Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the second reading debate on Bill C-10, the safe streets and communities act.
The bill would fulfill the government's commitment in the June 2011 Speech from the Throne to bundle and quickly reintroduce crime bills that died on the order paper when Parliament was dissolved for the general election.
Integral to this commitment, as articulated in the Speech from the Throne, are two key statements that I want to quote because I think they give voice to what all Canadians firmly believe.
The Government of Canada has no more fundamental duty than to protect the personal safety of our citizens and defend against threats to our national security.
Our government has always believed the interests of law-abiding citizens should be placed ahead of those of criminals. Canadians who are victimized or threatened by crime deserve their government's support and protection--
In my view, this precisely characterizes Bill C-10. It packages nine former bills that, collectively, recognize and seek to protect our vulnerabilities; for example, children's vulnerability to being preyed upon by adult sexual predators, foreign workers' vulnerability to being exploited by unscrupulous Canadian employers, and our collective vulnerability to suffering the harms that go hand in hand with serious drug crimes, such as drug trafficking, production and acts of terrorism.
Knowing this, and knowing as well that many of these reforms have been previously debated, studied and passed by at least one chamber, there is no reason not to support Bill C-10 in this Parliament.
Bill C-10 is divided into five parts.
Part 1 proposes to deter terrorism by supporting victims. It would create a new cause of action for victims of terrorism to enable them to sue not only the perpetrators of terrorism but all those who support terrorism, including listed foreign states, for loss or damage that occurred as a result of an act of terrorism or omission committed anywhere in the world on or after January 1, 1985.
The State Immunity Act would be amended to remove immunity from those states that the government has listed as supporters of terrorism. These amendments were previously proposed and passed by the Senate in the form of Bill S-7, justice for victims of terrorism act, in the previous session of Parliament. They are reintroduced in Bill C-10, with technical changes to correct grammatical and cross-reference errors.
Part 2 proposes to strengthen our existing responses to child exploitation and serious drug crimes, as well as serious violent and property crimes. It would better protect children against sexual abuse in several ways, including by uniformly and strongly condemning all forms of child sex abuse through the imposition of newer and higher mandatory minimum penalties, as well as creating new core powers to impose conditions to prevent suspected or convicted child sex offenders from engaging in conduct that could facilitate or further their sexual offences against children.
These reforms are the same as they were in former Bill C-54, protecting children from sexual predators act, with the addition of proposed increases to the maximum penalty for four offences and corresponding increases in their mandatory minimum penalities to better reflect the particularly heinous nature of these offences.
Part 2 also proposes to specify that conditional sentences of imprisonment, often referred to as house arrest, are never available for offences punishable by a maximum of 14 years or life, for offences prosecuted by indictment and punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years that result in bodily harm, trafficking and production of drugs or that involve the use of a weapon, or for listed serious property and violent offences punishable by a maximum penalty of 10 years that are prosecuted by indictment.
These reforms were previously proposed in former Bill C-16, ending house arrest for property and other serious crimes by serious violent offenders act which had received second reading in this House and was referred to the justice committee when it died on the order paper.
It is in the same form as before with, again, a few technical changes that are consistent with the objectives of the bill as was originally introduced.
Part 2 also proposes to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to impose mandatory minimum sentences for serious offences involving production and/or possession for the purposes of trafficking and/or importing and exporting and/or possession for the purpose of exporting Schedule I drugs, such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, and Schedule II drugs, such as marijuana.
These mandatory minimum penalties would be imposed where there is an aggravating factor, including where the production of the drug constituted a potential security, health or safety hazard, or the offence was committed in or near a school.
This is the fourth time that these amendments have been introduced. They are in the same form as they were the last time when they were passed by the Senate as former Bill S-10, Penalties for Organized Drug Crime Act, in the previous Parliament.
Part 3 proposes numerous post-sentencing reforms to better support victims and to increase offender accountability and management. Specifically, it reintroduces reforms previously contained in three bills from the previous Parliament: Bill C-39, Ending Early Release for Criminals and Increasing Offender Accountability Act; Bill C-5, Keeping Canadians Safe (International Transfer of Offenders) Act; and Bill C-23B, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
Bill C-10 reintroduces these reforms with some technical changes.
Part 4 reintroduces much needed reforms to the Youth Criminal Justice Act to better deal with violent and repeat young offenders. Part 4 includes reforms that would ensure the protection of the public is always considered a principle in dealing with young offenders and that will make it easier to detain youth charged with serious offences pending trial.
These reforms were also previously proposed in former Bill C-4, Sébastien's Law (Protecting the Public from Violent Young Offenders).
Part 5 proposes amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to better protect foreign workers against abuse and exploitation. Their reintroduction in Bill C-10 reflects the fifth time that these reforms have been before Parliament, with the last version being former Bill C-56, Preventing the Trafficking, Abuse and Exploitation of Vulnerable Immigrants Act.
In short, Bill C-10 proposes many needed and welcome reforms to safeguard Canadians. Many have already been supported in the previous Parliament and Canadians are again expecting us to support them in this Parliament.