House of Commons Hansard #229 of the 36th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was records.


The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-69, an act to amend the Criminal Records Act and to amend another act in consequence, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Criminal Records ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador


Fred Mifflin Liberalfor the Solicitor General of Canada

moved that the bill be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

Criminal Records ActGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.

Bonavista—Trinity—Conception Newfoundland & Labrador


Fred Mifflin Liberalfor the Solicitor General of Canada

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

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10:05 a.m.

Brossard—La Prairie Québec


Jacques Saada LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely honoured to rise to speak to the merits of Bill C-69, an act to amend the Criminal Records Act.

This is an extremely important bill, dealing as it does with improving the safety of our children and other vulnerable people. This is an objective shared by all parties, as was amply demonstrated during debate and in committee.

I would like to begin by complimenting my colleagues sitting opposite on the spirit of co-operation that clearly demonstrates the extent and depth of our shared commitment. With the co-operation and advice of the other parties, this bill, as amended, is even stronger than it was when first tabled.

In particular, I am pleased to acknowledge the initiative taken by my hon. friend from Calgary Centre to introduce his own private member's bill on this same matter.

With his co-operation we have been able to ensure that the principles of his Bill C-284 are captured within Bill C-69 so that we can proceed expeditiously with this single proposal.

The central objective of the bill will be achieved by a process that it is outlined in clause 6. It will allow a flag to be placed in the criminal records system when a sex offender is granted a pardon and that record is sealed. This will help ensure that such records are identified and can be disclosed by the solicitor general for screening purposes.

As hon. members will know, the Criminal Records Act establishes a system to offer pardons to former offenders who have demonstrated a return to a law-abiding life.

It is designed to both recognize that return to good conduct and to encourage continued positive adjustment by removing the stigma and barriers to normal social participation created by a criminal record. Under that act, offenders can have their records sealed by obtaining a pardon from the National Parole Board.

I should point out that this does not expunge the conviction nor does it erase the record. The conviction is a matter of historical fact and the criminal record can be unsealed on the authority of the solicitor general if that is required in the interests of the administration of justice or national security.

Pardons are granted only when it has been demonstrated that crime free conduct has been resumed. In the case of summary conviction offences, this requires a three-year crime free period after completion of any and all sentences. In the case of more serious indictable offences, the waiting period is five years. Before a pardon is received, police are consulted in every community where pardon applicants have lived during the past five years.

The rate of success in obtaining pardons by applicants is quite high, well over 90%, but this does not reflect any lack of diligence in considering pardon applications. Rather, it indicates that the vast majority of applicants qualify for a pardon, whereas those who would obviously not qualify are deterred from applying when they see the thoroughness of the application information they must provide, including fingerprints.

The vast majority of pardon recipients are law abiding at the time of being pardoned. In fact, most pardon requests arise precisely because the applicants have returned to a stable law-abiding life.

As most hon. members will know from the inquiries they receive from their constituents, the most common reason for seeking a pardon is for purposes of employment and travel outside of the country. Moreover, and perhaps most important, the vast majority of pardon recipients remain law abiding.

During the past 28 years, nearly a quarter of a million pardons have been granted and of these, just over 6,000 have been revoked for a new offence. This is a “success rate” of over 97%.

Now, I hasten to note that Bill C-69 deals primarily with sex offenders, a small segment of the larger pardon group.

The solicitor general's department has recently estimated that, during the past 28 years, 4,200 sex offenders have received pardons and, of these, 114 or 2.6% have had their pardon revoked for commission of another sex offence.

Thus, these estimates demonstrate that, thankfully, only a very small number of pardoned sex offenders continue to pose a risk to society and to children in particular.

No matter how small the number, we are determined to reduce that risk to the lowest level possible. And that is why Bill C-69 is so crucial.

This is not a new found concern of the government. Bill C-69 is founded on measures that have been taken since the beginning of our mandate.

In 1993, extensive consultations were conducted in every region of this country with child-caring organizations of many descriptions: school and child welfare officials, voluntary organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brother and Big Sister agencies, Volunteer Canada, etc.

Police were also included in all of these consultations as were victims organizations. It was clear in those consultations that a check of criminal records constitutes only one part of a comprehensive screening process, but an important and essential part.

Based on that consensus, the national screening system was launched in 1994. That system is a collaborative effort involving child-caring agencies, the police community, the Canadian Police Information Centre, or CPIC, and the departments of the solicitor general, health and justice.

Volunteer Canada in particular has been an important partner in training and informing the voluntary community about sound screening practices Only recently, I was proud to participate in the launch of a public information campaign by Volunteer Canada.

With the motto “You Have A Responsibility to Question”, it will encourage parents to insist that organizations to which they entrust their children have effective screening practices. The national screening system provides access to criminal records of applicants for positions of trust with children and vulnerable persons.

With the consent of the applicant—I repeat, because this is important, with the consent of the applicant—local police check the CPIC records system for a criminal record. They then provide the results of that search to the screening agency, usually through the applicant him or herself, for review as to its relevance to the position in question.

The national screening system has been working well and its use by the voluntary sector and other bona fide organizations is constantly expanding. There have been over 700,000 searches conducted to date.

Bill C-69 further refines the national screening system by correcting a weakness that has been identified in its use. That is the fact that a pardoned record of a sex offender could be overlooked during a routine screening check of the CPIC system.

As it stands today, the solicitor general has the authority to unseal and disclose a pardoned record for purposes consistent with the administration of justice, including screening. However, he cannot use that authority if such records are not requested—and they cannot be requested if their existence is unknown.

Because such records are removed from the CPIC system and kept separately in a sealed database, they do not show up when a routine query of CPIC is made.

This is exactly what is intended by the Criminal Records Act. For most purposes these records should be invisible. However, when persons are applying for a position of trust and their record suggests there would be an increased level of risk to a specific vulnerable category of person, an exception is warranted.

There was unanimous agreement on this point among the federal, provincial and territorial ministers of justice and solicitors general when they met in October 1998. A working group of senior officials examining ways to better protect children submitted 10 recommendations to their ministers. All 10 were adopted and are being implemented at this time.

One proposal was that the records of pardoned sex offenders be made available for consideration during screening of persons for positions of trust.

The federal Solicitor General, with the support of the Minister of Justice, undertook at that meeting to determine how best to do so, in consultation with provincial partners. Consequently, Bill C-69 provides that when a criminal record that includes a sex offence is pardoned and removed from CPIC, a notation or flag will be left in its place. After that, when a screening check is conducted, that notation will direct the police officer doing the search to submit fingerprints to CPIC headquarters with a request for that record. It will then be brought forward to the Solicitor General to consider its unsealing.

Some will say that this measure runs counter to the fundamental intent of the Criminal Records Act. Admittedly there is some basis for that position, but it is the government's view that this is a narrow and limited exception that is warranted.

Ministers of justice from all jurisdictions have supported this principle, as have all parties in this place.

Not taking this step would risk incurring the potential consequences of the pardon helping a predatory sex offender work his way into a position of trust with vulnerable people. I say it is a narrow exception. Only sex offences on a list that will be placed in regulations will cause a flag to be placed on CPIC.

This flag will only become visible during a screening search that will be indicated by the entry code on the computer terminal.

Unauthorized use of that code will be prohibited by the act and by CPIC policy. Moreover, there will be other safeguards built into the system.

Consent of the applicant will always be required and he will retain the option of abandoning the application if he wishes not to disclose his record to the screening agency.

Fingerprints will accompany the request to unseal a pardoned record to ensure the accurate identification of the applicant. And finally, the Solicitor General will have to agree that disclosure of the record is warranted.

These safeguards will protect the rights of pardoned ex-offenders. They will protect them from having their pardoned records arbitrarily disclosed while ensuring that bona fide agencies will have access to the full record of applicants who have committed sex offences.

This will not automatically deny them placement in such positions, but it will allow agencies to fully consider what role in their organization would be appropriate for such persons.

Ensuring that police will play a central role in screening will provide considerable assurance that the system will not be abused by persons who are trying to evade detection.

Before concluding, I should mention that flagging pardoned records on CPIC is not the only provision in Bill C-69. The bill will also clarify and strengthen the pardon system is other ways as well.

For example, it will provide that pardons will be automatically revoked upon conviction for a so-called hybrid offence—one that can be prosecuted by indictment or a summary offence.

At present, automatic revocation applies only to indictable offences.

In addition, a waiting period of at least one year will be required before an applicant who has been denied a pardon can apply again.

Appeals to the board in cases of denial or revocation of a pardon will now normally be in writing only, and the act will specify more clearly that the effect of the pardon is to seal the record, not expunge the fact of conviction.

Regulations to the act will also specify the sex offences that will be flagged on CPIC and the wording that must be used in the consent form that applicants sign.

Regulations will also set out the factors that are considered by the Solicitor General in making his decision whether or not to unseal a record.

These are important changes. They are changes that are based on experience with earlier and effective measures already instituted by this government. They respond to the unanimous recommendation of provincial and territorial colleagues. They are consistent, I believe, with the shared concern of all hon. members to do all that is possible to protect our children and vulnerable adults from predatory sexual offenders who would conspire to harm them.

We on this side of the House welcome the interest and support of the other parties for this important legislation. In view of the clear interest of all parties, I am confident we can proceed expeditiously with this legislation. Naturally, I invite all my colleagues in this House to support the bill. I will conclude, however, by again complimenting them all, particularly the hon. member for Calgary Centre, for the superb contribution and excellent co-operation that has led the Standing Committee on Justice to stand unanimously behind this bill.

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10:25 a.m.


Eric C. Lowther Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to express my sincere thanks to the hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie for his excellent speech. He has covered many of the key points on the bill. I do not think it would serve the House for me to repeat them at any great length. He has articulated the purpose of the bill very well.

I will just touch on a couple of the points that have brought us to the decision the House will make today on Bill C-69. These points have to do with the human interest part of the bill. It speaks well to the process we have and that it can still work.

The hon. member articulated the purpose of the bill. It is to allow access to pardons. If a person, who has committed sexual offences, particularly against children, applies for a position of caring for children, there would be an opportunity for organizations to get access to the pardon records.

Bill C-69 is a bill for which, not surprisingly, there is broad support in the House. It relates very specifically to a bill that I brought forward to the House, Bill C-284, which effectively did the same thing and which passed second reading in the House.

We have the information in the CPIC system today of those who have been pardoned for sexual offences, as the hon. member mentioned. The bill will now allow those pardon records to be flagged so that those who want access to that information in order to assess someone who is applying for a job of caring for children can now have access even past the pardon.

It is a good bill. It is very consistent with Bill C-284, which I brought forward.

My bill, Bill C-284, passed second reading in the House. At about the time that we were in the justice committee looking at Bill C-284 the government brought Bill C-69 forward. Bill C-69 effectively did the same thing as my bill. It was broader in some areas and included more types of sex offences, which was good. However, it was not as strong in our estimation in some other areas.

Collectively, we worked together to bring both bills to that committee at the same time so that committee members could examine the different aspects of both bills and come up with a stronger option at the end of the day.

There are some things I would like to see in Bill C-69 that are not there, but the majority of issues I was concerned about have been addressed.

How did we get here? I think there is a human interest story the House should be aware of. Six years ago a lady in Vancouver named Gertie Pool started a petition to allow for greater access to information to protect children from sexual predators which quickly received 25,000 names and was brought forward to the House.

The Reform Party member for Fraser Valley put forward a private member's bill in the 35th parliament that was basically on the same theme as Bill C-69 and Bill C-284. That bill was never drawn or deemed votable but it was in the House.

In the 36th parliament, I took the member's bill, modified it slightly and put it back into the mix. Interestingly enough, my private member's bill was drawn. I appeared before the committee to see if it would be deemed votable and we had some witness testimony that helped the decision. In the wisdom of the committee, they said, “Yes, let us bring this before the House and make it votable”.

We debated the bill in the House. Even though there were a number of members on the government side who thought maybe we did not need Bill C-284, it passed second reading and that got it to committee.

From a concerned citizen's petition we have a private member's bill that has passed second reading. The government was also somewhat concerned about the issue. It had been doing some studies in Correctional Service Canada and was working on Bill C-69.

This all came together in the justice committee. Once we were in committee we put forward some amendments to make it a more automatic disclosure so that there would be less discretion on whether or not the information would be disclosed to the hiring institution.

I give thanks to the many witnesses that came before the committee such as the police association and the chiefs of police association. Julian Fantino also came forward, as well as many victims groups. These witnesses brought home the tragedy of a sexual offence, particularly against children, being a life sentence to the victims, something they never fully get over.

Many groups from the YMCA, boys groups, boy scouts and all kinds of children's organizations signed on. They told us they were behind us in this regard and wanted us to get it through the House of Commons. Many of them sacrificed time and effort to support the bill. They are one of the reasons we are able to support an amended version of Bill C-69 which combines the strength of both bills.

I commend my colleague from Brossard—La Prairie. He has been instrumental in working with the committee, with the solicitor general and with me. He has been true to his word throughout the process. He has been a key factor in bringing it all together and implementing a very important bill, which I believe is one of the first bills of the new solicitor general.

This very important bill allows children's organizations and those concerned about the care of children to do a thorough check of the information. The information is in the CPIC system. The flagging which he detailed in his speech is all that is needed. We can now use the information we already have to do a more thorough check to protect our children.

I am glad we have been able to demonstrate in the House through the bill and through the process that we can bypass partisan issues. We are not entirely agreed on how exactly to do it, but substantively, for the most part, there is agreement. It is better that we get 80% rather than nothing. Both sides of the House saw that. At the end of the day we have proven that the process can work, that we can serve the needs of Canadians and that we can better protect children.

In addition to the good work the bill will do, for me and for many members of the committee one of the most rewarding aspects of the whole process is that with persistence, perseverance and an honest concern on the part of citizens, witnesses and members of the House we can put forward legislation that serves the people and better protects our children, the most vulnerable members of society.

We can actually implement laws which will enable us to do that. A very encouraging note for me as a two year member of the House is that there is a way for all of us to impact on the process if we really care about putting Canadians first and putting some of our partisan positions aside.

I thank the House and the member for the earnest and diligent effort that all have applied in this regard. I encourage the House to send the bill on today to the Senate and hopefully soon for royal assent so people have access to this new tool to better protect Canadian children.

Criminal Records ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am taking part today in this debate at the third reading stage of Bill C-69, an act to amend the Criminal Records Act and to amend another act in consequence.

Before speaking to the bill, I would like, on behalf of my colleague from Charlesbourg, to acknowledge the excellent work done by the Standing Committee on Justice in its study of Bill C-69. I am pleased to lend my voice to the member for Charlesbourg to recognize the exceptional spirit of co-operation shown by all members of this committee, who set aside any partisanship to do a thorough study of this bill. This kind of spirit should always be present in committee work.

Bill C-69 amends the Criminal Records Act and one provision of the Criminal Code. To better understand the meaning of these amendments, one must take a quick look at the current Criminal Records Act, which dates back to 1985.

This act allows those who are convicted of a criminal offence to be granted a pardon after serving their sentence. Such pardon may be granted after a specified period, provided there are no other convictions during that period.

The period is three years for a summary offence and five years for an indictable offence. After having repaid his or her debt to society, a person may apply for a pardon to the National Parole Board.

Pardon eases the rehabilitation of an individual who has served his sentence by removing the negative aspects of sentencing in the case of such things as jobs and travel abroad. The records of pardoned individuals are therefore kept separately from other criminal records and may not be disclosed.

I should also mention that a pardon may be revoked automatically if an individual is convicted on summary conviction or by the parole board if the individual is found guilty of an offence punishable either on indictment or on summary conviction or if the board deems the behaviour of an individual is such that he no longer deserves to be pardoned.

The three main changes proposed by Bill C-69 are the following. The first is the imposition of a waiting period prior to re-application for a pardon following a denial. In the existing legislation, an individual whose pardon application has been denied may re-apply immediately.

Under the second, the pardon will be automatically revoked on sentencing for a hybrid offence, that is, an offence punishable either on indictment or on summary conviction.

Third, and this is the biggest change to the bill, a provision provides for notations in the records of individuals found guilty of sexual crimes and pardoned. This provision will permit disclosure of the records of these individuals when they apply for a job in which they will be in close contact with children or vulnerable groups.

Clause 6.3 of the bill permits the disclosure under certain circumstances of the record of an individual who has been pardoned. This provision is a measure of protection against repeat offences by pardoned sexual offenders. The aim is to prevent a pardoned sexual offender from becoming a playground supervisor or holding some other position putting him in contact with children or other vulnerable groups, such as people with mental handicaps.

The RCMP will therefore be able to separately identify the records of persons who have been pardoned and who have been sentenced for a sexual offence.

Consequently, an agency like Big Brothers, for instance, could ask the RCMP to disclose the record of a convicted sexual offender. Of course, the offender must consent to the content of his record being disclosed.

If the record shows that the individual has previously been convicted of a sexual offence, the solicitor general must break the seal and release the information to the police who would then inform the agency.

This provision is an exception to the pardon principle, which can be justified by the fact that our society wants children to be protected against sexual predators, even those who have been pardoned.

It is important to recognize however that the current legislation meets its objectives. In fact, the recidivism rate of pardoned offenders is about 2%. Since 1971, almost 250,000 pardon applications have been granted and less than 2.4% of pardons have been revoked by the National Parole Board.

During the same period, covering almost 30 years, some 12,000 pardons were granted to sexual offenders and about 700 pardons were revoked because of a subsequent sexual offence.

Even if the current recidivism rate is very low, at about 5.8%, we hope that Bill C-69 will help to reduce it and even provide an incentive to promote and facilitate the pardon process. This is why the Bloc Quebecois will be supporting Bill C-69.

Criminal Records ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.


Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to add our contribution to this debate.

Our critic in this area has already spoke to the fact that the NDP caucus finds a lot of merit in Bill C-69. We understand that the bill finds its origins in a legitimate public concern about the legitimate social issue of whether our interest comes from the fact that one is a parent and has concern about these issues, whether one works for an NGO or is one of the employers who may be concerned about a certain type of individual to be hired or the qualities the individual may possess. We are very glad to see the bill introduced because it finally starts to address legitimate concerns.

The amendments to the Criminal Records Act which we understand Bill C-69 to introduce would flag the criminal records of hardened sex offenders seeking positions of trust. That is the operative word. There has to be some burden of proof that the person is making application for a position of trust.

Bill C-69 would make them available for screening purposes by placing a flag on the records of convicted sex offenders so that police could be alerted. The sealed pardoned record would exist so they could then request the solicitor general's authorization to unseal the permanent record. Even if the individual has been pardoned and the criminal record has been sealed, the bill would give access to that information if it were deemed necessary.

In answer to these concerns Bill C-69 would develop a schedule of offences to be flagged. It does not mean that all pardoned offenders would have their records flagged. It would be a schedule of the types of things the community needs to know about and that should be flagged. It would also place a definition on children and vulnerable groups so that we would know what groups would be making application for the unsealing of closed records.

It is valuable to specify in the regulations factors to be considered by the solicitor general when looking at an unsealed pardoned record that should be reviewed, itemized and clarified.

Bill C-69 automatically revokes pardons for new convictions of indictable or hybrid offences. Someone may have been pardoned or there may be a pardon on record for a past offence but new offences obviously would have to be reviewed and revisited.

The NDP supports the overall intent of the legislation to ensure that the criminal records of pardoned sex offenders seeking positions of trust are available to law enforcement officers for screening purposes.

The one thing we have to be careful about in this type of legislation is that the rights of the individual still must be protected. The test of legislation of this kind is if it meets that challenge and we can be comfortable that the rights of the individual are not being trampled because that would not be to anyone's benefit.

Bill C-69 strikes a sufficient balance between the rights of the individual and the safety concerns of the community. That is the ultimate test and that is the thing we have to be worried about.

By giving law enforcement agencies the authority to access all records relating to the previous criminal conduct of an individual we may be able to prevent future tragedies. This is something that all members of the House, and I am pleased to see all speakers so far, are firmly committed to.

The NDP has always recognized that the true measure of our community and our culture is how we treat the most vulnerable in our society. Nobody would argue that children placed in a position of trust are easily those who are the most vulnerable. We believe that legislation like this takes us one more step down the road of making sure that our society can provide a safe and nurturing place for those people who are most vulnerable.

We have always maintained that history will judge us not by the illustrious buildings in our capital cities nor the might of our armies. We will be judged by what measures we have taken in this very privileged time to make sure we all enjoy the benefits not only of the redistribution of wealth but also of having some measure of safety and security no matter where we and our children are.

We are glad to vote in favour of Bill C-69. We are very pleased this measure came forward. It is the right thing to do and a very timely thing to do. We compliment the movers of the amendments. I give my assurance that the NDP caucus will vote in favour of Bill C-69.

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10:45 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Peter MacKay Progressive Conservative Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to take part in this debate. I can assure the hon. member who just spoke that it will be unanimous in terms of our support. The Conservative Party as well is very much in favour of this bill as we were of that of the hon. member for Calgary Centre. His Bill C-284 was the impetus to the government's adoption of this particular notion.

As outlined by previous speakers who referred to Bill C-69, this particular act that is to be amended will now incorporate and permit law enforcement agencies, and by virtue of their co-operation, agencies such as Big Brothers, Scouts Canada, kindergartens and those who seek to have persons in positions of trust in their employ, to inquire through the police and through the solicitor general's department about the appearance on a person's record of a prior sexual assault conviction. Prior to this amendment there was no ability to do so with any certainty.

As has been mentioned a balance always has to be struck when one is attempting to disclose information that was deemed to have been pardoned. This country's pardon system has often been questioned. This bill and the amendment to this type of information is very positive.

Along those lines, May 3 to May 7 was sexual awareness week. The city of Lethbridge promoted this week by bringing to the attention of Canadians the issue of sexual assault. It made this comment in its literature: “It is not an issue of sex; it is an issue of power and control”. That is very true when it comes to the disclosure of information to protect those in our society who are most vulnerable. I am talking here about children who are very vulnerable when exposed potentially to individuals who have been convicted of sexual assaults.

This bill, which will amend the Criminal Records Act and other acts as a consequence, will provide the necessary protection. It allows access to records of pardoned individuals which was previously unavailable. It will work in conjunction with another bill which is currently before the House of Commons, Bill C-79. That bill is aimed specifically at bringing victims more into the picture with respect to our criminal justice system. It is intended to allow access in particular by the police and agencies to this vital information which concerns sex offenders who had received a pardon previously.

The safeguards to protect the individual's rights exist within the legislation. The solicitor general has a degree of discretion where, as referred to, police officers are now mandated to make the disclosure when the request has occurred and the proper vetting has also occurred. There are safeguards and scrutiny will take place before the information will be disclosed.

We are all aware of high profile individual cases that have become very public, one of which rocked our national sport of hockey. I am referring to the Toronto Maple Leafs scandal involving an usher, John Roby whose case is now coming to a close. Mr. Roby was facing 35 charges of molesting children and showed very little remorse throughout the trial.

This type of predatory violence is something we must do everything possible about in this House and certainly in our law enforcement. We must do everything within our means to ensure the proper information is disseminated to society so people will know and can identify those persons who are preying on our most vulnerable the children.

Prior access to criminal records may not have helped in that case. This is a situation where this is not retroactive for cases that have already been heard. But in similar future situations where there is a high rate of recidivism, which is the case when it comes to sexual assault complainants, they need to know that individuals have in the past engaged in this type of despicable behaviour. These records will be flagged.

Individuals who have engaged in that activity and who have been for whatever reason granted a pardon will have their records flagged. Agencies will be permitted to gain access to that information and then make informed decisions as to whether they would put a person with that type of record in a position of working in close contact with children.

Another tragic case which has garnered much public attention is the case of Alison Parrot, an 11 year old who was raped and murdered by Francis Carl Roy in 1989. Alison's mother tried to seek justice in the death of her daughter yet there was a further tragedy. Mr. Roy should not have been on the streets. He had two prior convictions for the rapes of teenage girls and had assaulted another woman only days before Alison Parrot was raped and murdered. The judge decided to protect Mr. Roy's right to presumption of innocence and agreed to the defence motion not to disclose to the jury the prior convictions in the other cases.

This will be an issue for another day, but I suggest again that when it comes to the protection of children, information is power. It is power in the hands of those who need it most, mainly the police and agencies that oversee children through their education or caregiving.

Bill C-69 will set up a sex offender registry which will be accessed over the Canadian Police Information Centre, the CPIC system. That information will be quickly available to police officers who can then pass it on to those who make the inquiries. This again is important. Speed of access is very important. When a person applies for a job or volunteers for an organization, the information needed for the decision to hire or not to hire is required in a very expeditious way.

Another measure that would enable people to notify these agencies like CPIC is by making direct inquiries through the solicitor general's department. Again this is a welcome change.

If we continue to enact legislation such as Bill C-69, we may some day reach a point where the Canadian public will again begin to believe in our justice system and have greater faith in the ability of our law enforcement agencies to protect them from sexual predators.

There is always talk in situations such as this one of the charter of rights and the individual's rights to be protected. We know that a pardon is an extraordinary remedy when a person has already been convicted and has gone through the proper legal channels. However there are some instances, and obviously the protection of children is one, that outweigh that individual's rights to keep this information private.

I suggest that there is a recognition of this by the government and the efforts of the hon. member for Calgary Centre and all participants of the justice committee. I would commend the witnesses who also came forward and spoke in favour of this legislative initiative.

Criminal records concerning a pardoned offence will only be released by the solicitor general or the RCMP after there is written notification given to the affected offender. There will also be an element of vetting as to the appropriateness of this decision.

Community rights in most instances should prevail. Statistics have shown that since 1994, 700 pardoned individuals have reoffended. This is somewhat disturbing, particularly when it again bears on the protection of children.

I believe in democracy. Therefore, I believe in rights for everyone, including former sexual offenders. I can understand the minister's dilemma: she must always try to ensure that the rights of all Canadians are protected.

With Bill C-69 the minister tried to come up with a bill that will protect all Canadians. In a democracy we must debate bills, to allow elected representatives to suggest possible changes. Normally, these changes will improve the legislation. However, a balance is necessary.

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10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I apologize for interrupting the hon. member for Pictou—Antigonish—Guysborough, but he will be able to continue his speech after Oral Question Period.

Workplace SafetyStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


George Proud Liberal Hillsborough, PE

Mr. Speaker, safety in the workplace is a priority for Canadians and the Canadian government. Safety and productivity are also interdependent factors in the workplace. Therefore it gives me great pleasure to rise before the House and salute all workers of Canada and the people who are working to make Canadian workplaces safer.

The week of May 17 to 23 marks the annual North American Occupational Safety and Health Week. This special week gives us an opportunity to promote awareness of the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace.

Injury on the job has a tremendous emotional, physical and financial toll on many Canadian workers and their families every year. It also results in diminished productivity and lost work time. An investment in occupational health and safety is an investment in the economic health of Canadian business and the well-being of workers.

Many special events have been planned in Canada, Mexico and the United States to bring attention to workplace safety issues during the week of May 17 to 23. I urge all my hon. colleagues in the House to become involved.

Penticton AirportStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Jim Hart Reform Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate the 4,000 people of Okanagan—Coquihalla who signed a petition demonstrating their concern over the future of the Penticton airport. Their voice was key to averting an economic disaster in the south Okanagan.

This week the Minister of Transport announced that the Penticton regional airport will remain open under the management of the Department of Transport. This is not a long term commitment.

The federal Liberals bungled the transfer of the airport to the city of Penticton from the beginning. They appointed a negotiator unacceptable to all parties, which forced the collapse of an agreement in principle. The Liberals made a delicate Indian lands claim the responsibility of a municipal government to negotiate, clearly a federal responsibility. At the last minute they changed safety regulations that would have added $450,000 per year to the operating costs of the airport.

The people of Okanagan—Coquihalla came to negotiate the transfer of the airport in good faith. The next time they expect the federal Liberals to do the same.

World Telecommunications DayStatements By Members

11 a.m.


David Pratt Liberal Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, Monday, May 17 is the day members of the International Telecommunications Union celebrate World Telecommunications Day.

The theme of this year's World Telecommunications Day is electronic commerce. This theme captures many of the most important challenges facing the ITU as we enter the 21st century.

E-commerce means that the nature of economic activity will change everywhere in the world, not just in the developed countries.

Access to information networks will become as important for investors as raw materials, energy and labour. In the information age, countries that do not have access to information networks will not grow, no matter how rich their natural endowments.

Access to electronic information services will be necessary for consumers and producers to buy and sell products at the most efficient prices. In the coming global competition for goods and services, protected markets will not prosper.

Canada is well positioned to take advantage of the e-commerce challenge. As the Prime Minister said last year, we want to make Canada the most connected nation in the world and a world leader in e-commerce by the year 2000. I know that as a nation we will rise to this challenge.

Canadian Tulip FestivalStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Mac Harb Liberal Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the world's largest tulip festival is taking place from May 14 to May 24.

Fifty years ago, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, who had spent the war years in Ottawa, gave 100,000 tulips to the nation's capital, to thank Canada for liberating her country during World War II.

The numerous events that mark the Canadian Tulip Festival are aimed at promoting culture and entertaining the numerous visitors from all regions of Canada and from abroad.

The festivities will take place on more than 13 sites in the national capital region and will include various public shows.

The Government of Canada is proud to be associated with this event. I hope that all my fellow citizens in the region, and all those who will visit the national capital region in the coming weeks, will enjoy this blossoming of colours and shapes.

Marnie PaikinStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to congratulate a great Canadian and a new member of the Order of Canada, Ms. Marnie Paikin.

Blessed with a quick mind and an incredible ability to analyze and synthesize vast quantities of information, Marnie has applied her smarts to numerous social causes and to many successful Canadian businesses.

Marnie has dedicated herself to improving the lives of people in her community. She has worked hard for health and cultural organizations, including the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra.

An avid sports fan, Marnie's love for the CFL, in particular the Hamilton Ti-Cats, is legendary. In the early 1980s I saw my first Blue Jays game with sports commentator extraordinaire, Marnie Paikin.

A former resident of Burlington and a true Hamilton booster, I know that I join Marnie's huge fan club, her many admiring neighbours and her wonderful family in being proud of her accomplishments and wishing her every continued success.

Royal Canadian Mounted PoliceStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Chuck Cadman Reform Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, for months now we have been demanding that the solicitor general restore funding to the RCMP so that they can do their job properly.

There have been stories of reduced drug operations, parked and damaged patrol cars, the grounding of aircraft and boats, and unacceptable responses to citizen complaints.

We have another one for the list. In Surrey we recently lost three of our nine school liaison officers; that is, one-third. According to the RCMP the officers were redeployed to other areas because of a staff shortage brought on by a lack of funding and a shortage of new recruits.

Three of our schools recently had bomb threats. A recent survey of students found that 44% were concerned with drugs, 41% complained of fighting and 31% found bullying to be a problem. Now we lose one-third of our liaison officers.

Maybe the solicitor general would like to explain to my constituents how his government can bankroll pornographic films while their children's safety is being put at risk through lack of funding.

Surrey now has 16 vacancies and that number is expected to rise to 23 by the end of the summer. We are tired of hearing about reviews and studies. We want the problem to be fixed.

International Museums DayStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Ottawa—Vanier Ontario


Mauril Bélanger LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of my colleagues in the House to the fact that May 18 will mark International Museums Day. The day's theme of the pleasures of discovery underscores the fact that museums are sources of entertainment and discovery.

In Canada, in addition to drawing some 5.5 million visitors a year, our museums are major employers and important educators.

This is why our government is proud to have increased the museums assistance program's budget by $2 million this year and to sponsor Bill C-64, which will institute the indemnification program for travelling exhibitions.

In addition, this summer, Young Canada Works will provide jobs for 800 young people in Canada's heritage facilities.

I join with my colleagues in this House in inviting all Canadians to take advantage of the cultural activities organized across the country to celebrate museums.

AgrologistsStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Hélène Alarie Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted today to salute my classmates and their spouses, who have come to Parliament Hill to celebrate 36 years of life in agronomy.

When we graduated in 1963 from Laval, our motto was to feed the world and save the planet. To this end, each of us worked in very different sectors. Some returned to the land, others chose basic or applied research, government affairs, teaching, international co-operation, industry, farm credit, agricultural extension, tobacco, food inspection, the environment, banking, the Canadian milk board and administrative tribunals—all spheres related to agriculture.

We were considered a remarkable group. Perhaps this view of us was well founded, because many of us have held influential positions in all areas of the agri-food sector. Some have already left us, and we miss them today.

To each of my classmates, I say welcome to the House and what a pleasure it is to have you here.

Stoney Creek Citizens Of The YearStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Tony Valeri Liberal Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate this year's recipients of the Stoney Creek Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year Awards.

Anne Bono has been involved in a wide variety of volunteer tasks and is a native of Stoney Creek. Her contributions extend from 22 years as past president of the Stoney Creek Chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society to her work with the Catholic Women's League. She is a dedicated individual and continues to inspire us all to do more.

Graham Murray has been awarded Junior Citizen of the Year for his contributions to many causes. He is a committed volunteer and he is being recognized for his capacity to inspire and motivate his peers.

Finally, the winning Corporate Citizen of the Year is Fortino's in the Fiesta Mall. Fortino's is a leader in product and marketing innovations and has always been an active partner in community oriented fundraising, especially with the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

I extend my best wishes and congratulations to this year's recipients.

Right Hon. John George DiefenbakerStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Derrek Konrad Reform Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to remember the Right Hon. John George Diefenbaker, Canada's 13th Prime Minister, who first took his seat in the House of Commons on this day in 1940.

The Chief, as he was known, served the constituents of my riding of Prince Albert for 39 years until his death in 1979. That strong association with Prince Albert, I have found, continues to this day.

John Diefenbaker is remembered for a number of accomplishments, including the appointment in 1957 of Ellen Fairclough as the first woman cabinet minister and the extension of the vote to all aboriginals in 1960. His most important contribution to Canada was the drafting of the Canadian Bill of Rights, which passed in 1958.

Diefenbaker was a leader who made Canadians feel good about themselves, beginning most of his public addresses with his distinctive “My fellow Canadians”.

It is fitting then that his riding should be represented now by a party that believes in the common sense of the common people and their right to be consulted on public policy matters.

Ecoaction ProgramStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Mark Assad Liberal Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week, the Government of Canada allocated $2.75 million for the implementation of 116 projects, as part of the Ecoaction 2000 program.

The federal government feels that the best way to improve the environment and the health of our communities is to encourage local communities to identify the problems and to propose appropriate solutions for their environment.

This initiative is another example of how the Canadian government, in co-operation with local organizations, is always striving to improve our quality of life.

Shipbuilding IndustryStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Gordon Earle NDP Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, while in opposition the Prime Minister wrote the following to the Marine Workers Federation in 1990:

It is safe to say that most people recognize that something has to be done to create a much more competitive shipbuilding industry. The government should now, as they should have done long ago and indeed as they promised to do, take steps to alleviate the problem.

Almost nine years have passed since that letter was written and for six of those years he has been the Prime Minister.

Our shipbuilding industry is foundering on the shoals of government neglect and this Prime Minister refuses to act. The United States, Italy, France, Spain, Britain, Korea and China have shipbuilding strategies, but Canada does not.

We have the technology and we have the skilled workers. What we do not have is a federal government that is committed to the future of a Canadian shipbuilding industry. The Port of Halifax recently lost its bid for post-Panamax shipping business because of a lack of strong support and commitment by the federal government.

I call on the Liberal government to meet and work with the shipbuilding workers, unions and businesses to craft a strategy.

North Shore Highway AccidentStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Ghislain Fournier Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, in my riding of Manicouagan, a terrible automobile accident took the lives of four young students from the Cegep in Sept-Îles.

These young women, who were full of life and plans for the future, were on their way to write an exam. They leave behind them parents, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends who loved them and who are now facing a huge void.

The families and friends of Stéphanie, Marie-Ève, Julie and Fanny now realize how fragile life is, and they will live through difficult moments in the days and weeks to come. Only courage, time and solidarity can help them overcome this tragedy.

On behalf of my colleagues and all the residents of Manicouagan, it is with deep sadness that I offer my most sincere condolences to the families and friends of these four young women.

Fondation Paul-Gérin-LajoieStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Robert Bertrand Liberal Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, 35 years ago, on May 31, 1964, the Quebec Department of Education was created, with Paul Gérin-Lajoie as its head.

The Fondation Paul-Gérin-Lajoie is using the occasion of this anniversary to launch a fundraising campaign aimed at collecting $2.3 million in donations from Canadian businesses.

The foundation's objective is to provide children here and in other countries with the means to build their individual and collective futures by acquiring a basic education.

The foundation's founder and president, Mr. Gérin-Lajoie, stresses the importance of access to education “When all children know how to read, write and count, they will have the key to their future”.

We wish the foundation well in its undertaking. Let us hope that they attain their objective and that access to education for all children becomes a reality.

Canada Millennium Partnership ProgramStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Norman E. Doyle Progressive Conservative St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I wish to bring to the attention of this House the shameful way the federal government is handling the approval of project grants under the Canada Millennium Partnership Program.

Next year, the year 2000 AD, marks the 1000th anniversary of the arrival of the Vikings in Newfoundland. However, the Millennium Bureau of Canada has refused to fund an application from the Viking Millennium International Symposium. We could not find a project more millennium related than a 1000th anniversary, but still it was turned down.

Indeed, of the 301 projects approved under phase II of the program, only four were approved from Newfoundland, less than 1% of the total funding, even though Newfoundland comprises 2% of the population of Canada.

This simply is not good enough. I call upon the federal government to rectify the situation immediately.

International Day Of FamiliesStatements By Members

11:10 a.m.


Eleni Bakopanos Liberal Ahuntsic, QC

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, May 15, is the International Day of Families, established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993 to improve the institutional capability of nations to tackle serious family related problems.

I rise today to pay tribute to three non-profit organizations which are key support elements for the families of my riding of Ahuntsic.

The Union des familles d'Ahuntsic is a cultural and sports association, whose activities include a summer camp for disadvantaged children.

La Parenterie du nord de Montréal is a community self-help association through which families help other families who have a family member suffering from mental illness.

La Maison Buissonnière offers socialization services for children and parent-child activities to a clientele of parents and children from birth to four years of age.

In celebrating the International Day of Families I look forward to the 15th annual National Family Week in my riding, which asks grades 4 and 5 students to submit a piece of their artwork for National Family Week.

I also call on everyone today to thank their families for their love and support.