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House of Commons Hansard #38 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crime.

Topics

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

I would just remind the member for Malpeque to not let anger get in the way of using the third person.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Surely there is some obligation for hon. members to stay away from complete fabrications and untruths. Is there nowhere in the rules or Standing Orders that one has to tell the truth from to time? Is there nothing barring somebody like him from standing and making an insultingly, completely--

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Bill Blaikie

It sounds to me more like a point of debate.

The hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am going to resist getting into that pushing and shoving match which we just witnessed. I want to get to the issue of sentencing, as we debate Bill C-10.

As we all know, Bill C-10 bulks up the number of mandatory minimum sentences that would be in the Criminal Code. While there is room in every Criminal Code for some mandatory minimums, the easiest one is the sentence for first degree murder, which has a mandatory minimum sentence of life, at least in our country. Other countries have other penalties.

We are not really debating whether there should be a mandatory minimum sentence in place for any particular crime. We are debating the extent of those mandatory minimum sentences.

I used the term that the current bill bulks up. It really does bulk up or materially increases the number of mandatory minimum sentences that would be in the Criminal Code, if the bill passes, with particular reference to firearms offences. At the end of the last Parliament, an attempt was made to increase, by a small margin, the number of mandatory minimum sentences associated with the criminal use of firearms. In fact, the House passed a bill only within the last few years which did precisely that.

When I looked at the data, I came across what I thought was an interesting perspective on crime statistics. It has to do with how we look at crime statistics across the country. Although I have had many occasions to look at statistics over the years, I had not noticed any of this before. Members may or may not relate to this.

I represent a Toronto area riding. When I looked at the crime statistics for the Toronto area, the census metropolitan area called the CMA, the Toronto CMA was number 26 on a list of 27 Canadian metropolitan areas for crime. That means there are 25 other municipalities in Canada that have crime rates in excess of that in Toronto for the timeframe that ended with the year 2004. I thought that was peculiar. I would have thought the big cities would have had the highest crime rates. It turns out I am wrong.

Toronto was 26 on a list of 30 for criminal statistics kept by police forces across the country. Those are reliable statistics, too, but vary slightly from Statistics Canada. I will mention some of the places that were near the top of the list. This is not for the purpose of maligning these communities. A problem with crime in Canada is a problem for all Canadians as well as the communities involved. All five of the communities with the higher overall crime rates, Regina, Saskatoon, Abbotsford, Winnipeg and Vancouver, were all cities removed from the eastern part of Canada.

If I were an MP coming one of those communities, I would be telling the House that there is a relatively high crime rate in my community and that we have to do something about it. If I come from a community with a lower crime rate, I will say that there is a crime problem but we have to look at it in perspective. I had always been curious as to why there was a difference in perspectives among members of the House when it came to the current data.

Perhaps that is part of the explanation for communities that have higher crime rates. I am not talking marginally higher, I am talking double and triple the rates in some of the other eastern Canadian cities. If I were to be representing a high crime community, I would be pulling the chain a lot more firmly in terms of getting an appropriate response to dealing with those crime levels.

I want to point out that the sentencing regime, the sentencing used for both the cities with the lower crime rates and the cities with the higher crime rates is the same. Therefore, I do not think we can say it is the sentencing that is responsible for the higher crime rate.

We might also want to say that it is not the sentencing which is responsible for the lower crime rate. However, we are talking about material differences in crime rates, but the same sentencing regime.

We ought to look at the real crime data. I will ask members to look back 15 years or more to a report of a committee of the House, the justice committee. It was chaired by Dr. Bob Horner. At that time we looked at the crime rates in the United States of America. It had the highest imprisonment rate of all the countries where there was data on incarceration.

Looking back at our report, we said that if locking up all those who violated the law contributed to safer societies, then the United States should be the safest country in the world, which it was not. The U.S. Senate judiciary committee agreed. Using 1990 data, it said that the United States was a world leader in reported murder, rape and robbery rates. Yet it had the highest incarceration rate. The higher incarceration rates did not noticeably improve, in any way, the risk and crime rate levels in the United States.

At about the same time, it is true that the crime rates in Canada were relatively high. They had gone up, the prior 10 years leading up to 1991. Starting in 1991, the crime rates began to drop, and they have been dropping ever since in Canada, not because of the Horner report and not because of what Parliament did or did not do. Looking back, it probably had a lot to do with the sociological factors that caused crime.

I would love an opportunity to go into those today. I will not have a chance. I will simply make two or three points.

First, I believe enforcement is a major component of reducing crime. I think that has been proved in the community I come from. It is being proved now as police and prosecutors are learning how to do better enforce.

Second, crime prevention initiatives have payoffs, but it involves the long run. Factors that give rise to crime are poverty, physical and sexual abuse, illiteracy, low self esteem, inadequate housing, school failure, unemployment, inequality and dysfunctional families. These have all been identified as the root causes of crime. Increasing mandatory sentencing does not address any one of those at all.

That is with regret. That is why I am having difficulty with a wholesale entry in mandatory minimum penalties. I could accept that there would be a few serious crimes where society had an interest in increasing, the denunciation factor, the desire of Canadians to say that this offence is so serious that we have to attach a mandatory sentence, a one-off. However, the bill does not do that. It takes a whole file, a whole truckload of offences and creates mandatory minimums. I suggest that is not the way to go.

I encourage us to continue the debate here or at committee. Let us look at the sentencing principles contained in the Criminal Code. They are well enunciated. They were established by the House approximately 12 years ago. They are very good and they speak conceptually against the concept of mandatory minimums.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a simple question to ask the member opposite based on what I have heard.

Everyone who commits a crime in Canada is a product of some exclusion of society. Therefore, it is justified that they are able to commit these crimes and we should all feel sorry for them.

If someone were to commit a sexual offence, aggravated sexual assault with a firearm, be convicted under the change in law and not able to commit another offence for five years, would the member feel good about telling the parents of a young daughter from his constituency that the individual was locked up for five years and not on the street able to do it again? That would be five years for an offence like that where victims would have some feeling of retribution and a sense of justice for the crime committed against them.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member takes the slam the cell door closed and throw away the key approach. I think every sentencing decision is based on its own merits and we rely on judges to do that with the general direction of appeal courts.

However, as a parent I would be concerned about any crime, but let me put this back to the member as a scenario. With the proposed mandatory minimum sentencing, what if a very well intentioned Crown prosecutor decides he or she wants to take a guilty plea to a lesser included offence? Instead of getting the mandatory minimum which the member would like to see, we end up taking a summary conviction plea or another lesser included offence and we end up without the mandatory minimum at all.

By imposing mandatory minimums across the board, defence counsel and Crown attorneys across the country will attempt to both use the higher penalty to induce plea bargaining and an attempt to avoid incarceration rates that will come with that.

As sure as night follows day and day follows night that will be a consequence of ratcheting up the mandatory minimums. I do not mind if the person culpable of the offence outlined by the hon. member is put in jail for five years or ten years provided that is a fair sentence determined by a court after a fair trial determined by a judge. I am happy to see the person put away for a long time, but not just on this chart of lock'em up and throw away the key approach that seems to be contained in the bill.

LeucanStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, June 11, the head office of Leucan in Montreal and nine regional committees simultaneously held the third provincial head shaving challenge. The event was an unprecedented success. In total, 4,700 people had their heads shaved, raising a record $2,200,000.

All the money raised thanks to the generosity of Quebeckers and the involvement of numerous partners, personalities and participants will go to the organization, to promote healing and well-being among children with cancer and provide support for their families.

I would like to thank my special advisor, Norm Vocino, for his involvement and the Conservative caucus and staff for their generosity.

JusticeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Tom Wappel Liberal Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, Toronto newspapers recently reported on the case of Leslie Hoogland, a former Toronto high school teacher, who was convicted of possession of over 2,000 pornographic pictures of Toronto area under-age boys. He had also hired child prostitutes in the Toronto area.

For these heinous crimes against children, Madame Justice Faye McWatt gave him a two year conditional sentence, including one year of house arrest. How does a sentence like this send a message of denunciation and deterrence? It does not.

It is sentences like this, for crimes against children, which cry out for reform of conditional sentencing. Bill C-9 would address these irresponsible sentences imposed by judges since we cannot count on them to self-regulate their use of conditional sentences. Passage of Bill C-9 cannot come soon enough for the exploited children of Canada and the world.

Baha'i CommunityStatements By Members

June 12th, 2006 / 2 p.m.

Bloc

Louise Thibault Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees all people freedom of religious expression.

The people in the Baha'i community in my riding and elsewhere in Quebec and Canada are very concerned about the persecutions of members of the Baha'i faith living in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In addition to being persecuted, they are being deprived of the most basic rights, such as the right to higher education for young people and the right to own property.

Baha'is seek only the unity of humankind, the equality of men and women, the reduction of the gap between rich and poor and the elimination of racial, religious and social conflict. For this they are tortured, raped, killed and stripped of their property.

I ask the Government of Canada to take the necessary steps so that the international community condemns this intolerable situation.

Rural CommunitiesStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, in the process of the renewal of northwestern British Columbia, we are learning important lessons on how diverse groups can come together with common interests to achieve incredible things. The good news is we are turning a corner in northwestern British Columbia.

Here are a few examples. First, the expansion of the Prince Rupert container port could only have happened because government, workers, community groups and investors took the time to work together for a common purpose.

A few months ago, the sinking of the Queen of the North, a tragedy on all accounts, also delivered incredible results with a unifying spirit from the people of Hartley Bay and Prince Rupert who went out to save all those passengers.

Most recently, there was the phenomenon called Hockeyville in which my community placed in the top five across this nation. It brought together groups that never sat together at tables before. I would like to offer my congratulations on behalf of the people of Smithers to Salmon River, Nova Scotia for being named Hockeyville Canada.

We all know that rural communities contribute in a vital way to Canada. It seems that we also have a lot to teach our urban cousins on how to get things done.

Mick HertzStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Lynne Yelich Conservative Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, while the sacrifices of a career are not the greatest an individual can make, they are sacrifices nonetheless. For many, a career requires absence from the special occasions at home.

Today, I join with my community in mourning the passing of a local hero, Mick Hertz, a mentor and teacher at Kenaston School. His commitment to education and deep faith made him a beloved member of our community. He will be greatly missed, especially by his wife Paddy, his children Mike Jr., Regan, their families, and youngest son Nathan.

Today my youngest daughter Ivana turns 17. As an MP since 2000, this is not the only special occasion in her life I would rather have been there more. From afar, I simply say Happy Birthday Ivana Melissa Ann. I thank Ivana, her sister Elaina, her fiance Brian and my husband. Though I know I was needed there, my family has given me their unwavering and unconditional support and understanding.

Happy Birthday Ivana and God Bless. I know that God is with our community today.

ProstitutionStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, as Canadians we have a lot to be proud of, but we must take responsibility for the not so great. It is shameful that with all we know that the continued abuse and victimization of women and children exists in our society.

The sex trade creates many victims. Some people from my town see this every day. People are fed up with seeing drug and prostitution paraphernalia littered through their neighbourhoods and have taken matters into their own hands by creating a group called Residents Against Street Solicitation.

It is known as RASS, Residents against Street Prostitution and Solicitation.

I call on the government to stand up for women and children, and provide more resources and social programs to women in need.

Prostitution is a problem that illustrates the social inequalities between the sexes. The government wants to protect men with guns, but is doing very little to assist women and their families. If it is not right for our daughters, mothers or our wives, it is not right for any woman.

EducationStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to acknowledge the many outstanding graduates in my constituency of Kelowna—Lake Country.

This has been a milestone month for education as we are celebrating the first ever graduating classes of two new post-secondary institutions. On June 3 Okanagan College held its first ever spring convocation: 209 students graduated with diplomas, while 142 students were given degrees.

On June 9 the University of British Columbia welcomed over 450 new alumni, as graduating students participated in the first graduation ceremony at UBC Okanagan.

In addition, over 1,357 grade 12 students will have high school diplomas conferred upon them. While I would like to congratulate all the local high school students for reaching this great accomplishment, I would also like to send special congratulations to my wonderful daughter, Ashley, who graduated on Saturday from Kelowna Secondary School. Enjoy your prom tonight, dear.

On behalf of the constituents of Kelowna—Lake Country, we applaud all the recent graduates and wish them much success in all their future endeavours.

Mistissini ReserveStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, last week, 3,200 residents of the Mistissini reserve had to leave their homes when forest fires were engulfing the area.

During my visit there on June 8, I could see that the residents of Mistissini handled this situation with great patience and calm.

I want to commend the Red Cross teams and all the volunteers from Chibougamau and Mistissini who received the people of the Mistissini community and offered them food, lodging and support.

I applaud the tremendous effort by the municipal emergency preparedness organization for their coordination and hospitality during the evacuation. I also want to thank the forest rangers for their work, which allowed the Mistissini residents to go home with complete peace of mind.

I am very proud of the people of my riding for supporting one another.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Barry Devolin Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Mr. Speaker, over the past few months I have been asked many times why I focus so much on farmers and foods. That is a good question and here is my answer.

First, farming is a primary industry. As such, farmers create new wealth that is recycled many times throughout the economy. In other words, every farm that survives and prospers helps to support many other businesses and jobs in our rural communities.

Second, I recognize that it is farmers who produce the food that our families eat. In fact, every meal we have ever eaten originally came from a farm somewhere. After 60 years of plentiful food in Canada, I guess it is easy to forget that simple fact.

Third, Canadian farmers desperately need more advocates right now. It would take 10 minutes just to list all the challenges they face, let alone describe them.

One of the things I have learned in life is that we must focus to be successful. I know that there are many worthy causes in social, economic and foreign policy before Parliament. However, the place where I want to play a leading role is standing up for Canadian farmers and food.

CartiervilleStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Liberal Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to draw the attention of the House and all Canadians to the 100th anniversary of Cartierville, which I have had the honour of representing with great pride for 10 years now—one tenth of its existence.

Cartierville was named not in honour of Jacques Cartier—although that is not much of a stretch since Cartierville is on the St. Lawrence seaway, which was discovered by Jacques Cartier—but in honour of Georges Étienne Cartier, one of the fathers of Confederation. In 1906, Cartierville became a village. In 1912, Cartierville became a town.

In 2002 the borough of Ahuntsic Cartierville was created.

Cartierville has maintained its rural roots despite the railroad and urbanization. We can go canoeing there, or fishing—although I do not recommend eating the fish too often—or go for a hike in the woods. The Rimbaud and Belmont parks are there, as are the Saguenay woods.

Cartierville also has a multicultural population that is very active. I would suggest that the government look very closely at the sports centre project that would be very good for the population of Cartierville.

Foreign AffairsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, this government places the protection and the promotion of freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law as central to our international agenda. We are greatly concerned with the recent deterioration of human rights in Syria and Egypt.

In Syria, voluntary association and community activists, intellectuals and other citizens are being arrested as they promote human rights and seek to build the democratic opposition. We expect Syria to respect international human rights law and to move forward with democratic reforms.

In Egypt, we are concerned that disciplinary measures have been taken against two judges, that excessive force has been used against protesters, and that the opposition leader, Mr. Ayman Nour, remains incarcerated. Our embassy has led international efforts to visit and support Mr. Nour and will continue to do so. We are also disappointed by the decision to renew the state of emergency for a further two years despite earlier promises to bring it to an end.

We call upon other countries to stand up for freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law as fundamental values that can no longer be trampled upon.

Northern EnergyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, northern Canadians face the highest energy costs in this country. One of the ways these costs can be reduced is to replace imported fossil fuels with renewable energy.

For example, the community of Wha Ti is developing a run of the river mini hydro project which, when completed, will eliminate the need for diesel-powered generators. This will reduce the energy costs to this community significantly, and for generations ahead.

NWT's diamond mines would benefit from the surplus electricity from the Talston River hydroelectric project, replacing polluting diesel fuel transported on ice roads.

In addition to small scale hydro, other forms of renewable energy being considered by northerners are wind, solar, biomass and wood pellets.

However, to realize these initiatives, northerners need the federal government to support them. That will allow these developments to occur. Such support will help northern residents reduce energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build long term self-sufficiency.

Patrick FortinStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Anthony Rota Liberal Nipissing—Timiskaming, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Patrick Fortin. Patrick was born on June 26, 1978, a severe hemophiliac. To manage his bleeding disorder, Patrick required biweekly infusions. As a result of contaminated blood, Patrick was diagnosed HIV positive in February 1986 at the age of seven.

A talented athlete and gifted musician, Patrick enjoyed life to the fullest. His positive outlook, courage and determination in the face of adversity inspired everyone he met. At every birthday and each full moon, Patrick had only one wish: a cure for AIDS. Unfortunately, Patrick passed away before that cure was found.

Yesterday the inaugural Run Walk 4 Patrick took place in North Bay, attracting over 500 participants. Patrick would be proud that through his enduring spirit we continue to raise HIV-AIDS awareness and funds for a cure.

On behalf of all hon. members, I would like to congratulate Patrick's parents, Christine and Christian, his family and all organizers for hosting such a worthwhile event.

Patrick was with us for only a short time, but for those of us who knew him, our lives are forever changed.

World Day Against Child LabourStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we are commemorating the fifth World Day Against Child Labour. This year's theme is “Together we can do it!”

As we speak, children are being forcefully recruited to take part in armed conflicts; others are being killed, tortured or sexually exploited.

Globalization has aggravated poverty significantly in some developing countries, where children are left to fend for themselves and forced to work full days often in dangerous conditions.

In 2004, the International Labour Organization estimated that there were 218 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 working. In 2002, the International Labour Office estimated that 8.4 million children were victims of illicit activities.

Thanks to the francophone section of Amnesty International and to Children's Care International, we are tabling today a petition with over 12,000 signatures calling on Canada to promote the convention to ban the worst forms of child exploitation.

Through a sense of solidarity and humanity, the Bloc Québécois is denouncing injustice committed against children worldwide.

Canadian Wheat BoardStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Anita Neville Liberal Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I recently had the opportunity to meet with representatives of the Canadian Wheat Board to learn at first hand the challenges facing Canadian wheat and barley growers as they market their products to the world.

It is important for government to remember what a farmer controlled Wheat Board means and not attempt to intervene in the decision of its future. A survey conducted last March showed that almost nine out of 10 farmers say that any decision to end the Canadian Wheat Board single-desk marketing system should be made by farmers, not by the federal government.

To disempower farmers is to undermine a longstanding relationship of trust and cooperation. “Farmer controlled” means that the farmers decide the future. To dismantle the Wheat Board is to seriously undermine the economy of downtown Winnipeg.

All parties must move thoughtfully, understanding the full implications of the decisions made.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Conservative Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, this weekend 11 wannabes gathered for the first Liberal leadership debate. After such a boring and visionless showing, let us call them Waffley, Blurry, Burny, Shakey, Lefty, Yappy, Five-Hole, Who, American Nomad, Shouty, and Doc. Let us discover some of their real identities.

Waffley is the ethically challenged member from Kings-Hants, who cannot decide what position he has on policies like Kyoto. Blurry, the member from Vaughan, objected to debating health care, and no one knows where he stands.

People are still wondering if Burny, the member from Vancouver Centre, is still seeing burning crosses in Prince George. We also have Shakey, the member from Eglinton—Lawrence, who denied he was shaking down elementary kids for $5,400 campaign donations.

Five-Hole is the member from York Centre, who is about as comfortable in this leadership race as he is out of net. American Nomad, from parts unknown, the member from Etobicoke—Lakeshore, bragged about his ignorance of the equalization formula.

If this is the best the Liberals have to offer, Canadians can expect the Liberal Party to be in opposition for a long, long time.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, in Canada-U.S. relations, Canadians want their government to show the skill and the will to stand up for Canada. We want to be good neighbours, but not sycophants.

The softwood lumber deal now being rammed down our throats is a classic case of the Conservatives trying to appease their Republican idols and getting a bad deal in return. Why did the Prime Minister let the U.S. off the hook on its NAFTA obligations and why did he settle for what in real terms is just more than 50% of the illegal American duties?

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the accusations of the member of the opposition are ridiculous, of course. This is a good deal for our softwood industry and a good deal for Canada. That is why the vast majority of the industry supports it. It is why the provinces support it.

We will wait and see what the position of the Liberal Party will be when we bring the final text to the House of Commons.

Softwood LumberOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, the government clearly believes that any deal is better than no deal. At every turn, the Conservatives want to please their Republican idols. They want us to live our lives just like them, but that is not what Canadians want. Canadians want to stand up for Canada.

The Prime Minister once said that he would not agree to anything short of a 100% rebate of the softwood duties taken from Canadians illegally. What changed his mind and why did he give up?