Mr. Speaker, I would like some clarification. I am not wearing a tie. Will I be entitled to vote?
Won her last election, in 1997, with 40% of the vote.
Committees Of The House November 20th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, I would like some clarification. I am not wearing a tie. Will I be entitled to vote?
Young Offenders Act November 8th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, I am happy to join in the debate because it gives me an opportunity to respond to yet another Reform simple minded, facile, quick fix proposal.
Reform Party members have already made up their minds about the Young Offenders Act. The thought that they want to amend it now certainly rings hollow. The Reform fresh start pamphlet says under the category of safe streets that Reformers promise to eliminate the Young Offenders Act and replace it with laws making juvenile offenders accountable for their actions. If they want to eliminate it, I have no idea why they want to amend it at this time. Inconsistency, I suppose, is not something that they have any trouble dealing with because they are inconsistent in many ways.
They claim that the people of Canada are obsessed by youth crime. They use inflammatory rhetoric and, quite frankly, misleading information or misinformation to support that claim and to fire up the public who listen to them without realizing that they do not have the statistics, the numbers or the research to back up what they say.
What is interesting to me is that the member for Crowfoot, who is the only member of the Reform Party who travels with the justice committee which I chair, has said from the very beginning that he thinks the age should be lowered. He thinks we should change the publication terms of the act. He is still saying the same thing after five weeks of touring the country and listening to people on all sides of the issue. Members of his party are still saying the same thing they were saying during the last election campaign. They have not listened to Canadians.
In an absolutely unbelievable act yesterday, those members moved to try to prevent the justice committee from completing its deliberations by hearing from Canadians across the country. I am happy to announce to all of Canada today that their little, cynical act did not work. I can announce that the justice committee, on November 22, will spend a day with 40 experts and ordinary citizens from across the country trying to reconcile the different views on the issue of youth justice.
Members of the Reform Party tried to prevent us from hearing from Canadians. They tried to prevent us, at the same time, because the hearings will be televised, from sharing this massive information and discussion with all of Canada. They tried to prevent us from doing that. They tried to stifle debate. However, we caught them and we stopped them. Fortunately for Canadians, we will have an excellent chance to review all of these issues.
Members of the Reform Party have tried to pre-empt debate today by bringing this motion, knowing that it is their intention to eliminate the act altogether. But I have it figured out. They know they will never form a government, so they will never get a chance to eliminate the act in any event.
The first speaker from the Reform Party talked about and quoted an eminent psychiatrist from Vancouver, Dr. Roy O'Shaughnessy. Dr. O'Shaughnessy also said what the member for Crowfoot and the mover of this motion have conveniently not included. Dr. O'Shaughnessy commented on the age of 12 years as being the cut-off age in the Young Offenders Act. As a developmental psychiatrist with an expertise in child development, when I told him that age 12 was a fairly arbitrary selection that was a compromise among the different provincial views, he said to me: "Oh, is that not funny? I thought it was chosen because in terms of child development it is the perfect age. It is the average age at which one could attribute some form of culpability". It is funny that the member for Crowfoot did not quote that.
The mover of the motion said that Liberals have done nothing with respect to the Young Offenders Act and, by inference, with respect to youth justice. Let me quote Sean Durkan who is a columnist with the Sun chain of newspapers. In the Ottawa Sun in July 1994 Mr. Durkan said the following: ``Jean Chrétien's red book brigade has introduced more tough law and order legislation in a little under nine months in office than the Tories did during nine years in power''.
Under our red book commitment we said this: "Every person has a right to personal security and a Liberal government will move to protect that right, with particular attention being paid to those who today, by virtue of gender, sex, religion, age or sexual orientation, are more likely to be targets of violent crime".
We then introduced Bill C-41, which was given royal assent in July of 1995 to provide that in sentencing a judge must consider those characteristics.
Did the Reform Party join us in trying to make the streets of Canada safer, in trying to make the homes of Canada safer? No, instead it focused on the words sexual orientation in that bill. Its members voted against it.
We promised in the red book to strengthen gun control: "A Liberal government will, among other measures, counter the illegal importation of banned and restricted firearms into Canada and prohibit anyone convicted of an indictable drug related offence, a stalking offence or any violent offence from owning or possessing a gun". We had massive public backing for this, including the active support of the Canadian Police Association. Did the Reform Party support it? No.
We promised to reform the Young Offenders Act to increase sentence length for violent crimes, to ensure that treatment and rehabilitation services are available to all convicted young offenders and we promised to review the act. Bill C-37 amended the Young Offenders Act. Are Reformers commenting on that? No.
Nor are they admitting that it created longer sentences in youth court for young people where first or second degree murder applied; that it transferred 16 and 17-year olds charged more easily to adult court; that it provided better rehabilitation for lesser crimes; that it improved measures for information sharing, which they are talking about today. Did they admit that? No.
This motion is somewhat disingenuous. It is inconsistent with their party policies. It is inconsistent with their participation in the justice committee review of the Young Offenders Act, another promise that we are keeping, and it is inconsistent with anyone who is concerned about family values and about safer streets. Why do they not just play ball?
I will tell members why. It is just politics as usual with the Reformers. They do not care about anything but getting re-elected.
We are very busy in the Commons justice committee trying to make the streets safer for Canadians and trying to deal honestly, openly and fairly with young people who go astray in our society.
Committees Of The House November 8th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present in both official languages the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs.
Pursuant to the order of reference of Tuesday, June 11, 1996, your committee has considered Bill C-17, an act to amend the Criminal Code and certain other acts, and your committee has agreed to report it without amendment.
Committees Of The House November 6th, 1996
Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs.
Pursuant to the order of reference of Tuesday, October 1, 1996, your committee has considered Bill C-53, an act to amend the Prisons and Reformatories Act and your committee has agreed to report it without amendment.
Prisons And Reformatories Act September 17th, 1996
Madam Speaker, as the government has stated, Bill C-53 is an excellent example of both the government's continuing commitment to responsible criminal justice reform and a positive federal, provincial and territorial collaboration.
Our correctional system divides its responsibilities between two levels of government and among 13 separate provincial and territorial jurisdictions. While each level of government and each jurisdiction has its own unique challenges, there are many issues common to all of them which face all of them. Now more than ever it is important that we work in collaboration to share our expertise and experience in addressing these common problems.
It is no secret that all jurisdictions have been experiencing prison population growth in recent years. This population growth threatens to outstrip available resources. At the same time those very government resources have been declining. These pressures, if we do not seek effective solutions, will undermine any jurisdiction's ability to effectively treat, manage and return offenders to the community as law-abiding citizens. That, after all, is our shared goal.
From 1989-90 to 1994-95 the federal penitentiary population grew by 22 per cent. During this same time period, provincial prison populations grew on average by about 12 per cent. While this growth was occurring, the reported crime rate was actually declining. Why have we seen this increase in prison populations? In fact there are a number of reasons.
There are indications that at the provincial level more custodial sentences are being given by the courts and for longer periods of time. There has also been a significant growth in the number of charges for sexual and other forms of assault. At the federal level there have been fewer conditional releases granted and more revocations of those releases that are granted.
The net result is that Canada's incarceration rate is simply very high by world standards. In fact, among western countries it is one of the highest. The combined federal, provincial and territorial incarceration rate is 130 youth and adult offenders for 100,000 population. This places us far above European countries such as the Netherlands at 51 per 100,000, or Germany at 81 per 100,000.
Even among western democracies there are considerable differences in culture, values and social institutions which make it difficult to assume that direct adoption of the practices of other nations would be viable. Nevertheless when our incarceration rate is so dramatically higher than many of our European partners, it is incumbent on us to ask some tough questions as to why this might be so. Some believe for example that the criminal justice system today is too often used to deal with social problems that could be handled more effectively by other social services or programs or by greater collaboration among health and social program areas and the criminal justice system.
In particular we need to be sure that the criminal justice system is making the most effective use of community health and social resources in preparing offenders for returning to our communities as law-abiding citizens. All jurisdictions have traditionally considered community corrections to be a viable alternative to incarceration for low risk offenders.
Today community based programs are increasingly important as cost effective correctional alternatives that can be used to offset escalating institutional populations and costs. When an offender should be imprisoned because of the risk they pose to the public, that is where they should and will remain. This is not a question of dollars and cents; it becomes a question rather of public safety. Where that public safety can be achieved through controlled reintegration into the community, then that is the best way to ensure that scarce taxpayers' dollars are spent on incarcerating only those offenders who truly must be incarcerated or who truly need to be incarcerated.
Some community based measures which have been integral parts of correctional practice for years are being given more emphasis today. These include things such as bail verification and supervision programs, electronic monitoring, house arrest, fine option programs, victim-offender reconciliation programs, enhanced probation, and community based treatment programs. All of these programs have at their heart the diversion of low risk offenders out of the criminal justice system or to a lower degree of control within the system when it is safe and consistent with criminal justice objectives to do so.
Early intervention to divert offenders before a criminal behaviour pattern has been established is regarded by many as a sound method to avoid future criminal involvement and the associated costs to society.
Many such programs have been developed and tested on both an experimental and an ongoing basis. Recent consultations have revealed that there is a renewed interest in many jurisdictions and that there are many such programs being implemented or considered.
The reforms in Bill C-53 provide an excellent opportunity to build on this renewed interest. These improvements to the provincial temporary absence legislation will provide a sound and flexible framework for provinces and territories to provide community based management of offenders in appropriate cases. Offenders who are able to work can continue to do so while others can pursue treatment, educational, vocational or other programs in the community, all while subject to correctional control.
As I said at the outset, all jurisdictions are facing common problems with regard to escalating workload pressures in the criminal justice field. Solutions are being sought in diverse ways but with many common themes. Sharing knowledge about these efforts, working together to expand our knowledge about the problems and potential solutions, and engaging in collaborative efforts can maximize the results of each of our individual efforts and benefit all jurisdictions.
Prisons And Reformatories Act September 17th, 1996
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to say a few words in support-
Justice And Legal Affairs June 19th, 1996
Madam Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), your committee has agreed to the first report of the subcommittee on national security.
I also have the honour to present in both official languages the second report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs. Pursuant to the order of reference of June 18, 1996, your committee has considered Bill C-45, an act to amend the Criminal Code, judicial review of parole ineligibility, and another act.
Your committee has agreed to report it with out amendments.
Wildlife June 14th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources.
In Windsor and Essex County monarch butterflies are a familiar and welcome sight when in the fall they mass together in a spectacular display to migrate south from Point Pelee and Pelee Island. Experts say the habitat loss in the butterflies' wintering area in Mexico is causing their decline.
What is the government doing to ensure the conservation of this beautiful and delicate species?
Reform Party Of Canada June 10th, 1996
Mr. Speaker, Reform tried to put on a new face this weekend but it is more like new make-up over an old face. Canadians will not be fooled. Reformers' vision of a new Canada for the 21st century in reality is a return to a Canada of the 19th century. It is an old vision dressed up in code language.
Reformers talk about maintaining our health care system, but they plan a two tier system. They focus on personalizing social programs, but that is just code language for dismantling them and returning to a survival of the fittest society. For them equality is a question of using the right language and avoiding attack by the media. Reform equality is equality of the jungle.
Eliminating the GST means incorporating it into a new FST. Reformers are proposing tax cuts. It sounds attractive and that is why they are doing it. They have not told Canadians how they plan to eliminate the deficit, cut taxes, create jobs and install a flat tax
system all in three years. And all the while they claim the high road of honesty and integrity.
Reform has indicated its plan to woo voters with new make-up.
Criminal Code May 31st, 1996
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to address the House on private member's Bill C-224, an act to amend the Criminal Code with respect to the arrest without warrant provisions.
The hon. member has spoken, as is his wont to do, with quite a bit of passion about the bill. In reality his bill does two things, one of which was done a long time ago in the Criminal Code.
He is trying to set out in section 495 of the code the authority of a peace officer to arrest without warrant someone who on reasonable grounds is believed to have breached or who is about to breach a condition of probation. Second, he wants to amend the same provision to give new authority to the peace officer to arrest without warrant an offender who on reasonable grounds is believed to have breached or who is about to breach a condition of parole or unescorted temporary absence.
What is interesting about this is that while public protection from conditionally released offenders is a matter of very serious concern to the government, an area where we have already made several legislative and practical improvements, there are some misconceptions which have to be cleared up.
With respect to violation of probation conditions, I stress that section 740 of the Criminal Code, which the hon. member may not have directed his attention to, already authorizes a peace officer to arrest without warrant persons found to be breaching a condition of their probation. More specifically, his bill tries to put the same condition into another section, which is redundant. This provision defines breach of probation as a criminal offence, which is very important.
Pursuant to Section 495 of the code, is the focus of this private member's bill, police have the authority to arrest without warrant any person who is caught in the act of committing a criminal offence. A breach of probation is a criminal offence.
Nevertheless, this is an important public protection issue which the government has taken many steps to effectively address. I really would like to set the record straight on this.
With respect to breach of a probation order the government has tightened the provisions in the code to promote stricter compliance with these orders. Bill C-41, which was opposed because of the two little words sexual orientation by the member who proposes this bill, comes into force in the next few months, allowing a breach of probation to be prosecuted, not just summarily but also by indictment, which means much higher penalties.
This change means police will have the authority to arrest without warrant any person who on reasonable grounds is believed to have breached or is about to breach a condition of probation.
This fully addresses the first amendment proposed by the hon. member, and quite frankly makes clause 1(1) of his bill redundant.
Bill C-41 also increases the penalty for breach of probation on summary conviction to 18 months. The hon. member opposed that bill. In the case of an indictable conviction it increases it to two years. It actually goes much farther than Bill C-224 does.
With respect to breaches of parole and unescorted temporary absence conditions, the current legislation provides authority for the National Parole Board and Correctional Service Canada to issue a suspension warrant for the offender's arrest by police. This authority for a suspension warrant is provided under section 116 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act for unescorted temporary absences from an institution and under section 135 of the same act for breaches of parole.
Both the correctional service and the parole board have the authority to issue suspension warrants for an offender on an unescorted temporary absence where grounds for granting the absence have changed or no longer exist or when new information becomes available that would alter the original decision.
With respect to an offender on parole, Correctional Service Canada and the parole board can issue suspension warrants at any time when they believe it to be necessary and reasonable in order to protect society.
I agree that some may reasonably question why the police do not have the same direct authority to arrest parolees as they do for probationers. There is an answer to that. It lies in the fact that a condition of probation is set out in a court disposition. It is the breach of that order or the expected breach of that order which gives the officer the right to arrest without warrant.
A breach of probation becomes a criminal offence because it constitutes a violation of a court order or defiance of a court order. When a breach of probation occurs, police have the authority to arrest without warrant, as they would any other person committing a criminal offence.
Parole and temporary absences, on the other hand, are not court orders. They are conditional release terms granted by the parole board or Correctional Service Canada which are designed to facilitate the reintegration of offenders into the community of law-abiding citizens. These conditions place limits on the freedoms of parolees while they are out of the correctional facility. They could apply to a variety of matters, conditions such as the requirement to return to a halfway house at a specific time, curfews, restrictions placed on the offender that assist the parole supervisor in managing him or her. Their mobility may be limited to a certain part of the country, their freedom of association and many other factors.
Breaches of these conditions do not constitute criminal activity. Board members and Correctional Service Canada staff are people in a position to determine when they have to suspend.
The real question the hon. member's bill raises is whether current police powers and correctional practices are sufficient to enable police to respond promptly to situations involving conditionally released offenders.
There have been several initiatives to improve the flow of information from the correctional service and the parole board to police to allow the police to better manage conditionally released federal prisoners and to keep the parole board and the correctional service more efficiently informed in the event something like this does happen. These steps include a new correctional policy ensuring that the police are notified in advance about every offender who is being released. They include a requirement ensuring that police receive all relevant correctional information about any high risk offender being released at sentence expiry, and this is enshrined in law under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
Also included are a computer link that gives police direct access to information on conditionally released offenders, including the conditions of their release, and a national network of correctional officers that police can contact 24 hours a day whenever they suspect a federal offender has breached a release condition.
Upon being advised by police of a breach or a potential breach of parole, the correctional officer can issue the suspension warrant on the spot to ensure the police can then respond as quickly as possible.
The act further authorizes the facsimile transmission of warrants, giving police officers the authority to arrest offenders without warrant on the knowledge that one has been issued. This is simply a case of the law catching up with technology but doing so for the protection of society.
There have been amendments to the code to enable police and courts to better intervene in situations in which a person's conduct may be potentially threatening. Section 161.1 allows a court to make an order prohibiting an offender who has been convicted of a sex offence involving a child from being in the vicinity of a school or playground. Section 264 addresses the new offence of criminal harassment to cover stalking.
Bill C-42 the government passed to make it easier for those who are victims of domestic abuse to seek conditions of a recognisance to keep the offender away.
Through these changes, policy improvements and information mechanisms police officers have sufficient authority and the means available to promptly intervene whenever they observe federal offenders in breach of the conditions of their release.
Although the hon. member suggests police are limited in the actions they can take or face unreasonable delays in taking that action, I emphasize he has brought no concrete evidence forward. In the absence of such evidence, giving police broader authority to
arrest without warrant for non-criminal conduct runs the risk of being defeated by a charter challenge.
The hon. member's bill draws attention to the important issue of better protection from conditionally released offenders. The government supports this objective fully and has moved on many fronts to ensure that police officers are well informed about the release of offenders and can intervene in a timely and effective manner whenever necessary.
In considering new legislative initiatives, however, we have to be mindful that they address real gaps and rectify real problems that cannot be dealt with by other mechanisms. There is simply no basis and no foundation for the amendments proposed in this private member's bill.
I will comment on the what the justice committee has done with respect to private member's bills and correct a couple of things the hon. member has said.
At the present time there are four proposed amendments to the Criminal Code in that committee, not all from the hon. member's party; one from an independent member, two from the Bloc and one from the Reform Party. The committee, because of the new freedom in terms of government members voting freely on private members' bills, has put in place with the consent and the approbation of the Reform Party and the Bloc a procedure so that these bills cannot get buried in committee, that they will be treated with the respect they deserve. This bill, however, simply misses the mark.