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Results: 31 - 45 of 111
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-10-23 15:29 [p.299]
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to present a petition containing over 200 signatures from my riding of Barrie, Ontario in regard to a concern about genetically modified alfalfa. I will pass these concerns along.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-10-21 14:58 [p.170]
Mr. Speaker, since we were first elected, our government has passed over 30 measures to keep our streets and communities safe, yet the Leader of the Opposition said last week that he opposed our entire criminal justice agenda. He actually said things were better before we took office.
Would the Minister of Justice please explain what the justice system would look like if the Leader of the Opposition had his way and reversed our criminal justice reforms?
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-13 13:33 [p.18288]
Mr. Speaker, I am sharing my time with the very hard-working member for Wetaskiwin.
I am pleased to say a few words about Bill S-16, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in contraband tobacco)
This bill contains a number of very important amendments to the Criminal Code aimed directly at the criminals who are flooding Canada with illicit tobacco products that undermine the Canadian economy, fuel addiction, and add to the already serious long-term health issues associated with smoking.
As we have heard, this is not the first time that Canada has faced the challenge of contraband tobacco. When the problem first arose some two decades ago, it had to do with our own legally manufactured and exported tobacco products being smuggled back into our domestic market at greatly reduced prices. Through a combination of tax policy and enforcement measures, we were able to stem the tide of this early onslaught of contraband tobacco.
Since then, the primary legislative vehicle for controlling this illegal trade has been the Excise Act. This legislation combines fines, jail terms and forfeitures to enforce the prohibition against selling tobacco products that have not been stamped. Stamping indicates that the excise tax has been paid. Unfortunately, despite this legislation and despite the efforts of dedicated law enforcement officials, contraband tobacco remains a serious threat to the public safety of Canadians, their communities and the Canadian economy.
Although there are several sources for the contraband tobacco products that are entering Canada, the illicit trade is driven largely by illegal operations run by criminal organizations in both Canada and the United States. In this regard, the provinces of Ontario and Quebec have the highest concentration of illegal manufacturing operations, the majority of the high-volume smuggling points and the largest number of consumers of contraband tobacco.
In response, the government launched the RCMP contraband tobacco enforcement strategy in 2008 with a focus on reducing the availability and demand for contraband tobacco and on weakening the involvement of organized crime in this illegal industry. At the same time, the task force on illicit tobacco products was formed to identify concrete measures to disrupt or reduce the trade in contraband tobacco. The next year, the task force presented a lengthy report to the Minister of Public Safety in which it noted that at least 30% of Canadian tobacco purchases involved contraband tobacco.
One of the primary drivers of this illicit trade, aside from the willingness of consumers to pay markedly reduced prices, has been the shift from single individuals or small groups conducting sporadic smuggling to organized crime groups doing the smuggling and distributing the illicit tobacco through their criminal networks.
Clearly, the time has come to take steps to come to grips with the growing nature of this illegal activity and the growing involvement of criminal organizations whose related activities include the smuggling of other items into Canada using the same networks, which is particularly alarming.
This is the context in which we must evaluate Bill S-16.
Briefly, the bill is one part of a two-part response to the issue I have described. The first part is the bill itself. It proposes to amend the Criminal Code to create a new hybrid offence of trafficking in contraband tobacco, with mandatory minimum penalties for repeat offenders. The second part of the response is the implementation of a strengthened anti-contraband enforcement strategy that includes the establishment of an anti-contraband force made up of 50 RCMP officers. Both of these proposals respond to the 2011 election platform commitments of this government.
I will go into a bit more detail on exactly what is contained in Bill S-16.
First, the bill would create a new offence in the Criminal Code to deal with contraband tobacco trafficking. Indeed, the bill would prohibit the possession for the purpose of sale, offer for sale, or the transportation, delivery or distribution of a tobacco product, or raw leaf tobacco that is not packaged unless it is stamped. The terms “tobacco product”, “raw leaf tobacco”, “package” and “stamped” have the same meaning as in section 2 of the Excise Act, 2001. This would ensure consistency in our national enforcement efforts.
Pursuant to these proposed amendments, the maximum penalty for a first offence would be up to six months' imprisonment on a summary conviction and up to five years' imprisonment if prosecuted on an indictment.
Repeat offenders, convicted of this new offence in cases involving 10,000 cigarettes or more, 10 kilograms or more of any other tobacco product or 10 kilograms or more of any raw leaf tobacco would be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 90 days on a second conviction, a mandatory minimum of 180 days on a third conviction and a mandatory minimum of 2 years less a day on subsequent convictions.
The amendments proposed in the, appropriately titled, tackling contraband tobacco act would not only respond to our domestic problems but would equally respond to the broader international efforts to combat trafficking in tobacco. Let us recall in this context that tobacco smuggling by definition means the illegal movement of goods over national frontiers. Tobacco smuggling is a particularly widespread illegal activity and has an impact on a great number of countries. Thus, Canada is not alone in wanting to put an end to this illicit commerce.
In any attempt to combat organized crime's involvement in tobacco smuggling, one must recognize that organized crime adopts all forms of corruption to infiltrate political, economic and social levels all over the world. This issue has been addressed at both global and regional levels and continues to receive substantial domestic and international attention.
The international community has adopted many international instruments dealing with criminal law. These international agreements attest to a country's recognition of the need for international co-operation to tackle international crime. One aspect of international co-operation that is repeatedly found in these instruments deals with mutual legal assistance. This form of international co-operation is one of the most powerful tools employed by governments to reduce the incidence of international crime.
Therefore, not only does tobacco smuggling necessarily contain an international dimension, one that sometimes involves several countries and the crossing of several borders; it also involves, as our own law enforcement representatives have informed us, significant organized crime group participation. Bill S-16 would not exist in isolation. While this new legislation would help Canada combat tobacco smuggling, it would also help us combat tobacco smuggling and organized crime outside our own borders, not just in Canada alone.
In closing, I thank hon. members for their attention and urge them to consider the broad context in which Bill S-16 must be assessed. Once they have done that, I am convinced they will agree with me that this bill ought to be passed and implemented without delay.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-13 13:41 [p.18290]
Mr. Speaker, I am not on the committee dealing with this bill, but I know these bills get looked at very seriously in committee.
I would agree with the hon. member on her concern about the importance of combating the dangers associated with tobacco. That is why, with the five-year renewal of the federal tobacco strategy in 2012, Health Canada will continue its very dedicated work on tobacco control initiatives that are aimed to preserve the gains we have made in the last 10 years, which are quite significant.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-11 14:05 [p.18081]
Mr. Speaker, this weekend I participated in the Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes, hosted each year by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Along with 45,000 other people across Canada, I walked to help raise funds for research to cure, better treat and prevent type 1 diabetes. To date, this annual walk has raised $90,000 in Simcoe County alone. This year's walk had 800 participants just in Barrie.
As chair of the all-party juvenile diabetes caucus, I have had the privilege of meeting hundreds of Canadians affected by type 1 diabetes. Currently, there are more than 3 million Canadians living with some form of diabetes and more than 300,000 Canadians living with type 1 diabetes.
Although a cure has not yet been found, Canada has long been a world leader in diabetes breakthroughs in the realm of science, including the discovery of insulin and the Edmonton protocol.
I would like to recognize Simcoe County's JDRF youth ambassadors: Noah Stock, Sydney Grace, Carson, Rebecca, Michael and Olivia for all their hard work in making this past weekend's fundraising walk a big success.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-10 12:06 [p.17951]
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to Bill S-15. I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak in support of this bill.
Sable Island is one of Canada's great natural treasures, a windswept remote island renowned for its wild horses and its historical role as the site of the nation's first life-saving station.
It is a place of astounding beauty, with sand dunes, marram grass and freshwater ponds. Anyone fortunate enough to visit this unique environment is captivated by its diversity of plants, birds and animal life. The island is home to several endangered species.
This rare and remarkable place also has a rich cultural history. Sable Island holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Nova Scotians and Canadians. It has inspired artists and writers locally, across the country and internationally.
An island of such spectacular beauty, rare flora and fauna and cultural heritage is wholly deserving of our protection. That is why on October 17, 2011, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia signed a memorandum of agreement to establish and manage Sable Island as a national park reserve of Canada.
Our objective is to protect Sable Island for all time for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people of Canada. As the House is aware, the designation of Sable Island as a national park reserve of Canada takes into consideration the Mi'kmaq asserted rights and title in Nova Scotia. These are being addressed through the made-in-Nova Scotia process between the governments of Canada, Nova Scotia and the Mi'kmaq.
Moreover, the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia have agreed that Parliament will enact legislation amending the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act to prohibit drilling for petroleum in Sable Island national park reserve of Canada and to limit the range of surface access rights in respect to the petroleum work or activity in the park reserve.
We have done the essential preparatory work, and I would like to highlight the many reasons why Parks Canada is uniquely situated to oversee the protection of Sable Island.
The Parks Canada network now includes 44 national parks, 167 national historic sites and 4 national marine conservation areas. Since 1911, this agency has worked hard to ensure that Canada's historic and natural heritage is protected and that Canadians and people around the world can engage in inspiring discoveries of our treasured and natural historic places.
Let me give an overview of how we have expanded Parks Canada's protected areas network in recent years. In 2006, that network was 277,400 square kilometres in size. Since then, the Government of Canada has taken actions that would protect an additional 149,639 square kilometres. This would bring Parks Canada's network to more than 427,000 square kilometres, or a 54% increase.
What these numbers demonstrate is how completely Parks Canada is committed to taking care of our natural treasures and to acting as their ever-vigilant stewards. The early visionaries of our parks system recognized that connecting with the natural world can be a deeply meaningful and moving experience, and a fundamental part of that mission was a way to foster these connections. This is a principle to which Parks Canada remains dedicated.
Allow me to give some highlights of Parks Canada's achievements over the past few years, all of which provide ample evidence of this agency's fitness for the stewardship role with regard to Sable Island. Let me start with some recent top achievements, several of them marking firsts, not just in Canada but in the world.
In 2007, the Prime Minister announced the creation of the largest freshwater marine protected area in the world, Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area. This addition to our system comprises more than 10,000 square kilometres, including the lake bed, islands and north shore lands.
In 2009, we expanded the boundary of the Nahanni National Park Reserve sixfold to over 30,000 square kilometres. There is absolutely no doubt that this landmark conservation achievement is quite significant. In fact it is the greatest accomplishment for Parks Canada in a generation. I am delighted to note that it was done in close collaboration with the Dehcho First Nations.
Another outstanding accomplishment in 2009 was the establishment of the Saoyú-§ehdacho National Historic Site in the Northwest Territories. This marks the first of three firsts in Canada. This national historic site was the first northern cultural landscape commemorated by the Government of Canada; the first northern national historic site co-operatively managed by Parks Canada and an aboriginal group; and also the first protected area established under the Northwest Territories protected areas strategy. This historic site comprises two peninsulas bordering the Great Bear Lake. It is an area of 5,565 square kilometres, which is approximately the size of Prince Edward Island. This site protects a cultural landscape of great importance to the Sahtu people of the Great Bear Lake. The elders' vision for the site is one of continued teaching and healing, a place that forever helps to sustain the culture and well-being of the people.
In 2010, the Government of Canada formally established the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, which some people call “the Canadian Galapagos”. This achievement was a result of historic and outstanding collaborative partnership between the Government of Canada and the Haida Nation. What is extraordinary about this unique protective measure is the combination of the existing park reserve with a new marine conservation area. In total, over 5,000 square kilometres are now protected: a spectacular wilderness that extends from alpine mountaintops to the deep sea beyond the continental shelf. The scope of this achievement is a first not only for Canada but also for North America and the world.
In 2011, Parks Canada oversaw the successful reintroduction of the plains bison and the black-footed ferret, an animal once thought to be extinct for most of the 20th century, in the Grasslands National Park. This measure was part of the $75-million investment to improve the ecological integrity of national parks and national park reserves across Canada.
It was also in 2011 that the Government of Canada announced it would create Canada's first national urban park in Toronto. The concept of a national urban park is an entirely new and unique one to Parks Canada and, indeed, to Canada. Once established, Rouge national urban park will provide an unparalleled opportunity to reach the 20% of Canadians who live within the vicinity of the park and in Canada's most culturally diverse city. Since the 2011 announcement of the Rouge national park, Parks Canada has made steady progress toward establishing this unique protected area in the heart of Canada's most populated area. The agency has worked with first nations and more than 100 communities and organizations including youth. I note that my riding in the city of Barrie is very close to this Rouge national park, and I know that across southern Ontario the commitment to it has been supported and appreciated.
I also remind members of the House about four successful multi-partnership expeditions that Parks Canada has led in Canada's Arctic, in search of the lost vessels of Sir John Franklin. This work has helped narrow our search, with the great added advantages of further asserting Canadian sovereignty and deepening our scientific knowledge in the Arctic. The work to protect our natural heritage is ceaseless, and it takes in all parts of our vast nation.
In May 2012, for example, the governments of Canada and Quebec announcement the creation of an advisory committee for the feasibility assessment of a marine protected area in Îles-de-la-Madeleine.
In August 2012, the Prime Minister announced the establishment and boundaries of Canada's 44th national park, the Nááts'ihch'oh National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories. This new national park reserve will serve as a launching area for visitors to its northern wilderness, with its breathtaking landscapes of the upper reaches of the world-famous South Nahanni River. Together, the Nahanni and the Nááts'ihch'oh national park reserves protect habitat for mountain woodland caribou, grizzly bears, Dall sheep, mountain goats and trumpeter swans, while at the same time supporting the economic aspirations of first nations and the tourism industries of the region.
I need hardly tell members that the Parks Canada role in the protection of our diverse precious natural areas and species is one of which all Canadians can justly be proud. In its dedicated work as a steward, Parks Canada is an example to the world. In fact, its reach and influence extend globally, and it has received international recognition for its achievements.
For example, in May 2011, the World Wildlife Fund International recognized Parks Canada with its prestigious Gift to the Earth award. The award noted Parks Canada's outstanding conservation achievements, including the recent dramatic growth of Canada's system of national parks and national marine conservation areas.
In September 2012, Parks Canada led the development of the publication titled “North American Protected Areas as Natural Solutions to Climate Change”, released at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress in South Korea. This publication is a collaborative effort of the North American Intergovernmental Committee on Wilderness and Protected Area Conservation with the government representation from Canada, the United States and Mexico.
I would like to turn now to some of Parks Canada's achievements in the realm of historic and cultural commemoration. As I noted earlier, these are important aspects in the protection of Sable Island.
In fact, in 2012, Parks Canada received such a historic designation itself. That year, the Government of Canada honoured the agency as the world's first national parks service by commemorating the Creation of the Dominion Parks Branch and the birth of Parks Canada as an event of national historic significance.
Parks Canada's other commemorative highlights last year included the opening of the new visitor centre at Fort Wellington National Historic Site as part of the special War of 1812 commemoration. The Calgary Stampede, billed as the greatest outdoor show on Earth, was also recognized as an event of national historic significance as was the Grey Cup.
In August last year, our environment minister designated Canada's heritage lighthouses under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, which included the St. Paul Island Southwest Lighthouse in Dingwall, Nova Scotia and McNab Point and the Saugeen River Front and Rear Range lights in Southampton, Ontario.
On the 100th anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic, the government honoured the historic efforts of Canadians in the recovery of victims of the disaster.
Earlier, I mentioned Parks Canada's involvement in searching for the ships of the Franklin expedition. In July 2010, the agency embarked upon its 10 day archeological survey of Aulavik National Park to locate HMS Investigator wreck and document and map the land sites associated with Captain Robert McClure's expedition to find the Northwest Passage. This initiative produced a number of findings, including the shipwreck of HMS Investigator, three gravesites and new information on the equipment and provision cache site.
I said that Parks Canada's commitment to protecting our natural and cultural heritage is unceasing. So, too, are the agency's efforts to help connect Canadians with nature.
The early visionaries of our parks system recognized that when people connected with the natural world they could have an experience that was deeply meaningful and moving. A fundamental part of Parks Canada's mission is therefore to foster these connections.
Today, that mission is more urgent than ever before. As many members of the House know, North Americans are becoming more and more disconnected with nature. Tackling the disconnection and fostering Canadians' close relation with the natural world is therefore a task for Parks Canada, and it takes it very seriously.
It is typical of the agency's dedication to this vision that it used its own anniversary to further this crucial work. In its anniversary year of 2011, Parks Canada introduced a series of ongoing programs to reach Canadians and youth in particular.
Among these were the innovative and highly popular learn to camp initiative, overnight camping events aimed at introducing city dwellers, many of them young families or recent immigrants, to camping and other fun outdoor activities.
Through its my parks pass program, the agency provided every grade 8 student across the country with passes to enter all of Parks Canada's sites free of charge for 12 months.
Parks Canada also introduced a promotion called “Canada's coolest school trip” in which a grade 8 class could win a school trip to visit a national park or historic site.
Using multimedia, the agency's national parks project brought together 52 of Canada's best musicians and filmmakers to create music and film inspired by Canada's most breathtaking national parks. These films are available online. The soundtrack album is in stores and on iTunes and a documentary TV series is running on Discovery World.
Also on television, Parks Canada premiered Operation Unplugged, a reality show in which eight urban young people traded their techno-dependent lifestyles for a summer unplugged in the national parks.
In all these ways, Parks Canada's centennial celebrations help the agency meet its target for public engagement so Canadians' awareness of Parks Canada and support for its work are growing across the country. Parks Canada reports the visitation to national parks is now slowly increasing, helping to reverse a downward trend seen over many years.
In my overview, I have touched on many areas of Parks Canada's achievements, all of which demonstrate the agency's long history, experience and passion for protecting our natural and cultural heritage. I noted its international recognition and that it was the first national parks agency in the world. I am fully confident that this superbly well-qualified federal agency will make an ideal steward for the wondrous beauty and unique character of Sable Island. I am therefore urging all members in the House to support the bill, which would make this exquisite island one of the jewels in our national parks system with Parks Canada as its able steward.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-10 12:24 [p.17954]
Mr. Speaker, first, since 2006, this government has put significant investments into Parks Canada. More significant, we need to look at the overall numbers. One could say that in this year or that year there was small cut or a large increase, but the bottom line is if we look at an overview of Parks Canada, the protected areas in 2006 went from 277,000 square kilometres in size to an astounding 427,000 square kilometres today, a 54% increase to Parks Canada. That is an accomplishment for the Government of Canada. It shows the commitment of the Conservatives to Parks Canada, which is quite astounding.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-10 12:25 [p.17954]
Mr. Speaker, first, let me note that it is great to have such an advocate in the member for Calgary Centre-North. Her commitment at the environment committee and to Parks Canada is simply incredible.
She is absolutely correct that it is a mistake for the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands to try to block or build support against investing in Parks Canada and against creating national parks. It does an incredible amount of good. When it comes to ecological protection, I think this is something all Canadians value to ensure the partnership created with first nations and with the Government of Nova Scotia is honoured at the multi-level agreement. We should honour that ecological protection. I am so proud to be part of a government that is so committed to doing so.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-10 12:27 [p.17954]
Mr. Speaker, this government has shown a tremendous commitment to the environment. Rather than just talk about it, like the NDP likes to, the Conservative government has taken tangible action. In my own home area in Simcoe county, for the first time in history, the Government of Canada, rather than leaving it to local authorities to invest in, invested in the cleanup of Lake Simcoe, with a $30-million initial grant and a subsequent $29-million grant. Phosphorous levels are now at an all-time modern low. It is not just Lake Simcoe, it is Lake Winnipeg and across the country that there has been a commitment to cleaning up the environment in a very real and meaningful manner.
In terms of the international forums the member mentioned, I would note that we are being honoured in Canada for Canada's unique and zealous commitment to the environment. A good example is in 2001 the World Wildlife Fund recognized Parks Canada with its prestigious Gift to the Earth award to recognize Canadian efforts. Additionally, we were recognized at the World Conservation Congress in South Korea in 2012.
This is certainly a government with a track record of success and accomplishments in the environment. I know my home community in Barrie, Ontario, tremendously appreciates the cleanup that has happened on the shores of Kempenfelt Bay.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-06-10 12:31 [p.17955]
Mr. Speaker, certainly the member's support for this bill is appreciated. Sending this to committee is an important step in the process, so that is encouraging to hear. I understand that the member will have a role in suggesting witnesses so that we can see some of the structure associated with the conservation process and hear appropriate guidelines and suggestions.
There is already an ongoing dialogue between the Government of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada. I know that the member for Calgary Centre-North has spoken in the House of Commons in great detail to some of the elements of conservation and what they would entail. The member may want to take a look at that in Hansard.
Overall, this is a fundamental commitment to the province of Nova Scotia and to Canadians that we value our natural heritage sites. If we look at the big picture, it is about supporting ongoing efforts to expand our national parks system. Since 2006, we have seen not only a net increase in the budget for Parks Canada but an astounding 54% increase in the number of square kilometres associated with Parks Canada.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-30 22:44 [p.17432]
Mr. Speaker, ensuring that all Canadians have safe communities in which to live has been a priority for our government since taking office. Our government has undertaken numerous initiatives to ensure the safety of Canadians. For example, our government is following through on its commitment to give the RCMP the tools it needs to enhance public confidence and increase accountability to its members and Canadians. This is apparent through our support for Bill C-42, the enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police accountability act. This legislation would enable the RCMP to continue its ongoing transformation toward a strong and vibrant national police force that Canadians will continue to believe in and value.
The enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police accountability act would help the RCMP remain accountable and relevant now and in the future. First, this act would create a modern, independent civilian review and complaints commission for the RCMP which would strengthen civilian oversight. Second, investigations of serious incidents, such as death or serious injury involving RCMP members, would be more transparent and accountable to the public through the implementation of a new framework. Third, the act would modernize processes with respect to discipline, grievance and human resources management for RCMP members, because it would put in place mechanisms to prevent, address and correct performance and conduct issues fairly and in a timely manner. These changes would help address concerns that have been raised by both the Canadian public and RCMP members themselves.
Bill C-51, the safer witnesses act, is another important legislative change that would support the work of our police and ensure that we meet our commitments to Canadians. Witness protection programs offer protection, sometimes including new identities for certain individuals whose testimony or co-operation is vital to the success of law enforcement operations. In Canada, the RCMP administers the federal witness protection program, which was officially established in 1996 with the passage of the Witness Protection Program Act. Through the federal witness protection program, the RCMP can provide emergency protection in the form of permanent relocation and secure identity changes for witnesses under threat.
The legislation governing the federal witness protection program, however, has not been substantially changed since 1996, when it first came into force. This has posed challenges for the RCMP, who must contend with the constantly changing nature of organized crime. The safer witnesses act would help strengthen the current federal witness protection program and thus support the RCMP in effectively combating crime, particularly organized crime. Bill C-51 would also help protect individuals, including RCMP members and other law enforcement officers and civilians involved in administering and delivering witness protection.
Disclosing information about individuals in the federal witness protection program is prohibited by the Witness Protection Program Act. Bill C-51 would expands on this by also prohibiting the disclosure of information about individuals who provide or assist in providing protection for witnesses as well as how the program operates. Under Bill C-51, this prohibition would extend to both the federal and designated provincial programs. Bill C-51 would also positively impact the provision of protection by promoting greater integration between federal and provincial witness protection programs.
Under the current legislation, if an individual in a provincial witness protection program requires a secure identity change, he or she must be temporarily transferred into a federal witness protection program so that the RCMP can obtain the appropriate documents. This may introduce delays in the process. The changes proposed by Bill C-51 would allow provincial and territorial governments to request that their programs be designated under the federal witness protection program act. This one-time designation would mean that the witness in the witness protection program could receive a secure identity change without needing to be admitted into the federal one. These reforms would support the provision of protection at all levels by streamlining the process to obtain secure federal documents for these purposes.
Another change proposed by Bill C-51 responds in part to a recommendation made in the final report of the Air India inquiry. The legislation proposes to expand the categories of witnesses who may be admitted to the witness protection program to include persons who assist federal departments, agencies or services that have a national security, national defence or public safety mandate and who may require protection as a result.
More organizations would also be able to refer candidates. Examples of such organizations are the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Department of National Defence. Currently, referrals are only accepted from law enforcement and international courts or tribunals.
The RCMP has administered the witness protection program for the last 15 years, during which time it has gained significant experience and insight into factors that make for a successful witness protection program. Bill C-51 would build on this experience and address a number of operational issues that the RCMP has experienced.
For example, Bill C-51 would clarify the process for voluntary termination from the federal program. It would also extend the amount of time emergency protection might be provided to candidates being considered for admission into the federal program. Emergency protection would be increased from the current 90 days to a maximum of 180 days.
In addition to these changes proposed by Bill C-51, the RCMP is currently taking measures to enhance the federal witness protection program, including incorporating psychological assessments of candidates and counselling for protectees and their families, incorporating risk-management principles into the admission process, enhancing training for witness handlers and administrators, creating a database that would better inform program design and, lastly, offering the services of legal counsel to all candidates being considered for admission into the federal program.
The RCMP would also continue to use the existing seven criteria outlined in the act to assess whether to admit an individual into the program, including the risk to the witness, the danger to the community if the person were to be admitted into the program, the nature of the inquiry and the importance of the witness in the matter, the value of information and evidence to be given by a witness, the likelihood that the witness can adjust to the program, the cost of maintaining a witness in the program, alternate methods of protection and other factors deemed by the commissioner to be relevant.
Our government has been quite clear that one of our top priorities is to keep our streets and communities safe and to support families, as outlined by the Prime Minister. Our plan involves tackling crime, supporting victims' rights and promoting a fair and efficient justice system.
Today, our government builds on the success of the last seven years and would provide the RCMP with the tools it needs to do its job more effectively.
This and other legislation would ensure that we have a fully accountable national police force that will continue to fulfill its role to protect Canadians here at home and abroad.
For that reason, I urge all members to support this legislation and work toward ensuring it is passed in an expeditious manner.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-30 22:53 [p.17433]
Mr. Speaker, if the member is not interested in the debates of Parliament, he can certainly leave. I know it is typical for the Liberal caucus to not show up for debates or votes. If he wants to continue that practice, he is welcome to leave.
However, I think we should encourage discussion on weighty matters like this and encourage debate. Certainly, that is one of the real values of our Parliament. To say it is not important or relevant to have a thorough discussion on public safety and supporting the needs of the RCMP is inappropriate. It goes to show that the Liberals have been consistent in not supporting the justice agenda to make sure Canadians are safe. This pattern of showing no interest in law and order is one of the reasons they continue to be defeated at the polls by Canadians.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-30 22:56 [p.17433]
Mr. Speaker, obviously it will be left to the experts to decide, based on the seven criteria, how many of the potential witnesses would be put into this program. I would note that Tom Stamatakis, the president of the Canadian Police Association, when it came to cost said that it is obviously important, but he said that this would “...deliver the best possible community protection at a reasonable cost to the Canadian taxpayer”.
I think that is why we have seen the RCMP and the Canadian Police Association express the importance of this legislation because it is reasonable and the costs are manageable, but fundamentally what is important is the safety of Canadians, and this would enhance that.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-30 22:57 [p.17433]
Mr. Speaker, yes, this bill certainly would do a lot to enhance safety in our communities.
I would note, on the member's first question, that the teamwork in the Conservative caucus and the great work from the member for Brampton West in back-checking helped ensure that we held the day against the media. We were very pleased to work together on a hockey rink, just as we do in Parliament to ensure the best interests of Canadians are accounted for.
View Patrick Brown Profile
View Patrick Brown Profile
2013-05-27 22:15 [p.17093]
Mr. Speaker, I am thankful to have the opportunity today to contribute to the second reading debate on Bill C-54, the not criminally responsible reform act. The bill proposes to amend the mental disorder regime in the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act to strengthen their ability to better protect the safety of the public, as well as do a better job at responding to the needs of victims in the mental disorder regime.
It may be useful to provide a bit of background on the existing mental disorder regime before I outline the amendments proposed in Bill C-54 and why they are important reforms.
A fundamental principle of our criminal law, including the mental disorder regime, is that a person must be morally blameworthy to be criminally liable for a wrongful act or omission. They must have the mental capacity to know and appreciate what they are doing and the mental capacity to distinguish between what is right and wrong. Also, they must be able to communicate and give instructions to their lawyer and understand the nature and consequences of a criminal trial in order to be tried.
If, at the time the act was committed, a person suffered from a mental disorder that rendered that person incapable of knowing what they did or that it was wrong, the trial court can find the person committed the act in question but order a verdict of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder. If at that time of trial the mentally disordered person does not have the capacity to understand the nature and the consequences of the criminal trial, they may be found unfit to stand trial.
After either of these findings, the person will be dealt with according to the mental disorder regime, which is designed to balance the twin goals of public protection and fair treatment of the accused, usually by provincially appointed review boards. The review boards are composed of at least five members with legal and psychiatric expertise.
As I noted, the bill contains elements that address both public safety and victims. In terms of the public safety reforms, the bill would amend the Criminal Code and clarify that public safety is paramount in consideration for the review board decision-making process. Although the Supreme Court of Canada has said that public safety is already the paramount consideration, most recently in its 2010 judgment of Regina v. Conway, the proposed amendment would ensure consistent application in cases across the country.
The reforms would also codify the Supreme Court of Canada's interpretation of “significant threat to the safety of the public”, which is the current test for determining whether review boards can continue to supervise the not criminally responsible accused. The Supreme Court interpreted this phrase in the Winko case in 1999.
The amendment would also clarify that the accused need not pose a threat of violence, but must pose a real risk of physical or psychological harm to members of the public that is more than merely trivial or annoying and must be criminal in nature. This would ensure this test is applied consistently across all jurisdictions.
Bill C-54 also proposes to create a new high-risk mentally disordered accused designation scheme. This new scheme would only apply to the accused who were found not criminally responsible for a serious personal injury offence. The mental disorder regime would define a serious personal injury offence as an indictable offence involving the use or attempted use of violence, conduct endangering life or safety, or sexual offences. In these cases, the Crown would apply for the high-risk designation to be made by the court.
This designation could be made in two situations. The first would occur when the court was satisfied that there was a substantial likelihood that the not criminally responsible accused would commit violence that would endanger the life or safety of another person. The second situation would be if the court was of the opinion that the offence for which the not criminally responsible accused was found to be not criminally responsible was particularly brutal, so as to indicate a risk of grave harm to the public.
Accused persons who are found to be unfit are not included in this high-risk designated scheme because they have not yet been tried and determined by a court to have committed the act. The effect of such a judicial designation is to protect society from a high-risk individual and prevent the accused from being conditionally or absolutely discharged.
As well, a high-risk not criminally responsible accused would not be permitted unescorted passes in the community. This is particularly important. Escorted passes would only be permitted for medical reasons and only when a structured plan was in place to ensure the safety of the public.
It is important to clarify that the high-risk designation would not be permanent. Once a review board was satisfied that the high-risk, not criminally responsible accused no longer posed a substantial likelihood of committing violence that would endanger the life or safety of another person, it would make a recommendation to the superior court of criminal jurisdiction for review. The court would then hold another hearing to determine whether the designation should be removed. If it reached the same conclusion as the review board, the designation would be revoked. The accused would then become a regular not criminally responsible accused and would be dealt with under the regular procedures of the mental disorder regime. These are balanced proposals that seek to protect both the safety of the public and the rights of accused persons to fair and appropriate treatment.
I would like to return to the victim-related reforms. The mental disorder regime already offers many opportunities for victims to be involved in this process. They can attend hearings and present victim impact statements.
The proposed reforms would enhance victim involvement by providing that victims be notified, on request, when a discharge order has been made. This would ensure that victims have advance notice about the fact that they may run into the mentally disordered accused. This is especially concerning if the person is released into a small community.
The law would also be clarified explicitly to provide that the safety of victims be considered in the decision-making process. Further, Bill C-54 proposes to clarify that the review board shall consider whether it is desirable to issue a non-communication order between the not criminally responsible accused and the victim. The review board would also consider whether to order the not criminally responsible accused to not attend a specific place, such as the victim's home or place of work.
In closing, I would like to encourage all members to support this bill's passage at second reading. This is a bill that would provide balanced measures to protect public safety and enhance victim involvement in the mental disorder regime. These are reforms we should all support.
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