Mr. Speaker, it is my intention to speak for only a few moments to the initiative brought forth by the hon. member for Burnaby--Douglas.
I want to state categorically for the record that both the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and I as a private member for the riding of Fundy--Royal are in wholehearted support of Bill C-415. The bill would amend subsection 318(4) of the criminal code and replace it with the following:
In this section, “identifiable group” means any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.
To illustrate the issue I will being members back to Fredericton, New Brunswick on the evening of November 7, 1999. A young man named Robert Peterson was walking home on Regent Street after a night out with his friends. His only crime that evening was walking home. He was heinously attacked in a brutal and severe fashion. As a result Robert Peterson, a law student at the University of New Brunswick, ended up with his eyes blackened. He required stitches on both sides of his face. The motivation for the crime was clearly established as a gay bashing. He was attacked merely because of his sexual orientation.
Moments ago a reference was made to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in terms of how it distinguishes discrimination if not racism and does not include sexual orientation in its list. The declaration was written by a man named John Peters Humphrey who came from my riding of Fundy--Royal.
Things change in society. We learn to add where appropriate. Also in my riding of Fundy--Royal is Gordon Fairweather who was Canada's first human rights commissioner and the hon. member for Fundy--Royal from 1962-78. He believes sexual orientation must be added to the code.
The hon. member for Burnaby--Douglas said he wanted to dedicate his initiative to the memory of Aaron Webster. I want to send a signal on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada that the heinous beating of Robert Peterson will not be forgotten. In his name we support the initiative of the hon. member for Burnaby--Douglas. I thank him for the opportunity to contribute to the debate.