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.


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4:15 p.m.


Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

That is a good point. What is the answer to crime in Canada? A gun bill. We are going to tax hunters, farmers and gun club owners. What is wrong with the common sense here?

Shortly after the gun bill was proclaimed five people were shot in my riding in one night. What has the government resolved? These guys did not leave registration numbers on the street. The guns were not even registered.

It is no wonder people are frustrated. People are being killed by guns. Government members say that the gun law will fix it because the guns will be registered. There is not a criminal in this country who will register his gun, you fools. Wake up. This is serious stuff. When five people in one night get blown away, my constituents are incensed by answers like the gun law. It does not make sense.

I listened in a courtroom two weeks ago when a defence lawyer said that the reason we need conditional sentences is the prisons are too full. They let a rapist walk. Another defence lawyer said that being locked up at home and not being able to go out at night is just as bad as being in prison. What kind of people are in the legal industry? What is wrong with the mentality?

Pretty soon we will have to put victims on parole boards. Then we will see some logic. We will have to appoint victims to other boards, including deportation and refugee boards, of which I have attended many hearings.

Some day people will run this country and not the tired traditionalists who come to Ottawa, fall into the party lines and do what they are told. That is what the next election will be all about.

For the people listening to the debate today, there is only one choice. Forget the polls these guys mastermind and pay for. Forget the rhetoric. Remember who stands for what in this country.

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4:20 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Fraser Valley West for his usual eloquent defence of the rights of Canadians to live in peace and without fear to walk down their streets without be affected by criminals.

It has been a great disappointment to me to see what has been going on in the House over the last three weeks, as my colleagues from Crowfoot, Fraser Valley West and Prince George-Peace River fought very hard day in and day out to bring to the House the real plight of Canadians.

It is not an illusion that Canadians from coast to coast are increasingly fearful for their safety as time passes. It is remarkable that as time passes Canadians are not feeling more secure on their streets or in their homes. They are feeling less secure because they have less confidence in the judicial system to protect them from criminals.

That is unfortunate. If there is one basic right we should have in this country it is to live without fear and in peace. Unfortunately that is not occurring.

The statistics show that youth crime is increasing dramatically. Adult criminal activity is going down. However, the statistics do not demonstrate the reality.

Police officers say that quite a large number of Canadians are not going to the police to report their claims. In my constituency office over the weekend the windows were smashed. The police said they would register the complaint but they would not come around. They do not have the time. They have other things to deal with, like paperwork. Our police officers are inundated with paperwork,

restrictions and constraints that the current judicial system has placed on their jobs. Police officers from coast to coast have their hands tied. They are equally upset by what is taking place.

The fault of the justice system does not fall at their feet. The fault of the justice system falls at the feet of members of the House. The House does not do justice to our police officers, the courts, the legal profession in order that there is prompt, fair, compassionate justice to be meted out to individuals who go afoul of the law. The government has done nothing to institute sensible measures of prevention of criminal activities.

I used to work in jails. A few years ago I dealt with a couple of 13-year old prostitutes who were in a youth jail, both of whom were going to be released to the same terrible abusive situation that they had lived in their entire lives. They told me they would go back to prostitution because they had no other choice.

It is a shame that we do have a system that would enable those children to get out of that situation and to live in an environment of peace and security, rather than going back to the same family environment which was full of abuse, violence and drugs.

I told those two young girls that if they continued on that course they would die before their 18th birthday. Within 16 months I encountered those two girls again. I saw the name of one of those girls in the obituary column, a murdered prostitute. The other girl had a stroke because she was mainlining cocaine and had become a human vegetable, irreparably damaged. What a tragedy for those vibrant young girls who could have become functional members of society and lived in peace and security rather than suffering this terrible tragedy; one dead, one irreversibly brain damaged. What a tragedy.

The system does not provide for these people. I had a 15-year old young man stand in front of me in the same jail two years ago and say: "Please, Dr. Martin, do not let me go out because if I go out into the situation I was in before, I will be forced to engage in the same criminal activity for my survival". It is profoundly tragic that we do not have a system to address this.

There has been a lot of very good work done in Canada. I brought to the attention of the justice minister constructive solutions.

Dr. James Mustard in Toronto and his superb group there put forth constructive solutions dealing with early childhood education and ways we can put forward measures to identify children and families at risk, ways we can put forth measures in schools right from kindergarten to identify these kids and help them and their families to develop environments that are free of violence so that those children have the elements of security and love they need in order to survive.

The government likes to bring forth the theory that child poverty is the cause for this. Members need not look any further than the large numbers of immigrants who have come to this country with not a penny in their pockets. They have worked at one, two or three jobs and have provided for their children and themselves basic security at home with love and an opportunity to go to school to develop skills they require.

These children did not have very much in terms of monetary attributes but they did have security. They had love and supportive parents, the most important factors in enabling children to go on to becoming functional, productive and sometimes affluent members of society.

When the statistics are compared looking at the success of immigrant children and non-immigrant children, it will be found that immigrant children do better than non-immigrant children even when the differences in economics are factored in.

It is important that the government look at that and ask why it is so. That is why our party has put forward plans to help strengthen families, to provide families with ways in which they would have more money in their pockets and more time to provide a caring, stable environment that children need as an essential part of their growing up in order for them to become functional members of society.

The government, in the way that we have looked at things over the last 20 years, has totally ignored this perhaps most important investment we can make in our society, the investment we make in our children.

Getting back to more specifics of Bill C-27, the government is dealing with a number of other issues with respect to international child prostitution. We could not agree with that more.

There are sex tours that enable individuals to go from all over the world to places like Thailand where they can engage in sexual activities with under aged children. That is illegal and it should be illegal.

Furthermore, I challenge the Minister of Justice to work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and their counterparts in other parts of the world together to develop an international scheme to address this very important issue.

They could do this through the United Nations and through all the other groups of which we are members. This would show Canada in a leadership role on how to address this very important issue.

I was looking at some of the statistics not so long ago. Very few individuals who go to these countries and engage in sexual activities with under aged children are ever brought to the attention of the justice system.

Very few of them are arrested and very little happens to them. This must stop because it is preying on those people who are most vulnerable in societies, generally speaking the very poor.

The committee on sustainable human development put forward a superb document just about two months ago on child labour. An offshoot of child labour was child prostitution. In that document was a number of very important, very productive measures that the government could take in order to address child labour and hence child prostitution.

This is not rocket science. Some solutions are there from members across the country. Members of both houses contributed to it. Senator Landon Pearson is very knowledgeable on the issue. She put forth some very important interventions.

I challenge the government to bring effective legislation to the House, as we in the Reform Party requested, to address this important international issue. It is sitting on the minister's desk. He should use it.

In 1982-83 the Liberal government of the day decided to make a change in the mindset of the justice department. It said that from then on it would not focus on the rights of innocent civilians but on the rights of criminals. That was to be the primary focus of the justice department.

Canadians do not want that. It is fundamentally wrong for Canadians to believe that the justice department will hold the rights of the criminal ahead of the rights of the innocent, ahead of the protection of innocent civilians.

Contrary to Liberal government members, we in the Reform Party feel the most important functions of the justice department is to uphold the rights of innocent civilians and to protect them. It is absolutely critical for the justice department to have teeth. It should be an overarching rule and thrust of the justice department.

That is why members such as the members for Fraser Valley West and Crowfoot have been raising horrendous examples day in and day out in the House. It is not because we want to shock anybody. It is not because we want to take advantage. The only way we can possibly get the attention of the government is to hit it with hard facts, to hit it with the most egregious examples of what takes place in society and and is being completely ignored.

If the government had been instituting ideas to strengthen the justice department perhaps people who committed rape would not be set free. A pedophile in my riding committed over 1,000 assaults on little boys. Perhaps that person would not have the right to move into the neighbourhood of one of his victims. Let us imagine what is going on in the minds of the family of victims who know full well that the person who abused their family members will be moving in next door. That cannot and should not happen. It should never happen.

People who commit these sexual acts have a problem. Balancing that fact with the right of innocent people to live in peace and without abuse, it is quite obvious it is most important for Canadians to live without the threat of being assaulting, raping them or someone trying to kill them.

There are examples from coast to coast of it happening. It is a great disappointment that in the last 3.5 years very little has been done on the issue.

We have spoken of other important matters. My colleague from Fraser Valley West introduced a victims bill of rights. The Canadian public should ask the government why it stonewalled the bill. Why has the government not allowed the bill? It only called for victims to have some rights in court. Why is there not an established set of rights in court? Why has the government wilfully chosen to stonewall the bill in committee? It had a choice to allow it to go through with input from all sides of the House but it chose not to. Why did it do this? It was for partisan reasons.

We are looking at a government that has chosen partisanship over the safety and rights of Canadians. The Canadian public must clearly ask itself very clearly if it wants a government that will put its own political future over the safety of Canadians.

The government would have a large amount of Canadian public support if it would lead by example, by demonstrating and elucidating a vision for the country, by expressing a vision for the country, by explaining it to the people and by saying that we should work together toward that end. Instead the government follows a course of opinion polls and focus groups. That is what is ruling the country. It is not leadership. It is political expediency. The government would get many more votes if it would express a firm, definitive vision of the country and lead the country in that direction rather than play games. I fail to understand why it has not done so.

In closing, if we are to break the cycle of crime, punishment and incarceration, it will not come from the justice system. It will not come from the courts. By addressing the rights of children we will break the cycle. Families sometimes beget individuals who then become adults who then beget children who unfortunately run afoul of the law.

It is true that there are criminals in every sector of society, every socio-economic group. Many children are being born into families full of abuse and neglect. If we think about it, it is impossible for them to develop the pillars of a normal psyche to enable them to become integrated members of society, individuals who have compassion, sympathy and empathy. Some of these children do

not have the pillars we take for granted. It is absolutely essential for them to learn them.

The Minister of Justice should work with his provincial counterparts in education, justice and human resources and development. Then they could develop a cohesive plan across the country for kids to learn their ABCs in school, as well as sympathy, empathy, appropriate conflict resolution and the dangers of drugs and alcohol. All these issues have to be learned.

This has been done in some areas of the United States. They bring the parents into the school system very early on so they understand the concepts of sympathy, empathy, appropriate conflict resolutions, the dangers of drugs and how to interact with their children in a supportive fashion.

This is the most important, cost effective and humane method to break the cycle of crime, punishment and incarceration. I hope the government listens and takes the suggestions of my colleagues in the Reform Party over the last 3.5 years. If it were to institute some of these measures Canada would be a safer place.

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4:35 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my colleague's comments in reference to the bill, specifically to the children and how many of them have been affected by crime and abuse in society. I have to agree with him. I thought his statements were very appropriate.

As a police officer for 20-some years I came across many heart-wrenching situations that impacted directly on families and children. We want to deal with the perpetrators, the ones who abuse. We want to hit them hard, to tell them it is inappropriate behaviour and to get the point across. The way the courts have shifted over the years, they really do not impact in that way. They do not strike the abuser as he should be struck by being put in his place.

In one section a new offence will be created under subparagraph (2.1). It is called aggravated procuring and is applicable to:

every person who lives wholly or in part on the avails of prostitution of another person under the age of 18 years, and who

(a) for the purposes of profit, aids, abets, counsels or compels the person-to engage in or carry on prostitution with any person or generally, and

(b) uses, threatens to use or attempts to use violence, intimidation-in relation to the person-

It goes beyond the regular section of procuring. It deals with a child or a person under the age of 18. Attached to it is a mandatory minimum term of five years in prison to a maximum of 14 years, which is above the Criminal Code provisions at the present time. For all intents and purposes it is good that the abuser of children will be hit with a minimum sentence.

A charter argument of cruel and unusual punishment comes into play. It has been used time and time again. It has been brought forward frequently under other pieces of legislation. Some pieces of legislation have been struck from the record even though the intent on the part of the government was to move it through and certainly make it sound good. That has happened.

Would the member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca like to comment on the fact that the provision is for a minimum mandatory sentence of five years? Does he believe it would be a suitable case for a charter argument to have this provision struck from the record as being cruel and unusual?

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4:40 p.m.


Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Calgary Northeast. He has repeatedly brought his police expertise before the House over the last 3.5 years. He has made many eloquent speeches and instructive suggestions to strengthen the justice department. No doubt his constituents in Calgary Northeast will re-elect him in the coming election for all the hard work he has done in the justice area.

He raised the issue of the charter being used to subvert what Canadians would commonly embrace as justice. He referred to what some charter experts might say, that it is cruel and unusual punishment to put a pimp jail for five years who is assaulting and abusing a minor in the worst possible.

Most members in the House and I would argue that it is cruel and unusual punishment for an adult to abuse minors and force them into a life of sexual abuse, prostitution, violence and often drug abuse.

I neglected to mention another aspect of the bill. It repeatedly refers to the concern of the government in the area of violence against women and children. Everybody would agree with that. However men suffer from violence too. It is a huge disservice to half the people in Canada to exclude men from the purpose of the bill.

People suffer violence. It does not matter if it is a man or woman. A victim is a victim. There has been a strong movement in the justice department and in many aspects of legislation in Parliament that tends to focus on women to the exclusion of men. That will not bring the genders together. It will separate them.

It is important that we start talking about our laws in a gender blind fashion. To exclude women is wrong. To exclude men is equally wrong. I ask that the government have gender blind rules and regulations and not focus on one gender over another.

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4:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

It is my duty, pursuant to Standing Order 38, to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Mackenzie-Transport.

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4:45 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to address this bill in a different fashion. We have been talking a lot about criminal justice matters over the last few days and there is going to be more on the plate of this Parliament as the justice minister tries to push through other bills. I understand there are two in the line of succession. There is an anti-gang coming forward. What shape that is going to take is anybody's guess.

I want to talk to the moms and dads for a while, and specifically those moms and dads who have perhaps had their daughters, young ladies, run away from home and fall into the clutches of an unsavoury procurer, a pimp in common language on the street.

It is a heart wrenching thing to see some of these young girls who have run away and have come into the grasp of these leeches who hang around waiting for these unsuspecting young people. They are there ready to take hold of them and actually in a very few short months after these young people have run away turn them on to something they never dreamed would be possible for them to be doing.

I can relate to a situation some years back in my police career where one such criminal was so intrusive into the lives of some of these young people and had pushed so many of them out on to the street into prostitution that we had to form a special unit to deal with him. He and his henchmen were solely set on grabbing these young runaways and putting them on the street and they had done so in great numbers.

How would this criminal go about doing that and have young people willingly prostituting themselves on the street? How would he go about doing that? I do not believe the majority of politicians even understand what happens to a young lady who has run away from home, somebody's daughter, and falls into the clutches of these criminals. I do not believe that most politicians understand. In fact I do not believe that a lot of people really understand what happens.

I am going to tell the story because it happens all too frequently. I think it needs harsh treatment for those who abuse.

In any event, this guy who was the overseer of all these thugs on the street was also a cocaine dealer. Of course his intent was to have the prostitutes out there. He wanted to control his band of girls. Some as young as 12 to 13 years old were under his so-called guidance. He would have his henchmen prowl the streets at night. It was pretty common knowledge where the runaways would go if they left home. Some of them got away unscathed but many of them fell into the clutches of these characters.

They would grab the girls. These thugs would treat them very well at first. They would pay attention to them. They would buy them gifts. They would show that they cared in some fashion. It was all very superficial of course because there was an underlying reason for doing these things.

Then they would start the girls on a bit of cocaine at a party. They would pay lots of attention to them over two, three or four days. There were some things the girls wanted from mom and dad and they felt that their needs could be met by these characters. Little did they know what was in store for them.

As time went on the cocaine amounts would increase. Then, when a dependency on the substance took hold, it was time for Mr. Big to say "you owe me now, I am going to put you on the street and you are going to be one of my girls". The young ladies were prepared for the street by being gang raped for two or three days. They were kept in confinement.

This brings to mind another revision to the Criminal Code which was made by the justice minister that lessened sentences concerning confinement.

The young girls would be put out on the street with their cocaine habit. The thugs were relentless in digging up whoever they could. The runaways were a prime target. There was an endless supply.

It was difficult for the police to pinpoint the abusers and it was difficult for the courts to convict. Seldom did they get the evidence required unless the girls were willing to testify in court. However, intimidation by the pimps was so great that many of them were afraid to testify.

After a period of time of being abused sexually they had such low self-esteem that they did not really care about a lot of things. The procurers and the pimps remained, for the most part, untouched.

I can remember one project in which we tried to nail one guy. We never did get him on prostitution. We got him on drugs but not on prostitution because that evidence was not forthcoming. The destruction that was brought about by his actions left an indelible mark on a lot of lives. It is up to the law to offer some protection to the witnesses who come forward.

That is the ugly side of life. It is there. I do not think it should be totally hidden to parliamentarians. I certainly do not think it should be hidden to the general public. I believe that the general public would not find the actions of any pimp to be acceptable.

I do not know about all the information that was before the committee and the justice minister when this bill was drafted. However, I assume they must have taken into account some very devious criminals when they suggested a mandatory minimum sentence of five years imprisonment. I think it is still going to be a very hard one to prove. But the questions do come up about this type of legislation. It will no doubt be challenged.

I have read some of the outline reference to this provision and it is almost anticipated by the justice minister and the department that the matter will be challenged under section 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I think there has to be some sort of test. If the public in general finds this unacceptable, I think that is the test, not what the courts say. Some code charges and criminal offences are certainly higher in the minds of the public than others, and this is one that is sometimes hidden and secluded. But it is there. It is real and it is still very detrimental because it does cost society a lot when it comes to paying for rehabilitation of the victim. Those who are caught up in this terrible whirlwind of events of prostitution and drugs have to go through a terrible amount of rehabilitation.

The provisions of the Criminal Code as outlined in Bill C-27 I agree with. I think there should be minimum mandatory sentences. I believe that is quite positive. I am certainly prepared to support those in every way that I can.

A second point that I found very interesting is the whole area of harassment or stalking. In 1991 an Ontario study found that 61 per cent of women who were murdered in the province between 1974 and 1990 had been killed by intimate male partners, whether current or estranged, and that 75 per cent of these had taken place in the victim's home.

The minister through Bill C-27 desires to make stalking which results in a death a first degree murder charge. I agree with that. I believe for the most part it is a first degree murder charge. One would have to prove the whole stalking event.

Here is where I have a bit of a problem. The legislation sounds very good, quite positive. Overall it sounds like something I would draft. However, look at the results of the 745 applications. From the time of the first application until mid-1995 I believe there were 46 applications from first degree murderers for early release, and 11 applicants who had their sentences reduced murdered women, their wives, girlfriends or women they knew.

I have to come back to the legislation. Sure, it sounds wonderful but let us look at the statistics of release under section 745 and the true story will be heard. Of the 46 applicants, 8 murdered policemen and three murdered children. So 14 out of the 46 murdered women and children, charged with first degree murdered, applied for early release and had their sentences reduced.

It is okay to come out with what sounds like a good piece of legislation which is supportive of women and children in the country.

When people look at the statistics on release and how the government views those who commit such violent acts, we have to ask ourselves why they should be let out earlier. When we talk about those who have taken the lives of their partners, we are talking mostly of men committing acts of violence against women.

I am pleased to see good, sound legislation come in. However, it is like all the other bills we have had. Bill C-45 tinkers with section 745 on early release. One bill steps on the violent offender and the other undoes everything the first bill stated.

I have major questions about how a government can act in that fashion. Looking at the broader picture, it is somewhat deceitful. The whole picture is not seen before looking at everything.

A third part of this bill deals with female genital mutilation. It is good to see provisions dealing with that offence. In some countries it is commonly practised. In Canada it is not acceptable. I agree with that aspect of Bill C-27.

I am encouraged by one bill, which does not sound very good. However, one bill coming from the government actually deals precisely with these offences. There are no provisions that weaken the bill although I pointed out section 745, which is in another bill and in another part of the Criminal Code.

In that respect, we support the bill and look forward to debating the next one.

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5 p.m.


Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my hon. colleague from Calgary.

When he was elected, he was an acting police officer. My concern about this bill-we are supporting the bill-is that we are creating the impression that it will do something about the child sex tours to other countries and that, through this legislation, we will create a penalty for a pedophile who goes to another country and has sex with children.

My concern is in the area of enforcement and establishing a prima facie case. I want my hon. friend to address his thoughts to this. He, in his former career, as I did a number of years ago, had to put cases together. We needed evidence that gave us reasonable and

probable grounds to believe that an offence had been committed. Based on that, we were allowed to lay an information, a charge. In addition, we needed evidence to support the charge, evidence that, under normal circumstances, would bring about a conviction by the court. He would need a well established case based on solid evidence.

Does he share my concern about the government passing legislation to allow for the successful prosecution of Canadians who travel to another country, commit what would be an offence in Canada over there and come back here? What are the chances of a successful prosecution? What resources would be required in order to establish a successful prosecution? Would the child who was involved in the sex act have to appear and give testimony? If so, how difficult would it be not only to gain the consent of the child but also to bring her here? Does he see anything in the bill where the child would not have to appear here? Is there written testimony, an affidavit that could be sworn that could be admissible in court? He may not want to touch on some of these areas but I have great concern that part of the bill will be unenforceable.

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5:05 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question which addresses a portion of the bill that will be very difficult to enforce. I cannot see how the testimony of any individual living outside the country can be brought forward in any form. We have no jurisdiction in other lands. My colleague from Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca mentioned Thailand as being one place where this kind of trade exists. It will be very difficult to enforce any kind of Canadian law or to compel witnesses who live outside the country to attend and testify in a Canadian court of law.

There may be other ways to address this issue. Perhaps we could focus on the tour guides who arrange for such tours into other nations. We could crack down on the marketing side of it here. Again, evidence will be difficult to accumulate and the proof would still lie at the other end of the trip to really establish that something did in fact happen. That part of the bill will be difficult to address.

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5:05 p.m.


Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I know the member for Calgary Northeast is quite interested in sentencing, in amendments to the Criminal Code that involve sentencing and in having the punishment fit the crime. We have some problems in that area.

Is it the lawmaker's fault? Is it the politician's fault? Is it our fault here in this Chamber that we do not tell judges what the punishment should be? Do we give judges too much leeway in applying a sentence to a particular crime? We often read stories the paper that make us shake our heads. We wonder why the judge gave such a light sentence for an apparently horrendous crime. The public is upset with that.

What is the cure for that? Is it a justice minister who would bring amendments to the Criminal Code to narrow the punishment and be

more specific? For example, should there be minimum sentencing for certain things?

Then there is the idea of living out the sentence. I have never understood section 745, the faint hope clause. If you are guilty of premeditated murder, you will be sentenced to life. You have the right to appeal your sentence after 25 years and then you are given a second right of appeal after 15 years. It seems like we are tinkering instead of getting more specific and narrowing the range. Could the member comment on that.

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5:05 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. One area of debate has been neglected in Parliament: the selection of judges, the judiciary and how judges are appointed.

For too long the input from the average person into our criminal law has been shut out. There has not been consultation. Most of the laws and changes to the law that have come about in the various bills have been as a result of a very narrow focus on the part of the justice minister and this government.

For too long people have been sitting back, as have parliamentarians, and letting it happen. From what I can tell, they have not had a debate on some of these issues for some years. If they have I do not know when it was because we sure did not see it reported anywhere.

First we have to again look at the judges that have been selected to date. Many of them appear to have a certain philosophical point of view that is much in keeping with the legislation that is coming from the government. We are going to have to put a different selection process in there for the judiciary. Anyone who abuses a position, like offering a conditional sentence for a proven rape, should be fired. There should be some way to fire a judge. That is not something that happens very often. We are really going to have to examine the whole selection process and put some checks and balances into the whole process.

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5:10 p.m.


Grant Hill Reform Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, one thing that I have been surprised at is the issue of the age of sexual consent. This bills deals with prostitution and young prostitutes. The age of sexual consent is not commonly known to many Canadians as being 14 years of age.

I would be quite interested for the member, who has broad experience in police matters, to make a comment on the age of sexual consent and whether he thinks it is appropriate at age 14.

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5:10 p.m.


Art Hanger Reform Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I certainly do not think it is appropriate at age 14. In fact I believe that the age should be kicked back up to 16 for sure but even as high as under 18 years of age. I have seen time and time again violations of young women by much older men. Because the age limit is so low right now, this whole

argument of consent comes into play. Some horrible offences take place even with young women as early as 15 or 16 years old and their perpetrators walk free because of the age of consent aspect in sexual matters.

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5:10 p.m.


Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise today and add my comments and perspectives on Bill C-27, another justice bill, another act to amend the Criminal Code.

I want to state very clearly at the outset that Reform is supporting this bill. The reason why I want to state that so clearly is because it seems that often we are accused of opposing everything that the government does.

If people will take the time before and during the next election campaign to do their research and to see what we have said and the positions we have taken on legislation that has passed through the House over the past three and half years, they will find, quite surprisingly, that we have supported a lot of government legislation, but not without concerns. We have been very vocal, as I feel that we should be, with our concerns as we try to represent our constituents on important legislation that comes before the House.

We are supporting Bill C-27. As has been indicated by a number of my colleagues, the members for Crowfoot, Calgary Northeast and Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca when they spoke to this bill, it really covers off several issues in one bill even though the bill is quite succinct. It is only about eight pages and contains only eight clauses. First, this bill adds an additional offence, that if someone lives on the avails of a person under the age of 18 and uses, threatens to use or attempts to use violence, intimidation or coercion to effect that aim, the individual is subject to a minimum punishment of five years.

We have heard a number of Reform speakers raise the concern that has been expressed on both sides of the House about the possibility of a charter challenge. In particular the member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca very clearly stated that Canadians have to understand what we are talking about here. We are talking about pimping. We are talking about pimps. We are talking about the lowest form of human degenerates I believe on the face of the earth who would use children in this manner.

If there is ever a case that could be made to push the envelope of a charter challenge I believe very strongly that pimps would be it. They are disgusting individuals who would use other people in a manner like that and manipulate them. It is high time we come down very strongly on the side of morality and this issue and send a message to these people that their acts of manipulating, using and abusing children are not to be tolerated in society.

We are very strongly in favour of that clause. If it comes to a charter challenge, so be it. Let us face that obstacle when we come to it.

Another clause in the bill deals with female genital mutilation. The proposed legislation would protect those under the age of 18 in that it does not allow for consent to mutilation, even where the child actually consents to that type of operation. That is not good enough. The Reform Party has been very outspoken on this issue in the 35th Parliament. We support that as well.

Another area that the bill deals with is the whole issue of child sex tourism. Some of my colleagues have spoken on the difficulties it presents in international relationships and trying to work those types of things through international diplomacy and working with other countries to ensure there is some standard globally when it comes to those who would prey on children and use them in an improper manner.

The other issue in this bill is it amends the classification of murder. If in the course of a criminal harassment, stalking, death occurs then the offence is deemed to be first degree murder regardless of a planned or deliberate intent on the part of the assailant. This is an interesting clause. It is certainly one, as we have with so many justice bills, that we support on the face of it.

I would raise an issue that has been bothering me on many justice issues. The government is going to hold up this clause in the upcoming election and say "We have come down strong on the side of women who are being stalked. We are going to get tough. If a woman is stalked and murdered from now own that is going to be first degree murder". Interestingly, what are we talking about here?

We are talking about 15 years. That is all we are talking about for someone who deliberately stalks a woman and terrorizes her, in some cases for years and years. She knows this individual is out there. There is not a day or a night in her life that she is not very aware of that, living in fear day to day, night by night. Finally that stalker commits murder.

What is this government saying? It is going to automatically convict that person, if found guilty, of first degree murder. This government will not bring about the abolition of section 745. This government is going to point to this and say "We have come down tough. We are getting tough on crime. We are coming down on the side of those who are being stalked in society". In reality it is talking about 15 years for someone who does something like that.

Is that going to provide deterrence? I think not. Is that going to or should it satisfy those women out there, the hundreds if not thousands, who are being stalked as we are carrying on this debate today? I know there are a number in my riding. I have met these

women face to face and I have heard their pleas for help. I am sure all members have if they are doing their job. Is this the best we can come up with to assist those women? It is pathetic. It is disgusting. This is saying that if they happen to get murdered then we are going to convict their assailant, their stalker, of first degree murder and it is 15 years.

This is not good enough for me. It is certainly not good enough for Reformers and we will be reminding this government and its candidates every chance we get during the next election campaign. Where is their commitment to women?

Where is their commitment to women when it comes to section 745 and Bill C-41, conditional sentencing? Where is their heart when these women are crying out for some justice? Clearly those cries are falling on deaf ears when it comes to this government. We have raised this issue of conditional sentencing time and time again during question period, in speeches and presentations in this place, and the hon. justice minister sits over there and ridicules and admonishes Reformers for even raising the issue. He mocks and scorns us. He says how dare the Reformers bring up these cases and these issues.

The real message is going to get out. I hope it is getting out. I have met with groups in my riding, as I am sure all Reformers have and hopefully all members have regardless of their partisan affiliation. They have met with groups who are concerned about criminal justice or the lack of it. In meeting with those groups I have had to tell them that I agree with everything they say as they present case after case where people are not held accountable, whether it is young offenders or people who are stalking women or people who are preying on the most vulnerable members of our society, or pedophiles, these disgusting degenerates who are preying on our children.

I have sat there and felt their pain and I felt defenceless. What could I do? What could I do as an individual member of Parliament but carry their message to this place and try as hard as I can to get this justice minister and his bunch of bleeding heart Liberals to understand what is happening out there in the real world. That is what Reform is all about. That is what Reform is trying to do, carry that message to this place where we are ridiculed, mocked and scorned. I say shame on the justice minister.

I want to ask Canadians as we head down the campaign trail in this next election to take the time to really understand what has happened in this place on justice issues in the last three years.

On one side we have the justice minister saying that he has done so much for the victims of crime and that he has brought in all of these laws to get tough with criminals. We do not believe it. A lot of people have told us they do not believe it.

I am appealing to the people who will be casting a ballot in the next election to understand what has happened over the past three years. What have those laws done and what have they failed to do? The very future of our society depends on how we handle this issue.

I would ask those people to look at the private members' bills which Reform members of Parliament have taken the time to draft and introduce in the House of Commons. I have been a member of Parliament for only three and a half years. Three times I have drafted and introduced legislation which would reinstate capital punishment so that people like Clifford Olson and Paul Bernardo would never have an opportunity to reoffend or torment their victims. We would not be debating whether someone like Clifford Olson could revictimize the families of the victims in court August 18 because Clifford Olson would not be breathing. He would not be a problem. That is where I stand on the issue.

Consistently about 70 per cent of Canadians when polled say they support the reinstatement of capital punishment for cold blooded, first degree murder, and yet the government refuses to act. It refuses to hold a referendum on capital punishment, as suggested by the Reform Party, or the second best thing, a free vote in the House of Commons so that MPs could truly represent the wishes of the majority of their constituents. That is too much to ask.

I ask the people as we head down the campaign trail to take a look at what Reform members have drafted and introduced by way of private members' bills. We have done everything procedurally possible to draw to the attention of the government the wishes and the will of the Canadian people on justice issues as well as on many other issues.

Many Reformers are strong supporters of consecutive sentencing as opposed to concurrent sentencing. We would not have to worry about section 745 for an animal like Olson if he got a life sentence, even the scaled down version of life sentence which the Liberals support. Multiply 15 years by the 11 victims which he has claimed credit for and there would not be a problem. He would never get out if we had consecutive sentencing like they have in some of the states.

There are lots of things that we can do if we want to get tough on crime. None of them is being done by the justice minister and the Liberal government.

The people living in the real world are doing everything they can. We in this House are failing them. There are organizations such as Rural Crime Watch, Crime Stoppers, Block Parents, Neighbourhood Watch and the victims groups, many of which have recently been formed. They are trying to raise the voice which is crying out for justice across the country.

The people of Canada are doing everything they can. They are looking for new avenues all the time to try and bring about justice.

I know in my home town of Fort St. John the people have formed a community justice group which is looking at other means of sentencing, primarily for young offenders, which is built on the native model of circle sentencing. They are having some good initial success with misdemeanours and minor crimes. They are trying to help kids to get off this criminal track. The people are reaching out and trying everything. They are willing to give of their time, their energies and their resources to do whatever they can think of to make their communities safer.

They are forming these organizations but this place is failing them. They tell me when I meet with them, as I am sure when other MPs meet with groups and individuals, that what is lacking is deterrence and accountability.

Consequences and accountability are things that we took for granted when I was growing up, but are lacking in the system because of Liberal-Tory laws that have been passed. Precendents have been set in the courts over the last while. The people are crying out for justice. They are willing to do whatever they can to assist. But some responsibility has to fall to the legislators. We have to do our bit also, and the government is not doing that.

I ask the people that before they cast their ballot in the next election to very carefully consider that. I ask them to do their homework before they mark their x . If they do that, I am sure they will not be supporting the government's weak-kneed, bleeding heart approach to criminal justice.

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5:30 p.m.


Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my hon. colleague for his address on Bill C-27.

We have discussed a number of issues related to crime over the last two or three weeks and we are going to be addressing more. We have some difficulty with possible charter challenges in some areas of legislation. The hon. member for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca mentioned this in his address on Bill C-27.

We had this type of discussion when we touched on Bill C-45. We wanted the complete elimination of section 745 of the Criminal Code which allowed first degree murderers an opportunity for reduction of their parole ineligibility after serving just 15 years. We were told that it would be contrary to the charter of rights to make the law retroactive. That involved some of the contents of Bill C-45 as well. It could not be made retroactive. Why? Because it would be a violation of the charter of rights.

Well, when the charter was introduced, a safeguard went along with it. That safeguard has never been used by the federal government, but it has been used a couple of times by a couple of the provinces.

The charter of rights and freedoms is being interpreted in such a way that it strikes down laws passed by the representatives of the people and which are in the best interests of the people. I wonder if my colleague has thought about the lack of courage or intestinal fortitude on the part of the government since the enactment of the charter of rights and freedoms. The safeguard could be used that would say to the people of Canada that in spite of what nine men and women in the supreme court might say, or anyone sitting on the bench at any level might say, how they are going to interpret the laws passed by this House.

Is it in the best interests of the people of Canada? Are they going to strike down those laws and deny the people the benefit that would flow from those laws because of their interpretation of those rights?

What is the hon. member's opinion or feeling about using the safeguard that was placed there for governments to use? That kind of thing has happened over and over again. It is being used by the government to justify not moving adequately and properly against section 745 of the Criminal Code that allows first degree murderers an opportunity, after serving just 15 years, at early parole.

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5:35 p.m.


Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the comments and question from my hon. colleague from Crowfoot. As usual, he cuts to the nub of it and gets right to the main issue.

I have travelled across the country and talked to countless people involved in the justice system: judges, policemen from varied backgrounds, city police and provincial police, the RCMP and crown counsels who deal daily with the frustration of seeing criminals get off scot-free because of these laws.

As I talk to thee people involved in the justice system I keep hearing that the problem is the charter of rights. We have to do something about it. I am not a lawyer-

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5:35 p.m.

An hon. member

Thank goodness.

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5:35 p.m.


Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Yes, thank goodness.

I cannot comment in depth on whether the notwithstanding clause is the answer to getting around the problem the system has with the charter. A step in the right direction would be the motion by the member for Fraser Valley West to enact a victims bill of rights to offset some of the power and to provide some guidance for judges when they bring down their rulings. I believe that would

help but it would not be the whole answer, as I am sure the member for Fraser Valley West recognizes. I am not sure that enacting the notwithstanding clause would be the whole answer either.

Surely something that can be done. I sense the frustration that my colleague from Crowfoot feels. As we have raised these justice issues the passed three years we have constantly been getting this nonsense thrown at us from the other side: "We cannot do that. We would like to do that but we cannot do it because it will invoke a charter challenge". There is this bogeyman that if we go too far then the charter challenge is going to come down and stop us.

We on this side of the House have often remarked that if we cannot do something about it in this place, good god, where in hell are we going to do something about it? That is what the people are asking us.

The people are telling us that there are problems in the system when rapists are walking free. The government gets up and says there are no problems because the crown is appealing it. That is the nonsense that we have heard from the justice minister for the last week on the fallout from Bill C-41 and conditional sentencing. That is what the Canadian people have been listening to and have had to put up with.

The reality is that those victims should not have had to go through an appeal. Goodness gracious, if the system was working properly, no one can tell me that a judge would rule that a rapist who was found guilty should walk out of the courtroom scot-free. It cannot be so.

People in my riding say to me all the time, as do people in every other riding to their members of Parliament: "Tell me it cannot be so". The minister's response is that the crown can appeal. That is absolute nonsense.

There would not have to be an appeal if the sentence was appropriate to begin with. If the sentence was appropriate, the only appeal would be on the part of the criminal. He would appeal because he believed it was too harsh. It should not be the crown appealing because the sentence was too lenient for rape.

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5:40 p.m.


Charlie Penson Reform Peace River, AB

It is a sorry system we have.

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Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

It is disgusting. It is not only Reformers who are fed up with this nonsense. I hope there is a growing awareness in the real world, outside the fantasyland of this town, of what is going on.

I do not have the answer to the question posed by my hon. colleague. Something has to be done, like invoking the notwithstanding clause, to get around the charter challenges of some of the laws that people are crying out for and demanding. Let us do it. Let us get on with it. Let us face that challenge when we come to it.

Let us not use it as an excuse, as the justice minister does to do nothing but to sit and say: "We cannot do anything about it because there will be a charter challenge". Hogwash.

If we cannot do anything about it here, where will people go? Is it any wonder that people have lost faith in the system when politicians say that they cannot do anything about it? There has to be something we can do about it.

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5:40 p.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, sometimes at the beginning of a television program, there is a little warning that it will be sensitive material, that perhaps children should be restricted from watching. I would like to put that warning at the beginning of my speech today.

I will deal with a topic that will be offensive to some, however, it needs to be talked about now. We have done quite a bit of research on this lately.

Forcing children into prostitution and forcing them to participate in pornographic acts is a horrific violation of the innocence of our youth. It needs to be punished to the full extent of the law.

Unfortunately, only Reformers seem to be listening and acting on what the people want. We heard the previous speakers emphasize this over and over. While a succession of Liberal and Tory governments have taken a few tentative steps to improve the law, the Criminal Code provisions regarding child prostitution, child pornography and the definition of obscenity need to be strengthened.

Better enforcement will help us bring more criminals living off the avails of child prostitution and child pornography to justice but mandatory minimum sentences are necessary to deter the criminal element from getting into this sick business in the first place. Recent cases involving importation, possession and distribution of child pornography on the Internet demonstrate the need to crack down and crack down hard.

A point that needs emphasis is that child prostitution and child pornography are inextricably linked. One cannot be looked at without looking at the other. The two issues are completely tied together.

Our research shows-this should be alarming to all those listening-that there has been a 170 per cent increase in sex offences since 1984. In a Canadian study of male inmates convicted of rape, 86 per cent of the subjects admitted to being regular or habitual users of pornography. That ought to tell us something very clearly.

A survey of Canadian use of pornography indicates that young persons aged 12 to 17 years are the primary consumers of pornography. Less than 10 per cent of pornographic materials depict vaginal intercourse between one man and one woman. The majority of pornographic products are the hard core variety

depicting one or more of the following: group sex, bestiality, torture, incest, bondage, urination, defecation, sado-masochism and sex with children.

Here are some recent news headlines that should alarm everyone. The first one comes from Montreal Gazette of September 6, 1996:

B.C. school principal charged with creating child pornography. If the allegations are true we have seen a grave violation of trust of parents and students.

The next one is datelined Vancouver:

The arrest of a Burnaby elementary school principal on child pornography charges sent shock waves across British Columbia yesterday. Inspector Ken Doern said police would be sifting through a large amount of material, including videos, audio tapes, photographs and written material.

Another one comes from the Ottawa Sun of August 27, 1996:

Pedophiles "shop" the Internet for victims. "The Internet has become a shopping centre for pedophiles", says a local investigator. Regional police Detective Keith Daniels, of the child abuse-sexual assault unit says the worldwide web has given predators a larger, more dangerous outlet to find victims.

It includes child prostitutes, I might add. The third one I would like to quote is from an article in Maclean's of November 18, 1996 entitled ``A mountain of smut-Police make an arrest in a child porn ring on the Internet'' and reads:

Each printout is a colour photograph of one or more naked children, some in sex acts with adults, some with their genitals displayed, sifting through 30,000 computer files in what may be the world's largest ever seizure of computer child pornographic files. Jim Carrol, the co-author of the Canadian Internet Handbook says, "And the problem is going to get worse. If the police think they have a challenge today, they haven't seen anything yet".

The government's amendments proposed in Bill C-27 fall far short of providing the public protection and severe punishment Canadians are demanding for these despicable crimes.

The Liberal proposals include making it illegal to attempt to procure sexual services from someone under 18; a new offence for aggravated procuring that would carry a five-year minimum sentence which would apply to criminals who live off the avails of child prostitutes, use violence and assist in carrying out prostitution related activities; allowing the child victims to testify from behind a screen, by video tape or closed circuit television; and, last of all, encouraging rigorous enforcement of Criminal Code provisions focusing on pimps and customers.

Unfortunately the government has not proposed any amendments strengthening the child pornography provisions of the Criminal Code. It should include strengthening the definition of obscenity in the Criminal Code. There should be a restricting of the use of artistic merit as a defence by those who produce child pornography. There should be a placing of the onus on the accused in any child pornography case to prove the so-called art passes the community standard of tolerance test. Those items should be included in the bill.

I also point out a major weakness in the government's child prostitution legislation. Bill C-27 creates a new offence for aggravated procuring which would carry a five-year minimum sentence.

The lawyers from the Library of Parliament explained it this way in their legislative report on Bill C-27:

-the new offence is applicable to anyone living to any extent on the avails of prostitution of a person under the age of 18 and who, for profit, aids, counsels, or compels that person to engage in any prostitution and uses, threatens or attempts to use violence or intimidation against him or her.

As with most laws the Liberal government rams through Parliament, it sounds good but it does not do the trick.

This section means that the police has to prove that the pimp profits from the actual prostitution and that the young girl was threatened with violence or intimidated.

What about the pimp who bribes and seduces a young girl? What about the pimp who intentionally seduces a 14-year old girl into a personal relationship and then bribes, tempts and tricks her into trying prostitution as a way of making extra money or simply pleasing him? As long as the 14-year old girl consents to have sex with her pimp, there is no criminal law against this disgusting recruiting process. It is happening today and it has to stop.

A February 5 Globe and Mail article described pimps who cruise the malls looking in:

-the food fair for children (they look for young teens who smoke and are chubby, two signs of insecurity) to recruit kids to work in the "baby stroll", which also is known as "popcorn alley" (where the youngest prostitutes work).

I agree with Alderman Bev Longstaff of Calgary who was quoted in Don Braid's February 9 column in the Calgary Herald :

When you're only 14, it's pretty hard to realize what impact your actions are going to have on your future.

Braid's column stated that it was Longstaff's idea to amend the Alberta child welfare act to allow police to apprehend underage hookers and charge the johns with child abuse.

While the Alberta amendments are great, the problem of the luring of kids into child prostitution by pimps could be better addressed simply by raising the age of consensual sex between an

adult and a child from 14 to 16 or, as some advocate, 18 years of age would be even better.

I agree with the Calgary Sun editorial which stated:

It's time our laws clearly state that it's impossible for a child to have consensual sex.

Bill C-27 is a missed opportunity to do just that. The Liberals pass laws that say 16-year-olds cannot buy cigarettes, but they leave a law on the books which says that it is okay for an adult to have sex with a 14-year old child. Does that make sense? Obviously not.

As with most things in Ottawa, if the Liberal government will not do what is right we have to do it ourselves. Therefore I will be working with my colleagues to amend the Criminal Code to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16.

Here is what Reform's blue book policy states:

The Reform Party recognizes that child abuse and family violence attack the very foundations of organized society. The party supports enacting, communicating and enforcing laws that protect family members against such acts. Effective programs aimed at prevention of family violence will be a priority.

Reformers have already promised to make this a priority issue in the next election campaign, whenever the election is to be called. Reformers believe:

Current laws dealing with child prostitution, child pornography and obscenity in Canada are too weak. While both child pornography and child prostitution are illegal, currently laws are insufficient to check the exploitation of children.

A Reform government will:

Set a minimum 10-year sentence for living off the avails of child prostitution;

Introduce tougher sentences for anyone convicted of producing, peddling or promoting child pornography;

Set a minimum two-year sentence for customers of child prostitutes; and

Redefine "obscenity" to include the exploitation or glorification of crime, horror, cruelty or violence in materials aimed at children.

A Reform government will always hold families in high regard, and will do everything possible to protect the people within them. There's no better investment in the future of our country.

We are living in the dying days of this Parliament. The situation I have just described throughout my speech is intolerable. It should be corrected immediately.

The facts speak for themselves. Even though there are laws on the books, the problem of child prostitution and child pornography that are inextricably linked will get worse. Canadians are demanding their politicians take action. They will not be satisfied with half-hearted measures put in place by the government.

In conclusion, this has been a very interesting time for me. It has been a great learning experience. I have worked on many issues. I guess I have been a thorn in the side of the government on many occasions. I will not apologize for that because I feel very strongly about the issues I have spoken on. I sincerely believe the government is off the rails on many of the topics I have addressed, especially the major areas of justice, democracy and finance. These three areas concern my constituents a great deal and need to be corrected.

When we came to Parliament the first speech we made is called a maiden speech. What do we call probably one of the last speeches at the end of a Parliament?

A lot of emphasis and a lot of attention has been paid to the maiden speech. Now that I have been here for 3.5 years I would like to find the name of the speech we give once we have acquired the wisdom and experience of being in this place.

One message needs to be emphasized over and over and over. Big centralized government control has made people feel their participation in Canadian politics, the running of their country, is futile. I have recorded many comments as I have gone door to door about how useless people feel this place is. We need to fix it so that we address the issues I have related in the past 20 minutes.

People feel they cannot change things. They are becoming very cynical about this place and about any promise that politicians make to change things. They want to have more control over the affairs in their local communities, but they are being held back by Parliament and by the things we do here.

We need to change this. We need to address their concerns. The concerns I have related on child prostitution and child pornography is one of the concerns of many people that needs to be dealt with.

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5:55 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I must say I was disappointed with my hon. colleague's swan song and remarks at the end of his speech.

His speech was fine but he concluded his remarks by saying that Parliament was useless. That is basically what he said. Perhaps Parliament does not necessarily agree with the positions taken by his constituents which he feels he reflects when he stands here. He says that there is great cynicism in the land because Parliament is not acting on the viewpoint he presents on child pornography and child prostitution. That is unfortunate. Everyone in the House feels very acutely the horror of the abuse of children in any sense.

I support Bill C-27, but it opens some very difficult areas. My hon. friend mentioned one of those areas when he talked about child pornography. He said that Parliament has to do something about the distribution of materials which celebrate sex and violence, especially when these materials are aimed at children.

One of the reasons we have these debates and one of the reasons I am here is to say to the hon. member that he is right, we have to act on child pornography. We have to act on pornography of any

kind. However, how do we do that and not interfere with free speech? That is the problem.

Whenever we get into areas of crime and victims rights we always have to weigh the other side, the interests of seeing that the accused has a fair day in court and that the innocent are not punished. We always have that balance in debate, even though in our hearts we reach out to the victims of crime. Certainly children are the ultimate victims of crime.

Does my hon. friend not agree that we have to debate these issues in the House to make sure that in our desire to address the victims of crime we do not interfere with fundamental liberties like freedom of speech? There are video games, board games and television shows which cross the line with respect to violence and pornography which are aimed at children. Would he stop those things?

These are the problems which we face. I would ask him to comment on that. How do we balance in a parliamentary debate the interests of the victims with the interests of the rights of the citizens of this country?

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6 p.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to deal with the first point raised by the hon. member.

Parliament is not working. If there are concerns in the community and the highest court in the land does not address those concerns and is not responsive to them, Parliament is not effective. That is the bottom line.

I related to the House one of the problems we have in society. I appealed to the government to do something. For the government to come back and say that it does not want to interfere with free speech when it comes to pornographic material, I can hardly believe my ears. I can hardly believe that we have people opposite who are defending some of the things which are causing child prostitution. They are making it worse. I cannot believe it. It is absolutely unacceptable.

If there is a choice, as the hon. member outlined, victims rights come first. We always put victims rights first. Criminals do not deserve the same rights. This government has it all backwards.

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6 p.m.


Rex Crawford Liberal Kent, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been sitting here most of the afternoon listening to the speeches on Bill C-27. The hon. member for Hamilton-Wentworth asked a question about free speech. Before that the hon. member for Prince George-Peace River spoke and before him the hon. member for New Westminster-Burnaby.

I believe the word was disgusting. I can agree with that terminology because then the hon. member for Prince George-

Peace River went into artistic merit. Do we have artistic merit today?

What our censorship council or board is allowing us to see as adults and children is even more disgusting than the hon. member had said. I remember when "Gone with the Wind" was a little ticklish. I am not one to go to movies but some I have gone to and, I must admit, left are some of the worst degrading garbage I have ever seen. However, our censor board in Canada allows it. Is that allowed under freedom of speech?

There is child pornography and pedophiles. I do not think it is the government that is breaking down. I think it is families that are breaking down. When we see children 12 years of age and under causing vandalism after midnight or in the early hours of the morning and being picked up by the police, where are the families? What has happened to the families that children are allowed to vandalize and steal?

Thank goodness we have the Young Offenders Act to protect us. But what is happening to Canada and Canadian families? I believe there is a sincere breakdown in the families. But are we causing it through our government bills?

I have read in the media where our crime rates, according to the justice department, are down in Canada compared to the United States where crime is rampant. The article stated that putting these offenders in jail is not helping.

In the area where I grew up we never locked a door, never locked the car because the neighbour might want to borrow it. Today everything is locked up. Homes have security systems. However, crime has gone down. Every home in my area out in the country has been robbed.

I ask the hon. member to explain more of his views on how we can fight this. I think we as a government want to fight this but we need guidance.

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6:05 p.m.


Garry Breitkreuz Reform Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments and I appreciate his desire to solve some of the problems we have in Canada.

I think he has zeroed in on one of the key concerns that we as Reformers have as well. It is one of the top three parts of our election platform, to make families in Canada a priority. I will come back to that in a minute.

The hon. member said that crime is going down in Canada. Stats Canada has just released its report. Criminal Code offences have increased 400 per cent since 1962. I am not sure where the member is getting his information from.

I would like to come back to the family for a moment but I see I am being signalled that my time is up. The family is the basic building block of society. Much of the legislation in the House has harmed the family. It has not allowed parents to take the responsibility for their children which they must take.

We need to emphasize the family. All legislation in this House should be checked to see what effect it has on the family. The taxation policies of this government have harmed the family to the point where both parents have to be outside of the home, one to pay the taxes and the other to put bread on the table.

I could give members a speech on how government has undermined families. We need to make families a priority. I agree that is a lot of the problem. We cannot just punish crime. We also have to make it so that there is an avenue to transmit values from one generation to the next and allow community organizations and churches to do their part by having them work through strong families.

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6:10 p.m.


Paul Zed Liberal Fundy Royal, NB

Mr. Speaker, I think you would find unanimous consent to have debate collapse on this government order. With the predisposition of the House, and after a great deal of consultation, I believe we would then call Bill C-44 and proceed with report stage of Bill C-44 only.

I believe that the predisposition of the House at the moment is that there would be no further debate on Bill C-27, the question would be put and deferred, and we would move on to Bill C-44.