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House of Commons Hansard #132 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was animals.

Topics

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I remember a few years ago, in Toronto, when Brigadier, a beautiful Belgian cross horse, was struck and killed by someone fleeing in a getaway car. It shocked and outraged the entire community.

My community of Toronto was shocked and horrified just a couple of weeks ago when animal services announced that a black Lab puppy was in their care. It was the most severely abused animal they had ever seen. It had acid burns, broken bones and internal injuries. Clearly all protections for animals, especially service and companion animals, need to be improved, as the member for London—Fanshawe said. I put forward Bill C-232 to improve our animal cruelty laws, and we have not found support on the other side of the House.

Why does the member think that the government side would not support general laws to improve the welfare of animals and to improve the struggle against animal cruelty, but that it would overreact and in fact undermine the situation with some of the provisions in Bill C-35?

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a very strange and bizarre contradiction that we see from the government.

I was in the House, as was the member, when a number of bills came forward in an effort to ensure our cruelty laws were updated. I take special note of Bill C-232, a bill the member had a great deal to do with. I do not understand why the Conservative government did not support any of those efforts. It would seem that it may have been influenced by outside interests that perhaps put pressure on them to overlook the reality of the kind of cruelty that my colleague described in regard to the Labrador puppy.

In this particular case, there does seem to be an overreaction. I think it has a great deal to do with public perception, the way the public and the media reacted to the very unfortunate case of this particular dog. It was unfortunate. All cruelty to all creatures is absolutely unacceptable. However, we have to come back to what we know and what we understand, and respect for our courts and respect for the kinds of things that work in terms of sentencing. This is not it.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, with crime in Canada at a 40-year low, why does the member think the federal government would spend hundreds of millions of our tax dollars building 2,700 new prison cells, which it clearly intends to fill with its so-called tough on crime agenda. This, at a time when its counterparts, the Republicans in the southern U.S., have come to see the light of day and have recognized that in fact this not only makes no sense when it comes to good criminal justice but in fact it is bad economics.

It undermines the ability of a society to rehabilitate people, to get them back and effectively working in society, rather than paying for their upkeep in the criminal justice system when probably the vast majority have no need to be there whatsoever.

Can the member explain why our government seems to be so wrong-headed in this regard?

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

1:15 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, I am at a loss to understand what motivates some of the thinking and legislation that comes out of the current Conservative government. As my colleague pointed out, crime is at a 40-year low. We should use this opportunity to start looking specifically at prevention and rehabilitation: rehabilitation for those who are on the wrong path, and prevention for youth and people who are vulnerable in the community.

I would like to mention that a significant number of people who are incarcerated are mentally ill. However, we do not have money for mental health or community support, but we have a lot of money for jails. In this particular case, it is the provinces that would be footing the bill. In my own city of London, Ontario, the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre is crammed full to the point where violence and desperate behaviour is rampant.

We have to do better. Surely we can.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

October 27th, 2014 / 1:20 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will follow in my colleagues' footsteps because we have just gone through some unusual events on Parliament Hill, events that affect not only politicians but all Canadians.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those whose priority is our safety and that of our assistants and the people who work in this magnificent parliamentary precinct, which includes the Centre Block and the Confederation Building, where my offices are located. These have been difficult times.

The labour relations lawyer in me feels compelled to ask everyone to take good care of themselves. People who experience a traumatic event can experience different after-effects, and of course my thoughts are with our Sergeant-at-Arms. I hope that he is taking care of himself and that others are taking care of him too. Everyone has gone through a very trying time.

That said, this is an interesting time to rise in the House to discuss Bill C-35 as the official opposition's justice critic.

I would like to begin by thanking my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île, who took care of this file so that I could carry out a thorough review of other bills. She has done an extraordinary job of helping our caucus colleagues understand the issues with this bill.

I listened to my colleagues earlier, particularly my colleague from Parkdale—High Park, who is an animal lover, and, I would think, not the only one in this House.

It is ironic that I have to rise in this House to speak to this bill, because those who know me will know, on the one hand, just how much I love animals, and on the other hand, how I would not want anyone at all to be hurt in any way.

These harmless, defenceless creatures deserve the same protection that we afford to children and people with mental or physical disabilities. We have to make sure we protect those most vulnerable in our society and those who cannot protect themselves.

It is ironic, because this bill has come about in much the same way as many Conservative bills seem to come about, namely, as a reaction to specific situations, which always raises many questions in my mind.

When I was a law student at the University of Ottawa a few decades ago, I had an affinity for criminal law. I found it extremely interesting, as most law students do when they enter the faculty of law. They often think they will become the greatest criminal lawyers the world has ever known.

I became a labour lawyer, which shows that what may seem extraordinarily exciting when we are at school is in fact different in reality. Criminal law is not an easy domain and I commend all crown prosecutors, police officers, defence lawyers, probation officers and judges who work in this area and who are called to determine the right thing to do in each case.

I realize that the crime rate is going down and that the nature of crimes is changing. We can always get statistics to say what we want them to say. On our side, we might say that we do not need to be too harsh or build prisons since the crime rate is going down. However, our Conservative friends, who do not seem to have anything to say today, will probably say that the crime rate is going down because they are extremely tough. Again, we can get statistics to say what we want.

However, when I was studying law, the basic principles of sentencing stuck with me. In that regard, I am deeply concerned about all these bills. It is not my socialist heart that is bleeding, but that of a person to whom it is important that the Criminal Code, the country's law governing acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, explain the decisions taken by our society on punishing these acts—criminal acts in this case.

We have always been told by our criminal law and sentencing experts that there are basic principles that we cannot circumvent.

I am not going to lecture you because that is not my style. However, we sometimes forget. When we forget, we have a tendency of repeating past mistakes or making other mistakes that could be avoided if we were to examine the simple facts. There are parts of the Criminal Code that we do not often hear about in the House. I am thinking of the entire part that starts with section 716, for example. It covers sentencing and explains the basic principles that apply to sentencing.

In the short time available to me, I would like to highlight a few of the very fundamental sections that a court must consider when it is preparing either to hand down a sentence or to make a decision about an accused. I would point out that one of the very few changes being made to section 718 is the addition of aggravating factors to the section on sentencing.

718. The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:

(a) to denounce unlawful conduct;

(b) to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences;

(c) to separate offenders from society, where necessary;

(d) to assist in rehabilitating offenders;

This principle is often forgotten by our friends opposite.

(e) to provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community; and

(f) to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgement of the harm done to victims and to the community.

With respect to this last point, all types of restorative justice come into play.

Section 718.01 concerns crimes against youth under the age of eighteen years.

Section 718.1 is extremely important. This section is often the kicker. It is at the heart of our beliefs as the official opposition in this House. Section 718.1 of the Criminal Code states:

718.1 A sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender.

Notice that it says “the offender” and not “the offenders”. That is where jurisprudence comes in, with respect to the principle that each case is unique.

Section 718.2 states:

718.2 A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles:

(a) a sentence should be increased or reduced to account for any relevant aggravating or mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or the offender, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing...

What follows is a list that has grown over the years under the Conservatives and in response to some realities in society. The section continues:

(b) a sentence should be similar to sentences imposed on similar offenders for similar offences committed in similar circumstances;

Once again, there is the principle that every case is unique. Proportionality must be taken into account. Criminal justice must be applied in the same way for each person who commits the same crime, under the same circumstances. During sentencing arguments, the parties will point out aggravating factors or factors in favour of the accused. The section continues:

(c) where consecutive sentences are imposed, the combined sentence should not be unduly long or harsh;

My colleagues have already said this so I will not repeat. Second reading should not be used to repeat the same principle, but to make specific points. This stage is extremely important. As I was telling one of my colleagues earlier, as justice critic, and since we support this bill, I will have the benefit of having heard my colleagues' thoughts when we examine the bill in committee with experts and witnesses. I would have liked to have heard more from the other side, since everyone is capable of presenting persuasive arguments now and then. However, you cannot win anyone over with silence.

The Criminal Code states:

(d) an offender should not be deprived of liberty, if less restrictive sanctions may be appropriate in the circumstances;

We know this. There is an enormous amount of literature and many analyses have been conducted on the usefulness of minimum sentences and the legality of consecutive sentences.

Furthermore, some decisions in similar cases have gone as far as the Supreme Court. I urge my colleagues to be cautious—and that is what we will do in committee—and to ensure that this bill complies with all of the relevant principles of law.

I would also suggest that all members of the House read section 716 and subsequent sections of the Criminal Code on sentencing. They will see that our Criminal Code already has a strong foundation of principles that apply.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her wonderful speech. As she mentioned, the NDP will support this bill so that we can examine it in committee and hear what experts have to say about it.

Do the Conservatives need to introduce a minimum sentence in this bill, which seeks to protect animals trained by police officers? Is it really necessary to include a minimum sentence in this bill, which, we all agree, seeks to protect animals?

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is an excellent question, one we will probably ask of those who testify before the committee.

I am sticking my neck out a bit, but I will keep an open mind and maybe someone can convince me otherwise. What I am prepared to say is that when I look at the jurisprudence for similar crimes or cases like this, I rarely see sentences that are shorter than the minimum set out in Bill C-35.

The same thing happened with another bill, which was also a private member's bill, about child abduction. I asked a victim who testified before the committee if the fact that the Conservative government's minimum was lower than what the jurisprudence showed for such cases was problematic. In other words, the government wanted the minimum sentence to be four years, but the courts were already handing down sentences of eight, 10 or even 14 years in such cases.

Legislators do not talk for the sake of talking. It is a basic argument used in court. I can easily picture a defence lawyer saying that the judge is being too harsh and that is why the government legislated a lower minimum. The victim found that very unsettling and definitely did not want to see that happen.

It can be good to leave such things to the court's discretion because it knows and applies the principles of Criminal Code sections 716 and on. In many cases, it comes down to information. Members of the public might not like it, but if they had all of the facts of the case, including the aggravating and mitigating factors, they would understand why a particular sentence is given. Of course there can be mistakes, but that, as some judges will tell you, is what appeals are for.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to continue in the vein of mandatory minimum sentences.

Earlier in my speech I quoted from an article by the Heritage Foundation in a legal memorandum of February 10. In this memorandum, it is contended that mandatory minimum sentences did not reduce crime. University of Minnesota law professor, Michael Tonry, has concluded, “the weight of the evidence clearly shows that enactment of mandatory penalties has either no demonstrable marginal deterrent effects or short-term effects that rapidly waste away”. The article states, “Statutes imposing mandatory minimum sentences result in arbitrary and severe punishments that undermine the public’s faith in America’s criminal justice system”.

Could the member comment on that? Does she agree that mandatory minimums can undermine the faith of citizens in the justice system?

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am inclined to answer that question with something that former Supreme Court of Canada justice Major said about minimum sentencing when he appeared before one of our committees. I want to make one thing clear: I do not want anyone in the House to think that I am saying that minimum sentences are strictly illegal. I am wondering if they are useful.

Justice Major explained to us that a mandatory minimum sentence that is reasonable in its length could function quite well, and the courts may agree. That said, minimum sentencing is not recommended, partly for the reasons she mentioned.

I do not think that anyone in the House believes that a criminal, before committing a crime, walks around with a copy of the Criminal Code under his arm, saying that he knows how he is going to be sentenced. I would be very surprised if anyone believes that. They need to stop lying to themselves because that is not at all what is happening.

That said, society has a responsibility to determine how it will punish certain behaviours. The problem with the Conservative government is that it just wants to give a certain impression by telling the public that it has implemented a mandatory minimum sentence. What the government does not say is that the mandatory minimum sentence is lower than what the courts were already imposing. It is merely a question of impressions. I do not think that we should be playing with the rules of law, with criminal sentencing principles in Canada.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am always happy to rise in the House to speak to a bill. Before I begin, however, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the events that transpired here last week, because I thought about them a lot over the weekend. Most of all, I thought about the tragedy, the death of Corporal Cirillo, and the impact it has had on his family and his son. I would simply like to add that my thoughts and prayers are with his family, and I extend my condolences to them.

I attended various events in my riding this past weekend, and it is always a pleasure to do so. Many people came to see me in Wakefield to say they stand in solidarity with me, our team, our leader and all members of this House after the tragic events of last week. I thank them for offering their sympathy, for supporting me and for expressing how much hope they have in our work here.

That said, once again we have another bill that blurs the lines between the government, politics and the legislature.

This is an issue that the government has brought several times to the House in legislation. Time and time again, we are the only party that seems to stand up for this basic principle that it is judges who are best placed to decide what a sentence should be.

During a trial, what goes on is questioning. It is almost like a form of investigation. Through this process, in what I would call a dialectical process of exchange, facts come up and it is discovered that things are not as simple as they appeared before. The situation appears different under questioning, and there needs to be a process in place so that those things that are revealed during a trial are taken into consideration in sentencing.

This is a principle that is fundamental. It is also a principle of how democracy should work, which is that there should be a very long arm between the legislators and the government in place on the one hand and what happens on judges' benches on the other.

Bill C-35 was announced in the 2013 throne speech, so it is not very surprising that we have it before us today. The bill proposes Criminal Code amendments that would create a new offence specifically prohibiting the killing, injuring, poisoning or maiming of trained animals being used to help law enforcement officers, persons with disabilities or the Canadian Armed Forces.

I have to say that I have no problem with the principle of protecting animals that do this kind of work. On the contrary, I really like animals. I have had animals around me ever since I was a young boy. I learned to respect them and to see them as our companions on the beautiful planet we share with them.

It is commendable to have legislation to protect them further. However, I see that the government is being contradictory. Not so long ago, we introduced bills to do exactly this: improve legislation on protecting abused animals. I do not know why, perhaps it is simply because it was not the government's idea, but the Conservatives voted against our bills. How can they vote against this principle and then turn around and propose the same principle? On this side of the House, when we see such inconsistency, it makes us wonder. What is behind this? What are they trying to get passed that might not have anything to do with the well-being of animals?

This bill is meant to improve legislation. For example, persons convicted of such an offence could face up to five years in prison, with—and I want to emphasize this—a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in prison in cases where a law enforcement animal is killed while assisting a law enforcement officer in enforcing the law and the offence is prosecuted by indictment. If a law enforcement animal is injured or killed while on duty, the sentence for that offence would be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed on the offender arising out of the same event.

This is definitely a case of interfering with judicial independence. Judges make decisions that they consider to be appropriate. After all, judges are not appointed just for the fun of it. It is clear that we must respect their work and their experience.

Therefore, it is a bit odd that the provisions of Bill C-35 do not change the sentences and fines set out in section 445 of the Criminal Code for all animals that are not cattle. The Edmonton police department seems to be supporting the bill, and it seems reasonable to believe that the other police forces, as well as individuals with service animals, will want to support this bill. That is true.

However, the fact remains that there are two very serious problems with this bill. As I mentioned earlier, it introduces a six-month minimum sentence and consecutive sentences if a law enforcement animal is killed when a crime is committed.

Consequently, it would be good to hear in committee what the experts and other civil society organizations have to say about these two issues. However, the government must listen to them. If we go to committee, which we would like to do, consultations must be robust and rigorous and expert opinions must be considered. There is a problem, though.

Time and time again, what we have seen is that when we support a bill going to committee, either the committee process is shortened or we do not have access to all of the experts or to a healthy debate. Additionally, when we propose amendments that would help the piece of legislation to be enacted and to be balanced, every single amendment from the opposition is opposed. That does not seem to be particularly reasonable when, after hearing from all of these experts, it is clear that the proposed legislation could be improved.

In closing, I have a few fundamental questions for the Conservatives.

For example, why does the government want to once again remove discretionary authority from the courts? That is a basic question but the government still has not answered it. Also, why does this government always try to amend good bills by inserting unreasonable clauses, such as consecutive sentences? Have the Conservatives assessed the impact that including a minimum sentence and consecutive sentences will have on the justice and prison systems? Once again, we have not received any answers in this regard. Finally, why do the Conservatives think it is necessary to include a minimum sentence in this bill?

These are reasonable questions. The problem is that we are the only ones talking about this bill. We are the only ones asking questions about this bill. Nevertheless, we are here to do that. How can we get the answers we need to really know whether the government is serious about wanting a common sense bill?

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Pontiac, who does an extraordinary job. I do not envy the size of his riding. That being said, I know how involved he is in his riding.

I appreciated what he said in his speech. I also appreciated the fact that he mentioned that we are the only ones who are taking action in this regard. Earlier, I heard the minister of state tell us that we could all support this bill and send it directly to committee, as though that would ensure that it would be passed more quickly.

I assume that my colleague is aware that the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights has a lot on its plate already. I am thinking of the victims bill of rights, the new regulatory authority associated with Bill S-2 and all the private members' bills that are currently before us.

What is wrong with wanting to debate these issues in this House and to hear different opinions on some specific aspects of the bill? For some, that means the protection of animals. For others, like me, that means the protection of animals, of course, but also some provisions of the Criminal Code as a whole. For others, it means other things. This allows us to pass more clearly defined legislation.

I would like to hear his comments on that.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my dear colleague from Gatineau for her question.

I want to say that she does an excellent job on this file and on all justice matters. She may not envy the size of my riding, but I do not envy all of the work that she has on her plate. It is incredible to see how hard she works.

I think it is clear that this government has a lack of respect for the debates in this House and for the views of the official opposition. The bottom line is that I represent my constituents. They often share their concerns with me about justice bills. Fortunately, the member for Gatineau stands up for the interests of people in the region on justice matters.

In light of what the Conservatives have proposed, I think it would be reasonable to take a moment, to take a little time to think about how all of these bills will work together. Where is there overlap and what can be simplified? We need to look at everything as a whole. I am not convinced that the government is doing that.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for that informative speech.

One of the issues that has come up with regard to animal cruelty and this particular piece of legislation is that we had two private member's bills proposed by New Democrats before the House.

One is Bill C-232, which was introduced by my colleague for Parkdale—High Park. This bill would remove animals from the section of the Criminal Code on property and create a new section for animal cruelty offences. In short, animals would be considered people and not property. Part of the reason the bill was introduced is that the current definition of “animal” is inadequate.

The second is Bill C-592, which was introduced by the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. This bill seeks to better define what an animal is under the Criminal Code and what is meant by “intended acts of cruelty”.

I wonder if the member could comment on the fact that although the Conservatives have been in government since 2006, they still failed to introduce good legislation with regard to animal cruelty.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, there have been advances made in science and research in the last 20 years about how animals feel pain, how they feel suffering, their brain capacity, the impacts of abuse upon them, how the relationship between animals and human beings has changed and how, for example, certain animals can be used for therapy. That is quite a new area of scientific research and medical research. It is only natural that we take into consideration these new findings and that we review our archaic laws with respect to defining what an animal is and the rights that an animal has.

The reality is that we share this planet. There are more animals on this planet than human beings. We need to conceptually shift the way that our civilization understands that relationship. I think that begins with reviewing laws with respect to the definition of animals and ensuring that their rights are protected.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before I acknowledge the hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, I must inform her that I will have to interrupt her around two o'clock for statements by members.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Laurin Liu NDP Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, since this is my first time rising in the House since the events of last week, I would simply like to take this opportunity to commend the work of our police officers, our House of Commons security forces and the RCMP, and all their courageous deeds.

On behalf of the people of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, I wish to extend our sincere condolences to Nathan Cirillo's family.

I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-35, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (law enforcement animals, military animals and service animals), a Conservative bill that has passed first reading in the House.

I am proud to say that I really hope this bill is examined in committee so that we can hear what many experts and stakeholders think on this matter.

We need to have a closer look at this bill in order to revisit the two most important problems in the bill: the introduction of minimum sentences and consecutive sentences.

In concrete terms, this bill amends section 445 of the Criminal Code by providing for a new offence when a service animal or a law enforcement or military animal is killed or injured in the line of duty. The bill also provides for a minimum sentence of six months if a law enforcement animal is killed in the commission of an offence. It also makes the sentences imposed on a person consecutive to another sentence imposed for any other offence arising out of the same events.

I think the Government of Canada needs to examine bills dealing with animal cruelty. The 157 police dogs in service in Canada and the 53 teams of dogs and trainers with the Canada Border Services Agency are important to Canada's security. They are important resources for our police officers and those who patrol our borders.

There are two important points to note about this bill: it creates another minimum sentence and it makes changes regarding consecutive sentences.

Before I continue, I would like to talk about the current legislative provisions related to animal cruelty. It might be interesting for Canadians to know that presently, according to sections 444 and 445 of the Criminal Code, anyone commits an offence who wilfully kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures cattle or who, wilfully and without lawful excuse, kills, maims, wounds, poisons or injures domestic animals.

Subsection 429(2) of the Criminal Code also provides a defence.

(2) No person shall be convicted of an offence under sections 430 to 446 where he proves that he acted with legal justification or excuse and with colour of right.

The Criminal Code also sets out some provisions concerning animal cruelty, including section 445.1, under which it is an offence to cause unnecessary pain to an animal.

I would remind the House that the NDP introduced a number of bills designed to amend Canadian laws concerning animal cruelty.

In particular, I would like to mention the work of the hon. member for Parkdale—High Park, who introduced Bill C-232, An Act to amend the Criminal Code concerning cruelty to animals in order to repeal animal cruelty provisions that are included in the part of the Criminal Code that governs animal well-being, acknowledging that they can feel pain.

Interestingly, data from new scientific studies show that animals can feel pain. An interesting aspect of the bill introduced by my New Democratic colleague from Parkdale—High Park is that these changes will better protect strays and wild animals. We know that existing laws do not protect them well enough.

Before question period starts, I would like to comment briefly on Bill C-592, which was introduced by my colleague from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine and is also designed to protect animals from cruelty.

For those following today's debate, it would be interesting to get more information on these bills and support the work of these members so that these bills can move forward and provide better protection for animals in Canada.

I know that I will have a little more time after question period to make my case, but I would like to talk about mandatory minimum sentences because this is not the only Conservative bill that includes a mandatory minimum sentence. According to the Canadian Bar Association, there are now at least 57 offences with mandatory minimum sentences, while in 2005, there were only 29. We are very concerned about that.

I look forward to continuing my remarks after question period.

Justice for Animals in Service Act (Quanto's Law)Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles will have three minutes remaining to conclude her speech when the House resumes debate on this motion.

Manitoba ElectionsStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Fletcher Conservative Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia, MB

Mr. Speaker, Brian Bowman is a friend, a husband, a father, a lawyer and a graduate from my favourite high school, Shaftesbury. Now he is Winnipeg's newest mayor.

Last Wednesday, Manitobans elected their mayors and reeves and there was a very high turnout. The Winnipeg election was hard fought. I would like to mention the successful candidates from my riding: Marty Morantz in Charleswood-Tuxedo; Scott Gillingham in St. James-Brooklands; Shawn Dobson in St. Charles; and Wilfred Taillieu, who continues to be the Mayor of Headingley.

I wish to also thank the previous city councillors from my riding: Scott Fielding, Paula Havixbeck, and Grant Nordman.

On the same day that Manitoba was having its elections, the Parliament buildings were attacked. The contrast between the two events was stark. Canadians have demonstrated that Canada will always be the true north, strong and free—the Maple Leaf forever.

Events of October 22, 2014Statements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai NDP Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, after what happened last week, October 22, 2014, will be etched in our minds forever.

To all those who wanted to know how I was doing and who sent me words of encouragement, I say thank you. I am well and I am proud to be here in the House today. I want to thank my girlfriend, my loved ones, my family and my team, who have always been there for me.

I would also like to thank the parliamentary security guards, the Ottawa police, the RCMP officers and our armed forces from the bottom of my heart. They intervened to protect us. We owe them more than our gratitude. We owe them a debt of remembrance.

Remembrance Day is upon us. It is an opportunity for me and all Canadians to honour the sacrifices so many women and men who have made our country.

Lest we forget.

Ben TeKampStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker I wish to pay tribute to former Brockville mayor Ben TeKamp, who passed away on October 12, at the age of 69.

Mr. TeKamp served as a councillor before becoming mayor for three terms. He dealt with tough times in the municipality when the city was dealing with economic challenges and undertaking former provincial services. He also managed the city through the 1998 ice storm just as his term began.

Mayor TeKamp was also a community activist, a small business booster, a local sports hall of fame supporter, an active rower who coached at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He was honorary colonel of the Brockville Rifles, active with the United Way of Leeds and Grenville, and a mentor and friend for many politicians, including me.

His friendly smile and engaging personality invited calm discussions and loyalty among his friends and colleagues. He was named Brockville's citizen of the year in 2006.

He will be missed by his wife Cathy, daughter Robin and son Mark, as well as their families, and by all who knew him.

700 David Hornell VC SquadronStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I celebrate each and every one of the extraordinary Royal Canadian air cadets in the 700 David Hornell VC Squadron.

This past weekend, the Ontario Provincial Committee of the Air Cadet League of Canada presented the following awards to our outstanding squadron: Warrant Officer First Class Ashley Eugine, a first-year McMaster student who travels back every weekend to serve, was named Air Cadet of the Year from 8,500 air cadets in 114 squadrons, which is a tremendous achievement; Warrant Officer Second Class Nikhil Peri was the top Ontario student pilot on the 2014 Power Pilot Scholarship and received a Hamilton Flying Club Legacy Award; 2nd Lieutenant Jack Tornabene received a certificate of merit, one of only 21 awarded; and, Major David Brown received a Cadet Instructor Cadre Award of Excellence, for which only six officers are honoured annually.

I ask the House to recognize the outstanding achievements of 700 squadron.

Harvest FestivalsStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Falk Conservative Provencher, MB

Mr. Speaker, in the past few weeks I have had many opportunities to attend harvest festivals throughout my riding, also known as fall suppers. As I drive around my riding, I see that the harvest for the most part is complete. Now is the time to celebrate and thank God for the abundance he has blessed us with.

I think the following words written by Matthias Claudius in 1782 most suitably express our gratitude this time of year:

We plough the fields and scatter
the good seed on the land,
but it is fed and watered
by God's almighty hand;
he sends the snow in winter,
the warmth to swell the grain,
the breezes and the sunshine,
and soft refreshing rain.
We thank thee, then, O Father,
for all things bright and good,
the seed-time and the harvest,
our life, our health, and food.
Accept the gifts we offer
for all your love imparts,
with what we know you long for:
our humble, thankful hearts.

Today I stand to thank all the hard-working farmers across Canada, especially those in my riding of Provencher. In the gallery today are some young farmers from my riding, my children, Stacy and Nathan Martens.

Longueuil Community FairStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Sadia Groguhé NDP Saint-Lambert, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to talk about the success of the first Foire communautaire de Longueuil, which was held last month.

I organized this event in my riding, and it attracted more than 150 constituents and involved 16 community organizations and federal entities, which were there to address problems that arise every day.

Over the past three years, I have seen the impact of this government's cuts on the people in my riding and the problems they have in trying to access the services to which they are entitled.

I would like to remind members of the importance of our community organizations and the exceptional work they do every day. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank them all, even though I only have time to mention a few: Place Rive-Sud, the Comité logement Rive-Sud and the Carrefour d'information pour les aînés.

It is crucial that these organizations, which work to maintain the extremely fragile social fabric, continue to receive funding. The NDP is building bridges with people, organizations and services for Canadians with events such as this. That is how we are building the Canada of tomorrow.

Head Start for Young WomenStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Susan Truppe Conservative London North Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that the city of London is one of six Canadian communities participating in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities head start for young women program. I am also proud to say that our government supported this project through Status of Women Canada.

As a part of this program, a documentary called 25% has been produced that encourages young women to participate in their community through politics and civic engagement. I fully support this initiative.

I, along with the Minister of Status of Women, was pleased to participate in this documentary. These efforts support one of the most important opportunities we have as a country: to empower women, young women and girls. Why? Because helping them make their voices heard will truly make a difference for themselves, their families and their communities.

I salute all the participants in this initiative in London and across the country who are helping our country take one more step towards equality.

Veolia Environmental ServicesStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Patricia Davidson Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Sarnia—Lambton, I am well aware of the inherent dangers that go along with the type of heavy industrial work that takes place in my riding.

This weekend we were all reminded of the dangers of working with hazardous materials when an explosion took place at Sarnia's Veolia Environmental Services facility.

On behalf of Sarnia—Lambton I thank the firefighters, police and paramedics who responded to the incident with courage and valour. Today we have learned that one of the five injured workers has succumbed to his injuries from the blast, while the others remain in critical condition. Sarnia—Lambton grieves this loss.

With an investigation into what took place now ongoing, at this time our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragic incident, and their families. We call on all Canadians to keep them in their hearts.