- His favourite word was offence.
Last in Parliament November 2005, as Liberal MP for Northumberland—Quinte West (Ontario)
Lost his last election, in 2008, with 29% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Criminal Code November 21st, 2005
Madam Speaker, I understand the member's concern for the hunting and fishing communities and those who enjoy our wildlife and the sport that wildlife provide. I use the term “sport” because obviously those who are truly sporting are people who treat animals in a humane way.
There may be exceptions to the rule, but clearly this bill is trying to approach those who would in fact take advantage of a situation, as was suggested by my colleague, and would maim animals. That is simply inappropriate.
A question has been raised in the House concerning this bill on which I would like the hon. member's opinion. If someone does something that is considered to be brutal or vicious in the way in which the person kills an animal but the animal dies instantly, does the member think there should be a variation in the way in which that person is treated in relation to that particular situation? An example would be if someone tied a dog to a railroad track and a train came along and killed it instantly. Would he look at it differently if the dog was only maimed by the train and ultimately died later?
Criminal Code November 21st, 2005
Mr. Speaker, as members are aware, Bill C-13, an act to amend the Criminal Code, DNA Identification Act and the National Defence Act was passed, one might say, with some haste by the House and the Senate last May.
Major amendments were adopted by the House standing committee, including amendments to effect a compromise among the parties, that expanded the definition of “designated offence” and the scope of the retroactive DNA data bank order provisions which were aimed at collecting DNA from offenders convicted of serious crimes prior to June 30, 2000. The bill, as amended, received the support of all parties.
The bill provided for a limited number of amendments to come into force on royal assent and the rest to come into force on proclamation. The important amendments in force are those that expand the retroactive DNA collection scheme in the Criminal Code and those that simplify communication of DNA profiles between laboratories to determine whether a crime scene profile matches another profile in the national DNA data bank.
The major amendments in Bill C-13 that have not yet been brought into force include the changes to the definitions of designated offences which will allow for the making of many more DNA data bank orders and will allow the police to apply for a DNA warrant in many more cases and the provisions allowing a judge to fix a time and place for taking a DNA sample from a convicted offender and authorizing the issuing of a warrant for the arrest of that offender if he does not show up as required.
Officials from Justice Canada, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, Correctional Service Canada, the RCMP, the national DNA data bank and the provinces have been preparing for the proclamation of the remaining provisions. They have identified certain technical problems that should be corrected prior to proclamation and certain procedures that should be modified to increase the efficiency and reduce costs.
Because it is urgent to adopt this bill before the budget may be defeated, the changes were drafted and passed, even though their thorough examination, the review of the necessary consequential amendments and the identification of all the consequences and of the changes required, which took place at report stage, at third reading or in the other place, were not available.
I will not list all the technical problems in Bill C-13 that the officials have requested to be fixed and which have led to the amendments that have been incorporated in Bill C-72. However Bill C-72 includes provisions to amend the legislation to address the following problems.
First, the amendments to the definitions of primary designated offence and secondary designated offence do not fit together.
Second, the forms were not changed to reflect the changes made in the procedures for obtaining an order in retroactive proceedings and in the definition of secondary designated offence.
Third, the French and English versions of the clause in the DNA Identification Act authorizing the commissioner to provide further information in a moderate match case are different.
Fourth, the French and English versions of the section authorizing the international sharing of DNA profiles set out different information the commissioner can provide. The English version forbids the sending of profiles internationally, which could hamper Canada assisting its international partners through Interpol.
Bill C-72 also proposes changes requested by the provinces to streamline procedures and reduce costs.
The decision to amend Bill C-13 so that those convicted of murder, sexual offence or manslaughter are targeted by the provisions on the taking of DNA samples resulted in an additional 4,000 individuals being targeted by these provisions.
The Criminal Code provides that, in these cases, hearings are held ex parte. However, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that an offender has the right to get a notice of the order for retroactive application and to appear during the hearing for that application, unless there is a risk that the individual might flee.
Because a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada is not expected for more than a year, the other provinces have decided, as a precaution against an adverse judgment, to serve notice on all persons against whom they are seeking an authorization to take a DNA sample, including incarcerated offenders. Many offenders are incarcerated in a province other than the one where they committed the offence. The police and the Crown in the jurisdiction where the offence took place are best placed to make the application for the order.
There is concern that many of these offenders will seek to be represented. Transporting these incarcerated offenders around the country for hearings would be very expensive for Correctional Services Canada and could present serious risk of flight by offenders who are serving lengthy sentences with little prospect of being released. The officials have therefore proposed that the DNA legislation permit retroactive hearings by video link, and this change is proposed in Bill C-72.
Another procedural change that will simplify procedures and reduce costs is the amendment proposed by Bill C-72 with respect to the procedure respecting those cases where the national DNA data bank has received, for inclusion in the convicted offenders' index, a sample taken pursuant to an order that on its face does not refer to a conviction for a designated offence. As members know, the Criminal Code only authorizes the making of a DNA data bank order where the person has been convicted of a designated offence. Nevertheless, the data bank has now received more than 700 such orders and accompanying seized samples of body substances.
Section 5.1 of the DNA Identification Act, as enacted by the former bill, Bill C-13, provides that the commissioner of the RCMP is to return such orders to the attorney general for the province where the conviction was obtained or to the director of military prosecutions. They are to investigate the matter and if they conclude that the making of an order was, indeed, not authorized by the Criminal Code or the National Defence Act because the person had not been convicted of a designated offence, they are to seek from a judge of the appellate court an order quashing the authorization.
Last August, Ontario proposed a resolution in the criminal law section of the Uniform Law Conference that this procedure be changed so that:
where the Attorney General agrees that the order was taken for a non-designated offence, the Attorney General confirms this in writing to the Commissioner of the National Databank who would then be authorized to destroy the sample.
This resolution was adopted and, having reviewed this matter in light of the discussions at the Uniform Law Conference, the government has concluded that it is not necessary to revoke the DNA data bank orders as they have been carried out precisely as the court had ordered.
The commissioner of the RCMP is not, however, blindly to process the bodily sample and enter the profile in accordance with the order that is received. He has an independent duty to decide whether the order meets the requirements of the DNA Identification Act.
The proposed amendment in Bill C-72 would simplify the procedure for the attorney general or the director of military prosecutions, setting out what they are to follow where the order should not have been made. Instead of having to make an application with its attendant costs and delays, the attorney general can confirm that the person was not convicted of a designated offence.
I believe members will agree that this procedure is appropriate as the question involves no legal issues to be decided by the appeal court but simply the question of fact of whether the offender was convicted of the designated offence, which can be answered simply by reviewing the file.
I believe Bill C-72 is an important bill which, if adopted, will greatly facilitate the implementation of Bill C-13. Accordingly, I would urge all parties of this House to adopt the bill as quickly as possible.
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act November 16th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt in terms of our belief that the crystal meth concern is real. I think the government has indicated that it is prepared to consider many ways of approaching this, first of course through changing the precursor regulations to deal with the specific chemicals that go into the makeup of these drugs: red phosphorous and ephedrine.
The reality is that we are trying to do whatever we can to denounce this and to make sure that this conduct goes no further. This year we have substantially increased the penalty provisions within the Criminal Code to deal with issues of a similar nature, but in fact I think where we are placing ourselves today is that we have to deal with the root causes within the areas where crystal meth is actually being used. We have to deal with the chemicals that go into the manufacture of that particular substance. We have to make sure that we deal with those chemicals in a way that will stop that flow and therefore stop the--
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act November 16th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to have the opportunity to address the member's question because clearly there is no doubt about crystal meth and its implications. The member's original question was based upon whether we would be bringing forward mandatory minimum penalties in order to deal with this issue.
The hon. member's proposal to encourage mandatory minimum penalties for offenders involved in the drug trade is no doubt well intentioned. Liberal members take second place to no one in the House in working to ensure the protection of society. Unfortunately, history tells us that stiffer sentences alone will not achieve this.
Even though it is true that Canada's sentencing approach prefers to give the court discretion to fashion a fit sentence that is proportional to the gravity of the offence and the conduct of the offender, our Criminal Code already provides 42 mandatory minimum penalties which denounce--and I underline the word “denounce”--the acts identified therein.
As I have already mentioned, apart from the mandatory minimum penalty for murder, there are mandatory minimums of four years for the use of a firearm in 10 different listed offences.
I was present at last week's meeting of the federal, provincial and territorial justice ministers in Whitehorse. Minister Cotler indicated that he was prepared to seek authority to enact additional measured mandatory minimum penalties for firearms offences to denounce such activity. That is part of a tripartite strategy. Such a strategy would include not only the legislation aspect but more effective enforcement as well as preventive and social initiatives that address the root causes of crime.
The ministers talked about ways to increase the effectiveness of sentencing, with particular attention given to a discussion of the use of mandatory minimum sentences. A special ad hoc group of officials will work on these issues over the winter.
Federal, provincial and territorial ministers also endorsed recommendations on ways to strengthen how the concerns about crystal meth can be dealt with within the criminal justice system, for in fact it is obviously a matter of some concern to all of us who are aware of the issue.
Research on the effectiveness of minimum sentences shows that they have no deterrent or educational effect according to the Law Reform Commission and that they are no more effective for crime prevention than lighter sentences are. That was confirmed in 2001 by a study commissioned by Justice Canada that found there was no correlation between the crime rate and the severity of sentences.
That refers to the study of Gabor and Crutcher, “Mandatory Minimum Penalties: Their Effects on Crime, Sentencing Disparities, and Justice System Expenditures” for the Department of Justice in 2001.
The study commissioned by Justice Canada summarized findings from a review of sentencing arrangements in a number of common law jurisdictions other than the United States and was released in September of this year. It is now available at the Department of Justice website.
The study found that in those countries where mandatory minimum penalties do exist, they are mostly for murder, and in every case they provide a court with the ability to sentence under the minimum in exceptional circumstances. That refers to the study by Julian V. Roberts, “Mandatory Sentences of Imprisonment in Common Law Jurisdictions: Some Representative Models”, from the Department of Justice in 2005.
The study also shows that recent polls conducted in Australia and the United States demonstrate that public support for mandatory minimum penalties has declined in recent years. The U.S. uses mandatory--
Criminal Code November 15th, 2005
Madam Speaker, I rise today to speak to the amendments to the Criminal Code proposed by the hon. member for Wild Rose in Bill C-329.
The bill summary tells us that the purpose of this enactment is to give a peace office the power to arrest without a warrant a person who is in breach of a probation order binding the person or a condition of the person's parole.
As you know, Madam Speaker, the Criminal Code already contains provisions that enable the police to arrest persons without a warrant. It might be instructive, however, if we took a few moments to review these provisions.
Subsection 495(1) of the Criminal Code provides the police with the power to arrest without warrant a person whom first, the officer believes on reasonable grounds has committed an indictable offence, which would be in the past; second, who the officer believes on reasonable grounds is about to commit an indictable offence, which would be a future offence; or third, one who is actually committing a criminal offence, which would obviously be in the present.
However, this power of arrest without warrant is circumscribed by subsection 495(2) of the Criminal Code. Here is what subsection 495(2) provides:
(2) A peace officer shall not arrest a person without warrant for
(a) an indictable offence mentioned in section 553,
Theft where the alleged value of the subject matter of the offence does not exceed $5,000 would be an example of such an offence. It continues:
(b) an offence for which the person may be prosecuted by indictment or for which he is punishable on summary conviction, or
(c) an offence punishable on summary conviction,
in any case where
(d) he believes on reasonable grounds that the public interest, having regard to all the circumstances including the need to
(i) establish the identity of the person,
(ii) secure or preserve evidence of or relating to the offence, or
(iii) prevent the continuation or repetition of the offence or the commission of another offence, may be satisfied without so arresting the person, and
(e) he has no reasonable grounds to believe that, if he does not so arrest the person, the person will fail to attend court in order to be dealt with according to law.
In other words, while the Criminal Code authorizes the police to arrest a person without an arrest warrant in circumstances that would allow a peace officer to reasonably believe that the person is connected to the commission of a criminal offence, it also places reasonable limits on that authority.
Reading subsection 733.1(1) of the Criminal Code, the offence of failure to comply with a probation order, and paragraph 495(1)(a) together, it is clear that a peace officer already has the power to arrest without a warrant a person who has committed the offence described in subsection 733.1(1), or who on reasonable grounds he believes has committed or is about to commit the offence. This would appear to make the proposed new paragraph 495(1)(b.1) redundant.
The new paragraph 495(1)(b.2) of the Criminal Code proposed by Bill C-329 would authorize police officers to arrest without warrant persons who fail to comply with a condition of parole or unescorted temporary absence.
Members should know that non-compliance with a parole condition or a condition attached to an unescorted temporary absence is not a criminal offence. The law is clear. If the act which constitutes the parole violation is in fact the alleged commission of a criminal offence, then section 495 would authorize the arrest without a warrant.
This proposed legislation would give the police the power to arrest without warrant for a mere curfew violation or some other matter which is not a criminal offence and then prevent the release of that person.
What is being proposed here is arrest without warrant for conduct which is not a criminal offence, followed by imprisonment without trial. Just what is to become of that person is not clear. I suppose that the individual would have to apply to the courts for a writ of habeas corpus to secure a release.
These are matters addressed under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and essentially such conduct should lead to the cancellation of the unescorted temporary absence and the issuance of an apprehension warrant, and where the police officer believes, on reasonable grounds, that such a warrant is in force, he or she may arrest the person without warrant and remand the person into custody.
Similarly, when an offender breaches a condition of parole or statutory release, the person's parole or statutory release may be cancelled and a warrant of apprehension may be issued, and where a peace officer believes on reasonable grounds that such a warrant is in force, he or she may arrest the person without warrant and remand the person into custody.
The supervision of offenders on conditional release is a function assigned solely to parole supervisors under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. The decision to suspend the conditional release for a breach or to prevent a breach under the CCRA rests with the correctional authorities and the National Parole Board.
When conditional release is suspended, whether for a breach or to prevent a breach, then and only then is there a warrant issued for the arrest of the individual. The proposed Bill C-329 would conflict with the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and its underlying principles.
I suggest the proposed legislation is misdirected and ineffectual as a legislative proposal. The bill is unnecessary. It would not contribute to enhancing the safety of Canadians or making the criminal justice system more effective.
Criminal Code November 14th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, let me simply say that this will cover a broad range of activities that would be considered to be negative in relation to animals. It goes into the issue of taking care of animals. When we are talking about care, that care can be in the most broad context that one could suggest.
Each and every one of us really has sympathy for our animal friends. We want to make sure that they are cared for. There have been some examples in the last few days of what are referred to as puppy mills. That sort of activity obviously causes a great deal of concern to everyone who is interested in animal welfare. This bill goes a long way toward making sure that we provide far better protection in a very clear and distinct manner so that our pets and animals will be well looked after.
Criminal Code November 14th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, the member has asked a number of questions and I am not sure whether we will have enough time to properly address them.
However, first, with respect to the bill itself, the bill is not exactly the same as the previous bill. As I mentioned in my speech, it relates to the non-derogation clause for the recognition of aboriginal practices. That is an addition to the previously passed legislation.
However, in other respects the bill is a mirror image of the bill that has been passed here a number of times.
The question the hon. member raised is one that needs to be addressed as it relates to those who are in the industry. Clearly, we have had support through various letters brought to us about the industry's acceptance of what is going on. As he would well remember, some of the amendments that we brought forward previously made it clear that we are incorporating all of the common law defences that were there originally so that they are equally available today.
I believe the industry does have an understanding of this. The basic concern that industry was trying to express was whether it would have the protections that it has today. It is fair to say that it would have the same protections and that we have, shall we say, bolstered it, both from a section 8 perspective and the broader perspective, which I believe was section 429, although I could be in error on that, but around that section. However in both cases it does protect the issue as it relates to their practices.
We are all very conscious about wanting to, first, protect our animals, but we are equally conscious of ensuring that those who make their living from this are properly protected so that they will not suffer the risk of being prosecuted for simply carrying on in their normal trade practice the way in which is accepted for that trade or profession to carry out the killing of animals.
Criminal Code November 14th, 2005
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the provisions of Bill C-50, an act to amend the Criminal Code relating to the cruelty to animals.
The legislation has a long and notorious history in Parliament. Members will no doubt remember that the legislation has been before the House on a number of occasions over the past five years. These animal cruelty amendments were first introduced in Parliament in 1999 as part of an omnibus criminal reform bill called Bill C-17 but died on the order paper. They were later reintroduced as another omnibus bill, Bill C-15, in a subsequent Parliament. That bill was split into two portions and the portion which contained the animal cruelty amendments again died on the order paper. The amendments were next re-tabled as Bill C-10 which were again split and again the portion with animal cruelty died on the order paper. In the last Parliament, these amendments were known as Bill C-22. Today we are discussing the same amendments in Bill C-50.
The history of the bill is a long and winding road, which includes two highly unusual incidents of bill-splitting and several messages being sent between this and the other chamber. Given the occurrences of rare parliamentary procedures and ping-ponging of the legislation, a person unfamiliar with this history might come away with the impression that the legislation is still controversial and lacks broad base support.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind the members that in actual fact this House has passed this legislation several times in the last two years with support from members on both sides of the House. In addition, hon. members should recall that the legislation has a history of accommodation and compromise that has brought together groups that advocate for animal welfare, as well as groups that advocate for people whose livelihoods depend upon the use of animals. Let me explain.
Over the past five years there has been spirited and comprehensive debate about the impact of the legislation in both this House and the other place, in committees in both places, in the public domain and in the media, not to mention the innumerable meetings between stakeholders and various government officials. As a result, specific amendments have been made on a number of occasions to this bill. These were not legally necessary changes, I would submit, but were adopted by the government with a view to providing greater clarity about the issues of concern.
These accommodations did not compromise protections against animal cruelty. The end result was that a large number of industry stakeholders came to support the legislation. The ministers received the written support of a broad based coalition of industry groups, including a letter from earlier this year urging the government to re-table these very amendments just months before this bill was tabled.
This coalition of stakeholders includes representatives from the agricultural sector, animal research and the trapping industry. The legislation is not meant to and will not negatively impact on the lawful and humane animal related industries and these industries have now acknowledged that. Of course, animal welfare organizations, as well as veterinary associations, police associations and provincial attorneys general, continue to support the legislation wholeheartedly.
The only difference between this legislation and that which was last passed by this House as Bill C-22 is the inclusion now of a non-derogation clause that reaffirms the applicability of existing constitutional protection for traditional aboriginal practices. This was included after discussions between the minister and concerned senators over the potential impact of the legislation on aboriginal persons.
In every other respect, the legislation we have before us today mirrors exactly that legislation which was passed by this House many times already and which stakeholder groups on all sides of the issue urged the government to re-table.
With that brief history, let me make a few basic points about the legislation.
The first point to note is that Bill C-50 is not about new law. It is about better law. The criminal law already contains a range of offences that prohibit cruelty to animals and has since 1893, but the law is a messy jumble of archaic terminology and piecemeal amendments made on a few occasions since 1893.
The first goal of the bill therefore is to modernize, simplify and rationalize the law as well as to fill in certain gaps in legal protection. This objective is accomplished by a variety of measures, including: removing the distinctions in the law that originate from another century; removing overlapping offences; improving the coherence and functionality of the law by removing problematic language, such as “dogs, birds and other animals”; eliminating the illogical notion of “wilful neglect” that is not found anywhere else in our criminal law; and filling in gaps by creating new offences of killing an animal with a brutal or vicious intent and training an animal for the purpose of fighting another animal.
One other change that bears mentioning is the creation of a new chapter of the Criminal Code devoted specifically to animal cruelty. The new chapter would not change the legal substance of offences but would allow us to stop categorizing animal cruelty as property crime and to symbolically reflect that animal cruelty is most appropriately characterized as a gross violation of public standards of acceptable behaviour, as oftentimes it is a serious offence of violence. In fact, there is increasingly scientific evidence of a link between animal cruelty and subsequent violent offending against humans, particularly in the context of domestic violence. The women and children who are forced to witness animal cruelty know that it is not about property damage and it is time our Criminal Code recognized this reality.
The second goal of the amendments is to increase and enhance the penalty regime for animal cruelty offences. The way that society traditionally recognizes the seriousness of a particular conduct is through the penalty that it prescribes for that conduct.
Bill C-50 would make the law more coherent by clearly distinguishing criminally negligent conduct from wilful cruelty for the purposes of providing different sentencing ranges. The person who keeps too many cats and is unable to care for them all commits a different kind of criminal offence than one who skins a cat alive, and Bill C-50 would ensure that penalty ranges reflect this.
The current maximum penalty for animal cruelty, six months in prison or a $2,000 fine or both, would be increased accordingly for both kinds of crime. For intentional cruelty, which would be made a hybrid offence, the maximum penalty on indictment would be increased to five years and on summary conviction to eighteen months. For criminally negligent offences, the maximum sentence would be increased to two years.
Another change is the removal of the current two year cap on orders prohibiting a convicted offender from owning or living with animals. The length of a prohibition order would be in the discretion of the judge and he or she would make the final determination. The courts would also be given a clear power to order a convicted offender to repay to a person or to an organization, which most likely would be the animal welfare society, the costs associated with the caring for the animal the offender was convicted of abusing.
These penalty enhancements, coupled with the other set of reforms that bring greater simplicity, coherence and rationality to the laws, will work together to signal to judges, prosecutors, police and the general public that the abuse of animals is about violence and that cruelty is a matter of serious criminal law.
To be effective, good criminal law must not only provide adequate penalty ranges, it must also be clear, coherent, complete and must reflect the true nature of the misconduct and the societal values at stake. The full range of legal reforms is necessary to bring our 19th century criminal laws in this area into the 21st century.
Over the course of many years that animal cruelty amendments have been before Parliament, Canadians have consistently voiced their strong support for legislative change in this area and their expectation that the legislation will be passed without delay. I urge all members in the House to ensure that occurs as soon as possible.
Criminal Code October 31st, 2005
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-407, which was introduced in this House on June 15 by the hon. member for La Pointe-de-l'Île.
Bill C-407 raises some very important issues about death and dignity. For many, the proposals in this bill may appear at first blush to be worthy of support. However, it is important to have a solid understanding of what the bill would do, if enacted, in order to decide whether debate on this bill should continue.
Having examined the bill, I am confident in stating my position that Bill C-407 should not be supported. The bill is quite broad in scope. It seeks to create an exception not only to the assisted suicide offence, but also to the offence of murder. As such, Bill C-407 would permit some forms of euthanasia as well as assisted suicide.
It is important to note that the person who aids another person to die does not have to be a doctor. The bill provides that the aider, or the person who assists, must be assisted by a doctor, and it does not state whether the doctor's assistance would be at the time of death.
The bill would not only apply to terminally ill patients, but also to persons who suffer from severe physical or mental pain without any prospect of relief. Theoretically, persons who suffer from depression could request assistance in dying and those who aid them would not be found criminally liable if the conditions of the bill were respected.
Bill C-407 has the potential to permit quite a vast array of situations. However, let us look at the safeguards that are in the bill. The most glaring shortcomings of Bill C-407 which raise considerable concern with respect to protecting physically or mentally vulnerable persons is the marked departure from the existing medical and legal standard for providing a free and informed consent.
The wording in Bill C-407 of “while appearing to be lucid” would introduce into the law what could be characterized as a vague, broad and arbitrary term to justify actions to terminate someone's life. Also, Bill C-407 contains little reporting requirements with only an obligation on the aider, or the person who assists, to provide the coroner with a copy of the diagnosis.
The legal regimes in other jurisdictions that have permissive laws in this area, such as the state of Oregon, the Netherlands and Belgium have extensive reporting provisions in their statutes. These not only provide an oversight mechanism but also enable the collection of valuable data to track the activities and to evaluate the application of this legal regime that is in place.
Another area that is of concern is the amount of consultation that should go into the proposal of a bill of this nature. A key concern with respect to Bill C-407 is that it appears to have been developed without prior consultations with many of the groups that would have a direct interest in the issue. Persons with disabilities and organizations representing them would certainly wish to express their views and concerns as many of them have perceived that the bill touches their circumstances more directly.
The bill would also impact on the medical profession, doctors, nurses, or others who provide medical services. Surely they would wish to be consulted well in advance of specific proposals being brought before Parliament. The manner in which coroners investigate and classify whether a death is natural, suicidal, accidental, homicidal, or undetermined would also be impacted by Bill C-407. These are just a few of the key groups that would be directly impacted.
Average Canadians should be invited to share their points of view and their concerns on these issues, because these are moral issues and therefore very personal.
Some may suggest that the issue has already been studied extensively, particularly by the Senate Special Committee on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide in the mid-1990s and that now is the time to move forward on the issue.
Although some Canadians would favour a change in this area of the law, what remains unknown and is critical to this debate is whether their opinions are based on a good level of awareness of the issues, the law and the ramifications. Again, even if there is an appetite for change, we need to know what Canadians would consider being appropriate in terms of a legal regime before moving ahead with specific proposals as we have here.
In this regard, Bill C-407 is, I suggest, being introduced prematurely. It is also quite realistically too broad in scope as I described earlier.