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House of Commons Hansard #74 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

He is soft on crime and has a hug a thug philosophy.

He said something that is not correct. He said that under conditional sentencing, the offender is under supervision. That sounds good, but in reality we need to ask the member what his definition is of supervision.

Supervision could be that the offender, who is supposed to be at home, could be seen once a week or once a month. However, that is not what Canadians understand as supervision. Full time supervision, having somebody watch the person all the time, is what they are assuming.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Batters Conservative Palliser, SK

Jail.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

How do we get supervision? We have just heard it, incarceration.

Canadians want to give offenders a chance, if they are first-time offenders and it is a minor offence. However, we are talking about people breaking into people's homes and auto crime, serious, high risk offenders. We are talking about very dangerous people. They will reoffend. Permitting them to serve their sentences at home, puts communities at risk.

Could the member define what he means by under supervision?

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Hochelaga has 20 seconds to reply.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I agree more with what the member said in the first part of his remarks and less with his comments in the second part.

It is obvious that in cases of serious crime—and I repeat, break and enter can be a serious crime—conditional sentencing may not be appropriate.

We do not claim that it is indicated in all circumstances, we do not claim that it is a constitutional right, but we are stating that it may be appropriate in certain cases.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will not cover the ground already covered by the members from the Liberal Party and the Bloc. I will focus on a particular aspect of the amendments introduced in the House today.

The work the committee did and the amendments the committee proposed dealt with the most serious offences. It is unfortunate that the minister chose to introduce the amendments to this bill today when they could have gone to committee for full and open debate. The committee could have had some witnesses come forward to address some of the issues that have been raised in the House today.

I will focus on one particular group that would be adversely impacted by the proposed amendments in the House; that is the first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

We have had briefing notes from the Assembly of First Nations, in which they comment on the overrepresentation of first nations people in the criminal justice system. It is important that I highlight a couple of statistics the Assembly of First Nations has raised of the very serious concerns about the overrepresentation of first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.

The assembly says that 2.7% of the population in Canada, as of March 31, are first nations, but they represent 18.5% of all federally incarcerated prisoners in Canada. In 2000 approximately 1,792, or 41.3% all federally incarcerated aboriginal offenders were 25 years or younger. That is a shocking number. The number of incarcerated aboriginal women has also steadily increased from 1996-97. In the year 2003-04, they represented an increase of 74.2% over seven years.

Those are numbers that we must deal with as a Parliament and as a nation.

In addition, the Assembly of First Nations also identified the fact that aboriginal offenders represented 12% of the overall number of conditional sentences. That is an important fact, and that is the item that is before this House today, in connection with sentences.

There a number of recommendations that the Assembly of First Nations had specifically made. One of them is that we continue with the aboriginal justice agreement, which had been in development. However, it also emphasizes the fact that restorative justice has played a role in harnessing the rate of overrepresentation of first nations people in the criminal justice system and it is more consistent with the values of first nations than the prison system and can result in restoring harmony in the communities.

Those are all very important factors that this House needs to consider.

I want to quote from a letter from the Teslin Tlingit Council. They wrote a letter, dated October 20, which included a briefing it sent to the justice committee. I want to quote from the letter because I think this is a very important element. It states:

Notably we are concerned with the Prime Minister's refusal to endorse the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights which speak to the right of self-determination, as well as [the Minister for Public Safety's] response to the Federal Correction Report findings that First Nation inmates face discrimination within the Canadian justice system, followed by the recent federal bills tabled by [the Minister of Justice], which in our world view contribute to the already high rate of incarceration of First Nations people.

This is in context of the Teslin Tlingit's attempts to have a justice system as part of their agreed terms in their treaty.

In the briefing it provided to the committee, it indicated that:

Within the Yukon, conditional sentences had proven to be an effective instrument utilized by the Territorial Courts working with First Nation community processes, such as the Teslin Tlingit Peacemaker Sentencing Panel. Conditional sentences have contributed towards the promotion and exercise of community accountability and support of offenders to achieve the successful completion of their conditions, while also acknowledging and responding to the interest of those who have been victimized by a crime. The result is that families are kept together with a focus on balancing retribution and rehabilitation of the individual, which provides for the benefit of the overall community.

This element is important. A member of the government just talked about the fact that opposition parties have no concern for the victim. However, the Teslin Tlingit peoples specifically talk about the fact that conditional sentencing is an important element in not only considering the victim, but considering the overall health and well-being of the community. This element has been left out of the discussion.

In addition, the Teslin Tlingit have made a specific recommendation around what is perhaps a potential solution here. They say:

Consultation with First Nations would inform parliamentarians that the majority of offenders require social support to address root issues of self-destructive and offensive behaviour. Resources directed towards enforcement and institutions create a false sense of security for a short period of time. Institutional programing is often ineffective as the work is done in isolation of the realities of a community with little of the required changes to assist in the offender's reintegration to their family or community.

It is this overall comprehensive approach that all of us in this House would agree is very important. It is very important that there are enforcement regulations that do fit the crime, but we also feel that there need to be adequate resources in prevention and in support and rehabilitation.

In the recent annual report of the correctional investigator, we again have a report that talks about the disproportionate numbers of aboriginal peoples, first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples who are in prison. The investigator highlighted a couple of key elements. He said:

Over the past decade, our Annual Reports have made specific recommendations...addressing the systemic and discriminatory barriers that prevent Aboriginal offenders from full benefit of their statutory and constitutional rights and that significantly limit their timely and safe reintegration into the community.

He goes on to say that first nations, Métis and Inuit represent “18 per cent of the federal prison population though they amount to just 3 per cent of the general Canadian population”. He states that the correctional service does not control admissions to penitentiaries, but it does have the constitutional and statutory obligation to manage sentences in a culturally responsive and non-discriminatory manner.

Given the fact that we have this report from the correctional investigator which talks about systemic and discriminatory barriers, it would seem incumbent upon us to use other tools such as conditional sentences to make sure that first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples are receiving justice measures that are more culturally appropriate and to also deal with their overrepresentation in the current federal prison system.

He notes in his report that aboriginal women are overrepresented. I pointed to this earlier in the Assembly of First Nations statistics. He talks about the fact that aboriginal offenders, once in prison, are less likely to be granted temporary absences and parole or are granted parole later in their sentences, are more likely to have their parole suspended or revoked and are more likely to be classified at higher security levels. He says that is just as true today as it was 20 years ago, so clearly nothing much has changed in 20 years. It is a sad comment on the way the justice system has these systemic and discriminatory barriers.

In wrapping up, I want to re-emphasize the position that has been put forward by the Teslin Tlingit,which is that there should be consultation and the cultural perspective of first nations, Métis and Inuit communities needs to be taken into account.

I want to close by mentioning the importance of investing in community resources. There is a youth detox and youth stabilization program under way in my riding, run by a program manager and called ADAPT. This program is aimed at helping youth deal with addictions and substance abuse. The local RCMP officers in our community are actively involved in this program because it is a critical element in helping youth stay out of the prison system and also in working closely with the community to make sure that rehabilitation is there to help potential young offenders, their families and the community at large deal with some very serious issues.

I would urge members of the House to reject the amendments proposed by the government and get back to looking at the original bill, which actually deals with some very serious crime issues but also encourages us to look at conditional sentences as a tool before the courts to deal with some of the cultural issues facing first nations, Métis and Inuit communities.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Conservative Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, while I thank the hon. member for her comments and thoughts, particularly on how this bill applies to our first nations people, my concern is that this particular bill is for all Canadians. While I do understand her concerns and I thank her for having voiced them here in the House, this particular bill is to get tough on crime for all Canadians.

I am a father of five children. I was reading through some of the offences that were gutted from the bill in committee. Quite frankly, it is shocking. I will read some of them now in the House for members.

For example, there is impaired driving causing bodily harm. What if I am walking down the street and someone has decided to drive while impaired and they hit my child? It is house arrest for that person.

Next is assault with a weapon. We are talking about a weapon and assaulting a fellow Canadian. Again it is house arrest.

Kidnapping and forcible confinement are next. Once again, I am concerned for my family and my children. I do not think I stand here alone. I believe I am speaking for Canadians who are worried about crime.

Next is abduction of persons under the age of 14. Four of my children are under the age of 14. This concerns me greatly.

Next is breaking and entering with intent. Here I would ask people to imagine themselves in their home when someone breaks in and enters their home. They have invaded our privacy. They have invaded our sanctuary. They may have assaulted us with a weapon at the same time. They are going to get house arrest.

Putting party politics aside, how do Canadians feel about these crimes? How do my colleagues feel about these crimes and this idea of house arrest for serious crimes such as these?

I have a question for my colleague. I understand my colleague's concerns, but how does she respond when the bill applies to all Canadians and to their concerns about family safety and their own personal safety within Canada?

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I only have to point to the statistics in the United States, where there are 700-plus people incarcerated per 100,000 of population and where supposedly there is this tough on crime approach. It clearly is not working.

Again, I think all members of the House would agree that for those very serious offences we should have a system that takes a look at appropriate incarceration, but I also think we need to ensure that our judiciary has a toolbox and a range of approaches that will allow them to make the most appropriate determination.

Certainly where there have been mistakes in the past, I think we have mechanisms to deal with those issues. I think we do need to also look at a comprehensive package, again, one that looks at incarceration and enforcement as one aspect of it, but we also need to look at the rehabilitation and the prevention. We have to make sure that our communities are addressing some of the poverty issues, for example, which we know drive people to some of those crimes.

We really do need to look at a broader picture so that we have a comprehensive package that makes sure Canadians are safe in their homes.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Gary Merasty Liberal Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, there have been about three dozen aboriginal justice reports and inquiries over the last number of years, each pointing to the utilization of the strategies that the member talks about.

Would the member tell the House how she thinks Bill C-9 will continue to contribute to that negative stereotyping and those systemic barriers that are in the system today?

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I think that is one of the big challenges with the bill. It does not look at the systemic and discriminatory barriers that are already in place in the criminal justice system. It does nothing to address the poverty issues in first nations, Métis and Inuit communities that contribute to the kinds of challenges we have.

If as a society we want to say that we respect human rights, I think we really do need to look at a justice system that is also culturally appropriate. Bill C-9 fails to do that.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

It being 4:52 p.m., pursuant to order adopted earlier today it is my duty to interrupt the deliberations and to put the question on Motion No. 1.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

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

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

All those opposed will please say nay.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Liberal Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the vote be deferred until the end of government orders.

Motions in AmendmentCriminal CodeGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

So ordered.

The House resumed from October 16 consideration of the motion that Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Hazardous Materials Information Review ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Québec.

Hazardous Materials Information Review ActGovernment Orders

November 1st, 2006 / 4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Bill S-2 originated in the Senate. It is the old Bill S-40 from the Senate before the last elections. It was discussed in the Senate. Now it is being debated in the House of Commons. We need to debate this bill on reviewing hazardous materials information.

I am the second Bloc member to speak on this. My colleague, the hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie, was a health and workplace safety engineer at Hydro Quebec and made his career in the health field. He spoke about this bill, guided us in our understanding of it, and enlightened us on its purposes.

The Bloc Québécois supports this bill for several reasons which I will explain over the next few minutes. Its purpose is to reduce the amount of information required to claim an exemption. The current process for claiming an exemption is very long. The form is complex and can delay the adoption of an exemption, even when the company agrees to do so. In the past, this was refused. Now, when there is a claim for an exemption, the process will be much shorter.

The second purpose is to speed up the process for providing workplace health and safety information about using these products. This bill enables the commission to reply to requests for further information on matters submitted by the appeal board. At present, this is not permitted. When companies want to submit rectifications without going through a long process, they are refused.

Hazardous Materials Information Review ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Hazardous Materials Information Review ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, could my hon. colleagues in the NDP be a little quieter? They are very excited and I can hardly hear myself speak.

Hazardous Materials Information Review ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

Order, please. The hon. member for Québec is asking for the cooperation of all hon. members of the House.

I would hope that members of all parties will allow the hon. member for Québec to be heard.