Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak on Bill C-10, Safe Streets and Communities Act. I welcome all of the proposals in the bill. I believe their enactment, both individually and collectively, will make a significant contribution to safeguard all communities across Canada.
I will first address the impact for victims of violent crime.
In my riding of Etobicoke Centre, there is a family named Cikovic. The parents are Vesna and Davorin. Vesna is a piano teacher and Davorin works at CBC-Radio. Their son, Boris, attended high school in Etobicoke at Scarlet Heights.
The Cikovic family were refugees from war-torn Sarajevo, with Boris arriving in Canada as an infant. This family worked to escape the horrors of a war where former neighbours preyed upon each other and visited atrocities upon each other in every form imaginable. The family settled in Canada, grateful for the new start they had and grateful for the opportunities that Canada had provided their son.
As Boris grew up in Canada, he became the all-Canadian kid, an athlete and gifted hockey player, a leader on the ice, helping less skilled players score and achieve rather than allow his own talent to dominate. He mentored his teammates. At so young an age, he showed maturity and wisdom that was returned by his large circle of friends with great affection and strong bonds that developed in elementary school and endured through high school and what would have appeared to be beyond university and throughout life. Boris was a leader and one that this close circle rallied around. He was a natural and his future appeared limitless. Then, on a night in 2008, Boris and his friends were transiting a local park, were accosted and he was shot and killed while being robbed of his backpack and valuables.
The Cikovics are victims, devastated by the tragic loss of their only son who had natural gifts and talents and was on his way to becoming a model Canadian success story.
What of the Cikovic family in this? Do is care that Statistics Canada says that crime is down, as the members opposite often cite? I asked the Cikovics that and their response was a resounding no. I challenge any member opposite to look that family in the eye and quote that statistic. The Cikovics are not vengeful people, but they are entitled to justice for their son.
Of the many provisions in Bill C-10, victims of crime would have the ability to present statements at Parole Board hearings. If attending the hearing, the victim may comment on the harm or damage resulting from the offence and its continuing impact, including concerns for his or her safety and the possible release of the offender. Even if the victims does not attend, the Parole Board may authorize presentation of the statement in an alternative format.
Also authorized to present a statement are the persons described to have been harmed or suffered a loss due to the act of the offender. This includes any safety concerns and concerns regarding the offender's potential release. This provision provides victims with empowerment and a role in the corrections process.
Other areas include the elimination of pardons for violent crime and measures that protect the public from violent and repeat young offenders.
Today I speak for a family that has been tragically victimized and I speak in the name of Boris Cikovic who can no longer speak for himself, but today in the House his voice is heard.
I will focus my remaining remarks on Bill C-10 proposals that address child sexual exploitation and violent crimes in part 2 of the bill.
As members know, these proposals were originally introduced as Bill C-54, protecting children from sexual predators act and with all party support had been passed by this chamber in the last Parliament. Bill C-10 has reintroduced these proposals with some additional sentencing enhancements that are consistent with and reflect the overall objectives of these reforms.
Part 2 seeks to better protect children and youth from sexual predators in two ways: first, by proposing sentencing enhancements to ensure that all sexual offences involving child victims are consistently and strongly condemned; and second, by creating new offences and measures to prevent the commission of a child sexual offence.
Bill C-10 has been reported back to the House of Commons after having been thoroughly studied by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, without any amendments to its child sexual exploitation reforms. Indeed, part 2 proposals received strong support by witnesses appearing before the justice committee, including the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Canadian Police Association, the Kids' Internet Safety Alliance, KINSA, as well as the minister of justice and attorney general for New Brunswick who said:
I believe strongly that crimes against children deserve strong sentencing. We believe the changes proposed in this crime bill will make it possible to achieve that objective.
I could not agree more.
Bill C-10 proposes to enhance the sentencing or penalties for sexual offenders involving child victims in two ways. It proposes to impose seven new and nine higher mandatory minimum penalties as well as higher maximum penalties for four child specific sexual offences.
These amendments are needed because, currently, the Criminal Code only imposes MMPs on 12 child specific sexual offences and none at all in the general sexual offences where the victim is a child. For those offences that already impose MMPs, these are inconsistent or simply inadequate. The effect of imposing MMPs in only some but not all sexual offences sends an inconsistent message that not all child sexual offences are serious and perhaps even that some child sexual assault victims are less victims than others.
Imposing inconsistent and inadequate MMPs is equally problematic. For example, currently the Criminal Code imposes a mandatory minimum penalty of 45 days for the offence of sexual interference of a child, even though the maximum penalty or indictment is 10 years. Bill C-10 proposes to fix this by increasing this MMP to one year.
To my mind, and I think to all of us here, the current inconsistent and inadequate approach to sentencing in child sexual abuse cases is wrong. Who among us does not agree that children are the most vulnerable in our society and that all children are deserving of equal protection against all forms of child sexual exploitation? As I noted earlier, Bill C-10 also seeks to prevent sexual assault against children. It proposes two new offences criminalizing sexual assault against children that police witnesses were particularly against.
The first new offence would prohibit anyone from providing sexually explicit material to a young person for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a sexual offence against that young person. Child sex offenders often use adult pornographic material to groom their victims, for example to lower their victims' sexual inhibitions with a view to making it easier to sexually exploit them. Though any such use of child pornography is already prohibited, this is not the case for adult material. Accordingly, this new offence would fill a gap. The proposed new offence would impose a mandatory minimum penalty consistent with other parts of the bill.
The second offence proposed by Bill C-10 would prohibit anyone from using telecommunications to agree or make arrangements with another person to commit a sexual offence against a child. This offence is modelled on the existing “luring a child” offence of the Criminal Code that prohibits the use of a computer system to directly communicate with a child for the purpose of facilitating a sexual offence against that child. However, as the “luring a child” offence only applies when communication is with the child victim, this new offence closes the gap where the communication is between two other persons to facilitate the commission of a sexual offence against a child. This offence would also impose a mandatory minimum penalty.
As well, Bill C-10 would impose a condition on convicted child sex offenders or on suspected child sex offenders, a recognizance or peace bond under section 810.1, prohibiting them from having any unsupervised access to a young person or unsupervised use of the Internet. Preventing a known or suspected child sex offender from having the opportunity and tools to commit a child sexual offence should protect other children from being victimized.
I urge all members to support the swift enactment of Bill C-10 so that Canada's children will be protected against sexual exploitation.