House of Commons Hansard #12 of the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was judges.

Topics

Judges ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, “Reclaiming Power and Place” is the final report that came from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. I recall advocating for that inquiry to take place when we were in opposition. I am very concerned and impassioned, as I know all members are, that we move on the issue of reconciliation. One of the bills that we were hoping to get to is Bill C-5, which deals with one of the calls to action.

Does my colleague believe that we need to continue to have a dialogue and deal with some of these issues in a more timely fashion so that we are able to deal with more legislation?

Judges ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

Green

Jenica Atwin Green Fredericton, NB

Madam Speaker, we absolutely need to move quickly. We need to speed things up for sure. I would love to get to Bill C-5. I also have my support on the table for that.

To say that I would not allow other parliamentarians to speak to this bill, as I have just been given that opportunity, would not be fair. If that is what the opposition needs, to continue to speak to this bill, then I think those members should have that opportunity. Again, it is a day of opposition time when we have had five weeks of Parliament prorogued. In comparison, this is part of the process and I would allow them to use the time as they need it.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to start by thanking my former colleague, Rona Ambrose. She was also the former leader of the Conservative Party and the official opposition in this place. She is the originator of the bill we are debating today. Rona Ambrose has done, and continues to do, a tremendous amount of work on behalf of women and girls, not only here in Canada but around the world. When this bill was introduced in 2017 in its original form, I had the opportunity to sit down with her, hear her heart and understand the purpose of this piece of legislation. At that time, I also had the opportunity to sit on the status of women committee, where we discussed this legislation and its importance at length.

This bill is about ensuring that trust is maintained in the judicial system and that survivors of sexual assault are respected by the judicial system here in Canada and, therefore, feel free and comfortable to come forward with their cases. It mandates that, to be appointed as a judge of a Superior Court, an individual must undergo training with regard to sexual assault law and social context, including attending seminars.

This would ensure that Superior Court judges are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to address sexual assault trials, and that survivors are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve in such a vulnerable scenario. For the purposes of transparency and openness, judges would also be required to provide written reasoning for their decisions when it comes to sexual assault proceedings. These parameters seem very common sense to me.

One would like to argue that this type of training is unnecessary but, sadly, one scenario after another points to the fact that it would be helpful. For example, in 2014, Alberta Federal Court justice Robin Camp asked a sexual assault complainant, “Why couldn't you just keep your knees together?” That was inappropriate. Most Canadians recognize that this kind of degrading and humiliating language is entirely unacceptable and should never be used in any context, let alone in a Federal Court. This is a classic case of a judge misusing his place of authority and power to further make the victim into yet another victim because of his words, actions and degradation toward her.

I have the highest regard for judges, and recognize the burden they face in having to administer justice and apply the law to determine guilt or innocence. This can be extremely challenging. Although Canada has the best justice system in the world, it certainly is not without its flaws. We put a tremendous amount of trust in our judges to function with integrity and professionalism. We expect the best of them. It is in everyone's best interests, then, that they be equipped with the tools, skills and training necessary for them to do their jobs extremely well.

We all know that sexual assault is a serious issue. I believe we would all agree that it should be eradicated. Unfortunately, however, it is very much a reality. More than 11 million Canadians have been physically or sexually assaulted from the age of 15 onward. This represents 39% of all Canadian women to have experienced this. On average, one woman or girl is killed every two and a half days right here in our own country.

Furthermore, Statistics Canada reports that only 5% of women who are sexually assaulted actually bring it to the attention of the police, not because they do not want justice but because they are afraid of being further victimized. That is only 5%. This statistic should be alarming to everyone but it gets worse: Of the 5% who report their sexual assault cases, only 21% take them to court. Then, of the 21% that go to court, only 12% of those cases result in a conviction. That is 12% of 21% of 5%. This means that there is a 98% chance that sexual assault offenders will go scot-free. That should not be the case. Every single individual in this country who commits such a heinous crime should be put behind bars.

That type of conduct is not acceptable in Canadian society, so why is it that 98% are going free and 2% are being convicted?

This bill falls in line with my party's long-standing commitment to defend victims of crime. Sexual assault is one of the only crimes in Canada right now that is not declining, and the Liberals have failed to work to prevent this. Contrary to the Liberals, the Conservatives believe that we must stand with victims, that we must choose them over criminals and that this is what in fact strengthens our justice system. For that reason, we passed more than 30 justice and public safety bills during our time in office, including the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. We put that bill in place because victims of crime and their families deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and honour. It is absolutely vital that victims' rights be put before the rights of criminals, full stop.

In contrast, during their time in government, the Liberal members across the aisle put in place Bill C-75. This bill decreases sentence times for heinous crimes like female genital mutilation, forced marriage, causing bodily harm and other heinous crimes such as infanticide, etc. There is a whole list of them. It is the complete opposite of what one would hope for from one's government.

I would like to finish my speech by imploring the government across the aisle to continue former Prime Minister Harper's legacy of taking a compassionate stance toward victims. Under the Harper government, more than 30 new laws were passed to protect victims, hold offenders accountable and increase efficiency in the justice system.

During our time in government, we invested $162 million through Status of Women Canada to fund projects to end violence against women and girls.

In 2015, we committed to invest another $200 million over five years. That was cut by the government.

In 2012, Conservatives launched the national action plan to combat human trafficking. That plan was in line with the United Nations trafficking protocol and focused on four pillars: prevention, protection of victims, prosecution of offenders, and working in partnership with domestic and international groups, and $6 million per year was invested into the national action plan to combat human trafficking. Again, the Liberal government has no interest in that plan.

In 2009, we amended the Criminal Code to raise the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16 through this bill.

In 2009, again, we strengthened the national sex offender registry by making it accessible to the public so that people would know if there were high-risk offenders in their area.

In 2010, we implemented the Protecting Victims From Sex Offenders Act to protect women from repeat violent and sexual offenders.

Through Status of Women Canada, we funded innovative projects to prevent and respond to sexual violence against women and girls, engaged men and boys in ending violence, and addressed harmful cultural practices such as forced marriage and genital mutilation.

Canada's Conservatives believe that the safety of Canadians should be the number one priority of any government and that all forms of harassment, sexual violence and discrimination are absolutely unacceptable and should be condemned. We know that a strong criminal justice system must always put the rights of victims before the rights of criminals. Canada's Conservatives will always stand on the side of those who are victimized.

It is my hope that this bill will bring some level of comfort to victims of sexual assault when they consider pressing charges and bringing their cases before a court. Sexual assault victims are some of the most vulnerable individuals. They need to be treated as such. Many perpetrators are not brought to justice because victims fear that they will meet with prejudice, closed ears or bias. These victims need as much support as they can possibly attain. I hope that this bill will take us one step closer to being able to provide victims with that confidence and that level of security and assurance that they require.

In closing, I look forward to this bill receiving unanimous support in this place so that we can send a unified message to all Canadians from coast to coast that we will always stand on behalf of victims and insist on a fair and compassionate justice system.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Small Business

Madam Speaker, my thanks to my colleague for her speech and her commitment to the government's Bill C-3. I share many of the member's concerns, particularly with respect to some of the statistics that she cited regarding women who are victims of sexual assault not feeling comfortable going to the police, pressing charges and moving ahead with our judicial system and its processes.

In that context, would the member be favourable to some of the proposals that we made in our throne speech with respect to community policing and other reforms of our judicial system and, in particular, our policing in Canada?

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, this is not about playing political games or scoring points. It is not about a throne speech that the Liberals needed to put forward because they prorogued Parliament. They needed to skirt their way out of a scandal. In particular, the Prime Minister needed to get his way out of a scandal.

There were three committees that were very active, very engaged and very much able to attain data to show that the Prime Minister was perhaps guilty of giving $912 million to his closest friends at the WE Charity foundation. Because of those things, the government had to shut down Parliament, give a throne speech and now the member opposite would like me to engage her on that issue. That is not the issue. The issue here today has to do with victims of sexual assault, not covering up the corrupt Prime Minister.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I do want to remind the parliamentary secretary that she had an opportunity to ask her question without being interrupted and I would ask her to extend that respect when she is receiving an answer even though she may not be in agreement with that answer. I would also remind opposition members to ensure that they also do not go back and forth while someone has the floor.

The hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

October 8th, 2020 / 4:05 p.m.

Bloc

Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague from Lethbridge for her speech.

I am also pleased to hear that she thinks it is important for judges to have better training to deal with cases involving victims of sexual assault.

I believe that justices of the Supreme Court must have another important skill, and that is the ability to communicate in Canada's two official languages. In 2006, the Harper government appointed unilingual anglophone judges to the Supreme Court. In 2010, the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada, Graham Fraser, stated in his report that it was essential that Supreme Court justices be bilingual. We know that official bilingualism is still a problem in 2020. In 2011, the Conservative government, still under Mr. Harper, had not really taken into consideration the report of the Commissioner of Official Languages.

Earlier I heard the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent proudly state that Ms. Ambrose impressed on the Conservative Party the importance of the French language.

Does my colleague from Lethbridge agree that we must ensure that bilingualism is an official appointment criterion for a Supreme Court justice, the highest position in the land for a judge?

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, certainly, Canada is a bilingual country. I believe it is in the best interests of Canadians that our judges are able to speak both languages. I also understand that at times there are limitations around this because there are other qualifications that must be considered as well. I would have to give further consideration to this.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Lindsay Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Madam Speaker, I was interested to hear the member across the way talk about all the things the Harper government did, but she failed to mention the fact that it eliminated the phrase “gender equality” from the Status of Women. It closed 12 of the 16 Status of Women offices. It reallocated funding from organizations that supported advocacy for women's human rights. It eliminated funding to the Court Challenges Program.

Why did the member decide not to highlight those things that had a significant and horrible impact on women?

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, the member opposite was chirping something, so I am not sure if maybe you would like to turn the attention to him? He seems to have something to say.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. member for Lethbridge does not want to respond?

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Saskatoon—University.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Corey Tochor Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to be here to put my comments and support on the record for Bill C-3.

To understand this bill, it is important to back to where it came from. It is very fortunate that our former leader, Rona Ambrose, saw the need, saw the problem and looked for a solution. If we as parliamentarians can find a little of that every day in our duty, we will be in a pretty good place in the country.

We do not need endless study. We need action and fortunately for our judiciary, this is what this will be. I would once again like to thank Rona for all her advocacy work on this file.

I was duly elected last year. I understand that this has been debated, went to committee and has been discussed at length. I am honoured to add my comments and my support to the initiative because it is needed.

I did some research after being informed that I would have the honour to speak to the bill and it was probably some of the toughest reading I have done in this job, to read first-hand what some sexual assault victims had faced. This is very much needed.

I interacted with couple of people and I want to highlight how the bill will affect our country, and thankfully it will. I think of Erica in Montreal. She is a rape counsellor. Throughout the day and even some evenings she counsels people on the phone and in person on some horrific crimes. Hearing these stories through these victims, it stays with her. I suspect she is thinking about it long after the day is done. I think about the number of people Erica would have counselled, that may not have been strong enough to report charges for some of the unfortunate incidents of sexual assaults. Sometimes it is family members.

We know that a fraction of cases actually go before a judge. The number of crimes not reported is probably one of the more eye-opening statistics I witnessed during my research. Probably the most impactful measure in the bill to improve things is making the court system much more understanding of these victims. That will go a long way in helping Erica. She will still have those long days and long consulting sessions with clients, but at least she will know that if those cases do go forward, they will find themselves in front of a judge who has the training to be much more sensitive to the victims.

I think of Kim, a prosecutor in the Hamilton region, and all the times she showed up to court and the victim was not there, because of fear of past injustices toward people who had been sexually assaulted. I think of the days when Kim goes to court and may witness court proceedings that we would not want for any of our loved ones. She has to stomach it.

Things really hit home when I started reading different articles and research. I would like to read one passage that is impactful and has guided my belief of how worthwhile Bill C-3 is. It is from “Aiming for Justice: The Legal System Has Failed Sexual Assault Survivors”.

It reads, “She was a 19-year-old indigenous woman, and the assault was as brutal as it could be. The accuser slapped her repeatedly, forced her to crawl, bit her hard enough to break the skin, threatened to cut her into pieces if she didn't stop screaming, and forced himself into her mouth and then into her. A roommate called 911, and yet even when four police officers rushed in and shouted at him to stop, they had to pull him forcefully off the naked, screaming victim. It's hard to imagine a more open and shut criminal case. Unlike the vast majority of sexual assaults, there was no possibility of the victim failing to report to the police. Four police officers after all were witnesses, and yet the cross-examination of the complainant stretched over five exhausting days. The defendant's lawyer repeatedly suggested that the victim was lying, even though four police officers witnessed the crime, and forced her to describe the sexual acts. The young woman complied, against her will, to testify, and was so distraught by the grilling she endured on the stand that she refused to return to court. She was then arrested and compelled to return. Halfway through the week-long cross-examination, she tried to admit herself to the hospital, fearful that she was being driven to suicide. The next day, he was questioning the witness about whether she had gone to the hospital because she had overdosed on drugs. Over and over, she expressed agony at having to relive the assault.”

For me, hearing first-hand how these victims have been revictimized really reinforces why this bill is so needed. Additional training could help avoid victims being revictimized by defence lawyers and help improve our system.

The article goes on about what these tactics are called and why defence lawyers use them. It continues, “Multiple scenarios from recent sexual assault trials involve pit bull tactics. Judges hesitate to stop such questioning because they believe they may be uneducated about the law or may hold sexist beliefs themselves. Judges may also hesitate out of fear the judgment will be overturned on the basis that the judge interfered with the right of the defence to question a witness.”

This case is an example of where I believe additional training would help. If there is the possibility a victim does not have to face what this victim has, it is worth it.

I know we have great judges in Canada. I believe the vast majority are appointed to these roles because of the work they have done in their careers and on a personal level. They are good individuals, but there are some who would benefit from a little more training on sexual assault. I am so grateful that, with this change, we would be granting that opportunity to these judges, especially the very small few who may need this extra training.

I would like to also thank the other opposition parties that made this possible. It was a Conservative bill, Bill C-337, introduced by our former leader. I am very grateful to the Liberals and the members who are here today for picking this up and making this a government motion. In a very short time, this will be read a third time and with royal assent become law.

I am so grateful for my role as a parliamentarian and to add my comments to the record on Bill C-3.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Bloc

Marie-Hélène Gaudreau Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Madam Speaker, it is important to have these concrete examples, which give us reason to believe in the outcome of the changes made to this bill. We are getting there and I am very proud of that.

That being said, considering the comments and specific knowledge of some people, which my colleague talked about, I would like us to already be thinking about the longer term. In his view, what other amendments would help increase the level of trust and allow victims to be treated with as much respect as possible?

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Corey Tochor Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Madam Speaker, the hon. member is correct in the assumption that this is not going to fix all that ails our society. It is not going to fix sexual assault in Canada. We are still going to have that scourge.

It does send a message that we will not tolerate in our judges ideas and thoughts that belong in days long gone.

My commitment as a parliamentarian is that, if additional measures and bills are introduced on the floor of this assembly, I would be very interested in furthering the work that we are starting with this bill. It has been three long years. It is time to get the job done, and I am very grateful that this will be done soon enough.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Rachel Bendayan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Small Business

Madam Speaker, allow me to say how moved I was by my colleague's speech. Clearly, he feels very strongly about this issue and is quite passionate about women's rights and the rights of sexual assault victims.

I wonder if the member has any suggestions with respect to creating even more allies, through perhaps education, such as unconscious bias training, for younger people or other populations.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Corey Tochor Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Madam Speaker, the question raises somewhat the same issue as the first question I had the honour of answering. There is more work to be done. This is not the end. If we look at training and education, I do not think there is anybody who would say that they are smart enough, have been trained enough and do not need any further training.

An overarching belief in my system is that we can always learn more. I would be interested to hear what other steps we could consider as a Parliament.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, my colleague raised the important issues of aggressive cross-examination and the impact that can have on people's willingness to come forward, as well as the pain that could be associated with those cross-examinations. Training will not change the fact that defence lawyers may choose to use that tactic. Judges, even if they are educated, may fear that to intervene would lead to problems at appeal.

This may be an area for further study, but I wonder if the member has suggestions for additional things we should consider to deter aggressive cross-examinations in cases where it is not actually going to produce any information that is useful for the determination of guilt or innocence, but is just used as an intimidation tactic.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Corey Tochor Conservative Saskatoon—University, SK

Madam Speaker, I am not a lawyer. I have not been trained in law in Canada. However, from my experience, I would expect that judges today would involve themselves if, in their minds, the defence has gone a little too far in their cross-examination.

I am not a judge. I am not a member of the court. As much as this is a court of record, I am not a member of a judiciary court, and I would not comment on the practices of judges. I would need to do further study on these different tactics.

However, I do know, and I have read, that some of these tactics are terrible. They are terrible in that they revictimize the victim. I would hope that some additional sensitivity training would help.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Nelly Shin Conservative Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, as I give my first speech in this session of the 43rd Parliament, I would like to thank the amazing people in my riding of Port Moody—Coquitlam, Anmore and Belcarra for allowing me the privilege to stand here today. I want them to know that it is my joy and honour to serve them, especially during this unique and challenging time in Canadian history.

I am grateful to stand here in the House of Commons as a woman speaking on Bill C-3, legislation that I trust will mark one step forward in the healing and empowering of women and girls to thrive and beautify the world with their vision, wisdom and love. I would like to thank the Hon. Rona Ambrose, former interim leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and the official opposition. She originally introduced it as Bill C-337 on February 27, 2017. I am encouraged to see this legislation adopted by the Liberal government earlier this year as Bill C-5 and reintroduced in this session as Bill C-3. I am happy to see many members contribute their ideas, thoughts and feelings during the course of debate on the bill.

One in three women around the world is victim to physical or sexual violence. In Canada, young women aged 15 to 24 years have the highest rate of sexual assaults, 71 incidents for every population of 1,000. The impact of COVID-19 has created an environment of an increase in violence against women and girls, but I know there is hope because of counsellors, social workers and community outreach programs on the front lines across Canada that provide a safe oasis for vulnerable and victimized women.

On that note, I would like to thank Tri-City Transitions, a shelter for domestically abused women and children in my community. The unconditional love and caring work of women like Carol Metz and her counsellors help the women in my community find hope to heal and the courage to break free from the cycles of abuse and violence.

I am also grateful for the tireless work of champions like Mary O'Neill and recovery programs like Talitha Koum that provide caring mentorship to help women reclaim their lives, not only from addiction but many times the trauma behind their substance abuse. I thank them for being beacons of hope to women who are hiding in the shadows of fear, broken will and shattered self-image. The sad truth is that the fact that we need more shelters and programs for victims of domestic violence and assault, and the fact that they exist, shows a broken system that allows the cycle to perpetuate. This cycle must stop.

I support Bill C-3, an act to amend the Judges Act and the Criminal Code, because it is one step in a long series of many steps we must take to break the cycle of violence and abuse against women. Bill C-3 addresses the lack of justice for women in the court of law by seeking to improve the interactions between sexual assault complainants and the justice system, specifically the judiciary. Bill C-3 seeks to amend the Judges Act to restrict eligibility of who may be appointed a judge of a superior court by requiring them to commit to undertaking and participating in continuing education on matters related to sexual assault law and social context, including attending seminars.

This bill also requires the Canadian Judicial Council to submit an annual report to Parliament on delivery and participation in the sexual assault information seminars established by it. Bill C-3 also requires judges to provide reasons for their decisions in sexual assault cases.

We need only look at a couple of incidents as prototypes of court decisions that show reviling misogyny and biases. Robin Camp, a former federal judge, in 2014, when the alleged rape victim was testifying, asked her why she could not just keep her knees together. Throughout the trial, he criticized her for not screaming while the alleged assault took place and suggested she wanted to have sex. Camp later acquitted the defendant, Alexander Wagar. After acquitting him, he told the defendant, “I want you to tell your friends, your male friends, that they have to be far more gentle with women.” This is absolutely disgusting.

Cindy Gladue, an indigenous woman, was paid for sex by Bradley Barton, the alleged killer, and was found dead in a pool of blood in a motel room after a violent death. I dare not repeat how graphic that picture was because it is just so reviling. The judge presiding over the trial repeatedly referred to her as native and a prostitute. Barton was acquitted because of biases formed against Gladue's history. Such appalling incidents further victimize and silence women from speaking up. It is also unjust for families of victims.

The majority, 83%, of sexual assaults are not reported to police. These two examples alone illustrate very clearly the cause of this hesitation: 67% of women in Canada have no confidence in the justice system and of the 20% of women who take their cases to court, only 10% that make it to court come out with convictions. Among those convicted, only 7% of the perpetrators actually get punished with jail time. Others get probation or fines at the judge's discretion. There is no justice, so why would these women pursue it?

Insult is added to injury when they are left to walk away, feeling like the ones who were sentenced. When an agent of authority like a federal judge gaslights a woman before the court, where does that leave her? There is no justice for that woman. That little seedling of self- esteem she fought to salvage is trampled, but the chain of injustice is long.

There is fear of retaliation from perpetrators when they are not locked up in jail and are free to stalk and repeat their offences, and perhaps even go further and murder the victims. The lack of support, condemnation, shaming and shunning that victims experience from taboos and cultural stigmas prevent women from speaking up. If the perpetrator is someone she knows, like a friend, acquaintance or neighbour, as is the case in 52% of sexual assault incidents, it is even harder.

The court's decision can take away a victim's credibility in the community and inevitably put a toll on the mental and physical health of that victim. It takes a lot of courage for women who have experienced sexual assault to speak up.

I just want to pause here and commend and congratulate the women who have taken steps to speak up and go to the courts. This is why we are standing here as parliamentarians. They inspire us. It takes a lot of courage for women who have experienced sexual assault to speak up and seek the justice they deserve. They have to relive the trauma when speaking about it. If they go forward to the courts, they risk being condemned for speaking up.

Similarly, it does not help when families of victims like those who came forward with testimonies for the report on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls have to relive their traumas through the retelling of their stories and now still await action from the government. However, I hope that these discussions will inspire the government to take action more quickly.

I am very proud that my Conservative colleagues in the last Parliament supported the “JUST Act”, because we recognized that the justice system failed to respect the experiences of victims of sexual assault far too often. I would like to thank Ms. Ambrose again for her work on this important file.

As I support Bill C-3, I do so with a hope that it is an important step among lawmakers in Canada to improve the justice system to work for all people, including women and girls, and not against them. Bill C-3 is a positive beginning, but simply that. I hope the passage of the bill will not give license to the government or my colleagues across all aisles to simply relax, because the bill does not get to the root of violence against women.

If we are to break the cycle of violence against women, we need to get to the root. The root begins with the family and the way women are treated by their intimate partners and their parents. Domestic violence breeds abuse and violence. There needs to be more education, awareness and a breaking of the code of shame and silence. Speaking with women's shelters, men also need mentoring and accountability. They are a missing part of the puzzle that is necessary to make the healing journey for families and society fulsome.

Indigenous communities need all the support they can get to help their women, and the provinces cannot do all of this alone. We need all tiers of government and all community front-line agencies to work together to create long-term solutions. Prevention will save lives.

My mandate as a member of Parliament is to contribute to the making and passing of laws and policies that will help heal individuals, families and society, so each person will prosper, so Canada will prosper and that personal peace will help build a strong and free nation. Bill C-3 is a bill that I am happy to support and reminds me why I am here. However, let us not applaud too loud, lest we become complacent and fail to do the daunting work that lies ahead: to heal our women and our nation.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Bloc

Christine Normandin Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.

I heard many things that really resonate with me, namely respect for women's bodies, their right to not suffer genital mutilation, and the fact that they do not have to enter into a forced marriage. All of this really speaks to me, but there is still one issue remaining, something that was not named.

Sometimes after a rape, a woman might end up pregnant with a child she does not want to carry. When we talk about revictimization, I wonder if leaving the woman no choice is a form of victimization. I would like to hear my colleague's comments on the fact that we must assure women that in future this issue will no longer be debated and that they will not become victims again as a result of what they have suffered.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Nelly Shin Conservative Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, those are issues that certainly require sensitivity and compassion. When it comes to the rights of women, especially after a rape, I do not think it would be questionable for anyone to consider that a woman has a choice to do what would make her feel safe and that she is not being victimized again.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, absolutely no one questions the importance of the issue of sexual assault and the severity of it. There is a need for the House of Commons to deal with it in whatever way it can. This is a very good example. In fact, I am expecting there will be unanimous support for the legislation. I see that as strong and encouraging.

Would the member not agree that when the national government takes a positive action of this nature, it actually has a positive reflection in other jurisdictions? For example, I understand at least a couple provinces are doing something of a similar nature for appointments at the provincial level of the judicial system. How important is it that we, as a national government, demonstrate leadership on such important issues?

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Nelly Shin Conservative Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, the reason we are all here is because we want to see a better society. Before we get elected, we go through many processes to come to this place. We spend lots of money and the time resources of our volunteers to be here. We owe it to our country that we do show leadership. I am grateful for opportunities like this on issues that unify the House of Commons, give us the opportunity to inspire the other tiers of government and show that we can work together.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to talk about the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which pointed out that police apathy was indicative of racism and sexism that revictimized girls and women.

What does the member think of the proposed sexual assault and social context aspects of this legislation extending into police services as well as judges? Not in this legislation, perhaps, but overall.

Judges ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Nelly Shin Conservative Port Moody—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the member's sensitivity on these issues. Just as the parliamentary secretary stated, I hope that this does inspire and trickle down to all levels of law enforcement.