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House of Commons Hansard #150 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was aboriginal.

Topics

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Reform

John Duncan Reform Vancouver Island North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk for a minute about some of the things the member talked about with regard to cutbacks to the RCMP on the west coast. This is a major ongoing concern and it is not going to go away.

We are now going into the winter months and these so-called temporary measures that have been enacted to try to make up for what the government is calling overspending are going to take us to at least April. We are now in a circumstance, well described by my colleague, where the airplanes and helicopters are in the hangar and the boats are docked.

In the past, for example, we had members who would work a shift and then would be on call for eight hours for which they would receive one hour of overtime. That was precious little compensation for being basically on tap for an additional eight hours. That one hour of overtime is now gone and the members of the RCMP in our area are expected to carry on as if this is fine. In actual fact, none of this was created by them.

This was all created by Ottawa and by not forwarding moneys through E division. The reason we ended up with an $8 million so-called shortfall has everything to do with court costs and with extra things that happened. For example, there was a multiple murder in my riding. One case like that can put the taxman's budget well over. We cannot plan for contingencies like that. These are major investigations.

The public is becoming more and more uncomfortable. Basic policing is something that government should be providing. That is a prime responsibility. I am glad to see that the solicitor general is in the House to hear what I am saying, because this cannot carry on. It is affecting overtime monitoring, our helicopters, our boats and our airplanes. It is affecting capital spending. It is affecting the future of the RCMP. The training centre in Regina is now shut down. It is affecting morale on an ongoing basis. This is just not acceptable. Anyone who has small communities in their riding knows that what used to be slim coverage is now skimpy or non-existent.

We have huge areas on the coast where the Criminal Code, drug interdiction and other things are not being enforced. They cannot be enforced because there is nobody there. That is my comment.

My question for my colleague relates to the fact that this is obviously an omnibus bill. It takes in everything from gambling to homicide, child prostitution, conditional sentencing, organized crime, telemarketing fraud and so on. This makes it very difficult. One can support nine measures out of 10 and get oneself into a bit of knot on a piece of legislation like this.

I guess the prime area of concern would be with conditional sentencing, at least from my perspective. We still have in conditional sentencing a huge loophole. It is being applied to violent offenders despite previous justice ministers telling us that would never happen. We also have a much smaller loophole being closed by this legislation.

I would like to ask my colleague to comment on the omnibus nature of this bill and also to elaborate on the RCMP funding situation.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Reform

Jim Gouk Reform West Kootenay—Okanagan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for raising these points. Certainly there is a great deal that should be said about many of these things and I welcome the opportunity to expand a bit on what I previously said.

The overtime situation, or lack thereof, for the RCMP is very important and very critical for two reasons. First, it is what the RCMP relies on to get coverage. As he pointed out, they receive one hour of overtime pay, but they in essence are on call for an eight hour period. Even now that this has been taken away from them many members of the RCMP, out of a sense of duty and obligation to the people in their area whose safety they are responsible for, still put in a tremendous amount of extra time for which they are not paid.

I think it is absolutely shameful. The government wastes phenomenal amounts of money. Members of the RCMP are not very highly paid, in part because of freezes not only in their pay, but even in the increments they get in terms of rewarding them for their growing experience, expertise and commitment to the job, and they have demonstrated that commitment. The government has said “No, you cannot be compensated for that”. Now it is saying “In order to do your job, if you have a sense of obligation, you are still going to have to go out on your own time”. But the government will not pay them to stand by.

Further to that, this country right now according to Statistics Canada, has the lowest per capita law enforcement officer population that it has had in 26 years. Never since 1972 have we had such a low number of law enforcement officers per capita.

How does this Liberal government respond to this shortage, a shortage which necessitates these officers covering an eight hour availability shift for one hour's pay? And now that one hour's pay is being taken away from them and they are covering for nothing. How does the government respond to that? It closes down the training centre in Regina.

We have the lowest per capita coverage of law enforcement officers in 26 years, and this Liberal government responds to it by closing down the training centre and getting rid of the trainees. No new people are coming on. The government says it is a temporary measure. It is not a temporary measure and anybody who says it is a temporary measure is either a hypocrite or they think that everybody else in Canada are fools. The time has come to put the training expertise back together, to redevelop and update the course curriculum, to recruit, to qualify these people and to schedule.

I went through this in the air traffic control system. The government was running it at the time. In its wisdom the government decided to cut back on air traffic controllers because it thought there were too many. The government arbitrarily, without doing proper studies, shut down the training system. It got rid of the instructors and shelved the training so that there would be no more updates. What happened? The government said “Gosh, we made a mistake. We need more controllers, not fewer”. There was an incredible lag, a 10-year lag, in trying to get back up the steam to bring people in, to train them, to give them the qualifications.

And now this government is making the same asinine mistake that was made by the government of the day when it cut back on the air traffic control system.

We have a problem in this country. When the government says it is temporary, if we were to use semantics, there is a measure of truth to it. The trouble that we have today is temporary. It is not going to stay like it is. It is going to get worse because this government has no plan for real crime prevention. It has no plan for making our homes and streets safer.

This government is bringing in a bill forcing law-abiding citizens to meet new expensive regulations at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. It is cutting back on the RCMP in my province by an amount of $8.5 million, a pittance against the amount it is wasting on the useless firearm's registration.

We have to wonder. I do not think for a moment that the government has any dark and sinister reasons for doing this. I cannot help but wonder why it brings in legislation that allows the criminals to walk through loopholes while it cuts back on the police, the people who catch those same criminals. The government should be ashamed.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to take part in today's debate on Bill C-51.

As has been previously stated, this is an omnibus bill which will amend the Criminal Code of Canada, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, as well as the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. Among the highlights of this bill, we will see changes to the legislation with respect to homicide, criminal negligence, child prostitution, conditional sentences, telemarketing fraud, currency gaming and non-communication orders.

I must say at the outset that there are some positive aspects to this bill. Some of these measures indeed have been long in coming. It is refreshing to see that these changes will be enacted.

It is also interesting to note on a priority level the way this bill was described by one of the justice department's own witnesses who appeared before the justice committee with respect to the enactment of this legislation. It was described as housekeeping legislation. As far as priority goes, I would have to agree with that description.

If we were looking at this in terms of baseball analogies which have been prevalent in this chamber over the last number of weeks, I would describe Bill C-51 as an infield single. It is the bare minimum the government needed to do with respect to the criminal justice system. It could have delivered much more and there was an opportunity to deliver much more. Without getting into the specifics of that, I want to address some of the improvements that should and could be made to this legislation.

I will review some of the content of the bill in that vein. The federal government, the provinces and the territories share jurisdiction over a number of criminal justice issues. This bill takes into consideration many of the consultations that did take place between the various levels of government.

It is extremely disappointing that 17 months after the solicitor general and the Minister of Justice were appointed, they are producing only housekeeping legislation. When the government decided to table legislation with new innovative crime prevention technology, as it did with Bill C-3, it delivered a modest and potentially ineffective system. That is to say, it did not go far enough. To use the Prime Minister's favourite sports analogy, the government is dribbling weak grounders back to the mound when it could be delivering real serious hits.

Last week we saw the opposite of the minister's relations with respect to the provincial and territorial governments. It is sad that the Minister of Justice does not heed the will of most of the Canadian provinces with respect to bringing in a new youth justice system. Last December she delivered a speech in Montreal in which she promised the provincial and territorial ministers that she would be presenting a draft bill.

On May 13 the minister told the House that she would be introducing legislation with respect to the youth justice system this fall. No bill has been seen as yet and there appears to be no bill forthcoming. The minister broke her commitment to Canadians who are concerned with respect to flaws in the government's approach to youth justice. She went back on her word to her counterparts, the provincial and territorial ministers. We have no bill as yet to replace the Young Offenders Act.

Broken promises are not new to this government, in particular to the Minister of Justice and the solicitor general. Their credibility is at such a low ebb with the law enforcement community that the former head of the Canadian Police Association said several months ago “Frankly we don't care what this government has to say any more”. That is a shocking statement from someone in that position. The gist of this is that there is not any real and meaningful legislation as is required to meet with the criminal reality Canadians are facing in the streets and in their communities.

We do have Bill C-51, which is the subject of this debate and I admit it is a good housekeeping initiative. However, the reality is that the government has missed an opportunity to bring in real legislation that would address some of the outstanding problems. Instead it is putting housekeeping ahead of those major priorities.

Colleagues on this side of the House have mentioned that Bill C-51 will amend the Criminal Code in regard to some of the situations that need fixing, in particular homicide, child prostitution and conditional sentencing. It also amends the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in terms of dealing with sentencing and criminal liability for on duty law enforcement officers. This bill will also amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to exclude those convicted of organized crime offences for eligibility for accelerated parole review.

What was missed was the opportunity to enact in the Criminal Code stiffer penalties for those involved in organized crime activity. It failed to include mandatory minimum sentences for those motivated by gang activity to embark upon a life of crime, crime that inevitably puts people's lives at risk through drug peddling, prostitution and the type of gang warfare we have seen in the streets of Montreal and which is spreading to other cities in Canada.

This bill will remove a provision that in light of advances in forensic science and health care will also focus in on some of the technological advances that have been made.

The current Criminal Code disallows the prosecution of individuals convicted of murder, manslaughter or other offences after a year and a day has passed. That enactment has been made. I would embrace it as a positive measure.

Obviously there are situations that unfortunately could occur. A person whose life has been threatened due to injuries related to crime and is on a life support system or in critical condition may through their own will hold on until after a year and a day has passed. The perpetrator is then not held criminally accountable under the old system.

This piece of legislation brings about an amendment to the Criminal Code that would allow for prosecution after a year and a day for crimes related to murder and manslaughter. This is a positive change.

Another amendment to the Criminal Code with respect to Bill C-51 would be to simplify the prosecution of individuals who attempt to procure sexual services from a prostitute who they know is under the age of 18. It would also allow police officers greater access to electronic surveillance and technology to investigate prostitution related issues.

To touch on some of the comments I have heard from the opposite side of the House, there is an opportunity here to perhaps put in place mandatory minimum sentences to act as a deterrent for those willing to embark on this type of a criminal career. It is obvious to say that those who find themselves sadly involved in prostitution are often runaways. Often they are young women from small communities who are brought into big cities often through very extreme kidnapping type situations. Often there is a great deal of coercion, violence, drug addiction and blackmail used to get these children involved in this type of illicit trade.

It is also fair to say that Canadians are repulsed and revile this type of activity. Therefore we should have an opportunity in our Criminal Code to reflect that view which is held by an outstanding number of Canadians.

One of my colleagues on the opposition benches also brought forward amendments that have been referred to, specifically to clause 8 which would address this particular situation of those who embark upon living off the avails of child prostitution. There was a suggestion that there would be a minimum sentence of one year and a maximum punishment of 14 years. This certainly does give a broad range of sentencing. I might suggest that a hybrid type of sentencing option might be more appropriate.

I do agree that the initiative taken by my colleague is a good one. It would at the very least reflect the ability of a sentencing judge to hand down such a sentence that would send a severe message of deterrence, not losing sight of rehabilitation which is something that has to be kept in mind. At least it would broaden the sentencing options for the judge.

Sadly with respect to this initiative as we have seen numerous times at the justice committee, the justice committee with the Liberal dominated majority simply voted it down without any great deal of discussion or consideration of this useful amendment. It was dismissed out of hand. Other amendments were proposed as well. As we saw at the justice committee, numerous times without any great deal of discussion they were voted out of hand.

We need to break from the partisan discipline that we often see in this place and in the committees when it comes to issues such as this one which are so fundamental, issues that have such a broad ranging effect. Criminal justice issues should not be a forum for politicians or anyone else to delve into partisan activity. It is too important, too fundamental to the protection of Canadians, too important to help rebuild some of the communities that are under siege by organized crime and those who perhaps because of the economic system are willing to delve into criminal activity.

With that being said, we all have to take note of many of the initiatives in Bill C-51. The government's decision to delve into the area of conditional sentencing came up very short. This bill would permit the issuance of arrest warrants until a court hearing would be held with respect to breaches of conditional sentencing.

Another component of Bill C-51 is that it would change the breach hearing limit of 30 days to permit the court to deal with offenders who cannot be found or brought to justice within the parameters of the current legislation. Another is stopping the clock on conditional sentences. That is to say, if an individual serving time in their community under conditional sentencing provisions is subsequently arrested and sentenced to do time on a subsequent criminal act, the conditional sentence would not run concurrently. It would begin on the offender's release. I commend this as a positive change to the Criminal Code.

However, the reality is there could be and should be changes to the conditional sentencing provisions currently in place in the Criminal Code.

I think the expression has been clear on this side of the House that conditional sentencing provisions have been abused by Canadian judges. They have been used to sentence criminals who are involved in activities for which the drafters of this legislation did not intend, specifically crimes of violence and crimes that have an element of sex or violence in them.

Conditional sentences were never intended for those purposes and they surely do not reflect the need to protect society from those willing to embark on that type of activity.

A conditional sentence can be viewed in no other way but one which is extremely light and in most circumstances meant to be used only in very special factual scenarios. As well, conditional sentencing puts greater emphasis on those outside the traditional criminal justice system, mainly those involved either in policing services or in the administration of justice or prisons.

In many cases emphasis is put on parole officers or social workers to have the discretion to view conditional sentences or see that conditions are being complied with. These individuals are often faced with the discretion of do they breach the offender when they run amok of the sentencing conditions in place.

I suggest that for serious crime involving violence or sexual assault where the emphasis is on rehabilitation and protecting the victims, conditional sentences are inappropriate and not intended for that type of crime. Sadly the government has missed an opportunity in this omnibus bill to make those corrections.

We have heard that there are currently sentences pending before the courts where this discussion will take place. The judges may, in their wisdom, decide that these type of sentences are not appropriate. But as long as that discretion exists, and we have seen this happen so often, lawyers will make the argument.

Lawyers will always try to push the limits and beyond when it comes to these types of sentencing provisions. If it is there, the lawyers will ask for it. That is the way the system works. It is something that should not come as any surprise to us. Why not simply remove that type of discretion for certain codified offences?

We need to send a stronger message when it comes to violence. We need to simply say they are not eligible for that type of sentencing provision.

One of the more interesting aspects of Bill C-51 is that it makes amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. These amendments would ensure that offenders with ties to criminal organizations or gangs no longer receive accelerated parole review.

To echo my remarks with respect to conditional sentencing for violent crime, I suggest we have again missed an opportunity. When it comes to gang activity we could codify in the act in sentencing provisions that a crime motivated by gang activity or perpetrated by a person involved in a gang would receive an additional sentence or the sentence received would be served concurrently.

That is to say we would view this as an aggravating circumstance and we would codify that so it was a deterrent not only for the offender but for those who might decide to model themselves after people who are involved in the gang.

These gangs, as we have seen in the papers and consistently in the media, are expanding their width and breadth across the country. We know they have firmly ensconced themselves in a number of big cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Calgary. We are seeing these gangs become more and more prevalent and more involved in very serious and illicit crimes in smaller communities as well. If the Liberal government was willing to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act before the statutory review process why was it not willing to make some significant changes? There is in fact a review taking place. We have been told time and time again that things will be coming in a timely fashion, that we will have to wait.

This government in its new agenda of 17 months had not tabled a single piece of significant legislation to address some of the more serious crimes taking place in the country.

Hopefully the non-partisan view that I spoke of earlier will prevail when the Corrections and Conditional Release Act review does take place at the justice committee level.

I repeat my challenge to the government, though, with respect to its true commitment to crime fighting. As I mentioned earlier, the solicitor general specifically could be doing a lot more when it comes to violent crime and when it comes to organized crime. Nothing has undermined the solicitor general's performance record more than his inaction on this organized crime front which is supposedly one of the government's three strategic priorities.

The solicitor general has said quite often in the House and to the media that organized crime is big business and it is bad business. Recognizing this and doing something about it are two different things. Recognizing it, acknowledging it and saying publicly that he wants to do something about it, that is fine but the clock is running. When it comes to these types of issues, when the clock is running people are getting hurt, killed and things are happening that the government has an opportunity and I suggest a responsibility to do something about.

The solicitor general has an opportunity to do just that through legislative initiatives and through resources. Resources of course are a problem that the government is wrestling with, its priorities. Where does it spend the money? Where does it cut the money? Once more to echo comments from the opposition benches, the priorities and where the cuts seem to be taking place are extremely disturbing and questionable. All Canadians I believe are embarked on that process of questioning why the government is making cuts in the areas where there appears to be the most need.

One of the areas I would describe as being the most in need is that of frontline policing and the need of police officers to have the resources to do the job they have been tasked with.

That is not just partisan bluster on my part. That is the conclusion reached by the U.S. State Department when it was viewing areas in the world where organized crime was beginning to become a growth industry. There was an international report tabled, “The International Narcotics Control Strategy”. In that report the State Department singled out Canada as an easy target for drug related and other types of money laundering. The same report also listed Canada in the same category as Colombia, Brazil and the Cayman Islands as an attractive location to hide illegal cash. That same report also criticized Canada's lack of legislation to control cross-border money flow.

This is a very serious problem, so much so that York police Chief Julien Santino, head of the organized crime committee of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, said: “Money laundering is an easy feat here in Canada. According to these reports the RCMP has estimated that the value of laundered money in Canada is between $3 billion and $10 billion”.

I express guarded support for Bill C-51 on behalf of the Conservative Party. We would have liked to have seen further amendments as are appropriate under an omnibus bill. There is a common sense need for more stringent controls and more stringent areas for the government to look at in terms of sentencing.

We will be supporting this legislation and hoping for greater initiatives on the part of the solicitor general and the Minister of Justice.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Reform

Chuck Cadman Reform Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his comments.

He spoke about the parasites among us who live off the avails of child prostitution. I think we can all agree that it is a very serious problem in our communities.

There is a large movement afoot in my province of British Columbia to have the age of sexual consent between a young person and an adult raised from 14 to 16 as one possible method of dealing with these issues, not only dealing with the people who live off the avails, the pimps, but also with the johns.

I am wondering if the hon. member has any comments on that proposal.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member has a real strong and personal commitment to issues of justice and I commend him for his efforts in that regard.

To answer his question, I suggest that yes, that is a possible initiative that could be undertaken. As he would know, there was a time in the Criminal Code when the age of consent was much higher.

With respect to child prostitution, his apt description of parasites are those who would embark on making a living by enslaving young women and in some cases young men to trade sex for money, something the country has to be very concerned about. It is something our law enforcement community has certainly expressed its opinion on.

Surely we can do more. Having it enacted in the Criminal Code that the age of consent be raised to 16 would take away the ability of some of the pimps who target children before that age. Some of these children are as young as 11 and 12 years old.

It is redundant to say we cannot do more to help these children. If putting tougher measures in the Criminal Code and broadening the description of who is classified as child would lead to greater prosecutions, a greater number of arrests and giving police the ability to charge someone who had sex with a child of 15, it is certainly something I would be supportive of.

Making these types of legislative initiatives, making these changes, arms the police with the ability to do their jobs, make a greater number of arrests and to have greater discretion in the field which they are forced to exercise. This is something we should be more supportive of not only in the House but in all parts of Canada.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on issues of justice. I do not think anything strikes a more resonant chord with Canadians than a justice system that works, that protects those who need protection and that correctly identifies and punishes those who need to have punishment.

I suppose a lot of people do not realize the different parts of this bill but I am going to talk about one that, as far as I know, no one has mentioned yet in the House. It was drawn to my attention by a letter I received yesterday. Because I am not a justice critic I was not aware of this. I am much more interested in the justice of financial things these days since I am one of the finance critics for our party.

However, the topic I want to discuss is the transfer of money. As an aside, it is perhaps illustrative to know that included in this bill are provisions that it is not legal to copy Canadian money unless the size of the reproduction is either 50% larger than the original or at least 50% smaller or thereabouts.

Being in the finance portfolio now, Canadians would probably best represent Canada's dollar by reducing it rather than expanding it because of its value on the international market.

It is against the law to reproduce Canadian money or to make facsimiles thereof or to transmit it by computer or whatever.

I want to talk about another area proposed here, gambling. There are some amendments proposed that are hidden in with all the other amendments, many of which are very important and which my colleagues have already addressed in this reading, the previous reading of the bill and in committee.

I draw attention to the fact that we are, by the amendments that are being put into this bill, big time drawn in to the wave of public ideas of gambling being an acceptable way of transferring money from one person to another.

Of course we have this argument that surely people should have the choice. If I choose to put a dollar on the table and let someone else take it, I should have that choice. Indeed, I support that view. If I see someone on the street who has not eaten yet today, I want to have the choice to say to that person “You come with me to the restaurant and we will eat together”. I should have the freedom to spend my hard earned money in whatever way I wish.

The fact of the matter is that as a society we are buying, in much too large a way, into the whole idea of lotteries. This bill, among other things, expands legal gambling to include games of dice, which have not been included before. We need to be aware of this as members of the House, and we need to be aware of this as members of Canadian society.

I simply contend that having our population spend hours huddled over gambling tables is a tremendous waste of human energy, effort and time. We should start putting regulations into place to make that more difficult, not easier.

The bill says that lotteries will no longer be illegal if they are conducted on international cruise ships within our boundaries. That is incredible.

I will give a little history. Probably about 30 years ago I met a friend. He was not the kind of friend that I hang around with on Wednesday nights, but he was friend. He met me in the hall of a building and he looked both ways. He looked to the left, he looked to the right and then he reached into his pocket and said “Do you want to buy a lottery ticket?” What he had was an Irish sweepstake ticket, which at that time was illegal. Had he sold it to me and had I purchased it, then we could have both been sent to jail. I am sure it is incredible for you to contemplate, Mr. Speaker, that I should have even considered doing something that would have sent me to jail. As a matter of fact, I did not consider it. I said “No, thank you. I am not interested”.

We could talk about the mathematical aspect of gambling. When I was teaching math or statistics I used as an example one of Canada's favourite lottery games, Lotto 649. I had the students compute the probabilities. If a person spends $5 on every draw of Lotto 649, 104 times a year, twice a week, their mathematical expectation of winning the big prize would be once in about 26,000 years.

Statistics show that it is often poor people who engage in gambling because it is their only hope. They are in despair because of all of the taxes the Minister of Finance loads on them or the tremendous burden of being unemployed, particularly young people who are unemployed. A lot of people buy a lottery ticket, as one person said to me, because it is their one little glimmer of hope. Their dollar is gone, but maybe it will give them the big break. They might wait for 26,000 years, on average, if they spend $5 each time.

I guess I would simply say that if that is not dishonest I do not really know how to describe it. All of these schemes indicate that there is a reasonable expectation of winning. Otherwise people would not put their money down.

Of course, what we are talking about in this bill is gambling and lotteries on cruise ships. There probably will not be too many poor people on them.

I guess the reason I am bringing this up is because it is part of the justice system. There are an awful lot of people who are living in despair who consider gambling as their chance, their hope, but what it does is clean them out entirely. No matter what the gambling scheme is, it is designed to return less money than is put in. It is just indefensible in our society.

There is an amendment in Bill C-51 which says that if a person is on a cruise ship they can participate in a lottery scheme. Then there are these absurd conditions. First of all, all of the people participating in this lottery must be on the ship. In other words, they cannot participate in the lottery by phone from shore, by cellphone or whatever. They must be on the ship. The scheme cannot be linked in any way to a scheme that is not on the ship. As well, the ship must be at least five nautical miles from a port.

We have been cutting RCMP in the west. We do not have money for it. Now what are we going to do? People are going to be hired, presumably by the federal government, to ensure, I suppose with a GPS, that these guys do not come within five nautical miles of a port.

Furthermore, they cannot board this ship at a Canadian port and go back to a Canadian port without having stopped, at least once, at a non-Canadian port. If they do not meet that condition, then they cannot have this lottery on board. They have to leave the country for a while. I suppose that here again we are talking about the Minister of Finance who thinks it is great to take some money out of the country and not keep it all in Canada.

This law says that a cruise ship which both leaves a Canadian port and comes back to a Canadian port cannot have a lottery unless it also goes to a foreign port. That is the height of absurdity in my humble and unbiased opinion.

The ship must be registered in Canada and its entire voyage is to be scheduled outside Canada. I shake my head and wonder how the Dickens we are going to enforce this.

I suppose we will have to buy a cruise ticket on every one of these ships for one of our trusty RCMP people. I am sure the solicitor general will be eager to do this with his resources. He will say that from now on all of those RCMP who should be fighting crime, robberies, rapes, murders, drug smuggling and all of these things will be put on a cruise ship so they can monitor this to make sure the law is being enforced.

I shake my head in wonderment at the government sometimes. This bill is designed to improve the justice system in Canada and it has utter absurdities in it which are fundamentally wrong in terms of what we are trying to do for people. Why should we be encouraging and permitting lotteries? It is wrong. This proposal is utterly and totally unenforceable, unless a whole bunch of money is put into it.

There is no doubt in my mind that if we were to ask 100 Canadians, 100 of them would say that is not where they want their money to be spent. The system is supposed to be designed to protect them in terms of their justice system.

I could speak on other things, but this was the one item that I wanted to get on the record and I appreciate the opportunity.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

November 5th, 1998 / 11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Shaughnessy Cohen Liberal Windsor—St. Clair, ON

Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether the hon. member has had an opportunity to speak with some of the members of his caucus from British Columbia, whether he has read the bill or whether he has taken any advice on it. The issue with respect to cruise ships is simply that cruise ships which are operating outside the country and which have gambling on board are simply asking for some assistance in order to carry on with that business.

The interesting thing about this is that it is the ports in the provinces of British Columbia and Quebec and the ports on the east coast that want this to happen. They want those ships to continue to stop at their ports, rather than staying in international waters, avoiding them. Effectively, he is attacking communities along the coast of British Columbia. I find that intriguing for a member of the Reform Party.

Does the member, with his great wish to prevent people, who have a free will, from gambling, ever think about communities elsewhere? Does he ever think, for instance, about the city of Windsor? What is his problem with the city of Windsor introducing dice to their casino? That will create between 400 and 600 good, new, unionized jobs. They will be organized by the Canadian Auto Workers. The average income will be around $50,000 a year. Those jobs will feed families. They will keep our community going. Our community wants that.

What is his problem? Is the Reform Party writing Windsor off too?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have indeed read the bill. I have a copy of it in my hand. I scanned it this morning. I admitted at the beginning of my speech that I am not a justice critic. I admitted at the beginning of my speech that I am not an expert in these areas.

I am merely here to communicate what a constituent has asked me to communicate, that is, why are we wasting our time on this when we should be addressing the real issues of justice? Why are we trying to promote and legalize more lottery spending, setting up a situation which will have the added costs of enforcement?

The hon. member mentioned the jobs that will be created. I am not sure that a lottery job improves our standard of living one iota. What does it produce in tangible terms?

The member should look at real economic value. Nothing is produced by exchanging money from one person to another without the transfer of a good or service. There is no value attached to that.

The only weak argument they could make is that it brings money in from the Americans. That is what I am sure is happening. If they want to give Americans something tangible for spending their money in Canada, I would say that would be 100,000 times more valuable than saying “Come over here and simply throw your money on the table. We will keep 85% of it”. That is immoral. I really do not think the government should promote that kind of lifestyle and justify it by saying “It is good for our economy”.

If the member wants to defend lotteries, gambling and putting people at risk that way, she is welcome to do so. I also agree with freedom of choice. If people choose to do this, fine. But I do not think it should be promoted and sponsored by government.

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11:25 a.m.

Liberal

Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, without going into too much detail, I heard the member say that we should not be introducing laws which would require using our resources for their enforcement. Is he suggesting that we should cancel all the laws that we have in place now governing, for example, hunting or driving licences? All of that requires enforcement.

I would suggest that we should not be trivializing the matter to the point where if something needs enforcement then we should not do it. Rather we should say there is a need in the community to take action on behalf of the community. We should do what is right rather than what may or may not require more resources. What are my colleague thoughts in this regard?

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11:30 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government is the epitome of wanting to regulate everything. When I was a kid, and that was a long time ago, we did not need drivers' licences. I was very young at that time. It was around the time when the automobile was invented; that is an exaggeration. It used to be that we did not need drivers' licences. We did not need to license our vehicles.

However the government found out that was a way of getting revenue. Now we have to buy drivers' licences and automobile licences every year. We have come to accept that. It is part of the money that is required to provide roads and to provide safety on the roads. The enforcement of those rules and regulations is useful and helps us in terms of our personal safety.

What good is it to have rules that say they must be within five nautical miles of the port. I bet most people do not even know what a nautical mile is. Otherwise, if they comes to within 4.8 nautical miles they must shut down their lottery schemes. It is absurd.

I am just talking about the absurdity of it and the fact that we will be wasting enforcement resources on it when there are people literally getting away with murder because we do not have the RCMP and the physical forces to to find those people and bring them to justice. Those are the real issues of justice that we should be concentrating on.

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11:30 a.m.

Reform

Roy H. Bailey Reform Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, not too long ago in the House we debated a bill which would restrict tobacco advertising. The purpose of the bill was to discourage people from becoming involved in that habit.

Would my hon. colleague from Elk Island agree that there is a lot of false advertising in terms of gambling? We only see pictures of someone winning a million dollars. We only see what can be purchased, such as a dream home and so on. The fact is that we do not see in the advertisements the results in the community of massive gambling. They do not show poverty. They do not show marriage break-ups. They do not show what happens once a person becomes addicted.

Are we not illegally advertising the gambling industry by only showing the small percentage of people who win and not showing the despair that it brings to a community?

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11:30 a.m.

Reform

Ken Epp Reform Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, that is my point exactly. We are holding out a hope to many people who are desperate because of high taxation and the real difficulty of getting jobs. Statistics show that a large proportion of people who engage in gambling activities—not the ones on cruise ships who are clearly in a different financial class—are the average people across the country who buy lottery tickets and play video lottery terminals. We are telling those people that if they put in some money they will get more back. That is the expectation and and it is false. It is an outright lie.

We should be telling those people that there is an extremely high probability of losing every quarter they put into the machine and a very low probability of getting even their investment back. It is just not there. Yes, it is false advertising.

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11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

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11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

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11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

No.

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11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

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11:30 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

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11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And more than five members having risen:

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11:30 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The hon. chief government whip on a point of order before we call in the members.

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11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Liberal Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussion among the parties and I believe you would find consent to defer the recorded division requested on the motion for third reading of Bill C-51 to the expiry of Government Orders on Tuesday, November 17, 1998.

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11:35 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The House has heard the proposal of the chief government whip. Is there unanimous consent?