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

House of Commons Hansard #150 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was accused.

Topics

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, we have been calling for this legislation from the minister for two years now. He should perhaps pay attention and produce more realistic laws.

I would remind the minister that he is the guardian of the Criminal Code and of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that if, with his hundreds of lawyers and the millions of dollars he spends in his department, he is incapable of drafting legislation that passes the test of the charter, the problem lies not with the Bloc Quebecois or the Government of Quebec but with the Minister of Justice.

Since he has just mentioned it, and in the light of the discussions he has had with the Government of Quebec in the past two or three weeks, will he promise that the amendments he is about to table, that he claims to be about to table, will be in line with one of the three scenarios of the Government of Quebec and will incorporate as well the four criteria set by the Government of Quebec to put an end to the bikers' war? In particular, will he promise that this legislation will be approved, passed and in force before the upcoming federal election is called?

Organized CrimeOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I have spent a lot of time, since my meeting with Mr. Bégin, meeting with those involved in the matter, that is the mayors of the Montreal and Quebec City regions and the chiefs of police. I have also spoken to the mayors and chiefs of police of other places, because this issue concerns Canadians everywhere. Gangs and organized crime may be found in other cities as well.

I promise today to produce next week this government's proposals and measures, which will be effective as well as valid and constitutional.

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the justice minister.

It has taken a year and an upcoming federal election to get the justice minister to really discover victims' rights. For three and a half years the decisions of the Liberal government worked against victims and their families. Now the Liberals' pollsters are telling them that it is an important issue so the justice minister is all too eager to jump on the bandwagon.

My question is for the justice minister. Why has it taken a year since we first discussed victims' rights in the House and the threat of a federal election for the Liberal government to finally realize that Reform's victims' bill of rights is long overdue?

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is regrettable that after so short a period of time in national politics that the hon. member would have become so cynical. It is also very sad that the hon. member is prepared to ignore the facts on such a wholesale basis.

The hon. member speaks about victims. In June of 1994 when we had Bill C-68 before the House and the victims of crime, children, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers who have been shot to death by firearms, came to this building and asked the Reform Party to join with the government in doing something for victims, to those victims this party turned a deaf ear.

When the government proposed changes to the Young Offenders Act and introduced for the first time victim impact statements in youth court, it was that party that voted against it.

Finally, when the government proposed in Bill C-41 on sentencing to provide true restitution for victims so they could get back what they have lost, it was that party that voted against it. It is the government that stands up for victims in this country.

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, we should forgive him, for he knows not what he is saying.

Section 3 of our victims' bill of rights guarantees the opportunity for victim impact statements at any parole or judicial hearing. The justice minister, who pretends to care so much for victims, slipped the provision into Bill C-45 that takes away the automatic right to a victim impact statement until the year 2012.

How can the justice minister pretend to be a champion of victims' rights when his section 745 early release legislation gives more rights to murderers like Clifford Olson or Paul Bernardo than to their victims? Explain that one.

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, it is one thing to use rhetoric when talking about a victims' bill of rights. It is quite another thing to produce actual legislation that makes a difference in the lives of victims. That is exactly what the government has done.

There are a dozen examples of concrete ways in which the government has acted to help victims. I refer as an example to Bill C-46, the very intent of which is to assure confidentiality for the private records of victims in cases involving charges of sexual assault.

Let me treat the precise subject the hon. member has raised, which is the role of victims in hearings under section 745. The government believes, and I believe, that victims should have a role at the hearings under section 745. It is for that very reason that three years ago we proposed in Bill C-41 that the right be given.

The hon. member and his party voted against Bill C-41. Since Bill C-41 was tabled, the Supreme Court of Canada released a judgment which according to the common law, recognizes that judges have a discretion to allow victims to participate.

If the hon. member feels that any part of Bill C-45 interferes with the hearings of victims as such proceedings, I am happy to join with him in making such amendments as may be appropriate. In fact, last week-

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Fraser Valley West.

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is nice to get a word in edgewise. Based on that answer, I am convinced the justice minister does not understand this issue.

If the Liberals were serious about victims' rights, they would have acted on the documents we tabled and debated in the House last April 29, or three and a half years ago when they came into office in the first place.

Victims should come first unconditionally. They should come before criminals. They should come before privacy laws. They should come before the freedom of information act. And they should come before the political fortunes of the Liberal Party of Canada.

I would like to ask the justice minister point blank today: Will he put victims first? Will he put their rights ahead of the rights of convicted criminals unconditionally in legislation?

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:30 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, not only am I able to say that we are going to do it, I am able to say that we have done it. Time and again when we have brought forward legislation that does it, and the Reform Party for one reason or another votes against it.

As I was saying before the hon.member put further words in edgewise, I have already said to him and to his colleagues that I am happy to participate with them in making appropriate amendments to Bill C-45 if they believe that any such amendment will make it even more crystal clear that victims should have a role at hearings under section 745. Indeed, I wrote last week to the hon. member's colleague making that position clear.

Let us work together. If the hon. member feels that the matter can be made clearer, I am delighted to work with him and with the other parties in the House to achieve that objective.

Let it never be forgotten that time and again the party in the House that stood up for victims of crime, not with rhetoric, not with florid faces-

Rights Of VictimsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

The Speaker

The questions and answers might tend to be a little long because you are getting back in shape.

Spending CutsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Quebecois has been saying for some months now that the government has not cleaned up its own backyard, but has just shovelled more than half of its cuts over into the provinces' backyards.

The cat was let out of the bag, recently, and not just any cat. The President of the Treasury Board was forced to admit in front of a committee of the other House, with all of his habitual candour, that the government would meet fewer than half of the commitments contained in the 1995 budget when it came to reducing the expenditures of federal departments.

My question is for the President of the Treasury Board. Does he finally acknowledge that, based on his own statement that the federal departments' expenditures would be reduced by 9 per cent over three years, instead of 19 per cent as promised, it is the provinces which have done most of the work and have absorbed more than half of his government's cuts through this nice little dumping exercise?

Spending CutsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I have never admitted such a thing.

I have reviewed the transcription of the Senate committee proceedings. What I said, and I repeat it here, is that, based on the period from 1993-94 to the end of the program review, slated for 1998-99, the reduction in government department expenditures is 14 per cent, while the reduction in transfers to the provinces is 9.9 per cent. Consequently, the federal government has imposed upon itself a burden that is 40 per cent greater than what it has imposed upon the provinces.

Spending CutsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Yvan Loubier Bloc Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is not an interpretation of what he said, but an interpretation of what we read. In 1995, the Minister of Finance was talking about a 19 per cent reduction in expenditures, and in the last three years his department has reduced its expenditures by only 9 per cent for this fiscal year. That is what we can conclude.

Now we have a better idea of why the Minister of Finance bought those work boots in 1994. It had nothing to do with creating jobs, it was to be properly dressed to operate a steam shovel for dumping the debt onto the provinces. That is the reality.

I am also asking the President of the Treasury Board whether he acknowledges that his government has acted as a poor manager and whether the Quebec government deficit forecast for this fiscal year would be 60 per cent lower without the federal government's drastic cuts in transfer payments to the provinces?

Spending CutsOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Hull—Aylmer Québec

Liberal

Marcel Massé LiberalPresident of the Treasury Board and Minister responsible for Infrastructure

Mr. Speaker, first of all, the figures in the 1995 budget are totally valid. The reductions in departmental expenditures are exactly as indicated, that is to say close to 19 per cent, and this is the case quite simply because we have taken money away from the departments'

budgets. The cuts have, therefore, been implemented across the board.

When the Minister of Finance and myself issued a press release a few days ago, we indicated exactly how to reconcile the figures contained in the 1995 budget with the present ones. Without a doubt, once again, not only have we made the cuts announced in the 1995 budget, but departmental expenditures have also been cut, as indicated.

Reconciliation of the figures is done via programs approved in budgets brought down after 1994-95. This reconciliation is shown very clearly in the tables released by the Minister of Finance and myself. I hope the hon. finance critic for the opposition can at least check those figures.

Victims Of CrimeOral Question Period

2:35 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, victims of crime claim the justice minister has betrayed them. He betrayed them through Bill C-41 when he denied them the right to make verbal impact statements. He betrayed them in Bill C-45 by denying them the unconditional right to make impact statements of any kind at parole hearings.

I ask the justice minister this. Why has he added to the suffering of these victims? Why did he deny victims, particularly the families of Olson's victims, the automatic right to be heard at section 745 hearings?

Victims Of CrimeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, one thing I can certainly deny is that the hon. member speaks on behalf of victims in this country. He does not. When victims look at the record of this government they find in a dozen pieces of legislation grounds upon which to say that we have improved the law for the benefit of victims.

In terms of section 745, as I have already told my friend's colleague, in Bill C-41 we provided for the victims to have a role at the hearings. After that the Supreme Court of Canada came down with a judgment that made it clear under the common law that it could do so.

If my hon. friend thinks there is any part of Bill C-45 that should be changed to make that any clearer, and I have already told him in writing that I am happy to work with him to that effect, then let the hon. member, instead of standing in the House and carrying on with theatrics and rhetoric, work with us to make changes in the law to improve it for the objective of victims.

Victims Of CrimeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, of course we have to address the bungling of this justice minister. Under Bill C-41 he granted victims the right to make written impact statements and under Bill C-45 he took that right away from them. We are talking about the bungling of this justice minister.

The minister and his government have made the claim that making Bill C-45 retroactive could result in a charter challenge. Why would the minister worry about a court challenge? He should be used to them by now.

So far the justice minister's Bill C-68 has been challenged as being unconstitutional. The conditional sentencing provision of the justice minister's Bill C-41 is in court in B.C., Ontario and Alberta. The minister cost the taxpayers $1 million in the Airbus fiasco and now taxpayers may have to cough up millions more in the Pearson airport deal.

Why is he not willing to err on the side of victims, even if it does result in a court challenge? Whose rights are more important to him, those of mass child killer Clifford Olson or those of the families of his victims?

Victims Of CrimeOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Etobicoke Centre Ontario

Liberal

Allan Rock LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, along with everything else the hon. member must struggle with, his abject inability to make distinctions between different cases is also a terrible burden. It is evident in his questions in the House.

The challenge to Bill C-68, the gun control bill, is before the court. There has been no judgment yet because the argument has not taken place. I would venture to say that the hon. member can count on that bill being constitutional and valid. Those are the submissions we will be making before that hon. court.

In terms of victims, I would like the hon. member to consider the position I put to him last week. If he thinks that Bill C-45 can be improved in any way to assure the right of the victim to participate in section 745 hearings, let the hon. member come forward and work with us to achieve that result. Spare us the tendentious partisan rhetoric in the House of Commons and work with us to make it better.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

April 7th, 1997 / 2:40 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Marc Jacob Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of National Defence.

On March 27, Federal Court Justice Sandra Simpson stated that the government's decision to impose a time limit on the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Somalia was unlawful, considering the extent of its terms of reference. In response to this judgment, the minister maintained his decision and went so far as to change the terms of reference of the commission to include only what happened before the Canadian troops arrived in Somalia.

By unlawfully cutting short the commission's proceedings and subsequently restricting its terms of reference, is the minister not only to trying protect the military establishment but also some Liberal friends who are close to the government, such as, for instance, Bob Fowler, former Deputy Minister of National Defence and currently Canada's ambassador to the UN?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:40 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, in his question the hon. member said that the federal court ruled that the procedure followed by the government was inappropriate. In this decision, the court indicated how we should proceed to ensure that the commission of inquiry reports only on the matters it has examined.

Obviously, we wanted to make the situation very clear to prevent any confusion, such as, the government asking the commissioners to report on and draw conclusions respecting situations they had not checked, examined and heard described in testimony. That is what we did.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-Marc Jacob Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, clearly, the current Minister of National Defence has been subject to the same pressures from the military establishment as his predecessor who resigned.

Will the minister agree that his shocking decision to change the terms of reference of the commission will leave several fundamental questions unanswered, questions that were the very reason why the commission of inquiry was set up in the first place?

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Acadie—Bathurst New Brunswick

Liberal

Douglas Young LiberalMinister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, the commission of inquiry has now spent more than two years examining elements of the incidents in Somalia which it considered to be a priority.

As I have pointed out many times, I never commented on the commission's work schedule or on the way it organized its hearings to hear witnesses and their testimony.

Two years, 125 witnesses and 100,000 pages of documents later, I am now, like all Canadians, looking forward to the report and conclusions of the commission of inquiry, which will probably make a number of suggestions that will be very useful and will do so soon enough that they can be used.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, when the court told the Somalia inquiry that it had every right to investigate the torture murder of Shidane Arone and the subsequent cover-up in Ottawa, the government changed the mandate to hide the truth from Canadians.

Since hiding the truth and changing the law to protect the friends of the Liberal Party is now the policy of this government, will it promise to print-

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

The Speaker

Colleagues, we should not impute motive either in our preamble or in our question. I would like the hon. member to immediately go to his question.

Somalia InquiryOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Reform

Bob Mills Reform Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, will the Liberal government in its election red book, part two, put in the true facts of what Canadians have really heard from this Somalia inquiry so they really know what the beliefs of this government are?