Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Bill C-13 today. Again, it is another piece of legislation that I think is important when we look at trying to modernize the justice system in Canada and make various changes. It is also good to have time in our ridings to discuss these issues and get the support of our constituents in advance of being able to speak to them.
Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal procedure, language of the accused, sentencing and other amendments), will clearly take us in another direction to ensure that our justice system in Canada is as modern as can be. Hopefully, the bill will modernize the system to make it also more efficient and more effective, something that we also hear complaints about in our judicial system. Lawyers, crown attorneys and so on talk about how slow the system is and how there is a need to update a variety of areas in our judicial system.
Some of these amendments make certain processes more effective through greater use of technology and by consolidating and rationalizing existing provisions. The amendments relating to criminal procedure in Canada provide for, among other things, the use of a means of telecommunication to forward warrants for the purpose of endorsement and execution in the jurisdiction other than the jurisdiction where the search warrant was obtained. This clearly will save time and will be far more efficient. It is a logical step that needed to be taken.
The amendments also provide for changes to the process with respect to the challenge of jurors to, among other things, assist in preserving their impartiality, which again is very important; summary dismissal by a single judge of the court of appeal when an appeal has erroneously been filed with that court; an appeal of a superior court order with respect to things seized lying with the court of appeal; a summary conviction trial with respect to the co-accused that can proceed where one of the co-accused does not appear; and the reclassification of the offence of possession of break and enter instruments into a dual procedure offence to allow the Crown to determine whether this offence should be prosecuted by way of indictment or by the more expeditious procedure of summary conviction, which again could save hours of court time and allow for much faster determinations.
Amendments related to sentencing provide for, among other things: the power to order an offender not to communicate with identified persons while in custody, and the creation of an offence for failing to comply with the order, thereby enhancing protection of victims, which for some time has been called for; clarifications with respect to the application of impaired driving penalties; an increase of the maximum fine that can be imposed for a summary conviction offence from the current $2,000 to $10,000, which is a significant increase and hopefully would work to some degree as a deterrent; the suspension of a conditional sentence order or a probation order during an appeal; and the power to delay sentencing proceedings so that an offender can participate in a provincially approved treatment program.
We often have heard about the lack or insufficient number of treatment programs for people who find themselves with a serious drug problem. There are just not enough programs. There was an article in yesterday's paper and a symposium held yesterday in Toronto which talked about the very issue of there not being sufficient drug treatment programs for many people. That also results in many people are finding themselves in the judicial system.
Further amendments include: in the case of a person serving a youth sentence who receives an adult sentence, to clarify that the remaining portion of the youth sentence is converted to an adult sentence; and the power of a court to order, on application by the Attorney General and after convicting a person of the offence of luring a child by means of a computer system, the forfeiture of things used in relation to that offence.
Clearly this legislation is reflecting the ongoing concerns of Canadians and parliamentarians with regard to many of the things that are going on through the Internet and the luring of young children, an issue that has been discussed at length here in the House. Again, it is all part of the modernization of our justice system's ability to reflect these kinds of things that did not happen many years ago.
Other amendments will allow for better implementation of the language right provisions in the Criminal Code. These amendments will improve the means through which an accused is informed of the right to be heard by a judge or a judge and jury who speak the official language of Canada that is the language of the accused, or both official languages of Canada. The amendments also codify the right of the accused to obtain a translation of the information or indictment on request. Other provisions clarify the application of the language provisions of the Criminal Code in the context of bilingual trials.
Although this bill may not seem as exciting as some that we have been debating lately, I think it is nice to get something that is not charging each and every one of us up but goes on to modernize the system. These justice bills are important. As the responsible Liberal official opposition that we are, we will be supporting this legislation.
The legislation might seem familiar to all the people watching at home. There is good reason for that. This bill was originally introduced as Bill C-23 in the first session of the 39th Parliament. It passed all stages of approval in the House of Commons and had been sent to the Senate, so if anyone thinks this is familiar legislation, clearly it is. It died on the order paper, unfortunately, when the minority Conservative government decided to prorogue the House and start fresh with a Speech from the Throne. This is catch-up time on good legislation.
That Speech from the Throne was another ploy by the government to try to raise its poll numbers, not unusual for the Conservatives, nor was it unusual for other people who had assumed the same role in government, but sadly for them Canadians saw through the strategy and were not fooled. Canadians know how much good work the Liberal government did to protect our cities and our communities and how much progress we made on our justice agenda.
Notable achievements by my government included the creation of a national sex offender registry to protect Canadians from violent sex offenders, and we introduced legislation to restrict the use of conditional sentences for serious and violent offences. We also introduced a package of measures to crack down on violent gun crime and gang violence to assist communities at risk.
Much of that legislation is currently being used in cities across Canada, in particular my city of Toronto, which continues to work on areas of crime prevention, enforcement of the sentences that are there and reaching out to at risk youth and at risk communities. Some of the initiatives included a new $50 million gun violence and gang prevention fund, legislative reform for stricter sentencing for gun crimes, and social investments to prevent those at risk from following a life of crime and to provide them with hope and opportunity for tomorrow.
Canadians know that the Liberal Party continues to be committed to protecting our homes and our rights, as they have always known. It is a priority for us. That is why we have committed to appointing more judges, and it is why we are supporting that legislation, and to putting more police officers on our streets and more prosecutors in the courts, as I mentioned earlier today. We also have worked very hard to toughen laws on Internet luring and identity theft to protect Canada's most vulnerable citizens, including children and seniors.
In his many comments, our leader has also committed to establishing a new fund that will help preserve the safety of ethnic and cultural at risk communities across Canada. This safety being put at risk is something that unfortunately continues to happen more and more in many of our communities across Canada. This fund would, for example, cover the costs of security in their places of worship and gathering places.
I am pleased to support Bill C-13. I encourage my colleagues to do the same. I also encourage my colleagues to exercise their privileges as members to be on the record as speaking out on behalf of their constituents on important pieces of legislation before the House. I am glad to have had the opportunity to get my points of view on the record today. I look forward to questions.