, this applies only to multiple murders committed after the passage of the bill. This creates categories of killers. There will be good killers and bad killers.

In true Liberal fashion, good killers are granted special status. This seems to be the hallmark of the government. Got a problem? Give some group or organization special status and that will fix everything. Want to get around being able to hire people on merit? Just give special status, preferential hiring for certain people. It goes on and on. Liberals cater to one group at the expense of another, call it a progressive policy and then criticize anyone who questions their approach.

In any event, good killers will have the right to appeal for early release from prison while bad killers will serve out their life sentence.

As of December 1995 there were 574 first degree murderers incarcerated in Canada. Of those, approximately 5 per cent were multiple killers, so-called bad killers. Multiple killers sentenced after the passage of Bill C-45 will not be eligible to apply for a reduction, but this does not appease people like Mr. and Mrs. Rosenfeldt, whose son was murdered by serial killer Clifford Olson. The Rosenfeldts, the Mahaffys, the Frenches and many other Canadians will not be satisfied until multiple killers receive

fair and just penalties, consecutive life sentences for each of the lives they took. Clifford Olson should be serving 11 consecutive life sentences.

As well, if the jury denies them a reduction in their application for early parole, the provisions of section 745 will allow them to appeal again and again. The same process will be applicable to all first degree murderers.

Let me finish by saying that Bill C-45 and a review of the killer's application by a judge will do nothing but add an expensive layer of bureaucracy to a growing justice industry. Bill C-45 is nothing but the government's-

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I regret having to intervene but it being almost 2 p.m. we will now proceed to statements by members.

If there are any questions, we will resume after oral question period.

Shania TwainStatements By Members

September 23rd, 1996 / 1:55 p.m.


Peter Thalheimer Liberal Timmins—Chapleau, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I rise again in this Chamber to congratulate Shania Twain for her excellent performance at the Canadian country music awards.

Shania Twain has reaffirmed her status as one of the best country singers that Canada and Timmins have ever produced. Fans greeted the country music superstar back home to Timmins this summer for Shania Twain Day. It seemed like everyone in the Timmins area beat the torrential rain to welcome her back home.

Shania Twain assured her most loyal fans that Timmins is and always will be part of her.

I would like to congratulate the city of Timmins, the Timmins Symphony Orchestra and all who organized and participated in this wonderful day. Volunteers and officials ensured that Shania Twain Day was an overwhelming success.

Canadian Wheat BoardStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, continually this Prime Minister and this Liberal government break their promises to Canadians.

The Prime Minister promised a producer plebiscite on barley and broke that promise. The agriculture minister stated that plebiscites

are the most appropriate vehicle to determine farmer preferences. Prairie farmers demanded producer input into wheat board operation. From B.C. to Manitoba, producers demanded that the agriculture minister immediately cease appointment and initiate wheat board director elections and open the wheat board books for producer scrutiny.

The agriculture minister and the Prime Minister promised a plebiscite for barley producers and this government's own appointed panel members recommended producer direction and accountability for the wheat board.

How many times will Liberals break their word to prairie farmers? Canadians are sick and tired of unaccountable Liberals and their appointed hack dictatorship. Canadians want freedom and truth, neither of which this Liberal government will provide.

Canadian Broadcasting CorporationStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


John Solomon NDP Regina—Lumsden, SK

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are distressed about the cutbacks to the CBC, but thanks to the Liberal government there is a new CBC that is taking over Canadian media. It is the Conrad Black Corporation.

The Conrad Black Corporation will bring cost effective and sanitized news coverage. It will not waste money or time on bringing balanced reporting. Mr. Black's president, Mr. Radler, has said their newspapers will not even bother reporting fairly on issues raised by New Democrats who, by the way, speak for middle class working Canadians.

The investigation of the Hollinger's monopoly has been dropped by the Federal Bureau of Competition Policy. Why? It is because Conrad Black sent $12,500 to the Liberal Party and $11,000 to the Reform Party. These contributions help in Conrad's bid to be the new unfettered and very biased CBC.

While the old CBC is being dismantled, Liberals will have a new corporate network to advertise their vision of tax loopholes for the rich at the expense of program cuts for middle class Canadians. It is, after all, Conrad Black's corporation and he believes that only the wealthy and big corporations really matter.

National Conference For YouthStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal York North, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week more than 125 Canadians from all regions and backgrounds participated in the National Conference for Youth here on Parliament Hill. I am pleased to report that the results are positive.

The conference challenged employers, labour, educators, governments, youth serving organizations and youth themselves to define their roles in the new economy.

The participants went beyond that. They identified what needed to be done and set about accomplishing it. Partnerships were struck, agreements were made and plans were formulated.

The Career Foundation, an employment organization from Ontario, is going to Newfoundland to share ideas and advice on getting governments, business and youth working together to improve prospects for the future. A high tech firm is teaming up with an alternative learning centre to help our country's youth.

I am pleased to announce to the House that the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has risen to the challenge and has agreed to host the next National Conference for Youth in March 1997.

Much was accomplished in those three days. I would like to thank all participants for their contributions.

Job CreationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Richard Bélisle Bloc La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, on September 17 in New York, Jean-Claude Scraire, Chief Operating Officer of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, stated: "The political climate in Quebec has no impact on investors' decisions, and I do not see why it should".

It is high time that the Prime Minister and the members of his government stopped looking outside their own backyard for the causes of Canada's and Quebec's weak economy and start taking action to help unemployed Canadians regain their dignity by finding jobs.

Canada's official unemployment rate stands at 9.4 per cent compared to 5.1 per cent in the U.S. The reality is that, while more than 1.5 million Canadians are looking for work, their Prime Minister and his government are acting irresponsibly instead of looking for ways to help them. What is the Prime Minister waiting for?

ArmeniaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, September 21, 1996 marked the fifth anniversary of political independence and the end to communist rule in Armenia.

Following the 1915 genocide, the Armenian nation first gained independence from the Ottoman Empire on May 28, 1918. Unfortunately, this independence was to last only a few short years until

the communist takeover on December 2, 1920. After 70 years of communist tyranny, the Armenian nation once again gained its independence with the disintegration of the U.S.S.R.

Canadians of Armenian origin have made a significant contribution to the Canadian cultural mosiac. They continue to grow and prosper in Canada by embracing the democratic principles of freedom, justice and equality that exemplifies the Canadian way. We wish for the continued and speedy growth of freedom and democracy in Armenia.

Happy birthday, Armenia.

World Alzheimer DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Rose-Marie Ur Liberal Lambton—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, September 20 was World Alzheimer Day. I had occasion to participate in the first ever Alzheimer coffee break put on by the Sarnia-Lambton Alzheimer Society, just one of 120 chapters participating in this event nationwide.

Over 100 locations in Lambton county hosted a coffee break last Friday. I would like to take the opportunity to thank Mrs. Hendrickson who teaches family studies at Lambton Central Collegiate in Petrolia and her senior students for graciously hosting the event my staff and I attended.

Alzheimer's disease is a degenerative brain disorder that affects a person's mental and physical abilities and behaviour by destroying vital brain cells.

There is hope. While there is not yet a treatment to slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer's, much research is being done. Some scientists estimate that the cure is only five to ten years away. Let us hope this indeed is the case.

Art And Margaret DirksonStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, what a great weekend we had in Medicine Hat when our family got together to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my aunt and uncle, Art and Margaret Dirkson. Participating in this celebration gave me occasion to reflect again on my rich family heritage of love, trust and commitment to each other, and of an enduring faith in God.

My grandparents were able to make Canada their home in the early 1920s, having crossed the ocean in a cattle freighter. They came to Saskatchewan with their 10 children, my aunt Margaret being just a toddler at that time. The Epp family has a tradition of longevity, both in life and in marriage. My grandparents enjoyed over 65 years of marriage and last year we celebrated my parent's 60th anniversary. Now my dad's little sister has gone for 50.

As with a family, so with a country. We value faithfulness and endurance. A family stays together for the long haul by a deep commitment to each other and the regular practice of forgiveness. Why not apply this principle to our country as well? Let us keep our families and our country together.

The InternetStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Pierrette Venne Bloc Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, an increasing number of our fellow citizens are surfing the Net. It is the latest craze. In October 1995 in Saint-Hubert, André Cyr founded Martinternet, the first and only French-language daily in Quebec to be designed and produced exclusively on the Internet.

Martinternet is read by over 5,000 people every day and is one of the three most popular web sites in Quebec.

Every day, this new electronic medium transmits in excess of 80 news briefs on various topics of current interest, thanks to the support of the Radiomédia news service and of some 15 contributors.

The success of this venture, which is not subsidized in any way, is due to the commitment of volunteers. Like the other information media, this web site will have to rely on advertisers to survive.

We wish Martinternet continued success on the information highway for the greater enjoyment of all the Internet fans out there.

Irving WhaleStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of Prince Edward Islanders I want to congratulate the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for the work they and their departments undertook in raising the Irving Whale this past summer.

Deserving special mention is Captain Bill Dancer of the Canadian Coast Guard and his operations crew for the hazardous work they performed.

I also want to thank the former Minister of the Environment, the Hon. Sheila Copps, for the efforts she put in to ensure that this project move forward.