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House of Commons Hansard #44 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was drugs.

Topics

Patent ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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3:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

All those opposed will please say nay.

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3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

And more than five members having risen:

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3:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Call in the members.

And the bells having rung:

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3:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The vote is deferred until Monday, May 3, at the expiry of the time provided for government orders.

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3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Mauril Bélanger Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. If you were to seek it, I think you would find unanimous consent for the vote that was just deferred until Monday at the end of the day to be deferred until Tuesday following oral question period.

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3:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is that agreed?

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Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from April 28 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.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

April 29th, 2004 / 3:40 p.m.

London West Ontario

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, the amendment before us is as follows and I will quote it because it is important for the Canadian public to understand the amendment. The amendment put by the opposition party states:

Bill C-12, an act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act, be not now read a third time but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for the purpose of reconsidering all of its clauses, with the view to eliminate loopholes identified by the nation's most notorious child pornographer, Robin Sharpe.

That is the official opposition's hoist motion.

I understand from this amendment that child pornographer Robin Sharpe claims to like Bill C-12, the protection of children and other vulnerable persons bill. Sharpe is said to like Bill C-12's proposed new sexual exploitation of children offence on the basis that he thinks it would provide an accused with the opportunity to cross-examine the young victim on their sexual relationship, and that this could in turn both educate and entertain the public about child-adult relationships.

It is incredibly important to restate again that the government finds absolutely nothing entertaining or educational about the sexual exploitation of children.

While Mr. Sharpe is entitled to his own personal opinion, as are all members of the House, we do not on this side of the House look to convicted child pornographers for legal advice. Bill C-12 would directly respond to the issues that the government and indeed Canadians have identified as demanding new legislative responses.

First, it would provide young persons with additional protection against sexual exploitation by creating a new offence. With the proposed new offence, a court could infer that a relationship is exploitive of the young person based on the nature and circumstances of the relationship, including the age of the young person, any difference of age, the evolution of the relationship, and the degree of control or influence exercised over the young person.

The primary focus of this review is not on the sexual activity, but rather on whether the accused exploited the young person. For example, it focuses on how young was the victim and how much older was the accused. Did the accused control or influence the young person by befriending, for example, a wayward or neglected young person, or by buying things for this young person?

In this way the focus is on the offending conduct of the accused, rather than the young person's consent to that conduct. This is consistent with the criminal law's treatment of sexual assault. The proposed new offence does not create the opportunity that Mr. Sharpe claims.

Second, Bill C-12 proposes amendments to prevent a self-represented accused from personally cross-examining the young victim and to permit the judge to appoint counsel to conduct the cross-examination in his or her place.

These amendments would prevent exactly the kind of abuse Mr. Sharpe claims is permitted. It is not what the other misperception of the bill says. Here we are actually dealing with the situation. We have the solution to the problem. Judges have an inherent jurisdiction to control proceedings in their court and some have appointed counsel for self-represented accused without relying on a specific code provision.

Judges would determine whether evidence was relevant and questioning was appropriate. They would not readily permit the type of questioning Mr. Sharpe advocates.

Moreover, the police would investigate and lay charges based on the facts. If the accused had sexually exploited the victim, determined by the conduct and the circumstances, the nature of the relationship, if any, and the age and age difference between the victim and the accused, the appropriate charges would be laid and prosecuted.

Bill C-12 was thoroughly reviewed by the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. The committee heard from a large number of witnesses who spoke to all issues addressed by the bill. The committee considered the evidence and considered the bill and, indeed, made amendments to the bill before reporting Bill C-12 back to the House.

We should not be looking to undermine the important work of the standing committee. It has done its job and now let us do ours and vote against this motion.

Robin Sharpe is entitled to his opinions. All people are entitled to opinion, as long as the opinion does not break any laws. He once thought that the prohibition against the possession of child pornography was unconstitutional and quite frankly the Supreme Court of Canada disagreed with him. This government disagrees with Robin Sharpe yet again.

I call on all hon. members to oppose this motion and to support instead the swift passage of Bill C-12 and, with that hopefully, we will be able to continue on to third reading after we have finished with this hoist motion.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, several times in her speech the member said that all Canadians are entitled to their opinion. I remind everyone that she voted for Bill C-250 which rather decidedly prevents people from expressing their opinion. That is a serious error of the Liberal government.

On this bill, she says that the judge will take into account the age of the victim and the age difference of the so-called perpetrator. If I were the father of a 13 year old girl, and many years ago I was, and the 14 or 15 year old neighbour, near in age, smooth talked her into doing things that I believed were immoral and wrong, I believe that person should be just as guilty as if being a 20 or 21 year old. They may not do that.

In that sense, the bill fails to protect our children. A 13 year old girl or boy is entitled to protection of the law. The bill does not provide that. As emphatically as she said it, but on the other side, I urge all members to vote for this motion to send it back to committee so we can get it right and actually protect our children instead of having a bill that just has in the heading, protection of children.

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3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree in the House to allow the hon. member to vote the way he wants on the bill. All I am saying is it is time to vote.

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3:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, then I will push her. I want her to comment on the issue of a 14 or 15 year old talking a 13 year old into doing things that are wrong and immoral. That is what the bill permits without any sanction of the law. Does she favour that? Will she say to Canadians that the Liberals do not care if that 13 year old gets attacked or not, that it is up to whomever? The bill does not protect that child.

Would the member, who is a lawyer, comment on that and to admit that she is wrong?

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3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the bill has many good provisions. We can delay and delay or we can pass the bill and the amendments to the bill.

Earlier this week we voted on an amendment to a hoist motion. Now we will vote, when we finally get to it, on the hoist motion itself. Then we will get back to the third reading debate, on which we were originally supposed to be voting.

These procedural motions have made it very difficult for the bill to progress to its final stages of third reading in the House. After third reading in this House, the bill has to go to the other House. There are so many important pieces of the bill, like voyeurism, which is one piece, and protecting young people.

The Criminal Code already makes it a crime, for example, to involve any young person under the age of 18 years in prostitution activities. Furthermore, any person convicted of living wholly or partially on the avails of prostitution of a young person under the age of 18 years and who has forced the young person to engage in any prostitution activities faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison.

We have sections in place in the bill that extend protection above the age of consent if there is exploitation. These are important provisions. Not only are these provisions around the conduct of sexual exploitation important, but there are new provisions in the bill. I mentioned the voyeurism provision.

Getting all those screens and support persons for when young people have to go into a courtroom, these very important procedural assistants to vulnerable people in the courtroom, are there to help prevent them from being re-traumatized during the necessary court process. Even though they are discretionary now and available to a judge in a courtroom, the bill would go a long way to improving the situation for those people, those victims.

I urge the House to please let this debate on an amendment to a hoist motion end so we can get a little step closer to passing the bill to actually helps our children. I agree that debate is important. We have had enough debate. Let us keep going to get the bill in place.

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3:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I notice that no one else is rising, so I will indeed take the opportunity to challenge the member.

She has failed to address my question. She gave a wonderful answer, that there are some nice things in the bill and some positive things. I agree. The bill is not totally bad. That is not why we are sending it back. It has several serious fatal flaws and we want those corrected in the bill so we actually protect our children.

I posed the problem to her twice. This is now the third time. Her inability or unwillingness to address it, I think is a tacit admission that the bill fails on the very point I mention. That point is, if a 15 year old smooth talks a 13 year old neighbour into doing things which are wrong, that child does not have any protection of the law. Yet the government has the gall to call Bill C-12, in brackets, protection of children. It does not do exactly what it says in the title of the bill that it purports to do.

How is a 13 year old protected in this scene that I have stated? The fact that she will not address the question and talks about everything else is warranting a press release that says that the Liberals do not care whether 15 year olds smooth talk neighbouring 13 year olds into having sexual activity together and things like that.

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3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I spoke on this, and I believe the member was present in the House, in my opening speech on third reading debate. It has been spoken of many times over the hours.

There is nothing I can say to convince the member to change his mind. I readily accept that. I would be talking until I was blue in the face. I am saying let us move. Let us have the vote. That is the democratic process. Let us get to the vote.

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3:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am totally nonplussed by this. It seems to me that our job as parliamentarians is to do a good job of creating legislation that will do what it is supposed to do.

This bill is titled the protection of children. I posed a very simple and real life example of a 13 year old who is not protected by the bill. It is just a matter of an amendment that would permit the change to be made. That is why we want the bill to go back to committee. We want a few amendments. That is one of them. There are several others. We want them corrected before that bill comes back here.

For that member to totally cop out like that is unwarranted and is a disservice to not only Canadian voters, Canadian citizens, but especially to our children. I want her to tell the House how the Liberal government and this Liberal bill will protect that 13 year old. I want to know that.

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3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Sue Barnes Liberal London West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it protects under both situations. If the accused has sexually exploited the victim, determined by the conduct and circumstances, the nature of the relationship, if any, and the age and the age difference between the victim and the accused, the appropriate charges will be laid and prosecuted.

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3:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Ken Epp Canadian Alliance Elk Island, AB

Mr. Speaker, the judge will take into account the age and the age difference. If one is a 13 year old and one is a 15 year old, the judge will say, “No charge”, and the victim will not have any protection. That is my answer. That can be the last comment. She does not even need to respond. We already know where she stands.

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3:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is the House ready for the question?

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3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

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3:55 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

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3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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3:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.