moved that Bill C-464, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (justification for detention in custody), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in this House today and speak to my first ever private member's bill.
The proposed amendments will be to the Criminal Code in respect of bail. If enacted, this will amend the Criminal Code to provide that the detention of an accused in custody may be justified where it is necessary for the protection or safety of the accused's minor children. The protection and safety of minors remaining in the custody of individuals charged with serious crimes may be considered during bail hearing proceedings.
We need to give the judicial system another tool to do its job. We must make it attentive to the necessity of protecting minor children while they are in the custody of individuals charged with serious offences. A decision to deny bail to the accused may be appropriate for the intended protection of the rights and safety of children who are in the custody of the accused.
Members may ask how did I get to this private member's bill. In the first year members are in Ottawa, they are lobbied on many different things and many causes that come to their attention. In late March, I received an invitation to attend a special screening of the documentary Dear Zachary for senators and members of Parliament. I was joined by Senator Banks and former member Mr. Bill Casey at that screening. I had an opportunity to meet the producer, Kurt Kuenne, for the first time. Listening to the documentary and to personal stories that I had been familiar with had a profound impact on me as an individual.
I also met Kate and David Bagby. They are two amazing people who have used their strength and determination to attract the attention of decision makers to the need to bring important change to the current bail legislation in Canada.
It was shortly after that documentary that I decided that my first ever private member's bill would try to advance the efforts of bail reform.
Members need to hear the story of where and how this came about. Most of us in Newfoundland and Labrador, and many across Canada, have heard the terrible story of the tragic deaths of David and Kate's son, Dr. Andrew Bagby, in 2001.
Dr. Bagby and his girlfriend, Dr. Shirley Turner, of Newfoundland were in a relationship. They had their troubles and the relationship broke off. Dr. Turner travelled back to her home, leaving David in Pennsylvania. She then drove back across the country, over 800 miles, and killed Dr. Andrew Bagby in a Pennsylvania park. She then went back to her home on the west coast of the United States, and prior to being charged for the murder, she was advised by her lawyer to spend time with her family in Canada. She went to Canada and ended up in her home province of Newfoundland.
She was then charged with the crime of murdering Andrew and faced extradition hearings. While going through the process of extradition, she found out that she was pregnant with their child. During the extradition process, she gave birth to this child and was granted bail while she was in custody of the child. During the court proceedings, Zachary, the child, remained in the custody of Dr. Turner, and the grandparents, David and Kate, were granted supervision.
This went on for almost 13 months after Zachary was born, as extradition is a very long and onerous process, but that is another issue for another time. However, near the end of the extradition process, when it looked like Dr. Turner was going to be extradited back to the United States, Dr. Turner took her own life and that of her son, Zachary. On the morning of August 18, 2003, she walked into the waters of Conception Bay and both were drowned.
It had an impact on many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. There was a public inquiry called to find out why this would happen to a young child, and Dr. Peter Markesteyn conducted a review and investigation. His report made a number of recommendations for provincial child welfare, and the province is working through those recommendations.
There was one aspect of the recommendations in this case that pertained to federal law, and that was bail reform. That is why my private member's bill is dealing with bail reform.
At the conclusion of the investigation, Dr. Markesteyn reached two key conclusions: Zachary Turner's death was preventable, and Zachary was in his mother's care when he should not have been.
That gets me to bail reform and to a conclusion. From this tragic ending, we bring a new beginning to bail reform so that no other family will go through the devastation that Kate and David Bagby have gone through.
Obviously, I had to come quickly up to speed on private members' business, this being my first time in Parliament. I looked at the options for amending the Criminal Code provisions pertaining to bail. We had to balance the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms with the need to have our court system reflect a requirement to protect the safety of minor children in the custody of their parents.
After consulting with David and Kate Bagby and discussing my intentions with many colleagues and the legal community, we came to what we have here today, a bill entitled, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (justification for detention in custody).
In summary, the bill, when enacted, will amend the Criminal Code to provide that the detention of an accused in custody may be justified where it is necessary for the protection or safety of minor children of the accused.
I am also pleased to have the support of Senator Tommy Banks. He has pledged to be my sponsor in the Senate for this bill. I thank Senator Banks for that.
Bill C-464 is not about me; it is about the protection of children. MPs create private members' bills for two reasons: one, to make a political statement, knowing it will not go anywhere; or two, if an MP wants to make a difference and have success. Bill C-464 is an accomplishment that reflects the strength and determination of the parents and grandparents of the late Andrew and Zachary. It is in their memory that we move forward with the bill, and we will do everything in our power to prevent this from happening to another family.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the efforts of Kurt Kuenne. Kurt is the producer of the documentary, Dear Zachary. I can assure hon. members that this is near and dear to Kurt's heart and that he has used his talents to have the story told and to promote legislative reform.
I will be sending copies of the documentary to all members as we move forward. It is worth the 93 minutes to have the opportunity to see how this story unfolded. Kurt was doing a documentary on Dr. Andrew Bagby to give to Zachary. It told the story of Andrew as a person and individual. As this was unfolding, so was Zachary's young life. Zachary's life, as we know, came to a tragic end. Kurt told the whole story in the documentary. It was recently aired on the CTV program W5.
After my announcement that I would introduce this private member's legislation, I had many calls from across Canada supporting this initiative, from B.C. to St. John's. If we can do one thing as legislators to protect the lives of children, then we should pass this bill, so this tragic act never happens again.
I thank hon. members for their support and encouragement as we move forward. I thank Kate and David for their vision and for being strong grandparents. It has been very tough on them. They came to Newfoundland last week and joined me, along with many of their friends and family, and we told them that we were moving forward. They have gone through a wide range of emotions over the last five years. It is a story that touched my heart and touched the hearts of many Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans. If we can move forward with bail reform and change the bail law by putting in five simple words to allow our lawmakers the ability to deny bail for the protection of children, it would be a great step forward.
Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to bring this forward today. I look forward to discussing it with members from all parties, and I hope I can gather the support of the House.