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House of Commons Hansard #151 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was amendment.

Topics

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:20 p.m.

Prince Albert—Churchill River Saskatchewan

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise today to say a few words with respect to the amendment that has been put forward.

The amendment that has been put forward is merely in my view making explicit what was implicit before. The section as it was contained with respect to conditional sentencing stated that conditional sentencing was only allowed where the sentence imposed was less than two years. For those crimes that are more than two years in duration conditional sentencing would not be allowed for such crimes.

In addition it said that conditional sentencing could only be put forward when the judge was satisfied that serving the sentence in the community would not endanger the safety of the community.

In addition to this the conditions of the principles of sentencing contained in section 718 and 718.2 would also apply to this. What the amendment is doing is making that explicit so that when cases are brought before the judiciary it is right there, that the principles of sentencing apply.

It would be very instructive to read the principles of sentencing that would apply to the application of the conditional sentence. Section 718 states:

The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:

(a) to denounce unlawful conduct;

(b) to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences;

(c) to separate offenders from society, where necessary;

(d) to assist in rehabilitating offenders;

(e) to provide reparations for harm done to victims or the community;

(f) to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgement of the harm done to victims and communities.

These are the principles that apply to a conditional sentence. While it was implicit before it is explicit now that these principles apply to conditional sentencing. Conditional sentences ought only to be put forward in appropriate cases.

The provincial governments and the federal government worked together to develop a bill that would better ensure the safety of citizens in our society. They wished to ensure that people who posed a risk to the community would not be allowed to be released from prison to offend again.

Those who did not pose a risk to society would be free to serve their sentence in the community subject to appropriate conditions. If those conditions were breached they would then serve the rest of their sentence in a correctional facility.

I think it is very important to recognize that this is a clarification of the code to ensure that conditional sentences are only applied in those circumstances where there is no danger to society and where the principles of sentencing, of deterrents of denunciation of the crime are appropriately applied.

The reason for this is due to the experience of many in the justice system prior to these amendments. There were many cases where people who had committed crimes did go to jail. However, because of the overcrowding of the facilities and because many people who were there were not a risk to society, the people who were a risk to society would be released into the community after serving a very short time in prison.

Therefore the federal and provincial governments working together developed this solution which will better ensure that those who are a risk to society will be kept in prison longer and for an appropriate length of time. Those who do not pose a risk to society will be able to serve their sentence within the community.

It is as a result of these amendments that as we move into the future this clarification that we have brought forward today will ensure that conditional sentencing is only applied in appropriate cases.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is the House ready for the question?

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12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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12:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

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12:25 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

The question is on the next motion.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:25 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to again assure the members of this House and the people of Canada that this is not an amendment to Bill C-17. This amendment has nothing to do with Bill C-17. This amendment has to do with the bungling of the justice minister with regard to the former bill that he brought in, Bill C-45, that tinkered with the rights of first degree murderers for an early shot at parole after serving just 15 years of a so called life sentence. That is what this bill is.

What does this bill do? We have to do back to Bill C-45. I must also mention that this amendment could only have come in at this stage with the unanimous consent of the House. Because this bill has nothing whatsoever to do with Bill C-17 it was inappropriate to bring it in. The only way it could be brought in was through unanimous consent.

We go back to Bill C-45. What was the problem with Bill C-45? The wording of Bill C-45 was supposed to provide victims who were appearing at section 745 hearings the automatic right to provide impact statements. The legal interpretation of that part of Bill C-45 showed there were no automatic rights, that the victims of crime, the families of the victims of the likes of Clifford Olson do not have standing. It is only at the discretion of the court that that are allowed to give an impact statement. This is simply not good enough. The justice minister knows this, so what is he doing? He is running now to change what he bungled in the first place.

This is just another example of a deficiency in judgment on the part of the justice minister. It flows like a current through a host of legislative and other decisions he has made over the last three and a half years. We are now examining an amendment, piggy-backed on to Bill C-17 that ought to have been dealt with back when we dealt with section 745 under Bill C-45.

My party stands for the complete removal of section 745 from the Criminal Code. We do not want the families of victims to ever have to appear to give an impact statement and be subject to cross-examination by the likes of Clifford Olson, Paul Bernardo or the host of killers lining up and applying under section 745, which is a gift to them from the Liberal government and from the present justice minister.

That is what we are dealing with here. This is an amendment to Bill C-45. It has nothing to do with Bill C-17. Hopefully this time it will provide the automatic right to victims of crime to make an impact statement, regardless of what a judge may think. They will not be subjected to the discretion of the judge. They will have standing before parole hearings.

There is a down side to this. Although we did not support Bill C-45 because we wanted the faint hope clause that would allow first degree murders an opportunity for parole only after serving 15

years of a life sentence completely eliminated, removed from the Criminal Code.

We are prepared to support this amendment because it will give victims the right to stand before a judge and jury and tell them of the pain, agony and the hell they have gone through as a result of the taking of a life of a family member and to have that evidence impact on the jury. This must be seen in light of the passage of Bill C-45 and the refusal of the justice minister to remove the faint hope clause. This right must be granted to the families of the victims of the likes of Clifford Olson and others.

We are prepared to support it. However, again it demonstrates the bungling and the lack of the consideration for the victims of crime and the families of those victims by the justice minister. It is an almost desperate attempt by the justice minister to cover himself and argue on the whole area of the faint hope clause and his decision to retain it. He is writing letters to editors of newspapers across Canada suggesting that the Reform Party is exploiting the feelings and emotions of the families of the victims of Clifford Olson. This is disgraceful, shameful and simply untrue.

The victims of crime, including Mr. Gary Rosenfeldt, have made that very clear in written responses to the newspapers that we are the party which is standing for them. We are the party that is defending their rights and trying to give them an opportunity to develop a degree of peace of mind and not have to harrow up the horrible feelings they experienced when they first learned that their young son or daughter had been kidnapped, raped and murdered by the likes of Clifford Olson. They have to go through that again and again because the justice minister has allowed the faint hope clause to remain. If Clifford Olson fails in his bid he can appeal it or he can apply again and again. Bill C-45 would have denied victims the right to make an impact statement at those hearings.

Bill C-41 granted victims the right to make impact statements. Along came Bill C-45 and the bungling of the justice minister. If he were a drummer he would call his drums the bungle drums because of the capacity he has for bungling every time he turns about. He brought in Bill C-45 which eliminated the right of victims to make impact statements that were provided for in Bill C-41. Is that not wonderful? We have a justice minister who can stop on a dime and turn on a nickel here in the House of Commons. He can mock and scorn the Reformers who ask reasonable questions about his legislation and yet he cannot get it straight.

He cannot get it straight in Bill C-45. He cannot get it straight in Bill C-41. He cannot get it straight in the Airbus fiasco. He cannot get it straight in the Pearson airport fiasco. He cannot get it straight in a host of legislative initiatives that show in spite of all his so-called skills and ability he is lacking in sound judgment and common sense. That is what we are dealing with now through this amendment.

He has bungled one more time and so he brings in an amendment which has nothing to do with Bill C-17. It covers the bungling that has occurred in Bill C-45 that takes away the right of the victims to make impact statements which were granted under Bill C-41. This bill is something that we have to examine and support because until there is a Reform government in this country the faint hope clause will remain.

As Scott Newark said in B.C. to the families of the victims of Clifford Olson: "The only way you are going to change that law is by changing the government". The people of this country are going to have an opportunity to do that within the next few months if all the rumours we are hearing are accurate. People will have the opportunity to vote for a party that will place the rights of victims ahead of the rights of the likes of Clifford Olson, the Bernardos and so on.

The people will return a verdict concerning the bungling of this justice minister and this government. They have asked repeatedly through letters and petitions for initiatives to be taken. They have been denied repeatedly by this justice minister who pretends that he understands and agonizes along with their pain and their suffering but his actions never demonstrate what he says. He never demonstrates his concern for the victims of crime.

Yes, we will support this until we form the government. We will abide by the wishes of the majority and not by the will of a handful of people around the justice minister and Prime Minister.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Reform

Diane Ablonczy Reform Calgary North, AB

Mr. Speaker, we are debating the second of two amendments introduced a short while ago. Bill C-17 is an omnibus bill. An omnibus bill deals with a number of acts and makes small changes, adjustments and amendments in a whole range of areas. It is kind of a tidying up bill. I guess with an election coming there is a lot to tidy up in the area of the justice system and all the justice bills that have been brought in.

This second of the two amendments, fixes an oversight-to put it kindly and a large omission in the minds of some of us-in Bill C-45. That bill has been fairly well known among Canadians as the one which allowed Clifford Olson, who killed at least 11 innocent Canadian children after brutally and sadistically assaulting them, to apply to get out of jail early. It is very interesting that we would be debating an amendment to the act that allows him to do that or, more accurately, does not prevent him from doing that although it would prevent future multiple killers from applying for early release, but not Clifford Olson.

Today I was reading in a calendar of upcoming events that on Monday, April 7 in Vancouver the B.C. supreme court judge decided whether to lift a ban on Clifford Olson's judicial review preliminary hearing. These applications by convicted killers do not just take the form of one simple step. They cause some pretty hard working people to pay a lot of money in order for these things to happen.

On Wednesday, April 9 in Saskatoon, Clifford Olson will appear in court to appeal a federal ruling restricting his access to the media.

In one week we have two major judicial considerations on behalf of a convicted, sadistic, brutal child killer and in the House of Commons we finally have a justice minister who says: "Gee, I wonder whether the families and the parents of these victims should maybe have the right to speak out at his hearing to get out of jail early and actually tell the court how they think and feel about the violations to the rights, safety and security of their families".

We are very pleased that finally, after all the words that we put into Hansard and after all the words we have spoken in committee urging the justice minister to start shifting the balance from the side of killers and criminals on to the side of decent, upright, law-abiding innocent citizens, there is a little move in that direction.

The Reform Party some months ago introduced in the House a motion that there be a victims' bill of rights test. There are eight provisions which we believe should be in such a victims' bill of rights. It would provide specific legal rights within the justice system to victims. That is a novel thought. The victim might actually have some standing in our legal system.

One of the provisions we have suggested would be the right of victims to choose between giving oral and/or written victim impact statements at parole hearings, hearings before sentencing and at judicial reviews.

There are other legal rights which we think should be given to victims, to the innocent people in our society whose freedoms and liberties have been violated by law-breakers. We think they should be given the right at every stage of the process to be informed, including being made aware of available victim services.

There are plenty of services for criminals. In fact, as we have pointed out in the House time and again, many criminals in this country live in more comfortable, more spacious and more secure circumstances than many of our senior citizens who have worked a lifetime, paid their taxes, kept the law and been exemplary citizens.

We think the victims should have the right to be informed of the offender's status throughout the process, including but not restricted to plans to release the offender from custody.

We think that victims should also have the right to know why charges are not laid, if that is the decision of the crown or the police, the right to be protected from intimidation, harassment or interference.

We think that victims should have the right to have their part of the process heard, to stand before a judge and let him or her on behalf of society know how criminal activity has affected them. That should be automatic.

An amendment was introduced in this House this morning, April 8, 1997. Three and a half years after this government took office, mere days before this government goes back to the people and asks them to vote for it, it is saying maybe we should give victims in this country and their families the right to actually tell the courts to tell the judicial system how lawbreakers have affected them.

Here we have another situation of fixing a problem that was brought up before, a well known, much talked about problem. Just before an election suddenly there is a feeling that we had better throw this into the mix too so that the justice minister and his colleagues can say "boy, we are really standing up for law-abiding Canadians". Never mind that they have totally ignored, jeered and showered contempt on strong and sensible statements and urgings from other members of the House that they get with the program much sooner.

Whereas these are amendments that should have been made some time ago and we have to support them, we just have to say to the justice minister that the time to fix these problems is when they are first pointed out instead of scrambling to do something at as late a date as possible in order to look as if they care about the concerns of Canadians which have been well known and well talked about for months and months.

This amendment to Bill C-17 would allow victims and their families to let the courts know in these proceedings and in particular in proceedings where killers are applying to be let out of jail early. That is something that should be done. All Canadians support that. We urge the justice minister to get this right the first time, to start listening to what needs to be done, to protect Canadians and to make sure their rights are put first and foremost in this justice system.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

Reform

Werner Schmidt Reform Okanagan Centre, BC

Mr. Speaker, this second amendment to Bill C-17, which has been granted to us to look at, study and think about, has not just suddenly appeared out of the clear blue sky. Somehow it seems as if this is a brand new idea that has just hit us.

This idea has been around for a long time. The victims who have had crimes perpetrated against them are people like you and me. In

our discussion of this amendment we should ask ourselves who the victims are. It is usually assumed that the person against whom a crime is perpetrated is the victim. We have extended it now to include the family. We should also include friends and neighbours. If we really want to come to grips with this issue we have to recognize that with any violent crime we are all victims. Directly or indirectly it affects every single one of us.

I will refer to two incidents that happened in my riding. In the first case a man came home and stabbed his wife repeatedly until she died. That victim could not speak and tell of the impact that had. That person was dead. There was no right for that victim anymore. That right had been taken away by the person who stabbed her. But she had a sister and her sister was very much involved in that family because there were children she wanted to train in the way they should walk and so on. Here was her brother-in-law who had been allowed to stab his wife, and the consequence was a minimal jail sentence.

Who was the victim in this case? The wife was stabbed and killed but the sister in training her family was deeply involved in this case as well.

I want to relate to another case that happened in our community, the case of Mindy Tran. Mindy Tran was a little girl who was abducted from her home and killed. Probably the most terrifying event for me was to listen to a parent describe what happened on the way to school as they were driving down the street to take their child to kindergarten class. This kindergarten child who was sitting in the car was watching another child who was walking down the street alone. She said: "Mommy, look, that girl is walking alone. She should not be doing that. That is what happened to Mindy Tran. She was alone and she was killed. Shouldn't we stop and pick her up?"

Who is the victim here? That child's life is forever affected by somebody else, a person she did not know but knew about because she had been killed. What about the mother of this child who had to listen to her daughter say "shouldn't we pick up that child?". This child who was in this car had more empathy for justice and protection of society than the judge who dealt with the case of a man like Mr. Stone who stabbed and killed his wife.

These are serious offences. These are serious implications for the victims against whom crime has been perpetrated.

Let me go one step further. Much has been made in the last couple of months of the Clifford Olson case, on the Bernardo and Homolka case. Should these people even have access to the press? In many ways one would say of course they should have access to the press, but these people have taken away the right of certain people to ever express themselves again. Many of the people who were associated with the victims whose life has been taken will not speak in public. Why? They will not speak because they do not want to relive the terror and the emotion that they experienced the first time around. They are people who care.

We as parliamentarians are in the position of being the guardians of the safety of the life and the protection of the property of law-abiding citizens. When we have minimal sentences offered and when we even suggest that there should be victim impact statements, as was the case earlier, and as a very strong demonstration of how inept and how incompetent in many areas this government is, now as a sort of last minute the government says that should be in there. It is obvious that it should be in there.

When will our judgment system become one that will take into account not only the violence and the heinousness of the crime but will also recognize that there are real people with real lives, with real emotions who have been affected and their lives forever changed because of this crime that has been perpetrated in their neighbourhoods, in their families or against their wives or their husbands?

We have never dealt with a more serious issue than the matter of justice in our society. When will we recognize that to do things like this, to commit the kinds of crimes that Clifford Olson committed, the kinds of crimes that Bernardo committed, the kinds of crimes by the person who killed Mindy Tran, or those of Mr. Stone who stabbed his wife, when will we recognize that the time has come that the consequences for these kinds of acts are more than a slap on the wrist, are more than temporary incarceration and actually do not create the kind of protection for the victims who remain?

Even though we do not live in that community we can identify, we can understand the fear, we can understand the terror, the pain, the emotion and the anger that wells up in people when these kinds of things happen.

Should that not have an impact? Should that not be a message to the rest of us to say that the time has come to introduce programs where we do have consequences for these kinds of acts? Far more important is the generation of a set of values that tells people that kind of behaviour is wrong, it ought to be stopped and there are serious consequences.

We need to reintroduce a clear definition of what is right and what is wrong in our society. Our children should know what is right and what is wrong. This Parliament should make it clear to judges what we believe is right and what is wrong. It is right to recognize that the rights of victims are more important than the rights of criminals.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Reform

Jay Hill Reform Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to debate this second 11th hour amendment put forward by the justice minister to Bill C-17.

As members will remember, the first amendment we debated dealt with conditional sentencing, something which certainly Reformers and a growing number of Canadians perceive to be the misuse of that section. We were concerned right from the beginning that it not be used in the cases of violent crimes. Obviously our worst fears unfortunately have been borne out in the use of that section.

Now we move on to this second damage control amendment. As my colleagues have stated, this has absolutely nothing to do with Bill C-17. It is instead a cover your backside amendment for the justice minister heading into the next election campaign dealing with section 745 which, I think all Canadians will remember, was dealt with under Bill C-45 not Bill C-17.

In all honesty, that is where this should have been dealt with, similar to the last amendment which should have been dealt with at the time of debate and consultation on Bill C-41, the sentencing act. This should also have been dealt with under Bill C-45.

However, this government refused to listen, as it has time and time again, to the pleas not only of Reform members of Parliament but countless Canadians from coast to coast.

It is well documented now. I would think at some point the message is going to start to get through to the government and the justice minister that Canadians are demanding the repeal of section 745. They do not want it tinkered with. They do not want to play with it and say that if a person only commits one murder than maybe they can have access to that provision of the Criminal Code, have a hearing to see if they can be released early. They want it repealed.

I pointed out during the debate on Bill C-45 that I found it more than a little ironic that this justice minister used as one of his excuses for bringing forward his senseless gun control legislation for gun registration that it was partially in reply to a resolution by the police association. However, when it comes to dealing with section 745, which the police association has passed a resolution to get rid of, the justice minister strangely does not listen. Obviously he selectively uses certain support. He selectively uses what he wants to further his own agenda rather than to respond legitimately to the concerns of Canadians and different organizations across the nation.

Some of my colleagues have already laid out how Reform dramatically differs from the Liberal government in how we would address the issue of victims rights because that is what this amendment is about. It is an 11th hour amendment to bring in a provision which would allow automatic victim impact statements at these hearings. That is something that we and other victims' groups and associations have spoken out on during debate on Bill C-45. Now, at the last moment, only with the proviso that the justice minister get unanimous consent of the House, does he bring forward these last minute amendments so that he can try and indicate to the Canadian public that he is a little bit concerned about the plight of victims of crime.

During the debate about Clifford Olson utilizing the provision of section 745 to have yet another day in court, as we feared the judge was bound to fly him to Vancouver and give him another day in court. It will on August 18 this summer when he will argue why he should be let out of prison. How ridiculous. There is not one Canadian who has not heard of the heinous crimes of Clifford Olson. There is not a Canadian who is not appalled that we are going through this charade when we know he is not going to get out.

Section 745 of the Criminal Code allows this charade to takes place. I will be interested in September to find out what this is going to cost the taxpayers, never mind the pain of the people who will be revictimized again at the hearing. Imagine the dollars and cents it is going to cost the taxpayers to go through an exercise that all of us hope and pray is an exercise in futility for Clifford Olson.

Why is the process even there that would allow him to do this? He will be flown to Vancouver at the expense of taxpayers. I suspect some of his prison colleagues will fly there to testify that he is not such a bad guy after all. In reality, if there was true justice in the country Clifford Olson would no longer be breathing. The people across the nation know that. It is outrageous that the government would allow such a thing to take place.

I well remember during the debate on the issue, the justice minister said shame on Reformers for bringing the issue to the forefront and giving Clifford Olson a stage to perform on. We brought this issue forward on behalf of the victims and their families.

I have a newspaper clipping of an opinion piece by Claire Hoy, quoting the justice minister who said: "If it was not for Reform the whole affair would be proceeding in obscurity". He went on to say: "The pain felt by the families of the victims would be of a different order than that which they face today if it were not for those in the Reform Party who are providing Clifford Olson with exactly what he wants". That is the response of the justice minister, not to Reformers but to the thousands of victims who are crying out for justice, for all those who see section 745 as the outrage it has become.

As has been indicated by my hon. colleague from Crowfoot, Reform will be supporting this amendment. As we have many times over the last three and a half years on criminal justice bills and legislation, we will hold our noses and vote for something we

know in our hearts is a half measure at best, but better that than nothing at all.

Why? The question has to be asked. Why can the government not respond adequately to the concerns of Canadians?

I spoke about this during my last intervention. As I travel through my riding I hear things which I know other MPs, regardless of their political affiliation, are hearing. They have to be. If they are responding to the concerns of their constituents they have to be sitting down in their offices, at town hall meetings, and speaking with the victims of crime. People are living in fear every day in their homes.

Increasingly people are locking themselves in their homes because the system refuses to lock up the criminals. It is time for change. I hear it constantly as I travel across the nation. It is time to put victims first.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Reform

Val Meredith Reform Surrey—White Rock—South Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to the second amendment on Bill C-17 which was given unanimous approval in the House today. This is the second amendment which the justice minister has thrown in at the last minute to rectify oversights or mistakes he has made in previous legislation.

It does not give me any joy to be responding to a government which has time and again ignored the input of the opposition, ignored the input of Canadians at large, who have spoken to legislation which the government has brought forward for consideration. They have pointed out flaws in legislation which is before the House.

Time and again consideration should have been given to recommendations at committee stage. Letters have been received from experts of certain aspects of the law who have recommended changes. Time and again the justice minister and the government have ignored that input.

A private member's bill dealing with section 745 succeeded in passing second reading in the House. Seventy-nine Liberals voted in favour of that private member's bill so that it could go to committee for consideration. That private member's bill dealt with section 745 of the Criminal Code, which is known as the faint hope clause. That section allows a person convicted of first degree murder who is given a life sentence without eligibility for parole for 25 years an opportunity 15 years down the road to seek a change in their eligibility for parole.

That private member's bill had the support of colleagues in the Liberal Party. It successfully passed second reading. However, over the past year the bill has been gutted, mainly by Liberal members of the justice committee. It has not been reported back to the House to be dealt with at report stage and third reading.

Perhaps if the government was more willing to allow honest and open debate, honest and open criticism and honest and open recommendations for improvement, it would not find itself in the situation it has found itself in today, having to work in amendments after the fact to an omnibus bill to correct mistakes which it should have known it was making in previous legislation.

It certainly does not give me any satisfaction to be a part of a system where there is not honest and open debate. Legislation is rammed through the House, rammed down the throats of Canadians and they are left to deal with the consequences.

What would have happened if the justice minister did not realize that these mistakes needed to be corrected? What kind of situation would we find ourselves in next year or the year after?

It says very little about the justice minister and his government when they need to come in after the fact and make amendments to a bill which is totally unrelated to a bill which has been passed. Bill C-45 was passed last year. It is not something that was done four or five years ago. It was something that the minister put through the House four or five months ago. Now we are correcting a mistake that he made to totally deny the rights of victims to give their position in court, to give their side of the story, to indicate the harm and the impact that these horrendous crimes had on their families and on themselves.

I agree with my hon. colleagues for Calgary Northwest and Okanagan Centre. The victims in these violent offences are not just the families, they are not just the children, the husband or the wife, it is the whole community.

I am facing that in my community of Surrey. In case people do not realize it, Clifford Olson is making a mockery of the justice system this summer. As hon. members have pointed out, Clifford Olson is coming in August to Surrey to have his hearing. Surrey does not want him. The city of Surrey has asked that Clifford Olson not be allowed in the city.

My office has received more phone calls and more letters on the issue of Clifford Olson coming back to Surrey than any other issue since I came to the House of Commons three and a half years ago. The people in my community are outraged that the justice system would allow a man who tortured and murdered at least 11 children, 4 of those children from the city of Surrey, to have access to the court system.

It would be interesting to know how much time and money this hearing is going to take up. People are waiting in line to have cases

heard in court because of the lack of space, because of the lack of facilities, because of the lack of prosecutors and others to handle their cases. People are waiting for months or years to have a court case heard and we are tying up our justice system by allowing this monster to use up valuable court time and valuable tax dollars to apply for a section 745. To my mind and to the minds of the people in the city of Surrey that is a grave injustice.

It completely undermines the whole concept of who and what is the justice system supposed to be representing. Is it the convicted criminals? Is it the convicted killers? Is it the victims? Why are we now, months later, recognizing that the victims must have the right to present their case to the jurors who are going to make a decision on what effect or impact this individual has had on their lives?

The real travesty of justice is that Clifford Olson will be his own lawyer. He has the right to cross-examine the victims' families. How just and how humane is it to have this person who killed one of their children or one of their loved ones cross-examine them? It is insane. That is how Canadians see our justice system.

To be quite honest with you, Mr. Speaker, that is how Canadians are starting to see their government. They are starting to question the sanity of a government that allows this kind of thing to occur not once, not twice, but on a regular basis. What they see is a justice system that is constantly letting them down, constantly putting their concerns, their protection behind that of a convicted offender.

It distresses me to no end to know that I am standing here speaking and supporting this very weak attempt of the justice minister to undo his past mistakes. I do not take any great satisfaction in saying that I am going to support this. I am supporting it because I am backed up against a wall. I know this is as good as we are going to get from the government.

Given the opportunity in the very near future I would like to think Canadians will take time to measure just what the government has provided for them and what the government has done to them over the last 3.5 years. I would also like to think that before Canadians go to the polls this spring or next fall they will take a good look at what they will get in the future if they return the government to power. They will get more of the same: giving more attention to the offender, ignoring the rights of victims, ignoring the rights of society and putting Canadians last rather than first.

Canadians should seriously look at the issues and at who is fighting for them. They should look beyond the reports and accusations of the justice minister that it is the fault of the opposition party that did this or did not do that. I hope voters will look at the issues and at what the government is ignoring. If Canadians look very closely they will be looking to the Reform Party, a party concerned about justice and safety of all Canadians, to give them the governance they deserve.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:15 p.m.

Reform

Monte Solberg Reform Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to address Bill C-17 and the amendment.

Through its actions over the past couple of years the government has demonstrated where its priorities are with respect to criminal justice. In every instance, with the possible exception of what it is trying to do today on the eve of an election, it has demonstrated its sympathies lie as much or more with criminals than they do with the public.

I will read a letter from a constituent of mine, Mike Duffy who lives in Bow Island, Alberta. It was sent to the solicitor general and reads as follows:

Dear sir,

RE: Section 745 Criminal Code

On June 30th, 1982 a car occupied by four natives, broke down on Highway 11, south of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. After initial efforts to flag down assistance had failed, two of these individuals decided to hide in the tall weeds at the road edge. One of these two told the others that he was going to "Shank the next honky that stops".

Joseph Duffy, my father, was en route from Edmonton to his home in Regina. He was the next person. He stopped and offered assistance.

For his efforts he was attacked and taken at knife point, in his own car, to a farmer's field. He was slashed with the knife and forced from his car. The four then chased him with the car and ran him over; and over.

Joe Duffy was murdered because of the colour of his skin; and his willingness to offer help to a stranger.

On July 7th, 1982, Robert George Ironchild, the leader of this group was arrested. On January 25th, 1983 he was convicted of first degree murder. He received a sentence of life imprisonment without eligibility for parole for 25 years.

The convicted murderer Ironchild subsequently changed his name to Rob Wapuchakoos, at public expense. Soon he can apply for a review of his parole eligibility at public expense.

I have recently learned that your department sends an information package to prisoners serving life sentences.

My understanding is that this package instructs convicted murderers how to submit an application for a section 745 review; how to behave to obtain a favourable review; and how to apply for Legal Aid and expenses for witnesses. This is very disturbing.

However, since we live in a society where everyone is equal before the law, your office must also have an information package for the survivors, the family of the murder victim.

On behalf of the entire family of Joe Duffy, I request the package so we can prepare for any review; to ensure that the convicted murderer serves his entire sentence; and to acquire Legal Aid and expenses.

We also require copies of all documentation-I ask that you give immediate attention to my requests. Working together we can keep this convicted murderer in prison and prevent another homicide. We owe this to the memory of my father.

Yours truly,

Mike Duffy

The point that Mr. Duffy is making is one that we should all heed in this place. We are legislators and we have a duty to hear what these victims are saying. They are saying: "Don't give rights to the criminals; give rights to the victims".

The amendment seeks to address an old wrong. Apparently for some reason, even though our members pointed it out, the government somehow forgot to put in a victim impact statement at the time of the trial so victims could explain to the judge and to the jury the horrifying impact of having a loved one murdered. Somehow the government got a little mixed up and decided to give the rights to the criminals, which is why we are facing the spectacle today of animals like Clifford Olson winning the right to apply under section 745 to be released from prison early and, as my colleague from Surrey-White Rock-South Langley pointed out, ultimately to cross-examine the families of his victims.

God in heaven, that is contrary to what anybody would believe is sensible. I cannot believe we are standing here discussing it today. I cannot believe the justice minister does not fly in here and say they are changing the law today, that they will fix this.

The government has a responsibility to protect our citizens. There is one thing it should be doing with the huge budget granted by the taxpayers every year, the $120 billion. It should take a portion of it and do what it can to protect citizens and victims, not criminals, not people like Ironchild, Clifford Olson and Paul Bernardo. It is unbelievable that we are having this discussion in the House today.

Like my friend from South Langley and my friend from Crowfoot say, if there is any justice in the world I hope people will look closely at the Liberal record on criminal justice issues. If they do, real justice will be meted out at the time of the next election.

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1:20 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-17.

I will continue some of the comments my colleagues made about how unfortunate we are to have a Liberal government that pays lip service to the real problems of victims.

I want to relate to an instance that happened in Langley, Aldergrove and Abbotsford, British Columbia. It was shortly after the government brought in Bill C-41 which contained conditional sentences.

We debated conditional sentencing in the House. We indicated that there were some danger signs. We wondered who it would apply to. The government brought in conditional sentencing and disregarded all our comments in the House.

Shortly after Bill C-41 was proclaimed and conditional sentences became a reality, Darren Ursel in my riding met a young lady, a single mother of two, a non-drinker, in a restaurant and convinced her to go for a Coke. When he got her in his car at the back of the restaurant, outside in the parking lot, he quickly locked the door, pushed her back in the seat and ripped her clothes off. He could not get an erection so he reached for his racketball racket and used the handle on her front and back. When he was in court he convinced Judge Harry Boyle he was tender at times. The judge suggested that because it was Darren's first conviction it should be part of the sentence. He also said that Darren Ursel indicated he was sorry for what he did. Judge Harry Boyle went to the justice minister's Bill C-41 and applied conditional sentencing which meant that Darren was allowed to leave the courtroom on the condition that he did not do it again.

In our country today, like we use to have in the fifties, women are now able to be raped and sodomized. The perpetrator is able to walk out the door after the court case. I stand here and say "I told you so" as can many members who sitting in the Reform Party. I remember my hon. colleague from Crowfoot and many of our critics speaking on that matter because they understood the consequences of it.

I was at the appeal hearing. Gertie Pool, a grandmother, obtained 13,000 signatures to debench the judge. It was the Liberal government's fault in the first place. I heard the defence lawyers suggest there were too many people in our prisons and we needed conditional sentences. Therefore Darren Ursel walked away with raping and sodomizing this young lady. That is sick thinking.

In this exercise the Liberal government has moved women back into the closet where they were in the 1950s and 1960s after being raped, because they knew it was useless to go into a courtroom and obtain justice. That is perhaps the saddest point of all.

I tell the people of Ontario, Atlantic Canada, Quebec and western Canada who are listening that this kind of scenario is coming to them. The Liberal government has said that it is okay to rape and sodomize women and that the offender can walk. That is what occurred in my riding and it is damned disgusting, I must say.

There is but one choice to get ridiculous laws like this one off the books, that is to get these people from the House for good. The Reform Party and many victims of violence have been asking for a long time just exactly what are our rights. What exactly are our rights? Every day they approach us and the government, but when they approach the government it unfortunately falls on deaf ears.

Let me give a few good quotes from the legal industry about victims. A defence lawyer said: "Victims want someone else to fix their petty problems".

This kind of attitude that has pervaded the Liberal government for years, making up of much of the legal industry, is wrong. Judicial decisions on the bench in some cases are getting worse. Harry Boyle's decision is an example of that. What is this government going to do about it?

"I do not know what you people are so upset about; 11 children could have just as easily been killed in a bus accident. If they are dead, they are dead". That is a quote made by a prosecutor to parents of children murdered by Clifford Olson.

If that attitude pervades this legal industry and exists in the courts of this land, we as responsible legislators must legislate it out because it is wrong.

"There is no such thing as a victim, it is just a state of mind". A defence lawyer calls that a state of mind. I have worked with many victims since I was elected and I do not think it is a state of mind. But there is a growing passion among these folks to not have other people in the country victimized as they have been. They are not asking for a lot in this country, I do not think. They want the unrestricted right to provide a victim impact statement at a parole board hearing, whether it is oral or written, at a sentencing case or at a judicial review. That is not too much to ask for.

However, the government took the automatic right of victims to submit statements at judicial reviews away from them. Why? Is it just stupidity or is that these members got caught doing it and now we are screaming?

I wish I had more time. I am sure these Liberal members would love to hear more about this so that maybe we could teach them a bit about what is going on in the country. Maybe they could listen and learn.

However, the fact is that this legal system which now pervades what used to be a justice system has got us in trouble. And for the Minister of Justice to stand in the House yesterday and tell me that he has done a lot for victims because he has made amendments to the Criminal Code tells me he does not have one iota of understand of what I am talking about. But he will after this next election, he can be darned sure of that.

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1:30 p.m.

Reform

John Cummins Reform Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about Liberal inaction in justice matters and there is no promise of things improving in the near future. Victims know it and my colleagues know it. My colleagues from Fraser Valley West, Crowfoot and Wild Rose have been working on this issue for a long time and have made a real impact on our awareness of it not only in the House but from coast to coast.

Chuck Cadman's son was brutally killed recently just because someone did not like the hat he was wearing. HopefullyMr. Cadman will be elected to the House in the next election, letting people know what it is like from firsthand experience to be a victim of crime.

The fact is the debate this morning was not necessary. My colleagues proposed amendments in committee and if they had been accepted at that time by the Liberals there would have been no reason for this debate.

An amendment was proposed to limit the use of alternative measures for non-violent, non-serious offences. That amendment was defeated in committee by the Liberals. An amendment was proposed which would have allowed verbal impact statements. That amendment as well was defeated.

It is unfortunate when we are debating these kinds of issues that somehow we cannot rise above politics and really look at what it is we are addressing. It is the people we are serving whom we should be concerned about, not which party put forward an amendment.

I would like to tell the House about a few more things which we have proposed to try to make our streets safer.

We have been talking about bringing a balance to the justice system so that the rights of the criminal and the rights of victims and law-abiding citizens are brought back to a favourable balance. Victims of crime should be put first. We would provide people with legal rights within the justice system which would allow for that.

We believe there should be the right to be informed at every stage of the process, including being made aware of available victims services.

These things were proposed by my colleague from Fraser Valley West in his victims bill of rights. That piece of legislation, which passed second reading, is now languishing in committee because the Liberal government does not want to deal with the very positive proposals which he put forward.

The member for Fraser Valley West also suggested that there should be the right to be informed of the offender's status throughout the process, including but not restricted to plans to release the offender from custody.

This problem occurred in my constituency. A young man of 17 was killed by a hit and run driver. His parents had nothing but grief in trying to track the whole mess through the court system. In the end they were appalled at the light sentence which the victim received. Even though there was an indication that this gentleman had been drinking and driving, the issue was never resolved to their satisfaction. The written details of the whole process were kept from them.

We are proposing the right to choose between giving oral and/or written victim impact statements at parole hearings, before sen-

tencing and at judicial reviews. That is important. It is difficult for many people to write about their feelings. In some of these matters the most effective way to deal with them is to listen to what the people have to say to really have a sense of their despair and hurt. It only seems right that if the accused has their day in court that the victim also have their day in court so they can let the court decide an appropriate punishment based on their grief.

We suggest as well the right to know why charges are not laid, if that is the decision of the crown or police. Again it may seem a simple matter, but victims of crime should have the right to know why the crown decided, in its wisdom, not to proceed with charges. That is a right that should not only prevail for indictable offences but for any offence.

I can speak from experience as I have been ticketed by the fisheries department. Then the government refused to proceed with charges simply because it knew full well it would not be successful. That kind of behaviour brings the justice and legal system into disrepute when it cannot be honest and open and make us all aware of what just what the circumstances are and why they did not proceed with certain charges.

We all have a right to be protected from intimidation, harassment or interference. These kinds of things are obvious and yet again this government obviously does not place much stock in righting those wrongs because it has allowed this bill, put forward by the member for Fraser Valley West, to sit in committee, languish there and hurry through the process or at least acting on it in a reasonable manner to ensure it would provide the protection people need.

We should also talk about the right to be protected in situations of family violence. It seems a common sense hope that in situations where there is violence people would have some protection, that they would not have to put up with ongoing violence. Yet again, this is something the government cannot seem to get a grip on.

Another is the right to know if a person convicted of a sexual offence has a sexually transmittable disease. Why would we want to keep that kind of information secret? Why should someone have the right to keep that private if they have been bothering or if they have violently offended somebody else? It is beyond all reason to know that.

The right to be informed in a timely fashion of the details of the crown's intention to offer a plea bargain before it is presented to defence is an issue that comes forward many times in the court system, whether it is a drinking driver in a hit and run accident or whatever. The victims should have knowledge of the government's intentions if it is going to allow someone off the hook for a crime committed.

Perhaps the most disturbing notion before us when we talk about crime is the increase in violent crime by young offenders. It is something that is doubly disturbing because it means that we somehow as a society have failed, that somehow families have failed when our young people are moved to criminal acts. It is an issue that requires some action here and it is not just an action where we are looking at punishing those people, and certainly punishment is appropriate. If you are capable of a violent crime, you should obviously do the time for it.

What can we do to prevent these kinds of things from happening? That has to be a big concern and yet I have seen nothing, no action on this by this government at all.

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1:40 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, I was a little unprepared to speak to this amendment but I think I can say that we do support this amendment.

It really bothers me when I see a government, three and a half years in power, finally just before the eve of an election it is going down on its knees before the electorate and saying it made a mistake. We have seen three and a half years of mistakes, not just one mistake.

We see today that the grain is not moving in western Canada. We see today that everything the Liberals have touched has turned into a disaster.

This election is going to make the biggest changes in history. We will finally see that the old line parties are going to pay for their arrogance and their mistakes. When it takes three and a half years to acknowledge that they made a mistake on behalf of the victims and they are still protecting the criminals, something is wrong in the House. It is disastrous and they know it. That is why the Liberals are finally going down on their knees and getting a little bit of dirt on those knees to show the public that they do have remorse.

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April 8th, 1997 / 1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Ron Fewchuk Liberal Selkirk—Red River, MB

What about the wheat board?

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1:45 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

The wheat board is something a little different because that is where we throw the honest people in jail and the criminals are turned loose. That is the difference between that and this amendment.

When we as a party said that section 745 should be repealed, as did every police association in Manitoba, what did the Liberals do? They joked around and said they were the government with 177 people on their side and they did what they wanted to do. They said they did not have to listen to anybody.

We are at the eve of an election and somebody is starting to get shaky knees. Not only do they have shaky knees, they are willing to bend them enough to get them a little dirty. Well, it is high time. The Canadian people are going to make the choice in this next election and are going to send a message like we have never heard in our life before.

When victims do not have a right to make an impact statement about the criminals who have violated their rights something is very wrong.

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1:45 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Liberal Winnipeg—St. James, MB

You were in favour of the amendment, Jake.

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1:45 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

This happens after three and a half years of arrogance, stubbornness and unwillingness to listen to the electors. This should have happened three and half years ago, not today. This was three and a half years of wasted time, three and a half years of a government that never listened to the Canadian people.

What are we going to do come the next election? I know what we are going to do. We are going to put them beside the Conservatives with the two seats. We will add one more so they can have three. That will be some party.

It is amazing when I hear former radio announcers starting to respond to some of the accusations. They should have talked three and a half years ago and kept some of those promises that they made.

I wish they had a Liberal candidate in Portage-Lisgar but they cannot find one. Mr. Speaker, if you are looking for a job I will second your nomination if you want to come to Portage-Lisgar.

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1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Gordon Kirkby Liberal Prince Albert—Churchill River, SK

It looks like the Tories are going to beat you guys.

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1:45 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

We should take a poll in your riding. You're a loser.

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1:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Milliken)

Order, please. I realize there has been an outbreak of election fever, but perhaps hon. members could restrain themselves so the Chair can hear the speaker. The hon. member for Lisgar-Marquette has the floor and I would like to hear his remarks.

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1:45 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is really nice to hear some comments in this House even if they are from the wrong side of the House.

When we go to the election the next time the proof will be in the pudding. When I look at the recent polls I know why they are getting a little excited. People are finally starting to realize that all the promises that were made in 1993 have been violated. All the things that people were looking to this government to make happen have never happened. What is the government going to do? You have a good idea, Mr. Speaker. I kind of feel sorry already for some of these Liberal MPs who will not be back because I have enjoyed their presence in the House. It also gets kind of interesting when we get into debate-

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1:45 p.m.

Liberal

John Harvard Liberal Winnipeg—St. James, MB

Are you going to support the report?

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1:45 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

When it comes to non-farmers telling me what people want concerning the wheat board it just shows me the arrogance of the Liberal MPs. They stood on a platform and said they would support the wheat board and bring in Bill C-72 which makes the wheat board looks like there is a criminal element running it by making legal things that have been happening for years. They are now trying to cover it up, just like the Somalia inquiry, the Krever commission and whatever else we have. The pudding will show what the colour of it is, and it is going to be disastrous as far as my hon. friends from the Liberal Party are concerned.