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House of Commons Hansard #155 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was following.

Topics

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Liberal Wellington—Grey—Dufferin—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the overall thrust of this budget has been restoring Canada's fiscal health. The deficit for 1996-97 will be no more than $19 billion; $5.3 billion less than the target of $24.3 billion set in the 1996 budget.

The target for 1997-98 is $17 billion and for 1998-99 it is $9 billion. By 1998-99 the deficit is expected to be 1 per cent of GDP with no new borrowings. On top of that these projections are based on prudent assumptions and include a contingency reserve to cover any unpredictable events.

There is more to this budget than just the figures I have talked about, particularly for the agricultural community. I know the chairman of the standing committee on agriculture is going to be very interested in what I have to say about this. This is the national advantage. It is by far a better way of looking at agriculture than what the Reform Party, heckling me from the other side, has come up with so far.

All stakeholders in our agriculture and agri-food sector stand to gain substantially in net benefits from being included within the larger Canadian federation. Together as a strong and modern unified nation we as an industry are indeed much greater than the mere sum of our individual parts. That is what the Reform regional approach is about.

By being Canadian we have access to a valuable domestic agricultural marketplace serving 30 million people, valued at more than $70 billion per year. While some interprovincial barriers still continue as impediments, over 90 per cent of our agricultural food products flow freely from coast to coast aided by federally developed standards. This is underpinned by the mobility of human technology and by financial resources and a single monetary system.

By being Canadian we all benefit from national regulatory policies which, for example, created and sustained our made in Canada supply management system for dairy, poultry and egg producers. No one province alone would be able to do so. The financial fiscal policies of this government have resulted in a dramatic drop in interest rates. That has saved thousands of dollars in input costs for farmers and the agri-food business in every corner of the country. It is by far a much better system than the tax cuts that are put forward by the Reform Party. National taxation policies which include unique advantages for agriculture are available to all Canadian farmers.

By being Canadian we all gain from Canada's international credibility and influence earned through 129 years of nationhood. Our reputation for the highest quality and reliability is an invaluable asset, something the Reform Party would try to destroy, the respectful manner in which we deal with our customers.

Our unified Team Canada approach to trade missions in dealing with trade disputes has had a strong role for Canada to play in the WTO, the Cairns Group, the Quad Group, the APEC the Commonwealth, the UN and the G-7. In short, worldwide goodwill about Canada gives us the advantage that could not easily be duplicated. By being Canadian we all enjoy substantial economies of scale. This is important for our bargaining clout in dealing with both consumers and competitors.

It is important in running a world class inspection and quarantine system, the cost of which would be prohibitive on a provincial basis. It is important in the field of science and technology where we have the leading edge in research and development facilities distributed nationally according to local natural advantages with all the accumulated knowledge networked to everyone regardless of location.

The 1997 budget funding for the Canadian Foundation for Innovation can be used in support of research into biotechnology and other agricultural sciences. Our national advantage is impossible to quantify but it is hugely important. It is a combination of

synergy, strength, equity and compassion which is the envy of the world, and our government is committed to building it even better.

Budget levels for the key responsibilities of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, research adaptation, safety nets and inspection, were maintained, ensuring the department would be able to continue to meet the needs of the sector. In maintaining spending for these key areas, the 1997 budget responds to the needs of the sector for stability.

The government is working toward a growing, competitive, market oriented agriculture and agri-food industry, one that is profitable, responsive to changing needs of domestic and international customers and less dependent on subsidization; one that contributes to the well-being of all Canadians and the quality of life in rural Canada and one that generates farm financial security, environmental stability and a safe and high quality food supply.

Significant progress has been made toward these goals but more remains to be accomplished. Strong partnerships with all the stakeholders are key to the further success. To this end the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has been consulted extensively with all the agri-food sectors in all the regions through a series of round table meetings across the country, a national conference on Canadian excellence in agriculture and agri-food held in Winnipeg in June 1996, and a prebudget meeting with all stakeholders this December. The output of this effort is a practical business plan which portrays the ambitions of our sector as we head into the 21st century and lays out an agenda for action for governments, farmers and farm organizations, agri-food business and other stakeholders as we together strive to achieve our future goals.

Examples of this consultative process between government and agriculture and agri-food sectors that reflect this desire to move together are numerous. It is hard to put a figure on it.

The Canadian adaptation rural and development fund, for instance, is providing $60 million annually to support diversification, value added processing, market development, innovation and job creation. The national biomass ethanol program will help support financing of ethanol plants across the country. This is the fuel of the 21st century. The pesticide management advisory council and economic management advisory committees are being established right now to better foster communication and co-ordination of pest management issues. The Farm Credit Corporation has introduced new programs which will provide long term stability. A national agricultural environment committee, made up of farm leaders, has been tasked with providing the federal government, the federal minister of agriculture, with advice on new policies, research and development and key agricultural environmental indicators. The Canadian Agri-Food Marketing Council will provide strategic sectoral advice on how to make the most of the available market development programs.

I could go on and on with this good news. We must continue to let more and more people know that agriculture and agri-food in Canada accounts for 8.7 per cent of our gross domestic product. Two million Canadians' jobs are dependent both directly and indirectly on the health of the agri-food sector which presently generates $17.5 billion in exports annually. We are going to go over the top of $20 billion by the end of the century.

The Canadian agri-food sector is on the leading edge of highly sophisticated science and technology. Canadian agriculture is a leader in environmental stability. It is one of our base industries.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Peace River. I should warn him that at 1.21 p.m., under the special order adopted by the House last Thursday, I will be obliged to interrupt the debate and put the question.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

Mr. Speaker, that was the longest one minute I have ever heard.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Liberal Wellington—Grey—Dufferin—Simcoe, ON

But it's good news.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

Reform

Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

I am glad to be part of the debate on Bill C-93. We have to put things in perspective when talking about a budget implementation bill. My perspective focuses on something that members on the Liberal side of the House have not talked about in this debate, the $111 billion they have added to the national debt in the past three and a half years.

An equal amount of debt has been generated by the Conservatives and the Liberals, over $300 billion each in their mandates. It only took the Liberal government three and a half years to accumulate the last $111 billion. Talk about overspending. We are still deficit financing with $19 billion in this current year.

I hear Liberal members in the House and Liberal candidates on the hustings say that now that we have a balanced budget they want to be part of the debate on how to address the national debt. The last time I heard, there was still a $19 billion deficit. That is what is being borrowed this year. That is what they have trouble getting their heads around. They seem to think that a $19 billion deficit is a balanced budget, and that will be the launching point for them to start spending again. That is what Canadians are worried about.

During the last three and a half years we have gone through a whole process of budget cuts. The Liberals are telling people that now we have a balanced budget with a $19 billion deficit, we are going to start to talk about what we are going to do from here on. That could only be Liberal mathematics.

Most Canadians want lower taxes. They want a balanced budget, there is no doubt about that. When we get to that point they want lower taxes which really can only be offered by smaller government. The Prime Minister is saying that lower taxes are not the Canadian way. Where has he been? Canadians want lower taxes. I agree with him that it has not been the Canadian way under Liberal government over the past 30 years, nor was it under the Tory government. Taxes have gone up almost every year to feed this monstrous government we have.

In order to accomplish lower taxes for Canadians, the size government has to be pared down. Most Canadians realize a lot of paring could be done without too much hardship.

We have seen the government spending that has added to our national debt in programs like the national infrastructure program. There is not a Canadian who does not believe that infrastructure needs to be funded, that it is deteriorating and needs to be replaced, but a different method could be used to accomplish this. Some kind of a revenue sharing program between the federal government and the municipalities has to be a better way of approaching it. Then we would not get into these patronage, politically driven motives where the ball bounces only at election time. My understanding is that the government has just announced it is going to increase the amount of infrastructure spending in Quebec by about $112 million. It is going to supplement it a bit before election time. It is important to fix a canal over there.

The infrastructure program that the federal government has proposed will cost $6 billion. The federal Liberal government has spent $2 billion in the last three and a half years. It is borrowed money. That money was financed on international money markets. The program has been a failure. Every job created has cost $60,000 and they are not long term jobs.

Surely the better answer has to be smaller government and lower taxes.

Budget Implementation Act, 1997Government Orders

1:20 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings to put the question on the motion now before the House.

Pursuant to order made on Thursday, April 10, 1997, the question is deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deemed deferred until Tuesday, April 15, 1997 at 12.30 p.m.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Sudbury Ontario

Liberal

Diane Marleau Liberalfor Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

moved that Bill C-27, an act to amend the Criminal Code (child prostitution, child sex tourism, criminal harassment and female genital mutilation), be read the third time and passed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Prince Albert—Churchill River Saskatchewan

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, first I would like to thank my colleagues on the justice and legal affairs committee for their work in relation to Bill C-27.

The committee heard several important witnesses and, following the testimony of those witnesses, decided it would be appropriate to make two major amendments to the bill. I believe that the amendments, dealing with female genital mutilation and the prosecution of cases involving child sexual exploitation committed by Canadians outside Canada, significantly improve the bill by dealing more squarely with the problems of abuse and exploitation of women and children.

Bill C-27 was introduced in the context of the government's willingness to address the serious problem of violence against women and children. Violence violates women's and children's fundamental human rights and freedoms. The harm caused by violence undermines their ability to lead lives free of fear and coercion and imposes great costs on society.

The bill focuses on four particular problems related to violence against women and children: child prostitution, child sexual exploitation, criminal harassment and female genital mutilation. Its purpose is to provide for appropriate criminal legislation to deal with these problems and to make a clear statement that, notwithstanding the context in which it occurs, violence against women and children is clearly unacceptable.

Canada is already playing an important role at the international level to address the problem of violence against women and children. More particularly, through its participation in the drafting of the draft optional protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Canada is committing itself to better protecting children, whether they are here or abroad, from all forms of sexual exploitation and unlawful sexual practices.

The involvement of young people in prostitution, whether in or outside Canada, is a serious and tragic problem which has become more evident over the years. It is particularly troublesome because young people, by virtue of their age and legal status, are more vulnerable than adults to danger, exploitation and abuse.

During the national consultations on prostitution, which were held during 1995 and 1996, it appeared that there was an urgent need to address the problems of youths involved in prostitution as

some provisions of the Criminal Code related to sexual offences against children have had a limited effect in reducing juvenile prostitution. Thus the changes proposed in Bill C-27 in relation to prostitution are aimed at protecting children from adult predators who seek children for sexual services or exploit young prostitutes for economic gain. These changes respond in part to the consultations and to the interim report of the federal, provincial and territorial working group on prostitution summarizing the results of these national consultations.

In relation to the customers wishing to obtain the sexual services of a person under 18, the present wording of subsection 212(4) limits the ability of the police to gather evidence to support a charge as the youth must either be willing to give evidence of his or her age in court or there must be solid evidence from another source of the person's age. Many youths are not willing to provide evidence of their age. Furthermore, police are not able to execute sting operations against those who would purchase sex from youths as the use of an adult decoy would mean that there was no attempt to purchase sex from somebody under 18 years of age.

During the national consultations on prostitution which I referred to earlier, there was strong support for amending subsection 212(4) to increase its enforceability. The present wording proposed to replace subsection 212(4) in Bill C-27 refers to a person who the offender believes is under the age of 18 years with a new subsection 212(5) providing an evidentiary presumption with respect to this belief.

We believe that both of these subsections will greatly assist the enforcement of this provision by allowing for the use of an undercover operator who can present himself or herself to the customers as being under the age of 18 years.

In relation to those who procure young people for prostitution, a new offence of aggravated procuring would also be created for those who, for their own profits and while living on the avails of youths involved in prostitution, use violence or intimidation in carrying out prostitution related activities. In order to send a strong message of society's absolute abhorrence of this type of crime, the offence carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years imprisonment.

While procuring youths is never acceptable as evidenced by the high sentences already included in the Criminal Code, procuring youths with these added serious circumstances is even less tolerable and is to be punished accordingly. Both public protection and the expression of public revulsion for such conduct would appear to require that the minimum time served in a correctional system be subject to legislative rather than judicial and administrative control.

As other victims of child sexual abuse, youths involved in prostitution are genuinely afraid to testify against their procurers due to fear of reprisal. The same can be said in relation to young victims of child pornography or of assault. For this reason, special protection to ease the burden of these youths testifying in court are made available in Bill C-27. These protections include publication bans as well as methods of testifying that are less intimidating than courtroom testimony such as video taped evidence or the use of screens.

Child sex tourism is another important area covered in Bill C-27. As members have seen in the media, there is growing concern at the national and international levels that citizens, mainly from developed countries, should not be able to go to a foreign, usually developing country and sexually exploit children with impunity.

Initially, Bill C-27 proposed to amend the Criminal Code to enable the criminal prosecution in Canada of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who travel abroad to engage in the sexual exploitation of children for money or other forms of consideration. However, in light of very important testimony of several witnesses, the justice and legal affairs committee decided that the bill should go further and allow not only for the prosecution of Canadians who engage in what is often referred to as child sex tourism, but also of Canadians who sexually abuse children, including Canadian children while abroad without any money or any consideration being involved.

The committee decided that two preconditions would be necessary before prosecution could be instituted in Canada in such child sexual abuse cases. First, the foreign state where the offence is alleged to have been committed would have to request Canada to prosecute the offence. Second, the consent of the responsible provincial attorney general would need to be obtained.

The committee decided that contrary to cases involving child sex tourism, where a clear international consensus exists, cases of child sexual abuse committed by Canadians outside of Canada could not be prosecuted in Canada without complying with these two preconditions.

I believe that in view of the lack of international consensus and for reasons related to the sovereignty of the state in which the offence is committed, such preconditions will allow Canada to comply with proper jurisdictional principles.

The practice of child sexual exploitation, whether in Canada or abroad, can be stopped only if each country is committed to adopting legislation to fight it and to working at the international level to have it recognized as being subject to criminal liability notwithstanding where the crime has been committed.

Bill C-27, as modified by the justice and legal affairs committee, recognizes this commitment and sends a very strong message nationally and internationally about Canada's intolerance of such abhorrent practices.

As the preamble to the bill indicates, this government is also committed to taking strong measures against criminal harassment or stalking, as it is sometimes called. The two reforms proposed by Bill C-27 will do exactly that and will thereby provide increased protection to women and their children, who are often the victims of such conduct.

Bill C-27 proposes that a person who commits murder while stalking in circumstances where he or she intended to make that victim fear for their safety and that of others, such as the victim's children, can be convicted of first degree murder. First degree murder carries mandatory life imprisonment with no eligibility of parole for 25 years.

Bill C-27 also proposes that a court imposing a sentence on a person convicted of stalking in the face of an existing protective court order shall treat such a breach as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes.

Support for this strong denunciation of stalking conduct was recently expressed by the federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for justice at a meeting in February.

Further, the Department of Justice's report on the implementation of existing criminal harassment provisions released in January also supports such efforts to treat criminal harassment as a more serious offence.

Bill C-27 also addresses the need to protect women and girls from the life and health threatening practice of female genital mutilation. Young girls in particular are especially vulnerable to this practice by virtue of their lack of maturity and will clearly be afforded better protection against this practice.

Bill C-27 proposes to clarify the existing law's prohibition of the practice by specifically stating that no form of female genital mutilation is permitted by Canadian criminal law.

The Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs has further strengthened this amendment to ensure that there can be no doubt about the illegality of the practice of female genital mutilation. No one can consent to such a procedure that results in bodily harm.

This reform will facilitate the collaborative efforts of the departments of justice, health, the status of women, Canadian heritage and citizenship and immigration in developing public, legal, health and cultural and educational materials on FGM.

I wish to reiterate this government's commitment to addressing the problem of violence against women and children. I believe Bill C-27 is further evidence of Canada's leadership in that area, as it deals with several issues where young people and women are particularly vulnerable, juvenile prostitution, child sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation and criminal harassment.

Not only is Bill C-27 important for all Canadians, it demonstrates Canada's unwavering commitment at the international level to co-operate with other countries in developing measures to curb the abhorrent practice of sexually exploiting children wherever it takes place.

I think this bill demonstrates the commitment of the federal government in dealing with the criminal law to ensure that appropriate measures are put in place to deal in a tough manner with criminals and those who would decide to breach the norms of a civilized society, those norms contained within the Criminal Code of Canada.

As has been indicated on a considerable number of occasions, this legislation adds to the list of very successful, progressive legislation that has been put in place over the last term of the government to get tough on crime. More criminal legislation has been put in place by this government to get tough on crime than any government in the history of our nation. We have much to be proud of.

I wish to congratulate the members of the standing committee on legal affairs for their work and the Minister of Justice for his work in providing this type of leadership throughout the country in the field of criminal law.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, in Bill C-27, you will understand that, at this stage of the debate, the government is already aware of the position of the Bloc Quebecois.

In this bill, I think the Bloc Quebecois has already, on a number of occasions, distinguished itself in the debate concerning amendments to certain provisions of the Criminal Code to protect, among others, children and young women who, in certain situations, were subjected to certain painful practices. We have tried on many occasions to have this debated in the House and in committee.

Today, accordingly, Bill C-27 addresses a number of issues, including female genital mutilation, criminal harassment, child sex tourism, testimony by children, prostitution and procuring. It goes without saying that the Bloc Quebecois supports the government's approach on all these issues.

I would like to remind the government that the Bloc Quebecois member for Québec has worked, I think, extremely hard to advance the debate and, to a certain extent I would say, to persuade the government to take the direction it did with Bill C-27. I will just mention her private member's bills: Bill C-246, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to the sexual exploitation of children

outside Canada, and Bill C-235, an act to amend the Criminal Code regarding the genital mutilation of female persons.

As a result of these two bills, of questions in the House and the pressure by the entire Bloc Quebecois-since the entire caucus supported the hon. member for Québec in this-the government decided to act and to introduce the bill we now know as C-27.

Given its origins, you will understand that the opposition is in favour of bill C-27. The opposition has always been in favour of bills which advanced the debate, which were aimed at remedying situations and shortcomings, and Bill C-27 is one such bill.

As I was saying, then, Bill C-27 addresses a number of aspects, including sex tourism. Given the stage we have reached, I will go over it component by component, with comments and a list of certain things we would have liked to have found in the bill, but unfortunately do not. The Bloc Quebecois will, no doubt, manage to get the government to give in, as it has this time with this bill, with a future amendment to the Criminal Code, or in another Parliament.

Now, when referring to sex tourism, we must understand the context. Everyone will agree with me when I say that the exploitation and victimization of children for purposes of sexual gratification is odious, but does unfortunately exist. This is not something much seen in Canada, but it does unfortunately exist in the third world, in the Asian countries. Poor and disadvantaged children in the developing countries are sometimes abused sexually by tourists from Canada and from Quebec.

In the name of profit, children are kidnapped, beaten, humiliated, and exposed to all manner of diseases, some of them fatal. If we were to do nothing about this, I believe we would be indirectly contributing to this universal scourge.

If this type of sex tourism exists, however, it is because there are people interested in it. We are speaking of people who are usually well-off, who come from the rich countries, the Canadians, the Germans, the Italians and the French. We had to set an example, and Canada has already done so on a number of occasions, no doubt because of the history of this country and its international image developed over the years. We have always set examples in certain areas of activity, and here again we are showing the world how far ahead we are. I am particularly pleased that this idea originated with a member from Quebec.

So, we have financially well-off tourists paying for trips to exotic countries solely for the purpose of purchasing the sexual services of children. I do not think anyone in Quebec or in Canada is prepared to tolerate that. It is a situation we must do something about, everyone agrees. But there are limitations, and I understand that. We had to find a way to structure this bill so as to overcome these obstacles. I think we managed to meet our objective, to some extent.

Why do these people, these customers who are financially well off, go outside the country? Because in Canada it is a criminal offence. They argue that they have so much love to give and want to give it to children in third world, to other people. And they argue-I heard all kinds of things when I was looking into this-that their love was shared, that it was mutual.

People also told us there were cultural differences, that some things that were not allowed in Canada were allowed in other countries. There are all kinds of misconceptions here that should be cleared up, and we must tell these people, who may be quite sincere, that what they do is wrong. Their arguments do not hold water, because according to the Bloc Quebecois, the official opposition, a child's right to security, health and life is sacred, whether you are in Asia, France, Italy, Canada or Quebec.

The problem was that we needed to send a clear message, and I think we were successful. By passing this bill, the House of Commons will send the message that these are serious offences. This was the context that led us to consider passing legislation to deal with this. We know the typical customer, and we also know the explanations they give, and all this had to be reflected in this bill.

Because of the subject matter, this bill was not easy to discuss in committee. I realized that as I listened to testimony and put questions to witnesses. These are rather delicate matters involving a great many concerns, including cultural differences, because Bill C-27 deals with various sexual aspects of the lives of certain people.

This bill confers a measure of extraterritoriality on the Criminal Code. The authorities can prosecute a Canadian national abroad. The Bloc agrees with that; in fact, our members would have liked to go a little further in this respect. Unfortunately, the amendments we proposed in the House of Commons and in committee were not passed. However, what is already proposed in Bill C-27 regarding the law's extraterritoriality is already a step forward, because there was nothing like this before. So we say congratulations. Bravo. We have understood part of it. We would have liked it to go further, to be more detailed, but it is a step forward, and we willingly support a bill that has an impact in this area.

There is another extremely important element, that which concerns excision or female genital mutilation. Here again, the Bloc tabled a bill in 1994 to prohibit genital mutilation. Because it is

important to see the work the Bloc has done in this matter, it is worth pointing out that, on a number of occasions in 1994 and 1995, the member for Quebec City, who was particularly interested in this, asked the Minister of Justice some questions. At the time, the Minister of Justice said we did not need a special section in the Criminal Code, since it already covered this sort of mutilation. Everything was covered in the Criminal Code. There was no need for change, etc.

The minister is dishing up much the same sort of thing now regarding biker legislation: "Everything is in the Criminal Code. There is no problem. Everything is there. The tools are there for the police". So, you will understand that we might have some reservations. This would not be the first time the minister has done an about-face on an issue because of the pressure the Bloc Quebecois exerts and will continue to exert. We exerted pressure in the case of genital mutilation and we are doing it in the case of biker legislation and on other issues as well. We will continue to ask the right questions, to do the right thing for the security of Quebecers and of Canadians as well, because the amendments we are seeking to the Criminal Code will benefit Canada as well as Quebec. It will all perhaps be part of the future partnership of Quebec and Canada, very soon to come about, I am sure.

Next is genital mutilation. With respect to Bill C-27, I am very pleased that my colleague, the government member, mentioned very clearly during his speech that it was impossible to consent to excision in Canada. You will recall that, during first and second reading of this bill, a person 18 years of age could consent to genital mutilation. This showed a great lack of knowledge of the practice, because it is not carried out by Quebecers and Canadians but primarily by people whose culture is somewhat different from that of Canada. It is easy to put pressure on a young woman of 18 years and one day, when she comes of age, and to say to her: "If you want your husband to love you, you must have this done".

We therefore struggled in committee, and I must say it was quite a battle, to have the Criminal Code recognize that a person could not consent to this practice, whether she was 5, 10, 15, 20, 35 or however many years old, without being charged under the Criminal Code.

But we also emphasized, and I think this will perhaps be up to those who administer justice and enforce the law, that cultural groups who have this kind of practice in their country must be educated and given information.

There are penalties in place and I think this is a very important step for Quebecers and for Canadians. Naturally, there are some weaknesses. We would have liked to see certain provisions in the bill, including one that very clearly makes it a new offence in the Criminal Code, to have it singled out in order to draw it to the public's attention. We would also have liked to see genital mutilation considered aggravated assault and clearly indicated as such in the bill, but it is not.

In addition, there are various interpretations of the procedure itself. Do we allow excision when performed by qualified doctors and so on, for medical reasons? I think some things could have been spelled out more clearly, given the importance of the issue. Unfortunately, the minister was unwilling to bend on this point. I understand that, since he had just given in on a major element in his bill where consent is concerned, he was not going to do so with the whole list of Bloc demands made in connection with this bill. At any rate, we do support Bill C-27, because it represents a step forward.

Naturally, where criminal harassment is concerned, the Bloc is totally in agreement there too. This is putting some teeth into what is already in place. The Criminal Code contained certain provisions about criminal harassment, but the sentence was so minimal that, to all intents and purposes, they were hardly ever enforced.

You will readily understand, then, and I will conclude with this, that the government had the entire co-operation of the Bloc Quebecois on Bill C-27 in order to make the bill the most applicable, the most in line with what we are experiencing in Canada, and particularly the most stringent in order to protect those we wish to protect, that is to say, children, young women and all those who suffer directly or indirectly from the scourge of sex tourism, excision or any other offence of a sexual nature.

We support Bill C-27, which was introduced by the government and which is, to all intents and purposes, virtually a carbon copy of the private member's bills we in the Bloc Quebecois tabled in the past.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in favour of Bill C-27. At the outset I would like to respond to the remarks made by the parliamentary secretary to the justice minister who suggested that the track record of the government was to be tough on crime. He said that some of the toughest legislation in the history of the country had been passed by this government.

For the first time in the history of the country convicted rapists are walking free due to Bill C-41 and conditional sentencing. For the first time convicted bank robbers are walking free due to conditional sentencing. For the first time child sex molesters are walking free, thanks to Bill C-41 and conditional sentencing. The hon. member speaks about getting tough on crime and criminals, but actions speak a lot louder than words.

I rise today in support of Bill C-27 although I am concerned that portions of the bill which I will deal with later are unenforceable.

Reform members came to Ottawa in 1993 with a commitment to the Canadian people to reform Parliament. Included in those reforms was a promise to be supportive whenever possible. We promised not to oppose government legislation simply for the sake of opposition. If a bill enhances public safety we will support it. We therefore support the government's initiative in this regard in relation to Bill C-27, in spite of the reservations we have about the unenforceability of some of its sections.

Bill C-27, which is a series of amendments to the Criminal Code dealing with child prostitution, child sex tourism, criminal harassment and female genital mutilation, will help reduce violence against women and children. It is not the only answer. A number of legislative changes must be implemented if we are to continue to eradicate domestic violence and child abuse. Attention must be focused on crime prevention, starting with the identification of the cause of domestic violence.

Section 5 of Bill C-27 amends Criminal Code section 268, making infibulation an offence of aggravated assault. Under Bill C-27 infibulation in whole or in part to the labia majora and labia minora or clitoris of a young person under the age of 18 years will be considered aggravated assault punishable by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 14 years.

Female genital mutilation is abominable and therefore should be outlawed for all Canadians, not just those under the age of 18 years. This barbaric and inhumane practice should be illegal regardless of age to protect all women in the country.

In view of the concern expressed in 1992 by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons this Criminal Code amendment is necessary. The Ontario college reports that there has been a rise in the number of requests of infibulations. Infibulation is the cutting off of a young girl's genital parts including the clitoris and the subsequent sewing together of the opening, leaving room for only urination and menstruation.

Canada has been cited by the World Health Organization as being one of the 40 countries involved in the practice of what has become known as female circumcision, correctly referred to as female genital mutilation.

Female genital mutilation causes a number of short and long term problems including excruciating pain; hemorrhaging; occasional death; exceptionally high rates of infections to the urinary tract, bladder, reproductive organs and bowel; menstrual and pregnancy problems; anemia and disfiguring cysts which not only reduce or eliminate sexual pleasure but often result in extreme pain during intercourse and can even prohibit it.

Suffice to say, the Canadian medical community says female genital mutilation has absolutely no benefits but is completely unnecessary and extremely harmful.

Recently a documentary aired on television on the subject of female genital mutilation. It was absolutely horrifying to witness the barbaric act of inflicting unconscionable pain on a terrified child. It is a memory that will not be soon forgotten. In the film a 4-year old girl sat on what appeared to be stool upon a dirt floor while an elderly woman from the community using a crude instrument cut off her clitoris. No anesthetic was used. No freezing was used. As the girl screamed in horror and pain, the woman proceeded without any sign of anguish on her part or on the part of the mother who not only witnessed the barbaric mutilation of her daughter but was part of it. The mother, showing no sign of emotion, restrained her daughter. When the procedure was complete the girl laid on a dirty mat sobbing with her feet tied together and with her hands bound.

I relay this horrible story to the House today-

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The member will complete his speech at the end of question period.

Canada And The WorldStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Jesse Flis Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, today I draw attention to a recent international poll conducted by Angus Reid entitled "Canada and The World".

The poll was designed to identify the main attitudes of the international community toward Canada, and I am pleased to say the findings were not surprisingly positive.

Canada is internationally recognized as a tolerant and diverse nation. Its social assistance and health programs are world renown, as is our reputation for peacekeeping and human rights preservation.

Canada is regarded as a resource based economy with natural endowments sought after the world over. Furthermore, those polled indicated that Canada boasted a relatively clean environment that is home to vast scenic beauty across a diverse geographical landscape.

Among the concerns voiced by respondents, Canada needs to come to terms with its treatment of aboriginal peoples, a sentiment shared by last year's royal commission report on aboriginal peoples.

Furthermore, Canadians and others indicate their concern regarding the future of Canada's youth in terms of opportunity and employment.

I am pleased to say that the recent budget included positive steps-

Canada And The WorldStatements By Members

2 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry, the hon. member's time has expired.

Liberal GovernmentStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, this weekend the Liberal backroom boys met in Ottawa to determine whether Canadians will undergo another federal election.

Is the legislative agenda of this Parliament complete? No. Have the Liberals completed the four year mandate they were given at the end of 1993? No. Have the Liberals come up with a real plan for the jobs, jobs, jobs they promised? No. Do the Liberals finally have a real plan to ensure the unity of the country? No. Are the Liberals asking for Canadians' opinions on their 40 per cent cut to funding for health care and education? No. Are Canadians demanding an early election?

Why then the meeting of the backroom boys? To decide whether the Liberals should call an election now before their support slips even more.

Canadians can do better. They can make the system more democratic. Under a Reform government elections would be held every four years at a predetermined time of the year. That would be more efficient and more democratic. That is not the Liberal way. They let the backroom boys decide.

Food And Consumer Products Manufacturers Of CanadaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Lyle Vanclief Liberal Prince Edward—Hastings, ON

Mr. Speaker, 90 per cent of the members of this House have companies in their ridings that belong to the Food and Consumer Products Manufacturers of Canada. One-quarter of a million Canadians are directly employed by members of this important association.

Members of the Food and Consumer Products Manufacturers of Canada are in Ottawa this week for food and consumer products week on the Hill. Senior company representatives are discussing the future of this important industry, the second largest manufacturing industry in Canada and which contributes $11 billion to our economy.

I urge all members to join me in welcoming these industry representatives to Ottawa and in wishing them a successful week on the Hill.

Private Guillaume OuelletStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Jean Landry Bloc Lotbinière, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to Private Guillaume Ouellet of the third battalion of the Royal 22e Régiment of Valcartier, born in Saint-Marc-du-Lac-Long and a resident of the riding of Rimouski-Témiscouata.

Haiti is his second posting as a UN peacekeeper. This time, he is going there for a six-month period to protect the democratic system. In 1995, when he was a militia corporal, he served in Croatia.

I would like to draw your attention to Private Ouellet's courage. While being a leader, he remains compassionate and sensitive to the suffering of people who have been left to fend for themselves.

Although the Canadian Armed Forces are having trouble with their image, we must not forget that most members always perform their duties to the best of their ability.

That is what Private Ouellet does every day on the job, without making a big thing of it. I want to congratulate him and his battalion. I also wish him a happy life and a successful career.

New DemocratsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Simon de Jong NDP Regina—Qu'Appelle, SK

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats had a very successful and enthusiastic convention in Regina this weekend. From coast to coast to coast New Democrats are ready to fight the upcoming election.

Canadians have grown tired of the neo-conservative agenda that has totally dominated this Parliament and the sharp swing to the right by the Liberals since they won office in 1993.

Our country is in danger of falling apart, yet this government hacks away at those things that keep us together, our shared values like our social programs and medicare, our culture, our CBC. Instead the government gives us flags to wave.

Canadians are tired of broken promises. They are tired of fighting the deficit on the backs of the unemployed, the poor and working middle class Canadians while the powerful can move a billion dollars off shore without paying a cent of tax.

Canadians realize that Parliament needs many more New Democrats to loudly protest the abuses by the very rich and powerful. More New Democrats-

New DemocratsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The member's time has expired, I am sorry.

St. Boniface SchoolsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to draw attention to two schools in my riding. From Minnetonka School, a grade six class has taken the time to raise concerns on the environment and the future of forests in Canada. I congratulate it for this worthy and extremely important initiative.

Second, the Guyot school recently received a major award for its environmental work. The Seeds Canada Foundation gave its awards to students at Guyot because they finished more than 1,000 environmental projects that had been started by students over the years.

[English]

Ecole Guyot is the only school in Manitoba to be given this award. These students should be proud of their commitment to a healthier and greener environment.

Congratulations to Guyot and Minnetonka for their dedication to a healthier environment.

VolunteerismStatements By Members

April 14th, 1997 / 2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Anna Terrana Liberal Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, volunteerism is very important to all organizations involved in the arts, community work and multiculturalism.

Without volunteers, the work of these organizations would be far more complex and more difficult.

During the 20 years I have done volunteer work, I have met some wonderful people who were deeply involved in their role as volunteers.

This week is national volunteer week and in Canada we have much to celebrate. Not many countries have the luxury of counting on as large a component of volunteers who are skilled, knowledgeable, generous and professional as Canada has.

Today I pay tribute to all those Canadian volunteers I have met and worked with over the years, starting with the seniors of the Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver who look after the grounds under the leadership of Mario Gabriele, a very generous man of 84 years of age. They do it with pride and love.

To all Canadian volunteers, thank you for your work, generosity and dedication.

FisheriesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, the March issue of Treaty News , a publication of the Federal Treaty Negotiation Office, tells us that treaty negotiators must come to terms with some basic questions about the B.C. fisheries resource, including the types of access First Nations should have to fish and in general how fish should be allocated.

These questions have been settled by the Supreme Court of Canada. The court has acknowledged an inherent right to fish for food and for ceremonial and religious purposes. It has denied an inherent right to a commercial fishery unless it can be proven that sales were an integral part of a band's culture prior to contact with Europeans, something neither group participating in the pilot salmon sales projects was able to establish.

The court has ruled that the right to sell does not exist in isolation. Others, non-aboriginals, also have rights.

Questions about the allocation of fish have already been answered by the courts. They should not be renegotiated behind closed doors by federal bureaucrats operating under a secret mandate which ignores the Supreme Court of Canada.

The ElectionStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Jag Bhaduria Liberal Markham—Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadians will be taking a long hard look at the Prime Minister's record in the June election. They will remember his failure to eliminate the dreaded GST. They will remember his failure to initiate an effective job creation program. They will remember his failure to bring real unemployment down.

According to a Statistics Canada report 50 per cent of Canada's youth are presently unemployed. This is almost four million Canadians between 15 and 24 years old who have been left out of the job market. Added to the 1.5 million adult Canadians who are unemployed, the total is a staggering 5.45 million Canadians with no job.

The Canadian dollar is down, long and short term mortgage rates have been increased. On top of this, Canadians have seen the unemployment rate remain at over 9 per cent for 78 straight months.

This is a dismal performance and Canadians will give the Prime Minister and his government a failing grade in the upcoming election.

Jacques VilleneuveStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Maurice Bernier Bloc Mégantic—Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I was absorbed in Formula 1 racing and its professional drivers.

We had a wonderful show yesterday during the retransmission of the Formula 1 Grand Prix from Argentina. After an exciting and challenging race, this young 26-year-old Quebecer, Jacques Villeneuve, climbed the podium for the second consecutive time when he won this Grand Prix.

With his sixth win in 19 Grand Prix races, he not only managed to equal the record of his late father, Gilles, he also showed us all that he is a real Villeneuve, a real champion. He has now become the racer to beat.

I want to congratulate Jacques Villeneuve on his win and I hope he will go on to win the first championship of his young career.

FloodingStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Bethel Liberal Edmonton East, AB

Mr. Speaker, the floods threatening Manitoba today are a tremendous concern to all western members of Parliament.

As a child living in Winnipeg, I can remember the 1950 flood along the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, and I can assure members it was a terrifying experience for me and my family.

Last summer all Canadians witnessed the economic and social devastation to Quebec communities along the Saguenay. While we hope Manitoba's experience will not be as severe, our government is supporting the efforts of the province of Manitoba and the Manitoba emergency management organization.

An interim contribution of $1.5 million has been made. The federal emergency preparedness co-ordinating committee has been reviewing emergency plans and procedures to ensure that all possible federal support is provided when necessary. While the province has the ultimate responsibility for emergency operations, a co-ordinated effort by federal organizations is already under way.

The Canadian Wheat Board has taken steps to move grain out of the threatened areas. The department of fisheries in Manitoba has prepared its fleet of small boats for use by municipalities. The coast guard is doing ice assessment on the rivers.

FloodingStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. member for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke.