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House of Commons Hansard #24 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crime.

Topics

Tackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, under our amendments, a convicted criminal must be imprisoned and excluded from a conditional sentence. Of course, it is for theft convictions and other similar offences that these amendments should appear in the legislation. This is why we are calling once again for these six amendments proposed by the Bloc Québécois to be included in Bill C-2.

Tackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate at report stage motion on Motion No. 2, and generally on Bill C-2, which is an omnibus bill consolidating five previously introduced justice bills.

I would encourage members to look back to the last session to the speech of the member for Windsor—Tecumseh in which he gave his, I think, respected views to the House about the problem with introducing 10 or so bills in sequence, all of which would have to go to the justice committee, which could not possibly deal with them all at once.

It would have to deal with them one at a time. By doing that, the government was basically frustrating the process. We should have had an omnibus bill right from the beginning of the last session in order to include some of these items where the same witnesses could have appeared and the same or similar Criminal Code amendments or whatever might have been introduced.

I want to encourage members to look at that speech because what is happening right now with Bill C-2 is exactly what the member said. I think that is why this House honoured that member as the most knowledgeable member of Parliament in a recent survey. I congratulate him on that. It was well-deserved and earned, and I think his record shows it.

I asked the member earlier about whether or not there were certain conditions or criteria or exceptions that would be taken into account with regard to sentencing and penalties as prescribed under the Criminal Code. I specifically mentioned fetal alcohol spectrum disorder not only because it is a matter that I am interested in, and I have tried to do some work on, but because there is clear evidence and testimonials by lawyers and by judges that as much as half of the people who appear before the criminal courts suffer from alcohol-related birth defects.

People who suffer from alcohol-related birth defects, like some form of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, have a problem understanding the difference between right and wrong. They have brain damage. They are in a situation where it is a permanent condition. They are in a situation which cannot be rehabilitated, and yet we have a criminal justice system which says that if people do something wrong, they go to jail. They go there, and what do we do? We put them in a program of rehabilitation

I see a tremendous contradiction in suggesting that somehow all persons in Canada who may run afoul of the laws of Canada and be guilty of a criminal offence have to be subject to the same identical sanctions and criteria for those sanctions. There are certain circumstances for which I believe they should not be.

I wanted to put that on the table because it is not good enough to just have a slogan of “Let's get tough on crime”. It is not good enough for me. I do not think it is good enough for Canadians. We have to be smart on crime. We need to spend as much time on crime prevention as we do on tough penalties and hope that it is a deterrence.

When we talk about mandatory minimums, we are not touching the prescribed maximums. They are still there. They are a discretion, but when we have mandatory minimums, what we do is in fact impinge on the judicial discretion.

Every case is different. I thought that under the laws of Canada, we would have a system which would be responsive to the facts on a case by case basis, taking into account that a crime has occurred, but what were the circumstances?

We do know if there is mental incompetence, there are certain possibilities. We do know if there is coercion or there is some other problem, that it may be taken into account in sentencing, but when we get into the situation of mandatory minimums, it gives the judge no latitude whatsoever to have sentences which would be lower and prescribe, in lieu of that, some other treatment, rehabilitation or appropriate assistance because this person had some extraordinary circumstances.

I wanted to raise that. The previous Liberal government brought in mandatory minimums. There is a level, but we should not raise them to levels in which the mandatory minimums are so high that we in fact impinge on judicial discretion.

I have given this speech before, but I wanted to reiterate that I have no problem with being firm on crime, to strengthen the dangerous offenders provisions for criminals, for bad people, for repeat offenders. Those are important. Canadians expect that. Our legal system must reflect that. We have to deal with those things and we have to have the tools, but what is being created here is somewhat more rigid and maybe not as effective as it otherwise might be.

I raise it for members to be considering as we do this. I am pretty sure that we are going to have support for the omnibus bill, but I think that we are going to always have to be vigilant about what we have done, and what the implications and results are of taking those steps. We have to make sure that we are vigilant enough to make sure that maybe we have gone too far. It is now going to be up to the legislators to be able to monitor what they have done. Hopefully we have not gone too far, but I am still concerned about the issue of judicial discretion.

Bill C-10, which is part of this omnibus bill, deals with the mandatory minimum penalties. It creates two new offences: an indictable offence for breaking and entering to steal a firearm, and an indictable offence of robbery to steal a firearm.

Since there are five bills here, it is impossible for any member to deal with the entire omnibus bill. It is almost impossible for a committee to properly do some of these things when so much is piled on. Where is the prioritization here? There are certainly things that had to be done. There is no disagreement in this place. It could have been fast-tracked through this place.

There is no reason why some of these bills had to be in this omnibus bill. They should have been brought back at the same stage of legislation, and they should have been passed promptly and swiftly, sent to the Senate, returned here, given royal assent and become law in Canada.

I do not know whether there is other work to do in terms of regulations or other matters, but when we have something that is the right thing to do, let us take the most expeditious and the least litigious route to get there. What we have done is taken the longest route and the most convoluted route to get important legislation through, and I do not understand why. What is the motivation of the government to do this?

It piled on 10 bills in the last Parliament. We could not possibly do it, yet the Prime Minister, in the last press conference I saw him give on this, said the Liberals delayed the bill for 1,000 days. We have not been here 1,000 days. I am pretty sure we have not. That also is calendar days and it includes the five months that the House of Commons was not even sitting and could not hear these bills, although a committee could choose to sit outside of the time. It did not take into account the fact that when the justice committee is sitting and dealing with a bill, the other nine bills are waiting to be dealt with. We have to deal with one at a time.

It appears that there is a strategy simply to keep bills in front of this place, to continue to parrot throwaway lines like “I am tough on crime”, but not to deliver effective legislation on a timely basis, which is what we need. That is the issue here.

The Conservatives think Canadians are going to just roll over and say, “Yes, we want to be tough on crime”. They better understand what underlies that because we have some issues here. There are not enough of us, I do not believe, to defeat this omnibus bill, but I think that this approach and what the government has done with regard to these bills has been such that the public interest has not been properly served.

I have a lot more to say and I would ask for the unanimous consent of the House to continue on for another 10 minutes.

Tackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. member for Mississauga South have the unanimous consent of the House to continue speaking for another 10 minutes?

Tackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Tackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Conservative Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to what the hon. member had to say. Of course, he has been here for more than 1,000 days and during that period of time he has witnessed quite a few things occur, like gun crime in the city of Toronto, which has expanded greatly, and violent youth crime, which expanded greatly under the previous government. The Liberals did not act. They did not do anything about it.

The hon. member talked about allowing the courts the ability to make decisions to give them lots of room, so that they could look at each individual case on its merits, but he knows full well that the issue of precedence weighs large in courts. Lawyers stand up and say, “Yes, but here is a case that was exactly the same where the person only got house arrest for this violent crime”, and the court's hands are tied.

What our government is saying, a government that is standing up for safety, safe streets and communities, is that we will not allow these issues of precedence, these of issues of soft on crime decisions, to affect justice in the future. We will give them some guidelines. We will say that this is the minimum that Canadians should expect.

I do not understand why the member would have a problem with that, with supporting this comprehensive legislation and protecting communities, ones, quite frankly, very close to his own.

Tackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will not get the quote right, but what I heard in substance was that a person only got house arrest and that puts the court in a situation where it has no way to deal with the matter.

When we think about it, house arrest would be ordered by the courts. It is not impeding the courts. I do not know where the members is coming from.

Let me try again with regard to the omnibus bill itself. It is not a matter of whether we are soft on crime or tough on crime. The matter is that we are legislators. We had an opportunity to have this legislation passed more quickly. That is not going to happen now. That is justice and legislation delayed. That means justice and legislation denied.

It is extremely important for the member to understand that the government has taken a course where it has delayed five important bills by putting them in an omnibus bill and making them start all over again, when it had the opportunity to have them move forward in an expeditious fashion so we could have good laws in Canada.

Tackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-2. The bill, which is an omnibus bill, combines five previously introduced Conservative justice bills into one, Bill C-10, Bill C-22, Bill C-27, Bill C-32 and Bill C-35.

Canadians need to know what exactly this omnibus bill is really about. It is an omnibus bill that tries to combine five pieces of legislation together. Why is it necessary to combine all these bills and how will it affect legislators?

What is the intent of the Conservatives in getting all these bills together when they were fast-tracked previously? They were debated in committee thoroughly, amendments were made, and these amendments strengthened the bill and the legislation.

We, as parliamentarians, have a responsibility, and the responsibility is to be cognizant--

Speaker's RulingTackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I apologize for interrupting the hon. member for Don Valley East. We have to deal with a couple of the issues with report stage then the hon. member can continue.

I would like to deliver a revised ruling with respect to the report stage of Bill C-2. It has come to my attention that of the five motions originally received in amendment for the report stage of Bill C-2, Motions Nos. 1 and 5 are in fact consequential to Motion No. 2.

Accordingly I will allow both Motions Nos. 1 and 5 to be selected and moved. However, I note that they will be in the same group as Motion No. 2 and that the vote on Motion No. 2 will apply to these two newly selected motions.

A revised voting pattern is available at the table.

Motions in amendmentTackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-2, in Clause 40, be amended by replacing line 6 on page 37 with the following:

“vision ordered under subsection”

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-2, in Clause 56, be amended by replacing line 6 on page 50 with the following:

“vision ordered under subsection”

Motions in amendmentTackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I was mentioning, as parliamentarians we have to be cognizant and not pass bad legislation. We have to ensure that we do not interfere in the justice process as well.

These bills were thoroughly debated when they came before committee. Bills have to be handled properly if they are to get through Parliament. If they are to be handled properly, they have to be prioritized. It appears the Conservatives have no priorities. They only want to create a hodgepodge of stuff.

On October 26, 2006, the Liberals offered to fast track a package of justice bills through the House. These included Bill C-9, as it had been amended, Bill C-18, the DNA identification legislation, Bill C-19, the street racing legislation, Bill C-22, the age of consent legislation, Bill C-23, the animal cruelty legislation and Bill C-26, respecting payday loans. This offer effectively guaranteed that the Conservatives would have a majority to pass the legislation.

On March 14, the Leader of the Opposition added Bill C-35, the bail reform legislation, to the list of bills the Liberal caucus would fast track. Despite this offer, it took the Conservatives until May 30 to get the bill through committee. If the Conservatives were so keen on being hard on crime, as they have claimed, they should have taken this offer.

According to a report entitled “Unlocking America: Why and How to Reduce America’s Prison Population”, produced by the JFA Institute, the tough measures, which the government claims it is bringing through its omnibus bills, are costly and pointless. The report says that due largely to tough on crime policies, there are now eight times as many people in U.S. prisons and jails as there were in 1970, yet the crime rate today in the U.S. is about the same as it was in 1973. There is little evidence that the imprisonment binge has had much impact on crime.

As legislators, we are supposed to be here to pass good legislation, not bad legislation. We are here to debate and to amend. Amendments were proposed to the bills and the members of the Conservative Party on the committee did not want to pass them.

It is important that we reflect on what these bills talked about.

Bill C-10 talked about minimum penalties. It proposed five years for a first offence and seven years on a second or subsequent offence for eight specific offences involving the actual use of firearms, attempted murder, discharging a firearm with intent, sexual assault with a weapon, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, hostage taking, robbery, extortion and when the offence was gang related or if a restricted or prohibited firearm such as a handgun was used.

The bill was brought to committee and the committee made the necessary amendments. The committee still has very grave concerns that the bill needs to be properly documented and it has to be properly put in place so legislators know the intent of the legislation.

There is the creation of two new offences, an indictable offence of breaking and entering to steal a firearm and an indictable offence of robbery to steal a firearm. There is no difference with the version of Bill C-10, which passed through the House, and the language used in Bill C-2.

The question to be asked is why then group this in an omnibus bill? No one on the government side seems to give us an answer. All the members do is repeat their mantra that they are hard on crime. However, as I pointed out, the U.S. crime policy, which they so desperately want to follow, fails the system. It does nothing right.

Bill C-22, which was the age of protection bill, proposed to raise the age at which youth could consent to non-exploitative sexual activity. The age would be raised from 14 to 16 years of age and the age of protection of 18 years would be maintained for exploitative sexual activities.

Through amendments, the committee brought about a five year close in age. This was not there when it was proposed by the government. Therefore, another question arises. What happened to the good amendments in the mandatory minimum penalties in the age of protection?

What about Bill C-23, which was criminal procedure? According to the Official Languages Act, the committee ensured that there were changes to the bill. We said that a person who was a French-speaking person, if he or she were in court, should get a French counsel. It is important to protect language rights. In a country that has two official languages we have to protect minority rights as well. Why is this bill not mentioned at all?

Bill C-27 deals with dangerous offenders. It would provide that an offender who was serving a long term supervision order in the community and who was violating the conditions of the order would be guilty of an offence and the crown could choose to hold a dangerous offender hearing following convictions.

That was originally proposed by the Liberal justice critic. The bill would expand the possible sentence available to a judge following a finding that an individual would be a dangerous offender. The judge could now impose a long term supervision order or simply impose the sentence for the offence for which the offender had been convicted in addition to the previous option of detention in prison for an indeterminate period, which was previous available.

The Conservatives love to introduce bills. They want to take credit for a lot of things and make it on the six o'clock news. If something does not make the six o'clock news, like Bill C-23 because it was protecting minority language rights, they do not bother.

The last bill I will speak about is Bill C-32, the drug recognition experts to conduct roadside sobriety tests. It is good to promise all sorts of things, but there is no funding. When we do not have funding, how will we get these experts? For example, in Seacow Pond where would we get a person who is an expert?

It is very important that when we prepare bills and we make promises, those promises have to be kept. We have to provide the legislators with enough resources.

Motions in amendmentTackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a quick comment. I realize the member was not on the justice committee as I was during that period of time. I listened to all the debates and the witnesses who came forward, et cetera.

I will go back to the year of 2006 during the election. In my riding and in several ridings in my area all parties seemed to agree to the need to pass certain legislation, which we have brought forward in the House since that election. I could not get a debate from the Liberal or the NDP candidates about crime and who would do what. They were quite convincing that they too wanted to see these very stringent things carry on.

The NDP pretty well held its ground when we got back after the election. However, when we got to committee and the bills started coming forward, as discussed during the election and as agreed to by the Liberals, what in the world happen that all of a sudden they wanted to rip Bill C-9 for example to shreds? They could not accept it the way it was written, although that was what we promised to do during the election. My opposition candidate certainly agreed to that.

What happened to these hard on crime people in the Liberal Party? They certainly disappeared since the election of 2006. Where did they go?

Motions in amendmentTackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is wonderful to hear the Conservatives constantly repeat their mantra “hard on crime”. I think they are hard on people who cannot defend themselves. They are not hard on crime; they are stupid on crime. U.S. crime policy is what they want. Tough measures, similar to what is in the Tories' omnibus bill, are costly and pointless. That is what the report found. Nobody has disappeared.

Our party's amendments added value to Bill C-9 and Bill C-10. We are respectful of people. We are respectful of understanding a holistic approach. Nobody in our party is soft on crime and the member should understand that.

Motions in amendmentTackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Conservative St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member for Don Valley East asked why an omnibus bill. I should clarify for her as she should know and perhaps she does know that this in fact is not an omnibus bill.

An omnibus bill is a piece of legislation that has legislative impacts on various ministries. Based on that, I would have to conclude that an omnibus bill actually has a number of different ministry changes involved in it.

This bill is very specific. It has five very specific points and clauses in it that are specific to the justice ministry. Therefore, she could claim that it is a comprehensive bill, but it certainly does not fall under the term that she uses of an omnibus bill. She may wish to call it that, but technically and in the House she should be referring to it as a comprehensive bill.

She talked about all of the issues the Liberal Party has so much difficulty with. I would remind her that the Liberal Party members that represented her at committee in fact moved one amendment to the entire bill.

My question for her is, how much time is she personally going to spend helping the good senators in the Senate, most of whom are Liberal, so that in fact they will rush this bill through that house and make it legislation? She also should support her members at committee who in fact supported the legislation and only moved one amendment at committee.

Motions in amendmentTackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Yasmin Ratansi Liberal Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the truth can be stretched, the Conservatives stretch it as much as possible.

Why was there a need to combine all of the bills? Those bills themselves were complex in nature. If the member wants to blame the Senate, in almost every case the Senate dealt with the bills faster than this House did. Of the six justice bills that were not passed before the summer break, only four had even reached the Senate. The two bills that were in the Senate were Bill C-27 and Bill C-32. Of the four bills that were in the Senate, they had all only been sent in May or later.

Let us have some fairness and some truth.

Motions in amendmentTackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on Bill C-2. I hope that my colleague from Wild Rose will remain with us so that we can have the kind of discussion that we had during our review of some other bills that have been adopted.

To begin, I wish to pay tribute today to the hon. Antonio Lamer, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and probably one of the greatest criminal lawyers that the Canadian legal profession has known. As a criminal lawyer myself, I had the opportunity to get to know Mr. Justice Lamer, not at the Supreme Court, unfortunately, but through studying, analyzing and relying on decisions he had handed down. We know that in the years between 1980 and 2000, Mr. Justice Lamer and the Supreme Court rendered decisions taking into account the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that came into force in 1982. I pay heartfelt tribute to the hon. Justice Lamer. He played a significant role in the interpretation of the legislation that we must debate here and that will eventually be applied to the people of Canada, and in particular, of Quebec.

To return to Bill C-2, this is a strange bill called an omnibus bill. It brings together Bill C-10, dealing with minimum penalties for offences involving firearms; Bill C-22, which deals with the age of protection; Bill C-27, concerning dangerous offenders and recognizance to keep the peace; Bill C-32, on impaired driving; and Bill C-35, concerning reverse onus in bail hearings for firearm-related offences.

That said, the government wants to put together a package of bills into a single omnibus bill and have it passed. Right away, I should say that several of those bills, three in particular, had already reached the Senate but died on the order paper when the Conservative government decided to produce a new Speech from the Throne.

The Bloc Québécois is in favour and will be in favour of the principle of Bill C-2. We feel that former bills C-10, C-22 and C-35 have already been debated in this House. I myself have spoken against one of those bills. Nonetheless, as a great democrat, I am respecting the decision of this House and we will respect the democratic choice that was made to move forward with these bills.

However, I want to point out that a number of these bills, Bill C-27 on dangerous offenders in particular, deserved and still deserve a more in-depth review. The problem is that when a person commits a third offence from a list of a dozen very serious offences, there will be reverse onus of proof. Personally—I talked about this with my party and here in this House—I have always been against the reverse onus of proof because this implies that the accused has to incriminate himself and provide explanations or be held responsible.

Nonetheless, Bill C-2, and former Bill C-27, resolve part of the problem. Once criminals have to be monitored, there are reasons they have to appear before the court and the court has reasons for asking them why they would not be considered dangerous criminals who have to be monitored for a long time, in light of the offences they committed.

The Bloc Québécois wants to be very clear on this. We need to deal first and foremost with poverty, social inequality and exclusion, a fertile breeding ground for frustration and its outlets, which are violence and criminal activity. There is no point to just passing legislation; one day we will really have to think about how to attack crime. If we do not attack it by dealing with poverty and exclusion, some people will see no other way out except crime. Crime is not a solution of course, but some people see it as one.

The measures we introduce will really have to have a positive impact on crime and go beyond mere rhetoric or campaigns based on fear. They will have to be more than a weak imitation of the American model, which has had less than stellar results.

The crime problem in Canada cannot be solved—and I say this with great respect for the House—by imposing minimum prison terms or reversing the onus of proof but by dealing instead with a problem that has festered for far too long: criminals get out of jail too soon. Canadians are genuinely shocked that people sentenced to 22, 36, 48, or 52 months in jail are released after 5, 6 or 7 months.

Our friends across the aisle will have to understand some day that we cannot reduce crime by passing tougher laws but by ensuring that criminals who have been sentenced actually serve their time. This is the key factor and one of the obvious problems in Canadian society. Tougher laws will not ensure that people serve longer sentences. This is what will happen: the judges and courts will probably revise their decisions thinking that they are too onerous and tough. Contrary to what the Conservatives say, section 2 of the Charter applies and if a law is too harsh or a sentence almost too tough for a criminal, the court can revise this decision.

There are a number of objectives therefore. We know what Bill C-2 is all about. It strengthens the provisions on offences involving firearms by creating two new firearms-related offences and increasing the minimum prison terms. However, even increased minimum prison terms will not solve the problem. People are not frightened off by the possibility of long-term imprisonment but by the likelihood of being caught. We will have to check how judges and the police apply it.

I do not have a lot of time left. I would therefore like to say quickly as well that we need to do something about impaired driving. We hope that the police will find ways of determining the presence of drugs in the bodies of drivers. We still do not know how. When I sat on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, all the experts who came to testify said that no machine could detect whether someone had consumed cocaine or smoked marijuana and whether it was influencing his driving.

This is an important bill and I hope that when the House passes it, the Senate will also quickly do so. I know that some of the provisions to be amended by Bill C-2 will be studied by the courts and probably the Supreme Court over the next few years.

Motions in amendmentTackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would draw my colleague's attention to a report in the United States entitled “Unlocking America”. The top nine criminologists produced the report and essentially said that the policies of get tough on crime in the United States were totally counterproductive.

The United States has about two million people incarcerated at any particular time and the report shows a racial basis for who is incarcerated. The report says that one-third of all black males and one-sixth of Latino males versus 1 in 17 white males will go to prison during their lives.

Why would the neo-conservative government copy the tactics of another neo-conservative government when it has been clearly shown that they do not work? When the Conservatives talk about producing safety, they actually are making things more unsafe.

Motions in amendmentTackling Violent Crime ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, and I will provide a quick answer. Personally, as a former criminal lawyer—in fact, I am still one, because I can still practice law—I agree with the hon. member that increasing minimum prison sentences will not solve the problem.

The public is not necessarily asking for longer sentences. Rather, it is asking that jailed offenders do serve their sentences. That is the problem.

I have pleaded before judges and, in some cases, the offender was sentenced to 22 months in jail. However, four months later, the judge would see the offender on the street. Yet, when the judge, after a thorough review of the case, decides that so and so will spend 22 months in jail, he expects that the individual will serve at least 12 or 15 months of that sentence. However, that individual is back on the street a mere four months after being sent to jail. This is what the public does not accept.

I do not agree with the Conservatives, who want to impose minimum jail sentences in every case. That is not the solution, and it is not true that it will help reduce crime. Just look at the United States, our next door neighbour. This is the best example of a country that imposes minimum sentences. Yet, the Americans have not solved anything, far from it.

JusticeStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I recently met with a group from my constituency of Sarnia—Lambton, all members from various Catholic women's leagues in the riding. They presented me with several thousand signatures on white ribbons, representing names of constituents who had participated in the white ribbons against pornography programs.

As Christian women, they realized the strong connection between pornography and other sexual crimes committed each and every day and had collected the signatures to show the strength of their beliefs on the issue.

They asked that I bring the attention of this huge problem to the lawmakers of our country. They referred to the connections between pornography and other crimes, such as trafficking of women and children. They asked that we keep pressure on our members of Parliament to renew and toughen the laws that affect and damage our sense of freedom to come and go on our streets.

I have the greatest admiration for this group of people and applaud them for their efforts to make this a better and safer country to live in.

I challenge all members of this House to show the same respect for law, order and human dignity and support the justice bills that are before this House.

World University Service of Canada Alumni AwardStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Shawn Murphy Liberal Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand in the House today to congratulate Leo Cheverie, a resident of Prince Edward Island, who recently won the 2007 World University Service of Canada Alumni Award.

Mr. Cheverie's award recognizes his exceptional contribution to international development through World University Service of Canada. This organization aims to foster human development through education and training. Mr. Cheverie has been active with the UPEI chapter of this organization for in excess of 20 years.

Mr. Cheverie has contributed to many World University Service of Canada initiatives at UPEI. He played a key role in establishing the student refugee sponsorship program, which allows student refugees from developing countries to continue their studies at this university. His years of commitment to this organization have made students more aware of global issues and have promoted international development.

I would ask all members to please join me in offering my congratulations to Mr. Cheverie in this achievement and for his many years of dedicated volunteering.

Manon CornellierStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prix Judith-Jasmin is Quebec's most prestigious journalism award. It was created in 1974 and is presented by the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec to honour the year's best stories in Quebec's print and electronic media.

This year, the recipient of this prestigious award is journalist Manon Cornellier, for her article on the role of women in politics entitled “Femmes en retrait”. The article was published in November 2006 and explored the position of women in politics, which is less than outstanding. She looked at the inconspicuous role apparently played by the female ministers, six at the time, in the Prime Minister's cabinet and the fact that he has surrounded himself with a tight circle of advisors, all men. Female ministers tend to be eclipsed by their male colleagues. The article called on the reader to reflect on the role of women in politics, particularly within the Conservative Party.

On behalf of the Bloc Québécois and the women of the Bloc Québécois, I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to Manon Cornellier.

HolodomorStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, it has been 75 years since the terrible Ukrainian genocide called the Holodomor.

As many as one out of four Ukrainians, including millions of children, perished in the period from 1932 to 1933. Ukrainians died of starvation and disease while the Soviet Union ignored their plight and exported grain and other resources abroad. This terrible crime is largely ignored by the world community.

Now, after 75 years, it is long overdue that we pay our respects to the over one million Canadians of Ukrainian heritage, some of whom are survivors and many of whom lost family during the Holodomor.

We need to ensure that Canadians, especially Canadian students, learn about the Holodomor so that we can pledge to learn from the past and to build a better future.

I am proud to represent the riding of Parkdale—High Park with a large Ukrainian community. I want to thank them for educating me about this terrible event in our human history 75 years ago. I stand with them in recognizing the Holodomor and encourage all members to join one of Canada's largest communities as the Ukrainian Canadian Congress launches a year of commemorative events.

Mining IndustryStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is uranium in the shield country of northern Frontenac county. Following a sharp rise in the price for this commodity, local residents are getting an unpleasant introduction to Ontario mining law.

The province has sold permits authorizing prospectors to enter any private property where the province owns the mineral rights and to dig trenches and exploratory pits. In the event there is nothing of value under the surface, the landowners will receive no compensation for any damage or inconvenience caused during exploration.

However, if the uranium deposit proves rich enough to warrant a mine, it will be the prospecting company, not the landowners, who will profit from selling the mineral rights. The land itself will be turned into an open pit mine and, in return, landowners will get essentially nothing.

Ontario's mining law dates from the nineteenth century and, frankly, change is well overdue. The Ontario legislature should award all landowners the subsurface rights to their land and end this abuse of private property rights.

Atlantic Lifetime Achievement AwardStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, Graham Dennis, Canada's longest-serving newspaper publisher, was presented with the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2007 Atlantic Lifetime Achievement Award this fall.

Mr. Dennis has served as publisher of the Halifax Chronicle Herald for almost 54 years. He leads the largest independently owned newspaper in Canada in a province where Joseph Howe first established freedom of the press in the British colonies in the 1830s.

In 2007, The Chronicle Herald was named one of Canada's top 100 employers by Maclean's magazine, the only newspaper in Canada to receive this honour.

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes Graham Dennis' dedication to maintaining a progressive, modern and independent newspaper serving the people of Nova Scotia. I congratulate Mr. Dennis, a proud Nova Scotian and a great Canadian.

Barrie Multicultural AssociationStatements By Members

November 26th, 2007 / 2 p.m.

Conservative

Patrick Brown Conservative Barrie, ON

Mr. Speaker, I stand in the House today to congratulate the Barrie Multicultural Association for opening its new office located on Bradford Street, donated by the generosity of Steve Sperling.

This organization provides a support network for newcomers to find homes, jobs and adjust to a new life in Canada.

Barrie's Multicultural Association has over 1,900 members. The different cultures that make up the association are Portuguese, Polish, Jewish, Filipino, Afro Caribbean, Latino, South Asian and Muslim.

I would like to recognize the association's executive and board members, which include: president, Peter Silveira; vice-chairman, Peter Ramsay; treasurer, Elmore Cudanin; secretary, Helena Arouda-Raposo; and directors, Sarfraz Warraich, Nancy Yola, Eben Ikusa and Robert Zober.

I commend those talented individuals for their continuous efforts in making our city a better place for all.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against WomenStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It commemorates the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic who were brutally assassinated in 1960. These three sisters symbolize women's resistance.

All around the world, thousands of women suffer in silence after being raped, assaulted and beaten. They are frightened and ashamed and afraid they will be punished if they speak out.

Statistics show that 90% of the violence against women is perpetrated by men: a spouse, a relative, a co-worker, a boss, a stranger who wants to humiliate, control, frighten and silence a woman.

We must join together in denouncing the rapes, murders and assaults of all these women, whether they are in Darfur, Congo, Haiti, aboriginal and Innu communities, our cities or our towns.

We must defend women's right to live with respect and dignity and without fear.