This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #76 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was auto.

Topics

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to set something straight right off the bat. I need thirty seconds to speak to the member for Hochelaga about the examples I was referring to. I do not have a Porsche 911, Porsche Carrera or Acura.

That said, I encourage anyone who is listening to go read the newspaper Le Devoir today, not to give them any publicity. There is a great article, a letter written by the learned member for Hochelaga concerning the presence of organized crime.

It seems obvious that someone who arranges the export of luxury vehicles like Mercedes, Porsches, Audis, BMWs and maybe some kinds of magnificent Volkswagens must be organized. It requires an entire organization because if these stolen vehicles are exported illegally, smuggled, there must be control over the chain from beginning to end. They control the thieves and receivers, the ones who take the stolen vehicles and put them in the container to be sent somewhere else. They especially control whom these vehicles are sold to. Someone, somewhere in the world. will pay for the Porsche 911, the Volkswagen or the Mercedes sport that was stolen in Canada.

I am saying that this is important, and this bill will likely enable law enforcement agencies to adequately monitor ports where vehicles are being illegally exported.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime). This enactment amends the Criminal Code to create offences in connection with the theft of a motor vehicle, the alteration, removal and obliteration of the VIN, vehicle identification number, the trafficking of property or proceeds obtained by crime and possession of such property or proceeds for the purposes of trafficking and to provide for a new prohibition and the importation and exportation of such property or proceeds.

As my colleague, our critic in this area, pointed out in his speech half an hour ago, the NDP supports the bill, a bill that is long overdue. In fact, it would have been passed had the government not been so busy calling an election last fall. The Prime Minister passed legislation setting fixed terms for elections, which would have been this October. Then he went back on his promise and called the election, which effectively killed all the bills on the order paper at the time. Therefore, the government has only itself to blame for no action being taken on the bill. It could have easily been passed had he not called the unnecessary election last year.

The issue of auto theft is a very complicated issue, an issue that has been around with us for a long time. In Manitoba, particularly in Winnipeg, we had a front line view of the problem, having three times the theft rate of any other place in Canada. While it was a long time coming, and there were a number of reasons why things turned out the way they did, three or four years ago the Manitoba government developed what turned out to be a very effective approach to deal with the whole problem. This is basically our argument on some of the approaches in crime legislation with which the government deals.

The NDP is willing to support items that work. If the government can show us that something works, then we will probably say it is a good idea. We did not support the mandatory minimums on a crime bill last week. We know from the history. For over 25 years the United States have tried it and it has not worked. It has ended up in a huge development of prisons and the crime rate is as high as ever. Clearly that is not an approach we want to follow. It has be demonstrated that it does not work. We would like to deal with issues in a way where we can develop programs that works.

On September 13, 2007, the Premier of Manitoba pressed Ottawa for tougher sentences and action on auto theft. Representatives from the Manitoba NDP government, Attorney General Chomiak, the Liberal leader, the Conservative leader, the mayor of Winnipeg, the mayor of Brandon and a number of people came to Ottawa to meet with the then minister to advocate for tougher action on this whole area of auto thefts.

Manitoba's approach to reducing auto theft and youth crime is focused on a number of issues. One of the big issues we are involved in is the whole idea of prevention. We believe if we can prevent the crime from happening, it is a much cheaper and more effective way of dealing with it than trying to deal with the consequences of the crime after it has been committed. In the last nine years we have set up a number of lighthouse programs for young adults. There are roughly 50 of them now in operation. There are friendship centres, education pilot projects and, as I had indicated many times before, the vehicle immobilizers program.

With regard to the immobilizer program, it was not established in isolation from the other programs. There was an operational gang suppression unit that concentrated on the most high risk criminals. Car thieves are classified by level one, level two, level three, level four and special attention was paid to the highest level, the level four, offenders. We are only talking about maybe 50 people.

The gang suppression unit of the police targeted these individuals. It visited them every three hours or so to find out where they were. A number of approaches involving police activities were provided to try to deal with this problem. That was one of the ways it was dealt with, but then the immobilizer program was also brought in.

When the immobilizer program was brought in, the Manitoba Public Insurance announced it and for a period of 10 months it was basically a voluntary program. It gave what I believe was an $80 reduction in people's insurance rates for the first year and then $40 afterward, but they had to pay for the immobilizer. The uptake on that program was not extremely high.

Sometimes there are programs in government that we think should work. When we try them out, they do not work as well as they should. It boils down to a bit of tinkering to make them work correctly. We knew we had the right program, but it was not working, probably for the reason that people had to pay for the immobilizer.

After 10 months, the Manitoba government made an announcement that it would make the program mandatory. It identified a number of cars that were at the highest risk of being stolen based on theft statistics. It announced that as of September 1, 2007, people could not renew their insurance unless immobilizers were installed. The installation was free and the customer would receive an $80 reduction in insurance and a $40 reduction in each subsequent year.

It was that action, combined with the gang suppression unit's activities, that caused a huge drop in auto thefts in Manitoba. It was not only the immobilizer program alone that did it. It was the combination of working with police. We also understood that we had to go to Ottawa to ask for tougher laws. It is a multifaceted approach to deal with auto thefts.

We know the problem over the long term will solve itself. The federal Liberal government back in 2003 announced that effective September 1, 2007, all new cars sold in Canada would need factory-installed immobilizers. However, it would probably take 10 to 15 years before we would solve the problem.

Clearly, from a Manitoba point of view, we applauded the federal government for announcing that in 2003 and for the Conservative government bringing it in September 1, 2007. However, we were not prepared to wait those 10 to 15 years for the problem to solve itself. While we were happy with that, we wanted to deal with the other more immediate problems of auto thefts today.

Members have compared the Manitoba auto theft rates with Montreal. In Montreal the recovery rate was only about 30%, which would indicate that there is criminal gang involvement, where vehicles are stolen and exported to other countries for resale. In Manitoba the recovery rate was about 80%. Therefore, we could conclude that people were joyriding, that they were using the cars to get from point A to point B.

It is true that a lot of that is going on and the cars they are stealing are usually older, but the fact is we have had an alarming increase in the number of stolen vehicles involved in police chases. The vehicles are involved in police chases that invariably end with serious accidents that have resulted in a number of deaths. Auto thieves have stolen cars, become involved in high-speed cases and ended up killing a number of people. Last year we had a situation where so-called joyriding thieves actually tried to run down joggers on the road.

We saw this as a very serious problem that needed an extremely aggressive approach. It was only when we took the mandatory steps to force people to put in immobilizers in order to insure their car, at the insurance corporation's cost, that we had compliance and saw an almost immediate drastic drop in the car theft rate.

That is an idea that should be transplanted to other jurisdictions. I am wondering why that has not actually happened at this point. The member from B.C. asked about the bait car program, and I told him we did look at that. We do not have a monopoly on good ideas here; there are other ideas, like the bait car program, that could be used.

Manitoba looked at the bait car program and for whatever reasons decided it was either too expensive or, as some may know we have cooler temperatures for parts of the winter, perhaps the bait car would not work properly at 40 below in January.

Nevertheless we did adopt a GPS program, which has been used successfully in Nova Scotia for a number of years. We have tested that for over a year now, and there was some slippage with it. I think it has worked out okay. We outfitted a number of high-risk car thieves with a tracking device. They were followed around and monitored, and evidently that was helpful.

It seems surprising that we can have a system that works in one place and we cannot replicate that with any kind of swiftness across the country. I look at the whole history of the auto thief program, and 20 years ago consumer groups were asking the auto industry to install immobilizers. The car industry resisted. It did not want to do it. It did not want to do it because it was going to add $30 to the cost of manufacturing the car. It had all kinds of time and money for putting in extra cup holders and all sorts of other features that would not add to the safety of the vehicle the way putting in an immobilizer would.

It was not until 1997, I believe, that the Ford Motor Company started installing the number one approved immobilizer of the different types that were available. Then again, it only installed them in the high-end, not the lower-end vehicles. It was something that was necessary at the end of the day, but it certainly took a long time for the auto industry to start an effective immobilizer program.

Now a couple of the other car companies use a different standard, and the standards are at odds with one another. The Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation will not give a discount to people with immobilizers that are not of the highest standard. Constituents of mine have insisted they had the right immobilizer on their car, but found out they did not. Several kinds of immobilizers are available and not all of them meet the standards.

I have the definition of what is required with respect to meeting the highest standards. Approved immobilizers have to meet a national standard, Canada ULCS338/98. Immobilizers of this standard meet a number of requirements for immobilizer technology. Transponder base technology is the key to this.

The transponder is a radio frequency chip located in the key or key fob. When the chip is near the ignition it sends a signal to deactivate the immobilizer thereby allowing the vehicle to start. The vehicle will not start without the signal. When someone walks away from the vehicle with the key or key fob, the immobilizer is armed and the vehicle cannot be started.

By contrast, some non-approved immobilizers have the deactivation system in the steering column. In addition, many non-approved immobilizers only disable two systems in the vehicle, while approved immobilizers must disable three. Thieves have become skilled at defeating less effective systems, and as a result, theft of these vehicles is on the rise.

If the immobilizer is installed according to the proper standards, it cannot be defeated. Until a year ago, there were zero car thefts because of Ford's high standard.

A number of people in my constituency were quite incensed about the whole idea of installing an immobilizer in the first place. They feel that it is not their responsibility to protect their vehicle. They feel that people should behave themselves and be law-abiding, as they were when they grew up. They feel they should be able to leave their cars unlocked in front of their house with the keys in the car, as they did in the 1950s. People did not steal things in those days.

My constituents are quite incensed, and they have been phoning my office to complain about putting an immobilizer in their cars to prevent people from stealing them. They feel we should lock people up and the problem would be solved. We know that locking people up is not the correct approach. They will come out of jail as better criminals unless we have preventative programs, training programs, educational programs and incentives.

The previous Conservative government in Manitoba tried making auto thieves pay for stealing cars. Legislation was introduced, maybe it has been passed by now, requiring parents to pay for damages caused by their children. I heard the other day that some other jurisdiction is looking at this right now. Young people who are stealing cars are not concerned about paying for damages.

We also looked at the idea of having the auto corporation put on liens to make sure car thieves could not renew their driver's licences. Most of them do not have a driver's licence, so the lack of a licence would obviously not stop a person from stealing a car and driving in the first place.

We looked at a prohibition against car thieves getting a driver's licence. We were hoping young people would think twice about stealing a car because having a licence is important to them. Some people might actually have been deterred from stealing a car because of that.

I am not saying we should not do these things, but the last thing young people are worried about when stealing a car is whether they are going to get a driver's licence on time or they are going to have to pay for the damages they cause.

Another big area of auto theft is that thieves are not only stealing cars for joyriding, they are stealing them in order to commit more crimes. We have found that people steal cars, go out and break into houses and then use the vehicles to transport stolen goods they then sell.

This is a very complicated and huge area. If we were to work together to try all the different aspects that work in different jurisdictions, we could actually get a handle on this, albeit about 20 years later than we should have.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech with some interest. At the end of his speech, he talked about working together and collaboration. I was a little disappointed to hear the member basically apologizing and making excuses for the people who commit auto theft, not once or twice but sometimes dozens of times. One person alone in B.C. was responsible for more than 1,000 car thefts.

I heard him mention that insurance companies should perhaps transfer responsibility to car owners by forcing them to buy immobilizers, as was tried in a jurisdiction he referred to. It seems to me that is lazy politics. It is wrong-headed. It is like the gun registry, which penalizes the honest people.

Bill C-26 creates a separate offence for theft of a motor vehicle. It calls for a prison sentence of up to six months for conviction of a third or subsequent offence, and there is a new offence for altering or destroying a vehicle identification number. It makes it an offence to traffic in property obtained by crime, and it makes the possession of such property for the purposes of trafficking an offence.

Why does this member and his party not get on board with Canadians who are tired of this kind of theft and do something that will actually make our communities safer?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member should get on board with us. It was the Manitoba NDP premier and the Attorney General who came to Ottawa in September 2007 to try to encourage the government to do something about the problem.

These members talk a lot, but it is all about politics and trying to position themselves with certain wedge issues to gain some advantage in a future election. I asked them where they were when we were prepared to pass this bill two years ago, but they had to call an election.

We have said we support the bill. We are going to move to pass the bill. What more do they want? We are with them. Let us work together.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to my colleague's remarks. I will not ask any more questions about prison sentences. My colleague made some interesting comments on one issue, and I would like him to expand on it.

We did not hear much about this issue when we studied the bill in committee. I would like him to talk to us about the system that can immobilize a vehicle once stolen. Many of us have cars. It seems like a no-brainer that if the key is left in the ignition, the car will be stolen. How does the system that prevents the car from starting work? The problem we have when it comes to this kind of crime is that, typically, thieves belonging to organized crime gangs tow vehicles away and then sell them elsewhere.

I would like my colleague to explain how the system he thinks we should implement works.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, certainly the member is correct that in Montreal, the car theft rate is very high and there is only a 30% recovery, which means that cars are being stolen by people driving tow trucks, who pick up the cars and drive them away. We are not going to be able to solve that with immobilizers.

The whole idea behind the immobilizer is that the car cannot start without a key. In the old days and with older vehicles, people hot-wired cars from the ignitions. The old Chryslers from 15 years ago were easy to do. Any of us here could probably learn how to do it in a matter of minutes. All we have done is we have made certain that the systems to start the car are disabled and they can only be started with a particular key.

The problem is that there are some unapproved immobilizers that housed the deactivation system in the steering wheel column. There were also some systems that only disabled two of the systems on the vehicle. The type that we say one has to have is based on the national standard of Canada, the ULC-S338/98, which says that it has to immobilize all three of the systems in the car to be eligible for the insurance discount and for the vehicle to be registered.

There is a certain amount of confusion in the market when people say, “I have an immobilizer. I was told there was one when I bought the car”, and then we find out that it is not the one that qualifies for the discount because no one has stolen a car with that system in it and driven away. They may steal the whole car with that system, as they do in Montreal, but in Manitoba they have not stolen one yet that they have been able to drive away.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank our colleague from Elmwood—Transcona for his passionate speech.

I know that the public insurance plans in Manitoba and British Columbia are on board with this system. If this is such a good thing that would reduce car thefts and lower insurance costs, why would the private insurance companies not be on board with this plan?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question. It baffles me that the Insurance Bureau of Canada would not be taking the Manitoba experience and basically advocating to all of its hundred members, the private insurance companies of Canada, to bring in a similar program.

What we did was provide free immobilizer installation and an insurance discount on top of that. Perhaps the insurance companies think that it is going to be a difficult program for them to administer, or it is going to cost them some short-term money. Obviously they are having some investment problems at the moment, with their investments being cut by the recession. If they had a sincere interest in trying to reduce auto theft and auto theft insurance losses in as dramatic a fashion as we have in Manitoba, then yes indeed, they would be doing the same thing. It is a mystery to me why they have not followed suit and tried to encourage their members to do the same thing.

I am not even sure if the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, which is a publicly owned system, has copied Manitoba's system and provided free immobilizers to the drivers in British Columbia, but it ought to try. It could add that to its bait car program and maybe they would get an even bigger bang for their buck.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member and I disagree very much on the issue of mandatory minimum sentences for serial car thieves. I strongly support that, especially for those thieves who are stealing three, five, ten, sometimes a thousand cars, as was mentioned by my colleague. However, I do want to commend the member for Elmwood—Transcona for his advocacy on immobilizers.

Would he agree with me that combining an immobilizer program that is mandatory with a bait car program would serve to dramatically drive down car thefts in all of our provincial jurisdictions?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would encourage the member to get the insurance corporation in B.C., which is a huge corporation, to follow what Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation has done and offer free immobilizers to the most at risk cars and solve the problem that way.

I personally have no problem with the bait car program. If the member wants to drive one out to Manitoba and make the thing work at 40° below zero in January, I will be there with him to watch him do it.

In terms of the mandatory minimums, I have already told him that we support the bill as written. We say that the government should have brought in the legislation last year. We would have supported it then.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Guy André Bloc Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is with considerable interest that I rise today to speak to Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime).

This bill, introduced on April 21 by the Minister of Justice is almost identical to Bill C-53, which was introduced in the second session of the 39th Parliament, but which was not debated in the House. We know why. There has been an election since then. As with Bill C-53, the Bloc supports Bill C-26, which we are currently studying at third reading. As always, we carefully studied the bill in committee and now look forward to its passing.

In justice matters, as parliamentarians we are very concerned about public security. Clearly we want an effective justice system ensuring everyone's security. It is from this perspective that we worked with this bill.

Although their numbers have decreased since 1996, the number of auto thefts is still too high and their social and economic consequences remain too heavy a burden for both the individuals involved and society as a whole. The Bloc is certainly not opting for an ideological approach in justice matters, like some of our colleagues opposite. It recognizes that targeted measures aimed at improving the Criminal Code, if combined with measures linked to crime prevention, may be appropriate, indeed vital. Prevention remains the best tool, in our opinion, for fighting all forms of crime.

In addition, the Bloc notes that Quebec society, where wealth is the most evenly distributed, has lower rates of murder and violent crime. This is definitely something worth thinking about, since providing better protection for the public means attacking the root of the problem, the causes of delinquency and violence. Poverty, inequality and the feeling of exclusion provide fertile soil for the growth of crime. Better wealth distribution, better social integration and a focus on rehabilitation are proven ways to prevent crime.

When we in the House refuse to help people in a time of economic crisis by doing something about the waiting period for employment insurance, I believe we are encouraging crime and forms of delinquency. People sometimes get involved in crime in order to meet the needs of their family. This is why it is vital to provide support to individuals, families and children when we want to fight crime.

This bill also tackles a real problem affecting Quebec, but more so the western provinces, that is the theft of vehicles for joyriding. There are young people who, often just for the fun of it, steal a car to impress their friends or take their girl for a spin and return it later. They go off with a car, and the consequences for that are major too. It is in this perspective that the Bloc supports Bill C-26.

This Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (auto theft and trafficking in property obtained by crime) was introduced by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and passed first reading on April 21, 2009. Although the bill focuses primarily on the theft of motor vehicles, it also has to do with the trafficking, export and import of any property obtained by crime.

It provides for four new offences and makes corresponding changes to the Criminal Code. In short, it creates a distinct offence of motor vehicle theft, punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years of imprisonment and, in case of a third or subsequent offence, a minimum sentence of six months. It creates the offence of tampering with a vehicle identification number, punishable by a maximum penalty of five years of imprisonment. It also creates the offences of trafficking in property obtained by crime and possession of such property for the purposes of trafficking, punishable by a maximum sentence of 14 years of imprisonment. Finally, it allows the Canada Border Services Agency to prevent property obtained by crime, including stolen cars, from crossing the border.

Bill C-26 is basically a repeat of former Bill C-53, with the addition of the offence of motor vehicle theft and the ability to use electronic listening devices in investigations into the new offences created by Bill C-26. Former Bill C-343 would also have created a distinct offence of motor vehicle theft, but it died on the order paper before it could be passed by the Senate. Finally, former Bill C-64 would have created the offence of tampering with a vehicle identification number similar to the offence in Bill C-26, but it died on the order paper at the end of the 38th Parliament. It has been a long process, but this bill is still opportune.

Motor vehicle thefts have major repercussions for vehicle owners, consumers, police, insurance companies and governments. The Insurance Bureau of Canada estimates the financial losses resulting from this crime at more than $1 billion a year. This includes theft of uninsured vehicles and costs related to health care, the courts, police forces and lawyers, and personal expenses incurred by the vehicle owners who were victimized by these thefts.

In 2007, four stolen vehicles in 10 were not found by the police, which leads one to think that a considerable proportion of these thefts are linked to organized crime. In 2007, the province of Quebec, unfortunately, had the lowest rates of vehicles recovered, specifically in Montreal, the Saguenay, Sherbrooke and the region I represent, Trois-Rivières, or one part of Trois-Rivières. Winnipeg had one of the highest recovered vehicle rates in Canada.

I would like to take a few moments now to explain the situation a bit. As things currently stand, the Criminal Code does not specifically mention vehicle identification numbers. This bill will change that.

Although all vehicles in Canada must have a vehicle identification number to clearly distinguish one vehicle from another, there is no specific offence of tampering with it. However, changing this number is one of the easiest ways to disguise a stolen car and resell it.

At the present time, people caught altering or removing a vehicle identification number are charged under the Criminal Code with possession of goods obtained by crime or some other theft-related offence.

Tampering with a vehicle identification number will henceforth be considered evidence with respect to the offence of possession of goods obtained by crime.

The Criminal Code defines a vehicle identification number as any number or other mark placed on a motor vehicle for the purpose of distinguishing the motor vehicle from other similar motor vehicles.

Bill C-26 contains two major amendments. Clause 5 of the bill amends the section relating to possession of property obtained by crime. More specifically, it creates the offence of trafficking in property obtained by crime, which is punishable by imprisonment for a maximum of 14 years.

The clause defines trafficking:

...“traffic” means to sell, give, transfer, transport, export from Canada, import into Canada, send, deliver or deal with in any other way, or to offer to do any of those acts.

Another important point is that the new clause prohibits the importation into Canada or exportation from Canada of the proceeds of crime. The purpose of this is to allow the Canada Border Services Agency to prevent the cross-border movement of property obtained by crime.

Clause 3 adds, after section 353 of the Criminal Code, a specific section on vehicle identification numbers. It does, however, give one example of a legitimate excuse: it is not an offence to alter or remove a vehicle identification number on a motor vehicle during regular maintenance or any repair or other work done on the vehicle for a legitimate purpose,

This new offence is punishable by imprisonment for a term of not more than five years.

As a Bloc Québécois member, I would like to take a moment to explain the situation in Quebec at present. Quebec is not distinct just because of its language and culture; its crime also presents a very different picture.

According to the insurer's organization, Groupement des assureurs automobiles, there were more than 38,800 vehicle thefts in Quebec in 2006. That is the equivalent of one every 14 minutes, and $300 million of insurance companies' money, which has a direct impact on our insurance premiums. Despite the size of those figures, Quebec is far from the worst. In fact, per capita, the figures are far lower than in the western provinces. Quebec's emphasis on prevention and creating public awareness gets results. Comparing the number of vehicle thefts per 100,000 inhabitants in 2006, Quebec had 507, Alberta had 725 and Manitoba had 1,376. The average across Canada was 487 per 100,000 people. In all of Canada, approximately 160,000 vehicles were stolen in 2006.

Behind the figures, however, the situations in Quebec and the western provinces are different. In Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, a majority of thefts are crimes of opportunity—they are committed by people who are not necessarily looking to derive a pecuniary benefit from their theft. Such thefts are known as joyriding. They are often committed by young people experimenting with driving a car. They are committed for fun or on a dare, or to use a vehicle to commit a crime. A majority of these thefts are committed by young people, as I said before.

In Quebec, and to a lesser but similar extent on the Ontario side, the picture is different. In fact, thefts are not committed for the same reasons as in the West. A larger proportion of thefts are committed for the purpose of trafficking in vehicles. This factor can be clearly seen when we read a statistic about the recovery rate for stolen vehicles. In 2002, for example, the stolen vehicle recovery rate in the greater Toronto region was 75%, as compared to only 56% in the Montreal region. Clearly, that means that the vehicles, whether intact or as parts, are leaving Quebec in large numbers. Of course, the regions most affected are mainly greater Montreal and Laval. The rates in those regions are 723 and 852 thefts per 100,000 population, respectively.

Apart from enacting more punitive measures in order to improve public safety, I think we must also tackle the root of the problem: the causes of crime and violence, as I said earlier.

We also have to understand that poverty, inequality and exclusion are very important factors in the emergence of this criminal behaviour, and so it is important to adopt social policies that do more to promote the sharing of wealth, social integration and rehabilitation. Filling our prisons and building new ones is not the way the federal government is going to bring the crime rate down.

Regardless of how harsh a bill may be, if we do not do something to prevent youths and other people from committing crimes, we will get nowhere. Investing in ways to combat poverty means investing in families, in preventing crime among young people and children who are often living in very vulnerable family situations. It also means investing in fighting crime; we must never forget that. And informing the public and promoting awareness are simple precautions we can take so people can avoid having their vehicles stolen. That is also important.

As I said earlier, however, we will be supporting this bill. When it comes to justice issues, I recognize that if targeted measures to improve the Criminal Code go hand in hand with crime prevention measures, they may be appropriate, and may even be necessary.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Questions and comments will continue after oral question period.

Stephen Leacock Medal for HumourStatements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

Mr. Speaker, last weekend, I attended the annual Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour award presentation near the city of Orillia in my riding.

Each year, the Stephen Leacock Association announces the winner of the Leacock medal for the most humorous book published in Canada in the previous year. Since 1946, it has been granting this award to such literary icons as Pierre Berton, W.O. Mitchell, Farley Mowat and Mordecai Richler. This year, the associates have awarded the medal and its $15,000 prize, courtesy of TD Financial Group, to Vancouver-based author and filmmaker Mark Leiren-Young for his book Never Shoot a Stampede Queen: A Rookie Reporter in the Cariboo Country.

I invite all members to join me in congratulating Mr. Leiren-Young for winning this highly coveted award and the Stephen Leacock Association for its steadfast promotion of Canadian literature.

Health Care ProfessionalsStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to stand in the House today to salute an individual from my riding of Random—Burin—St. George's in Newfoundland and Labrador. Ambrose Penton, from Marystown on the Burin Peninsula, has been a nurse for the past 26 years.

He was recently named Canada's first ever “no-nonsense nurse”. Mr. Penton was chosen because of his compassion for his patients. Like so many nurses everywhere, but particularly in rural communities, Mr. Penton goes above and beyond the call of duty in fulfilling his responsibilities as a nurse.

Mr. Penton's prize for this recognition was not something for himself, but a $5,000 donation to Daffodil Place in St. John's, a facility built to serve as a hospice for cancer patients and their families in the province.

I ask my colleagues to join me in congratulating Mr. Penton on being recognized in this manner, and thank him and the hundreds of other health care professionals in the country who dedicate their lives to ensuring quality health care is available for their fellow citizens.

Gaby BouvretteStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Carole Lavallée Bloc Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, Gaby Bouvrette has been working at the Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville volunteer centre in my riding for 20 years. Unfortunately, she will be retiring on June 26. I say unfortunately because she is a real treasure for the entire community. She has been the executive director of the centre from the beginning and was not paid for the first three years.

She organized all the centre's activities including the food bank, meals on wheels, and the second-hand clothing shop, one of the centre's most popular activities. She also coordinated all construction work for the new centre that she planned and designed with municipal leaders from Saint-Bruno.

Gaby Bouvrette has many qualities. Simply and with humility, she demonstrates determination, generosity and altruism. She deserves to relax with her spouse and grandchildren. Let us wish her a happy retirement.

VeteransStatements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

John Rafferty NDP Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to thank our veterans and to congratulate the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 225, in Kakabeka Falls, on its 60th anniversary this week.

Please join me in congratulating the president Ken Milenko; the vice-president, Mary Majbroda; the past president, Jim Heald; the second vice-president, Don Kamula; the sergeant-at arms, Cliff Kerslake; the service officer, Bill Majbroda; and members-at-large, Russel Gillies, Konrad Kramer, Noni MacLean, Steve Druhar and Christel Kramer; and all the members of Branch 225.

I hope that all members of this House will join me in these congratulations and in thanking all of our veterans, our service women and men on active duty, and their families for the sacrifices they have made on our behalf and for serving our country with such honour.

Equal Shared ParentingStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Maurice Vellacott Conservative Saskatoon—Wanuskewin, SK

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, many Canadian families experience the breakup of a marriage. When this happens, the results can be devastating for children. Children are caught in the middle, but should not be used as a weapon or alienated from one of the parents.

Aside from proven abuse or neglect, Canadians want equal shared parenting to be the presumption in our courts when marriages break up because it is in the best interests of children and because it is part of an enlightened equality agenda.

A recent poll I commissioned, conducted by Nanos Research, shows that 78% of Canadians support equal shared parenting, with a high of 86% support in the province of Quebec. More women than men support equal shared parenting, at 78.3%. Among supporters of major political parties, about 78% of Conservatives support equal shared parenting; 75.8% of the NDP; 80.6% of Liberals supported equal shared parenting; and 83% of Bloc supporters endorsed equal shared parenting.

An equal shared parenting private member's bill was introduced in Parliament today. I urge members to support it and expedite its passage through Parliament.

IAAF World Junior Championships in AthleticsStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Brian Murphy Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to rise in the House to update members on the progress being made for the upcoming IAAF World Junior Championships in Athletics being hosted in Moncton next July, or as it is being called by the people already working full-time on the event, Moncton 2010.

This is a world championship competition of athletics, which in North America has yet to gain the popularity it enjoys in other parts of the world, but I guarantee that will change after Moncton 2010.

There will be more than 2,500 athletes and coaches from 170 countries. More than 2,500 volunteers will be involved in these championships, thus making it one of the biggest sporting events to have ever taken place in Canada.

As part of the event, the City of Moncton continues to work on a 10,000-seat stadium and just announced last week the development of additional facilities that will be a lasting legacy of the championships.

I want to congratulate the organizing committee chair, Larry Nelson, and encourage all Canadians to come to Moncton 2010.

Crime PreventionStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to the RCMP officers in my riding of Kamloops who are part of the prolific offender program.

This program began in 2007 with the monitoring of 32 chronic offenders. This number has now grown to a watchful eye on 57 repeat offenders. The results have been outstanding. In 2006, before this initiative was implemented, local police received 3,853 reports of break and enters, thefts from vehicles and other criminal offences. Last year, there were 1,866 calls, a staggering decrease of 51% in the number of crimes.

This program has allowed our officers to turn around a prevalent crime problem by simply becoming proactive.

On behalf of the citizens of Kamloops, I want to thank the 200 members who are involved in this program, including our front-line officers, municipal and support staff, for their tireless effort to make our community safe. With initiative and creativity, crime can be prevented.

Students from Marcellin-Champagnat Secondary SchoolStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present to you today three students from Marcellin-Champagnat, a secondary school in my riding. They are Yuki Émond, Kathy de Munk and Agnès Gagnon-Maltais. With their teachers, Josée Henry and Lisanne Legault, they have come here to defend our democratic values on the international level. This afternoon they will be delivering a petition to the Minister of International Cooperation protesting human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

These young people will be our spokespersons in the future and are standing up for the values we hold dear: freedom of speech, respect of human rights, equality for women, the right to fair wages, and the holding of democratic elections.

What better proof that this generation is indeed engaged and committed. They set an example for our society. I admire them and encourage them to continue along their path. May your commitment serve as an inspiration to us all.

Cenotaph VandalismStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, residents of the city of Airdrie, including myself, were disgusted this week to learn that vandals had desecrated a cenotaph dedicated to the memory of our war veterans.

A concrete cross that sat atop the memorial was found broken and in pieces on the ground. The RCMP said a lot of force would have been needed to cause such damage, marking this as a deliberate and targeted act.

This senseless damage done by cowardly individuals dishonours the memory of the brave men and women whose sacrifice made possible our present-day rights and freedoms.

This desecration has inflicted pain and sadness on our entire community, our veterans and our soldiers still serving. I know that my fellow citizens of Airdrie share my tremendous respect for our veterans' valour and sacrifice and they are outraged by this terrible vandalism in our community.

I ask members of this House to join with the citizens of Airdrie today in strongly condemning this shameful act of vandalism and disrespect.

Gatineau Seniors' Support CentreStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Marcel Proulx Liberal Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, on June 7, the Centre d'entraide aux aînés de Gatineau celebrated its 30th anniversary.

This not-for-profit community organization was founded in 1979 thanks to generous citizens. Its mission is to help and support people over the age of 65 who are less independent than they used to be, but want to keep living at home.

Every day, several hundred seniors who are members of the organization benefit from the services of many volunteers, who help them get to doctor's appointments, the grocery store and community activities at the Centre d'entraide, and take care of other essential needs. These men and women give generously of their time to provide a better quality of life to seniors and their families.

I would like to congratulate and thank all of the volunteers, people whose willingness to listen and help means so much to the happiness of others.

I would also like to congratulate and thank the executive director, Christiane Charron, and her management team for their excellent work carrying out this humanitarian mission, and Claire Lamont, the founder of the Centre d'entraide aux aînés.

Happy 30th anniversary.

Leader of the Liberal Party of CanadaStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Sylvie Boucher Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, is the Liberal leader aware of the consequences of voting no on Friday?

Here is what it will mean: a Liberal no to the work sharing program that helps workers and entrepreneurs; a Liberal no to the infrastructure spending program; a Liberal no to the Canada-wide sports infrastructure program for things like arenas; a Liberal no to the home renovation program for families; a Liberal no to social housing; a Liberal no to modernizing research and training facilities at post-secondary institutions; a Liberal no to the major festivals that contribute so much to this country.

A no vote by the Liberals will jeopardize all these projects. This House is not a reality television show. The Liberal leader must do what is needed for the good governance of the country.

The government would like to remind the Leader of the Opposition that if these projects do not move forward, he will be the one responsible.

Veronyk WilsonStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week, the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation awarded Veronyk Wilson, a Grade 12 student at Collège Notre-Dame in my riding, a $20,000 national scholarship in recognition of her academic and community achievements.

Veronyk, who is president of the student council, is able to carry out several projects at the same time, such as organizing a fundraising campaign while maintaining an outstanding academic record.

Veronyk's enthusiasm in running the cancer research fundraising blitz helped raise hundreds of dollars and was commended by all the representatives of the community.

When she was asked what was most important to her about this project, she answered that it was bringing together everyone in the community.

I want to congratulate Veronyk on her community involvement. The example she sets bodes well not only for the future of Nickel Belt, but for the future of the entire country.

Firearms RegistryStatements by Members

June 16th, 2009 / 2:10 p.m.

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-301, a private member's bill that would have repealed the long gun registry, fell just shy of majority support in the Commons, because it contained some additional rule changes that made opposition backbenchers uncomfortable. So the member for Portage—Lisgar introduced her own bill, Bill C-391, which seeks to repeal the registry and nothing more.

Based on their public statements, enough backbenchers support this bill to put it over the top, but the opposition leaders are so anxious to kill this bill and preserve the firearms registry that they are prepared to flout parliamentary rules.

At first, they tried to make the bill non-votable by arguing that it was the same subject matter as Bill C-301, but when Bill C-301 was dropped from the order paper, the opposition parties dropped their pretense that procedural considerations were relevant. They are going to keep this bill non-votable and they do not care what the rules permit.

Tomorrow in their caucuses the backbenchers from the Liberals and the NDP have the chance to make their leadership stop trying to kill this bill against parliamentary procedure. They have the chance to ensure that they will honour their campaign commitments to make sure that the gun registry is voted down.