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House of Commons Hansard #48 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from northern Alberta misses the point. I have a delegation from MADD coming to my office tomorrow. What am I going to say to it? I am going to say that the government had no answer when I asked why it had delayed the bills by two or three months. There was absolutely no reason for it other than the government's political agenda.

What do I say to a mother whose daughter has been sexually abused by someone who is 45 or 50 years of age? I will tell her that we do not have legislation to deal with it because—

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. Resuming debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the compelling nature of the tackling violent crime act is illustrated more clearly by the fact that every party in this House is pretending to support it today. This party has always supported the contents of the tackling violent crime act. The Liberals have always opposed it, as have the Bloc and the NDP.

However, they know that their constituents profoundly support the principles contained inside that bill and, as such, have twisted themselves into knots today to pretend that they, too, support the Conservative tackling crime agenda. However, let us review their records before we give them a free ride.

In opposition, our party continually fought to raise the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16 to protect teenagers from adult sexual predators. The Liberals consistently, over 13 years, blocked those changes while in government. The NDP were of no help, I will mention by the way, during that time either.

On the issue of mandatory minimum penalties, the Liberals opposed those in government, opposed them even in opposition, but are pretending to support them now in order to try to pacify the immense public sympathy that exists for the provision. On dangerous offender status, the Liberals and the rest of the opposition have opposed our initiatives.

The bill, as well, addresses issues such as impaired driving and reverse onus on bail.

I am going to go through the elements of this bill one by one, but I am going to begin by making a very clear procedural point.

The Liberals claim that they were willing to fast track all of this legislation long ago. Even if they were telling the truth, and they are not, why is it that the Liberal Senate will not pass the legislation today?

Once again, if they were willing to fast track the legislation months ago, surely, they would be willing to adopt the legislation today, but they are not.

Let us examine, piece by piece, what it is that the Liberals have been obstructing for so many months. Let us start with mandatory minimum penalties for firearms offences.

To begin with, this legislation was introduced as its own bill in May 2006, almost two years ago. Now, the Liberals claim that they were just about to get around to passing that bill through the Senate when the Prime Minister prorogued Parliament some months ago. However, if they were really interested in passing that legislation, why did they not do it months before, given that it had been introduced almost two years earlier? The reason is they do not support our toughened measures to crack down on gun criminals.

On the issue of age of protection, this member sitting right next to me, the member for Wild Rose, pleaded with the then Liberal government to increase the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16. The Liberal government consistently blocked all of those efforts because the Liberal Party believed that 14 was old enough.

On the issue of dangerous offenders, Liberals stood in the House of Commons and said that our tough new measures to designate three-time violent or sexual criminals as dangerous offenders and then put them away indefinitely would violate the constitutional rights of the criminal. That is what Liberals argued. That is what many Liberals continue to argue. Now, they claim that they supported the bill. They cannot have it both ways.

Let me return to mandatory jail time for gun criminals. I would just turn the House's attention to the fact that while the Liberals claim that they support that legislation now, the vast majority of them, in fact, almost all of them, voted against mandatory jail for gun criminals. The Liberals consistently opposed Bill C-10, the then mandatory jail time bill. So, now they claim that they are in favour of it in order to mask the soft on crime position that they have historically taken. That is intellectually dishonest.

Mandatory jail time provisions that are now in the tackling violent crime act would guarantee that a gun criminal would have five years in jail for his first offence and seven years for the second offence. The bill would take the most violent and dangerous gun criminals off the street and ensure that they cannot wreak havoc on our communities any longer.

I would remind the House that the bill in its previous form sat before Parliament for almost two years before prorogation. It had been blocked in the Senate for months upon months when finally the Prime Minister did the responsible thing and bundled it in with other legislation that is also tough on crime and forced it through the chamber.

On the issue of the age of sexual consent, Liberals now claim that they are in favour of raising the age of sexual consent after 13 years of opposing that change.

However, there was a little problem in the Senate. Senator Carstairs apparently did not get the memo. She thought that Liberals were still being honest about their view on the age of sexual consent. She thought that she could tell people what she really thought and her real belief on the issue of the age of sexual consent. She did not hear from the Liberal leader that she was meant to perform a spectacular reversal and hide her real thoughts. She said this on Mike Duffy Live just recently: “The other issue is the whole age of consent issue. I am concerned that this may prevent young women and young men from reporting sexually transmitted diseases. I am concerned that it might put a chill on family life education programs. I am concerned that young prostitutes will be driven underground by this legislation”.

To begin with, prostitution, the last time I checked, is already illegal, so it is already driven underground. Second, I have no idea what Liberal Senator Carstairs means when she suggests that somehow raising the age of sexual consent to prevent adult pedophiles from targeting young kids will cause greater transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. I have no idea what she could possibly mean by that.

However, she removed the veil. She admitted that she opposes the Conservative effort to raise the age of sexual consent. She revealed where Liberals have always stood. The Liberals believe that the age of sexual consent should be 14. We believe it should be 16. That is why our government has been forced to make this a confidence issue.

The Liberal strategy on crime has been quite an interesting one. It has been to privately and procedurally oppose the tough new measures without publicly admitting those intentions. In fact, on the one hand while Liberals oppose the tackling violent crime act procedurally, they storm around pretending publicly that they are in favour of it.

We will not let them get away with that any longer. The Prime Minister packaged together the tackling violent crime act and shone the spotlight on Liberal hypocrisy on crime. All of a sudden, we have them moving over there. We have struck a hornet's nest because members of the Liberal caucus are now scattered around the House of Commons trying to convince the whole world that they always supported the Conservative agenda on crime, that they never really opposed it, and that their delays never really occurred.

I hope that this backtracking in the Liberal Party will take itself all the way up to the Senate. One thing is for sure, if the Liberal Senate will not bring the tackling violent crime act back to the House of Commons unamended by the end of the month, members of the Liberal Party will have to explain their behaviour on crime to voters in an imminent election.That is the simple reality. Does everyone know what that is called? It is called accountability.

If Liberals want to be soft on crime in a free country, it is their right to take that wrong-headed position. They have the right to their wrong opinion. However, it is the right of the Canadian voter to hold them accountable for that position and accountable they will be. More importantly, I believe that the Liberal Senate will back down and pass the bill because it is the right thing to do and Canadians are forcing the Liberal Party to change on crime.

Let us review the contents of this legislation. First, there would be mandatory jail time for gun criminals. This provision in the tackling violent crime act would guarantee that offenders convicted of gun crimes would go to jail for five years the first time and seven years the second time.

It would create new offences: attempted murder, sexual assault with a weapon, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, robbery, extortion, hostage taking and discharging a firearm with intent. All of these are new firearms offences that augment existing offences in the Criminal Code. These new offences would guarantee that criminals are held to account for their gun crimes.

This legislation has the support of the chiefs of police, police associations, and it even has the support of the Liberal Premier of Ontario. The only one who does not support it is the Liberal leader and the vast majority of his caucus who voted against it when it came before the House of Commons. The Liberal Party has never supported these measures, but we are changing that by putting the spotlight on it.

Changing the age of protection and the age of sexual consent is responding to the call of parents right across this country who want us to help them protect their kids from sexual predators. In my constituency, numerous police officers have approached me and said that this tool would help them protect local Nepean—Carleton kids against Internet child predators.

The appeals that police officers, like Ray Lamarre of Nepean, have made to me has caused me to summon all of my energy in order to achieve that change to our Criminal Code. I have been collecting petitions in my constituency. I even launched an essay writing contest for young people to participate in to explain the ideas they had to protect other kids from the scourge of Internet pedophilia.

However, the one change in our Criminal Code that experts all across this country, and by experts I refer to police officers and parents not sociology professors and defence lawyers, all of the real experts want the age of sexual consent raised from 14 to 16.

That might not accord with the values of the Liberal Party. The Liberal leader has a history of believing in strange academic theories that flow from his time as an aloof sociology professor and all of that is very interesting in some strange academic circle, but among everyday people, and we know the folks I am talking about, those who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules, raising the age of sexual consent is basic common sense.

I am very proud to support the tackling violent crime act. Given that most of this legislation has been before the House of Commons and Senate for months, and some of it has been here for years, there is no reason for any more delay. At this point, now that we have illustrated the necessity of passing the tackling violent crime act, let us get to the unfortunate political obstacle that sits in front of us.

We have a Liberal Party that secretly opposes the bill and is asking its friends in the Senate to do its dirty work. Liberals claim that they were willing to fast track all of this legislation months ago in a procedural stunt that the Speaker has indicated never would have been allowed.

However, let us assume for a moment that they were sincere about fast-tracking this legislation. If they really wanted to fast-track our tackling violent crime legislation seven or eight months ago, clearly they should have no problem fast-tracking it today. Why do they not? Why does Liberal Senator Carstairs, who is part of the radical left of the Liberal Party, stomp her feet, scream and holler that she cannot possibly do her job between now and March because it is not enough time, if her party claimed it was willing to fast-track all this legislation seven or eight months ago?

There is a logical inconsistency here and that speaks to the nature of the Liberal Party saying one thing in public and playing a different game in the dark halls of the Senate. These games they are playing will not go unnoticed by crime victims. They have not gone unnoticed by voters. Voters see that the Liberals are using the radical wing of their party through Liberal Senator Carstairs to block the tackling violent crime legislation and to oppose its measures from coming into effect.

A Liberal Senator has argued that raising the age of sexual consent would somehow cause sexually transmitted diseases to spread all across the country. That is Liberal Senator Carstairs. That woman could not be elected dog catcher, which is why she is in the Liberal Senate. She has absolutely no popular appeal among ordinary folks and yet--

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. That is an unreasonable attack on a person in the other place. The lady the member talks about was elected leader of the Liberal Party in Manitoba for a number of years. She sat in that house and the member should withdraw those words and issue an apology to the other place and to Senator Carstairs.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Vic Toews Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on the same point of order. I remember that senator who, before she was appointed, railed against the Senate until the Liberals gave her an appointment in the Senate. Then she said that she would reform the Senate from within.

We have seen how little she has done. The only thing she has done is block necessary legislation to protect children in Canada.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. The subject of the motion has nothing to do with any member of the other House. It has to do with a piece of government legislation. I would ask all members to stay within the relevance of the motion.

The hon. member has about three minutes left for his remarks.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I seem to have struck a nerve over there. Do members know what caused that outburst? There was a panicked anxiety attack on that side of the House when I removed the veil.

The Liberals have played a game on crime for years where they pretend to be tough on crime during elections and in front of the public and then in this place they do absolutely everything in their power to block tough on crime legislation from being enacted. I removed a veil in this speech and standing there disrobed was the real Liberal agenda on crime. Nothing terrifies Liberals more than the truth coming out about their position on crime.

I quoted the words of one of the most senior and most radically left wing senators in the Liberal caucus, someone who is from the left wing of the Liberal Party in concert with the views of a very left leaning Liberal leader. They together opposed raising the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16. She said so herself. She said that raising the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16 would lead to a pandemic of sexually transmitted diseases travelling across this country. Those are the radical views of Liberal senators and the Liberal Party claims that these same senators are interested in passing the legislation.

I do not apologize for pointing out when Liberal senators with radically extreme left wing positions use the unaccountable chamber in which they reside as a refuge against the accountability of voters and as a staging ground to protect criminals against the tackling violent crime legislation.

I will stand in this place to represent the normal working people, folks who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules, folks in Nepean—Carleton and communities like Barrhaven, Manotick and Riverside South, the people who, thankfully, voted for me in the last election, 40,000 of them. I am very proud to represent them and I am proud to stand here in the House of Commons to defend their interests and to advance the cause of tackling violent crime by advancing this legislation.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I arrived here just over two years ago and my introduction to the House was Bill C-2 which dealt with accountability. I became used to that member's empty, misleading rhetoric to the Canadian public after he said that the government would have an accountability act with regulations and with teeth. It is now two years later and there is still no teeth in the legislation. It is the same thing.

I want to ask him some questions on his tackling violent crime speech today. If there is a Juno award for the best role in a dramatic fictional series, he should get it because he is a tremendous actor.

If the close in age exemption had been part of the legislation proposed by the member for Wild Rose, red rose or any rose whatsoever in the past 13 years, is it not true that there would have been consent from that party down there and from this party here? Is it not true that we would have a sensible age of consent law? It is absolutely the truth. I defy him to tell the Canadian public that the Liberal Party and that party over there would not have passed it along with his party sitting over there.

Why did he and his government lump Bill C-27 in with this tackling crime bill, which is patently unconstitutional, along with other bills that everybody consented to? Why did the Conservatives put a poison pill in their own bill? It is because they do not want this bill to pass. They did not want the last ones to pass so they pulled the plug on Parliament because they were afraid of the environment. Those members are afraid.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

That member did not get the memo either, Mr. Speaker. In fact, the talking points his party handed out today told the Liberals that they were supposed to support the tackling violent crime legislation. His colleague from the Montreal area earlier today claimed that they were solidly in support of every aspect of the bill. That member just stood up and admitted the truth.

Those members do not support our dangerous offender legislation because they believe it violates the charter rights of criminals. They believe that the dangerous offender provisions in the tackling violent crime legislation violate the charter rights of three time, violent sexual offenders. They were not supposed to admit that today. They have been trying to cover that up all day long.

I would like to congratulate the member for the rare candour that he has demonstrated over there. He joins Ms. Carstairs in the Senate who has also been honest in indicating that she opposes raising the age of sexual consent.

The truth is that all Liberals oppose the entire tackling violent crime legislation. They have done their best to cover that up but he just blew the lid off and we have heard the truth.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his clear and forthright explanation of the bill that is before the Senate at this particular point.

I, like the member opposite, am a new member. I have been a member for two years. Much has been said about fast-tracking and the fact that this government was not in favour of this legislation, the proof being that it could have fast-tracked the legislation. There was a bit of an illusion as to what was taking place.

I wonder if the hon. member could explain what this fast-tracking, which the Liberals are saying that they would have been glad to move on, would entail, because I know that if I am confused about this, then Canadians must be confused as well.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, the reason so many people are confused about the Liberal position on crime is that they are confused themselves. They have used procedural complexity as their refuge on this issue, claiming that they wanted to fast-track all of these bills months ago. The problem is that the Chair indicated that was procedurally impossible because it violated the rules of the House of Commons.

However, let us assume for a moment that they were telling the truth. I know it is a strange exercise to engage in but let us do it for hypothetical reasons. If the Liberals really were prepared to fast-track our legislation on crime months ago, why not now?

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

February 11th, 2008 / 4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I have a simple question for the member but I must background it because of the games that the government plays.

On October 26, 2006, the Liberals made the first offer to fast-track a package of justice bills through the House. This offer effectively guaranteed the Conservatives a majority in the House to pass this legislation.

On March 21, 2007, we attempted to use an opposition day motion that if passed would have immediately results in the passage at all stages of four justice bills: Bill C-18, Bill C-22, Bill C-23 and Bill C-35.

Incredibly, the Conservative House leader raised a procedural point of order to block the motion. In other words, the Conservatives fought the Liberal attempt to pass the four Conservative justice bills. Why? They wanted to get to the attacking violent crime bill where they could try to confuse Canadians and try to blame the Liberals that they did not pass them.

Would the member for once withdraw from his fantasyland, be honest in this House and admit to the facts that I just outlined to him?

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, that member understands the procedural absurdity of what he just said. The Liberals know there is no way to pass legislation through an opposition day motion.

However, let us not engage in procedural complexities. Let us just ask a simple question. The Liberals claim that they were willing to fast-track raising the age of sexual consent to 16 years old. If that is the case, why not now? They claim that they were willing to pass Conservative legislation for mandatory jail time on gun crimes. If that is the case, q why not now? They claim that they were willing to support reverse onus for those accused of gun crimes. If they were willing to do that then, why not now? The reality is that they were never committed to passing this legislation. They were never willing to consider fast-tracking it because if they were then they would be now.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I noticed that the Liberal member for Malpeque used the term “in this House”. I think most Canadians, as I did not before I came to this place about four years ago, do not understand that there is another place, the Senate and, indeed, an unelected body of approximately 100 people who are blocking legislation from the elected people of Canada.

I wonder if the member could spend a moment to explain to Canadians how the Senate, especially with the number of senators, is blocking this legislation.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, there is an old principle that government should not govern without the consent of the governed. That place is a kingdom of Liberal entitlement.

The bottom line is that the Liberals claim that they wanted to fast-track our tackling violent crime initiatives. The real question is: Why not now? If they were willing to do it eight months ago or seven months ago, or whatever it is they claim in their convoluted procedural narrative, why would they not be willing to do it today? Why not now?

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Myron Thompson Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, in the hon. member's speech he mentioned the principle of the thing. I want to mention the fact that I was in the education system for 30 years and over those years I saw a number of 14 and 15 year olds who got themselves into real messes because nothing stopped them from making some very poor choices because of a law that existed. That was one of the reasons why, in 1993 when I came here, I wanted to get that changed.

By the way, I did not come from a coloured rose, to get my friend over there from the Liberal Party straightened out. It is not a pink, blue or white rose. It is a Wild Rose and I am dadgum wild about this one and I hope--

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I am afraid I will have to cut off the hon. member to give the hon. parliamentary secretary a chance to reply. There is just not enough time to cover the rest of his question, so maybe if the hon. parliamentary secretary could keep his remarks to under 20 seconds please.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think we would all agree that this is a real wild rose, a real proud prairie boy who has come to Ottawa to do great things for his people. One of those things is raising the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16. He is doing it for all the right reasons. When this legislation finally passes through that palace of patronage over there, it will be because of the hard work of this member of Parliament and all that he has done.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is the House ready for the question?

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

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

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

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

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Tackling Violent Crime LegislationGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

All those opposed will please say nay.