House of Commons Hansard #204 of the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conservative.


Opposition Motion—Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Does the hon. parliamentary secretary have unanimous consent to see the clock at 5:42 p.m.?

Opposition Motion—Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Some hon. members


Opposition Motion—Carbon TaxBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

It being 5:42 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's Order Paper.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.


Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

moved that Bill C-325, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and conditional Release Act (conditions of release and conditional sentences), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Madam Speaker, I am proud to be here today to speak to my bill, which I think is very important.

Bill C-325 is important because I know that many members of the House of Commons realize that we need to do something to address the violence in our once peaceful streets and communities. As parliamentarians, we work for the public and, of course, our role is to pass laws that seek to improve the quality of life of our constituents.

I am sure that when he introduced Bill C-5, the Prime Minister was trying to do the right thing. I sincerely believe that his heart was in the right place, but we should all now realize that we need to backtrack. This country belongs to all of us. We are not only responsible for maintaining the quality of life it offers us, but we also have a solemn duty to protect it from those who flout our laws.

Canada used to have an international reputation for being extraordinarily beautiful and safe. Shootings in broad daylight used to be an other-country problem, but now, gangs are trying to establish themselves all over the country. They know that laws like Bill C‑5, which the House passed, make their criminal activity easier.

We are all politicians, but I am convinced that, when it comes to Canadians' safety and matters of life and death, order and chaos, justice and injustice, we all have the same point of view. All members of the House agree that violent criminals deserve tough sentences. All violence against women, children or any other person must be severely punished.

The Prime Minister has 24-hour security. Everywhere he goes, he is surrounded by highly trained security guards. When he goes to bed at night, they stand guard in front of his house. The Prime Minister is probably the safest Canadian there is and, as Prime Minister, he understands the importance of security. He too must see that it is time to restore order in our society for the good of Canadians.

My Bill C‑325 has two objectives.

Under the first part of this bill, violent criminals would not have the option to serve their sentences in the community. It is unthinkable that a violent criminal would have the luxury of serving his sentence in the comfort of his home while watching Netflix, but that is exactly what is happening in Quebec and across Canada.

The case of Jonathan Gravel is a good example. He received a 20-month sentence for sexually assaulting his former girlfriend, and the court allowed him to serve his sentence in the community. It is supposed to be a 20-month sentence, but he will actually serve 14 months.

As MPs, we all have a responsibility to do what we can to keep Canadians safe. I do not know any woman who finds it funny that our courts grant violent criminals the right to serve their sentences at home. As we know, judges enforce the laws that are passed here in the House.

Surely members have noticed that more and more notorious sex offenders are serving their sentences in the comfort of their homes while their victims are still psychologically traumatized and fearful of meeting their abuser on the way to work or at the end of an aisle at the grocery store.

That is one of the reasons I am asking all members of the House to support Bill C‑325. Victims deserve justice; they deserve to see violent criminals put behind bars. Serving a sentence at home with access to Netflix or Disney+ is not the best route to rehabilitation, nor does it create the conditions necessary for serious reflection.

The second part of my bill would create a Criminal Code offence for violent offenders who breach their parole conditions. It would also require probation officers to report these breaches, which is not currently the case. This provision would reduce recidivism among violent criminals.

We all remember Marylène Levesque, who was murdered by a killer who violated his parole conditions with impunity. Bill C‑325 would have put Marylène Levesque's killer behind bars immediately, and a life would have been saved.

Then there is the case of Myles Sanderson, the murderer responsible for the knife attacks in Saskatchewan last September. Despite being charged with 59 crimes, many of them violent, he was released and did not hesitate to violate his release conditions because he knew there would be no consequences. As a result, 10 people were murdered. He should not have been released, but the current law made it impossible to detain him, instead of ensuring the safety of those who became his victims.

If members believe that victims and crime prevention should come first, and that our justice system should not allow violent offenders to serve their sentences at home, then I implore them to support Bill C-325 at second reading, as several organizations do.

The president of the Canadian Police Association, the Fraternité des policiers et policières de Montréal, the founder of Montreal's Maison des guerrières, the Fédération des maisons d'hébergement pour femmes du Québec, the Murdered or Missing Persons' Families Association and Communauté de citoyens and citoyennes en action contre les crimes violents, among others, have expressed their support for Bill C‑325. They all support Bill C‑325

Earlier this year, REAL Women of Canada insisted that it is time to reconsider the 1995 Criminal Code reforms on sentencing given their failure to address the high rates of recidivism among indigenous offenders and the ongoing threats to our families and to the communities in which violent offenders are released on parole with alarming regularity.

This is what the organization said:

In the spirit of reforming Criminal Code sentencing and offender rehabilitation, REAL Women of Canada welcome the introduction on March 10, 2023...of Bill C‑325, a private member's bill...

Bill C‑325 provides a much needed opportunity for changing the way in which we protect our families and communities while also furthering the safe re-integration of offenders into society, which is ultimately the best way to protect our families and communities. A full and frank discussion on Bill C-325 provides the potential for much needed reforms and greater public awareness of the issues involved.

REAL Women of Canada looks forward to making submissions to the committee once Bill C‑325 passes second reading and proceeding to a more thorough examination of the recent shortfalls of the Parole Board of Canada to properly carry out its mandate under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. This includes parole as well as the failure of the justice system to properly protect society from dangerous offenders.

This examination should also take into account the impact of the proposed amendments in Bill C‑325 on the existing statutory requirements under the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

What is more, the president of the Canadian Police Association, Tom Stamatakis, said the following, and I quote:

The need to effectively target repeat violent offenders is significant because, as front-line law enforcement officers know all too well, a defining reality of our justice system is that a disproportionately small number of offenders are responsible for a disproportionately large number of offences. The Canadian Police Association has long advocated for statutory consequences for offenders who commit new offences while on conditional release, and this proposed legislation is a common-sense solution that effectively targets those very specific offenders.

The Fraternité des policiers et policières de Montréal stated the following, and I quote:

We welcome this bill which would strengthen public protection against violent repeat offenders and prevent dangerous offenders from serving their sentences in the community. The Montreal Police Brotherhood believes the justice system must prioritize the safety of law-abiding citizens and this bill is clearly aimed at that goal.

I will close by saying that making Canadian streets and communities safe again should not be done through a partisan process, but a common-sense one.

I hope that all members of the House will support Bill C‑325.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Madam Speaker, as all members are aware, our judicial system is a joint responsibility between provinces and the federal government. In fact, we now have a bail reform bill before the House. There was a great deal of consultation that incorporated the provincial legislatures and others regarding the form the bill should take. As a result, it has widespread support from many different stakeholders. Has the member had any consultations with provincial jurisdictions in particular? If so, could he give us a clear indication of what they have been saying on this legislation proposal?

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.


Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, as my colleague could see from the description I gave of the support that Bill C‑325 has received, it is pretty unanimous.

However, there is a distinction to be made. I think we often confuse things when we talk about bail. I know that the government is in the process of making changes to the law with Bill C‑75. For my part, I am adapting what was problematic with Bill C‑5. I am also introducing something new that does not exist anywhere else in the Criminal Code, namely making it an offence to fail to comply with release conditions. That is parole, which is different from bail. Bill C‑325 is not at all similar to what the government is currently proposing.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.


Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech and for introducing this bill, which I think is extremely important.

I would like to focus on one part of his bill. He wants to add a criminal offence for breach of conditions of conditional release for an offence listed in Schedule I or II of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

I have Schedule I here, and it covers a lot. It lists a lot of offences, such as sexual assault and very serious crimes. It also includes flight from a peace officer, failure to stop after an accident and setting fire by negligence. Far be it from me to rank various offences as that is not my goal, but I wonder if the intent is too broad in targeting all Schedule I and Schedule II offences.

Would my colleague be open to targeting certain offences in these two schedules or does he really want to cover both in their entirety? I would like him to comment on that.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.


Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question. When I was working on the bill, I initially did not want to create an offence for an individual on parole after being jailed for a minor offence.

The simplest way was to take Schedules I and II of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. There are many offences listed in these two schedules. However, we must not forget that the law also states that the judge can find an individual punishable on summary conviction. Therefore, judges have some flexibility.

Yes, I would be willing to entertain certain amendments in committee to this list, which is admittedly quite long. The objective is truly to target high-profile violent criminals and repeat offenders.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.


Lori Idlout NDP Nunavut, NU

Uqaqtittiji, when offenders are rejoining the communities, if they do it on an early conditional release, they are already required to report regularly to their parole officers. I wonder if the member could explain how this bill would improve a system that already exists.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:40 p.m.


Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. One part of this bill seeks to make it an offence when an offender on parole breaches his conditions.

Far too often, violent criminals on parole, such as Eustachio Gallese, who killed Marylène Levesque, do not care about respecting conditions. Parole officers do not have any power other than writing reports. That is why the bill seeks to make it an offence when a criminal breaches his parole conditions. This does not exist at the moment and the Canadian Police Association has been calling for this for more than 15 years.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

June 1st, 2023 / 5:45 p.m.


Iqra Khalid Liberal Mississauga—Erin Mills, ON

Madam Speaker, I am here today to speak to the private member's bill, Bill C-325, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, on conditions of release and conditional sentences. Let me be clear from the onset. I do not support this bill.

This bill would have significant negative impacts on the criminal justice system, including exacerbating the overincarceration of indigenous people, Black people and members of marginalized communities. This legislation is a backward step toward failed Harper criminal justice policies, which were struck down by the Supreme Court for being unconstitutional. I am proud to have supported the Minister of Justice and our government to reverse these bad policies.

Our approach to criminal justice prioritizes public safety and fairness. We recently introduced Bill C-48, which would reform the bail system to further these same objectives. Bill C-325's goals run contrary to key reforms enacted in former Bill C-5, which aimed to restore judicial discretion to impose fit and proportionate sentences to help address Canada's overincarceration crisis. I was the chair of the justice committee at the time that Bill C-5 was enacted through my committee.

We heard from so many witnesses about the impacts and the importance of judges not only having the discretion of how sentences are imposed, but also having the learning and the awareness of what Canada is, what it looks like and how the diversity of Canada is impacted with our judicial system. That includes ensuring that there is a gender-based analysis plus. That includes ensuring that judges understand and appreciate the lived experiences of people as they are going through the criminal justice system. That gives judges the right and the privilege, appropriately, to ensure that they are providing the right sentences to the people who are going through that system, sentences that are based on rehabilitation, not punishment. That rehabilitation is key.

The numbers really speak for themselves. In 2021-22, indigenous adults accounted for 31% of admissions to provincial and territorial custody, and 33% of admissions to federal custody, while representing only 4.3% of the Canadian adult population. Black adults accounted for 9% of the federal offender population, while representing just 4% of the Canadian adult population. Black and indigenous women are particularly overrepresented, together representing 60% of the federal female offender population.

The overrepresentation of these groups in the Canadian penal system is absolutely unacceptable. It has gone on for way too long. On this side of the House, we believe in the expertise of our judges. Our criminal justice system works better when judges can tailor punishments to suit the crimes and not when Ottawa creates overly broad policies that force judges to rule against their best judgment and their evidence. Bill C-325 would revert elements of our system back to failed Harper-era policies that clogged our prisons, wasted our resources and increased recidivism. This is dangerous, and it cannot pass.

The Conservatives' approach to public safety is one dimensional, unfortunately. They prey on fear to gain support for policies that would unduly lock more people in prison while voting against programs that address the root causes of those crimes. This is a recipe for more crime, not less.

Bill C-325 would endanger communities. I am not sure why the Conservatives think they know better than judges to evaluate public policy risks, public safety risks, but judges know best as they go through each individual crime. Conditional sentences can save lives and rescue families from division and despair. Criminal justice is not a one-size-fits-all exercise.

However, shortsightedness and fearmongering is the Conservative way. Take their opioid crisis strategy, for example. They would prefer to do away with evidence-based policies that target prevention, enforcement, treatment and harm reduction. They would prefer to build new prisons rather than solve the problem. Liberal policies have saved 46,000 people from overdose since 2017. The opioid epidemic is a health crisis, and it must be treated as one.

Restoring restrictions on the ability of judges to issue conditional sentences in appropriate situations would be a step backwards. We know that policies like Bill C-325 produce negative, disproportionate impacts on indigenous people, Black people and marginalized offenders. We refuse to undo the good work of former Bill C-5, which fights this overrepresentation and creates a fairer Canada. Allowing judges greater flexibility to order conditional sentences does not create a risk to public safety, because the current framework requires sentencing courts to ensure that the sentence would not endanger public safety and that it would be consistent with the purpose and the principles of the sentencing.

When former Bill C-5 was studied before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the Canadian Bar Association lauded the removal of restrictions on conditional sentences as “one of the most important reforms in the criminal law over the last decade.”

It is important to understand that giving judges greater flexibility in their ability to impose conditional sentences does not mean that all offenders will receive them. Individuals who pose a risk to public safety will continue to serve their sentence of imprisonment in jail. Serious crimes will have serious consequences.

Removing these restrictions on judges allows them to issue sentences to lower-risk offenders that not only aim to punish and denounce their conduct, but also focus on rehabilitation within the community. Evidence suggests this approach reduces future criminality.

Further, these proposed reforms are contrary to the government's commitment to fully implement the calls to action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including call to action 30 to eliminate the overrepresentation of indigenous people in custody over the next decade and call to action 32, which speaks to removing restrictions on the availability of conditional sentences.

I realize I am out of time. I will say again that judges need to have the discretion to give better sentences towards the aim of rehabilitation. That is why I cannot support this bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Madam Speaker, we are debating a really important issue, where every detail counts. I am not really on the same page as my colleague.

Earlier this week, I went and congratulated the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles for introducing this bill, which I think is important. It was important to address some of the gaps in Bill C‑5, which was deeply flawed. It dealt with two completely different subjects. I will come back to that.

The Bloc Québécois proposed splitting Bill C‑5 in two so that we could address those two things separately. However, that did not happen. Today, we are in a situation where we need to clean up the mess.

As I was saying, I went and congratulated my colleague. I think that is proof that the Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois can work together on public safety measures. That is what is happening here in any case.

Bill C‑325 is a very short, rather simple and fairly effective bill. As I was saying, it addresses some of the gaps in Bill C‑5. However, in this debate, some may have heard Conservatives say that Bill C‑5 was passed with the support of the Bloc Québécois. I think we need to put things into perspective here and remember the context.

First, let us recall that the purpose of Bill C‑5 was, one, to repeal certain minimum sentences and allow greater use of conditional sentences, and, two, to provide for diversion measures for simple drug possession offences. Those are, as I have said, two completely different things. We proposed splitting it, but that did not happen.

We found ourselves in a slightly awkward situation because, on the one hand, we were very reluctant to support the idea of wiping out certain mandatory minimum sentences, particularly for crimes committed with firearms. Let us not forget that, not that long ago, we were working hard on a bill to improve gun control. It feels a bit contradictory. On the other hand, we were in favour of diversion measures for simple drug possession offences.

We figured that we would amend the bill in committee, and it was my colleague from Rivière-du-Nord who proposed amendments that would have made it possible to keep the minimum sentences while giving judges the discretion to override them. In all of this, we must not forget the judges and their discretionary power. I think that, all things considered, it was a reasonable proposal. Again, it was rejected.

It was at that point that my colleague from Rivière-du-Nord promised that he himself would introduce a bill to correct the situation. I absolutely agree with the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, and I think we all agree that for certain crimes, conditional sentences should not be allowed. They should be prohibited in most cases of sexual assault, for example, as well as for crimes committed with firearms.

We know how the lottery works for private members' bills. My colleague was lucky enough to introduce his bill before the Bloc Québécois. Now, if both had been introduced at the same time, or if they had been debated in the House at the same time, we would have seen that they are extremely similar bills, with perhaps one exception.

One singularly important concept in justice, which my Conservative colleagues often tend to forget and which I mentioned earlier, is judicial discretion. At this point, let us remember that even Bill C‑5 allows judges the power to acquit a person, to hand down a sentence to be served in the community or to hand down a sentence to be served in prison. It is not true that the passage of Bill C‑5 means any offender will be able to serve their sentence in the comfort of their living room. That is not true. Judges have the option of a conditional sentence, but if they decide that the person should go to prison, they will sentence the person to prison.

Let us not forget this extremely important element and remember that conditional sentences are not automatic. Among other things, the judge must consider the risk of reoffending and the impact that a sentence served at home would have before rendering a decision. Let us also remember that there are other factors to consider in a trial. The Crown prosecutor can make a deal with the defence for a sentence in the community if they feel the circumstances warrant it. Let us remember that every case is different.

The bill that my colleague from Rivière-du-Nord intends to introduce will mention this particular judicial authority. His initiative arose from the motion unanimously adopted by Quebec's National Assembly in February to condemn the controversial legal provisions arising from Bill C‑5. The text adopted by the National Assembly, which was moved by the justice minister, Simon Jolin-Barrette, accused Ottawa of setting back the fight against sexual violence. I completely agree with the National Assembly's motion.

There has been a lot of criticism of Bill C‑5 since its adoption because men convicted of sexual assault unfortunately take advantage of it, in a rather dishonest way, to try to serve house arrest. If I had the time, I would come back to some cases that were widely reported and that I imagine my colleague relied on to introduce this bill.

Bill C‑325 has three clauses. It is a rather short bill, as I mentioned. First, it seeks to create a new offence for breach of parole conditions for certain serious offences, with a maximum sentence of two years or at least make it an offence punishable on summary conviction. Second, it would require those breaches to be reported to the appropriate authorities. Third, it would amend the Criminal Code to preclude persons convicted of certain offences from serving their sentence in the community.

I will come back to the first point. We are talking about adding a criminal offence for breach parole of conditions for offences listed take in Schedule I and Schedule II of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. I asked my colleague a question about this earlier.

I have Schedule I in front of me. As I was saying earlier to my colleague, there are offences that may be a little less serious. I do not want to create a hierarchy of offences, but there are some rather serious offences. Examples include commission of offence for terrorist group, using firearm in commission of offence, robbery, prison breach, sexual interference, child pornography, bestiality, incest, and attempt to commit murder. There are others, such as discharging firearm with intent, criminal harassment, aggravated assault, sexual assault with a weapon, hostage taking, procuring and so on. We can see that it is a long list of rather serious offences.

My colleague also referred to Schedule II, which lists mainly drug-related offences. It refers to trafficking, importing, exporting, cultivation, trafficking in controlled drugs, trafficking in restricted drugs, and distribution and possession for the purpose of distributing. This list is not quite as long, but it specifically lists drug-related offences.

The intent behind all this is to tighten the law in cases of breach of conditions or statutory release. Statutory release is almost automatic when an offender has served two-thirds of their sentence. Quite honestly, I agree with the concept, but perhaps less so for Schedule II offences.

As I asked my colleague earlier, would it not be useful to look at Schedule I and Schedule II and see whether any offences could be added or removed? We could certainly add some if necessary. I want to come back to Schedule II because, as I was saying, the Bloc Québécois is in favour of diversion for simple drug possession, so it would be a bit inconsistent on our part to include Schedule II in that.

I am reading a rather interesting book right now on drug use and the famous war on drugs waged by governments. A rather well-known scientist in the United States explained that perhaps we took the wrong approach from the very start. Even though we are investing more and more public funds in this war, drugs are still available, if not more so. Taking the example of the United States, he said the following:

Today, the American taxpayer spends approximately $35 billion each year fighting this war. Yet the drugs in question remain as plentiful, if not more so, than they were in 1981, when the sum total of America’s annual drug-control budget was a mere $1.5 billion. What has changed is that now, each year, tens of thousands of Americans die from drug-related overdoses.

Anyway, it is quite an interesting book. I know this is an emotional issue, particularly for my Conservative colleagues. To sum up, if I could make one suggestion about Bill C‑325 at this point, it might be to see which specific offences are being targeted in clause 1.

I know my colleague thought about the case of Eustachio Gallese. That was one of the first cases I studied when I joined the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in 2020. Mr. Gallese killed a 23-year-old woman while on day parole for the 2004 murder of his wife. He clearly violated his parole conditions by visiting massage parlours for sexual purposes, which was illegal. He also dated women without notifying his parole officer, which was also prohibited.

The Parole Board of Canada acted too late. It revoked Gallese's day parole after the woman had died, when he was already in prison and serving a life sentence.

I see that my time is up. I will come back to this at another time.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:05 p.m.


Lori Idlout NDP Nunavut, NU

Uqaqtittiji , I will first acknowledge that I rise on Algonquin Anishinabe territory on the first day of National Indigenous History Month.

I hope that during this month, especially, we all make an extra effort to learn more about indigenous history in Canada. Indigenous history needs to be more visible. As an Inuk from Nunavut, I have observed how hidden Canada's treatment toward Métis, Inuit and first nations is for mainstream Canadians. This has resulted in a lot of ignorance and racism against indigenous peoples. We, as indigenous peoples, generally continue to live on the fringes of Canada's society, and we must take opportunities like this month to move progress on the well-being of Inuit, Métis and first nations.

There are many contributing factors to keeping indigenous peoples on the fringes of society, including the criminal justice system; decades of genocidal policies implemented by the federal, provincial and territorial governments; and the lack of trauma-informed services provided by all governments.

Bill C-325, an act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, regarding conditions of release and conditional sentences, is problematic for many reasons. As such, the NDP will not support the passing of this bill. From what I have learned, this bill proposes to amend the Criminal Code in three main areas: conditional release, reporting, and sentences served in the community, which emerged out of Bill C-5. I will speak to each of these areas.

For conditional release, unfortunately this bill would not improve or supplement improvements to the current system of conditional releases. According to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, all offenders must be considered for some form of conditional release during their sentence. This is their right. Further, it is inaccurate. This assertion is false, as even with the reform of Bill C-5, judges are not allowed to sentence those who present a risk to the public to serving their sentences in the community. Judges are not allowed to grant bail to those who present a risk to public safety.

I take this opportunity to inform Canadians that conditional release does not mean the sentence is shortened. It means the remainder of the sentence may be served in the community under supervision and with specific conditions. I will be clear: When there is an early release, there are conditions that must be met, including reporting to parole officers, especially when there are compliance issues. This addresses the second element of Bill C-325.

The third element of this bill, which I find is the most problematic, is regarding prohibiting conditional releases in communities. Proposals to amend section 145(5) and the failure to comply for a conviction in relation to offences set out in Schedule I and Schedule II of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act are punitive and overreaching. Bill C-325 would make all parole violations a new criminal offence and would require parole officers to report all parole violations, no matter how minor, to the police and the parole board. This would result only in early termination of parole and in offenders being released at the end of their sentence, without the supervision they would have received if on parole.

Dr. Ivan Zinger, a correctional investigator, reported in 2020 that while indigenous people make up 4.9% of the total population, they make up just over 30% of the people in Canada's prisons. This percentage has increased over the last five years as rates of overincarceration are decreasing. Dr. Zinger further said that indigenous women, racialized women and women who live in poverty are incarcerated at even higher rates than their male counterparts. He reported that indigenous women make up 42% of the population in women’s prisons. This is the fastest-growing prison population in Canada as it has increased by over 60% in the last 10 years.

Bill C-325 would not improve conditions for marginalized Canadians, it would only further marginalize them. If this bill were truly about justice, there would be proposals that addressed systemic changes that are in dire need. We need to make sure the system can focus effectively on those who present the greatest threats to public safety, and stop the over-detention and overincarceration of indigenous, racialized and marginalized Canadians.

New Democrats are committed to meaningful reforms to the bail system. Unlike the Conservatives who pander to partisan fundraising dollars, New Democrats are interested in using Parliamentary time and resources in getting meaningful results for Canadians for a more just and equal, as well as a safer, society.

Indigenous rehabilitation must be culturally sensitive and trauma-informed and further support integration into communities. Other members have reminded all of us that there are truth and reconciliation calls to justice, specifically numbers 30 and 32. These calls to action must finally be implemented.

Other examples that exist include the Tupiq program, which I hope is implemented in Nunavut as it is currently a federal program serving federal inmates outside of Nunavut. Tupiq could help to reduce recidivism and it is a way for Nunavummiut to re-enter their communities.

I thank Kosta H. Barka, and the article called “Attending to the Needs of Inuit Inmates in Canada: Exploring the Perceptions of Correctional Officers and Nunavut Officials” for this important information.

In conclusion, the Conservative rhetoric on their “tough on crime” approach does not protect victims. Bill C-325 would not ensure justice for victims. As such, I repeat that New Democrats would not support the passage of this bill.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.


Raquel Dancho Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by recognizing the hard work done by the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles on this bill and on the issue of public safety.

Our justice system is broken. The catch-and-release policies that the Liberal Party introduced in Bill C-75 and Bill C-5 have led to a 32% spike in violent crime across the country.

As the Conservative Party's shadow minister for public safety, I meet with public safety workers from all across the country. What am I hearing from police officers? They tell me we need to increase funding. However, what they really need is to stop arresting the same repeat offenders and violent offenders every weekend. Sometimes the police are on a first-name basis with these individuals because they have arrested them so many times. Sometimes they arrest them again the very next day. These repeat offenders get back out on the streets and go right back to terrorizing innocent Canadians by committing violent crimes.

We are seeing this in Vancouver. Last year, 40 individuals were responsible for 6,000 violent crimes. It is easy to imagine how much better police officers could do if those 40 individuals could be kept behind bars. How many networks of drug traffickers, gun smugglers, human traffickers and other complex criminal networks could be dismantled if police were not forced to deal with the 40 people responsible for 6,000 incidents who are spreading fear among Vancouverites?

It is the same thing in all the towns that I have heard about. Police officers are exhausted and are suffering serious PTSD because they are overworked. No amount of money can solve this problem. The only solution is a government that focuses on fighting crime, on jail, not bail, for violent repeat offenders, and on improving the parole system to keep dangerous criminals behind bars.

Measures like those would definitely help the police fight violent crime and would really bolster the fight against gun violence. That is what the Toronto Police Service and the premiers of every province and territory are saying. They all agree. They have written to the Prime Minister many times calling for bail reform. These kinds of measures would really have an impact on reducing gun violence.

Instead, the Liberal government is spending an estimated $6 billion on its so-called firearms buyback program, which is really a confiscation program. That is where the Liberals are sending resources. That is their priority. A Conservative government led by the member for Carleton would get Canadians results, clean up our streets and reduce gun violence. That is our commitment to Canadians.

We need a complete overhaul of the Liberal system, which has caused violent crime to skyrocket across the country and has led to innocent Canadians being killed by repeat violent offenders. The member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles introduced Bill C-325 a few weeks ago. This bill would fix the major flaws in Bill C-5, which allows repeat violent offenders to serve their sentences at home, and would keep Canadians safe in their communities.

The bill makes three important changes to our justice system. The first has to do with parole. Some inmates are charged with serious and violent crimes, including drug trafficking or worse, yet they are granted parole and face no consequences if they breach their release conditions. The police may catch an offender breaching their conditions, but all they can do is submit a report to the parole officer. This bill amends the law to introduce consequences for non-compliance with release conditions.

As far as parole officers are concerned, the bill requires them to notify the authorities when one of their parolees breaches their conditions. If that happens, the parole officer must inform the police so that an arrest can be made. These are violent offenders. This seems like a common-sense policy to us. However, the reality is that it is not currently mandatory to report repeat violent offenders who breach their conditions.

Finally, this bill fixes the “Netflix sentences” created by Bill C‑5. The third component of the bill seeks to correct the problem created by Bill C‑5, that of allowing violent criminals to serve their sentences in the community by sitting at home watching Netflix. Bill C-325 would strengthen the parole system by creating a new offence for breaching conditions. It would require parole officers to report breaches of conditions and would reinstate the old version of section 742.1 of the Criminal Code, which was repealed by the Liberals' Bill C-5.

That bill made it possible for criminals convicted of aggravated sexual assault to serve their sentence in the community. That is very serious. I hope that this monumental error will be fixed and that the Bloc Québécois and NDP members will support Bill C‑325. Those violent criminals should not get to serve their sentences at home while watching Netflix. They should be behind bars. I remind members that because of Bill C‑5, a 42-year-old man managed to avoid prison after committing a violent sexual assault.

Even a Quebec Crown prosecutor criticized the government for Bill C‑5. He said that, right now, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice probably owe victims of sexual assault an explanation, and that he could not remain silent about this regressive situation.

It is clear that we cannot trust the Liberals to protect women and children from violent repeat offenders. With the support of the Bloc Québécois and the NDP, the Liberals are putting Canadians at increasing risk of becoming victims of violent crimes.

Only a Conservative government led by the member for Carleton will make legislative changes to improve public safety with bills such as Bill C‑325, proposed by the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles.

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba


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

Madam Speaker, listening to what the member was saying, one can easily draw the conclusion that the private member's bill is fully endorsed, supported and part of the Conservative agenda, with this “tough on crime” attitude Conservatives take on, particularly the far right Conservatives, which is somewhat concerning in itself.

I want to view it from a different approach, and I do not know how many times I heard this from the Minister of Justice himself, that serious crimes deserve serious consequences. There is no doubt the Government of Canada takes very seriously the issue of crime in our communities, our safety and so forth. The actions to date by this government have clearly amplified that.

The question I posed to the sponsor of the bill we are debating this evening was related to the issue of consultation and the work the member has done. Members will notice that, in the response to the question I posed, the member did not work with the different provinces and territories in consultation, or at least report specifically on the provinces' contribution to the debate or the bill the member has brought forward. I do not recall hearing the member say it was provinces X, Y and Z, or a territory or indigenous leadership community supporting the legislation being proposed by the member.

It is important that we recognize, when we talk about our judicial system, that it is a joint responsibility between the provinces, territories, indigenous leaders and Ottawa. To amplify that, I would suggest that one only needs to look at Bill C-48, which is a very important piece of legislation. Prior to it, Conservatives were jumping out of their seats saying that we had to get tough on bail reform, and all that kind of stuff. While they were jumping from their seats, the government was doing its consultations, listening and responding to what the provinces and others were saying about the issue of how we can work together to recognize the importance of having bail reform. There was an opportunity.

Not that long ago we had the discussion in the House. I made the suggestion, and it seemed that members on all sides of the House were supporting the initiatives being taken in Bill C-48. I even cited some very specific quotes because we all know that Bill C-48 is very much a reflection of not only what the provinces and territories in particular were saying, but also what politicians of different political stripes were saying, as well as law enforcement agencies and different advocacy groups. The government did its homework. It did it through consultations. I do not think anyone was coming forward, at least not that I am aware of, saying that conditional sentences should be outright turned into a criminal breach, if in fact there is a violation of a conditional sentence, no matter how minor it might be.

Again, I look to the introducer of the legislation and what we are debating with Bill C-325. Does he realize that, by making it a criminal offence, which is what the legislation is attempting to do, it could criminalize someone on a conditional sentence that does not fall under the Criminal Code? If so, does he not have any issues with that?

One has to question the issue of our judicial system and its independence. They often talk about Bill C-5, which is an important piece of legislation that ultimately enabled judges to have more discretion with things like conditional sentences. The legislation recognized that there are injustices, whether in Black or indigenous communities. There is overrepresentation, and we need to be open to alternatives.

I have more faith in our judges than I do in the Conservative Party members, who tend to want to use the Criminal Code or a tough-on-crime approach in order to generate more money for the Conservative Party of Canada or to appear on a bumper sticker. I believe, as I stated at the very beginning of my comments, that serious crimes deserve serious consequences. I also believe that having conditional sentences for people who do not pose any risk to the public can be a win-win.

Unlike the Conservatives, I recognize the fact that there is a revolving door. We need to recognize that when we lock someone up, eventually, they will come out. Looking at ways in which we can minimize crimes and prevent them from taking place in the first place should be a priority. It is a priority for the government—

Criminal CodePrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.


The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. member will have three minutes the next time this matter is before the House.

The time provided for the consideration of Private Members' Business has now expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the Order Paper.

It being 6:30 p.m., this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

Good night, everybody.

(The House adjourned at 6:30 p.m.)