House of Commons Hansard #98 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was courts.


SupplyThe Royal Assent

5:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received which is as follows:

Rideau Hall


May 8, 2003

Mr. Speaker:

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 8th day of May, 2003, at 4:07 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Barbara Uteck

Secretary to the Governor General

The schedule indicates that royal assent was given to Bill C-2, an act to establish a process for assessing the environmental and socio-economic effects of certain activities in Yukon; and Bill C-10A, an act to amend the Criminal Code (firearms) and the Firearms Act.

It being 5:33 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Criminal CodePrivate Member'S Business

5:30 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

moved that Bill C-416, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Youth Criminal Justice Act (sentencing principles), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, on July 15, 2000, Valentino Harper was found guilty of manslaughter. He broke into the apartment of George Monias and beat him severely. While Mr. Monias lay on the floor, Mr. Harper took a 43 pound television set and dropped it on Mr. Monias' head, killing him.

On December 21, 2001, near Russell, Manitoba, RCMP constable Dennis Strongquill was fired upon by Robert Sand when he attempted to pull over a truck driven by Sand's brother. The brothers proceeded to pursue the constable back to the detachment where they rammed his cruiser trapping him. Robert Sand then fired four shotgun blasts into the body of the police officer. Constable Strongquill did not survive the attack.

Besides the horrible nature of these two events, what do they have in common? In both cases the assailant is of aboriginal descent, as is the victim. In both cases the lawyer has argued for a more lenient sentence based on the criminal's race. In both cases the judge must take into consideration the race of the guilty offender when making a sentencing determination.

However that has not always been the case. Since the Liberals made amendments to the Criminal Code in 1996, Canadian justice is no longer blind. It now peeks out from under the blindfold and checks to see what race someone is. Like the American Express card, a status card now has its privileges.

However a status card is not supposed to be a “get out of jail free” card. My bill would delete nine words from the Criminal Code and from the Youth Criminal Justice Act that instruct judges to pay “particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders”. Why did the government introduce this specific provision?

We know that as a percentage of the population of our country, aboriginal offenders are disproportionately represented in our penal institutions. The Liberal government wanted to appear sensitive to that reality so, rather than confront the root causes of the crime at the preventative stage, it decided that it would appear to address the problem after the crime had been committed. This created the present predicament where the old adage “Do the crime, do the time”, has been amended and now says “Do the crime, do the time, unless you're Indian”. That is flawed for several reasons.

First, the amendment is based on the erroneous assumption that judges have been discriminating and victimizing aboriginal Canadians. Professors Philip Stenning and Julian Roberts, in the Saskatchewan Law Review , wrote:

Recent data do not sustain the view that judges systematically discriminate against aboriginal offenders at the sentencing stage. Clearly there is a problem with the disproportionate numbers of aboriginal people in prison but the available evidence overwhelmingly suggests that these individuals did not get there through discrimination at the sentencing stage.

Second, there is no mention in the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples' report that the sentencing process contributes in a significant fashion to the over-representation of aboriginals in correctional facilities. It makes the frank admission that the over-representation of aboriginals in the correctional system is attributable to the substantially higher crime rate in aboriginal communities and for aboriginals.

This is the reality that must be changed.

Third, combined with the fact that aboriginal offenders commit more offences against the person, which are generally considered far more serious crimes, and that they have longer prior records, one would tend to believe that the median sentence would be longer for aboriginal offenders than for non-aboriginal offenders. That is not the case.

Carol La Prairie, who is a noted scholar and justice researcher, argued in a recent paper that data prior to the amendment revealed that at the federal level non-aboriginal offenders were being given longer sentences. I will quote from that report: “Aboriginal offenders are receiving significantly shorter sentences for attempted murder, assault causing injury and robbery”.

Therefore, discrimination against aboriginal offenders, according to the evidence, is not and has not been the problem.

By reducing sentences based on race, Canada's justice system disrespects the victims of those crimes. The majority of the victims of the crimes of aboriginal perpetrators are in fact aboriginal people themselves. According to the latest Statistics Canada figures, 35% of the aboriginal population in this country reported having been the victim of at least one crime. Aboriginal people are also more likely to be repeat victims. Aboriginal people experience violent crime at a rate that is nearly triple that for non-aboriginal people, and rates of spousal violence are also alarming. Approximately 25% of aboriginal women reported having been assaulted by a current or ex-spouse, compared to 8% for non-aboriginal women.

When we discount the sentences of aboriginal criminals, we discount justice for the victims of those crimes, an approach which uses racial generalizations to attempt to alter the rate of aboriginal incarceration, which introduces a new concept to our justice system: the concept of volume discounts for crime. More important, it places communal circumstances over individual responsibility. It is choosing criminals over victims.

On January 17, 2003, Clinton Derrick Byrd was found guilty of sexual assault. He had forced his wife to commit bestiality with a dog. He had been engaging in sex acts with his daughter, including sexual intercourse, for over 10 years. This behaviour commenced when she was not yet two years old. Why do the victims of this man's crimes, his wife and his own daughter, not deserve the full and equal protection of our justice system?

Constable Dennis Strongquill leaves behind six children. Why should their father's murderer receive leniency because he is an aboriginal man? Dennis Strongquill is an aboriginal. Dennis Strongquill's six children are aboriginal. Surely they deserve the equal protection of our justice system.

There is no other jurisdiction in the world that has followed our example, none that includes race as a factor in sentencing. By adding a racial distinction in the sentencing provisions of Canada's Criminal Code, the government has implied that aboriginal Canadians, by virtue of their ethnicity, are more likely to commit crimes. This stigmatization is intolerable. It offends all Canadians. Let me quote from an editorial in The Globe and Mail : “We do not endorse the Balkanization of the justice system with distinct sentencing rules based in any way on skin colour or ethnicity”.

But that is what has happened. The government has Balkanized our justice system and in so doing it has unfairly stigmatized aboriginal people. People who listen to these arguments are not convinced.

Criminal CodePrivate Member'S Business

5:35 p.m.

An hon. member

You have no idea of what you're talking about.

Criminal CodePrivate Member'S Business

5:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Brian Pallister Canadian Alliance Portage—Lisgar, MB

The member opposite tries to argue for Balkanization and race based sentencing in our system. She will have the opportunity to make her arguments. I invite her to do that. I encourage this debate.

Perhaps what is even more egregious than what the government has done here is the expansion of these differential sentencing provisions to the new Youth Criminal Justice Act. This is the youngest, fastest growing population in Canada and it is imperative that aboriginal youth feel that they can become significant contributors to Canada's economic, social and political life. By offering sentencing discounts based on race, the government is sending a message to aboriginal young people and it is not a good message. It is a message that they are incapable of fulfilling the same duties and the same responsibilities as all other Canadians. We have to stand up and say no to this policy of stigmatization and restore the fundamental principle of equality to our justice system now and for future generations.

Ethnicity should never be a factor in the sentencing determination of any convicted criminal, but that is not to say that socio-economic conditions should not be considered. Sentencing judges already do so. Sentencing judges have to take into consideration background factors such as lack of education, poverty, substance abuse and child abuse, but not all aboriginal Canadians suffer from these afflictions nor are they solely the possession of aboriginal Canadians.

To stipulate that aboriginal status should be considered and specifically targeted by judges is a mistake. The overrepresentation problem cuts across different racial minorities and it requires a response that does not focus exclusively on one group, however historically disadvantaged. To single out a particular group encourages judges to treat aboriginals as a category rather than as individuals. Categorical assumptions are inappropriate in a sentencing system that is supposed to be based on the culpability of the offender. The sentence must relate to that culpability and the factors should be individual, never collective.

The solution lies beyond the purview of the sentencing judge. It is not the mandate of a sentencing judge to try to correct society's historical wrongs. That is antithetical to the purpose of our justice system. If judges begin to make sentencing determinations on the basis of collective identity they are no longer serving as the safeguards of equality in our justice system but rather as social engineers.

The conditions which contribute to the likelihood of criminal involvement, such as poverty, lack of education, drug and alcohol dependency and lack of economic opportunity, should be the priorities of any government. Yet after 10 years of this government's rule, little progress has been made. The barriers to aboriginal equality have not come down because the government seems to believe that aboriginal Canadians do not merit the full equality that other Canadians take for granted. The price of this philosophy is that the federal government has been allowed to escape its leadership role in all aboriginal issues.

For example, the government has ignored well documented problems such as lack of matrimonial property rules on reserve, economic and consumer equality for aboriginal people, women's rights, and property rights. The federal government's ambivalence toward these inequities has directly resulted in the third world conditions that we see on Canadian reserves.

The Canadian Alliance believes that the re-establishment of these individual rights, which most Canadians take for granted, is central to building that foundation of equality of opportunity for aboriginal Canadians, and the establishment of these individual rights is central to crime prevention.

The Liberal government's approach is to stave off problems with community-based band-aids, while the Canadian Alliance believes that prevention requires individualized solutions, starting with equal rights and duties for everyone and equal justice.

While the overrepresentation of aboriginal people in Canadian prisons is an undeniable and important problem, there is little evidence that the problem has arisen as a result of discriminatory sentencing. To explain the high incarceration rate as a byproduct of failed sentencing practices is to miss the problem altogether and therefore miss finding the solution to the problem.

Those nine words in the Criminal Code offer little more than an empty promise to aboriginal people, a bitter pill for sentencing judges who struggle to do the right thing but become daily more aware of the powerlessness they have in the face of a situation far beyond their control. It would have been better if these nine words had never been included in the Criminal Code.

My bill has been given a great deal of support across Canada already. The Edmonton Journal stated on April 29 of this year, “The reasons for the high rates of incarceration, poverty, substance abuse, family breakdown and the like are not and cannot be adequately addressed at the sentencing stage”.

We have been supported by the first nations mothers' association of Canada, which has said in a press release that it believes all Canadians should be treated equally before the courts and there is only one brand of justice for Canadians.

The Windsor Star said on May 5 of this year that the government's approach “smacks of two-tier system. A truly just justice system would expect judges to remain blind to an offender's ethnicity”.

In closing, let me say that it is long overdue that this unjust provision in our Criminal Code which stands in the way of true equality for all Canadians be removed. I urge all members of the House and I urge all Canadians following these proceedings to support this bill and to encourage their members of Parliament to support the bill when it comes back to the House. The bill will accomplish several things. It will restore fairness and equality to our justice system. It will end the stigmatizing of aboriginal Canadians. It will reinstate the rights of the victims of crime and their full and equal protection under the law.

Criminal CodePrivate Member'S Business

5:45 p.m.

Northumberland Ontario


Paul MacKlin LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-416, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Youth Criminal Justice Act (sentencing principles), which has been introduced by the hon. member for Portage--Lisgar. The bill focuses on the sentencing of aboriginal offenders and it would result in the removing of the obligation of the court to consider the particular circumstances of aboriginal offenders when passing sentence.

Let us look at the history. On July 13, 1995, Bill C-41 received royal assent. It was proclaimed in force in September 1996. In Bill C-41, Parliament for the first time set out the purposes and principles of sentencing. One of the new principles, found in section 718.2(e), was that:

...all available sanctions other than imprisonment that are reasonable in the circumstances should be considered for all offenders, with particular attention to the circumstances of aboriginal offenders.

The effect of this private member's bill would be to eliminate the specific reference to aboriginal offenders in the Criminal Code as well as in the Youth Criminal Justice Act. I cannot support this proposal.

The purpose of this provision is to encourage restraint in the use of imprisonment for all offenders. Codified for the first time in Bill C-41, the idea of encouraging restraint in the use of incarceration is not new. A white paper published under the authority of the then minister of justice in 1982 included in its “Statement of Purpose and Principles of Criminal Law” that “in awarding sentences, preference should be given to the least restrictive alternative adequate and appropriate in the circumstances”.

Restraint in the use of imprisonment has been endorsed by numerous other commissions and in various law reform reports. By the time Bill C-41 was debated, however, the need to consider restraint had been given increased importance as a result of Canada's high rate of incarceration when compared to those of other industrialized nations.

According to Council of Europe statistics published on September 1, 1993 for 1992-93, Canada incarcerated about 130 inmates per 100,000 people, compared to the range in western Europe of about 51 in Holland and 92 in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, the rate at which aboriginal Canadians were being incarcerated was even higher, in the neighbourhood of 785 per 100,000, or about six times the rate of the general population. It is worth noting that if aboriginal Canadians were jailed at the same rate as non-aboriginals, Canada's overall incarceration rate would be comparable to those in most western democracies.

There is a longstanding concern by the government and by the Parliament of Canada with the overrepresentation of aboriginal people in the criminal justice system. For example, this was addressed in “Taking Responsibility”, the 1988 report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Solicitor General; in the 1987 report of the Canadian Sentencing Commission; in the 1991 Department of Justice discussion paper, “Aboriginal People and Justice Administration”; in Law Reform of Canada Report 34, “Aboriginal Peoples and Criminal Justice”; in parliamentary debate on Bill C-41; and finally, in the Speech from the Throne on January 30, 2001, opening the first session of the 37th Parliament.

As I stated previously, section 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code applies to all offenders, not just aboriginal offenders. Parliament intended that it, along with the purpose and other principles found in section 718 of the Criminal Code, would breathe life into the notion of restraint in Canada. As I previously stated, the bill before us today would eliminate any reference to aboriginal offenders and I simply cannot support that change.

The purpose of including this specific reference to aboriginal offenders in the Criminal Code and more recently in the Youth Criminal Justice Act was to signal Parliament's concern over the especially high aboriginal incarceration rate and the socio-economic factors that contribute to this. It requires sentencing judges to be sensitive to these matters and for judges to consider the appropriate alternative sentencing processes, including restorative, culturally sensitive approaches such as sentencing circles, healing circles and victim-offender mediation.

There is no doubt that many of the accused who appear in our criminal courts exhibit some of the same socio-economic deprivations of poverty, substance abuse, lack of education and low self-esteem that one finds in all too many aboriginal Canadians. However, as the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed in its 1999 decision in Regina v. Gladue:

--aboriginal offenders differ from those of the majority because many aboriginal people are victims of systemic and direct discrimination, many suffer the legacy of dislocation, and many are substantially affected by poor social and economic conditions.

The court is therefore required to acknowledge that these special factors are to be considered and to consider what role they may have played in bringing that aboriginal offender before the court and to consider the full range of sentencing options that are appropriate in the circumstance. In other words, it provides an individualized sentence that is appropriate for both the offence and the offender. I fully support that approach.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that aboriginal people are vastly overrepresented in the Canadian criminal justice system. The government is continuing to make efforts to change this. However, the causes of overrepresentation involve complex social and economic factors of poverty, addiction and disadvantage. They are historical and not easily dealt with.

It appears that the courts are supporting the sentencing provisions in the Criminal Code that encourage restraint in the use of incarceration and I say for all offenders. However, the government continues to be concerned about the incarceration of aboriginal offenders and will continue to make efforts to ensure that aboriginals are not overrepresented in our prisons.

The references to aboriginal offenders in the Criminal Code and the Youth Criminal Justice Act are one part of the overall plan to reduce this overrepresentation. At the same time, the government is focusing on the root causes of crime so that long term changes will result. Examples are the funding of programs for aboriginals through the national crime prevention program, the aboriginal justice strategy and the youth justice renewal initiative.

The government is committed to working with aboriginal peoples to ensure that those changes we need within the system result.

Criminal CodePrivate Member'S Business

May 8th, 2003 / 5:55 p.m.


Madeleine Dalphond-Guiral Bloc Laval Centre, QC

Mr. Speaker, you are obviously well aware of how equally frustrating and gratifying the work of parliamentarians can be. The frustration comes when we work tirelessly on something very important to us, but when the results, for one reason or another, are slow in coming or, sometimes, never materialize. The gratification comes when these same efforts, no matter how long it takes, produce results that improve the quality of life of our constituents. For the past several years, the Bloc Quebecois has been intensely experiencing both emotions with regard to the young offenders issue, a subject directly affected by Bill C-416, which we are debating today.

When the federal government decided to go forward with Bill C-7, the Bloc did not waste any time in advising the federal government of the inherent dangers of such legislation for Quebec. Once again, I want to salute the untiring efforts of our former colleague, the former member for Berthier—Montcalm, the hon. Michel Bellehumeur, a Court of Quebec judge.

Quebec's system of dealing with young offenders is recognized as the most effective in the country. Since 1991, the crime rate among young Quebeckers has dropped by 23%. Everyone involved in the system in Quebec agrees that our approach, oriented toward reintegration rather than repression, should not be modified by any federal legislation.

Nevertheless, as we know, there are none so deaf as those who will not hear. Unfortunately, that too often describes the federal government which, once again has chosen to ignore our party's objections and reject the consensus from Quebec. Despite all our efforts, the Minister of Justice has decided to proceed with utter disregard for our recommendations. That is, in short, why we are so frustrated with this issue.

We had to wait two years before receiving any gratification or recognition for our considerable efforts. Recently the Quebec court of Appeal agreed with the Government of Quebec in a unanimous opinion concluding that certain provisions of the federal Youth Criminal Justice Act, formerly the Young Offenders Act, are contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Last week, the federal Minister of Justice decided not to appeal this decision, thus recognizing that he must amend his legislation, as the Bloc Quebecois suggested two years ago. It is easy to imagine the time, energy and money that we could have saved if this government had had the wisdom to recognize the relevance of our arguments. And to think that some people still question the relevance of the Bloc Quebecois.

While we were celebrating this victory, another political party in this House, the Canadian Alliance—the official opposition, to top it off—demanded that the government appeal this judgment. According to them, the decision by the Quebec Court of Appeal weakens the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Far be it from me to speak ironically—it is not my style. Still, their position on this issue confirms that they are not yet ready to make inroads into Quebec. I can predict in advance that the next electoral struggle in Quebec will be between the Bloc and the Liberal party.

It is therefore not surprising that we are here today debating a private member's bill, C-416, which is one again trying to tighten up the young offenders system. This time the Canadian Alliance is deliberately targeting aboriginals by trying to amend both the Criminal Code and the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The purpose is to deliberately deny the particular conditions in which a number of aboriginal youth live. Let us see specifically what Bill C-416 proposes to amend.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act states the following at subsection 3(1)( c )(iv):

within the limits of fair and proportionate accountability, the measures taken against young persons who commit offences should

respect gender, ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences and respond to the needs of aboriginal young persons and of young persons with special requirements;

Now, in Bill C-416, this would read as follows:

(iv) respect gender, ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences;

You heard right: the specific needs of aboriginal youth are deliberately excluded from the factors the judge will take into consideration. Yet the bill does recognize that certain differences do have to be taken into consideration, but those differentiating aboriginal youth do not seem to be important enough.

Could we have an explanation as to what that political party has against the aboriginal community and the recognition of the specific nature of certain nations in this country? Hard to explain, and even harder to understand.

How can a party with its main base in the west of this country ignore the particular living conditions, often very precarious ones, of the native communities? According to the 1996 census, over half of the aboriginal people in Canada live in the western provinces and territories. Why then act as if they knew nothing about the living conditions of aboriginal people and how radically different they are from those of non-aboriginal people?

The census I referred to also reported that the average annual income of Canadians over the age of 15 years was $25,196, while for aboriginal people it was $14,283. I need hardly point out that such poverty generates violence and despair. It would, therefore, be normal for a judge to be required to take this into consideration when reaching a sentencing decision.

Another example shows the distress frequently facing young aboriginals, starting at a very early age. I am referring here to the haunting images of young Innu from Davis Inlet sniffing gas. The federal government had to implement a special assistance program to remedy this serious dependency that hinted at much greater problems, such their lack of hope, poverty, social isolation and its effects.

In a legal sense, the amendment contained in Bill C-416 has no logical justification, particularly under the case law developed under paragraph 718.2( e ) of the Criminal Code. In the R. v Gladue decision [1999], later confirmed by the R. v Wells [2000] decision, the court determined that this section does not alter the fundamental duty of the sentencing judge to impose a sentence that suits both the offence and the offender, but that the sentence must include a consideration for the community context of the aboriginal offender.

The judge is obliged to consider the unique systemic or background circumstances or aboriginal heritage. Furthermore, in section 36 of the R. v Wells decision, Justice Iacobucci stated and I quote:

—that sentencing judges should pay particular attention to the fact that the circumstances of aboriginal offenders are unique in comparison with those of non-aboriginal offenders.

In conclusion, it is important to clearly understand that the sections in question do not give preferential treatment to aboriginals as the Canadian Alliance is claiming, but rather propose an individualized treatment for each specific case, which must not be taken out of context. If this continues to be applied in a mandatory fashion when it comes to ethnic, cultural, linguistic and gender differences, why should there be a double standard when it comes to young aboriginals.

As the Bloc Quebecois has been saying from the start, there has to be an individualized approach, based on reintegration rather than repression. Obviously, we will not support Bill C-416, and we will be voting against it when the time comes.

Criminal CodePrivate Member'S Business

6:05 p.m.


Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak to private member's Bill C-416, a bill to amend the Criminal Code and the Youth Criminal Justice Act. For the benefit for those who may have just joined the debate, this is an enactment that proposes to amend the Criminal Code and the Youth Criminal Justice Act by removing the obligation of the court to consider the circumstances of aboriginal offenders when imposing a sentence.

I listened carefully to the Alliance member who introduced the bill. I wanted to hear the principal argument for putting forward the kind of amendments he seeks. Once again it seemed to me that it reflected a quite worrisome disrespect for the important and sensitive role of the judiciary. We heard that this morning in the Alliance opposition day business where there was an attempt, I think, to utterly discredit the Supreme Court of Canada. I know part of the purpose behind that motion was to slam the Liberals along the way, but it showed a real disrespect for the roles of interpretation and bringing to bear experienced, sound judgment, accumulated wisdom and sensitivity to the general public in the conduct of those various roles, including that very difficult task of fair sentencing.

We see a bill that contributes absolutely nothing to the elimination or the reduction of crime. It is just a total preoccupation with the results of crime. It does absolutely nothing to improve the correction system, which begs for reform and adequate resources with which to do the job that it is charged to do, and it does absolutely nothing to develop a healthier society. If that member and his party were actually concerned about the prevention of crime, then one would hope they would focus on what needs to be done to not only ensure fair and even-handed treatment, but also to get at the conditions that contribute to the crimes about which that party proposes to be so concerned.

Once again, rather than focusing on the causes of crime or the adverse circumstances affecting the daily lives of far too many aboriginals, we see the Alliance wasting the time of the House debating a measure that will contribute absolutely nothing in the way of a solution to these fundamental problems.

There is another regrettable aspect to the problem which we are being invited to address in the amendment proposed by the Alliance. The Alliance is characteristically being utterly reactive rather than proactive in dealing with the issue of crime as it occurs in the aboriginal community. The Liberals have done the same. They too have been reactive. They too have failed to be proactive in addressing the question of the incidence of crime among aboriginal Canadians. They actually amended the legislation in the first place to deal with the particular circumstances of aboriginal offenders.

While the Alliance Party wants to do away with the amendment introduced by the Liberals, there surely is cause for some consternation. Neither the Liberal Party, the governing party, nor the Alliance are really proposing measures that will resolve the underlying causes of crime, particularly among aboriginal youth.

Why do they always choose to focus instead on the after the fact issues such as sentencing rather than getting serious about the prevention of crime and ameliorating the underlying causes of crime within a particular community?

I have to say parenthetically it is that same failure with respect to the government's priority in introducing and trying to drive through the first nations so-called governance act, which has so enraged the overwhelming majority of Canadians and most particularly and understandably, aboriginal Canadians

It is not that aboriginal Canadians do not see that there is always the need to try to create greater transparency and greater accountability with respect to the use of resources and taking responsibility for decisions that are made on behalf of aboriginal people. However it is utterly frustrating, to the point of it being enraging, for a great many aboriginal Canadians when the government thinks this is the priority. There are so many issues from the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples that remain completely on the shelf gathering dust and that scream for urgent attention.

This falls somewhat within the same category. What is becoming clearer is the Liberal government is really a false friend of aboriginal Canadians in this respect. The clause introduced by the Liberals is, in a way, an admission that Canada's aboriginal people ought not to expect things to get very much better. It is like saying to them that many of them will continue to live in frustration, despair, dire poverty and far too often without opportunity and hope, but they should not worry about it. That will taken into account when the government decides how long to sentence them to prison when the time comes, when the predictable and inevitable higher rates of crime occur among aboriginal Canadians.

Meanwhile, the Alliance is claiming that aboriginal people are getting off too lightly. In the end I would have to say that it is like two sides of the same coin. Both the Liberals and the Alliance get an issue they can try to play to their mutual political advantage. Whether it is Liberal inaction or Alliance out and out discriminatory attitudes and downright prejudice, victims of crime, Canadian communities and aboriginal people continue to suffer.

Finally, any allegation that the Criminal Code extends preferential treatment to aboriginals is simply unfounded and manipulative of the public's understanding of the facts. What the code does permit is for judges to adopt the sensitivity and the understanding required when sentencing, in this instance when sentencing aboriginals. This degree of understanding is not extended because the justice system favours aboriginals but because it allows judges to implement sentences that are more fully contemplative and achieve the public and individual good. This specific discretion protects the public by allowing judges to impose sentences that are tailored to the rehabilitation needs of a particular segment of society, rather than confining a judge's discretion to imposing a one size, fits all punishment, that ignores the needs and realities of a particular individual group or community.

In case it is not already evident, it is not my position nor that of my colleagues to support Bill C-416. It has nothing to offer in terms of dealing with the real fundamental problems of crime and it will not change anything to the advantage of the broader community or of the aboriginal community. Supporting this bill would only lend credibility to those who wish to conceal and manipulate the real issues for their own political advantage.

Criminal CodePrivate Member'S Business

6:15 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-416 would amend the Criminal Code and the Youth Criminal Justice Act by removing the obligation of a court to consider with particular attention the circumstances of aboriginal offenders when imposing a sentence.

We are not supportive of this type of amendment. It is imperative we recognize social and cultural differences. This recognition is not a type of reverse discrimination. The Criminal Code and the Youth Criminal Justice Act recognition of the societal differences does not prevent a judge, during the sentencing process, from examining the same type of differences for non-aboriginal people. We have to put that on the record.

The bill brings to light a very serious issue. If positive discussion stems from this debate, not that we always have to agree with the other member, it will come in the form of recognition that there are societal and cultural differences and that they have to be acknowledged.

The debate today centres around what would be an amendment to the new Youth Criminal Justice Act. We have spoken on that act here many times. Arguably one of the most important tasks that we could undertake in this place is to put in place a more effective and more accountable system of criminal justice for youth.

As legislators, we have to be very adamant about recognizing that no bill will satisfy everyone. The Youth Criminal Justice Act was intended to simplify and streamline a system so that young people, in particular, their parents and those who are tasked with the enforcement of youth criminal justice, would be able to work in a more suitable and responsive fashion, in a way that would be quick to adapt to the changing times and the way in which young people found themselves facing tough decisions, which would lead to their involvement in the criminal justice system.

The intent clearly is to somehow codify a system that will allow for early intervention which will allow for the proverbial pre-emptive strike in dealing with young people when they are making those decisions that challenge the law.

Sadly, in the Youth Criminal Justice Act what we have done is put layers on top of layers and have created a system that will result in numerous delays in our court challenges.

The new approach that was supposed to achieve so much had exactly the opposite effect. It will result in delays, which follow that old legal maxim that “justice delayed is justice denied”. This system will not allow young people and their parents, in particular, to grasp what is happening.

Many who work in the system would certainly agree that accountability and responsibility are paramount to any youth justice system. What this does is separate that nexus or that bond of accountability.

What we are doing is trying to somehow codify this system of discretion, telling police that they can now issue warnings, that they can now issue cautions and that those have to be written up in a certain way. We are superimposing these responsibilities in an artificial way, telling police that they must be counsellors and caseworkers and that they must document all of this, do the paperwork and spend less time on the street and more time being administrators and paper shufflers.

This imposition, on top of the current responsibilities of law enforcement and the demands upon the men and women who are currently carrying out that important task, is, I suggest again, a great deal of delay and a great deal of unnecessary, unsubstantiated work that is currently outside the realm of police work in terms of what they should be concentrating on in their efforts.

There are a number of flaws in this bill. However, the amendment passed by the Senate last year does manage to shed light on a very serious problem that can be found not only in the youth system but the Canadian justice system at large. Noting differences for differences' sake only is unacceptable.

What we see in the Youth Criminal Justice Act is a recognition of the inherent differences that do exist sadly on native reserves in the country. The fact of the matter is that there are social and economic differences and the consequences of those for our young people are very acute.

The problems on our reserves are very serious and highlight some of the inequities throughout the entire country. These differences need to be addressed. The inclusion of the recognition of how those circumstances differ is an important one for the courts to consider not only through the adjudication process but when considering sentencing.

This is not equivalent to the solution. It is simply a reminder to those in the judiciary that this has to be taken into account. If there is one positive note that can come from the debate today, it is that the bill as proposed by the member for Portage—Lisgar demonstrates that the societal differences between aboriginal and non-aboriginal youth are officially recognized.

I admit that justice should be blind to race. It should be blind to ethnicity and it should be blind to gender. In a perfect world we would not need this stated but this is not a perfect world. Those societal inequities remain and are evident today.

These directions are in the Criminal Code and the new Youth Criminal Justice Act. I would submit that we have to be consistent between the youth and the adult system; we have to have similar protection under this new youth criminal act.

Statistics and studies have consistently shown that there are disproportionate numbers of aboriginal youth incarcerated in our system. I do not believe that there is a race or ethnicity issue associated with the particular clause we are considering.

The addition of aboriginal recognition during youth sentencing is consistent with current Criminal Code provisions. It is not about specializing the interests of the accused or the victim. It simply puts in the legislation a recognition that the situation in which aboriginal people find themselves today is worthy of note in coming to a conclusion as to what the appropriate sentence is that is meted out by the sentencing judge.

Some have argued that it is in and of itself discriminatory to have a clause like this in the Criminal Code. Yet in our justice system we have to recognize that the courts have made an important pronouncement. It was alluded to in Regina v. Gladue which set out clearly what we can improve upon regarding aboriginals and our legal system, a recognition of their circumstances.

I had the opportunity today to read that Supreme Court ruling in Regina v. Gladue. I wish I had time to quote from it but the fact is it reinforces some of the message which I think we are trying to put out on at least this side of the House, that the discrimination the member is trying to address in the bill is not an issue that is worthy of debate or in terms of changing the existing law because the fact is it is something that is always considered by judges. For example, for young people who grow up in a poor family, a family that is ravaged by alcohol or drug abuse, that is always considered by the judge in handing down a sentence, whether they are aboriginal or non-aboriginal.

In this particular court ruling the judge clearly outlined that in many cases the punishment that is handed down to aboriginals is more severe because of the conditions that might have surrounded that particular case.

We cannot support this effort by the member from Manitoba. We think it is very narrow in its scope. We do not believe it would be a positive move by us to endorse that type of legislation and we will be voting against it.

Criminal CodePrivate Member'S Business

6:25 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Understanding of course that we began private member's hour with the mover of the motion who is from the Canadian Alliance and having heard representation from each party, I will go back to the Canadian Alliance for the final seven minutes left in this hour today.

Criminal CodePrivate Member'S Business

6:25 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to speak to this private members's bill. I commend my colleague from Portage—Lisgar for getting this item to the floor and calling it to the attention of the House to debate and when the time comes, for the committee to take a close look at.

Back in 1996 when this first became part of the Criminal Code, I spent a couple of years following it in Indian affairs work, going across the land with grassroots natives and trying my best to help at that level wherever I could. What the last speaker from the Conservative Party and the previous speaker from the NDP neglected to think about or to consider is what I heard following the inclusion of that particular statement in the Criminal Code.

It was the aboriginal women particularly across the country. My colleague from Okanagan—Shuswap was there and he heard the same thing. The cry was from the victims who are the majority of the people who are offended by aboriginal offenders. It is usually another aboriginal individual who suffers from the crime that has been committed. They were quick to respond to this particular inclusion in the Criminal Code with, “Why are we treated as second class citizens? Offenders are people who offend us, people who violently attack us. Why are we not considered as important as someone who is not aboriginal and is a victim of crime?”

That is a very good point. It is a point that the last speaker from the Conservative Party completely pushed aside. He did not talk about that.

Today in the parking lot that my colleague from Okanagan—Shuswap and I had the opportunity to meet a couple of ladies we had worked with in the past in regard to accountability on the reserves. They were in front of the Parliament Buildings and we talked with them. I mentioned that this was coming up again. They were quite pleased that there would once again be an effort to try and bring some equality in for them.

This is about equality. It is not about that judges should not take into account the past and the backgrounds of everybody who gets charged with a crime. They do that. Generally speaking they do that across the board for everyone and they should. Certainly as the member from the PC Party said, there are big differences in some of those backgrounds. There is no doubt about it. They do have to take them into account.

I attended one trial on behalf of some families from Saskatchewan back in those years when that first came out. A young aboriginal person, 18 years of age, had hit a carload of youth from Saskatchewan and had killed four people. He was charged with driving while intoxicated and negligence causing death. After many months of being in court, the young fellow was found guilty. He even pleaded guilty but it took quite a while to get the conviction. Then they waited for the sentencing. They wanted a pre-sentence report.

When the families came back to see what was going to happen to this young fellow, the judge called to their attention that this particular clause had been added to section 718 of the Criminal Code and even he was not sure what it meant. His words were, if I remember them correctly “I am going to have to delay the decision because we have this new inclusion in 718 and I am not sure what it means”. All the families had to go back home to Saskatchewan and then return in 30 days while he considered the fact that the offender in this case was aboriginal.

During this time, people, including the aboriginal people I was dealing with, could not understand why someone who would break the law would be given any kind of consideration based on their race, that it was a race based inclusion, that yes, the background of the individual who is being charged should be examined.

What can we do to help prevent these things in the future? That has to be part of the big picture. That was what we were trying to do when we went from reserve to reserve looking for solutions that would help solve the problems of severe poverty, underemployment, drug addiction and all that.

There is no doubt that has to happen. We want it to happen. It also has to happen in other communities that are non-aboriginal. I know that we have problems in our major cities across the land in certain areas. A lot of times the background contributes to people committing an offence.

All hon. members should remember that the fact remains that the majority of victims of aboriginal perpetrators are aboriginal people. These victims are the ones who have asked “Why are we treated differently? Why is it somebody who offends us is treated in a softer manner if he is aboriginal?” They are right. I do not think anyone who has spoken from any other party has even thought about that. They certainly did not mention it in any of the speeches that I heard today.

The member for Portage--Lisgar has heard this very cry from the people who live on reserves. Why should the criminal be treated any differently because the victims are aboriginals? Why should they be second class victims, were their words. I have to agree with them.

I commend the member for Portage--Lisgar for bringing this issue to our attention. I hope that the House and the people who have spoken will stop to consider all aspects of this and the problems it is causing. It is not necessary. I certainly support the private member's bill as presented.

Criminal CodePrivate Member'S Business

6:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

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

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, last week I raised a question with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. I did not agree with his answer and of course we have the right to put such complaints on the late show and get our chance to discuss them in more detail.

Unfortunately what happens quite often is that the minister to whom we want to speak and from whom we want to try to elicit answers does not show up to defend himself. He or she sends in some parliamentary secretary with a prepared response, sometimes with no connection to the question.

However, this evening I notice that we do have a parliamentary secretary, the member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, who is familiar with the situation and that makes a bit of a difference. I accept the member being here to respond on behalf of the minister as I know the minister is busy and because the member for Beauséjour—Petitcodiac is on our Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, has been there for quite some time and is knowledgeable about what we are talking about here.

However, I suggest to him that when I finish my couple of minutes, instead of reading for me the response the minister's department gave him, I want him to throw it out and give us some feeling of what he thinks about the situation.

The question I raised with the minister concerned the shutdown of the Atlantic cod fishery, particularly in the northern and southern gulf and the northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. I basically asked the minister why he did not listen to the people.

Every politician in Newfoundland, including the government led by the premier, the opposition led by the opposition leader, the NDP, its leader and other member, the senators from Newfoundland, all the MPs from Newfoundland and just about every agency that I am aware of, came together and submitted one report to the minister on what he should do in relation to the fishery. That was before he made his decision.

The chair of that committee when it first started was the minister responsible for ACOA. The report was unanimous, something that never happened before in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador, I suppose, and might never happen again. The group suggested to the minister better ways of addressing the declining stocks rather than just closing the fishery and throwing out a handful of goodies.

Did the minister listen? Did the minister come up with a concrete plan? Did the minister try to involve all those affected? The answer is no. He closed the fishery and tried to give them a handful of goodies.

This is not acceptable. It is not a matter of us saying that we should not address declining stocks. Absolutely, we should have addressed them long ago, and if we had had a joint management board where we had some management at the local level we probably would have and could have.

However, it did not happen and we are in a serious situation. The issue has to be addressed, but our main concern is that we should be involving those directly affected in a positive, proactive way, not in a negative way. We should not be telling them to get out of the fishery and saying, “Here are Canada Works programs”. Let us involve them in science research. Let us address the seal situation. Let us address the foreign overfishing. Let us address the bycatch. Let us deal with all the issues and not just tell some fishermen, “You can't fish. Here is a handful of goodies, now be satisfied”. It does not work that way.

There has to be a better approach. Collectively we can find it, but not if the minister is going to make a decision and say that is it.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Beauséjour—Petitcodiac New Brunswick


Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member from St. John's. His kind comments as he began his statement made me think that his long parliamentary experience, both in this House and in the Newfoundland House of Assembly where he served in many roles, gives him a great knowledge of fisheries issues.

In the two and a half years since I came to this place, I have had a chance to get to know the member for St. John's West on the fisheries committee and to appreciate his good nature and his sense of humour but also to appreciate his very considerable understanding of the Newfoundland fishery. I have learned a great deal from him from the discussions we have had at the committee and also from having heard the many witnesses that he and other members from Newfoundland and Labrador encouraged the committee to meet with in the lead-up to this very difficult decision.

But I also recognize a trap, with his knowledge of the issue and the complicated debate surrounding this question, in his inviting me to depart from some careful remarks that I have pondered and that were prepared by those who have a very considerable knowledge of this question. I will go some distance to accommodate him, but I will not respond entirely to the trap he set.

Like the minister and the member for St. John's West, I represent coastal communities. I am fortunate that not many of the fishers in my constituency are dependent on groundfish, on cod. That is not the case for the members from Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and other provinces. I have a deep understanding of the importance of the coastal fishery for these many communities, but I also understand, as I know the member does, that sometimes the minister has to make very difficult decisions in the name of conservation.

The minister's decision to completely close the northern cod fishery and the southern cod fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of these very difficult decisions.

However, I know that it was made for the right reasons. The information we have on these stocks indicates that their condition has not improved. The scientific assessment presented to the minister paints a very bleak picture when it comes to the future of these stocks.

To compound the difficulty, the scientific information given to the minister indicated that high mortality and low production of juveniles is slowing the growth of the adult population. All three of these stocks are below the levels where harm is serious and it may be very hard to reduce this trend.

The latest scientific assessment was unprecedented in its nature and scope and that is reassuring. A very considerable effort was made to ensure that the scientific advice involved over 70 scientists from DFO, fisheries managers, participants from the fishing industry and experts from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Iceland. The data does not come from vessels from Canada alone.

When the minister made this difficult decision in the name of conservation, he also announced, with the minister of state for ACOA, who has done a remarkable job in ensuring that these coastal communities have some short term measures while the government prepares a longer term response, a $44 million investment to provide assistance to those affected.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Loyola Hearn Progressive Conservative St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, perhaps with your good graces, seeing that neither the Leafs or the Canadiens are playing tonight and you are not in a rush and I am not in rush, we could extend this debate. However, perhaps you would not agree with that.

The decision make by the minister does not help the fishers of Newfoundland and Labrador. It does not help anyone.

Nobody is helped by the decision that the minister made. It is a quick fix for the department. If the minister had said, “We are going to close or cut back”, that would have helped. What was asked for was that a partial fishery be kept open. Because while the minister says, “You cannot fish, Mr. Fisherman or Madam Fisherman or Fisherperson”, all he is going to do with the seal herds that are ballooning is to study them for two more years. The government is not going to address foreign overfishing at all; he did not mention it. It is not going to talk about bycatch or directed fisheries or gear types. It is just going to say, “You don't fish”.

If the fishery had been kept open to the point where people could be involved, they could be monitoring what is going on, they could be involved in research, they could be involved in dealing with the seal program, and they could be involved in experimental fishing, and everybody would be happy. The minister would be a hero. It can still be done. The question is, will the minister revisit the decision?

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.


Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, the member for St. John's West was at committee when the minister was there on the estimates. He was asked very precisely if he would revisit the decision and the minister gave a very clear answer at that time.

He said that he would only revisit the decision if he had subsequent information which indicated to him that the decision he took, with considerable difficulty and a great deal of consideration, was the wrong one. The minister said that he has not been convinced by what he has heard and that in spite of the difficulty this decision has caused it was based on sound information, a great deal of consideration having been given to options, and in the best interests of conservation.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise tonight and expand on a question that I asked the Minister of National Defence on February 7, 2003.

As Canadian Forces Base Camp Petawawa makes its home in my riding of Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke, members from all sides of the House will appreciate the sincere and profound interest I take in the well-being of the women and men who serve in the Canadian armed forces, as well as that of their dependants. I wish to congratulate and give thanks to the men and women who have performed so well in making do with years of federal cutbacks.

As Petawawa is the former home of the now disbanded Canadian Airborne Regiment, I take an equal interest in Joint Task Force 2, JTF2, because many of the former members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment have either served or are now serving in the JTF2.

We treat our military neighbours as family and it was in that context that I asked my question of the minister.

The federal government has sought to avoid accountability when it comes to talking about JTF2, under the guise of national security. This excuse is not acceptable in a democracy. Secret military organizations have no place in Canada and it is accepted in other democratic countries that the public has a right to know.

This is why public scrutiny, particularly when government is responding to questions from the official opposition, is important for democracy to work in Canada. The scrutiny that is provided by the official opposition improves democracy and it is with that fact in mind that if the government is sincere about a commitment to JTF2 as an important strategic asset it will be more forthcoming about what is happening in JTF2.

While the minister refuses to officially acknowledge the fact, there is a high burnout and stress rate within the JTF2 unit. The purpose of my question was to address that fact.

The chief of the defence staff has confirmed an expansion in the capabilities of JTF2 and the government was quick to confirm an increase in the budget of JTF2. However, there was a lack of response when it came to the soldiers who serve in JTF2. The unit is suffering from a manpower shortage.

Canadians are aware of the efforts to recruit the unit and that it was necessary to lower recruitment standards to try to overcome the attrition rates. It is a sad reflection on the problem of recruitment to JTF2 that Canadian Forces members privately refer to JTF2's inadequate training facility on Upper Dwyer Hill Road in the City of Ottawa as divorce university. Equally as serious is the fact that the specialized training and the secrecy inherent in clandestine missions means long periods of separation from loved ones.

The second part of my question dealt with the lack of manpower to fill an increasing number of commitments due to the government's decision to put JTF2 in charge of more missions, using it to deflect criticism away from the overall deteriorating rate of our military. Expecting individuals to run flat out all the time means they burn out sooner.

If Canada is going to commit JTF2 on a regular basis to an increasing number of missions, it needs the manpower to do it. In the past, the minister has talked about being more open about JTF2 and sharing some of the exploits of the little known group. Today would be a good day to act on those promises.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Beauséjour—Petitcodiac New Brunswick


Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Renfrew--Nipissing--Pembroke for her interest not only in the men and women who serve at CFB Petawawa but also her genuine interest in JTF2. She has asked questions about JTF2 in the past. She is on the defence committee. She does have a genuine interest in the welfare of the men and women of our forces, particularly those who serve in that elite unit and for that I thank her.

The House will know that in budget 2001 the government increased by more than $1.2 billion the amount of money invested in the defence portfolio. The budget also demonstrated the government's strong commitment to address the challenges posed by the terrorist incidents of September 11.

The security measures funded in budget 2001 were aimed specifically at meeting the new terrorist threat. For example, new funds were dedicated to intelligence, biological and chemical protection, emergency preparedness and anti-terrorism. In that context budget 2001, as the member knows, also called for an increase in the capacity of JTF2 to better respond to Canada's new security needs both at home and abroad.

To successfully fulfill its role and mission, JTF2 is trained to very high and exacting physical and mental standards. These standards will never be compromised. The idea that somehow these standards were lowered as a means of recruiting people simply is not an accurate reflection of what has happened. As the hon. member knows full well having been on the defence committee longer than I have, revealing operational information around JTF2 and its training details in our view puts current and future missions of this unit in jeopardy and the safety of the members of this unit at jeopardy.

This is not an issue of accountability and democracy; to continue the fisheries analogies of before, that is a red herring. The member knows it would be irresponsible of the government to provide details of training practices, of training programs, of operation missions.

One thing I can tell the member is that JTF2 performs a remarkable role in protecting Canadians. I had the chance to go to Afghanistan, to Kandahar with the Minister of National Defence last summer. We heard from many of our allies serving there of the remarkable work that these dedicated professionals have done. Kandahar was not, as some people and the hon. member might believe, some kind of Hollywood training exercise. These professional soldiers had earned praise from all of the other allies with whom they had come into contact.

To say that there is a recruitment and retention problem in JTF2 is to misrepresent the challenge that all organizations, including national defence, have with respect to recruitment and training. However there has been enormous progress and very positive recruitment initiatives undertaken in the Canadian Forces. I can assure members that JTF2 will continue to do the remarkable work it has done in preserving and protecting the security of all Canadians.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Canadian Alliance Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, yes, the budget increases for the military are sorely overdue. The member opposite repeated that the government is increasing the capacity of JTF2, not increasing the numbers. What that means is the people who are already there are expected to do more, and that is where we are getting the burnout from.

We ask the questions on JTF2 for the purpose of accountability. We do not ask operational questions.

The shadow of secrecy is totally unnecessary. The United States Delta Force lets the public know what is going on. They are not holed up on some separate military base all on their own. They are part of a full base so that the dependants of those soldiers who are asked to go overseas without even speaking to their spouses or loved ones for months on end are within the military community where there are the resources and people to help them and others who know what their circumstances are, so they do have that support base. As well as being part of a larger base, they have access to the services on the base, medical and psychological help. That is what these people need.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.


Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I hope there is no misunderstanding with respect to what the member refers to as a cloak of secrecy put over JTF2. The only reason the government does not talk about the operational missions, the deployments and the military persons serving in this regiment is for their own safety, the safety of their families and the safety of the unit.

To somehow pretend that because there is not a large public viewing of all JTF2's operations that somehow the physical or mental health or the needs of these remarkable soldiers or of their very understanding families are not met simply is a misrepresentation. At all times the Canadian Forces looks after its members. We recognize that people who serve in this unit have special needs and those needs will continue to be met regardless of people's attempts to uncover great secrets that simply are not there.

Criminal CodeAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24.

(The House adjourned at 6:55 p.m.)