This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #142 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

JusticeOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as I said, I am not familiar with this case right now, but I intend to ask justice department officials for details and I will reply in the coming days.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, today in Vancouver hearings begin into Clifford Olson's application for early release. This is the man who brutally raped and murdered 11 little children. Because of Clifford Olson's application the families of these children have to relive their pain and their agony.

I ask the Minister of Justice, who is directly responsible for letting this reprehensible occurrence take place, what action he will take to ensure that these 11 families will never have to go through this agonizing and painful ordeal again.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, this government last year introduced and this Parliament last year adopted legislation to change section 745 of the Criminal Code to ensure that it will be used only in exceptional cases.

That legislation changes the system so that such applications will never be brought by those convicted of taking more than one life. It provides for a screening mechanism by a judge in advance of any application by those eligible and it requires that the jury on any such application be unanimous before any relief is granted.

It seems to me that is exactly the way to prevent future victims' families from having to experience such proceedings while at the same time providing for the exceptional cases in which such applications are appropriate.

In those circumstances one wonders why the hon. member and his colleagues in the Reform Party voted against those amendments.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, every family member of victims who appeared before the standing committee on Bill C-45 opposed the bill. That is why we represent their concerns here today.

Private member's Bill C-234 would have eliminated section 745 from the Criminal Code entirely. The justice minister voted against this bill. By doing so, he voted in favour of Clifford Olson and against the 11 families that lost their children to Clifford Olson.

Can the justice minister today explain to these families and to all Canadians why he voted for Clifford Olson and against the families of these victims?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, in the three and a half years that it has been my privilege to serve the Prime Minister in my present occupation I have met with dozens of family members of victims of crime. I have met with mothers who have lost children. I have met with husbands who have lost wives.

The importance I place on their experience, the importance I place on respecting victims, is reflected in the many pieces of legislation we have brought forward in the House to protect and safeguard the position of victims in the criminal justice system.

Mr. Olson's case is now before the court. It is inappropriate to comment on the merits, but let me say this. Whatever else can be said of Clifford Olson's application, it would be proceeding in obscurity now in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, and the pain felt by the families of the victims would be of a different order than that which they face today if it were not for my hon. friend and his colleagues in the Reform Party who are providing Clifford Olson with exactly what he wants, that which he can get from no other source: they are satisfying his lust for notoriety.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice.

Since August 1995, when young Daniel Desrochers died as the result of the explosion of a vehicle boobytrapped by organized crime, there have been a number of other explosions. Innocent people have been wounded, blood has been shed. Whole cities and towns are in shock. Municipalities such as Saint-Nicolas, Montreal and Quebec City have no idea how to cope with a problem of this scope.

On September 21, 1995, the minister said that he was carrying out consultations and that he was optimistic about finding a solution. Since the problem is still there, worse in fact than in 1995, can the minister tell the House what solution he has found to the problem of motorcycle gang wars?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I met with the mother of the boy who was killed on the Montreal street, Daniel Desrochers, last year.

I have also worked with my colleague, the Solicitor General of Canada, and with the police chiefs of Quebec and elsewhere, to find ways of improving criminal law to back up our police forces in their battle against organized crime.

Last September, the solicitor general and myself held a symposium here in Ottawa on organized crime, to which we invited police chiefs, lawyers, and provincial attorneys general. We discussed various approaches to provide police forces with the tools to combat organized crime. We identified about a dozen concrete measures.

The solicitor general and myself intend to introduce amendments to the Criminal Code in the coming months, to that end.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, outside of these empty words by the minister, which quite obviously do nothing to solve the problem, since it continues in Quebec, what does the minister have to say today to the family of little Marianne, who was hit by shards of glass in her own home, in her own crib? Or to the people of Saint-Nicolas, who watch helplessly as criminal organizations occupy their entire territory?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, to such Canadians who live in fear or with the pain of the consequences of that kind of crime, the government pledges again to renew its commitment to improve the criminal law to provide police with the tools they need to combat the activities of gangs.

There is no single simple answer to this complex issue. One speaks of an anti-gang bill. It is very difficult to define such a bill in ways that would make it valid and effective. Simply to criminalize organizations is not an answer. The simple response to that by the gangs is to change the name or the nature of the organization.

What is more effective in the long run for the victims of which the member spoke and for Canadians everywhere is to work constructively with the police to change the criminal law in ways that will make it easier for the police to gather proof and evidence against such illegalities.

That is what we had in mind when the solicitor general and I convened our anti-gang symposium last September. We left with a dozen concrete proposals for changing the criminal law. We will act upon them in the weeks and months ahead so that we will give police the tools to combat the very activity of which the hon. member spoke.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, Christine, Colleen, Daryn, Sandra, Ada, Simon, Judy, Raymond, Sigrun, Terry Lyn and Louise. These are the names of Clifford Olson's victims and it is their families that are being victimized, again thanks to the Liberal government.

Thanks to the Liberal government, Clifford Olson gets a soapbox while his victims have to fight to be heard. Why will the Prime Minister not put the rights of victims ahead of the rights of criminals like Clifford Olson and enact a victims' bill of rights?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, if there is anyone who is providing a soapbox, it is the hon. member and colleagues in her party who are providing a soapbox to Clifford Olson. It is a tactic of which they should be ashamed.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians are glad that someone is willing to speak up for the families and the victims in the right way.

It is clear the Liberal government is determined to put consideration for brutal criminals ahead of consideration for innocent citizens. How can Canadians trust their safety to a government with such skewed priorities?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the government's priorities from day one in the criminal justice system have been to make our society as safe as it can and to show respect for the victims of crime.

Through all the legislation in the three and a half years of the government there is a single thread, that is to make the system more responsive to and respectful of the needs of victims. Yet time and again the hon. member and her colleagues in the Reform Party have voted against initiatives we have introduced on behalf of victims.

In Bill C-41, changes to the sentencing law, we provided for restitution to victims and the Reform Party voted against it. In Bill C-45 we proposed to change the very section of which the member complains. The hon. member and her colleagues in the Reform Party voted against it.

The Canadian people will have an opportunity in due course to look at the record.

Commissions Of InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Prime Minister.

This morning the Globe and Mail reported that Mr. Justice Krever complained in a letter about the government's interference with the work of his commission. He stated that the government had threatened to shut down the commission if it insisted on laying blame on certain senior officials and ministers.

How can the Deputy Prime Minister again justify her government's interfering with a commission of inquiry that should normally be able to finish its work without government interference?

Commissions Of InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member will know that in December 1995 the Minister of Justice made application to the court to have certain matters adjudicated.

The court that heard the application by the Minister of Justice denied the application. Thereafter certain individuals and stakeholders appealed to a higher court.

I am sure the hon. member would want the record to show that the Government of Canada did not appeal the decision which I believe was reached in June of the following year.

I make perfectly clear that the government looks forward to the report of Justice Krever. We look forward to examining his recommendations. To the best of my knowledge there was never any intent whatsoever to try to close down the Krever inquiry.

Commissions Of InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Pauline Picard Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is one particularly disturbing fact in this whole affair. Both the Krever and Létourneau commissions were targets of all kinds of obstruction from the government's officials and its ministers.

Does the Deputy Prime Minister realize that with this kind of approach she has discredited commissions of inquiry, and could she tell us if any judge would, in the future, agree to preside over an inquiry, in the knowledge that the government can intervene at any time to prevent the chairman from doing his job?

Commissions Of InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Cape Breton—East Richmond Nova Scotia

Liberal

David Dingwall LiberalMinister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I can well understand the desperation of hon. members opposite when they make such ludicrous charges.

The House should be informed that the commission has held over 250 days of public hearings. It has heard over 350 witnesses, almost half of whom were the victims.

Testimony has been recorded on over 40,000 pages of commission transcript. Over half a million pages of exhibit evidence has been filed. The commission's deadline has been extended not once, not twice, but three times and the commission has a budget of well over $15 million.

We were the ones in opposition who called for a judicial inquiry into the blood system. I am happy Justice Krever is heading that inquiry. I look forward to his conclusions as I am sure all provinces and all stakeholders look forward to them.

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Parrish Liberal Mississauga West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Reform Party usually advocates much tighter regulations on refugee immigration. They appear to have switched over and are now concerned that we have put on some restrictions.

Despite this I have a lot of concerns coming to me from my own riding which has a lot of immigrants and refugees.

Would the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration clarify the newly imposed regulation she has put on refugees?

ImmigrationOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Saint-Henri—Westmount Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard LiberalMinister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, I was also amazed by that comment of the Reform Party critic. I take note that in the future the Reform Party will support our refugee program.

Canada has a long history of responding generously to the different people in the world who are in crisis. Never in the past have we imposed quotas on immigration. We do not intend to do so in the future.

On the contrary, with the new resettlement from abroad class, we will extend our ability to answer the needs of people abroad. It will help us to be more generous than we have been in the past. Let us be proud of that new settlement class.

HeritageOral Question Period

March 11th, 1997 / 2:50 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, Joe Thornley was a senior player in the heritage minister's leadership campaign. Now the minister seems to be returning the favour with taxpayers' money. I have evidence that shows Thornley received a $30,000 contract from the minister's department to work on the national flag program.

What special knowledge did the minister's personal friend have about the Canadian flag that was worth $30,000 in Canadian taxpayers' money?

HeritageOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, every contract that has been let by my department has been let in accordance with Treasury Board guidelines.

If the member of the Reform Party has any kind of a scurrilous accusation to make, I would suggest he make that accusation outside the House where he will be subject to the libellous action he should be subject to.

HeritageOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Reform

Jim Abbott Reform Kootenay East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I take particular note that Thornley did not receive a single, solitary heritage contract until the minister took over. Since the minister took office in January 1996, Thornley has managed to secure at least four contracts worth $60,000. I also note that the minister's personal friend is listed as official agent for the Liberal Party of Canada.

Does the heritage minister really believe federal contracts to her well connected Liberal friend, her personal friend, will foster Canadian patriotism?

HeritageOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I repeat the fact that any contract that has been let through my department has been let in full compliance and respect for Treasury Board guidelines.

If the member has a scurrilous accusation to make, I would suggest that he go outside the House like a parliamentarian and make it where he will be subject to the full effect of libel suits. He is attempting to hide under the protection of the House which would not be accorded to him outside in making such a libellous statement.

KidnappingsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Benoît Tremblay Bloc Rosemont, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Deputy Prime Minister.

Four years ago, Karim, the son of Micheline Tremblay, was kidnapped by her ex-spouse who is hiding him somewhere in Egypt. Mrs. Tremblay made numerous representations to the police and judicial authorities. Interpol issued an arrest warrant against the former spouse. The former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. André Ouellet, promised early in 1996 to sign a bilateral agreement with Egypt that would have made it possible to bring the child home. However, Mrs. Tremblay only saw her son for three hours, and she is still calling for help because nothing has really changed.

Can government members, who like to travel with Team Canada to promote economic ties, remain insensitive to this very disturbing humanitarian case? Will they promise today to intercede with the Egyptian government to make sure Karim returns to Canada?

KidnappingsOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

York Centre Ontario

Liberal

Art Eggleton LiberalMinister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely no sensitivity in terms of dealing with this case. We are very sensitive to the situation that exists. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has met with the mother and we continue to make representations to the Egyptian government.

We will be sending an official of our department to Cairo within the next week to continue that dialogue to try to bring a successful resolution to the matter.

I also understand the matter is due to be coming before the Egyptian courts later this year.