House of Commons Hansard #18 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was crime.

Topics

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Scarborough—Rouge Park Ontario

Liberal

Gary Anandasangaree LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's intervention was very thoughtful and I agree with most of what he said. I want to assure him that the issue of gun violence is something we are very concerned about, and our government will take decisive action in that regard.

With respect to Bill C-5, I wonder if the member could speak about conditional sentencing orders and how they will impact the criminal justice system, and about the need for judges to have the discretion to make important decisions about individuals who are before them in their courthouses.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:35 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Desilets Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, fundamentally, I believe in our justice system. It does need some adjustments, and major adjustments are being made in Quebec regarding crimes of a sexual nature. I believe in the system. I believe in the power of judges, and I believe in their ability to use their discretion. Let us not forget that we are in a democracy, in a system that has proven itself. We are an excellent example in that regard.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, the ongoing stigma from criminalizing the possession of drugs is a major barrier that stops people from seeking help. The City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia, the City of Toronto and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police are all calling for decriminalization, but in the bill, all we see is a statement of principles and a warnings and referral system.

I wonder what my colleague thinks about that, and what he thinks of the New Democrats' idea to send the bill to committee before it reaches second reading so that maybe we can ask the government to expand its scope and actually listen to major concerns that are felt right across this country.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Desilets Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, Quebec's system places enormous value on diversion in sentencing, with the support of many community organizations. It works.

In contrast, there is the United States, to which I referred earlier. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, but at the same time, they also have some of the highest crime rates in the world in many categories. Again, this proves that incarceration does not work.

Drug use is obviously the first area where we can easily intervene. We in Quebec are not the only ones that have some expertise. It is in our network. We have ways to meet the needs of these individuals besides sending them to prison.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Bloc

Louise Chabot Bloc Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I commend my colleague on his excellent speech. I completely agree that it does not make sense to criminalize penalties for certain offences when we could be focusing on rehabilitation.

We have some experience with this in Quebec. What would my colleague say the federal government needs to do in order to support what the provinces are already doing?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Bloc

Luc Desilets Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, all I can do is point out yet again that Quebec is calling for health transfers to be increased. This funding does not only go to hospitals. It allows the organizations that Quebec subsidizes, and could subsidize even more, to provide health care and rehabilitation services.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak to Bill C-5, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. I have numerous concerns about the legislation that directly affects my constituents.

By proposing this legislation, the Liberals have illustrated just how out of touch they are with the long-lasting effects of criminal activities on Canadians. Their commitment to protecting the rights of criminals tramples on the legal rights afforded to victims of crime and does little to address systemic inequities, including the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples, Black and marginalized Canadians in the criminal justice system. Instead, Bill C-5 would reduce the accountability of violent offenders and encourage their release back into the community instead of facing legal consequences that are proportionate to the crimes they have committed.

My Conservative colleagues have spoken at length about the impacts of the bill on firearm-related offences and weapons trafficking. Has the Liberal government forgotten how gun violence impacts people and communities across Canada?

Violent crime involving firearms is a growing threat to public safety in our communities. Even with the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, my constituents still rank rural crime and gun violence as one of their main concerns. These crimes continue to rise, and almost half of Canadians feel that gun violence is a threat to their community.

Bill C-5 would do nothing to stand up for Canadians. It instead chooses to weaken our laws and empower criminals. It would give more liberties to criminals who have guns than law-abiding Canadians who own guns.

When we look at the text of Bill C-5, we see that it actually would help those who prey on the vulnerable. It would reduce sentencing for drug trafficking, for gun crime and for importing drugs. I believe the average Canadian can clearly distinguish the difference between drug trafficking and someone who is suffering from addiction issues being caught with a small amount of drugs.

This bill would not help the latter. It instead would roll back the offences for the producers and manufacturers of schedule 1 drugs. It uses vulnerable Canadians to cover the true intent of this bill, which is to soften accountability for criminals.

On Monday, my Conservative colleague was attacked for not mentioning systemic racism in his remarks, as if to imply that Bill C-5 has anything to do with correcting racial injustices in our legal system. It is important to point out that in the six years that the Liberals have been in power, the proportion of federal prisoners who are indigenous rose from 24% to 30%.

I am also compelled to bring attention to the fact that the group of Canadians who are disproportionately affected as victims include women and girls, visible minorities, LGBTQ people, children and youth, lower-income families, those living in poverty, and people in northern and remote communities.

Bill C-5 does not mention the victims of crime. Instead the government wants us to believe that racial inequality exists only when we discuss offenders. Bill C-5 would decrease criminal accountability and ignores issues such as addiction, poverty and mental health issues. It ignores that the communities that experience higher levels of crime are most adversely affected themselves.

I would like to talk about the expansion of conditional sentences for crimes such as sexual assault. It is a complete affront to combatting violence against women by a government that hides behind the optics of feminism. Sexual assault victims already face a litany of traumas in our justice system, as they must contend with disclosing information that is intensely personal and private, which could result in victim blaming and often shame.

The bill would add even more obstacles to those trying to heal from sexual assault by allowing sexual offenders to serve their sentence at home. People on house arrest are generally not limited to constantly staying at home, as they can be permitted to leave for certain pre-approved locations and activities. Their movement and freedom may be controlled and monitored, however, unlike being incarcerated, house arrest allows them the ability to continue participating in society and at home.

I want to focus for a moment on the selected phrase “continue participating in society”, because I am unable to understand why sexual predators should be allowed this privilege, when the victims of their crime are not afforded the same respect.

There is no shortage of information about sexual assault survivors and the challenges our legal system faces in prosecuting it, not to mention the traumatization and re-traumatization of survivors throughout the process. Law reform and policy changes have brought about some necessary improvements to the way the criminal justice system processes sexual assault cases, but Bill C-5 is not one of those. It would violate a victim's right to protection, diminish the strength of our court system and may even be responsible for impeding a survivor's reintegration and participation in society.

The Liberals say that they are helping addicts and communities, but they actually would be reducing sentences and eliminating accountability for traffickers and manufacturers, while continuing to punish law-abiding firearm owners. My rural constituents continue to be the target of restrictive gun laws, while the government supports weakening the consequences for weapons trafficking.

The Conservatives believe we must take strong action to prevent criminal activity. We stand for victims of crime and we fight to defend their rights. Shorter sentences and house arrest are not a deterrent for sexual assault or firearms offences. The Liberals have promised that conditional sentences, such as house arrest, would never be considered over public safety. If so, why would they offer this sentencing option for sexual assault charges? I am unsettled at the thought that they believe there is a need for legislation that would allow sexual predators to serve their sentences within their community.

Conditional sentencing, as presented in Bill C-5, would not advocate for restorative justice; it instead would give offenders the opportunity to not only escape consequences for their actions, but would cross the line into revictimizing survivors of sexual assault, kidnapping and human trafficking. How can we expect to feel safe and protected when the government is advocating for offenders who are kidnapping 13-year-old children to serve their sentences in our neighbourhood? How is this any regard for public safety?

The government needs to work with its provincial counterparts to combat the increase in rural crime, not pass sweeping legislation that would lessen the penalties for the criminals.

There is nothing in Bill C-5 that explains how eliminating mandatory minimum sentences would undo the systemic racism the government claims plagues our justice system. It would blatantly miss its mark. It would endanger public safety, while doing nothing to help vulnerable Canadians in our criminal justice system struggling with addiction and mental illness.

Bill C-5 ignores the fact that, on its face, minimum mandatory sentencing is unbiased. There is ample administrative law jurisprudence that defines that where the statute gives discretion to decision-makers and they come to an unfair decisions, the problem is the “maladministration” of the statute rather than the statute itself. If the LIberal government believes that mandatory minimum sentences perpetuate systemic racism because of the prevalence of racist policing and improper use of prosecutorial discretion, then why are they not introducing solutions to this problem?

It is disingenuous to say that this bill is being put forward to address the over-incarceration rate of marginalized Canadians. It is also false that Bill C-5 considers public safety over the rights of criminals. Punishing criminals and holding them accountable is only part of the Conservative Party's response to crime. We must also ensure that crime victims and survivors are treated with respect.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on the systemic racism that is out there. It is a little upsetting that the official opposition does not even want to recognize that.

I would ask the member for his thoughts about the truth and reconciliation report, particularly call to action 32 which specifically asks for the type of legislation we have brought forward, in good part, to deal with the systemic racism that is there.

Are the hundreds of individuals and Judge Sinclair wrong with that call to action? Is this a call to action that the Conservative Party does not support?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Speaker, according to the department's own commentary:

To address the overincarceration rate of Indigenous peoples, as well as Black and marginalized Canadians, MMPs for the following offences would be repealed:

Using a firearm or imitation firearm in commission of offence....

Possession of firearm or weapon knowing its possession is unauthorized....

Possession of prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition....

Possession of weapon obtained by commission of offence....

Weapons trafficking....

Possession for purpose of weapons trafficking....

Importing or exporting knowing it is unauthorized....

Discharging firearm with intent....

Discharging firearm—recklessness....

Those are some of the offences being watered down.

Going back to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I was fortunate enough to have spent time on aboriginal affairs and northern development when that was taking place. We had a lot of opportunity to speak with people and not everyone believes all of those recommendations are best for their communities. I think that is important for us to understand because in many cases they are the true victims of these types of crimes.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Bloc

Stéphane Bergeron Bloc Montarville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was Quebec's public safety minister when the Conservative government passed Bill C-10, which introduced mandatory minimum sentences.

No matter what you call it, the lowering or elimination of mandatory minimums may perhaps send a confusing message in the current context, where there are concerns about firearms circulating and about the crimes being committed with them, especially in the greater Montreal area, but also in Toronto and other metropolitan centres in Canada.

Another question comes to mind. Our Conservative friends can keep repeating over and over that they are in favour of law and order, but that is easy to do when it is simply a matter of changing a few minor provisions of the Criminal Code and making Quebec and the provinces foot the bill. The provinces are obviously the ones that have to deal with the increase in the prison population resulting from mandatory minimums.

What does my Conservative colleague think of the idea that the provinces and Quebec are the ones footing the bill for Ottawa's decisions?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Speaker, I believe there is a difference in the realities of urban and rural communities, such as the one I represent, when we look at firearms, the related activities and so on. If we wanted to talk about firearm legislation, then we should talk about that, not throw in the long gun registry, firearms for hunters and so on. If we can get past that, instead of every time we talk about gun legislation they get thrown into the mix, maybe more people in this country would be listening and trying to find solutions to this problem.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

NDP

Taylor Bachrach NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the comments of my colleague from Red Deer—Mountain View. I appreciate him acknowledging the overrepresentation of Black, indigenous and racialized people in our criminal justice system. If he does not support the elimination of mandatory minimums, for which there is a mountain of evidence that they contribute to that overrepresentation, what approach would he support to address that overrepresentation in our criminal justice system, and can he provide examples of jurisdictions where that approach has been effective at reducing the overrepresentation of those communities in our criminal justice system?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer—Mountain View, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a federal institution in my riding and have a lot of opportunity to speak with people, so I understand the circumstances of those who are incarcerated.

I want to mention I was a teacher for 34 years. I know the biggest victims of youth crime are youth. It is the same sort of situation that occurs in some of these communities we are speaking of. I think what is important is for us to find solutions so that if it occurs in an indigenous community, the people of that community are also safe.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

5:55 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my good friend, neighbour and colleague for Red Deer—Mountain View for his excellent speech.

As this is my first opportunity to deliver a speech on behalf of the constituents of Red Deer—Lacombe in the new Parliament, I want to thank all of my volunteers and my family. Of course, I thank the voters of Red Deer—Lacombe for sending me here for a sixth term. My commitment to them is to do my best in representing the issues and values that we hold deer in central Alberta. One of those is addressed in this proposed legislation.

Many of the hard-working people in central Alberta are law-abiding firearms owners. They get up every day, go to work, follow all the rules, follow the law, work hard and pay their taxes. In return, they simply want to be treated with dignity and respect by their government. They want their tax dollars used effectively and efficiently, and none of them feel very good right now about the direction that our country is heading, particularly when it comes to the legislative agenda of this current government. They are very concerned and very worried about government's approach, which is soft on violent and dangerous crime.

Bill C-5 is another iteration of Bill C-22, which appeared just before the election was called in the last Parliament, and the bill is absolutely abhorrent, I believe, in the minds of most of my voters back in Red Deer—Lacombe.

I am a law-abiding firearms owner, and I am a former law enforcement officer in the conservation law enforcement field. My job was to go into situations and deal with law-abiding hunters and firearms owners on a daily basis. I would go into situations as a conservation officer or as a national park warden where virtually every person I dealt with had an axe because they were camping; a knife because they were fishing; or a firearm, bow or crossbow because they were hunting.

I did this with complete confidence that the people I was going to deal with and work with were going to be honest and forthright people for the most part, and I had nothing to fear and nothing to worry about from law-abiding hunters and firearms owners in this country. I am proud to say that I safely did my job with a respectful group of hunters, anglers, campers and outdoor enthusiasts for a number of years before I ended up in this place.

These are good people, and they do not deserve to be demonized by this current government. They certainly do not deserve to be taken to task or held accountable for dangerous, violent criminals who are operating under the auspices of organized crime in our large urban centres, such as Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary. Even in one of the largest cities that my colleague for Red Deer—Mountain View and I share, Red Deer, Alberta, which is a beautiful city full of good, honest, hard-working people, there is the odd one that causes problems. We need to be focusing on the ones that cause problems, which is the problem with the legislation before us today.

Ladies and gentlemen of Canada, and ladies and gentlemen of Toronto, who are watching need to know the crimes the people they voted for are actually reducing and eliminating mandatory minimum penalties for. One is robbery with a firearm. We would think that in a city such as Toronto, where there are virtually daily shootings being reported, that somebody would say, “Robbery with a firearm is a fairly serious thing and people should probably go to jail for that”, but not according to a Liberal member of Parliament members from that city.

Another is extortion with a firearm, which must be a pleasant experience for the victim. Why do we not do what Liberals do and get rid of any mandatory minimum prison sentences for somebody who is being extorted with a gun to their head? the thirds is weapons trafficking, excluding firearms and ammunition. Weapons trafficking is the illegal movement, sale and acquisition of firearms. This is the problem.

We know from people like professor emeritus Gary Mauser from Simon Fraser University that a person is very unlikely to be a victim of crime from a law-abiding firearms owner. In fact, when we take a look at the statistics from Statistics Canada going back to 2012, we know that 0.6 in 100,000 murders in this country were committed by law-abiding firearms owners. That is less than the average of 1.8 murders per 100,000 in the country.

The safest person we can be around in this country when it comes homicide is a law-abiding firearms owner, but we are going to make sure that smugglers and people who traffic firearms and bring these guns into the country would potentially face zero jail time for their actions. There is also importing or exporting knowing that a firearm or weapon is unauthorized, which is called “smuggling”, and it is smuggling firearms across the border.

This is the problem. This is what Liberals in la-la land think deserves no jail time whatsoever. If voters are in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, these are the people that they voted for and sent here and this is what they are doing to the community. The Liberals are saying to the people who voted for them that they are going to remove mandatory minimum sentences for people who smuggle guns across the U.S. border and instead blame and conflate issues on law-abiding firearms owners. It is absolutely disgusting.

Discharging a firearm with intent, when does that happen on the streets of Toronto? Daily, but if someone is the one with the gun, apparently in Liberal la-la land, they do not need to go to jail.

With regard to using a firearm in the commission of an offence, holding somebody up, committing a robbery, committing a carjacking, using a firearm, in theft or any of these other types of activities, if people take a firearm along with them, they should not worry if they voted Liberal. The Liberals are looking out for their interests and making sure they spend no time in jail as a result.

On possession of a firearm knowing its possession is unauthorized, these are people that are not getting firearms licences like every law-abiding firearms owner in this country actually does. Canadians might be surprised to know that every single day all 2.1 million of my fellow law-abiding firearms owners are checked by CPIC to make sure that we are eligible to continue to possess firearms.

As a matter of fact, the law is written in this country that people cannot possess a firearm at all. Every firearm is illegal, unless they have a licence to have one. That is what the law currently says. Law-abiding Canadians by the millions in this country follow those rules on a daily basis and we are checked on a daily basis to make sure that we can continue to lawfully possess our property.

Instead of harassing people like me, the government is going to make life easier for people who are unlicensed. If people are found in possession of a basketful of handguns in downtown Toronto, they should not worry; they do not have an RPAL, the guns were smuggled and they might even be the smuggler. Guess what? They have the option of going home and sitting in their house and thinking hard about how bad they are because that is the Liberal solution to organized crime in our country. This is absolutely ridiculous.

On possession of a prohibited or restricted firearm with ammunition, these are guns we are not even allowed to have, so now we are talking about illegal owners. They should not worry; the Liberal Party of Canada has their back. If they have one of these, they do not have to go to jail, here is a “get out of jail” card just like in the Monopoly game; they do not have to face the consequences.

Possession of a weapon obtained by commission of offence is theft. That is someone who comes into my home and steals my gun. That is someone who comes into a rural property in the County of Red Deer, the County of Lacombe, the County of Ponoka, or any one of our communities, steals from us and may be purposefully there trying to steal our firearms. The Liberal response is because our disarmament policy for law-abiding Canadians is not working, they are going to let thieves out of jail for free for stealing a law-abiding citizen's property.

This legislation is absolutely ridiculous. It flies in the sensibilities of everybody. On these mandatory minimums just on the firearms, and not getting into the drugs and all of the other things that the government is reducing or limiting minimum penalties for, in this legislation, virtually all of them except for one, guess who introduced these pieces of legislation in the Criminal Code? Was it Stephen Harper or Brian Mulroney? One of them happened under the government of Stephen Harper. The other dozen of these provisions in the Criminal Code were put in place by none other than Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Jean Chrétien. Today's Liberals are certainly not yesterday's Liberals, ladies and gentlemen. Our country is not any safer with these guys at the helm.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

December 15th, 2021 / 6:05 p.m.

Kingston and the Islands Ontario

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (Senate)

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for whatever that was. The member talked about a “get out of jail free” card. It is actually just a fundamental philosophical difference of how to approach crime. The approach of the Conservatives is very simple, “lock 'em up and throw away the key”. I believe that the member probably actually believes that.

I would encourage him to stand and say that yes, his approach is to lock them up and throw away the key. Unfortunately for him, the majority of society believes that the government has a role to play in rehabilitation and reintegration of people into society. He talks about a “get out of jail free” card. Where is that even coming from?

The bill is about removing a mandatory minimum and giving that power to the judge to be able to prescribe what the sentencing should be. Could the member please explain to the House why he does not have faith in judges to make those decisions?

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:05 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will gladly respond to that question. My colleague is missing the point altogether. If my colleague would actually read polling information that Canadians are responding to when they are asked the question about confidence in police and their justice system, he would see that the numbers have not looked good for the last six years. Crime is on the rise. Dangerous crime and violent crime are on the rise. Confidence in our police and our justice system is going down. That is because of the tone and the agenda set by the current government in going after the wrong people. The member has it wrong.

When it comes to rehabilitation, my colleague should know that the only way offenders are going to be able to access any of the programs and services offered by Correctional Service Canada is if they spend at least two years in jail. That is the threshold. When they go to a provincial prison they do not get any of that. When they go to a federal prison for two years, they get access to programs and services so that they avoid recidivism.

Why would the Liberal members of this House deny these people an opportunity to get the programs and services they need? They just want the votes of the hug-a-thug crowd in this country, and it is doing nothing for safety.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Bloc

Andréanne Larouche Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his speech. I would like to take the discussion in a different direction.

Despite the rhetoric from the Conservatives, there are examples of what works elsewhere in the world. Portugal, for example, has chosen the path of decriminalization, and it works. Another country that comes to mind is Switzerland, which has now gone the diversion route, and it works.

The Conservatives are always pushing the “tough on drugs” approach that they took in the 1990s, which did not work. It is interesting that examples of what is being done elsewhere, including Quebec, only make us more inclined to believe in the importance of diversion.

My colleague from Montarville also talked about this. The tough on drugs approach is all well and good, but who pays in the end? Quebec and the provinces end up paying. There is a cost to all of this, as my colleague said, but I would like to hear the member's opinion on the examples that exist elsewhere and that prove that these programs work.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague is asking about whether people should be going to jail for simple possession. I would ask her if she shares my interpretation of the legislation.

Here is what the minimum penalties with respect to drugs are in Bill C-5: with respect to drug dealers, trafficking or possession for the purpose of trafficking, which does not sound like simple possession to me; importing and exporting, or possession for the purpose of exporting, which to me sounds like drug smuggling across the border; production of a substance in schedule I, including heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, crystal meth, which sounds like illegal drug manufacturing.

This bill is not addressing the simple possession issues my colleague is talking about. We can have a discussion about those kinds of things for simple possession and addictions all day long, and I would be happy to have the conversation with her.

This is about criminality and organized crime. Why would we be conflating that with simple possession? These are criminal organizations that are smuggling and manufacturing and distributing drugs. They should go to jail.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, just following on from the previous question, Bill C-5 would amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act by adding a new section after section 10. It would add a declaration of principles and a warning and referral system.

Many jurisdictions across Canada, including the Province of British Columbia, have flatly asked the federal government for decriminalization. It includes the chiefs of police. I wonder if my colleague can comment on the fact that this bill was probably a great missed opportunity to address that fundamental aspect of our justice system.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Red Deer—Lacombe, AB

Mr. Speaker, my colleague missed the opportunity to not get into a coalition with the government of the day, but that is fine.

The diversion measures that are in the legislation are certainly something that can be considered. As a former law enforcement officer, I had the ability to decide to pursue something or not. A Crown prosecutor has the ability to decide to pursue something or not. That is where the judgment needs to be made.

We do not need to legislate that judgment. We need to trust the men and women on the ground, not only in our law enforcement but in our prosecutorial services. They are the ones who can actually decide and are best positioned to weed out who is doing what on the ground, whether it is somebody caught up with addictions and simple possession or it is actual criminal activity. Let us let them do their work. They are—

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Chris d'Entremont

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Lambton—Kent—Middlesex.

Criminal CodeGovernment Orders

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Lianne Rood Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, as this is my first time rising to give a speech as a member of the 44th Parliament, I want to take a moment to thank the people of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex for re-electing me to this place on their behalf. It is a responsibility, honour and privilege that I do not take lightly. I am really grateful to them for sending me back here.

My re-election was made possible by everyone who supported my campaign, believed in me, had my back and helped me through this journey. With the dedication and professionalism of my team, the passion and commitment of our volunteers, the generosity and sacrifice of our donors and, of course, the love and support of family and friends, we were able to share our positive Conservative vision. I am grateful beyond words.

I would not be here without my amazing campaign team. I thank my campaign manager David Sverginsky, my official agent Doug Plummer, and the rest of my core team and staff without whom I would not be here. They are Russ Kykendall, Tony Reznowski, Yvonne Hundey, Anna Marie Young, Todd Gurd, Cheri Davies and Kim Heathcote; and the group of volunteers who canvassed with me almost every day: Archie Nugteren, Mark Etienne, Gerry Rupke, Steve Stellingwerff, Marius, Juliette, Hannah Kurjanowicz, Brandon MacDougall, and my predecessor, Bev Shipley.

I would also like to thank Julie, Angela, Holly, Candice and Jennifer for always being there and for their steadfast support throughout my political journey.

The sign crew put up over 3,000 signs. I thank them for their hard work and dedication.

A special thanks to my parents, Diane and Theo Rood, for their love and support. My dad took on the enormous task of installing the signs, removing them and just being there for me throughout this.

I thank my brothers Jeremy Rood and Steele Leacock, and my grandma, Helen Jamrozinski, for their love and support throughout this journey.

Going on to the bill that is before us, it should come as no surprise when I say the Conservatives are the party of law and order. We are the party that stands with victims of crime and their loved ones. We are the party that applies common sense and outcome-based principles to protect innocent Canadians from violent criminals who would harm others. We are the party that understands that it is criminals who are committing these crimes, not law-abiding firearms owners, anglers, hunters and sports shooters.

The Liberals claim to be serious about getting tough on crime, but their hypocritical actions speak louder than words. Last February, in the previous Parliament, the government introduced Bill C-22. The goal of this harmful legislation was to reduce the sentences for illegal gun smugglers and remove mandatory minimum sentences for many serious offences. That bill died when the election was called, but here we are again with the same bill, but with a different number.

Just months before the Prime Minister called an unnecessary election in the middle of a pandemic, my Conservative colleague introduced a private member's bill, which would have imposed tougher sentences for criminals who were caught smuggling or in possession of illegal guns, which is the larger problem.

Brian Sauvé, who is the president of the National Police Federation, has said that policies like what the Liberals are advocating for may be politically popular, but they fail to address the root cause of gun violence. He says:

The narrative is that we need to restrict gun ownership because that will curtail crime, when really the evidence is that illegal gun trafficking leads to criminals owning guns, which leads to crimes with firearms.

Therefore, we need to look at the source of the problem.

Crimes with firearms are exactly what the government claims it wants to stop, yet it voted against a bill and continues to fail to support legislation that will do just that. Does that sound like a government that is serious on tackling gun crime for the people of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex? It sounds kind of hypocritical to me.

Bill C-22 is back as Bill C-5, but with the same purpose. This legislation is a revolving door for criminals. It would do nothing to stop crime. It would do the exact opposite. It would repeal the penalties for crimes like weapons trafficking, reckless discharge of a firearm, discharge with intent to wound or endanger and armed robbery. It would also remove conditional sentencing for heinous crimes like sexual assault, kidnapping, child abduction, human trafficking, vehicle theft and arson.

That tells me the Liberal elites in Ottawa do not care about our safety or the safety of our loved ones. Conservatives like myself will always fight against harmful legislation like Bill C-5. Canadians do not want the justice system to be a constantly revolving door. Common sense must prevail for all common good.

I studied criminology in university, and I have friends who are corrections officers, probation and parole officers. I hear the same thing from them all the time. It is the same people revolving through the doors committing the same crimes over and over again. If it is a provincial offence, which is two years less a day, they will not get the kind of help they would need. If they were sent to a federal facility, they would have help for mental health and addictions problems.

The government has a role to play in ensuring that Canadians, victims of crime and their families can exist freely and without fear in our society, but in Bill C-5, the Liberals are telling Canadians that these offenses are no big deal. Is it no big deal that someone could leave prison, steal a car, rob several businesses, assaulting the occupants with a weapon, and then attack a police officer on their way out? Apparently, the Liberal government thinks that scenario only deserves a slap on the wrist, not a guaranteed minimum punishment for harmful criminal behaviour. In fact, what is proposed in this bill would allow someone who did all the above the opportunity to not even spend a single day in jail.

Again, as a Conservative, I have to stand here and attempt to bring common sense to a government that is clearly showing no indication that it has any sense left, common or not. In fact, some days it feels like the Liberals have removed the words “common sense” from the dictionary entirely.

At the end of the day, Bill C-5 gets soft on gun crime and gives great relief to criminals and offenders. It is missing any good reasons why this policy cares for, protects or prevents repeat offences against victims of violent crime in Canada. It misses the mark on what should be targeted to stop crime and illegal guns. As Winnipeg police constable Rob Carver said, “When we seize handguns, the handguns are always, almost 100 per cent, in the possession of people who have no legal right to possess them. They're almost always stolen or illegally obtained.” Again, it is not the law-abiding hunters, farmers and sport shooters who are committing serious crimes.

Let us now look at the final part of this so-called landmark progressive legislation. During an unprecedented national overdose crisis, we have a government that is actively trying to enable the criminal proliferation of drug trafficking, importing, exporting and production. Where is the sense in that?

I heard from Louis, a constituent in my riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, who asked me, “Can we address the fact that known drug dealers are getting away with murder? We lost a grandchild.” What Canadians want and need is a compassionate approach to mental health and addictions recovery, and this is not found in Bill C-5. In fact, no part of this bill even attempts to touch on the subject, and it is too busy enabling the pushers.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health estimates the economic burden of mental illness in Canada at $51 billion per year, which includes health care costs, lost productivity and reductions in health-related quality of life. Addictions and mental health issues have costly and far-reaching impacts in our society and must be given proper attention in legislation to combat the crisis.

When will the government put forward legislation to address this impact instead of using a real crisis to score cheap political talking points at the cost of protecting Canadians? The Prime Minister and the Liberal members across the floor are all talk. They talk big and they make sweet-sounding promises to address serious concerns about gender-based violence, opioid addiction, systemic racism and other forms of discrimination. They make boldfaced claims to be helping Canadians, but then offer nothing of use.

What I see, and what the constituents I represent see when the Liberals grandstand, is hypocrisy. I see before the House a bill that is soft on gun crime and soft on the criminal drug enterprise. Canadians know bills like Bill C-5 are contrary to evidence, countless news stories and the testimony of victims. It should be impossible to ignore the madness of the government’s relentless attempts to gaslight Canadians otherwise.

Canadians expect the government to stand up for the rule of law, to protect victims first and to stand up for their rights. The government should be targeting violent criminals, sexual offenders and criminal gangs, and ensuring that the Criminal Code protects Canadians. Any changes should be made in a well-informed manner that protects public safety.

As legislators, we must represent and reflect the values of the average Canadian, and Canadians consider the crimes that Bill C-5 relaxes measures against to be extremely serious. By reducing mandatory sentences for serious crimes, Bill C-5 says elected representatives do not need to be accountable to the victims of these crimes. The utter hypocrisy of this bill and those who vote for it is staggering.

To vote in favour of this bill signals a victory for violent criminals who commit some of the most heinous crimes against the most vulnerable victims in Canada. It comes at a cost to victims and their families, present and future, and to the dignity of our great nation. That is a fact I find unacceptable, and it is why I will be voting against the bill.

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6:25 p.m.

Ottawa Centre Ontario

Liberal

Yasir Naqvi LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness

Mr. Speaker, I was listening intently to the member opposite, and I really cannot believe what my ears were hearing, this vehement defence of the failed Harper, so-called “tough on crime” policies that have failed Canada over the years. They have resulted in nothing but over-incarceration of indigenous people and Black Canadians for offences that are not serious in nature. This is a defence of policies that the courts have found to be unconstitutional in many respects.

Why are the Conservatives so focused on championing policies that have failed us and not looking at data to ensure that Canadians, no matter what background they come from, have an opportunity to be able to serve their sentences in the community and to be rehabilitated and reintegrated back into society?

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6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Lianne Rood Conservative Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I talked about victims and needing to protect them. A lot of victims are exactly what the member said; they are also racialized Canadians. I believe that people who commit a crime should be punished for their crime. On mandatory minimums, when I talk to people who are working in corrections and who see these people coming in every day, they feel that if these criminals had actually done time that was reflective of the crime they committed, it would deter them from coming back again and again and committing the same crimes. We need to be protecting victims of crime here.

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6:25 p.m.

Bloc

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

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois really believes that there are distinctions to be made when it comes to mandatory minimum sentences.

As my colleague stated, we believe that this is not the right time to abolish mandatory minimums for firearm offences, given the Liberal government's failure to respond to the catastrophes and tragedies that have taken place in recent weeks and months, particularly in Montreal.

We see that the Conservative Party is hemming and hawing over gun control, particularly for assault weapons.

What concrete action is my Conservative colleague proposing to reduce murders committed with firearms if her party does not support initiatives like banning handguns?