Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise once again to speak to Bill C-305. I do so with a very heavy heart in light of the recent horrific attack at a mosque in Quebec City. It pains me to see such a hate-motivated act taken against our fellow Canadians. Hate such as this has absolutely no place in Canada. Bill C-305 is one of the small steps we can take to eliminate hate-motivated crimes in Canada.
I would like to thank my colleagues from all parties for their interest and contribution to this debate.
I would like to quote Martin Niemöller, the prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. He stated:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Bill C-305 would recognize that hate motivated by bias based on gender identity and sexual orientation would carry the same weight as crimes committed against religion, race, colour, national or ethnic origin. The bill would expand it to include schools, day care centres, colleges or universities, community centres, seniors' residences, and cultural centres. The impact felt by victims of hate crimes cannot be limited to just places of worship.
The public properties proposed to be included have either all been subject to hate crime or are vulnerable to being a target of hate crime. Whether it is places of worship or other property, the negative impact of hate crimes on the community remains the same. Also, under this criminal subsection, if a person is found guilty of an offence, there are stiff prison terms. While I agree education is the best long-term solution, I also believe a strong law and punishment act as major deterrents.
At this point, I would like to quote Dr. Martin Luther King on the interaction between positive law, morality, and culture. He stated:
It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behaviour can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law can’t make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me...So while the law may not change the hearts of men, it does change the habits of men. And when you change the habits of men, pretty soon the attitudes and the hearts will be changed. And so there is a need for strong legislation constantly to grapple with the problems we face.
It is very important that we have a strong and robust law for hate crimes. Again, I agree education is important, but I am equally confident that good law is also required.
It is heartening to note the near-unanimous support I have received from all sections of society. I would like to recognize and thank the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs for its ongoing support and its efforts to mobilize other stakeholders.
Bill C-305 takes a strong step to making our neighbourhoods and communities safer places to live. Think of the strong message we would be sending to all Canadians: that not select people but all people of Canada can feel safer knowing that Parliament has taken concrete and strong measures to protect them. I ask my fellow members support this important bill.