House of Commons Hansard #391 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

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March 18th, 2019 / 12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

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12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

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12:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

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Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

All those opposed will please say nay.

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Some hon. members

Nay.

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Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #1004

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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

I declare the motion carried.

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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

When shall the bill be read a third time? By leave, now?

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Some hon. members

Agreed.

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Liberal

Jean-Yves Duclos Liberal Québec, QC

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

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Arif Virani Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, this is my first time rising since the events on Friday. I want to state for the record my solidarity, and the solidarity of all parliamentarians, with the people of New Zealand and the Muslims who were killed and injured at the two mosques in Christchurch.

I rise today to speak to Bill C-84. The bill proposes to amend the Criminal Code to strengthen the laws around bestiality and animal fighting. As members will recall, proposed amendments to Bill C-84 will, among other things, address a gap in the law identified by the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of the Crown v. D.L.W. That decision and its interpretation of the bestiality provisions led to calls for law reform to address a gap identified by the court; that is the common law meaning of bestiality was limited previously to simply penetrative acts.

The bill's proposal to identify bestiality as “any contact, for a sexual purpose, with an animal” would address that very gap. Although some may view this provision as a modest step, it is an important one that needs to be taken, and our government is very appreciative of the non-partisan approach that members from all sides have taken to advancing this needed reform in an expeditious manner through Parliament. We would like to note, in particular, the unanimous support the bill received at second reading and in committee.

I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to the witnesses who appeared before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and to the members of that committee for their comprehensive review of this bill.

After listening to the testimony presented during the study of Bill C-84, the committee adopted three key amendments based on the expertise of witnesses who expressed their support for this bill. These amendments will provide for improved animal protections by authorizing the courts to issue a prohibition or restitution order when a person is found guilty of a bestiality offence. The amendments will also eliminate the requirement to destroy birds used in cockfighting.

Finally, these amendments will ensure that the names of those found guilty of engaging in a sexual act with an animal, or, in other words, those found guilty of the bestiality simpliciter offence, are added to the national sex offender registry. This amendment was proposed by the hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton of the official opposition.

The issue of animal rights and welfare is an important one right around the country and in particular to the constituents in my riding of Parkdale—High Park. I have listened closely to the concerns of those residents. We are committed, as a government, to doing better on this issue by supporting this important bill.

I have heard in my riding, for example, from constituents such as Josie Candito, who has spoken to me repeatedly and testified while we studied the bill at committee, about the link between animal abuse and the abuse of children and women. What we know on that very point is that it is not clear that every animal abuser ends up abusing children and women. However, what is absolutely clear, and what the facts demonstrated at committee, is that people who abuse women and children have in their history an antecedence of having abused animals. This is a critical point because the bill targets that.

What we also heard from people like Anne Griffin and Tracey Capes, both of whom came before the federal/provincial animal welfare working group on Parliament Hill, are their thoughts regarding the bill and our government's continued efforts and progress to protect animals.

However, the one thing that my constituents have consistently reiterated is that there is still more work to be done to protect animals. They have told me that our next steps must be informed by a national consultation regarding the most important issues to Canadians or a high-level analysis by the federal government, taking into account the broad perspectives on an issue as vast as animal welfare. I have told them, the current Minister of Justice has told them and the former minister of justice has told them that Bill C-84 is an important first step toward our government's goal of more comprehensive protection for animals, and we indeed intend to continue this important work.

In my time today, I will review some of this important testimony and discuss how these amendments bolster the objectives sought by this crucial legislation.

As mentioned, the first amendment adopted by the committee would authorize a court to issue an animal prohibition or restitution order for each of the three bestiality offences found in section 160 of the code.

The object of this prohibition order is to prohibit offenders convicted of bestiality from possessing, having the care of or control over, or residing with an animal for any period that the court deems appropriate up to a lifetime prohibition. A lifetime ban may indeed be necessary in certain circumstances, having regard to the seriousness of the offence and the degree of responsibility of certain offenders. This was a helpful suggestion originally made by one of the important stakeholders who testified before the justice committee, Ms. Camille Labchuk of Animal Justice.

The restitution order specifically would require the offender to repay an individual or an organization the costs of caring for the injured animal as a result of a criminal offence. This would also make the offender more accountable for the consequences of his or her actions.

The proposed amendment builds on section 447.1 of the Criminal Code, which authorizes the court to issue such orders for persons convicted of animal cruelty offences. Right now, when someone is charged with a bestiality offence under section 160 of the Criminal Code, such orders can be issued only at the time of sentencing as a condition of a probation order or conditional sentence. These orders are limited in duration to the term of the imposed conditions and expire after that.

This was pointed out by Sergeant Teena Stoddart, from the Ottawa Police Service, when she testified before the committee. That means there is a gap in animal welfare measures, since the courts can issue such orders for animal cruelty offences but not for bestiality offences.

The committee also heard from several other witnesses on this issue, including, as I mentioned, Ms. Labchuk, executive director for Animal Justice; Ms. Barbara Cartwright, CEO of Humane Canada; Dr. Alice Crook from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association; and Professor Peter Sankoff from the University of Alberta, Faculty of Law. They all agreed on the need for this amendment to this important bill. Indeed, this amendment is entirely consistent with the objectives in the bill, and we on this side of the House are pleased to support it.

I would now like to turn my attention to the second amendment adopted by the committee, which provides for the repeal of subsection 447(3) of the Criminal Code.

The current subsection requires a peace officer who finds birds at cockfighting premises to bring the birds to a justice of the peace so the JP can order they be destroyed. That provision requires the automatic destruction of birds, but does not apply to other animals, such as dogs. It is very much a vestige of the distant past when animal fighting primarily involved only cockfighting and resulted in the roosters being so severely injured that they needed to be destroyed.

Nowadays, however, there are better ways to solve this problem in order to eliminate any legal loopholes in animal protection. Ensuring the welfare of these animals is a key objective for the provincial and territorial legislation and for the general powers set out in the Criminal Code.

First, the provinces and territories have jurisdiction over matters concerning animal welfare. That includes passing legislation dealing specifically with the seizure of animals in distress and the care they must receive, where possible, as well as the administration of humane euthanasia if necessary.

Second, some witnesses and parliamentarians believe that the criminal law does not address the seizure and automatic destruction of mistreated animals in an appropriate manner.

In fact, Madam Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice, testified before the committee that the automatic destruction of birds found in a cockfighting ring in the previous version of the section was “completely needless, and it ties the hands of authorities when there may be a better option for the birds.”

Ms. Labchuk further testified before the committee. She said:

We think the fate of any bird seized should be decided on a case-by-case basis. This is already done for dogs and other animals rescued from fighting rings. There is no principled reason that roosters or birds forced to fight should be automatically killed. It may be appropriate to rehabilitate them. It may be appropriate to send them to a sanctuary, where they can receive lifelong care and still enjoy a high quality of life.

It should be noted that Ms. Labchuk's position was broadly supported by other witnesses, including Ms. Cartwright, the CEO of Humane Canada.

All 10 provinces and the Yukon Territory empower peace officers and animal welfare inspectors to seize animals in distress. Furthermore, where appropriate, the legislation provides for the animals to be humanely destroyed.

Nunavut and the Northwest Territories allow peace officers and animal protection officers to seize dogs, and these territories have legislation requiring general rehabilitation for the dogs, as well as humane euthanasia where appropriate.

In addition to these protection measures, the Criminal Code also confers general powers on peace officers and public officers to seize offence-related property while executing a search warrant. Section 487 of the Criminal Code therefore authorizes peace officers to seize an animal, where circumstances warrant.

Once more, pursuant to section 489 of the Criminal Code, things not specified in a warrant can also be seized where a thing has been obtained by the commission of an offence, used in the commission of an offence or something that will afford evidence in respect of an offence under any act of Parliament. Accordingly, repealing subsection 447(3) would leave no gap in the law, which is an important point. Instead, repealing it would leave the matter of seizure and the question of whether care or euthanasia would be appropriate to be dealt with under applicable provincial laws and by persons trained specifically in such matters.

I would now like to draw the attention of the House to the third amendment adopted by the committee. This amendment would add the bestiality simpliciter offence, in subsection 160(1), to the list of designated offences for which an offender must be automatically ordered to register and comply with the requirements of the National Sex Offender Registry, pursuant to the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, or SOIRA, as it is commonly called.

This legislation, enacted in 2004, created the National Sex Offender Registry to help Canadian law enforcement agencies investigate sex crimes by registering specific information on sex offenders. When an offender is found guilty of a designated sexual offence, the court must order the offender to register with the National Sex Offender Registry and comply with the SOIRA for a period of 10 years, 20 years, or even indefinitely. Offenders found guilty of other designated infractions may be ordered to register with the registry and to comply with the SOIRA if prosecutors established the intent to commit a sexual offence during the commission of an offence like breaking and entering in relation to a dwelling-house, in paragraph 348(1)(d).

Currently, the designated sexual offences include subsection 160(2), compelling the commission of bestiality, which was added in 2011, and subsection 160(3), bestiality in the presence of or by a child, which was included in 2004 in an enactment of the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, known in English as SOIRA.

The justice committee received testimony and studies on the link between animal abuse and bestiality and acts of violence against persons, particularly women and children. I alluded to this at the outset, and it bears repeating. We do not know definitively that all animal abusers end up abusing women and children, but we know that for people who abuse women and children, their antecedents include abuse of animals in all instances. That was the evidence before the committee.

For example, the justice committee heard about the innovative work conducted by the Canadian Violence Link Coalition. It was launched to “study and bring forward all of the different academic research that's going on and that supports the links between animal violence and human violence.” The work of the Canadian Violence Link Coalition follows a multidisciplinary, multi-sector and collaborative information-sharing approach in strengthening the response to animal abuse and neglect and establishing its link to the abuse of humans.

During her testimony, Ms. Cartwright commented, “While not all abusers are serial killers, all serial killers are animal abusers.” The evidence I have been referencing is that of Ms. Cartwright, before the committee. The evidence demonstrates that abuse of humans is a common step up from animal abuse for individuals who have a propensity for serial violence.

Ms. Cartwright's remarks were reiterated by other experts, including Sergeant Teena Stoddart, who spoke about research reported in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry showing that, out of a group of 943 inmates selected at random, half of sex offenders and one third of child molesters had abused animals as adolescents. The same study also confirmed that child molesters use animals to attract and win over their victims. By making inappropriate sexual contact with the animals, the molesters desensitize the children and normalize sexual contacts between adults and children.

There is growing international research in this area, but we were pleased to learn of new Canadian data collected by Amy Fitzgerald of the University of Windsor, primarily on the link between animal abuse and interpersonal and spousal abuse. I have to admit I was surprised to hear that Canadian research shows that these violence links are worse in Canada than abroad, according to similar international studies.

More specifically, women who are victims of violence also report that their animal is in the same situation.

This violence link is further supported by the testimony of Ms. Lianna McDonald, executive director, and Ms. Monique St. Germain, general counsel, of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. They spoke about the growing online proliferation of child sexual abuse images, of which the most explicit and extreme images depicting sexual assault against children involve bestiality.

Having regard for the evidence demonstrating the very strong relationship between violence toward animals and violence towards humans, we believe that adding a bestiality simpliciter as a designated offence is consistent with the underlying objective of the SOIRA and with the existing designation of the two other bestiality offences.

I would like to close by addressing one last point, which was raised during the study of Bill C-84. Some committee members and witnesses feel that this bill does not go far enough and that a comprehensive reform of the animal cruelty regime is overdue in Canada.

As the minister mentioned in his testimony before the committee, our government remains open to dialogue and discussion as to the best way to address these vast and complex issues.

That said, we are equally mindful of testimony received at the committee on the importance of moving these reforms forward as soon as possible, particularly because they are designed to close a gap in the law and enhance protections for the most vulnerable members of society. Moreover, it is very important to keep in mind that Bill C-84 is a targeted response to two specific issues that enjoy widespread support from all the key stakeholders in this area of the law. Those stakeholders submitted a letter to the Minister of Justice. Ten of the most important stakeholders, from agriculture to hunting to veterinary care, all support the aspects of this bill.

Bill C-84 is a meaningful and much-needed step forward. We are confident that we can move this critical piece of legislation ahead today and in so doing come one step closer to enhancing protections for the most vulnerable members in our society. On that basis, I would urge all members to support the swift passage of this important piece of legislation, Bill C-84.

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1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice is right. Bill C-84 is a critical piece of legislation, and I am glad he focused on three substantive amendments that were passed in committee unanimously upon hearing from various witnesses. That is committee work as it should be. I am pleased that the government supported my amendment so that all individuals convicted of bestiality would be required to register with the national sex offender registry. That is going to keep children, women and animals safe.

The one criticism I have, however, is that it has taken the government almost three years since the D.L.W. decision to close the gap in terms of the narrow interpretation the court has taken in terms of the definition of “bestiality”. Why did the government wait so long to pass a relatively straightforward piece of legislation that is so critical?

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Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Lib.

Arif Virani

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his work on the committee and for his role as vice-chair.

The amendment proposed by the member for St. Albert—Edmonton, which I noted in my opening remarks, was critical in terms of having the sex offender registry include, for the first time, bestiality simpliciter offences and that such offenders be registered in the same registry we have for other types of sexual assault not involving animals. That was a critical amendment, and that was committee work at its finest. There is agreement on that.

With respect to the point about the time taken, there was private member's legislation in the first year of our government's mandate. That legislation received a considerable amount of support but not enough to get it across the finish line. Our government took lessons from that. We went back to stakeholders. We heard from stakeholders about what was needed and gathered consensus where consensus could be found. There were 10 different important stakeholder groups, including veterinary groups, hunting groups and agriculture groups. They came forward and said that it was something they support, and we moved forward on that basis. In the interim, there are other provisions that arise in the Criminal Code that can address some of the lacuna the member opposite pointed out. Those are the charges that currently exist for sexual interference, sexual exploitation, corrupting children and indecent acts.

In the interim, prior to the advent of this bill, all those provisions have remained in force and continue to remain in force to address the important issue that both the member opposite and I share, which is an important issue to address.

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NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Mr. Speaker, I find it curious that the parliamentary secretary mentioned the private member's bill brought forward by the member for Beaches—East York, Bill C-246. The government did not get behind that bill, which was a much more comprehensive review of animal cruelty laws. It would have provided us with all the things in Bill C-84, essentially, plus a lot more that we really need to address, including the change from considering animals under the property sections of the Criminal Code to establishing a separate section of the Criminal Code for offences against animals.

I am wondering why the government did not support that private member's bill.

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Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Lib.

Arif Virani

Mr. Speaker, I would point out to the member for Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke that the important aspect of the private member's bill initiated by the member for Beaches—East York is that it started an important debate that needed to take place in this chamber. I will readily admit, as I am sure most parliamentarians would, that we learned a lot, in the process of going from that bill to where we are with Bill C-84, about the need to update and improve our animal protection laws and to find consensus where consensus can be found.

The difference between the private member's bill and the bill we have before us is that no fewer than 10 different stakeholders support the current bill. They include the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, the Chicken Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Pork Council, the Egg Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, the Turkey Farmers of Canada, the Canadian Bison Association, the Canada Mink Breeders Association, the Canadian Sheep Federation and the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council. It is an exhaustive list.

What is important is that it demonstrates what can be done to promote the same objective the member opposite and I share, which is promoting animal protection and ending animal cruelty when consensus can be found. We as parliamentarians have the responsibility to do that and to move forward on the best basis we can.

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NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, as the member has mentioned, I have some animal rights champions in my riding, such as Denise Paulin, Natalie Paulin, Emily Regier and Maureen Leblanc. Countless people are championing the issues here. They see the reality that Bill C-84 is actually a missed opportunity.

I would like to hear the member talk about some of the comprehensive things on which we could move forward but have not, such as addressing the issue of basic living standards for animals and tethering laws. We could have put those in Bill C-84, but we missed the mark.

We keep hearing that the bill is a first step, but we have had many first steps that the government has voted down in the past. We have momentum now. I would like to hear why we are addressing not only the issue of bestiality but also basic standards of care and housing and tethering.

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Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Lib.

Arif Virani

Mr. Speaker, the question being raised by the member for Windsor—Tecumseh is important. I have multiple responses.

First, let us look at what is being addressed here. We are providing a concerted response to a Supreme Court decision that, incredibly, failed to convict an individual who committed an act of bestiality using his stepdaughter and his dog. He was let off because penetration was not involved. The judges in that case, which was held just down the road in the Supreme Court, said that there was a problem in the law, because it requires penetration.

We have sought to remedy that through legislation. This is important not only for that little girl but for all the little girls and boys like her who might be subjected to anything like this as well for all the animals that will continue to be subjected to things like this.

More importantly, as I indicated in my evidence at the outset, we know that people who commit bestiality offences go on to do that with other children and potentially with women. We are nipping this in the bud.

What is also important, although it has not been the subject of much debate thus far, is that the bill also targets the important issue of animal fighting and all that goes along with animal fighting: the people who engage in it, the people who bet on it and the people who run arenas. This is a harbinger of other criminal activity, illegal organized crime activity. By targeting this, we are addressing the broader ill in society of organized crime.

These are important points, but they are a start. This legislation is a starting point, not a finishing point.

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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, what I thought was interesting in my colleague's speech was that he made a good number of comments regarding the number of amendments that were introduced and ultimately accepted, and in ln looking at those amendments, we see they were based on consensus. Political parties worked together, which makes this government quite different from the previous one, in that we are seeing legislation going into committee and then coming out of committee healthier because there is a higher sense of co-operation.

We hear a great deal about the issue of animal safety and protection, and there are advocates in all regions of the country. There seems to be a great deal of interest in this issue. Maybe my colleague could pick up on the fact that this is a good starting point, at least in part, and that there are many other things we can continue to do to try to improve the situation.

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1:40 p.m.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Lib.

Arif Virani

Mr. Speaker, it is important to underscore again the three amendments that were proposed. One is the addition of bestiality simpliciter; second is the addition of persons who are convicted of bestiality to the sex offender registry, and last was this prohibition order. This is important because it dovetails with some of the comments raised by members on the other side of the aisle, who were asking what we are doing to address the concerns of advocates in the area of animal cruelty.

Animal cruelty advocates have said to us that there is no basis upon which somebody who has been convicted of bestiality should be permitted to own a dog, cat, etc. going forward. The prohibition order amendment proposed at committee and accepted by government members would allow for a prohibition order to be attached in order to prevent exactly that. It would prevent it for a short period of time, or even for a lifetime if it is required in the circumstances. That is committee work at its very finest, because it is non-partisan, and animal cruelty should not be a partisan matter.

To refer back further to what was discussed earlier in the context of this debate, sometimes bills that are crafted and do not have widespread consensus can devolve into partisan battles. That is not what we are seeking to do here; we are trying to find consensus by empowering committees to do their work by picking up amendments that have wide consensus and that animal advocates right around this country want us to pursue. These three amendments are part of that, and the two main aspects of this bill focus in on it.

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Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before we resume debate, I will let the hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton know that we will be somewhat shy of the 20 minutes he would normally have for his speech when we need to interrupt at 2 p.m. for Statements by Members. If he wishes the remaining time to fill out his 20 minutes, that will happen at a later time today.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton.

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Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to Bill C-84, an act to amend the Criminal Code, as amended, with respect to bestiality and animal fighting. Let me say that I, along with all my colleagues on this side of the House, fully support this critical piece of legislation.

There are two main components to Bill C-84. The first is with respect to bestiality; more specifically, it is a direct response to the Supreme Court's D.L.W. decision. In D.L.W., the Supreme Court interpreted section 160 of the Criminal Code, which is the section that prohibits bestiality. In the decision written by Justice Cromwell, the court decided that in the absence of a statutory definition, bestiality should be interpreted only in those circumstances where the act involving the animal involved penetration. What this legislation does is clarify the law by providing for a statutory definition whereby any activity with an animal for a sexual purpose would be captured by section 160 of the Criminal Code, closing a very critical gap.

The second aspect of this legislation is to strengthen laws around animal fighting. I know the parliamentary secretary did discuss the amendments at committee in some detail, but I have in the last number of weeks been quite critical of my Liberal colleagues on the justice committee with respect to their handling of the SNC-Lavalin scandal and I stand by those criticisms. That said, in the normal course we are a committee that has often worked collaboratively. We have been able to put aside partisan differences to find common ground. That is precisely what happened.

We heard from witnesses who put forward ideas around how Bill C-84 could be strengthened, and three substantive amendments were passed at committee unanimously. I want to acknowledge the good work of our chair, the hon. member for Mount Royal, who from day one has set the tone that has enabled our committee to more often than not be one of the more productive parliamentary committees.

With respect to the first part of the bill, namely around section 160 and in terms of providing a statutory definition for bestiality, this is something that I fully support. I think there is widespread consensus to support this statutory amendment, but I will go back to the point that I raised when I asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice a question, namely that I cannot understand what took the government so long to act.

The D.L.W. decision was rendered in June 2016. It is now March 2019. What that means is that if this legislation moves forward as quickly as possible, it will be essentially three years in which this gap in the law existed. Why did it take three years? The fact is that the Supreme Court expressly invited Parliament to introduce legislation to provide for a statutory definition. There is as close to universal consensus as we are ever going to find around the need to provide for a statutory definition.

The type of amendment that would be required to incorporate a statutory definition into section 160 of the Criminal Code is, quite frankly, a relatively straightforward one. Because the government dragged its feet and dragged its feet some more, my colleague, the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill, saw fit to introduce a private member's bill to close the gap established from the D.L.W. decision, Bill C-388. That bill would provide for a statutory definition. The statutory definition provided in her bill states, “In this section, 'bestiality' means any contact by a person, for a sexual purpose, with an animal.”

That is pretty straightforward. We then turn to Bill C-84, which the government introduced one year after the member for Calgary Nose Hill introduced Bill C-388. The definition provided for in the government's bill states, “In this section, 'bestiality' means any contact, for a sexual purpose, with an animal.”

There we have it. Word for word, it was copied and pasted from the private member's bill of the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill, except that the government waited one year to do it and almost three years after the D.L.W. decision was rendered.

When I asked the parliamentary secretary the reason for the delay, the parliamentary secretary noted that the government had undertaken various consultations with a wide range of stakeholder groups. That is true and that is right, but that was with respect to the animal fighting and animal cruelty provisions of Bill C-84.

It was important that those consultations took place. The aspects of Bill C-84 that deal with animal cruelty and animal fighting are sensible. They do not interfere with traditional hunting, angling or trapping, and there was widespread stakeholder support. However, those consultations had absolutely nothing to do with closing the gap in section 160 of the Criminal Code with respect to bestiality. The notion that somehow there was the need for consultation is simply not the case. It is simply not true in terms of closing this gap. Quite frankly, that argument does not hold water. The bottom line is there is simply no excuse for the delay.

I would speak to the seriousness of the delay from the standpoint of the evidence that came before our committee with respect to bestiality. In that regard, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection carried out a study of 192 cases over a five-year period from Cybertip, which the centre operates and which is the leading national tipline for online sexual activity in Canada. Of the 192 cases that the centre studied with respect to bestiality, a full 80% of those cases did not involve penetration.

That underscores the degree to which there is a gap in the legislation. As of today, since June of 2016, individuals who commit vile and despicable acts involving animals that fall short of penetration cannot be charged under section 160 of the Criminal Code. Again, when 80% of the cases, at least based on a review of 192 cases, did not involve penetration, I say that is a pretty serious issue that needs to be addressed and needs to be addressed as quickly as possible, which is something that the government has simply not done.

With respect to some of the amendments at committee, there were two that related to bestiality.

The first would provide a judge with the discretion to impose a prohibition order upon conviction that would prevent someone convicted of bestiality from being in the same premises or having access to an animal for a period of time that the judge deems appropriate, and with respect to repeat offenders, namely those who are convicted of a second or subsequent bestiality offence, for a minimum of five years.

The second amendment that was passed was an amendment that I brought forward. It would ensure that anyone convicted of a bestiality offence would be required to register with the national sex offender registry. Right now, anyone convicted of compelling the commission of bestiality under subsection 160(2), as well as anyone convicted under subsection 160(3), namely bestiality in the presence of a child, would be required to register with the national sex offender registry but all other offenders would not. As a result of my amendment, this legislation would close that gap.

It is an important step to keep children, women and animals safe because, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice laid out in some detail, there is a very clear connection between bestiality and violence against women and children. It is often part of a pattern involving some of the worst sexual crimes imaginable. Indeed, bestiality has been equated to sadism in terms of the impact that it can have on its victims.

In terms of looking at the severity of what we are talking about and how serious and how dangerous individuals who commit bestiality offences are, one need only look at D.L.W. himself. This is an individual who over a 10-year period sexually abused his two stepdaughters on a daily basis. The pattern of sexual abuse in that case escalated as time went on to the point that he committed bestiality against one of the stepdaughters involving the family dog. It is important to read into the record what the trial judge said of D.L.W. in terms of capturing the level of depravity that we are talking about here.

The trial judge in his reasons for sentence said:

I have been a judge for almost 40 years. This offender is one of the most evil men that I have encountered during my long tenure on the Bench. The man is evil incarnate. He is a monster. It is said that the devil can cite scripture for his own use. That is certainly the case here. With a warped vivid imagination and using passages from the Bible to justify his actions, D.L.W., in a most vile manner, sexually abused two of his stepchildren on a daily basis for over a decade.

Those are the types of offenders that we are talking about, and on that basis it is important that all individuals convicted of bestiality have to register with the national sex offender registry. I am glad that the government has lent its support in that regard.

Moving on to the second aspect of Bill C-84, there are important measures to strengthen laws around animal cruelty and animal fighting. We know that animal fighting is widespread and often under-reported. There are clear links between gangs and organized crime. There is an enormous amount of money that can be involved. We heard evidence before the justice committee that one dogfight can involve as much as $200,000. When there are four or five fights, a million dollars could change hands and get into the hands of organized crime groups.

The legislation would make some practical amendments to the Criminal Code to give law enforcement better tools to be able to crack down on animal fighting and eliminate an important funding source for organized criminal elements. In that regard, Bill C-84 would make a few amendments to the animal fighting sections of the Criminal Code. First, again in respect to subsection 445.1(1), at present that subsection prohibits anyone from encouraging, aiding or assisting in fighting or baiting animals. What that section does not capture at present is activities involved in training, transporting or breeding animals for animal fighting purposes.

I see my time is up, so I will just carry on after question period.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton will have three minutes remaining in his speech following question period.

Sports in ReginaStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Independent

Erin Weir Independent Regina—Lewvan, SK

Mr. Speaker, yesterday was the inter-varsity men's volleyball national championships. I particularly congratulate my taller cousin, James Weir, and all Saskatchewan athletes who played in the final.

It is an exciting time for sport in Regina. Our city will host the Grey Cup next year, and the NHL's outdoor Heritage Classic later this year.

In less competitive skating, I want to thank the 300 people who participated in my office's Family Day skate one month ago. This event enabled Regina residents to lace up for free, including many new Canadians learning to skate for the first time.

We must continue this type of inclusive activity to counter the intolerance that motivated the terrible attack on Muslims in New Zealand on Friday. I invite all members to join in sharing our condolences.

Cliff AnnableStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Gordie Hogg Liberal South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Mr. Speaker, on March 5, our community lost a great advocate and a friend. Cliff Annable was a White Rock city councillor, the executive director of the chamber of commerce, a Rotarian and a volunteer on many committees and boards. He was recently honoured as a citizen of the peninsula in recognition of the many contributions he has made.

He was a role model and mentor for many young people, and he was a proud, doting husband, father and grandfather. He was a tireless passionate voice in and for our community. He loved people and was always interested in their lives and in sharing their stories. He made our lives more interesting, more fun and more meaningful.

He will be sorely missed but never forgotten.