House of Commons Hansard #40 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was foreign.


The House resumed from April 22 consideration of the motion that Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act, be read the third time and passed, and of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:05 a.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to participate in today's debate on Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act.

As hon. members know, Bill C-12 proposes a number of criminal law reforms that seek: to better protect children against sexual exploitation, abuse and neglect; to facilitate testimony by child victims and witnesses and other vulnerable victims and witnesses in criminal justice proceedings; and to create a new offence of voyeurism. This last is an extremely important area. We have seen much of this in the media in recent years and I think every member in the House is concerned about this crime.

I believe that all of Bill C-12 is important and I support the whole of the bill. However, I will restrict my comments today to those provisions that respond to concerns relating to the age of consent to sexual activity.

The objectives of Bill C-12 on this issue are clearly articulated in the first paragraph of the preamble, which states:

Whereas the Parliament of Canada has grave concerns regarding the vulnerability of children to all forms of exploitation, including child pornography, sexual exploitation, abuse and neglect--

The focus of Bill C-12's response to concerns about the age of consent to sexual activity is on the exploitive conduct of the wrongdoer and not on whether the young person or victim consented to that conduct. I want to repeat that, because I think it is an extremely important part of the bill. The focus of Bill C-12's response to concerns about the age of consent to sexual activity is on the exploitive conduct of the wrongdoer and not on whether the young person or victim consented to that conduct. This is, in my view, both the right focus and the right response.

Voyeurism is an element of the bill that has not yet received much attention, but is one which I believe is important for the protection of a fundamental value of Canadian society, that is, the right to privacy.

Technology has made wonderful progress in recent years. It has simplified our lives by giving us tools that our grandparents never even dreamed of. The technological process has been particularly spectacular in the miniaturization of objects.

While new technologies have given us many advantages, they also have the potential to be misused. I think many of us recognize as we adapt to more and more technological change how that great technology can be abused and used against people.

One instance of this is the use that is made of miniature cameras. These cameras are so small that they can be easily hidden in any place. They may also be hooked up to a computer to enable a person to observe what happens in a room when that person is not only in another room but in another building.

These cameras are so small they can be almost hidden in a pen. We have seen that in terms of some of the science fiction shows and some of the crime programs. At one time we did not believe this was possible, but today it is, and we see this technology being used and used especially for voyeurism. It is an abuse of an individual's rights and it is an infringement on privacy.

Bill C-12 deals with that issue. The proposed creation of a new offence of voyeurism directly responds to this new threat on our privacy, the privacy of individuals. Of course, voyeurism is not new. There have always been what we call peeping Toms, who have observed others through a bedroom window or a keyhole. This conduct was dealt with by charging the person with the offence of trespassing or the offence of mischief. But these offences do not apply to the new ways in which voyeurism is now committed, hence the need for a specific offence of voyeurism.

The offence of voyeurism would have three elements. First is the observation or recording of a person in a surreptitious manner, which means that the person cannot reasonably be expected to see the person or the means of observing or recording.

Second, the person observed is in circumstances giving rise to reasonable expectations of privacy.

Third, one of the three following cases must apply. First, the person observed or recorded is in a place where one can reasonably expect a person to be in a state of nudity or engaged in sexual activity. I would think that a bathroom, a bedroom or a fitting room would qualify as such a place.

Second, a person is in a state of nudity or engaged in a sexual activity and the purpose of the observation or recording is to observe or record a person in that state.

Third, the observation or recording is done for a sexual purpose.

Bill C-12 would also criminalize the distribution of material obtained through voyeurism when the distributor knows that the material was obtained in this manner.

This new offence will not interfere with legitimate purposes. It will be a defence to a charge of voyeurism or distribution of voyeuristic material if the facts that constitute the offence served the public good and did not exceed what served the public good.

The bill would further protect the privacy of Canadians by providing for the seizure and forfeiture of voyeuristic material and deletion of such online material. This is an important element of Bill C-12. It protects a right that Canadians value dearly: their right to privacy.

We in this House have an obligation to ensure that Canadians' right to privacy is indeed protected. This is one more reason for the House to support the bill, in addition to the protection it will bring for children and other vulnerable people.

I want to take another moment and talk about Bill C-12 in its creation of the new category of prohibited sexual exploitation of a young person who is over the age of consent, that is, who is 14 years of age or older and under 18 years.

Under the proposed reform, courts will be directed to infer that a relationship is exploitive by looking to the nature and circumstances of the relationship, including the age of the young person, any difference in age, and the degree of control or influence exerted over that young person.

I understand that there continue to be calls to raise the age of consent for sexual activity. Why is this? As I understand them, these calls seem to be motivated by a number of different reasons.

For example, one reason sometimes given in support of raising the age of consent is that raising the age of consent to 16 or 18 will prevent others from forcing young persons into the sex trade. In response to this, I note that it is already an offence under the Criminal Code to force anyone under the age of 18 into prostitution. This offence carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years' imprisonment.

Another reason that is given seems to be related to different understandings of what is meant by sexual activity. Canadian prohibitions against sexual activity do not differentiate between sexual activity and sexual activity that involves sexual intercourse. I do not believe that Canadians think a 14 year old or 15 year old girl is not mature enough to freely make a decision to kiss her 17 year old boyfriend, nor do I believe that Canadians want to criminalize a 17 year old for kissing his 14 year old girlfriend. Whether we adults like it or not, the reality is that adolescents do engage in sexual activity.

Bill C-12 in whole is a bill that the House should support and support extensively. It creates new penalties and it creates new offences. At the end of the day, it would mean that we would more greatly protect the most vulnerable in our society. I encourage all members of the House to support Bill C-12.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, does the member who has just spoken in regard to child pornography believe that there will be offenders, distributors or people who manufacture this material and who have broken the law who will ever claim that they have engaged in this activity because it is doing some public good?

Does he not honestly believe that whenever a person is arrested for this and is not using it for educational or medical purposes or whatever, the person indeed will claim he is, as did one individual recently? A judge agreed with that.

Are we going to see a number of people arrested for and charged with this offence making the claim that it is for the public good? Does he believe that will not happen?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:15 a.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the public and I think the member well know that our position has been that the public interest is in fact a defence. Police officers and others can testify. I think there has to be balance in the bill so that the public interest is protected.

The whole thrust of the bill is to in fact deal with some of the issues that I congratulate the member opposite for raising concerns about. When I was solicitor general, he raised many of those concerns, legitimate concerns. I think this bill moves us forward in a balanced way toward protecting the public interest and dealing with those concerns, maybe not in exactly the way the member opposite wants to deal with them, but in a very positive and legitimate way.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

London West Ontario


Sue Barnes LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that this member chose to speak on a section of this particular bill that has not had a lot of discussion in this chamber and that is the concept of voyeurism.

Some of the questions that have been put to me, when people have talked about the bill have dealt with surreptitious observation. For instance, will the prohibition of surreptitious observation not prevent reporters from observing a person and reporting on it during an investigation, for example, a prostitution or child pornography ring?

It is really important that we understand that to commit the offence of voyeurism, journalists would have to meet all of the requirements of this particular offence. They would have to observe from a place where the persons observed cannot see them, or place a web cam in such a place. The persons observed would have to be in circumstances giving rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy, which means they must have reasons to believe that they are in a place where nobody can watch them, and journalists would have to observe at a place where we would expect persons to be nude or engaged in sexual activity, such as a bedroom or bathroom, or they would have to observe persons nude or engaged in sexual activity for the purpose of observing persons in that state.

So, if journalists are in plain view of the persons observed while the other conditions are met, the observation is not surreptitious, even though the persons do not know that they are journalists. On the other hand, if the defence were provided for voyeurism conducted in the context of investigative journalism, it would allow journalists to put cameras in the bedrooms and bathrooms of Canadians and there is a public good defence.

I am really pleased that the member noticed and talked about this public good defence that would be available to journalists to cover situations serious enough to justify using investigative techniques that constitute criminal voyeurism. It is really important that we do not blank it and say there are no defences.

The hon. member has mentioned the police. I would ask the member, why does Bill C-12 not include the specific journalistic defence for voyeurism and why is it covered by the public good?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her question. In response, all I can do is agree with what the hon. member has said.

She has outlined three points that journalists would have to meet in order to meet all the requirements of the offence. I think it is important to reiterate those points again for the record, because they are important points.

Journalists would have to observe from a place where the persons observed cannot them, or place a web cam in such a place. I believe the member mentioned that.

I outline these points because I think they are very important points. The persons observed would have to be in circumstances giving rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy, which means they must have reasons to believe that they are in a place where nobody can watch them. The last point is that journalists would have to observe in a place where we would expect persons to be nude or engaged in sexual activity, such as a bedroom or a bathroom, or they would have to observe persons nude or engaged in sexual activity for the purpose of observing persons in that state.

Therein lie the requirements to commit an offence of voyeurism. It is outlined fairly specifically. As I said earlier, the bill moves us ahead very considerably in the protection of the public interest. It is a good bill and indeed should be supported.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not believe the member understood the question I asked.

In Alberta a pedophile has been arrested and charged for having possession of numerous items of child pornography. This person is not a bona fide doctor, not a bona fide teacher, nor a police officer. He is just a pedophile who has a job doing something else. His claim is that this material that he uses at night with some of his friends and family members to study is for educational purposes.

I see this bill protecting this man. Is it not possible that there could be a crack in the legislation because of the words public good? Must those words be tied to the bona fide factor that somebody who is using it for public good must be bona fide for that medical, scientific, or law enforcement purpose, or whatever it might be?

Why does he want to leave it as open-ended “public good” so that even this pedophile in Alberta can make a claim that he is only educating parents in his home, in privacy, and he is not a bona fide anything? There is a crack in it.

I was not born yesterday, but I think this crack is going to widen in the same way when the courts with some judge determined that some child pornography had some artistic merit. We need to be careful. Why do we not slam the door shut on that and include only the bona fide people who are in the position of doing the right thing when they are using it for educational, medical, or law enforcement purposes.

We must not leave the words in there open ended so that anybody, as the person in Alberta who is not a bona fide anything except a pedophile who is enjoying this weird stuff with his weird friends in the evening, can claim that they are educating--

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

The Speaker

Order, please. The member for Wild Rose is going to leave no time for the hon. member for Malpeque to answer, so I will call on him now for a brief answer.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member for Wild Rose and I could banter back and forth on this point all day and we probably would not agree on it. We see the public good, as he defines it, the protection of public good, differently.

That is a legitimate debate in the House. We have outlined in the bill the intent of the bill. We believe the bill is specific enough to deal with the concerns that the member opposite has raised.

I recognize his concern, but I hope he would recognize as well our intent that this bill does deal, in a progressive way, with this serious crime and protects the interests of Canadians.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I hope that you will understand that I was not prepared to speak to this bill, but sitting here and listening to the debate has just given me a motivation to get up. I want to plead with the government members on the other side to support the amendment and send the bill back to committee so that it can get it right.

I am very concerned about this. As the House knows I am father and a grandfather. When I think of any pervert using either my children when they were younger--they are now over the age of 18--or now my grandchildren for sexual purposes, I cannot express the degree of repulsion that it gives me in my mind.

I am very concerned that the bill, while it is being advertised by the Liberals as being a bill to protect children, is inadequate, It says that it is an act to amend the Criminal Code for the protection of children and other vulnerable persons. It just does not go far enough.

I would like to voice my opinion with respect to the specific clause that has to do with the public good. I ask the Liberal members to give this consideration. Sure, the public good can be used for a defence in protecting law enforcement agencies, and people who are involved in research and that type of thing. Perhaps to some degree that is legitimate and we need to protect that. I agree with that.

However, when a pedophile or other pervert is found out and charged in court, I guarantee that he will roll out the defence of the public good. I would like to read from the bill. It states:

For the purposes of subsection (6),

(a) it is a question of law whether an act serves the public good and whether there is evidence that the act alleged goes beyond what serves the public good, but it is a question of fact whether the act does or does not extend beyond what serves the public good; and--

When I read that, Mr. Speaker, do you not have a bunch of questions in your mind as to what the meaning of that is? It is a question of law and it is a question of fact. It seems that it talks about exactly the same things; whether or not it serves the public good.

This is of course what lawyers in court spend hours on: is it a fact, is it true or is it false, is the evidence accurate and is it covered under law? I am certain that persons who are charged under this bill will stand up in court and say that they plead the public good. They will make all sorts of arguments. Freedom of speech is a public good, freedom of expression, and personal freedom to go and to do what one wishes is a public good. I can see them making those arguments, and to a degree, we all agree with that.

We live in a country where we can move about in freedom. We live in a country where for the most part we can do almost what we want. I know this is getting close to moralizing and I will probably be criticized for it. However, we have people who have the freedom to go into all sorts of places of so-called entertainment which is really nothing but obscene and very disrespectful, usually of females. We have those freedoms. That is considered in our society a public good. If we can argue that that is a public good, then it is not a very great step to argue that for me to observe this art form is a public good.

I would like to urge the members of Parliament to support the amendment. We have a very serious duty to protect children and other vulnerable persons, especially women, from this kind of abuse and assault.

I would like to urge the members to send this back to the committee and have the bill state explicitly what the public good is, so judges and lawyers do not have to spend a bunch of time on a technicality that finds these perverts and obscene people not guilty of the offence. I am not a lawyer so I am unable to discuss the details of the technical part of this. However, it is very evident to me in the wording of the bill that there is the question, whether it is a question of law or a question of fact.

I urge members of Parliament to exercise their authority. The new Prime Minister has said that he wants democratic improvement and that he wants to give MPs more power. I appeal to all members of Parliament on both sides of the House to exercise that authority in this instance. This is a very important bill. It needs to be passed, but it needs to be amended, corrected and fixed up before it is passed.

The other area with which we have considerable difficulty is the age of consent, and this ought to be corrected. It talks about young people under age 14. This is another travesty of justice in the country. It is deemed that a 14 or 15 year old can consent to all sorts of sexual activity with an older person. This law would only protect those under age 14.

I know 14 and 15 year old young people and they need the protection of the law. It says in the preamble of the bill that this is for the protection of vulnerable persons. People 14, 15, even 16 year olds are terribly vulnerable in our society. Why would we not as members of Parliament and as legislators do everything possible to protect them against exploitation? They are so vulnerable, and it happens every day.

We read about it in the papers and hear about it on television news. It is despicable. It is incredibly sad when I hear of the things that are done to these young people. They are drawn into a relationship of trust, either through the Internet or through personal contact. Then the laws says that they are over 14 so they can make these decisions. We need to ensure that their decisions are the right ones. At age 14 and 15 they are so vulnerable to being persuaded by a powerful older person who can talk them into it. This needs to be amended in the bill.

My appeal is very simple. It is sincere. It is very important in my view that the bill be passed, but only after these serious shortcomings are corrected. I would like to see the members of Parliament over there exercise their wisdom on the bill. God has given them the intelligence to say to the government that the bill is not good enough, that it needs to be fixed and then they will support it.

If those amendments were made, I would gladly and happily support this bill. However, passing this bill so the Liberals can go out on the campaign trail telling the people, in my view falsely, that they have addressed the issue of children's vulnerability when they have not is a gross injustice and one which we ought not to perpetrate in the House.

My appeal, therefore, is sincere and I wish people would respond positively.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.


Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, when I spoke on third reading debate, I also made an appeal to the House. Debate is wonderful. We have debated in the House, we have debated in committee and we have debated at report stage. I am appealing to the House to collapse the debate now so we can go on to the vote. We know another subamendment has been proposed to hoist this back to committee. What the country needs after debate is not just more debate, it really needs the bill.

I implore that hon. member. I understand his differences on the bill. His party has made them known. However, the bill has so many good provisions to help child witnesses, vulnerable witnesses and to address some of the issues that we have had to deal with legally in a respectful manner of the charter. I believe this side of the House and many people around the House feel that we have to respect the charter, but we have to do it by crafting a bill that complies with the charter and also helps with the travesty of when children are exploited.

That is my position, and I hope that the debate now ends. Would the member allow this debate to end so we can vote? The vote, as I say, is only on a hoist motion to take this debate back to committee. That is what he has asked for, so let us have that vote and democratically decide this issue.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether that member is a mother and a grandmother. I do not know about that part of her personal life. I spoke personally when I spoke to the bill, in view of my children, my grandchildren and their friends and other young people across the country of that age. I agree with the member that we ought to bring this to a vote, but will the Liberals support the amendment to send it back to committee?

The subamendment calls for the committee to report back by June 1. That is only a few weeks from now. We certainly can send it back to the committee, bring the bill back here, get it amended and fixed so that it actually does the job. The object is not to pass this bill, which is flawed. The object is to pass a bill which works.

I remember when I was an instructor at NAIT, one of my colleagues had a parchment on his bulletin board in his office that said, “If you don't have time to do it right, when will you find time to do it again?” This is my concern. We can pass the bill, but I presume the Liberals will vote against both the subamendment and the amendment because they want this bill to go through the way it is, with these serious flaws. I say no to that. The remedy is to send it back to committee, let it look at these things, let it amend the bill and send it back to the House. Then at least I would be most eager to pass the bill as quickly as possible.

Will I vote in favour of this flawed bill? The answer is no. The majority Liberal government over there will to jam through a bill which is inadequate and which does not protect our children. That is not good enough.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the words of the member who just spoke. I know they come from his heart.

I also appreciate the Liberal members talking about the good parts of the bill, and I agree. There are certainly some good things in the bill that we would like to see moved forward. However, I still believe the Canadian society and even people in the government do not realize how serious child pornography is in Canada and how many cases have been heard. People are being arrested daily.

In the last three week I have done a some research. There are a whole raft of charges that are to be laid against people who are involved in child pornography, pornography that hurts our children and puts them in a really dangerous situation.

We are asking for the bill to be to sent back so the child pornography part of it can be addressed. What good is it to have a law on child pornography, if it is allowed to exist in this land. Under the bill it definitely would be allowed to exist in the hands of those, and it should not. They will continue to exploit our children and they will use the two words left in the bill, “public good”, as a defence. We do not want that to have happen, and I am sure our colleagues over there do not want that either, but it will.

I have results of a lot of the cases where charges have been laid. I would like to ask my friend what he thinks about a number of examples I have. All of them, with the exception of one, are engaged in child pornography, downloading it, sharing it with friends and enjoying it in their evil ways. Those charged have received house arrest or community service and no jail time.

The headlines read, “No Jail Time in Kiddie Porn Case,” or “RCMP Officer Guilty of Sex Offences Gets House Arrest”. It goes on and on, case after case. These are daily occurrences throughout the land, not rarities. It happens continually, and has it become a billion dollar industry. People are profiting from this garbage.

We want it stopped. We want it stamped out. However, the bill contains two words that anybody could use as a defence. They might not be successful, but we have learned through the Sharpe case that some people can be successful.

Why would John Sharpe and other pedophiles across the land praise the Bill C-12 legislation if this were the real tough measure the government claims it to be?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Wild Rose has hit the nub of the problem, and that is there are loopholes in the bill that allow those who should be found guilty to argue in the courts and who probably would on this technicality go free with no jail time or restraint. They will still be out there in a position of abusing our most precious young people, our children.

It is interesting that our amendment posed by one of my colleagues my party, specifically mentions that. John Robin Sharpe has given a statement saying that this is a good bill. The person who has been charged with heinous crimes has said that this is a good bill because he can probably use it to get off. If that does not alert us as to what we are doing and the error we are making, then what will it take? I agree wholeheartedly with my colleague from Wild Rose that it is the loopholes in the bill that need to be corrected.

While the member opposite is saying that they want to collapse the debate so it can be voted on, I would like to emphasize that we indeed need to get to the vote, but the vote must be affirmative on both the subamendment and the amendment. We must say that the bill is to be sent back to the committee. The subamendment provides that the committee report back by June 1. That gives a very short timeline, but adequate to correct those serious flaws in the bill.

I urge members opposite, when it comes time to vote, to vote in favour of the subamendment and the amendment so we can do this one right.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Canadian Alliance Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to belabour this issue but I do want to raise a couple of points about it.

I must say that the Liberals' argument that this debate should collapse and that we need to rush this bill through is typical of the pre-election rush that I have seen on three occasions now since I have been in this place on bills that are not really expected to go through. Even if they pass here, are they expected to go through the Senate? It is unlikely. Are they expected to be proclaimed in law? Not this year. It is window dressing.

I saw it in the last Parliament with an aboriginal bill. We were told that if the bill did not pass all stages that day without debate, without going back to committee, it would be an injustice. I thought it was an injustice all right. It was an injustice to the aboriginal people who had to wait for the Liberals who waited until the last day of Parliament to try to get the window dressing bill through at all stages. They had been in office for seven or eight years and had all that time to get it through but they did not really want it to pass.

What we have in this bill, and this is a common dilemma for opposition members, is a bill that at least recognizes the problems. It is called the child protection act. The name sounds right. Some of the stuff in the bill is good. We have said we agree with it, that we like the direction of it and so on. In this case, it is not the enemy of the good is the perfect; unless we get it right, this bill is not good enough.

Opposition members only get to vote yes or no on this. That is the problem. The Liberals want to push it through saying that we will try to fix it some other day. Over on this side we keep saying that if we do not get it right, then is it the right thing to do to approve it? We cannot say that we approve of seven-eighths of the bill, that it is seven-eighths affirmative. There is enough wrong with the bill that we want it sent back to committee and we want it fixed. I would urge the government to think of that.

I know what the Liberals will say if we vote against it, and we are going to vote against it because of the problems already cited. They will say that we are against child protection, which is utter nonsense. They just will not address the crux of the issue, the tough part of the bill, the part that Liberals cringe over, which is to actually come down firm on something and say that enough is enough. When it comes to child pornography and exploitation of children, we have to say that enough is enough.

I have brought this up in the House before. The government passed a bill several years ago, four or five years ago, about giving us the ability to prosecute people who go to foreign countries to abuse children, in other words, people who go on these so-called sex holidays somewhere and they find children and abuse them. It is incredible but it is true. It is a multimillion dollar business. For window dressing they passed a bill that allows people who engage in that kind of crime to be prosecuted. This is a good idea.

The question which then comes up is how many people have been prosecuted? It is a multimillion dollar business. There are thousands of people apparently involved in it. It is something that needs to be addressed and stopped.

When that bill came through, we warned the government. We said that the child protection act was a good idea but would it actually get the job done? We said, “We are warning you, it will not get the job done”.

How many people have been prosecuted under that bill? None. How many have been convicted? None. Has the sex holiday business been curtailed? No. Has it helped protect children here or in other countries? No.

What does it mean? It means that we put window dressing on it, we pretend to have addressed it and the problem continues. In fact it is worse because we have veiled our eyes from it and said, “We have addressed this. It must not be going on”. Meanwhile, the poor kids in Thailand or in other countries around the world get abused by so-called holidayers on this binge of theirs, instead of addressing it and saying to those people, “If you are a Canadian getting involved in this, we will pass judgment . You will be doing serious time for exploiting children, for abusing them sexually”. But it has not happened.

There are no successful convictions, not one. If there were one, while I might not say it was a job well done, one would be a good start on what should be probably dozens and dozens of charges and convictions. We should throw the fear of the Lord into those guys who want to use children that way.

It did not work because it was not right. That is the trouble with this bill. It is not right. It will not work. That is why Sharpe likes it. He just says, “Perfect, man, this is just what I need and I will use it again”. The lawyers are all lined up. Their charter arguments are in place. The legislation is already being looked through by those people who defend this type of abuser.

That is what is wrong with the bill. If it is not right, if it is not going to get the job done, then we in the opposition have an obligation to critique it and we have an obligation to vote against it. I wish I could vote for seven-eighths of it, but the part that is wrong makes the rest of it meaningless. We on this side of the House cannot approve something on which people could come back to us five years from now and say, “They are using this defence and they are getting off scot-free”.

It is the same thing as the bill that was supposed to get those sexual predators who go overseas and abuse children because the laws are more lax over there. They go over there and practise their ploys, and if members think that those people leave Thailand or some other place where they abuse children, and come back here and spend the next 50 weeks being good boys, I think not. That is when they start practising their ugly crimes against children in our own country. That is when they download pornographic pictures from the Internet, share them, print them, distribute them, exploit children and abuse them. They do not just go for a week's holiday somewhere and then come back and become angels, having gotten it out of their systems.

That was what was wrong with that bill, and that is what is wrong with this bill. It is not right. That is why we should send it back to committee until we get it right. That is why I will be voting against the bill and in favour of the amendments.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the bill talks about the public good and there is a bit of a definition of it. It says:

For the purposes of subsection (6), acts or material that serve the public good include acts or material that are necessary or advantageous to the administration of justice or the pursuit of science, medicine, education or art.

I have very little problem with it when it talks about public good including justice. Law enforcement agencies, lawyers and so on who are laying charges against an accused may have some of these images. It is legitimate. How about the pursuit of science, medicine and education? I suppose, to some degree, if one is training young doctors or nurses about anatomy, some of these things are not pornographic and they would be able to use that defence as having these things in their texts, et cetera, totally legitimately.

However I ask, and I do not usually use this word in my vocabulary but I use it now advisedly and correctly, what the hell is happening with arts? At what stage would the member say the public good is served by pornographic pictures of children in art? Where is the public good in that? I would like my colleague to give his impression of this definition.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am prepared to cede the floor to the hon. member for Fraser Valley if he has a very brief response, but I would suggest that we proceed to members' statements and then come back to the issue of the day following question period.

National Volunteer WeekStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, this being National Volunteer Week, I rise to pay tribute to the thousands of Canadians who give of their personal time to volunteer to help their neighbours and communities.

In rural communities volunteerism has quite literally been one of the pillars upon which our communities have been built. The helping of neighbours and the building of our rural communities would never have happened and could not be sustained without the contribution of those volunteers.

All those who volunteer give of their personal time, time away from family and businesses. These efforts deserve recognition and appreciation. Those who volunteer in emergency services where they sacrifice their time when called, assume personal risk, not to mention the risks to their business. It was in this spirit that Bill C-505, which will ensure equality under tax law for all emergency worker volunteers, was tabled in the House.

I recognize, congratulate and thank all volunteers.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deepak Obhrai Canadian Alliance Calgary East, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians in my riding of Calgary East are fed up with the Liberal government's culture of corruption.

What we now have is another abuse of taxpayers' dollars. In recent weeks, Liberal candidates have been spending taxpayers' dollars and not their own to buy votes. Between the turncoat member for Kings--Hants, the environment minister and the finance minister, they have doled out $225,000 so they can get re-elected.

Corruption, abuse of tax dollars and patronage are all becoming synonymous with the Liberal government. Canadians are getting sick of this.

In the upcoming election, it is bon voyage to the scandal plagued Liberal Party.

Senator Gérald-A. BeaudoinStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, Senator Beaudoin recently had to leave his seat in the upper chamber because he had reached the retirement age stipulated in the Constitution.

Appointed to the Senate on September 26, 1988, he carried out his role as a parliamentarian meticulously and with great dignity. During his career he has won a number of distinctions, including the Ramon John Hnatyshyn award for law in 1997 and the Walter S. Tarnopolsky award for human rights in 2002, and has been an officer of the Order of Canada since 1980. Senator Beaudoin has written a number of publications on constitutional law.

We are sad to see him leave the Senate and Parliament, but we are all confident that we will continue to benefit from his expertise. He is a great jurist, a loyal Canadian and will be known as a great senator. Thank you, Senator Beaudoin.

Arts and CultureStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Eugène Bellemare Liberal Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is World Book and Copyright Day and on April 26 it will be World Intellectual Property Day. These are two excellent opportunities to celebrate the contributions of all the Canadian creators who enrich our daily lives.

World Book and Copyright Day was created to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright.

World Intellectual Property Day serves as a reminder to promote and teach the importance of intellectual property as a tool for economic and cultural development. This year the theme is “Encouraging Creativity”.

I encourage all Canadians to show their appreciation for the talent and passion that all creators invest in their works to enhance our cultural experience.

Vancouver Kingsway ConstituencyStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Sophia Leung Liberal Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have had the honour to serve as the member of Parliament for Vancouver Kingsway for the past seven years. I want to congratulate all the residents in my riding, which is enriched by all the vibrant cultures in the world.

It has been a special privilege for me to work closely with many members of the community and various community organizations.

As their federal representative, I was able to seek government support in the areas of health, education, affordable housing, along with social support for families and senior citizens.

I was also able to seek government infrastructure money to build the Millennium Sports Facility and to rebuild the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House. Every summer I worked with HRDC to create 78 summer jobs for high school and college students.

Congratulations to the residents of Vancouver Kingsway for their efforts in making positive progress in their community.

National Volunteer WeekStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rex Barnes Progressive Conservative Gander—Grand Falls, NL

Mr. Speaker, as National Volunteer Week comes to a close I would like to take this time to recognize and celebrate the contributions made by all volunteers in our country.

National Volunteer Week is a time to say thanks to the 6.5 million volunteers in Canada who prove again that Canadians have the ability to give generously and selfishly of their own time and expertise in order to make the lives of others better.

Volunteers strengthen communities. Volunteering is an investment in our communities and volunteers are our most valuable resource.

Where would our communities be if we did not have the commitment of our volunteers?

Winston Churchill once said “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give”.

Mother Theresa once said “Small things done with great love bring joy and peace”.

And a wise unknown author said “Volunteers do not necessarily have the time, they just have the heart”.

On behalf of my constituents and myself, I want to thank all volunteers for their efforts to make our community better and to make Canada strong.

Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennesStatements By Members

11 a.m.


Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, NB

Mr. Speaker, I take great pleasure and pride in recognizing the Fédération des caisses populaires acadiennes, which held its annual meeting in Moncton last week.

I also congratulate the chair of the federation's board, Roland Cormier of Scoudouc, on his re-election. Roland Cormier has served this movement with energy, dignity and great success.

Roland Cormier is a real leader.

In addition, the new president and CEO, Camille Thériault, will provide vigour and leadership in coming years.

In 2003, the movement had the best year in its history. This financial institution is essential to the development of Acadia and it is in very good hands with Roland Cormier and Camille Thériault at the helm.

Armenian PeopleStatements By Members

11:05 a.m.


Gilles-A. Perron Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week we witnessed a historic moment. The House of Commons voted decisively in favour of a motion recognizing the Armenian genocide.

Although the Minister of Foreign Affairs has tried to minimize the import of this motion by my colleague from Laval Centre, the fact remains that the representatives of Canadians and Quebeckers will have had the last word on the meaning to be attributed to this other tragic crime against humanity.

Tomorrow is the sad anniversary of the Armenian genocide of 1915, which claimed over 1.5 million victims.

The Bloc Quebecois sympathizes with the Armenian community and, together with them, we will continue to remember this event and remind future generations of it so that such terrible acts are never repeated.