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House of Commons Hansard #153 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was income.

Topics

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, two years ago this month a man from Montreal came to see me explaining that his 15-year old daughter had been sexually assaulted and strangled. He asked me to help him. He asked the government to help him. He asked us to see if we could change the law to provide the police with investigative tools that might help in the prosecution of that offence.

As a result, the Solicitor General and I met with the caucus, discussed the policies of the government, worked very hard and brought forward legislation which added to the criminal law powers for the police to search and to take bodily substances after they get a warrant to test for DNA substances.

That legislation was put into effect in July 1995. The investigation was concluded. A sample was taken. Charges were laid and that case is now before the courts.

That is the way the government responds to the needs of victims.

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was referring to criminals getting appeals left, right and centre, while victims wait time and time and time again for them.

Yesterday I indicated that Darren Ursel tortured and violated a young woman for an hour and a half. She was lucky to escape with her life. The judge said this sex offender was tender at times and somewhat sorry for what he did, so he gave Ursel a two-year conditional sentence with no time in prison.

Yesterday I asked the justice minister the following question but he evaded the issue. Again I will ask it so that all Canadians can listen carefully to the answer.

Does the justice minister think there is any time in Canada where a woman can be violated and degraded like this and the criminal not receive time in prison?

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, all of us believe that anyone who commits a serious violent crime should be imprisoned as a penalty for that kind of crime.

The case to which the hon. member refers is before the appeal court and he knows that. Let the courts deal with that decision.

Last Monday, because of our concern about the way courts are interpreting some of the provisions of the bill, we asked the House to agree to amendments to the conditional sentence provision in Bill C-41. The hon. member and his party agreed, and those amendments will be adopted and enacted by this Parliament.

I said in answer to the hon. member's questions earlier this week, and I will say it again today, the government has acted to make significant improvements in the criminal law for the interests of victims. My hon. friend knows that. The legislation speaks for itself. We have acted.

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, the justice minister is talking about an appeal of a sentence resulting from a law that he legislated. Conditional sentencing should not have occurred in the first place.

Yesterday I was ashamed of the justice minister and the Liberal government. The justice minister would not accept responsibility for implementing laws that make the lives of victims worse.

I talked to this lady yesterday and she told me she was most discouraged by his comments. She felt the justice minister had no concern at all for her well-being.

How is it the Liberal government suggests it has concern for women in Canada and then legislates conditional sentences that allow women to be raped and degraded, with no prison time for the rapist?

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I say the government has acted. I do not ask the hon. member or the House simply to take my word for it. Why do we not ask someone who knows about being a victim and about what rights victims need?

In answer to the hon. member's question, let me read from a letter I received today:

Three years ago a petition was presented to Allan Rock on behalf of 2.5 million Canadians. It called for far-reaching measures to improve public safety and the treatment of victims.

Since then significant steps have been taken to address some of these concerns. Although much still needs to be done, this government has shown a willingness to listen and to act.

We look forward to continuing to work with the justice committee during its comprehensive review of victims issues in Canada.

It was signed by Priscilla de Villiers, president of CAVEAT, Canadians Against Violence Everywhere Advocating its Termination.

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

You should be ashamed of yourself. A woman has been raped.

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Allan Rock Liberal Etobicoke Centre, ON

I told the hon. member that he does not have to take our word for it. He can take the word of the president of the most well respected and most credible organization of victims. That is the truth.

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

I caution hon. members about using papers to point.

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Justice rejected out of hand the text of a bill drafted by the Government of Quebec that would outlaw biker gangs.

However, the very same day, two Hell's Angels were released because of lack of evidence, a murder was committed in Donnacona, there was an attempted murder in Thetford Mines, a Molotov cocktail exploded in Quebec City, and sticks of dynamite were found in a garbage can in Longueuil. This is all connected with the biker gang war in Quebec. Otherwise, it was just an average, care-free day for the federal Minister of Justice.

By using the Charter as an excuse for his lack of political will, is the minister not broadening the scope of the charter so that it protects biker gangs like the Rock Machine and the Hell's Angels more than it does law-abiding citizens?

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the hon. member to wait until next week when I intend to announce concrete, specific and practical measures to deal with a situation we find not only in Quebec but wherever such gangs and individuals are involved in organized crime.

It is true that Monday night I received a proposal drafted by Mr. Bégin, the attorney general for Quebec. I examined the proposal, and my officials are now preparing our replies. Personally, I was a little surprised and disappointed because, according to Mr. Bégin's proposal, membership alone in an organization would constitute a crime. I think this is against the Quebec and Canadian charters.

It is possible to find acceptable, permanent and effective ways to deal with this. I am now preparing proposals for next week.

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, I suggest that instead of acting like an armchair quarterback and waiting for a bill to appear out of thin air, preferably drafted by divine inspiration, the minister take a look at documents produced by the RCMP and Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, which state that, and I quote:

The Hell's Angels and the Rock Machine have a vast arsenal of weapons and munitions and are determined to go to the very limit. At stake in this war is control of the drug trade in the Montreal area and elsewhere in the province.

These are federal documents.

Considering what he said yesterday about Quebec's bill, would the minister agree that his rather innocent interpretation of the Canadian Charter of Rights is undermining his own efforts to find effective ways to deal with the bikers' war?

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I fully share the hon. member's concern. We disagree on how we should proceed to meet these challenges.

Both I personally and the Government of Canada prefer to use constitutional and valid measures. We believe it is possible to meet these challenges with constitutional measures.

Mr. Bégin, the Quebec minister, suggested another, unconstitutional approach. I would prefer to have laws with staying power, not laws that would be challenged in the courts in the months to come. So next week I intend to table proposals that are valid, constitutional and effective as well.

JusticeOral Question Period

April 10th, 1997 / 2:30 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the justice minister's Bill C-41 is allowing rapists and violent offenders to walk free. I am sure Mrs. de Villiers will not support that. I am sure she is opposed to that.

Rather than seeing rapists and violent offenders walk free, why will the justice minister not bring in an amendment that would restrict conditional sentencing to non-violent offenders?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, the provision in Bill C-41 to which he refers requires the court to assess the safety of the community before determining that a conditional sentence is appropriate. One would have thought it was

clear that someone who had committed a serious violent crime would not be granted a conditional sentence.

The cases in some of the appellate courts of the provinces have been unclear. It is for that reason that I proposed-and the hon. member was good enough to agree-that there ought to be an amendment to Bill C-41 to make clear that the courts must have regard to the traditional principles of sentencing, including deterrence, denunciation and protection of society when deciding on whether a conditional sentence should be given.

The case to which the hon. member refers, which is so shamelessly exploited by the hon. member for-

JusticeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Bullshit.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

Of course I do not always hear everything that is said in the House. I can understand sometimes if we have outbursts, but I would like the hon. member for Fraser Valley West to simply withdraw the word so that we can get on with question period.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, that was a very serious accusation he made but I withdraw my comment.

JusticeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the conditions of the amendment to which the justice minister refers will not stop courts from allowing rapists and violent offenders to walk free. It will not do that.

Inasmuch as the justice minister's answer indicates very clearly that he has no intention of limiting conditional sentencing to non-violent offenders, what does he have to say to the victims of violent crime, in particular women who have been assaulted and raped by men who are now walking free because of his bill and because of his refusal to restrict that law to non-violent offences?

JusticeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the case is before the British Columbia Court of Appeal. The argument before that appeal court is that such sentences should never be given in such cases. If the appeal court should see fit to make such a disposition of course it will be binding on lower courts.

The reality is that my friend speaks of victims. All week long the Reform Party has made much of the plight of victims. As I have already said this afternoon there is in Canada a no more credible, hardworking organization in favour of victims and their rights than CAVEAT. There are few more respected outspoken spokespersons for victims than Priscilla de Villiers.

As I have read to the House today, Priscilla de Villiers on behalf of CAVEAT has said that the government listens, has made meaningful change and has acted to change the law to make the plight of victims better. That is the record of the government.

Financial Institutions ActOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, federal legislation on financial institutions prevents insurance companies with provincial charters from acquiring part of the activities of a federally chartered insurance company.

It denies Quebec companies the opportunity to buy blocks of insurance from a competitor withdrawing from the market. The discrimination in the legislation goes so far as to permit a French, American, Brazilian or other company to do what a Quebec company cannot do in its own country.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. Will he agree before this House to correct this discrimination against Quebec companies immediately? He can do it right now in the course of the present review of the legislation on financial institutions?

Financial Institutions ActOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member is aware, Bill C-82 is very important to the insurance industry. It contains many provisions on a variety of broad issues.

I am sure the hon. member will agree with me that any change to an industry like the insurance industry must be made with care. Third, the change proposed by the member was not a priority for the insurance industry.

That having been said, my officials are already considering and analyzing a possibility. I myself am very open to looking at it and giving it full attention.

Financial Institutions ActOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, when the minister says it was not a priority for the industry, I would remind him that a white paper was tabled last year that was almost unanimously approved by the industry in Canada, that contained support for this sort of change by the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc., the Canadian Bankers Association, the Insurance Bureau of Canada, Canada Trust, and so on.

As we are always ready to co-operate in the interest of our fellow citizens, contrary to what the Prime Minister said a few minutes ago, we offer him our services to correct the unjustified discrimination against Quebec's provincially chartered insurance companies before the next election is called.

My question then is: Is he prepared today to initiate a process that will correct this situation with the full co-operation of the official opposition?

Financial Institutions ActOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

LaSalle—Émard Québec

Liberal

Paul Martin LiberalMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as I have just indicated, I am very open to considering a change. My officials are already looking into it, and I am prepared to meet the companies concerned within a fairly short period of time.

I think the hon. member will agree with me that what counts most is to have Bill C-82 passed as quickly as possible, because it contains provisions that are vital to the industry as a whole.