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Results: 1 - 15 of 860
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-18 11:19 [p.15266]
Mr. Speaker, I am not sure whether the member has the answer to this question or not, but the leader of the Green Party raised the question of gazetting. I was of the understanding that these regulations, handled this way, would still go through the scrutiny of regulations committee and would probably still have to be authorized by cabinet. I may be wrong on that, but do they have to be gazetted? That is an important aspect.
Does the member, who has studied this in a little more depth than I, have an answer to that question?
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-18 11:49 [p.15269]
Mr. Speaker, the member referred in his remarks to the regulations. From my point of view, one of the worrisome aspects is that we do get governments that would govern basically by regulation. Regulations do not have the same kind of scrutiny as legislation does in the House and cabinet directives in which the full regulations are laid out. There are people who do pay attention to the Gazette on an ongoing basis and they can raise concerns if there are regulations that they disagree with. There is a period in which to respond.
We know how far the government will already go when the PCO and the PMO encourage the RCMP to break the law. We cannot pick and choose what laws to support. I will have members on the government side know that the Access to Information Act is a law that applies to this House too, yet the Prime Minister encouraged the breaking of that law. Then it was covered up by way of a clause in a budget bill. The PMO encourages our national police force to break a law and then covers it up by way of legislation.
I ask the member, is he concerned about regulations—
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-18 12:22 [p.15273]
On the lighter side, Mr. Speaker, the member started off by asking her colleagues to pay attention to the wonderful speech she was going give on this matter. I do not know if she has had the opportunity to sit on the scrutiny of regulations committee, which some members of this Parliament had to do. I have sat on that committee. To be honest, I would rather watch paint dry.
I want to recognize all of those members who sit on that very detailed committee, because it is not an easy committee. That is the only point I want to make. They did a tough job on that committee.
View Gail Shea Profile
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-06-18 15:03 [p.15298]
Mr. Speaker, our government's priority is to ensure the safety of mariners and the protection of British Columbia's coast. Kitsilano was a search and rescue facility. It was in no way, shape or form intended to be an environmental response station.
The member can talk about support for the Coast Guard. Our government provided a 27% increase in investment in the Canadian Coast Guard, and that party voted against it.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-18 16:44 [p.15311]
Mr. Speaker, my question is along the same vein. There are serious problems with this bill, but the most glaring one is the one which was just pointed out by the member for Gatineau, and that is the politicization of the question of release of the worst of the worst offenders.
The parliamentary secretary was there when we had representatives from the Parole Board testify in connection with a private member's bill that has the same objective as this piece of government legislation and he will recall the testimony from the representatives of the Parole Board.
What is it about these very serious crimes that make the Parole Board so uniquely unqualified to determine the parole eligibility and conditions of those who are charged with them, so uniquely unqualified that it must be placed in the hands of an elected official? Also, what is it about the education, training and experience of the Minister of Public Safety as a professional engineer that makes him so uniquely qualified to stand in judgment in these cases?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-18 17:15 [p.15315]
Mr. Speaker, as always, my colleague from the justice committee, the member for Gatineau, gave us a very comprehensive review and critique of the legislation. Over here, we find ourselves in agreement with virtually all of the points she made, and that is indeed quite a common occurrence at committee, I am pleased to say.
There are two particular questions that I wish to pose.
The first is that one of the stated goals of this legislation is to minimize the trauma to victims of having to constantly go back to parole hearings when someone who has committed a terrible crime is eligible or is up for eligibility consideration. Surely the member would agree that this is a legitimate goal. I think we can concede that. However, are there other modes of minimizing the stress on the families of victims other than this one, that she could propose?
Also, unless I missed it, I do not think she spent much time talking about the constitutionality of the legislation. It is obviously constitutionally suspect, as we have seen over and over again, with millions of dollars wasted on legal fees trying to defend charter violations. Her comments with respect to the constitutional validity of the legislation would also be of some value.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-18 17:23 [p.15316]
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on Bill C-53, the lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key act. It is the life means life act. This bill would eliminate the possibility of parole for many of the most serious crimes, including many forms of first degree murder and high treason.
The stated purpose of the bill is to reduce trauma to victims' families by avoiding unnecessary and repeated parole hearings. That is a worthy objective, and the Liberals supported legislation to further that goal just a few weeks ago with Bill C-587, the respecting families of murdered and brutalized persons act. As members will recall, that bill would extend parole ineligibility to 40 years from 25 years for a limited class of particularly brutal crimes.
However, while we agree with the objective of reducing trauma to victims and the approach taken by Bill C-587, we will not support the life means life act. Liberals are open to exploring additional ways of reducing trauma to victims. For example, we would consider extending parole ineligibility to longer than 25 years for some of the crimes covered by Bill C-53, just as we supported consecutive periods of parole ineligibility for multiple murders. As members know, that change resulted in Travis Baumgartner receiving 40 years of parole ineligibility for murdering three of his coworkers at an armoured car company. It also resulted in Justin Bourque receiving 75 years of parole ineligibility for murdering three RCMP officers in Moncton.
The crimes covered by Bill C-53 are terrible. That is why they are punished harshly under Canadian law. However, the primary reason we will not support this bill is that it would replace the Parole Board with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Ministers are inherently concerned with making political decisions. That is a step backward and an affront to the rule of law. It is also probably unconstitutional. I will explain why that is the case later on.
First let us go over the contents of the life means life act.
Bill C-53 would amend the Criminal Code to require imprisonment for life without eligibility for parole for specific types of murder convictions, as well for high treason, provided that the offender is 18 or older. The types of murder convictions that require such a sentence must be planned and deliberate murders in which the victim is a law enforcement officer, a member of correctional staff, or a person working in a prison; the accused caused the death while committing or attempting to commit aircraft hijacking, various types of sexual assault, kidnapping, forcible confinement, or hostage taking; the accused caused the death while committing or attempting to commit a terrorist act; or the accused's behaviour associated with the offence was of such a brutal nature as to compel the conclusion that the accused's behaviour in the future is unlikely to be inhibited by normal standards of behavioural constraint.
Under Bill C-53, a conviction for high treason would also require the imposition of a life sentence without eligibility for parole. High treason comprises attacking the Queen, waging war against Canada, or assisting an enemy engaged in hostilities with the Canadian Forces.
Bill C-53 would also create a discretionary judicial power to order imprisonment for life without eligibility for parole for three types of offenders.
First are persons convicted of second degree murder who have previously been convicted of murder. Second are persons convicted of second degree murder who have previously been convicted of genocide, a crime against humanity, or a war crime. Third are any persons convicted of first degree murder.
The use of this discretionary judicial power would require a prosecutorial application and consideration of the offender's age and character, the nature of the offence and its circumstances, and the jury's recommendation on parole eligibility.
In addition, Bill C-53 would amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to allow offenders serving life without eligibility for parole to apply to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness for executive release by the Governor in Council after serving 35 years of their sentence. Offenders may reapply after five years if their application is unsuccessful. Offenders granted executive release would become subject to the Parole Board's authority, including termination or revocation of the release and the imposition of conditions.
As I said, Liberals are amenable to 35 or 40 years of ineligibility for the crimes covered in this bill, as we indicated in our support for Bill C-587. That increase could make a meaningful difference for victims' families. However, we take issue with who the government proposes should be making decisions after that time period.
In addition to the changes I have already noted, Bill C-53 would amend the National Defence Act to require imprisonment for life without eligibility for parole for the following offences: traitorous misconduct by a commanding officer in the presence of an enemy; traitorous misconduct by any person in the presence of an enemy; traitorous compromise of security; high treason; and murder of the same types captured in the Criminal Code amendments.
This bill would also create military judicial discretion to impose imprisonment without eligibility for parole in the same circumstances as in the civilian domain. As well, Bill C-53 would amend the International Transfer of Offenders Act to allow imprisonment for life without eligibility for parole when, in the opinion of the Minister of Public Safety, documents supplied by a foreign entity show that the offender would have been convicted of a murder offence listed in the first paragraph, with the exception of the brutal nature provision.
I want to flag this last change as being particularly problematic, since it would allow the Minister of Public Safety to impose life sentences without parole eligibility based on evidence supplied by foreign entities. That would allow potentially tainted or fabricated evidence to produce life sentences without parole eligibility in Canada. States with some of the worst justice systems in the world could provide admissible evidence.
It is important to understand how all of the changes in Bill C-53 would alter the status quo. Currently all murder convictions carry mandatory life sentences in Canada. All of the specific types of murder that require parole ineligibility for life under Bill C-53 support convictions for first degree murder, which carry 25 years of parole ineligibility. A conviction for high treason would also carry a mandatory life sentence with 25 years of parole ineligibility.
For an offender serving a life sentence, day parole would become a possibility after 22 years and full parole would become possible after 25 years. On application, the Parole Board must review unsuccessful day parole applications every year and unsuccessful full parole applications every two years.
Of relevance, under a 2011 law that Liberals supported, offenders can now receive consecutive periods of parole ineligibility for multiple murders. As I mentioned, two offenders have been sentenced under that law to 40 years and 75 years of parole ineligibility respectively.
Under the current law, offenders may also be designated as dangerous offenders, meaning they may receive indeterminate sentences, subject to periodic review.
I want to focus in on the fact that this bill would grant the Minister of Public Safety, an elected politician, the discretion to release prisoners, a function currently carried out by the Parole Board. Any minister of public safety would be subject to self-interest and political pressure from constituents, the party, and especially the Prime Minister. This conflict of interest could unduly affect decisions on prisoner release and act contrary to the interests of justice.
When Canadians reflect on the matter, I do not think they would support the idea of the Prime Minister personally deciding on which prisoners to release. That is rightly the job of the Parole Board. Political considerations should not enter into these sorts of decisions. That, of course, is the reason we do not elect judges in Canada.
I am not sure why the government views the Parole Board as not being up to doing its job. When evidence was given on Bill C-587, I had a chance to ask Ms. Suzanne Brisebois of the Parole Board about its functioning. I asked her, “To whom is the Parole Board of Canada accountable?” Her response was as follows:
Our board is an independent administrative tribunal. There's a very rigorous competitive process that prospective board members have to go through...
We're responsible to the Canadian public. Again, the protection of the public is our paramount consideration. It's part of our mandate.
I also asked Ms. Brisebois:
Is the board less well-equipped to deal with the most serious cases than the rest? Could you comment on whether they're particularly poorly equipped for the most serious cases?
Her response was:
Our board members undergo rigorous training as part of their induction, both at national office and in the regions. They're trained on various aspects of the legislation, our policies, our procedures, risk assessment, and the various actuarial tools, so they undergo a very rigorous training period.
The Parole Board should be allowed to do its job. Replacing the Parole Board with political decisions from the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is a step backwards.
Liberals supported Bill C-587's increase to 40 years of parole ineligibility as well as the 2011 change for allowing consecutive periods of parole ineligibility. Crucially, both of these changes preserved judicial discretion in criminal sentencing under the charter. While allowing for more severe penalties, they safeguarded a judge's ability to tailor specific sentences to be proportional to specific crimes.
In contrast with Bill C-587, this bill would fetter judicial discretion in a way that would invite charter scrutiny. As I said, we are open to increasing the period of ineligibility, provided that it is the Parole Board that takes any decision once the years have passed. That approach would preserve judicial discretion, allowing sentences to pass constitutional muster.
On that note, I want to say a few words about the current government's disrespect for the Constitution, especially the charter.
This week Amy Minsky of Global News reported that the Conservatives have wasted almost $7 million of taxpayers' money in unsuccessfully trying to defend legislation and executive actions that violate Canadians' rights. That included over $1 million spent in trying to take away health care from refugees, almost $350,000 in trying to put a federal judge on Quebec's Supreme Court seat, and over $425,000 in trying to shut down a safe injection site.
Last week I learned from an order paper question that the Conservative government has spent $257,825.17 and counting in the Ishaq case, trying to ensure a woman cannot take the citizenship oath while wearing a niqab. I say “and counting” because that appeal is ongoing—not because it has a reasonable prospect for success, but because the current government wants to fearmonger and divide Canadians for political reasons. I am going to repeat the number in the Ishaq case: it spent over $257,000 to make sure a woman cannot wear a niqab in a citizenship oath. That is a stunning misuse of taxpayer money.
As Canadians know, the current government is one that has little respect for the courts and less for the charter. We all recall the disgraceful defaming of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice. As a lawyer, I was shocked. As a Canadian, I was deeply disappointed.
Members in this chamber will also recall the revelation that the current government disregards the constitutional advice of its own lawyers. As members are aware, Department of Justice lawyer Edgar Schmidt has revealed to Canadians that the current government proceeds with legislation even if it has a 5% or less chance of being charter-compliant.
As the Liberal justice critic, I have often criticized the current government for constantly amending the Criminal Code while failing to invest the necessary resources to prevent crimes from occurring. As a general rule, the government's approach is doomed to be ineffective because its policies are not responsive to evidence.
As I said when speaking to Bill C-587, I think in particular of the government's recent cuts to Circles of Support and Accountability, a community-based reintegration group that holds sex offenders accountable for the harm they have caused while assisting with their re-entry into society at the end of their sentences. COSA has been proven to reduce recidivism among sex offenders by 70% to 83%. That is an astonishing number.
According to the government's own study, it has saved $4.60 for society for every dollar invested. Over five years it has prevented 240 sexual crimes, yet the government cut that program, which was incredibly irresponsible. That cut poses a real and ongoing threat to public safety.
Returning to Bill C-53, the life means life act, I want to reiterate that Liberals strongly support the objective of reducing repeated and unnecessary trauma to victims' families. I recall from the Bill C-587 hearings the moving testimony of two family members of victims. That testimony was the reason we supported Bill C-587. However, the goal of reducing trauma to victims can and should be achieved with changes other than those contained in Bill C-53.
The primary reason we will not support this bill is that it would replace the Parole Board with politically driven decisions from the Minister of Public Safety. That is a step backward and an affront to the rule of law. Also, it is probably unconstitutional.
I wonder if these considerations explain why the government has brought this legislation forward so late in the calendar when it has no chance of becoming law.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-18 17:41 [p.15319]
Mr. Speaker, first, my colleague from the Okanagan wished me well in the upcoming election, but the Conservative candidate better. If he could tell me who it is, that might help. That individual has not yet been identified.
With respect to the specific question, there is a real concern here with the politicization of prisoner release, the politicalization of the role that previously was reserved for the Parole Board.
While he makes a valid point that there are certain powers that reside with the Minister of Public Safety right now with respect to international prisoners and those types of transfers, any encroachment on the expert role that is presently played by the Parole Board is one that is unwise, unwarranted and potentially dangerous.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-18 17:44 [p.15319]
Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.
He is right. It is clear that this government has adopted many measures that are quite similar to those adopted in some U.S. states.
However, we are always 10 or 20 years behind. Many of the measures adopted in the United States no longer work. There is a movement around the world, not just in the United States, to change the mindset about crime and sentencing. In fact, the hon. member's statistics confirm that.
There is another aspect of this issue that I want to address, and that is the safety of those who work in prisons. There are measures in Bill C-53 that are going to cause real problems because those who are incarcerated and will be affected by these measures will lose hope and have no reason to behave in a civilized manner. When inmates lose hope, that can create a very dangerous situation in our prisons for those who work there. In my opinion, that is an important aspect of this debate.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-18 17:48 [p.15320]
Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of aspects to that question that I will try to address.
First of all, clearly, the timing of the bill is purely political. It is not just a solution in search of a problem; it is a solution in search of a fundraising letter. If the government were seriously committed to a measure like this, the government would have brought it in much earlier in the mandate.
We have also heard absolutely no evidence of the magnitude of the problem that this addresses. The member for Gatineau very ably pointed out the number of individuals who will be affected. There is absolutely no evidence that this is a rampant issue that people who commit genocide, treason and multiple murders are out walking the streets. They are not granted parole under our present system.
The other comment was with respect to prevention. With the current government, any complex social problem can apparently be solved by an amendment to the Criminal Code. These problems are much more complex than that and require much more innovative solutions. When the only thing one has in the tool kit is a sledgehammer, everything looks like a rock, and that is where we are.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-18 18:53 [p.15329]
Mr. Speaker, I rise to pursue a question that I raised first on May 11, which was answered by the Minister of State for Science and Technology. Subsequently, on June 5, I asked a similar question, which was answered by the government House leader.
The issue is this. There was a secret deal made between a cellphone provider and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans which owns a range light structure in a residential area of Charlottetown 250 metres from an elementary school to erect an antenna on that range light structure. I say it was a secret deal because the residents found out when they saw survey crews around this range light in this residential area. That is how they were notified. There was some sort of a negotiation or a deal struck between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the cellphone company without the input of the residents. The residents are understandably concerned about property values. They are understandably concerned about the health and safety of their kids. They are understandably concerned about having this in the middle of their residential neighbourhood.
I raised the question initially in May with the Minister of State for Science and Technology. He said, “Canadians across this country deserve a say in how their cellphone tower locations are identified in communities all across the country, including in Prince Edward Island”, but they were not consulted.
I raised the question again on June 5, and the government House leader said that they have changed the rules affecting the location of cellphone towers in such a fashion that there is heavy reliance on the community, and he closed his answer with, “We work together with and co-operate with communities.”, but they did not. The full extent of the consultation with the community was after the secret deal was done and it was somebody sitting in Halifax and responding to emails. There has not been a public meeting and that antenna was erected yesterday.
The cellphone company did apply for a building permit, but because there was no variance sought, there was no public meeting in that instance either.
The minister did respond to one of my constituents by email saying that he would get in contact with the company to ensure that local residents are given the opportunity to provide their feedback on the antenna proposed for installation along Queen Elizabeth Drive. That antenna is up and that consultation has not happened.
I have three questions that I wish to have addressed arising out of this. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is the regional minister for Prince Edward Island. It would not be that difficult for her to engage her fellow islanders in the lead-up to this process. Why did she not and what is she going to do about it? Will the government change the rules that allowed this to happen without any involvement of the community? The rules provide an exemption where an antenna is being put on an existing structure. That is the problem here. Will the government now take measures to rectify this problem, which is a very serious problem in a residential neighbourhood in my riding?
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2015-06-18 18:59 [p.15330]
Mr. Speaker, that is extremely disappointing. The member opposite just said that the cell company involved here, Eastlink, consulted with the local residents. However, it made a secret deal with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans did not care enough to talk to the neighbours.
After the deal was done, and after this matter was raised in the House of Commons, the company sent out a flyer. There has never been a public meeting. There has never been anyone from Eastlink come into the affected neighbourhood to answer questions. When DFO signed that deal to allow Eastlink to erect this antenna, it did not insist upon it. It could very easily have been accommodated.
There is an exemption within the Industry Canada guidelines that allows for no consultation to happen when an antenna is being put on an existing structure and does not increase its height by 25%. They relied on that loophole, and the residents in that area are justifiably enraged.
What the member just said simply is not the case.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-17 14:45 [p.15206]
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister confirmed yesterday it was on his encouragement that the RCMP was instructed to violate the law and destroy government documents. If anyone needed any more proof that Ottawa is broken, they need look no further than a Prime Minister who puts direct pressure on the national police force to break the law.
Has the Prime Minister become so out of touch that he thinks he can ask the RCMP to break the law and then write himself a nice little bill to absolve himself of responsibility? Does the Prime Minister really believe he is above the law?
View Gail Shea Profile
View Gail Shea Profile
2015-06-17 15:09 [p.15211]
Mr. Speaker, this issue has been before the courts for quite some time. The court has ruled and DFO acted upon that ruling.
View Wayne Easter Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Wayne Easter Profile
2015-06-17 18:46 [p.15246]
Mr. Speaker, I certainly have to agree with what the member for Alfred-Pellan said. Her position is the same.
The member talked about this as more just. It is not more just and it is not punishment to fit the crime.
As the member for Alfred-Pellan said, the parole board already has the authority to deal with these situations. It has the expertise and authority to deal with them. The bill takes the authority out of its hands. Under the bill, if someone failed within a 24-hour period to state their change of address, they would have a new criminal record. They would go back into prison. What is the cost to the system? This is blanket treatment for anything a person does that is outside the conditions of his or her parole, and some of them can be terribly minor.
I would like the member to tell me how this in any way is going to help with rehabilitation to put these people back out onto the streets so they can be productive in society. Also, what would be the added costs to the system for this one-off bill that we are seeing again from the Conservative Party?
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