House of Commons Hansard #27 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was children.


SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members


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5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

All those opposed will please say nay.

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5:15 p.m.

An hon. member


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5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

In my opinion the yeas have it. The Chair sees four members standing.

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5:15 p.m.


Marlene Catterall Liberal Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am simply trying to clarify what is happening here. You called the vote on the motion and as I recall most people said carried. You called for yeas. Everybody on the government side of the House said, yes, carried and you said the yeas have it. Then the members of the Alliance stood, but only four stood to request a recorded division. Is that right?

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5:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Randy White Canadian Alliance Langley—Abbotsford, BC

Madam Speaker, we had agreed and we want a standing vote. Under the provisions of getting a vote that is the way we had to do it. I hope the Liberals understand that we want this vote on a national sex offender registry recorded. That is all we are trying to do.

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5:15 p.m.


Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, everybody agreed to the motion in the name of the hon. member for Langley—Abbotsford. Obviously he stood up and voted against his own motion. How can that be?

SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

We will call in the members because, I have to admit, members of the opposition were up and down. There were four to six members standing but I believe the consensus among the House leaders was that there would be a vote.

And more than five members having risen:

SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, as amended, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Division No. 17Government Orders

5:50 p.m.

The Speaker

I declare the motion, as amended, agreed to.

It being 5.50 p.m. the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

moved that Bill C-247, an act to amend the Criminal Code (forfeiture of property relating to child pornography crimes), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, it is a privilege to be here today to once again present my bill, Bill C-247. For those who do not have a copy in front of them, Bill C-247 is an amendment to section 163.1 of the criminal code which would allow a court that convicts a person of an offence under those provisions to order the forfeiture of anything by means of which or in relation to which the offence was committed.

Before I start, I would like to recognize a number of people who have helped me with this process. One of the main drives behind this bill and this initiative is Detective Inspector Bob Matthews. He is the head of Canada's lead agency in the fight against child pornography. That is the 16 member Ontario Provincial Police child pornography unit, project P.

Detective Inspector Matthews is a widely respected voice in the debate between free speech advocates and law enforcement, and is one of Canada's top law enforcement agents in the field of child pornography investigations.

The second person I wish to thank is Detective Noreen Waters of the Organized Crime Agency of British Columbia. Detective Waters has been a child pornography investigator for eight years and was part of the team that brought in the now infamous John Robin Sharpe. She has been an enthusiastic supporter of our bill.

I also wish to thank Sergeant Randy Brennan of the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Police high tech unit. Sergeant Brennan has been involved in many successful child pornography investigations and is a valuable source of information.

I also want to recognize Mr. Steve Sullivan, the hardworking president and CEO of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime. Steve has been a tireless advocate of victim's rights and has worked with members of parliament to change the justice system to place the rights of victims before criminals.

The list goes on. These individuals and many other law enforcement officers, victim's advocates, federal parliamentarians, provincial justice ministers and everyday normal Canadians from across this country have contacted me and offered their support. I want to thank these concerned Canadians and tell them to keep up the good work. I also want to thank them for fighting to protect children because today more than ever they need our help.

I want to broaden the theme of my speech today to discuss the challenges of controlling child pornography in today's Internet age. In my speech I hope to expose the depth of the problem facing policy makers and law enforcement. I also wish to share with members and viewers some of the ideas that I have to tackle these challenges.

At the root of these challenges lies the hydra like nature of the Internet. In its humble fledgling as a forum for academia and the military, the Internet was boring and difficult to navigate. It contained only dry text, no images or flashy graphics. However the creation of the graphical interface known as the worldwide web in 1993 has created a surge in popularity.

From just over 100 sites in 1993, the web has exploded to the point where some industry experts estimate that over 800 million web pages exist today with some 160,000 pages being added each and every month.

The Internet has revolutionized communications. Most of us in the House did not even know what e-mail was up until five years ago, yet today our children and our grandchildren are growing up having never known anything else but instantaneous communication. Businesses, organizations, government agencies and individuals have seized upon this technology by setting up websites and revolutionizing the interaction between people.

As in all facets of life there are decent, virtuous online users and there are deviant predators making use of this potent tool. In his report “Innocence Exploited: Child Pornography in the Electronic Age” prepared for the Canadian Police College, Winnipeg Professor Doug Skoog estimates that there are at least one million pornographic images of children on the Internet.

Detective Waters shared recent statistics with me that estimate that 53% of Internet traffic is concerned with sexually explicit material.

Calgary police detective Butch Dickens of the vice unit had this to say about child pornography on the Internet in a newspaper article last year. He states:

A year ago, we probably only got one phone call a month about it. Now we get four a day.

Before the advent of the worldwide web, child pornography detectives around the world could say with confidence that they were winning the war against child pornography. The old methods of creation and distribution were extremely perilous. Carefully arranged meetings, secret mailing lists and postal drops placed pedophiles at tremendous risk of being caught and punished. Those days are gone.

Inspector Bob Matthews relates:

The Internet has become almost the perfect vehicle for pedophiles to distribute child pornography, the reason being that at the stroke of a key, anyone can send large volumes of information from one country to another without being detected by the authorities.

The anonymity offered by the Internet allows child molesters to stalk their victims in their homes, schools and libraries without ever being physically present in any of those places.

The following are a few of the techniques they use to exploit children: Chatting online, Internet chat rooms, where users can send type to each other in real time, provide plentiful hunting grounds where child pornographers can stalk their young victims.

The next one is the sex tourism trade. With the increase in use of the Internet for the sex trade and sexual abuse against children, the number of websites providing information to travelling pedophiles has increased dramatically and is extremely explicit in detail.

Another technique is image morphing. With a decent computer and a little skill child pornographers can turn almost any picture into a pornographic image.

One of the worst of all is real time molestation, or streaming video, which shows live video on the Internet and enables child molesters to display their victims in real time to selected members of child pornography rings and clubs.

Skilled child pornographers will encrypt their messages, rendering them unreadable to outsiders.

These are some of the ways that they have been intruding into our homes and the lives of our children using the Internet.

Parents who were once confident that living in a small town would insulate them from the troubles associated with big cities can no longer be unmindful about the security of their children. With the click of a mouse, children in remote areas can be exposed to the seamy underside of the net. In what is becoming an all too often occurrence, cases are occurring where children under the age of 18 are being threatened or even molested by someone they met online.

In July of last year, a 45 year old man from the P.E.I. town of Summerside plead guilty to a child pornography charge. He had secretly videotaped a 14 year old girl whom he had coerced into doing a striptease and then played it live on the Internet for viewers in a special interactive online chat room. That same month, on the other side of our country, police arrested a 28 year old Washington man in the ferry line up, ready to leave Vancouver Island. Police found a 14 year old B.C. girl in his van. They had been exchanging e-mails.

In March of last year, the Ottawa Sun reported that an 18 year old man was arrested and charged with possession and distribution of child pornography. An undercover police officer met the man online while the accused was looking for a partner in a plot to kidnap, rape and kill a young child.

While for pedophiles, child molesters and pornographers the Internet is like a dream come true, it has become a nightmare for decent Canadians. The downward spiral into child exploitation usually commences with the collection of child pornography, progressing to sexually explicit online conversations with youngsters and eventually seeking child victims online for sex.

Tragically, authorities can only act when the pedophile acts on his urges. Experts report that before they are arrested, the average child molesting pedophile abuses 35 children. They will share methods and techniques in finding children, gaining their trust and facilitating seduction. Along the way many, compulsively save mementoes to validate their actions. This is how child pornography is created.

However, understanding the problem, as difficult as it may be, is only half the job. Problems require solutions. Some of those concerned about this problem advocate complete censorship and regulation of anything that appears online. Others lecture that any restriction on speech is unacceptable and prefer to place the responsibility on the users. The answer lies somewhere in the middle of these two polar viewpoints. As policy makers, it is our task to strike that balance, for we alone have the democratic mandate of the Canadian people.

Shortly after her swearing in as chief justice of the supreme court, Madame Justice Beverley McLachlin predicted the court would deal extensively with issues of computer crime. The court, she said, would have to find ways to cope with offences that were international in scope, given the breadth of the Internet and computer communications.

Strong, effective legislation is one way the impact of child pornographers can be reduced. The supreme court did the right thing in upholding the ban on this illicit material in the Sharpe case, but now we must provide another tool to the justice system to stem the tide of child pornography flooding the web.

In 1993, in the wake of the R. v Butler decision, parliament passed Bill C-128, criminalizing all aspects of child pornography, including the creation, distribution, importation and possession of such material. It is considered among the strongest anti-child pornography legislation in the world. That is something of which all Canadians can be proud.

Unfortunately, a provision ordering forfeiture of equipment was omitted. This omission can be best described as an oversight when one considers forfeiture orders exist in 55 different federal statutes and in various places in the criminal code. This clearly demonstrates the justice system is not opposed to such penalties for criminals. To correct this omission in the law, I introduced C-247, which would have given courts the authority to order forfeiture, providing police with an extra weapon in their fight against child pornography.

Currently, forfeiture of equipment, in the context of a child pornography offence, is handled differently across the country. In Ontario the equipment is often forfeited as part of a bartering between the defence and the prosecution. In British Columbia prosecutors rarely ask for equipment to be turned over.

To see the danger in this patchwork practice a little insight is required into how charges under Section 163.1 of the criminal code are dealt with.

One must struggle to conceive of a crime more horrible than the sexual victimization of children.

Because of the strong public condemnation of child pornography, many offenders will do anything to keep their names out of the public domain, often eagerly agreeing to plea bargains, resulting in reduced sentences and often with no jail time. This creates a situation where the case law on this section is scant because the courts have had few opportunities to comment on it.

More dangerous is the fact that these plea bargains often allow the offender to return to the same environment in which he initially committed his crime. Returning him to that environment with high tech equipment intact is a temptation that could prove too strong to resist.

By ordering forfeiture, I believe the risk of recurrence can be lowered. Because a child pornography addiction is fueled by psychological problems, not by profit, many offenders will have limited means. Indeed, their compulsion likely creates financial hardship as the individual spends much of his free time and money in pursuit of his fantasy.

Confiscating several thousand dollars worth of computer equipment and perhaps even a vehicle or something more substantial will create a financial barrier to reoffending. I understand it is only money and does not address the root of the problem, but it is one way we can slow down the traffic in this repulsive time.

The technology of our rapidly changing world continues to create legislative challenges for parliament. Expanding the legislation, filling in the holes, adapting to change, as we are trying to do, is necessary. Criminals do not stand still and neither should we.

It is out of my concern for the safety of Canadian children that I took this initiative, researched the issue of child pornography and the Internet and tabled the bill. I acknowledge that my bill may not have been written in the most precise of legal terminology, but I am nevertheless disappointed that it was not deemed votable this year, as it was last.

I took on the challenge of tabling a private member's bill, a justice themed bill no less, knowing the odds were stacked against my success, but I did it because I believe in the spirit of the bill and I could not stand by without doing something to help.

I urge all members to take some time to think of the difference, even if it is a small difference, that the bill could make in the fight against child pornography so that one like it may return to the order paper in the near future. I implore the justice minister to take the spirit of the bill and enshrine it in law. Consider the law enforcement agents who have made it their life's work to make our country safe from the perversions of these child molesters. Think of the victims of these cold-blooded criminals and help us make a difference.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.

Erie—Lincoln Ontario


John Maloney LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the second reading debate of Bill C-247, an act to amend the criminal code, forfeiture of property relating to child pornography crimes. I share the hon. member's concern about child pornography and I congratulate him for introducing the bill.

I can assure the hon. member that the concern about protecting children from predators is also of primary concern to the government. The Speech from the Throne was clear on that point. In the Speech from the Throne our government stated its full intention to “act to safeguard children from crimes, including criminals on the Internet” and to “take steps to ensure that our laws protect children from those who prey on their vulnerability”.

We all recognize that our children are the most vulnerable members of our society and we must do all we can to protect them from harm. No one will deny that child pornography seriously harms children. It does so in at least two ways. It creates a permanent record of the sexual abuse of children and it perpetuates the message that children are appropriate sexual objects. Indeed, they are not.

Child pornography was specifically prohibited by an amendment to the criminal code enacted in 1993. This amendment, which is now 163.1 of the criminal code, creates new offences for the production, importation, distribution, sale, possession for purposes of sale or distribution and simple possession of child pornography. All these offences carry a greater penalty than the offences prohibiting obscene materials involving adults.

These criminal code provisions against child pornography were enacted to respond to the prevailing practices at the time. These practices were still primarily paper oriented and involved mechanical production and physical distribution practices.

Although the current offences have been successfully applied to electronic practices relating to child pornography, no one in 1993 anticipated the technological advances that were experienced in the last five years. No one anticipated how quickly new technologies would be embraced by such a large portion of the population, particularly young people. In particular, it was not anticipated at the time that computer systems, including the Internet, would become the instruments of choice for trading child pornography.

The Internet has made it easier to communicate valuable information and carry on discussions on all kinds of subjects with people who share similar interests. Unfortunately, it has made it easier to disseminate and collect images of child pornography.

Perhaps the time has come to take a close look at the child pornography provisions in order to determine whether they still apply to current practices.

The purpose of Bill C-247, like the purpose of Bill C-321 introduced by the hon. member for Lethbridge in the previous parliament, is to create an additional deterrent to the commission of a child pornography offence. The bill would add a component to the sentence currently available under the criminal code and deprive the person convicted of the offence of all tools and instruments that were used to commit the offence. The bill would provide for the forfeiture of these instruments to the crown.

I note the hon. member has added to the bill an element that was lacking in Bill C-321. It now specifies that an order cannot be made in respect to a thing that is not the property of a person who is not a party to the offence. It also specifically excludes the forfeiture of communications facilities and equipment.

I recognize that these changes make the bill more sound. However I have some questions on the working of the provisions as drafted.

For instance, while the bill provides that the judge should not order forfeiture when the person guilty of the offence is not the owner of the thing, it does not provide for the manner in which the owner would have his or her right to the property recognized.

I commend the hon. member for introducing the bill. It is a step in the right direction in our fight against child pornography. I support the principle of the bill. However more must be done if we want to adequately protect our children against sexual exploitation.

The Minister of Justice has a bill currently on notice. The hon. member might be pleasantly surprised when he sees it after introduction.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


Michel Bellehumeur Bloc Berthier—Montcalm, QC

Madam Speaker, I too must congratulate the member on his tenacity when it comes to this issue because, in an earlier parliament, he introduced a similar bill. He made certain amendments in response to comments made in the House.

Today, we have a bill that is, all in all, very acceptable. I would immediately say to the member that he has the full support of the Bloc Quebecois in his efforts to have the criminal code amended.

I am the third member to speak. Those members of the House who are listening are aware of the bill and the amendments. I just want to remind them, and I will do this quickly, that the primary purpose of the bill is to protect some very vulnerable people, children, from actions of adults which are completely unacceptable.

I think that, of all the offences mentioned in the criminal code, those involving child pornography, using children for sexual purposes, are the most serious. Amending the criminal code to permit the seizure of any thing used by the offender for child pornography, for these very reprehensible actions, has my full support.

As the Canadian Alliance member noted, many of Canada's statutes, including the criminal code, provide for the seizure of certain property in certain cases.

I will give an example familiar to everyone, from the Tobacco Act. When people smuggle cigarettes, when they have contraband cigarettes in a vehicle, the vehicle is seized because it was being used to break the law, to seek to commit an offence.

Why not apply this to computer equipment, since more and more people have computers, and computers are more and more powerful, and can yield far more information? Why not allow police forces and the justice system to seize these assets?

Was a mistake made when the government amended section 163 in a previous parliament without allowing such a seizure? Perhaps it was, and perhaps not. At that time, I did not consider it a priority or a goal in itself to seize computers that had been used to view images of child pornography. Today, however, I think we need to conclude that yes, seizing these assets that have been used by the offender would be a normal thing to do.

The wording would, I believe, allow this to dovetail very nicely with the section of the criminal code. It is also in keeping with the philosophy of the criminal code and related legislation allowing police and crown prosecutors to impose a sentence on the individual who has been found guilty, to impose a fine, but, more importantly, it sends a fairly strong signal that computers are not intended for such purposes and that individuals caught using them for those purposes stand to have their computer confiscated.

The important point the member has added in his bill, from the remarks made in the House when Bill C-321 was introduced, concerns the restrictions on the assets of third parties in order to protect people who lend their computer to a friend or employers who are not aware what employees are doing at lunch with office equipment. Just like that, because the individual is caught at child pornography sites, the computer loaned by a friend or belonging to the employer is confiscated.

Subsection 163.2(2) included in the bill provides a restriction to the effect that the equipment or computers will not be seized because they belong to a third party who was unaware of the use being made of them.

At the time, when we debated the bill in the House, this was our greatest concern. Today, we note that, on the whole, the remarks and adjustments made in this clause with respect to the amendment of the criminal code fully satisfy the concerns of the Bloc Quebecois.

Accordingly, we offer the hon. member our full co-operation and support this approach. We hope that we will find these amendments in the criminal code one day.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Lethbridge for his efforts on this file and for the opportunity to denounce child pornography.

The people of Saint John and my party support the bill with great enthusiasm and with a strong determination to stop the creation, production and distribution of child pornography. Hansard will show that it is not the first time I have risen in the House to denounce the sexual abuse of our children. When I rose earlier this afternoon I said that there was nothing that hurt or saddened me more than when a child was abused.

It was some time ago that one of the hon. members on the government side brought forth a bill to make changes to the criminal code. It would have allowed the RCMP or the police department to enter a home and seize material, where it was suspected that a person was dealing in child pornography and had pictures and other material. As hon. members know, it went through the process and it was not changed.

I asked the Prime Minister a question at the time and he assured me afterwards by saying that he did not believe in child pornography and that the government would straighten it out sooner or later.

Tonight members on both sides of the House voted on a national registry to try to put a stop to sexual abuse of children. Once again we have again another opportunity to do what is right for our young people.

Let me be clear when I say that we consider child pornography to be nothing short of child abuse. I will not hold back from saying that I believe child pornography is not only disgusting but that those who take pleasure in it are sick and perverted.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

You can say that again.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Elsie Wayne Progressive Conservative Saint John, NB

I will say it again. They are sick and perverted. They truly are. It is only logical therefore that anyone who seeks to participate in this obscene trade should have the tools of the trade seized by authorities and destroyed.

The laws of Canada and the charter of rights and freedoms must not be used as a shield for those who would seek to corrupt and exploit our very young. Any just society must balance the rights it extends to its citizens with the responsibility it expects its citizens to undertake.

Persons violating the spirit of the law should not be afforded any protection by the mere letter of the law. Canadians are compassionate and understanding. We are a patient and respectful people who have on many occasions sent our sons and daughters into harm's way to protect our way of living. Yet when the system, whatever its best intentions, becomes a tool for evil it should not be left unchanged.

Earlier today we debated a national sex offender registry. I said then that we had a duty and an obligation as representatives of the people to take the action required to protect our people. Tonight we are fortunate to have another opportunity to send to the government a clear signal on what action is required for the sake of our children.

I hope that our plea falls on the same compassionate ears that heard our call this afternoon for the national sex offender registry. I hope that the same courageous members on the government benches that saw fit to support that registry will stand with us again on Bill C-247.

There comes a time in public life when we are forced to decide on a personal course of action. We sit down with a piece of legislation to try to determine what the people who elected us would want us to do. We have before us an excellent piece of legislation and one that I know my people back home in Saint John, New Brunswick, would cheer with a loud chorus of support.

The House would suspect that I find pornography in any form to be distasteful and degrading. If it were possible for me to detest one form of pornography over all others, it would be child pornography. The House knows that I am a mother and a grandmother. To think that someone could do this with my grandson or my granddaughter, I will fight that tooth and nail.

The House knows that I have tried to use my time in public service to work with children and families in need, not only in Saint John but across the country. It is for these reasons and many more that even the thought of someone profiting from the illicit trade of child pornography makes me feel very ill.

I also know that the Minister of Justice has wrestled with the same issues for some time. I know that various members on the government back benches have been forced to hold back tears in the past because they have not seen their government take the decisive action against the disgusting child pornography problem. We saw it with that man out in Vancouver.

I consider Bill C-247 to be a solid first strike against the child pornography trade. It would give pause to those who deal in this perverted trafficking. The hon. member for Lethbridge has ensured that we remain as respectful as possible to property rights of law-abiding Canadians. Bill C-247 is clear in its limitations and clear to avoid the unlawful seizure or forfeiture of the property of those who are not a party to child pornography offences. It is a necessary limitation and one that strengthens the legislation and the laws it seeks to change.

The House may not recall that my cousin is Gordon Fairweather. He stood side by side with John Diefenbaker when they first crafted the bill of rights. I know that when they set out to protect the rights of Canadians they did not do so with the intent of protecting criminals or the tools of their trade.

When the charter of rights and freedoms was being crafted it was not created to shield those who would seek to abuse and exploit children. Knowing this, I say without hesitation that Bill C-247 is in keeping with the best intentions of both the bill of rights and the charter of rights and freedoms. If my cousin Gordon Fairweather were back here, he would be with the hon. member for Lethbridge all the way.

This is a step worth taking to strengthen the security of our children from the clutches of truly depraved individuals. Even if one child is spared from exploitation and abuse by the child pornography trade, and it is a trade by its very nature, it will have been all worth while. That said, could we deny our families that added security for mere partisan political reasons?

If we do not support Bill C-247 are we not saying that we accept in some form or another that child pornography is tolerable? Is that the message we want to send out to the mothers and fathers of Canadian children? Is that the message we want to send out to my grandson Matthew and granddaughter Lindsay?

We have a duty and obligation to all Canadians to deliver them from evil and to protect them from injustice. We have a duty and obligation to every generation of children to make them safer from the generation before them. This is the mantle of responsibility we all assumed when we put our names on the ballot last fall. It is a duty from which we must not shy away. I fully support Bill C-247 and so do my colleagues in the PC Party.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Grant McNally Canadian Alliance Dewdney—Alouette, BC

Madam Speaker, I too commend my colleague from Lethbridge for bringing forward this very important bill. I know he has worked very hard behind the scenes gathering support from many organizations, groups, police associations and those involved in having to deal with the issue firsthand.

I am encouraged tonight by the debate I have heard in the House from members of all parties who have spoken in favour of the bill. It is fitting that we would be debating this topic on the evening where we also, as was indicated by my hon. colleague from Saint John and others, worked together to support the creation of a national registry for sex offenders. It is a great accomplishment that we have been able to achieve together in the House.

Some of the debate was a little off topic today and somewhat partisan at times, but for the most part it was not. That is encouraging. The legislation fits very much into that very same category. Who could stand in the House and defend child pornography? No one has tonight and no one will. We understand the seriousness of the issue. The bill being brought forward by my colleague is another tool being offered as a way to combat a very serious issue.

By focusing on important issues, it is time that we work together in the House. We must look to build with each other on the commonalities, across party lines, including government members, to solve the issues before us. That is what people are looking for, from those of us who have been sent as leaders to this place. It is with passion, conviction and strength of mind that we must work together to solve these very serious issues.

The issue of child pornography is one that has a very great implication. Our children are our greatest resource. There is nothing we could hold more dear than the health and well-being of our children, the next generation coming up behind us, not only for ourselves as individuals, as members, as families and as communities but for the future of our country.

A big part of the health of our children has to with protecting them. We only have the opportunity to live as children once in this life. We have all experienced that. We are involved in the joys, triumphs, tragedies and moment to moment involvements with children in our families, or those without children with relatives. We know this is a very important thing to focus our attention on.

We know there are individuals involved in activities that will harm children. Child pornography is one of them. My colleague, the member for Erie—Lincoln, the parliamentary secretary, raised some very good points. I agree with what he said on those points.

He mentioned two points about the crime of child pornography creating a permanent record of the abuse of children. For that very reason it is wrong to be participating in such an action. The creation of child pornography creates victims itself. This causes not only great damage for those children who are victims of those crimes, but they are then a part of this permanent record that is being used, abused and displayed on the Internet and other ways. It is at the very hub of this issue.

It violates what is right. It is wrong to be involved in child pornography. It causes children to be abused by creating a permanent record of that. My colleague's bill attempts to address that. The bill attempts to shut this down. It is to be used as a tool to help stop the spread of this issue of child pornography.

I will agree with my colleague from Saint John when she said it was evil. We have the right as members in this place to say such things because it is truly wrong. I believe there is such a thing as right and wrong. Many of my colleagues would agree with this particular point. Let us build on what we can agree on and we can agree. Tonight we heard that we agree child pornography is wrong. This is a bill that is being introduced to help address that.

I was encouraged by my colleague for Erie—Lincoln who said changes will be coming to the criminal code. I can only hope and encourage him to work with his government. We will work together to bring these changes forward, to incorporate this forfeiture clause that my colleague brought forward, so we can help stop the wrongs that are occurring. We can help stop the individuals who are involved in this industry. We can help stop the wrongs that are being perpetrated against our children.

I may have indicated inadvertently in my earlier comment that I do not have children. I would like to correct that because I have four young children. My oldest daughter is 10 and my youngest, who is a son, is four years old. The others are six and eight. This is an issue that strikes at home for me.

I worked for 10 years as an elementary school teacher. I was able to see the need for our children to be protected, not only in our homes and communities but in our institutions like schools and in other areas. Those who attempt to abuse children in this way find their way into those areas of protection that are supposed to be safe havens for our children. We need to be on guard for that. With the tools suggested in this piece of legislation from my colleague from Lethbridge, we need to be able to shut down this kind of activity.

I am encouraged by the agreement tonight from all parties on this issue. In fact, we have agreed that child pornography is wrong. This amendment should move forward and should be put into practice immediately.

Would it not be wonderful if we could do that tonight, on a night where we have already had agreement on a major issue having to do with protecting our children.

We should not wait another day. We should move forward on this issue right away. Our children are our most valued resource. We need to show, not only in our words but in our actions, that we mean that. There is an opportunity to do that tonight. I hope we speak loudly with our words on things that need to be fixed, but even more loudly with our actions.

In closing, I would like to commend my colleague, the member for from Lethbridge, once again. We do not care who gets credit for the idea or the issue, we want to see it put in place no matter where it comes from. That is why I think there would be agreement on this issue from all members. We need to move forward on it.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:35 p.m.

Mississauga South Ontario


Paul Szabo LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Madam Speaker, I would like to lend my support to Bill C-247, tabled in the House by the hon. member for Lethbridge.

This House was seized with the issue of child pornography, probably polarized mostly by the Sharpe case, the B.C. case where the constitutionality of our laws on the possession of child pornography were challenged in the B.C. court. In fact the court case was lost. As members will recall this was quite outrageous to Canadians at large and certainly to everyone in the House.

However, we have a process and that process led that case, not only through the B.C. Court of Appeal but also right to the Supreme Court of Canada. I think we are all very grateful that the decision of the supreme court upheld the law. However, in a way that raised some interesting questions for the House.

The fact that the member has brought forward a bill that addresses another element of the child pornography issue, probably should remind us that we should continue to work on developing good legislation, step by step, to be sure that we deal with many of the items which hon. members have raised in the debate.

This particular bill seeks to provide the court with the discretion to forfeit anything by means of which, or in relation to which, a child pornography offence was committed. It basically says that the tools of the person who was in possession of or creating child pornography would be forfeited to the crown. There were some questions raised by the parliamentary secretary with regard to this matter, but the questions are resolvable. Fundamentally, the proposal is sound.

As we know this is a non-votable matter. That is unfortunate because when items like this come before the House, especially when they are so important, not only to the members proposing it but to Canadians in this case, there should be a greater debate. Using it as a starting point, we can make it deal with the principle that has been raised by the bill. We can work on the technicalities to make sure that the protection of third parties is dealt with. We can make sure that, for instance, employers are protected in the event that an employee would use employer assets for the perpetration or production of child pornography.

I wanted to lend my voice as support. Members know that today we unanimously passed a resolution before the House to consider the creation of a national registry for sex offenders. It is characteristic that the motion was unanimously endorsed by the House. We all want to be constructive and productive on legislation that will create a safer and healthier environment for our children and our families.

I congratulate the member for bringing this bill forward. I am sorry that it is not votable but I think it is encouraging that the Ministry of Justice has indicated that the principle is a good one and that it will be dealt with by the government. The member should take full credit for it when it happens. I hope that he will.

Private members' business is a maligned part of the business that we do in this place. I cannot say that I am very happy with the way it works. I have seen many good bills come before this place that were not votable and I have seen some questionable bills come before this place that were votable. I am not sure whether the system right now is serving the best interests of the House.

I also lament the fact that so few private members' items ever get through the full cycle of second reading, committee consideration, third reading and report stage, as well as Senate review. It is unfortunate because many good ideas do come forward to this place.

I hope members will remember this particular bill the next time we come around to a debate on the propriety of how we handle private members' business. Perhaps they will use it as an example of just another good idea of members of parliament that somehow have to be set aside for the wrong reasons.

I appreciate the member's thoughtfulness in bringing this bill forward to the House. I think it is important to have every opportunity to talk about issues that are important to Canadians. This is a non-partisan issue. We should be grateful to the member for raising it in the House today.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Madam Speaker, a few minutes is all the time I will need. I want to say just a very few things in the highest support possible of the bill.

Today has been a really heart-rending day in the House. We have been dealing with issues which really in a respectable society should not even have to be mentioned. We have been dealing with sexual predators. Now in this evening's session, we are talking about a bill that would limit and restrict advantages that people can make in producing child pornography.

I just want it on record that I fully support this bill. I am very concerned that in our society we somehow think that by passing a whole bunch of laws that we can make people good. I do not think we can. We have to really do what a number of members said in the debate; that is we have to look at moral teaching when these children are young, so they grow up to be responsible adults and behave in a socially acceptable way.

The role of law is still to restrict those who will not conform to that. While law cannot make people good, it can serve to restrain the evil. I think that is really the essence of what we are dealing with today and in this bill as well.

I want to congratulate the member for Lethbridge for the bill. We need to support it. I sincerely call upon the government to act, not just to engage in a bunch of nice words here, but to act and to put into place mechanisms that would fulfill what this bill requires.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Canadian Alliance Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I thank all members who spoke tonight for their support. This is obviously an issue that needs to be addressed. As the member for Elk Island said, we have talked all day about the things that happen in our society that we should not really have to talk about but we do.

We need to give our law enforcement agencies and our courts the tools to do a good job, and that is where we went with this bill. The research that was done on it was to add one small item to their arsenal that would help them put a pedophile or a pornographer out of business for as long as possible.

I am encouraged by the comments made by the parliamentary secretary. I will take him at his word that there are some changes to the criminal code coming down and that this particular aspect of the amendment to the code to allow for forfeiture will be included.

I hope that when the legislation comes before the House again there will be a public and open debate on it and all Canadians will have input. Literally thousands of Canadians have supported me in this endeavour. The Canadian Police Association on down through the police organizations in Canada have supported this bill as well. This is something that needs to be done and I am encouraged to hear that the government has recognized that.

The issue of our children and the Internet scares me. I have two granddaughters, aged five and eight. The five year old can sit down at the computer and make it do things that I cannot. This scares me but that is the way of the world.

The one thing I would like to leave with the people who are watching is that as parents we have to be diligent when our children are on the Internet and on the computer because there are all kinds of people on the Internet system who like to prey on kids. Parents should keep an eye on what their children are doing and be aware of who they are talking to and the agreements that are being made.

I was going to ask for the unanimous consent of the House to make this bill votable but I will take the parliamentary secretary at his word, that this bill will be included in the amendments that are coming in to the criminal code, and leave it at that.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. As the motion has not been designated a votable item, the order is dropped from the order paper.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.


Marcel Gagnon Bloc Champlain, QC

Madam Speaker, on February 26 of this year, I asked the Minister of National Defence a question in the House about Lake Saint-Pierre. The answer did not satisfy me, nor did it satisfy those who live on the shores of this body of water and even use it to earn their living.

Lake Saint-Pierre is one of the lakes which purify the St. Lawrence River. It purifies the water from the Great Lakes, from cities such as Montreal, and from tributaries and various rivers. UNESCO has recognized Lake Saint-Pierre as a world reserve.

The lake is extremely rich in flora and fauna. There are professional fishers and hunters. For fifty years now, the Canadian army has been firing shells into Lake Saint-Pierre, for training purposes I believe.

More than 40% of the southern section of Lac Saint-Pierre, some 22 kilometres starting with the channel, belongs to the Canadian Forces. The lake has been polluted by some 300,000 shells, 8,000 to 10,000 of which are potentially dangerous. They are moved around by the ice in the lake.

They travel so far that every year helicopters scan both shores of the St. Lawrence right up to Île d'Orléans to try to recover shells that had been carried away by the ice. Even last year, a little girl found one, which most fortunately was disarmed.

What I am asking of the minister, on behalf of the users of Lac Saint-Pierre, is that it be restored to a safe condition, so that it can again be used as it ought to be. It is nonsensical to say that it cannot be cleared because there are no known techniques for doing so. This is not true. There are techniques known at this time for clearing the lake, and even people prepared to bid on cleaning up the lake and removing the potentially dangerous shells in and around it.

I am therefore calling upon the minister to promptly review the Lac Saint-Pierre situation. It is extremely important for the flora, the fauna and the users of the lake, both those who make a living from it and the tourists. It is a huge tourist attraction, because it is a large lake, some fifty kilometres in length and some twenty wide, stretching from Trois-Rivières to the islands at Sorel.

We are told it would be too costly. However, if the Canadian forces spend some $200 million on shells they say are no longer used, I think we could perhaps cut part of this money and take some $40 million a year to clean up this body of water. This is what I am asking the minister.

The minister said “Yes, eventually. We are studying and perhaps”. I say to the minister that this needs to be done urgently. Every year the ice carries shells, and they are found along the shore of the St. Lawrence. Action must be taken before something dramatic happens. There has already been loss of life. It could be even more serious, because some of these shells could be armed just by fishing gear.

I do not want to cause anyone to panic, but Lac Saint-Pierre has to be cleaned up. The Canadian forces, responsible for its pollution, have to do their job as user-payer. Companies are asked to clean up the sites they have polluted, but the Canadian forces have been polluting this lake for 50 years.

I think urgent that the Minister of National Defence ask the Canadian forces to return the body of water to the state the users want it in.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Erie—Lincoln Ontario


John Maloney LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Madam Speaker, sustaining and protecting the environment as well as human life are priorities for the Department of National Defence.

The Proof and Experimental Test Establishment at Nicolet, Quebec, has provided technical services and carried out munitions proof and engineering tests for the Department of National Defence since 1952.

The ammunition tested at Lac St-Pierre is used by Canadian forces members on military operations all over the world as well as in their day to day training.

The main objective of the munitions testing program is to ensure the safety of the men and women in the Canadian forces who use the ammunition. We must have absolute confidence in the safety and suitability of our munitions. Firing a small sample from each new lot of ammunition that is produced is the only way to ensure the safety and suitability of the ammunition.

Lac St-Pierre was initially selected because of its proximity to several munitions factories. This rationale still holds. Testing at Lac St-Pierre minimizes the costs of transporting the ammunition as well as the public safety hazard associated with the transportation of live ammunition.

The Department of National Defence takes its public safety responsibilities very seriously. It has always had an open relationship with local residents, working with them to satisfy their concerns.

We in the department also have a close working relationship with Environment Canada and provincial officials, and we ensure that all our activities comply with provincial standards and regulations.

Since the early 1990s, we have cut test firings in half and reduced noise levels. Almost all firings are now done through mufflers and all ammunition is now fired into a mound of earth from which we can recover the ammunition. We no longer fire into Lac St-Pierre itself.

We have always undertaken measures to clean up projectiles. Every spring and summer the shoreline of Lac St-Pierre is examined for projectiles that have been freed from the lake bed.

Additionally, in 1999 DND began an environmental study of the sediments of Lac St-Pierre in co-operation with Environment Canada. The study will be completed in the fall of 2001. Preliminary results indicate that the ordnance on the lake bed has not caused any environmental damage. DND is also examining a proposal to begin a more thorough cleanup of projectiles from the lake. However, this is a long term project with no quick fix.

There are very real environmental challenges and difficulties involved in cleaning up unexploded munitions in water. We are actively pursuing potential solutions with all stakeholders.

As one of the federal government's largest landholders, DND remains strongly committed to minimizing the impact of its activities and operations on the environment.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

March 13th, 2001 / 6:55 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Ms. Bakopanos)

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6.56 p.m.)