Mr. Speaker, as tempted as I am to respond to my colleague on the issue of trade, that would not do justice to the important subject in front of us.
I want to again congratulate my colleague for bringing forward this important legislation, what we are calling Cassie and Molly's law, Bill C-225.
For those just joining the debate or watching, it is very important to underline what this bill would do and what it would not do. The bill would create a circumstance under which if a pregnant woman were attacked, killed, or assaulted, and her unborn child was harmed or killed in the process of that assault, then a separate offence would now exist under the criminal law which would punish the person who committed the offence for the attack on the unborn child, as well as on the mother. Punishment is not the core of it. The core of it is a recognition of the impact that this has on not just one, but on multiple people. That is what the bill would do.
It is very important to underline that the bill would only apply that offence in the case where another offence already exists. There is no possible way, under this legislation, and it is very well written and clearly put, in which a person could be charged for an offence against an unborn, preborn child if there were not also an offence against the mother.
I know that any time, in this place or elsewhere, we have this discussion that involves preborn, unborn children, there is a whole other debate that stirs in the minds of some people. However, because this only applies in the case where there is an offence against the mother, there is no possible way in which this bill could be twisted, or honestly there is no way in which it could be reasonably inferred to in any way inform a kind of legal change on an issue like abortion. It just is very clear there in terms of the way this bill operates.
If we were just isolating the question of the bill as it actually exists, I do not think anyone here would disagree with the principle, that when there is an offence against a mother and an unborn child, there is an impact, and two beings are involved. The suggestion by some members that we cannot pass the bill because it somehow, linguistically, indirectly, seems to invoke another controversy, I find unfortunate.
Obviously we know the question, for instance, of abortion is a challenging and divisive one. Can members who disagree on that question not come together on something that I think we should all agree on, which is combatting violence against women and which is the impact that this also has on another life.
I know some people object to the terminology. They do not like the term “unborn child” or “preborn child”. They would rather use the word “fetus” or something else. My understanding is that fetus is just a Latin word for the same thing. I try to avoid Latin ceteris paribus, but it really does not matter what terminology is used.
The point is that we have legislation which is just eminently sensible, which responds to a reality that if a woman loses a child because she is attacked, that she feels that loss in a particular way. To suggest that she does not, to suggest that this, for the person who is attacked, is simply akin to another kind of assault, or to suggest that there is not an added impact or added element calling out for some kind of justice really ignores the lived experience and the testimony of people who have brought forward this issue, and who have said that this is a priority for them.
The bill is named after real people who have real experience with this, who have spoken to my colleague and to other members, who have asked that we respond to it in this way, and who have asked that, hopefully, we come together as a House, across party and ideological lines.
I would encourage my colleagues, if they are hearing different things about this bill from different places, to take the time to have a look at the legislation and decide for themselves.