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.


Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

11 a.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

moved that Bill C-369, an act to amend the Criminal Code (gaming and betting), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, on March 12, I spoke before the Sub-committee on Private Members' Business to introduce a private member's bill which would have made it possible to open casinos on cruise ships sailing on the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes.

This bill reflected, not some fantasy of the federal member for Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans, but a need expressed after long consultations with port administrators, community organizations and municipalities along the St. Lawrence. A number of municipal councils have even gone so far as to pass resolutions in support of Bill C-369, not the least of these being Quebec City, Beauport, in my riding, Charlesbourg and Ancienne-Lorette. I also consulted with ship owners, organizations promoting navigation on the St. Lawrence, and tourist associations.

As you are aware, a bill is not prepared without the help of consultants and legal experts. The latter have done the required research and helped me draft the bill which I am tabling in the House of Commons today. This undertaking was, therefore, a serious one, well prepared and necessary for all stakeholders.

Yet, the Sub-committee on Private Members' Business, the majority of whose membership comes from the other side of the House, has not seen fit to accept Bill C-369 as votable by the representatives of the people, or in other words the members of this House.

Nevertheless, I would like to explain the advantages of this bill, if not to convince members opposite, then at least to let the public know about the sometimes mysterious ways in which the party in power operates.

Bill C-369 would amend the Criminal Code in the section on gaming and betting to allow any person on an international cruise ship sailing in Canadian waters to conduct and manage a casino for the passengers of that ship, under certain conditions.

There are four very important conditions I would like to mention. First, the voyage made by the ship shall not constitute a coasting trade, which means operating within domestic waters only. Second, the casino cannot be accessible to the passengers of the ship during the hour preceding the arrival of the ship at a Canadian port. Third, the casino shall not be accessible when the ship is in a Canadian port. Fourth, the casino shall not be accessible during the hour after the ship departs from a Canadian port.

It is clear that this private member's bill does not propose any drastic changes to the Canadian Criminal Code. It merely suggests a few amendments to help economic development.

All members present in this House, and you may have noticed there are not that many, know or ought to know that the Criminal Code currently allows casinos to be open in international waters only, which means that any ship that operates a casino and wishes to visit cities along the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes is obliged to close the casino as soon as it reaches Anticosti Island.

However, the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes represent a majestic waterway that compares with the greatest rivers in the world. The St. Lawrence is neither a sea nor a small river. It evokes the power and grandeur of nature and reveals the general vastness of Canada. Whale watching, one of the unique attractions, adds to the splendour of these waterways.

The Saguenay is an impressive fjord that offers passengers on a cruise ship an unforgettable visual experience. With its steep cliffs, it offers the traveller a unique opportunity to see what nature has wrought.

Quebec City, according to a number of surveys, is the port of call preferred by passengers on this route. With its harbour a stone's throw from its historic and much visited centre, with the Château Frontenac that dominates the skyline and its unique location,

Quebec City is a cultural and historical focal point in an exceptionally attractive setting. In fact, it is the only fortified city in North America designated by UNESCO as part of our global heritage.

The city of Montreal and its port where passengers board and disembark offers an urban experience that is unique in North America: a dynamic metropolis with a very special flavour. Montreal has something to offer the religious tourist and the night life tourist, the art connoisseur, the sports fan, the intrepid walker and the avid consumer.

The St. Lawrence has all sorts of natural and human attractions to offer. A single thread links them all: the French fact. The St. Lawrence offers American tourists a foreign experience in a safe setting.

Furthermore, cruise ship facilities on the St. Lawrence are more than adequate. The docks in Quebec City and Montreal are located in the old ports, near the tourist areas. Cruise ship passengers will especially appreciate their cleanliness.

The St. Lawrence is a safe destination for passengers and ship owners alike, a haven from terrorism. In addition, Quebec City and Montreal provide visitors with the sense of security American visitors look for on their holidays.

The efforts by the two major tourist destinations on the St. Lawrence and the ports and cities along the New York-Montreal route in recent years have favourably impressed ship owners.

According to the statistics, ship owners consider that casinos bring in 15 per cent of their revenues. As the casinos must be shut down for several hours or as long as two days, when the ships enter the St. Lawrence and its gulf, a number of owners prefer another port over those serving the cities along the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes.

Furthermore, tourists who enjoy the casino will choose a port that does not require the closure of the casino for several days.

The cruise industry lives at the crossroads of the tourism and marine industries. It is a rapidly growing industry, making it particularly interesting for stakeholders in the tourism and shipping sectors, all the more so as they are experiencing a certain stagnation in their respective sectors in Quebec.

Cruises are tremendously popular worldwide, and particularly so in North America. The North American cruise industry has grown over 800 per cent in the period since 1970, when 500,000 people went on cruises.

This industry grew an average of 9.4 per cent annually between 1980 and 1992, when the number of passengers hit 4.3 million. And in 1993, this figure exceeded 4.7 million.

Cruises now occupy a solid position in the market. All the international associations expect the number of cruise passengers to reach 8 million annually by the end of the century, despite an expected dip in demand of 1.4 per cent annually over the next few years.

The cruise market potential is therefore enormous, particularly if one bears in mind that only 5 or 6 per cent of Americans have ever been on a cruise. Over the next two years, it is estimated that this market will reach $50 billion internationally. A tourist market of this scope naturally leads to fierce competition between cruise zones.

Unfortunately, the St. Lawrence market is not developing at the same rate as North American markets. The St. Lawrence River is a key route in the Canada-New England cruise zone. It is used primarily for seven day ocean cruises between New York and Montreal. The Saguenay, Quebec City and Montreal are the main drawing cards on the St. Lawrence route. The Canada-New England run, with its 420,415 cruise days, accounts for only 1.2 per cent of the total cruise market, which will reach 50 million cruise days in two years.

The route that takes in the St. Lawrence occupies only a very small part of the market, and ranks twelfth among cruise routes. Even this position is threatened by the sustained and organized efforts being made by southeastern Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Far East.

A look at the evolution of traffic on the St. Lawrence since 1980 reveals regular growth, with two particularly good years. These statistical anomalies are directly related to the fact that the route is considered particularly safe. We have only to remember the 1987 season, which was very good for us because it followed on the terrorist attack on the Achille Lauro in the Mediterranean. The 1991 season was very good because of the Gulf war.

Taking in these two record years, the average annual growth rate on the St. Lawrence is around 4.7 per cent. This rate was notably lower than the 9.4 per cent of the industry in general, however.

An examination of the statistics for all of the industry in North America indicates clearly that the St. Lawrence is progressing twice as slowly as the market as a whole. A quick survey of the decision makers in the cruise lines indicates that there are two drawbacks: the climate, and the fact that casinos cannot be open. These are what might be called the two irritants to development of the St. Lawrence route. It is very hard to do anything about the

climate, but I hope that, if the other irritant were removed by this bill, the deck would be stacked in our favour.

The economic impact of cruise ships is essential to the development of the cities located along the St. Lawrence. A study carried out in Montreal in 1991 established that the average expenditure was $113 per passenger, and $100,000 per ship, which means a total of $5.3 million for cruise ship passengers, and $4.1 million for cruise ship operators.

Revenues to the Government of Quebec from these expenditures are $1.4 million, and to the federal government, $700,000. In addition to the cash, and direct or indirect employment spinoffs from this, cruise ships on the St. Lawrence generate other benefits which, while unquantifiable, are equally important to the profitability of the tourist industry.

For example, autumn, which is when the ships change locations, is a particularly good season for cruising the St. Lawrence, on top of which there is the attraction of the fall colours, particularly in October. In fact, high season is in September and October, thus extending a summer tourist season which is often too short, and indirectly enabling the bus companies, restaurants, attractions and museums to turn a better profit. We might also mention the St.Lawrence pilots, the retention of whom has been defended by the Bloc Quebecois, for environmental reasons in particular; they too could profit from development of the cruise industry.

By actively marketing the strengths of the St. Lawrence as a destination, and by doing away with the irritant of having to close down casinos, the St. Lawrence should be able to develop as much as, if not more than, the industry as a whole. Informal surveys conducted among ship owners are very revealing. The legislation on casinos is the main obstacle to operating more cruise ships on the St. Lawrence.

Of course, the shipping lines are very discret about this problem because they do not want their clientele to know that 15 per cent of their revenue comes from casinos. They would rather give passengers the impression that casinos are there for their entertainment, if they so desire.

Changing the legislation to allow casinos on the St. Lawrence would have several advantages, the main one being to increase traffic and expand economic and fiscal benefits as well, estimated at $215 million over the next two years.

As you know, all ships sailing on the St. Lawrence must be piloted and brought safely to port by experienced pilots who are members of the Corporation of the Lower St. Lawrence Pilots, as I said earlier. Imagine the number of jobs that would be created and preserved for St. Lawrence pilots if this amendment were to increase the number of ships on the St. Lawrence by 10 per cent.

A study has shown that if we maintain the status quo, by the year 2000 we will have a little over 50,000 passengers, but if we amend the legislation, we will attract more than 101,000 passengers to the greater Quebec City region and the St. Lawrence. Initially, the St. Lawrence would make up for lost time with an increase of 20 per cent annually, while later on, the increase would be commensurate with the growth of the international cruise ship industry as a whole.

Since the bill before the House today is not supported by the current government, because it was not considered to be a votable item, according to the Committee on Private Members' Business, I would like to point out the negatived impact of the status quo. The status quo would, first of all, deprive Quebec and Canada of considerable revenues because cruise ship traffic on the St. Lawrence would remain well below global figures.

The status quo marginalizes the St. Lawrence because it would be the only river in the world of this size where casinos cannot operate on ocean cruises.

The status quo sends a clear message to the owners of ocean-going cruise ships, which are not particularly welcome in the St. Lawrence. Ports and tourism offices are working actively to attract the lines, but the federal government does not want them. The status quo tells the ship owners that Canada is overregulated and unable to adapt its legislation to everyday economic realities.

Furthermore, the status quo confirms that federal legislation may be applied very differently according to whether the sea front is Halifax or Vancouver.

In conclusion, how are the people of Quebec supposed to understand that what is acceptable in the Pacific in Vancouver is not on the St. Lawrence? On the other hand, Quebecers will understand clearly that, if Quebec were sovereign, it would have complete political leverage to decide its own economic future, which does not seem to be the case within the Canadian federation.

On several occasions, Quebecers have told English Canada they want to be "maîtres chez eux", as Jean Lesage put it. And the response from English Canada is: "What does Quebec want?" Well, what we want is to ensure our own economic development with the necessary tools, something we cannot do now, because they are under the control of the federal government, which does not seem to want to allow Quebec to develop as it could if it were sovereign. This is another deciding factor.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

11:25 a.m.

Prince Albert—Churchill River Saskatchewan


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

Mr. Speaker, Canada is unique among the nations of the world in having two popular venues for international cruise ships that involve sailing

within Canadian domestic waters. These venues are the St. Lawrence River and the west coast's inside passage.

As cruise ships sail from international waters toward the St. Lawrence River they pass into Canadian domestic waters. From a location near the island of Anticosti and on into the St. Lawrence River, these domestic waters are provincial waters.

Typically, international cruise ships on the inside passage between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island sail a round trip route between Vancouver and Alaska. Under the Canadian interpretation of the law of the sea, vessels on the inside passage route are either in U.S. domestic waters or Canadian domestic waters. They do not traverse international waters.

The Canadian Arctic represents a third, albeit less travelled, venue for international cruise ships where extensive sailing within Canadian domestic waters might be involved, again on the Canadian interpretation of the law of the sea.

There are several other Canadian ports or sailing venues which international cruise ships could visit during favourable seasons of the year. These would involve less extensive sailing in domestic waters, including provincial waters.

Shipboard casinos with slot machines are part of the entertainment mix that is offered by international cruise ships to their passengers. Apparently these casinos are valued by these passengers. Shipboard casinos generate revenues for the cruise ship companies and the ability to operate a casino would probably factor into a company's choice of its cruise routes.

For their part, Canadian port communities are anxious to have the added tourism and industry that cruise ships may bring, including return visits to the area by former cruise ship passengers with land and air transportation.

I am sure that the Canadian government appreciates that international cruise ship interests and Canadian port communities are deeply concerned about this issue. It is important to note that there have been several other requests for private commercial gaming in domestic waters on vessels that are not international cruise ships.

I believe that the issue of private commercial gaming in domestic waters of Canada should be considered and addressed comprehensively. Our consideration should not be limited to international cruise ships.

The gambling provisions of the criminal code are contained in part VII. They can be generally described as prohibiting all forms of gambling except those that are specifically allowed under the code.

As an exception to the lottery scheme offences in section 206 of the code, section 207 provides that provinces and territories may operate a broad range of lottery schemes, not including slot machines. These permitted lottery schemes may only operate within the province or territory or within another province or territory where there is co-operation from that other jurisdiction.

It would appear that the provincial government could presently choose to operate a casino with slot machines but not dice games on a vessel within provincial waters. However, a province could not operate such gambling in Canadian waters that are not provincial waters.

Similarly, while a province might conceivably issue a licence for a lottery scheme that is conducted within provincial waters, it appears that the licence cannot cover a lottery scheme that is operated in domestic waters that are not provincial waters.

Currently the provisions of the criminal code give no permission for private commercial gambling except on a very small scale and only where the province or territory is issued a licence. Under section 207 of the criminal code, the price to participate in a licensed private commercial lottery scheme must be $2 or less and the prize offered must be $500 or less. Very few Canadian jurisdictions choose to licence any private commercial lottery schemes.

Paragraph 202(1)(b) of the criminal code makes it an offence to import into Canada any machine or device for gaming or betting. While there is an exception in the gambling provisions of the criminal code for importing gambling equipment that relates to a lawful lottery scheme such as a provincially operated or provincially licensed lottery scheme, there is no similar exception related to international cruise ships with unregulated private commercial casinos. It appears that even where gaming equipment is not operated while in Canadian waters, an international cruise ship which carries its own slot machines or its own table casino games within domestic waters of Canada would technically violate the present provisions of the code.

As we all know, the enforcement and prosecution of criminal code offences has been assigned in the provinces to the attorney general of each province.

I believe, in response to international cruise ship interests, Bill C-369 proposes a criminal code amendment that goes beyond simply legalizing the presence of gaming equipment on international cruise ships while these ships are within domestic waters. The changes proposed in Bill C-369 would significantly alter the present gambling provisions of the criminal code.

Bill C-369 proposes amendments that would legalize the unregulated operation of a private commercial casino on an international cruise ship within the domestic waters of Canada. This differs markedly from the approach that the province of Quebec wishes to take if the criminal code is amended to allow casino gaming on international cruise ships in domestic waters.

In 1996 the province of Quebec passed legislation that would permit the establishment of provincial licensing for private commercial gaming operations on international cruise ships that are within provincial waters. This licensing would apply to cruise ships that are on an international voyage. Quebec recognizes that prior to the provincial licensing legislation becoming effective, an amendment to the gaming provisions of the criminal code would be required.

One of the greatest concerns related to the legalization of gambling is ensuring that there is integrity in the gambling. Regulation is a necessary part of accomplishing this. Regulation ensures that security features such as background checks on operators, suppliers, investors and key employees are in place. It also ensures that surveillance features, including monitoring for cheating at play and auditing, are in place.

Bill C-369 provides for unregulated casino gambling in Canadian waters. It does not address the issue of ensuring the integrity of the gaming that would be offered within Canadian waters.

The second notable aspect of Bill C-369 is that it would significantly expand the narrow window that exists for private commercial gaming in Canada. The present window is so small that the Canadian approach in effect is to legalize large scale gaming only where it is operated and licensed by a province or territory. Virtually all Canadian gaming profits go to public purposes, whether it is through licensed charities or through government revenues.

This Canadian approach to the proceeds of gaming differs from the U.S. approach to casino gaming which typically sees profit going to private interests with government taxation of these profits. Bill C-369 would would present a major shift in gambling policy that should only be pursued after careful consideration of the implications.

The third notable aspect of Bill C-369 proposed the introduction of the word casino into the Criminal Code. The term casino is not defined in Bill C-369 but is left to be defined by the regulation made by the Attorney General of Canada within six months of this bill's coming into force. Presumably in defining the term casino by regulation the attorney general would have unlimited discretion to list the forms of gaming that may occur within a casino.

It appears that international cruise ship lines see slot machines as pivotal to their casino operations. Under the bill it might be argued that the attorney general through the regulations that would define a casino could effectively authorize certain forms of unregulated gambling on international cruise ships which a province cannot licence such as slot machines or which a province cannot even operate such as dice games.

There are a number of other considerations that time will not permit me to put forward. However, as has been indicated, we

prefer a comprehensive review of the provisions of the Criminal Code with regard to gaming in waters in Canada.

We thank the hon. member for putting forward this bill to aid the consideration of that issue.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

11:35 a.m.


Dennis Mills Liberal Broadview—Greenwood, ON

Mr. Speaker, I begin by congratulating the member for Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans for bringing this forward.

A few weeks ago in the House I sponsored private member's Bill C-353 relating to the whole notion of amending the Criminal Code so that we could develop a set of regulations around Internet casino gambling.

It is no secret to anyone in the House that currently Internet gaming is taking place around the world and is totally unregulated.

The first hour of debate we had on my bill, members of Parliament from the Bloc Quebecois, the Reform and Liberal parties agreed to send the bill to the justice committee for a comprehensive evaluation.

As I listened to the member speak about his bill this morning, he is proposing that we amend the Criminal Code to allow gaming and full casino operations on cruise ships on the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes. I cannot help but see certain similarities with Bill C-353.

It is important that we in the House and in the country understand why we are becoming interested in this whole area of gaming. The gaming industry is exploding in the world and not just because people now enjoy gaming and the diverse opportunities in the gaming realm. It is also because the tourism sector of the global economy is growing. For many countries tourism is the thing that is actually keeping their economies viable. In the last four to five years members of the House of Commons through their support have encouraged this government to quadruple the advertising budget for tourism Canada. They understand from a public policy point of view the number of jobs linked to tourism.

Tourism today is a very competitive industry. When we think of tourism, it is no longer simply about a couple or a family taking a trip to another part of our country or another part of the world for a holiday. Tourism today is linked in many cases with business. In other words, there are sectors within our economy where large associations are linking their conventions and trade shows and the private enjoyment of those who participate in those conventions as part of the overall package.

For example, the Shriners meet in Las Vegas every year and many other conventions are held there. Various cities and countries encourage these conventions to come to them. There is massive

competition. Convention organizers do not just look at a city for what is offered in terms of hotels, convention centres and trade show capability. They also look at the entertainment factor. They look at live theatre. They look at sports events. They also look at gaming.

In his bill the member for Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans puts particular emphasis on the province of Quebec and does not exclude the Great Lakes. I noticed that in his remarks. He was very specific when he said that allowing this full package of gaming capability on international cruise ships would allow for much more tourism activity in places like Charlevoix, Quebec City, et cetera. When those cruise ships land in those areas the tourists tend to spend a lot of money. They spend a lot in restaurants. Sometimes people are so tired of being on these cruise ships, they like to get off for three or four days. When they come into a community, the spin-off or the multiplier is profound.

I agree with the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice that this issue needs a comprehensive approach. I do not disagree with that at all. I also believe that we in this House must grab the moment. We should give this member's bill a chance to have every aspect of the regulatory component looked at. The Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice talked about the notion of background investigations and making sure there is full surveillance and accountability on the parts of all people involved in this. These issues have to be dealt with to ensure the consumer is protected.

I also believe that if an international cruise ship comes within the jurisdiction of our waters, the waters that Canada is responsible for and not just the waters under provincial jurisdiction, there must be some kind of tax. There must be some kind of benefit to the treasury of Canada.

Cruise ship operators would be happy to negotiate some kind of a fee. Even though the gaming and gambling activity is not under the regulatory umbrella, we all know it is going on. There is not a cruise ship in the world on which people are not gaming. They are obviously not gaming in a legal fashion; they are doing it on their own. It is like bookies and under the table gaming.

I have always held the view that legislators are much better positioned to get an overall regulatory framework on the whole realm of gaming. I also believe the Government of Canada has to get back into the business of understanding the gaming realm. If it means that we have to amend the Criminal Code to allow for dice, we should do it.

Let us take a look at our friends in Windsor which has one of the most profitable gaming centres in the country. In the not too distant future they will be facing severe competition in Windsor from the gaming operation in Detroit. Detroit will have dice and Windsor will not. We will expose them. It is another area where we have to take a good hard look at the Criminal Code to make sure that dice is part of the regulatory component.

In 1979 then Prime Minister Joe Clark essentially gave away gaming as a national government responsibility to each of the provinces. We obviously know why they guard it with their lives. It is because the revenues from it are so large. If we were to take away that revenue from the provinces we would find some resistance.

There is an opportunity in the bill sponsored by the member from Beauport to do some good work on the tourism trade. I salute him for his contribution.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

11:45 a.m.


Jean-Marc Jacob Bloc Charlesbourg, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-369, which was introduced by my colleague for Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans. First of all, I would like to make a few comments on the comments made by the last two speakers.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice got himself lost in a maze of legislation, private lottery schemes, supervision of lotteries, all manner of things which might be surreptitious, might be illegal. He did not agree with the bill, arguing that it needed to be studied in its entirety, as it somehow threatened public safety.

Then the other Liberal member from the Toronto region said that this was a worthwhile initiative on the part of my colleague for Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans, but that it essentially opened up the debate. They did not deal with the basic issue, but claimed that, on certain cruise ships, owners kept casinos open to illegal betting and so on.

That is not really what is being debated. What the hon. member for Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans has stated very clearly is that there are licensed casinos on board cruise ships in international waters. The comparison with the Canadian Criminal Code relates to certain ports on the Atlantic or Pacific coasts. When a cruise ship is on its way to Vancouver, for instance, it can be in international waters and then, only an hour, or an hour and half later, be tying up in Vancouver. The same holds true for Halifax or St. John's.

The difference is that the cruise ships plying the St. Lawrence do so for all of the reasons given by my colleague for Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans: the majesty of the great river, the possibility of seeing whales, sometimes even the endangered beluga, the immensity of the Saguenay River fjord, and the magical fall colours.

Furthermore, international cruise ships sail for about one thousand kilometres on the St. Lawrence and throughout that time

cannot open their casinos. The sole purpose of the bill presented by the hon. member for Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans is to allow casinos to be operated until one hour before the ship is berthed. The legislation cannot be compared with legislation that applies to Vancouver or Halifax because this is within Canadian territory.

True to form in this Canadian federation, the government wants to have the same legislation apply to all parts of the country, although quite obviously, the economic situation, accessibility and natural resources are not the same. The bill presented by the hon. member is clearly specific to the St. Lawrence, if you will, but it could also apply to the Great Lakes. If this bill were adopted, perhaps some cruise ships would go as far as the Great Lakes on some of their longer cruises.

We must stop saying, as the hon. member from the Toronto area has done, that this could create certain legislative problems. He even referred to legislation in Quebec which allows the operation of casinos on international cruise ships. Unfortunately, we live under a federal system, and this is covered by the federal Criminal Code. As soon as a cruise ship enters Canadian costal waters, its casino must be closed.

The hon. member from the Toronto area said that he knew or people had heard that casinos can be operated even if this is prohibited by law. This means lost revenue for the government. And as far as advertising these cruises is concerned, for wealthy passengers there is an additional attraction in the fact that, as they sail along the St. Lawrence for more than 1,000 kilometres, after admiring the landscape they can relax with a variety of games in the casino. That is all the hon. member for Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans is asking.

I would like to make a connection here with the Liberal Party's platform. Throughout the last campaign and even today, they have said: jobs, jobs, jobs. I must say that tourism brings a larger number of cruise ship passengers to the port of Quebec. Quebec City has in fact passed a resolution to support this initiative, and my colleague from Quebec City also intends to speak in support of this proposal. Charlesbourg also passed a resolution supporting my colleague's bill.

Clearly, with lots of cruise ships entering the ports of Montreal and Quebec City and the Saguenay fjord, direct and indirect jobs will be created. Reference was made earlier to piloting. I would also point out that, when the cruise ship passengers visit cities like Montreal and Quebec City, they spend and thus help the economy.

With the Liberal Party in sub-committee denying my colleague's bill the opportunity to be voted on and setting it aside for a general study, I have a hard time understanding their convincing anyone that they want to create "jobs, jobs, jobs". I could even call that a sort of aggressive treatment, given, for example, the proposals of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, whose coast guard bill proposed increased fees for dredging and coast guard services.

Perhaps this too is intended to hobble the tourist industry by its effect on cruise ships.

In closing, I simply want to say it is clear that, when federal legislation-whether it involves the Criminal Code, the environment or some other area-applies to the entire country, certain locations are bound to suffer. In terms of tourism, it is the St. Lawrence region and the Province of Quebec that will lose tourists and the economic benefits they provide.

This is why my colleague from Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans introduced this bill and why I dare to think that the members opposite will not only consider it but will want to consider it so it may become a votable bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Roger Gallaway Liberal Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak in support of the intent of the bill and to congratulate the member for Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans for putting it before the House.

There is no question that the fastest growing industry in North America today is the gaming industry. It is time that we in this place started to examine in a serious fashion what that can mean in terms of the economy of the ports on the Great Lakes and on the St. Lawrence. It is also time for us to examine how we can utilize more efficiently the seaway system, the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. It is time for us to tap the potential we are seeing tapped in the southern U.S. and on the west coast of the United States and Canada.

There is a little town called Skagway in Alaska which has a population of 712. It is the northern terminal of west coast cruise ship run. Skagway, Alaska, imposed a 4 per cent municipal sales tax on all goods and services and last year collected something like $42 million, which represented 4 per cent of all the money spent by people coming off cruise ships. There is no other way to get there.

The seaway is underutilized in many respects. We know what is the fastest growing industry and that corporations operating cruise ships in the southern U.S. in the winter would love to put some boats on the Great Lakes in the summer.

This is an opportunity, as one member has pointed out, to employ people. Estimates I have seen from operators indicate that four ships with a capacity of 600 to 700 operating on the Great Lakes would create 10,000 jobs in Ontario and Quebec in the operating season. It is a very short season but some 80 million Americans within a day's drive would love to have the opportunity to cruise the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes.

This is a serious piece of legislation. The Americans are about to amend their territorial waters act. The Americans are willing to

deal with respect to the Johnson act in terms of cross-border cruise ships. The Great Lakes come under federal jurisdiction. This is the time to move to create an industry that will create jobs and will spin off into great implications for tourism.

As was mentioned, a former Prime Minister gave a great deal away but we still retain jurisdiction over the waters.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

11:55 a.m.


Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, I do not think I have time to address all aspects of this bill. However, as the member for Québec, I feel directly concerned by this bill concerning the operation of casinos on cruise ships sailing on theSt. Lawrence River.

I feel concerned because there is a major economic impact for the riding of Québec. You know that we were elected to the House of Commons to defend the interests of Quebec and of our constituents. This bill is a concrete example of what the Bloc Quebecois can do, of how it can get things moving.

We know that every year thousands of dollars are lost through passengers choosing other destinations, because the Criminal Code as it now stands does not allow cruise ships to operate casinos.

I think there has been a lot of stalling around over the last seven years when this bill should have been passed. I will also mention, if I may, the bad faith of the justice minister, because in response to questions from my colleague, the member for Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans, the minister told us that he would consult and that, if an official request was made by the Quebec minister, he would have the legislation changed.

The minister was also a bit vague on other questions. At this point, he is conducting consultations and considering the issue. I think a sufficient number of stakeholders have expressed their views, including the shipping industry, tourist associations, organizations promoting shipping, national harbour masters and municipalities along the St. Lawrence, including Quebec City. The municipal council has passed a resolution asking that the legislation be changed.

I think the minister is stalling. I do not know whether we can call it bad faith, but the Government of Quebec passed a bill that would allow casinos to operate on cruise ships sailing on the St. Lawrence. I wonder why this bill was not deemed votable by members of this House sitting on the committee on private members' business, most of whom are Liberals.

I can only deplore this lack of political will by the government members across the way. As we know, this has a major economic impact on the economic development of cities along theSt. Lawrence. Future economic spinoffs can be estimated at$50 billion. Only 5 or 6 per cent of Americans have had this experience, and this is as close as one can get to a sure thing, economically speaking.

Quebec City, in my riding, attracts many tourists and has the requisite infrastructure to receive this type of clientele. This is a market that is expanding rapidly, and if there were a change in the legislation, we could expect an annual economic growth rate of10 per cent. The number of passengers would rise from 40,000 to 95,000, with economic spinoffs estimated at $215 million. In Vancouver, they can count on 701,000 passengers with commensurate economic spinoffs.

Why should the cities along the St. Lawrence not get their share of this clientele? Is the government just plain unwilling to change the legislation, so that cruise ships will be able to open their casinos until one hour before arrival or one hour after their departure from the various ports along the St. Lawrence?

In various parts of Canada where ports exist, these are in international waters so there is no problem. However, there is a problem here because upon reaching Anticosti Island, ships are not allowed to open their casinos on the St. Lawrence. So what do people do who like to go to casinos? They decide against a cruise on the St. Lawrence.

I think we have mentioned all the economic spinoffs. My colleagues did so this morning, and I support this bill, in the hope that the government will realize that we are right and that it will go along with these changes. I know the bill standing in the name of the hon. member for Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans is not a votable item, but I do hope that this government, after so many consultations that seemed to go on forever, and the industry has already had its say on the subject, that this government will come up with a positive answer very shortly.

The objectives in this bill are realistic, and we hope the government will do the right thing and change the legislation so that we can increase economic development twofold.

Since certain experts say the increase could be 20 per cent annually, I wonder why operations on the St. Lawrence continue to be marginalized, thus penalizing the tourism industry throughout the Quebec City region. I think it makes sense in this matter to allow casinos to operate by passing such a bill.

I know this bill is not votable, but why not reverse that decision? If the minister ends up proving the Bloc Quebecois right in this matter, he will introduce his own bill. So why delay it? I think we have already deprived every city along the St. Lawrence, especially Quebec City, of enough money and economic benefits. I would therefore ask this government to move very quickly.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired, and the item is dropped from the Order Paper.

The hon. member for Beauport-Montmorency-Orléans on a point of order.

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12:05 p.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for the unanimous consent of this House to extend the debate by one minute so I can respond.

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12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is there unanimous consent for the proposal by the hon. member?

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12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members


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12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

The hon. member has one minute.

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12:05 p.m.


Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the members of the government party.

My colleagues and I have tried to demonstrate that private member's Bill C-369 is essential to the development of ports along the St. Lawrence and to the economy in general of cities on its shores.

We have also tried to show the House that this bill is not about playing politics, but about making it possible for the Quebec economy to develop, like all other areas in Canada.

I ask my colleagues across the way to forget about partisan politics for a minute-there will be time for that during the upcoming election campaign-and to treat this bill as a matter of conscience. Why stand in the way of an entire region's development for purely political reasons?

On behalf of the Bloc Quebecois and of the people of Quebec, who are served both by representatives of the Bloc Quebecois and by the other parties, I ask my colleagues in the House to allow this bill to go to a free vote. I ask the House for unanimous consent to put it to a vote.

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12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Do we have the unanimous consent of the House to put the hon. member's bill to a vote?

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12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members


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12:05 p.m.

Some hon. members


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12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

There is not unanimous consent.

The House resumed from February 4 consideration of the motion that Bill C-46, an act to amend the Criminal Code (production of records in sexual offence proceedings), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

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12:05 p.m.


Shaughnessy Cohen Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this debate. Over the last few weeks the justice committee, which I chair, has been hearing a series of witnesses in relation to the subject matter of Bill C-46. The committee will continue to hold hearings on the bill when and if it is referred to it for consideration.

Over this period of time committee members have heard a great many witnesses on all sides of the debate, witnesses who support the bill and witnesses who do not and who have concerns about it. The committee hearings have been open and fair and have given us an opportunity to now reflect on what, if any, amendments should be brought forward.

We have heard from witnesses representing sexual assault crisis centres, from victims, from defence lawyers and from a group that purports to believe in the existence of something called recovered memory syndrome or false memory syndrome. I will talk about this a little more later in the debate. Basically, we have had a very broad look at all of the issues which this draft legislation has stimulated.

I believe several things have been lost in this debate. One is the fact that nothing in Bill C-46 prohibits the production of records. In fact, these amendments make it clear that a trial judge has the jurisdiction to order a third party to produce records to an accused.

I am speaking of records that are in the possession of a third party which relate to personal information about the victim in the case. The bill makes it very clear that a judge has the power to order that third party to produce those records. All the bill is doing is setting out the criteria on which such an order will go forward.

In order to do so the law lays down the ground rules and demands that the accused establish how the records that are requested are likely relevant to an issue at trial. The accused cannot simply speculate, for instance, on how those records might be relevant. The accused has to offer more than that. He or she must set out the grounds on which he or she is relying to establish how the rules are likely relevant.

These amendments clarify that certain assertions are not enough to pass the initial hurdle. An assertion in and of itself is nothing

more than an unsupported statement. An accused cannot simply state "I need the medical records of the complainant because they might be helpful". In fact, the accused has to take it a step further than that.

Some critics contend that this places the accused in a catch-22 situation. They argue that the accused may not be able to establish how the records are likely relevant because the accused does not know what information is in the records.

A two-step process is required. First, the accused has to establish the likely relevance of the records. Second, several of these assertions I am talking about on their own, without any supporting information, are not sufficient to demonstrate the likelihood of the relevance of the records. That requires the accused simply to go a step beyond making the assertion.

I do not accept that this is a catch-22 situation. First, if the law does not impose some sort of threshold of likely relevance on the production of records, then it would be open season on those records. They would be available simply by the accused requesting them. In my view, that is not what Canadians want and it is not necessary for the accused to have full answer in defence.

If an accused does in fact have a defence to the charges, for instance, if he did not have contact with the complainant, if he believes the complainant consented, if he asserts that the incident did not happen, he can pursue that defence in an appropriate manner. But the accused should not, in my view, have carte blanche to peruse records in search of a defence in the form of impeaching the complainant's character or credibility or by intimidating the complainant to such an extent that the charges are withdrawn.

I would also point out that we are talking about personal records which have been made by third parties who have come in contact with the complainant. These third parties are counsellors, teachers, doctors, who have no obligation to provide these records to the accused, except through this process.

As I indicated, the legislation sets out several assertions which the accused cannot rely on solely to establish the likely relevance of the record. The need for articulating these insufficient assertions was highlighted in the consultation process and go right to the heart of why these amendments are necessary.

The accused will not satisfy the likely relevance threshold for production to a trial judge for review by setting out any unsupported assertions of why the records are or may be relevant. The accused must set out the grounds on which he or she relies to show how or why the records are likely relevant to an issue at trial.

The accused cannot simply state that records should be produced because the records about the complainant merely exist, or because they may disclose a prior inconsistent statement, or they may relate to the credibility of the complainant or witness, or may reveal allegations of sexual abuse by others. These are insufficient grounds. These are simply assertions which are intended to ensure that speculation will not found an application for records. Fishing expeditions are not going to be condoned by our law in this area. If the legislation permitted an accused to guess why records may be relevant, then in every case records would be produced and the legislation would have accomplished nothing.

The assertions are not impermissible per se. The accused may still be able to offer some support for the assertion. For example, if the accused can establish to the satisfaction of the trial judge that the records are likely relevant because they disclose a prior inconsistent statement, the trial judge can determine that the record should be reviewed.

The defence is not precluded from asserting the existence of a prior inconsistent statement. Nor is the defence precluded from cross-examining on that prior inconsistent statement because a trial judge under the circumstances could have the records produced.

One speaker in the House raised the issue of records of therapy resulting in so-called recovered memories. It has been suggested that such records would be prohibited if the legislation were passed. This is simply not true. That view is based on a misunderstanding of the legislation and how it will work.

Some criticism arises from misinterpreting a single provision without referring to related provisions or to the whole scheme of the bill. A previous speaker focused on one provision of the proposed amendments, subsection 278.3(4) that sets out a list of assertions which on their own will not establish the likely relevance of records. That is what we were just talking about. The member also suggested that the list made it impossible for an accused to defend himself particularly where allegations relate to sexual abuse occurring a long time ago but only recently reported because of recovered memory.

There is a lot of controversy about so-called recovered or false memories. Psychiatric and health experts cannot agree on how these memories are held, repressed, recovered or suggested. Bill C-46 is not intended to resolve the controversy. Nor is it intended even to wade into it.

It is not intended to prohibit records relating to the issue. It will not give any special treatment to records where they are alleged to relate to memory. Just like any other records sought, the likely relevance of the particular record has to be established by the accused.

An earlier speaker may have left the House with the impression that countless Canadians are being charged with sexual offences based on allegations arising after controversial treatment involving memory recovery techniques. This is simply not true. There have been some cases but courts have been very careful to recognize the frailties of such evidence.

It is important not to lose sight of the fact that whatever we do in terms of evidentiary law the crown still has the burden of proving

every element of a criminal offence beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard and often an insurmountable standard in sexual offences, particularly where the offences have an historic quality in that they happened a long time ago.

In addition it does not place much faith in crown attorneys. Charges are not laid willy-nilly simply because somebody makes an assertion. The crown has to be of the view there is sufficient evidence to support the charge. We should not assume that people can simply say they have been abused or assaulted and charges will be laid.

The records of a therapist or a psychiatrist relating to memory retrieval may however be the subject of an application for the production of records. To obtain the records the accused must establish, simply to the satisfaction of the judge as I said earlier, that the records are likely relevant to an issue at trial or to the competence of a witness to testify.

Clearly an accused cannot assert that medical, therapeutic or psychiatric records are needed because they can reveal a memory has been recovered or is false. These issues do not arise in all cases. If the allegations relate to events which occurred long ago and were only disclosed after therapy, an issue at trial will be the complainant's ability to recall the events. There is no question about it. In such cases the accused can apply for production of records by setting out grounds for production rather than bear unsupported assertions.

People forget that there are all sorts of opportunities for disclosure. The crown has an obligation to give full disclosure of the complainant's statement. In addition there is generally in these cases a preliminary hearing which will allow the defence, either by calling his or her own witnesses at the preliminary hearing or through the crown's witnesses, to get at the basis of some of these assertions.

The accused can lay the necessary evidentiary foundation for the application by referring at a preliminary hearing to evidence from doctors, other experts or the complainant regarding the nature of therapy or treatment. Let us remember that nothing in Bill C-46 prevents the accused from calling as a witness any person who is likely to give material evidence and asking them relevant questions. An accused can still call as a witness a doctor who treated the complainant. An accused can also cross-examine the complainant about her recall of events and the nature of therapy during the preliminary inquiry and at trial.

Where the issue of recovered memory is a real issue and the accused can point to information from the preliminary or from affidavits of other experts to support the assertion I anticipate that the records may be relevant to the issue. Then the trial judge can determine he should review the records after taking into account the other factors the bill requires him to consider. The list of insufficient grounds in the bill would never prohibit a judge from reviewing records where the accused has supported his assertion of how the records are relevant.

Bill C-46 demands only that applications for personal records be carefully scrutinized by the trial judge after the accused has established that the records are relevant. The bill makes it clear that any unsupported assertion by the accused will not be enough to meet the threshold of likely evidence. While the bill lists assertions which are insufficient on their own, these are by way of example and to highlight some of the reasons that may be cited when speculating about the contents of records. However the underlying rule is that the accused must always set out the grounds to establish how the records are likely relevant. The underlying rule applies to all records covered by the definition, including records of therapy relating to memory.

Bill C-46 addresses the issue of the production of records in sexual offence proceedings in a fair and balanced manner. The bill will not prohibit the production of records but will ensure that the only records produced are those which are likely to be relevant. It will ensure that judges carefully consider the rights of both the accused and the complainant. The trend by defence council to seek personal records to attack credibility is not a uniquely Canadian problem. I am aware the same trend has emerged in virtually all American states, in the United Kingdom, in Australia and in New Zealand.

The solutions proposed in other states vary. Some have opted for statutory privileges which apply to specific communications and records. We decided not to do that. Others have opted for an application for production model. What all have in common is the recognition that rights to privacy must be accommodated along with the right to a full answer in defence and where personal records are at stake the accused must demonstrate their likely relevance.

Our legislative proposals address the problem in a fair, balanced and comprehensive manner. I emphasize that the bill will not prohibit the production of records. Records can still be produced. I also emphasize that the bill will not prohibit the calling of witnesses who may have information relevant to those records. Those witnesses are still compellable. It ensures that the only records produced are those that are likely relevant. It ensures that judges carefully consider the rights of both the accused and the complainant before such records are produced.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.


John Bryden Liberal Hamilton—Wentworth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the remarks of the member for Windsor-St. Clair with great interest.

The bill is fundamentally flawed because of a misunderstanding of the import of certain words used by the member for Windsor--

St. Clair. She said that the bill did not provide any prohibitions for the production of records. She went on later to explain that the bill, with its amendments to the Criminal Code, set out criteria the judge must use to consider whether the records are to be produced.

Later she went on to say there were underlying rules the accused must meet to be entitled to have access or to have the judge demand the records the accused wishes to have.

When we set out rules and criteria by which records are to be produced or not to be produced we are setting up prohibitions. The best way to approach the production of records is to leave the production of records to the discretion of judges and not to set rules which are in fact prohibited reasons for the judges to consider demanding records as requested by the accused.

Is it not true that if an accused does not meet the underlying rules or the criteria laid out in Bill C-46 the judge will prohibit the production of records? Is there not a prohibition there in fact?

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12:20 p.m.


Shaughnessy Cohen Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, we are playing an interesting semantic game here. It is important to understand and appreciate that judges do not make law in a vacuum. If the legislation passes we are influencing the way in which judges will make decisions in courtrooms. That is what laws are. That is no great revelation. That is what we do. We make laws.

Judges cannot create laws in a vacuum. They cannot make decisions about evidence in a vacuum.

There has been a problem in the area of sexual assault cases for some period of time. As those cases have evolved in the courtroom, because of deficiencies in evidentiary laws there has been a free ride for the defence in terms of how it investigates and how it explores its cases. That free ride has caused a situation where the courts, not necessarily of their own volition, are riding roughshod over the privacy rights of complainants, victims and other witnesses.

All this law seeks to do is to set a structure within which a judge can make a determination and to set out guidelines for a judge to follow. It is not a question of prohibiting. It is a question of basically saying that we will respect the rights to privacy of people who come to the law with a complaint. We will balance those rights fairly and in an even fashion. We are doing it in such a way that there can still be full answer in defence.

The people on the other side who are beating this horse are forgetting that the doctor whose records they are seeking to produce can still be called. He or she can still be asked questions. The psychiatrist and the counsellor can still be called. They can still be asked questions about the complainant and about what may have transpired in terms of the nature of the therapy or whatever happened.

However they will not get at those records. They will not get a free ride or a fishing expedition on those records unless they can demonstrate some form of relevance. It is not that they must be absolutely guaranteed to be relevant. It is that in all likelihood they are relevant. That is a good balance. We must remember that people who come to the courts or to the police to complain have rights to their own privacy.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.


Sharon Hayes Reform Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her presentation. On review of the legislation and her comments on the legislation there I have a question that was not covered by your presentation.

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12:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Order. I know from time to time members have to get back into the swing of things but all hon. members will address their remarks to the Chair.

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12:25 p.m.


Sharon Hayes Reform Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member mentioned the possibility of records being available from third parties if they meet the criteria of the selection process in the review of a trial judge.

Could she clarify if it is just records from third parties that go through this process, or did I read in the legislation that records collected by the crown could be blocked in the same way?

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12:25 p.m.


Shaughnessy Cohen Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, there has been some confusion on that issue. I thank the hon. member for raising the question.

In my experience from time to time third party records get into the hands of the crown through police investigation. For instance, victims may have told the police they can talk to their social workers or psychiatrists. Those things get into the police file and ultimately get to the crown.

They are third party statements. They would be subject to this test. The fact that they are out of the hands of the third party and into the hands of police and/or the crown does not make them fodder for the defence. They have to be vetted in the way set out in the legislation by the judge.

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12:30 p.m.


Leon Benoit Reform Vegreville, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member made a statement that judges do not make law in a vacuum. She said that in response to another question.

I would like the member to comment on that, judges making laws at all. She was implying, by saying that judges do not make laws in a vacuum, that they make laws with information available. I would like her to comment on that.