House of Commons Hansard #140 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was security.


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4:45 p.m.


Michael John Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, while I appreciate the conviction of my colleague across the way, I should remind him that this is a government bill inspired by Mr. Cadman's bill. It is a government bill where the government is taking action to prevent crime, as we are also doing on street racing.

It is our goal as a government to ensure that we take the appropriate precautions to protect Canadians, but there are not many Canadians who would want their government to bring forward a bill that did not respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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4:45 p.m.

An hon. member

It's a Liberal bill.

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4:45 p.m.

An hon. member

They kicked him out of their party.

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4:45 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Marcel Proulx)

I can hardly hear the answers, so I can imagine that the other members in the House cannot.

The hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.

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4:45 p.m.


Michael John Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I do not get a chance to take part in question period too often, so I enjoy the opportunity for your intervention.

As I was saying, we do want to protect the rights of Canadians by bringing in justice bills that address the needs of Canadians. We brought one in on street racing and we are bringing this one in. We understand that Canadians need to be protected. We have made many improvements in reducing the crime rate over the last decade and we know that we can do more.

We also know that we are not going to do anything that violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I do not think Canadians want us to ignore due process as we go forward in improving this situation so that Canadians can live safely in their homes and on their streets.

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4:45 p.m.


Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the government wanted to do something truly good about protecting citizens, then Chuck Cadman would have been leading debate in the House on his own private member's bill and it would have sought unanimous consent to pass it at all stages so Canadians would have been protected. That would have been a fitting tribute while he was living. That is what it should have done in the House. Instead it brings forward a watered down bill.That is the worst argument I have ever heard over there, that it is somehow doing some on behalf of Canadians to protect them.

I rise on behalf of the people of Essex to speak to Bill C-64. I am here also with thoughts of my former seat mate, Chuck Cadman. I have to be honest, I miss him terribly.

Chuck's brought forward his private member's Bill C-287, on the alteration and obliteration of vehicle identification numbers, because there was no provision for the direct prosecution of a person engaged in the physical act of tampering with a vehicle identification number, a loophole that has been masterfully exploited by organized crime. Instead what we have is Bill C-64, a partial attempt by the Liberal government to address that loophole, which is insufficient.

Also, I am here to talk about what the Liberals have been falsely claiming as a fitting tribute and honour to the late Chuck Cadman, member of Parliament. The only fitting tribute to the memory of Chuck Cadman would be to take his private member's bill, ironically unaltered, and pass it in the House. Instead what we have is the Liberals trying to fulfill a promise they made to Chuck after he gave the government life in that crucial May 19 budget vote.

I was sitting in my seat next to Chuck after that vote. It was interesting to watch the long lineup of Liberal members of Parliament eager to shake Chuck's hand. I thought the most interesting moment of that whole night was when the justice minister was face to face with Chuck. If we can believe it, he looked him in the eyes and said that he did not know why Chuck came to this Parliament, but that he would do something about the issues that were important to him.

It is very interesting that our justice minister did not know that the reason Chuck Cadman came to the House for eight years was because of the death of his son and the fact that the criminal justice system did nothing about it. Shame on the government.

What has the government brought forward instead of bringing Chuck's bill forward and passing? We have a nice little add-on to the bill, and will read it. First I will read the words in Chuck Cadman's bill. It states that every one commits offence who, wholly or partially alters, removes or obliterates a vehicle identification number on a motor vehicle without lawful excuse.

The government decided it wanted to make an ad-on to that. It states, “and under circumstances that give rise to a reasonable inference that the person did so to conceal the identity of the motor vehicle”.

That is a substantial change from what Chuck wanted to achieve. Chuck's intention was that we would have a justice system that would get tough on criminals. He was a tireless crusader of rights for victims over the rights of criminals. Chuck's previous private member's bill on the issue put the onus of proof for lawful excuse on the person indicted, on the accused criminal. That tilts the balance in favour of the Crown on behalf of the victims of crime.

What the Liberals have done with Chuck Cadman's idea is change the onus now to put a double onus on the Crown.

It was Chuck Cadman's intention that someone caught with an altered vehicle identification number would have to explain themselves. It is not a great demand to put on somebody who is caught with a vehicle that has an altered VIN. If I were working at a wrecking yard and, as part of the normal process of business, removed a vehicle identification number, I would have a lawful excuse why that vehicle identification number was altered and removed. That would have sufficed under Chuck Cadman's bill. Now, the Crown, on behalf of the victims of crime, has to prove an additional burden that the vehicle identification number was altered or removed to conceal the identity of that vehicle. I can hear the criminal defence lawyers laughing already. Those are the people who the Liberals consulted, between talking to Chuck Cadman and bringing the bill forward.

I was thinking a little about lady justice earlier today. I think we all remember the lady justice symbol of her holding up the two scales, literally weighing the evidence, with a blindfold across her eyes to symbolize her impartiality in the weighing of that evidence.

Under the Liberals there is a new lady justice. Her arms are thrown up in the air in a show of helplessness as criminal after criminal gets soft treatment, or gets day passes to amusement parks or gets house arrest, while victims in our system get re-victimized.

This new lady justice has dropped the scales at her feet because the evidence seems to no longer matter. Witness a lot of the court decisions. The evidence suddenly does not matter any more. This new lady justice still has her blindfold on, not to reflect her impartiality any more but because she needs to shield her eyes from the injustices that are committed. This new lady justice has been brought on by 12 years of Liberals being soft on crime.

Let the numbers speak for themselves. Already this year there have been 64 murders in Toronto, 44 violent crimes committed with guns. The Liberals say that the gun registry that is supposed to protect people. It is their answer to everything, like Kyoto is their answer to everything in the environment. They have a gun registry to protect everybody. It has not. People are being gunned down in our streets.

James Caza has 42 convictions. He is roaming the interior of British Columbia. I am sure the people in British Columbia feel real safe these days.

Serial rapist Larry Fisher was surprised himself that he was let out of jail so quickly. While out on parole he raped and murdered.

Liberal Senator Larry Campbell wants a soft approach on hard drugs like crystal meth.

Legal counsel from the Liberal government testified before the justice committee that mandatory prison terms for criminals would amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

A parole board handed out day passes to pedophiles to attend children's theme parks. I have four young kids. I will rethink how I spend my summers. Will we go to Canada's Wonderland? I have no idea who will be roaming around there and who will be a threat to my children.

This is wrong. Canadians should not have to restrict their freedom from operating in society because they do not know what criminals are lurking there, criminals that the Liberal justice system has let go.

The Liberal government opposed Bill C-215, a bill sponsored by my Conservative colleague from Prince Edward—Hastings, which proposed mandatory minimum sentences on indictable gun crimes. The bill has gained support from the victims of crimes and from those who enforce the laws in the land, our police. They know the bill makes sense, but the government does not support it.

The Supreme Court of Canada refused to consider the case of Dean Edmondson who was convicted of sexual assault for trying to have sex with a 12 year old girl. Instead of a prison term, he got house arrest.

It brings me to the obvious question. What is the Liberal priority? The Liberals want to solve overcrowding in our prisons. They want to solve our court backlogs, the mountain of cases that have clogged up our courts. They want to do it by making it easier to stay out of jail, even though these people wreak havoc on society. The Liberals want it to be easier to make bail. They want to make it easier for the courts to give the criminal house arrest and to give concurrent rather than consecutive sentences. God forbid if one were convicted of multiple violent crimes that one would have to serve sentence after sentence. Why not get a group discount? That is what the government approves.

The Liberal priority is to make it easier for a Liberal patronage appointee filled parole board to give day passes to fun parks to convicted pedophiles.

With Bill C-64, Liberal so-called justice means to get the handcuffs off the criminal and put them on our crown attorneys instead. That is what the bill proposes to do. Once again the Liberals are siding with the criminals. They are not standing up for victims of crime. They are siding with the criminals and the Liberal defence lawyers who donate to their election campaigns.

I think we all remember that Allan Rock was the Liberal justice minister for a time. He gave us the failed long gun registry on which the government has spent $2 billion. For what? It is not serving its purpose. It is allowing the criminals to continue wreaking havoc on society. It goes after law-abiding farmers and duck hunters instead.

Allan Rock gave us the Liberal policy of conditional sentencing with no direction to the courts as to which serious violent crimes should be exempted from the concept of conditional sentencing. What is the result? Liberal appointed judges rightly interpret that the Liberal government's desire is to let violent criminals get out of jail free. That is the Liberal priority.

Bill C-2, the Liberals so-called child pornography legislation, is sitting on the Prime Minister's desk. It has the legitimate use defence in it. It used to be called the artistic merit defence. We can dress it up, paint it up or call it whatever, but it is a loophole one could drive a truck through. It leaves our vulnerable children unprotected.

The Liberals voted against raising the age of consent from 14 to 16. That is not much to ask to protect our young adolescents. Instead, the government wants to keep it legal for a 40 or 50 year old man to have sex with a young adolescent.

I think it is clear that the Liberals are soft on crime in general and on vehicle crimes specifically. Our Conservative colleague, my seatmate, had his private member's bill, Bill C-293, a bill I spoke in support of in this House, a bill that proposed mandatory minimum sentences for vehicle theft.

The other so-called Cadman bill, Bill C-65, the companion to this legislation, dealing with street racing, does not honour Chuck. The Liberal government this time left out something very important from that legislation, which was the scale that Mr. Cadman had built into his bill of increasing punishment for repeat offenders. Apparently those who continue to threaten the safety of our communities get a discount for their anti-social choices.

Mr. Cadman was on a crusade for eight years to get tougher on criminals in crimes involving vehicles before his premature demise. During those eight years, seven were under Liberal majority governments, not a minority government like it currently is. The Liberals, if they were serious about vehicle identification number alteration, could have passed Chuck's bill quite easily. They could have rubber-stamped it post-haste. They had majorities for seven years in this House and instead they reserved the right to fast-track things for political pork-barrelling to Liberal cronies and friends. The talk of Liberal concern for Chuck Cadman's crusade is hollow, quite frankly.

The least the Liberals could have done this time around, if they truly wanted to honour Chuck's memory, would have been to bring forward his bill unaltered. I find it a curious irony that we are talking about altering vehicle identification numbers and yet the Liberals altered the bill of the late Chuck Cadman, an honourable and distinguished man, for their own political purposes. It is a moral crime, a crime against Chuck's memory, to allow the Liberal government to alter a good bill.

The Liberals can talk about Chuck's memory all they want but they are waxing poetic. They did not listen to Chuck Cadman at all. The loophole in Bill C-64 is proof of that. The Liberal government listened instead to Liberal defence lawyers and now defence lawyers and organized criminals will have a great time watching the crown frustratingly try to prosecute under this legislation.

I would contend that the Liberals, with their loophole in Bill C-64, have dishonoured the memory of Chuck Cadman. I do not say that lightly. I sat next to the man for my short time in this House and I spent my time getting to know him. He was one of the most decent men I have ever known, a good family man, a devoted husband and devoted father. He was not planning on being a member of Parliament. That was not his design, but he made it his crusade because he loved his son that much, to come here and ensure we had the laws and the direction to the courts that society wants criminals to be prosecuted to the fullest, that they should pay for their crimes, that Canadians should be protected and that they should not be revictimized in this process. Chuck was here to do that. I can say proudly that Conservatives have always stood for the principles in Chuck Cadman's original private member's bill.

Conservatives will continue standing up for safe streets, for healthy communities and on behalf of victims of crime and say, “No way”. The rights of Canadians should be respected in this country.

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5:05 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario


Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Minister responsible for Democratic Renewal

Madam Speaker, I have sat in this House for a long time and I have heard good speeches and bad speeches but that sort of fearmongering degrades the House of Commons. I do not think I have ever heard more false morality and more claim to principles in a more rambling, disjointed tirade since I came into this House. It truly is disgraceful. I find it disgraceful that a member so new would sink to those depths in connection with serious legislation and occasionally mention it in the context of Chuck Cadman and enfold Chuck Cadman in his arms. I do not know in what sort of world he lives but he certainly seems to be a very paranoid person.

I have the figures here for crimes committed in the last decade or more for the province of Ontario, my own province. They are not my statistics. I did not invent them and I did not see them in a newspaper. These are the statistics from Statistics Canada.

Our fearmongering friend over there is talking about our children not going to Canada's Wonderland in Ontario out of fear. He knows, or at least he should know, as he is a member of Parliament now and perhaps should remember that from time to time when he is posturing in this particular way, that the overall crime rate in the province of Ontario is at an all-time low. It reached a peak in the early 1990s and has gone down every year since and is now a fraction of what it was before.

This is not to say that there are not serious crimes going on out there. I am simply pointing out, if he looks at the figures, that serious crimes are down perhaps a third of what they were at their peak in the early 1990s when we first came in.

I regret the recent spate of handgun homicides in metropolitan Toronto. It is a terrible thing and it is something we have to deal with but I do not think it has to be dealt with through savage penalties, although they certainly should be the most severe penalties. We need to deal with those communities and do what we can about it. Nevertheless, homicide rates in Ontario reached the world record peak in 1991 and 1992 and have come down virtually every year since. They have gone up very slightly in the last year but they are still a fraction of what they were.

I mentioned property crimes earlier. They, too, are down.

Violent crimes in the province of Ontario, which reached a peak in the years 1991, 1992 and 1993, have come down every year since.

What about offensive weapons crimes. He talked about gun control. It is the same thing. At the beginning of 1994 offensive weapons crimes were at 75 per 100,000 and they are now down to 40 per 100,000 in the province of Ontario.

We should do everything we can to stop every offensive weapons crime. We should work with the communities and punish those involved but we should not go around telling our people and our children that our communities are more dangerous now than they were.

My colleague pretends, in this meandering rhetoric that he has, to having high principles. I represent a rural riding and I have had my problems with the gun registry, as many other people have. However his claim that the gun registry cost $2 billion is not just a lie, it is a big lie. It is something that absolutely cannot be proven. The cost of the gun registry is nothing like $2 billion. It is not even $1 billion. It is not even over $100 million.

Good gun control costs money over a period of 10 years. The registry costs nothing like that. I support expenditures on gun control in Canada so we can continue to bring crime rates down.

Our colleague should apologize for putting fear into the hearts of Ontario families and children by imagining a level of crime that simply does not exist.

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5:10 p.m.


Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for taking six minutes out of the ten minute question and comment period. If he wanted to give a speech he should have waited his turn.

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5:10 p.m.


Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Is there any reason that I should not take six minutes out of a ten minute question and comment period?

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The Acting Speaker (Hon. Jean Augustine)

I would like to inform the member that this is questions and comments. He can ask questions or make a comment and it is within the 10 minute purview.

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5:10 p.m.


Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, I was just making a factual statement that six out of ten minutes were wasted on that question.

I do not need lectures on fearmongering from a Liberal government that has made election campaigns on fearmongering. Those members have made their reputation on that and that is what they have made their government on.

I have talked with senior citizens who are afraid to come out of their homes. He can quote any statistic he wants but the reality is that our senior citizens are afraid to come out of their homes at night and even in the daytime. Some of them are even afraid to stay in their homes because young people are breaking in and tying them up. It is happening in my communities. I am not here perpetuating some strange fearmongering. These people are afraid to come out of their homes. I have talked with young women who are afraid to walk the streets after dark.

He can quote whatever statistic he wants but the only reason crime is going down in this country is because of the demographic shift. The population is aging. Crime has not gone down as a result of Liberal policies to get tough on criminals. People are afraid to report crimes. What is the purpose of reporting a crime if the criminal is not going to do the time?

That is the kind of culture that is happening in our communities and the culture I am reflecting here when I talk about what is going on. The Liberals are soft on crime. They have had 12 years to solve this issue and a lot of other criminal justice issues but they have chosen not to and now they want to pontificate here. They want to come off like they are big shots but that does not wash with real people living in our real communities. The Liberals are living in a different Ottawa and in a different Canada than the people I have been talking about.

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5:15 p.m.


Marc Boulianne Bloc Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to go back to the speech made by the hon. member for Essex, particularly where he talked about Chuck Cadman. I was Mr. Cadman's neighbour and we were even seatmates. The hon. member is right. I found it shameful to see what the Liberals did after the vote. Before the vote, they had not talked to him, they had not even saluted him, they had not even seen him when he would come and sit here. But after the vote, they came to see him crawling on all fours. They shook hands with him with a big smile on their faces. What a despicable display of subservience. I saw it, I was there. Mr. Cadman was shaking. They were all happy. Then, we left and it was over. So, the hon. member is right on this. It was shameful on the part of the Liberals.

I want to ask the hon. member if this bill reflects Mr. Cadman's memory, if it reflects the spirit of his legislation.

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5:15 p.m.


Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, the bill does not embody the spirit of what Chuck Cadman was trying to do on this particular issue. It is a very different bill in a very significant way. The bill tilts the balance away from protecting the victims of crime and shifts it on to protecting those who perpetrate crime and who create victims in this country. That is not what Mr. Cadman intended. He was a tireless crusader on behalf of the victims of crime, not only in his community but coast to coast to coast.

If the Liberals really wanted to honour Mr. Cadman they simply would have reintroduced his private member's bill, left it alone and passed it in the House. We would have supported that bill in a heartbeat, as, I am sure would have other parties in honour of Chuck. The bill would have gone through the House and we could have had action on this issue instead of all the phoney rhetoric from that side of the House and the phoney promises from the government.

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5:15 p.m.


Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells to speak to Bill C-64, an act to amend the Criminal Code on vehicle identification numbers.

Auto theft is a Canadian problem. According to estimates, over 170,000 cars are stolen each and every year. The costs are also enormous, with auto theft costing Canadians over $600 million. Auto theft ends up costing everyone high insurance rates and facilitates other crimes such as elicit drug trafficking. As well, some people inadvertently buy stolen property, which ends up costing unsuspecting victims money.

Auto theft ends up empowering criminal organizations. Cars are cheap to steal and in British Columbia they are easy to transport because of our close proximity to the American border and the Vancouver port.

Criminal organizations are drawn to auto theft because of the enormous profit potential and the relatively low risk of detection. This is clearly a booming industry and the government needs to act before it gets even worse.

Auto theft does not just result in property loss. Vehicle theft contributes to over 56 deaths a year in Canada. In Surrey, the police videotaped one car thief in a bait car. The driver was on crystal meth, a drug the government continues to not take seriously despite the ruined lives.

This driver exhibited erratic and wild behaviour. He was screaming, flailing his arms and clearly not paying any attention to the road. He put his life and the lives of Surrey residents in danger. We are blessed that such a man did not kill anyone on the road that day. Unfortunately, 56 Canadians were not so lucky and paid the ultimate price as a result of vehicle theft.

Chuck Cadman originally decided to combat auto crime with his two private members' bills. It is too bad the Liberals do not.

Auto theft is a major problem in my riding of Fleetwood—Port Kells. Surrey has had the unfortunate title of being the auto theft capital of North America. Over 8,000 vehicles were stolen in 2003 alone. That is almost one in 50 people in Surrey who have a car stolen per year. At this rate, everyone in Surrey will have their car stolen once in their lifetime. While much work has been done by local and provincial governments to curb auto theft in Surrey, the federal government has lagged on this issue.

In Surrey, municipal and provincial governments instituted the bait program. Bait operates throughout the greater Vancouver area and has been credited with lowering auto crime in the lower mainland. Police officers, like the name suggests, bait criminals with cars that can be easily stolen. The police then arrest the car thieves by electronically shutting off the engines when the cars are at low speed or at a stop light.

In Victoria, the program has had great success, lowering auto theft by almost 36%. In Surrey, the program is credited to lowering auto theft by 13%. I would like to congratulate Surrey and the lower mainland cities for their own aggressive actions against car thieves. The same congratulations cannot be given to the federal government. It has been soft on auto crime and it continues to be so.

Currently, there is no law that makes altering, removing or destroying vehicle identification numbers illegal. This bill supposedly seeks to fill that legal void, but for reasons I will shortly explain does not. Bill C-64 is another one of the sham Cadman bills. Along with Bill C-65, today's bill is an insult to the legacy of Chuck Cadman. The Liberals did not support Mr. Cadman's private member's legislation when he was in the House as a Reform, Canadian Alliance and Conservative member. They have now cynically brought back legislation that may be similar in appearance but not similar in effect.

The Liberals in the past have tried to paint him as cruel and unsophisticated on the issue, saying that we need nuance in the law. Chuck understood the victims and understood criminals. Repeat offenders do not deserve the legal system's mercy. They deserve jail, so that good Canadians are not subjected to violent criminal actions.

Bill C-64 seeks to make it a criminal offence to alter or destroy vehicle identification numbers. Vehicle identification numbers are serial numbers placed throughout a car to identify it. It is a kind of car genetic code. Insurers and police use vehicle identification numbers to track cars that have been stolen and also to prevent stolen cars from being sold on the black market.

The idea behind vehicle identification numbers was to prevent thieves from easily reselling stolen property. Because vehicle identification numbers had to be registered with insurance companies, they could be cross-referenced with stolen vehicles. This essentially made it very difficult to resell stolen merchandise with the original vehicle identification number.

However, by altering or destroying vehicle identification numbers, thieves have found a way around the practice. It also makes stolen cars easier to transport across borders and through ports. Vehicle identification numbers would be effective if they were not easily destroyed.

In Chuck's original bill it read: “Every one commits an offence who, wholly or partially, alters, removes or obliterates a vehicle identification number on a motor vehicle without lawful excuse”. However, the Liberals have now amended that clause to read: “—and under circumstances that give rise to a reasonable inference that the person did so to conceal the identity of the motor vehicle”.

The Liberal amendment adds an additional burden of proof on prosecutors and law enforcement. Thanks to liberal judges, such clauses are routinely interpreted to establish a burden of proof on the prosecutor and have been used so in other circumstances.

We must be clear with what type of criminality we are dealing. We are not simply dealing with joyriding teenagers which is also problematic. Rather, we are dealing with sophisticated criminal organizations who know how to avoid the law at all costs. To think that criminal organizations and their lawyers will not exploit this loophole is naive at best.

Criminal organizations are becoming a problem all across Canada. Increasingly, they are also developing ties to international terrorist organizations. The nexus of crime, drugs and terrorism is seen in places like Afghanistan. To combat these groups we need tough laws that will actually act as a deterrent. Bill C-64 will not act as a deterrent. It will be very difficult to actually prosecute people under this law. Without jail time staring them in the face, these criminals will not be deterred.

I have grave issues with the Liberal amendment to Chuck's bill. It will undoubtedly prevent prosecutors from actually using the law. The high burdens of proof contained will provide an easy loophole for criminals, criminal organizations and their lawyers to exploit. Let us send a message to the criminals. Let us vote for Chuck's bills, not these Liberal fakes.

I am hoping that members from all parties will join with us in the Conservative Party in amending these bills to reflect Chuck's intentions. In that way members of the House can honour the true legacy of Chuck Cadman. The residents of Surrey, including those in my riding of Fleetwood—Port Kells, demand nothing less.

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5:25 p.m.


Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to take part in this debate.

We are in favour of Bill C-64, which amends the Criminal Code by creating the offence of altering, obliterating or removing a vehicle identification number. There was no such provision in the Criminal Code before. The bill now includes these offences, as follows:

Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1):

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years

(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

We feel this bill represents a step forward by providing some means to combat this problem of auto theft, which exists all over the world. In 2004, nearly 170,000 vehicle thefts were reported in Canada.

My Conservative colleague who has just spoken feels that these sentences seem inadequate. I would like to hear what sort of sentences she would like to see in a bill like this.

Several speakers have indicated that this bill was not along the lines of what Mr. Cadman would have wanted. What teeth could we have added to improve it. Perhaps she could go into more detail on this.

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5:25 p.m.


Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Madam Speaker, my community is known as the auto theft capital of North America. This is not something nice to boast about. What a shame. Every day 16 cars are stolen, approximately 6,000 cars a year. Seven people have died in B.C. as a result of auto theft. It costs Surrey drivers $30 million a year in insurance.

The police try their best to stop these thefts. They lack the resources to get the job done. The police are also hindered by a justice system that treats car thieves with kid gloves. Car thieves receive no real punishment as 90% of car thieves are repeat offenders.

We need laws with teeth to put a stop to this sort of crime. The Liberal government has been in office for 12 long years and nothing has been done. Bill C-64 is a baby step forward and nothing has been done. The Criminal Code needs to be strengthened to include mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders.

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5:30 p.m.


Gurmant Grewal Conservative Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the constituents of Newton—North Delta to participate in the debate on Bill C-64, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to vehicle identification numbers.

Bill C-64 would make it a criminal offence to alter, remove or obliterate the vehicle identification number, commonly known as a VIN, on a motor vehicle. The current Criminal Code has no offence that deals specifically with VIN tampering. However, under section 352.2 of the Criminal Code, a tampered with VIN can be proof of property obtained by crime.

Auto theft in B.C. is epidemic. As the member who spoke before me mentioned, we had 37,500 vehicles stolen last year. The RCMP has labeled Surrey, British Columbia, the car theft capital of North America. On a per capita basis, more automobiles are stolen in Surrey than in any other North American city, more than Toronto, more than Los Angeles, and even more than New York City.

Over 6,000 cars are stolen each year in the communities in Surrey. Sixteen cars will be stolen by the end of any given day. Since the time we began speaking on this bill today, some cars have probably already been stolen in Surrey.

Local newspapers jokingly refer to car theft as Surrey's fastest growing industry, but it is no joking matter. Almost all the vehicles stolen are used to commit other crimes.

Stealing a vehicle is one thing, but the thieves then involve that vehicle in other crimes or sometimes in joyriding, often with fatal consequences. So far this year seven people have died in British Columbia as a result of auto theft.

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia estimates that auto offences cost Surrey drivers $13 million annually.

The RCMP claims that it has done all it can to stop car thieves and now it is up to the courts. We have a court system that is a revolving door. The car thieves take advantage of our weak laws, our laws without teeth, and of the loopholes that exist within the system.

The courts refuse to treat auto theft as a serious crime. The RCMP auto theft task force complains that thieves receive virtually no punishment but a slap on the wrist. In fact, when the punishment is not severe, that becomes a motivation to commit the same crime again. There is no deterrent in place.

Meanwhile, the same individuals are arrested over and over again. One man arrested last summer in Surrey was already facing seven separate trials for auto theft. Another thief was pulled over while driving a stolen car to his court hearing on auto theft charges; he was going to court on auto theft charges and he stole a car to get there. In fact, once a thief stole a car and another thief stole his stolen car.

This crime is so rampant that about half of the 13,000 cases handled by Surrey provincial court last year involved car theft. Ninety per cent involved repeat offenders.

Most car thieves are supporting drug addictions. This was graphically displayed earlier this year when an RCMP bait car equipped with a surveillance camera caught a Surrey car thief on film. The thief was high on crystal meth, which is a serious problem in Surrey. According to a survey, 10% of school students under the age of 18 have used crystal meth. The government is sitting on its hands doing nothing to prevent it or stop it.

The thief, high on crystal meth and waving a gun, sped through our city streets. The image was later seen on news broadcasts across the country.

My former colleague and neighbour in Surrey, member of Parliament Chuck Cadman, sought to address auto theft and assist police by introducing Bill C-413 in March 2003.

He reintroduced his private member's bill in February 2004 and then again in November 2004, as Bill C-287. These two bills, neither of which moved beyond first reading, sought to make it a criminal offence to tamper with vehicle identification numbers.

Now, in introducing Bill C-64, the justice minister invokes the name of Mr. Cadman, saying that the bill is intended as an appropriate tribute to his legacy.

I would like to mention what happens when private members' bills are introduced. Of course we have made some progress in the House, in that at least one private member's bill or motion is votable in the House, but during the days when I was a member of Parliament representing the Reform Party and the Canadian Alliance, when a good idea used to come from a private member, the government would completely mitigate it, reducing the volume, criticize it and oppose it vigorously.

Then, after opposing it, the Liberals sometimes had the audacity to reintroduce the bill if they thought was a good idea. The Liberals have stolen many of my bills, including those on foreign credentials, protection for firefighters and whistleblower legislation. They opposed the bills, but when we continued to raise our voices they stole the bills.

In this case, the government opposed the bill, which they now try to own on their own terms. First they criticize and oppose and then they steal the bill, mess it up and reintroduce it.

However, there are two major differences between Mr. Cadman's bills and the government bill. Bill C-413 and Bill C-287 put the onus on the person charged to explain why he has a vehicle with a stolen vehicle identification number. In contrast, Bill C-64 requires the Crown to prove that a person caught with a stolen vehicle knows that it was stolen.

Bill C-413 and Bill C-287 amended section 402 of the Criminal Code, which deals with fraudulent transactions. In contrast, Bill C-64 amends section 377 of the code, which deals with property offences. It is the same section which now indirectly covers vehicle identification number tampering.

Like Bill C-65, the proposed legislation is a watered down version of Mr. Cadman's initial proposal. In order to better reflect Mr. Cadman's initial desire to create a useful tool for our law enforcement agencies to tackle auto theft and organized crime, the legislation should remove part of subsection 377.1(1) so that the onus is placed on the people caught with an altered vehicle identification number to explain themselves, as was the original intention of Chuck Cadman.

While the Insurance Bureau of Canada is pleased that the government is finally moving on vehicle registration numbers, it is seeking specific amendments to the Criminal Code that would impose tougher penalties for auto theft, including mandatory minimum prison sentences, to send an even stronger message that auto theft is treated more seriously than property crime.

According to an Insurance Bureau spokesperson:

Right now, auto theft is seen by criminal organizations as a relatively low-risk, high-profit activity to raise funds for additional activities. Far from being a victimless crime, auto theft is an inherently violent criminal offence that has a devastating impact in communities right across the country in terms of fatalities and injuries, not to mention the cost to insurance policyholders. The evidence of the impact of auto theft is clear.

Statistics from the Insurance Bureau show that the rate of car theft is 64% higher than it was a decade ago. I do not know how the Liberals can stand there and say the crime rate is falling. Either they do not know the figures, they are manipulating them or the calculations are done differently over there. Statistics from the Insurance Bureau show that the rate of car theft is 64% higher than it was a decade ago.

While the rate of recovery of stolen vehicles in the early 1990s was 95%, today it sits at 60%. The decline in the recovery rate can be attributed to the proliferation of organized vehicle theft.

Organized criminal groups make a profit by exporting stolen vehicles to foreign countries or selling their parts. Because the parts of a car are sometimes worth more collectively than an intact car, many stolen cars are delivered to chop shops. These shops specialize in stripping cars, disposing of identifiable parts and selling others through a national network. Chop shops can meet the demands for parts more quickly and typically more cheaply than legitimate parts dealers.

Like the most recent trend in human identity theft involving frauds such as credit card fraud, bank fraud or other financial frauds, the trend is the same in auto identity theft. A VIN is just like DNA, but the thieves can remove it skilfully.

It is hard work. Thieves know that the vehicle identification number is unique and different on every car. First, they copy the vehicle identification number from the Internet, from car dealerships or from cars in malls or junkyards. They make perfect duplicates of the vehicle identification number plates and paperwork. Finally, they steal a similar car and replace its VIN with the copied one. Now the car has been cloned. The stolen car can no longer be identified as stolen; it has a new identity. This crime is highly profitable and very low risk and the chance of getting caught is slim to none.

Experts estimate that there are currently about 50,000 cloned cars in North America, but the number is growing by leaps and bounds. This type of crime only further emphasizes the need for a vehicle identification number tampering law.

I will conclude by saying that it is time this Liberal government did something about auto theft. The Conservatives have consistently supported the efforts of Chuck Cadman in tackling this issue by supporting him on this bill. The Liberals, on the other hand, did not support his bills when he was a caucus member of the Reform Party, the Canadian Alliance or the Conservative Party. They only decided to support the legislation after Mr. Cadman voted to save the Liberal government in the confidence vote on May 19 of this year.

My riding is next to the Surrey North constituency. My constituents are mad. They are very upset that the Liberals are trying to gain politically by using Chuck Cadman's name while watering down his legislation. If the Liberals really wanted to honour Chuck Cadman or his legacy, they should have introduced the bill with the same wording and with the same intent that Mr. Cadman had in mind.

I have a friend, Dane Minor, who was a very close friend of Chuck Cadman and is still a good friend of the Cadman family. He worked with Chuck from the beginning when Chuck helped to found CRY. He had known Chuck for a long time and knew him well. He said in a letter, and I do not have a copy of his letter with me, that he was encouraged when he first saw that the Liberals were reintroducing Chuck's bill in the House, but when he saw the content of the bill, he said that he was mad as hell. He is disappointed that the Liberals are using Chuck's name on a watered down version of the bill.

Legislation making it a criminal offence to tamper with a vehicle identification number could provide law enforcement with another tool to use in its battle against auto theft. It would also serve as a deterrent to criminals. Other countries have had similar legislation in place for years. It is about time that we did the same, but in the right way.

Bill C-64 is not as good as the private member's bill on which it is modelled. I recommend that it be amended suitably. If it is, the bill should help tackle organized crime and auto theft by giving enforcement agencies another tool.

I used to be a member of the subcommittee on organized crime. I had the opportunity to have lots of meetings with the Vancouver Port Authority, the RCMP, the border patrol and many other law enforcement agencies. They told the subcommittee that organized crime is on the increase to the extent that if they have 10 leads on different organized crimes, they do not have enforcers to even follow up with one of those leads.

The criminals have state of the art technology, whereas our law enforcement agencies are struggling to maintain their old equipment, thanks to the cuts made by the Liberal government.

We have to give our law enforcement agencies the tools, resources, manpower and the equipment so that they are light years ahead of the organized criminals. Unfortunately, they are light years behind the state of the art technology that organized criminals are using. Whether it is a marijuana grow op, crystal meth, ecstasy or any kind of drugs that infiltrate the younger society, the government has absolutely no control over it. The hands of the law enforcement agencies are tied. As my colleague mentioned, the Liberals have taken the handcuffs from the criminals and put them on the hands of the judges.

I urge the House that until the bill is amended, we should look into it and make every effort to make it strong. Again, the Liberals should use the original bill the way it was designed if they really want to honour the legacy. Otherwise they should stop using the name of Chuck Cadman.

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5:50 p.m.


Yvon Lévesque Bloc Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened closely to the hon. member for Newton—North Delta and I wonder how he might be perceived in his riding. To hear him talk about Surrey, where he lives, you would be afraid to open your mouth for fear of having your dentures stolen, what with all the thefts that occur there.

I see that this party takes an extremely tough stance on a young offender, or non offender, who might take a car he needs, for just a few dollars, without considering the consequences. Should we cut off just the hand he put on the steering wheel, or both hands? Should we cut off the foot that he on pressed the accelerator? Will the Conservative Party go so far as to penalize the young people instead of helping them understand? That is my question for the hon. member. Personally, I had hoped to travel as a tourist to that part of the country, but I might rethink my plans and look into it some more.

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October 24th, 2005 / 5:50 p.m.


Gurmant Grewal Conservative Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, the situation in British Columbia's Lower Mainland is very serious, whether it is with respect to marijuana grow ops or needle exchange programs.

At one time the Lower Mainland of British Columbia used to have the highest consumption on a per capita basis of needle exchanges in North America. The recent problem of crystal meth is now an epidemic. Liberal hack Senator Larry Campbell may deny it, but the problem is serious. In a secondary school 10% of the students are using crystal meth. This is an absolutely dangerous situation.

When it comes to auto theft, 13-year-old kids are stealing cars and going on joyrides. They are speeding at over 100 kilometres an hour on the residential streets of Surrey. These are serious matters.

I would say to the hon. member that one strong reason that comes to my mind is that our judicial system is not working in favour of controlling crime. It is not handing out appropriate punishments. The judicial system does not put a deterrent in place so that criminals do not commit crimes.

In fact, there is a motivation to commit crime when the punishment is only a slap on the wrist. The revolving door system with repeat offenders continues. They are taking advantage of the system. It must stop.

We are the lawmakers in this country. The official opposition has made many amendments to different pieces of legislation in order to have minimum mandatory prison sentences in place. The government is only fooling itself and Canadians by increasing the maximum penalties from five years to 10 years, but that five years or 10 years is never actually handed down to any criminal.

We must make a law that has some teeth in it. Then we have to address the other elements involved, such as increasing the resources available to the law enforcement agencies. The police forces are frustrated.

Early one winter morning a police officer who was on night duty came to my office to drop off a letter. He saw me inside the office so he came in and said to me, “I am so upset. I was on a night shift and we arrested a 16-year-old drug dealer who had been selling drugs on the street. He went before the court. The next day he was back on the street selling drugs again. I arrested him again. After the court hearing he was back on the street selling drugs again. I had to turn the other way because I could not face that 16 year old selling drugs on the street the third day”. That is the situation. That is why our law enforcement personnel are frustrated.

In a nutshell, the bottom line is we have to have tougher penalties. Police forces must have sufficient resources. There should be a deterrent in place rather than a motivation to commit crime.

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5:55 p.m.


Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, I listened to the hon. member discuss some of the issues in the bill. I know from listening to the comments particularly from the other side that there is a desire by the government to portray this as a Chuck Cadman bill.

Being new here last year, I cannot say that I knew Chuck Cadman, but I certainly had met him. Everyone that I have spoken to has talked about Chuck Cadman, his virtues, his strengths and his desire to see justice served to people who have committed crimes against people. He was tired of the revolving door policies of the justice system that we currently have of, as the member said, catching and releasing, catching and releasing, catching and releasing.

I am wondering if the member could tell the House and Canadians how he thinks Chuck Cadman with whom he had worked closely would have perceived this type of bill with the changes that have been made.

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5:55 p.m.


Gurmant Grewal Conservative Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, it is hard to imagine. Mr. Cadman was a crusader of criminal justice system reforms under the Young Offenders Act, street car racing, vehicle identification numbers and many other issues which he brought to the floor of the House. He came up with two bills, which we are now debating as government bills, Bill C-64 and Bill C-65.

On the vehicle identification numbers he came up with Bill C-413 and then reintroduced it a couple of times in the form of Bill C-287. Why did the Liberals oppose those bills? The subject matter was there. They were effective bills. A person who had experience in and passion for the criminal justice system reforms drafted those bills. However, the government opposed those bills, but after the confidence vote on May 19 suddenly it became evident to the Liberals that they should come on board and support the bills.

I sincerely doubt the intention of the government. It has no integrity when it comes to its track record on these issues. When my late colleague came up with the bill, the government opposed it. Now it suddenly wants to support it. There is some sort of a catch. I cannot understand what that catch is, but my senses tell me that the Liberals are after political opportunism. There may be a byelection in that riding very soon.

If the Liberals were really sincere about honouring the legacy that Mr. Cadman left behind, they would adopt the bill as it was written by Mr. Cadman. Rather, they are only using the name and the shell, but they have changed the content and have completely watered it down.

I can only imagine from talking to Dane Minor who was a close friend of Chuck Cadman. I worked with Chuck Cadman for almost eight years in the House. We shared so many things together during our campaigns. In our ridings we had joint town hall meetings on crime and other issues.

I could say that he would be disappointed. I am very sure he would have voted against Bills C-64 and C-65 as written by the Liberals.

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6 p.m.


Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-64, a bill designed to amend the Criminal Code with respect to vehicle identification numbers.

While I can agree in part with the spirit of the proposed legislation, like many Liberal bills that I have seen over the course of the last year, I cannot support the legislation as written. As we have seen countless times, the spirit may be strong but the devil is in the details. It always seems that when the Liberals put forward legislation, they either water it down to make the original intent almost worthless or they alter it to a point where I think most Canadians cannot accept it. I wish I knew the reason why they do this.

Had the legislation been presented in the form that it was originally presented in as a private member's bill, I would support it. I think most of the members of my party and most Canadians would support it. However, that is not the way the legislation has been written.

Mr. Chuck Cadman originally put forward a private member's bill to deal with this issue and this bill does not reflect his intent. I find it offensive to hear the justice minister say that this bill has been presented in memory of Mr. Chuck Cadman. It diminishes his memory.

Chuck Cadman would not want a bill that is written this way to be presented before the House, and that is quite clear. Any member who purports the bill to be a Chuck Cadman bill is being more than just slightly disingenuous. This is not the type of bill he would support himself if he were with us today.

I want to speak for a few moments on Mr. Cadman himself. I respected him so much for what he did. We all know the history. Any Canadian who has passing knowledge or interest in Canadian politics knows the story of Chuck Cadman and the tragedy he encountered when his 16 year old son was killed in a vicious attack. Rather than going into a shell and becoming a recluse, he decided to become an advocate for and a tireless worker on behalf of victims across Canada. After working in that regard in British Columbia, he decided to seek public office and was successful in his attempt.

Until the time he died, Mr. Chuck Cadman never for one moment forgot the reason he came to this place, and that was to advance the cause of victims' rights across Canada. It was to address issues of crime and law and order in a positive and meaningful way by bringing forward legislation that would hopefully put an end to the type of violence that Chuck Cadman experienced in his life. He would never have agreed with the wording contained in Bill C-64.

I did not have the honour and the privilege of knowing Chuck Cadman. I had the honour of shaking his hand once and introducing myself but that was the extent of it. I certainly will not purport to say that I knew him or that I was a friend of his because I was not. I respected him as a man and as a legislator.

If we are going to say that we are honouring Chuck Cadman's memory by bringing forward legislation, then we should do so in a way that is respectful to his memory. In my view this legislation is anything but respectful of the late Chuck Cadman. It does not accurately reflect what he would have us do.

Quite frankly, when it came to this bill, Chuck Cadman would have been ashamed to allow his name to be associated with it. Let us back up a moment and talk about what he tried to do in his private members' bills with respect to vehicle identification numbers.

Mr. Cadman quite simply stated that it should be a crime for anyone to obscure, alter or deface a vehicle identification number, bottom line, full stop. If people do that, they are guilty of a crime and should be punished accordingly. I cannot think of anything that is simpler or more direct than that. Mr. Cadman was correct that it should be a crime. Currently, it is not.

If a person is caught in possession of a vehicle that has its vehicle identification number altered, defaced or destroyed, that person can be charged with a crime. However, the sheer act of defacing or destroying a VIN currently is not a crime. Mr. Cadman sought to redress that. He sought to put a bill into place that would make the alteration, destruction or tampering of a vehicle identification number a crime.

What did the government do? Again the devil is always in the details. The government does not seem to get it when it comes to taking a private member's bill that made perfect sense, redrafting it in the same language of that bill and then presenting it to the House. It seems incapable of doing that, and I do not understand why.

What it has done with this legislation is, first. add a caveat that states that if there are circumstances that come into play that might make it okay, then perhaps there is no crime. Second, it puts the onus on the Crown. In other words, Mr. Cadman said that if someone destroyed or defaced a VIN, that person would be guilty and would have to prove otherwise. That individual would have to go to court and convince the judge that there was a lawful excuse why he or she did that.

It seems the Liberals have it all backward. They suggest that the crown prosecutors have to prove a person who defaced a VIN did not have a lawful excuse and is guilty. That is completely backward.

What Mr. Cadman attempted to do in all his private members' bills was to put the onus on the individual. If individuals were caught tampering with a VIN, those individuals would have to prove that they had a lawful excuse to do it. If they could not, they would be guilty.

I do not think we could have anything more direct, to the point or simple as that. Yet the government sought to change that intent. It sought to make not the individual who tampered with the VIN prove why he or she did so. This legislation says that the Crown has to prove it, and it has loopholes. It allows individuals to come up with perhaps a convoluted message that might prevent the Crown from successfully prosecuting its case. Why in the world would any government or political party want to water down a bill to that extent? It is beyond me.

For the Liberals to bring forward Bill C-64 in this form and suggest this is something that Chuck Cadman would support, is utterly and entirely wrong. Not only is it disrespectful of Mr. Cadman's memory, but it borders on being untruthful.

Earlier in my remarks I said that at best the Liberals could be considered disingenuous in their remarks. If the Liberals truly wanted to bring forward legislation, they would have simply picked up a copy of Chuck Cadman's earlier private member's bill, replicated the language and presented it. They could take credit for it. I know Mr. Cadman would not have a problem with that. He was a man without ego. He did not look for personal self-glorification, saying that he had a private member's bill, brought it forward and his name would go down in history. In my view he did not care about all that. All he wanted were results. Yet the government cannot even present the results that Mr. Cadman so tirelessly worked for, for many years. That is absolutely a shame.

Although I do not know this to be true, I would suspect very strongly that if one would ask Mr. Cadman's widow, Donna Cadman, if she would support this bill, she would say no. I also suspect that in the upcoming days and perhaps weeks, Donna Cadman will speak out against the bill. There will be no better proof than that as to why the government is wrong in its attempts to portray this bill as a Chuck Cadman bill. We will see what we will see.

I cannot suggest that this is something unique, that this is something at which the government has failed. There is a consistent pattern of the government on issues of crime, particularly motor vehicle theft. There is a continuing pattern where the government has failed to understand the realities of what is needed in terms of law and order, crime and punishment.

I will give a further example of what I speak. Recently, in the last few months, one of our colleagues, the hon. member for Langley, introduced a private member's bill that would increase the penalties of those individuals who stole cars. The bill sets out severe penalties for the first, second and third time offences for individuals who have stolen motor vehicles. From my perspective, as the member for Regina--Lumsden--Lake Centre, I heartily endorsed that bill.

In the capital city of Saskatchewan, which is part of my riding, Regina has been known in years past as the national stolen car capital of Canada, on a per capita basis at least. We have a terrible problem with car thefts in Regina. We have had gangs that had monikers and reputations as being car thieves. For those from Saskatchewan, the infamous Oldsmobile gang is one that I would draw to the attention of members of the House. They would steal nothing but Oldsmobiles. To them it was perhaps a badge of honour. We consistently saw youth offenders primarily steal time and time again motor vehicles from the city. Sometimes they were for joyrides. Other times they were stolen to perpetrate more insidious and serious crimes such as drug trafficking and that type of thing. In all cases, the number of thefts of motor vehicles in Regina was absolutely staggering.

The member for Langley brought forward a bill that would put severe penalties and deterrents upon those individuals who might be willing to or thinking of stealing a motor vehicle. If memory serves me well, and perhaps some of my hon. colleagues can refresh my memory in case I am wrong, the penalty for the first time was up to a maximum of $1,000 or a year in jail, or both, as determined by the judge. The second offence was more serious. I think it was $5,000 and up to two years and a third offence, perhaps $10,000, et cetera.

The Liberal government voted against the legislation. Did the Liberals bring forward any alternative legislation? No. When the justice minister talked about the bill the only thing I can remember is that he related it back to another issue that members on this side have, which is with mandatory minimum sentencing. The justice minister consistently said that mandatory minimums did not work because statistics and empirical evidence suggest that the judges will always go to the lesser amount as indicated on the mandatory minimums. They will not increase the sentencing. He said that was wrong and that they did not want that. The problem is that right now the sentences do not even reach the level of mandatory minimums that we were suggesting.

How in the world can the justice minister say that empirical evidence suggests that mandatory minimum sentencing does not work when in fact the sentences that are currently being given out are less than what we would suggest as the mandatory minimum? It makes no sense to me and yet we have a government that continually says one thing and does another. It says that it is tough on crime and yet I have seen no evidence from the government that would suggest it actually wants to get tough on crime.

Bill C-64 is another example. We had a private member's bill sponsored by Mr. Cadman that would have been direct, effective and would have acted as a deterrent and should have been supported by all members of the House but what did we see? Time and time again, when Mr. Cadman wanted to bring forward legislation such as this, members on that side of the House voted against it.

We have heard the government on different issues say that the reason it will not support certain things is that it wants to bring forward its own legislation, a government initiative, that will make the bill stronger, better worded and more effective. However, time and time again, when we do see legislation brought down by the government, it is not complementary legislation. It is not legislation that accurately reflects the intent of the private member's bill. It is something that is weakened, watered down and does absolutely nothing to accurately reflect the intent of the original bill. This is what is happening with Bill C-64.

Chuck Cadman would have voted against this legislation, not because he was soft on crime, far from it. We all know his record and his background. He would vote against this legislation as introduced by the government because it does not reflect his private member's bill. However we heard the justice minister stand in his place and say that this was in honour and in memory of Chuck Cadman.

I cannot think of anything more offensive than a member of Parliament trying to say that his government is honouring the memory of one of our fallen colleagues, a man who was so widely respected that after losing the nomination in his home riding as a Reform member, he ran as an independent and won overwhelmingly with, I believe, a larger plurality than he had received in the previous election. For an independent to win with that margin of victory in parliamentary circles is unheard of. That is the level of respect people had for Chuck Cadman. The Liberals are sullying his reputation and for that they should be ashamed.

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6:20 p.m.


Yvon Lévesque Bloc Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Madam Speaker, it is certain that we, as a party, will support this bill since it is an improvement over what already exists. What I do not understand is this insistence on oppressing minors or young offenders. Oppression has never succeeded anywhere.

Take for example the oldest occupation in the world. All sorts of laws have been passed to try to eliminate it. Where the impact has successfully been diminished today are places that have laws to protect prostitutes and help them work better and in a very specific environment.

Does the hon. member really believe that imposing a very severe criminal penality on a minor or a young adult will get rid of this problem? Does he not believe this will instead send the young person to prison, where he will refine his methods and end up doing even more damage? Would it not be better to address the problem more specifically and make the punishment fit the crime?

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6:20 p.m.


Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Madam Speaker, I was a little confused at the start of my hon. colleague's question as to how the Constitution got into this debate but I think I understand the point the hon. member was trying to make.

I must tell the hon. member that I am a big believer in deterrents which is why I think the bill could be effective. It is not so much what happens after a criminal is apprehended and perhaps sent to jail. What we must question is whether the crime could have been prevented to begin with. I think the best answer to crime prevention is having a system of criminal law that would deter individuals from committing a crime.

Bills, such as the one Mr. Cadman was purporting and bills my colleague from Langley was sponsoring, that would put severe penalties on individuals for committing crimes, whether it be the theft of a motor vehicle or the defacing or removal of VINs, would be effective law-making in my view. I believe that if laws like this came into effect in Canada and more young offenders understood the penalties they would be facing, they would think twice before they committed such acts.

What we really want to get at in all of the legislation that we bring forward in this place is legislation that would not only be effective after the fact but legislation that would act as a deterrent before the fact. That is what I am looking for in any legislation that deals with crime and law and order issues. This does not effectively deal with that.

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6:20 p.m.


Werner Schmidt Conservative Kelowna, BC

Madam Speaker, I commend my hon. colleague for his exposition of this bill but I think there is another dimension to Chuck Cadman that I would like to ask the member to perhaps address.

I knew Chuck from the day he was first elected to the House. In fact, I had the opportunity to follow Chuck Cadman to a public meeting shortly after his son had been murdered. It was quite an experience because Chuck had a compassion for his fellow Canadians. The one thing that seemed to be motivating Chuck more than anything else that I can recall was the injustice perpetrated on the victims of crime. They are not recognized in our society. It seems almost as if the protection of the criminal is greater than the protection of the victims. It is almost as if the victims do not count in this world. I wonder if my colleague could address some of those sorts of situations.

We have the indirect victims of car theft, for example the insurance companies that have to pay out the owners' claims and therefore the premiums go up. Now the victims are not just the insurance companies that have to pay the claims but insurance premiums go up when car thefts increase. The other group of victims are those who perhaps inadvertently buy a car that has been stolen and then lose it on that basis.

It seems to me that the whole motivation that Chuck Cadman had in presenting this bill was to do exactly what my hon. colleague from the Bloc mentioned. He asked whether we needed deterrents and that is precisely the issue. Chuck Cadman wanted to make sure that people who perpetrated crimes would not do so in the same way they had done before. There would be fewer and fewer people engaging in crime because the victims are the people who are left without any recourse.

I think it is important to recognize that the life and motivation of one of our fellow legislators was not designed primarily to punish people or to get even with people. It was simply to recognize that we need to make some changes in our society because unless we make those changes people will continue to engage in crime and the victims will increase. It is time we recognize the victims and protect people from becoming victims of vicious crime.