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House of Commons Hansard #110 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was inequality.

Topics

Question No. 519Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

With regard to the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB), legislated by the Veterans Review and Appeal Board Act: (a) for each year from 2006 to 2012, what are the number of favourable and negative decisions made by each permanent and temporary member of the Board at the (i) review stage, (ii) appeal stage; (iii) reconsideration stage; (b) for each year from 2006 to 2012, what are the number of favourable and negative decisions made by the Board for all reviews, appeals, and reconsiderations; (c) has VRAB issued any directive to its board members on how many affirmative or negative decisions members can make in a year; (d) what is the status of VRAB's publishing of review and appeal decisions online; (e) does Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) frequently analyze the reasons why VRAB has overturned decisions made by VAC and, if yes, how frequently; (f) does VRAB frequently analyze the reasons why the Board overturns decisions made by VAC and communicate these decisions to VAC; (g) for each year from 2006 to 2012, how many compassionate awards have been issued; (h) does VRAB inform veterans that a compassionate award may be another avenue for veterans who have been denied at the review and appeal level and, if so, how; (i) does VRAB inform veterans that a “Reconsideration by the Minister” could be another avenue for veterans who have been denied at the review and appeal level and if so, how do they inform veterans; (j) for each year from 2006 to 2012, how many complaints has the Board received relating to disrespectful behaviour; (k) for each year from 2006 to 2012, how many complaints has the Board received on the length of time it takes to obtain a decision by the Board; and (l) for each year from 2006 to 2012, how many complaints has the Board received on other issues?

(Return tabled)

Question No. 520Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Eastern Shore, NS

With regard to the disability pensions awarded by Veterans Affairs Canada under the Pension Act and the lump sum payments issued by the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-Establishment and Compensation Act (New Veterans Charter): (a) what is the total number of disability pensions, broken down by type of service-related disability; (b) what is the total number of lump-sum payments, broken down by type of service-related disability; (c) what percentage of all disability pensions are issued for service-related disabilities as outlined in (a); (d) does Veterans Affairs Canada inform the Department of National Defence of the high incidence of certain occupational/service-related injuries and payments awarded by Veterans Affairs Canada per calendar year; (e) how many disability pensions under the Pensions Act have been awarded each year from 2006 inclusive to 2012, for (i) Agent Orange exposure, (ii) atomic veterans, including those who participated in nuclear weapons tests in the United States (US) and Chalk River decontamination efforts, (iii) exposure to asbestos, (iv) exposure to depleted uranium; (f) how many payments under the New Veterans Charter have been awarded each year from 2006 inclusive to 2012 for (i) Agent Orange exposure, (ii) atomic veterans, including those who participated in nuclear weapons tests in the US and Chalk River decontamination efforts, (iii) exposure to asbestos, (iv) exposure to depleted uranium; and (g) how many veterans under the New Veterans Charter have received the following benefits each year from 2006 inclusive to 2011 for (i) Earning Loss Benefit, (ii) Canadian Forces Income Support, (iii) Permanent Impairment Allowance, (iv) Supplementary Retirement Benefit?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Mr. Bruce Stanton

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Mr. Bruce Stanton

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-26, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (citizen's arrest and the defences of property and persons), be read the third time and passed.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

When we last took up this motion before the House, the hon. member for Hamilton Centre had five minutes remaining in his speech.

The hon. member for Hamilton Centre.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, again, I appreciate this opportunity. As I only have five minutes, I will not try to mount a review of everything I said.

However, a couple of people who were flipping through the channels and heard me using certain language contacted my office wondering what exactly that was all about. Therefore, I will take just a couple of the minutes I have to address that.

I was making reference to the Criminal Code and the areas that Bill C-26 would amend and how there had been a long-standing issue with a number of aspects of that legislation. I had pointed out that one of our chief justices had said in the case of R. v. McIntosh that sections 34 and 35 were:

—highly technical, excessively detailed provisions deserving of much criticism. These provisions overlap, and are internally inconsistent in certain respects.

I have no doubt that for learned colleagues who are lawyers, that language is crystal clear, but not so much for the rest of us.

I then presented to the House a quote from Mr. Bumble of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, which reads as follows:

If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass...

I hear one of my colleagues say that it really should be “an ass.” That is the natural way to say it, but given that I was quoting, I wanted to use the exact quote as I would not want to wrong Mr. Dickens after all these years. Although that is the direct quote, there is more to it, but I thought that was the most apropos. It is a relatively well-known expression when we find ourselves in a situation that seems perfectly logical, but when we look at the law from a legal point of view it looks completely different. Therefore, we often hear people say that the law is “an ass”. It is a reference to this famous works.

The reason I brought that forward was to try to illustrate the situation that Mr. Chen found himself in when he believed he was defending his property. It is a fundamental right that people have. He believed the actions he took did not cross any legal lines. He thought he was well within his rights to do what he did to assist in apprehending someone who was stealing from his business.

Mr. Chen was initially charged with kidnapping, carrying a dangerous weapon, assault and forceable confinement. However, the kidnapping and weapons charges were dropped, but the serious charges of forceable confinement and assault were proceeded with. He was acquitted of those charges.

Although we recognize that changing laws based on one case and one instance is an area that we need to be very careful of, in this case it illustrates to us that this place and the system can work. Mr. Chen was found innocent and the guilty person was found guilty and served a sentence. Now we are in the process of changing the law so the Mr. Chens of the future will not find themselves in the horrific legal position in which he found himself.

Therefore, all in all it worked out. Hopefully, this will improve our Criminal Code and will bring more justice to Canadians.

I thank all those who worked so hard to get us to the point where the official opposition is comfortable in supporting a bill that amends the Criminal Code and that actually helps people, as opposed to the spin we get from the government on its law and order agenda. Therefore, We are very pleased to support the bill.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, this bill has fairly widespread support, whether from the Liberals, New Democrats or the Conservatives. One of the most important aspects of the bill is that there has to be some sort of educational component to it. Using citizen's arrest as an example, in particular areas, such as some of the commercial streets where there are a lot of restaurants and a greater likelihood of robberies and things of that nature taking place, it is important to make sure that citizens understand what they should do in order to make citizen's arrests. I wonder if the member might comment on that aspect.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. I mentioned in my remarks yesterday that one of the concerns is that in clarifying the legislation, we may inadvertently incent the notion of vigilantism and that is something we do not want to do. I appreciate very much that the member has also focused on the important balancing act within the law and the need to balance the right of citizens to engage in citizen's arrests when the circumstances warrant, but that it does not get out of hand. We know where that could lead us. The notion of an educational component to advise citizens what their rights are under similar circumstances makes a great deal of sense. I hope that will be part of the follow-up to the bill passing this place.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Provencher Manitoba

Conservative

Vic Toews ConservativeMinister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the support from the opposition for this particular bill. I did note a comment made by the member and I will make this observation. He indicated this is a bill that will in fact help individuals as opposed to other law and order types of bills. This is typical of the NDP approach: let us make sure we can arrest them, but when they are arrested, simply let them go.

In fact, our government's approach is that when someone is arrested, by a citizen or police officer, there are consequences to breaking the law. That is what our legislation does, even if the member opposite does not support it.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that the minister himself is responding to my comments. If we take further what the hon. member has said, we all know that the Conservative idea of a balanced justice system is to just throw someone in jail, throw away the key and then tell everybody that the streets have been made safe. The fact of the matter is that for all the people who go into jail, the overwhelming majority are coming out again. If we do not pay some attention to what is happening when people are incarcerated, yes, I stand by the statement that under some of the government's laws, things will be worse, the streets will be less safe and people will not have the justice that I am saying does exist within this bill.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, we know how misdirected the government has been on criminal justice issues. It slashed crime prevention programs, which we know actually reduce the crime rate. It is willing to spend billions of dollars on prisons even though the crime rate is coming down. We have seen a variety of justice legislation that seems to be written on the back of a napkin and thrown into the House.

Could the member for Hamilton Centre talk a bit more about the fact that this particular piece of legislation is much better because it was essentially drafted by New Democrats? The NDP member for Trinity—Spadina actually did the work. It is because of that we have a bill that is worth getting the stamp of approval of the House of Commons.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, indeed, every one of us here, certainly on this side of the House, has given credit to the member for Trinity—Spadina, in whose riding Mr. Chen lived and where the incident happened. It was her initiative and credit needs to be given. I said yesterday that I hoped somewhere in Hansard there was a quote from someone in the government who also recognized the leading role of the member for Trinity—Spadina.

In the time I have, I want to acknowledge what I said in the beginning. The government has finally found a way to work with the opposition, to get into the Criminal Code and deal with it in a real way as opposed to the political spin that is around every single law and order item that it brings forward. Therefore, I am prepared to acknowledge that, with the leadership of the member for Trinity—Spadina, it took the cooperation of members in the official opposition and the government. We only wish that the government would take this approach more consistently, because it is a heck of a lot more progressive and positive in terms of making changes to our Criminal Code than the way the government normally conducts itself on matters like this.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member was just saying, there is perhaps a lack of collegiality or cooperation on the government benches. I would be interested in hearing more about that. Perhaps the member has an idea to pass along to the government.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was not that long ago in a minority setting that the government did not really want to, but was forced to, work with other members. We did get things done. The government has had from the beginning the attitude that it has a majority and somehow 39% of the votes give it 100% of the power. The Conservatives believe that they can just rule at will. Their whole demeanour changed once they received that majority. It is a shame, because Bill C-26 is an example of how working together benefits all of us politically, but more important, provides better legislation, better laws and ultimately safer streets.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Hamilton Centre for his very eloquent speech. It gives us an appreciation for the situation and the work that has been done on Bill C-26.

The thing that strikes me is the spirit of co-operation that has allowed the House and the committee involved to achieve what we could call an optimal result. It may not be perfect, but perfection is unattainable. So it goes and we can live with that.

However, I think this is a start, or at least a shining example compared to other very unfortunate cases where the government decided to embark on its own path, alone. We have seen some of the consequences of that approach.

I would like the hon. member to say more about this spirit of co-operation that we wish for in order to achieve results that benefit everyone since, after all, we are all representatives of the Canadian population as a whole.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was important that the member said the House and committees. All of us in this place know that the real work, the roll up our sleeves, get down to work, no one is watching, just do plain work, happens at committee.

We first started to see the government's approach to committee work when we were setting up the rules, when we were talking about how committees would be structured, how often people would be allowed to talk, all those basic and fundamental fairness rules. We watched the way that the Conservative government just rolled in like a bulldozer and attempted to get every advantage it could, believing again that its 39% of the votes gave it an entitlement to 100% of the power and everything that goes with that.

The member himself answered appropriately in focusing on committee, because that is where the work happens, that is where the tone is set. The work that was done in committee that led us to Bill C-26 was successful. I am willing to bet that if we looked at the transcript we would find that people cooperated, people worked together to find solutions rather than working to find divisions based on partisanship.

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Saint Boniface Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I rise during this discussion with great disappointment in my colleagues in the NDP. Many of the things that they have said today are absolutely not factual, not based on any kind of a study that has been done.

Having almost 19 years of police experience tells me that victims across this country are screaming for governments across the country to do the right thing and to support them in their efforts to find justice. This is another example of where the NDP has it wrong. Those members continually support judicial discretion for offenders.

I stand today to ask a simple question of my hon. colleague from the NDP. Will he stand and simply tell Canadian victims that he will support victims over offenders and join the government in its efforts to do so through its legislation? Will he support victims here and now? Will he state that to Canadians so that they know clearly that the government and opposition members are trying very hard to do what is right for all victims across the country?

Citizen's Arrest and Self-defence ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do thank the parliamentary secretary for her time and her involvement. Let me say at the outset that I have great respect for the service she provided in uniform as a Canadian police officer. I share some experience in the policing world, having been the Solicitor General of Ontario, as well the civilian head of the OPP. I was also responsible for corrections.

I know that the job does not end when we arrest someone. When somebody does something wrong, then our justice system needs to kick in. However, this notion that somehow from that moment forward whatever the crime, the individual no longer has a useful role in society is not an approach that we believe in.

The fact of the matter is that these are our family members, neighbours, co-workers, and at some point in their sentencing they are coming back out. If we do not do something to make it different for those individuals, they are going to come out and make it worse because they know of nothing else.

We believe in balance. While we must make sure that we impose the justice system as we need it, support police and support our justice courts, we must also be sure that we are fair to the people who are in there, recognizing that we want them to have a positive future, not just throw it away.