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View Bruce Stanton Profile
View Bruce Stanton Profile
2019-06-21 14:54 [p.29473]
I have the honour to inform the House that when this House did attend Her Excellency this day in the Senate chamber, Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms—Chapter 9.
C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada—Chapter 10.
S-203, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and other Acts (ending the captivity of whales and dolphins)—Chapter 11.
C-82, An Act to implement a multilateral convention to implement tax treaty related measures to prevent base erosion and profit shifting—Chapter 12.
C-59, An Act respecting national security matters—Chapter 13.
C-68, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act and other Acts in consequence—Chapter 14.
C-77, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 15.
C-78, An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act—Chapter 16.
C-84, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (bestiality and animal fighting)—Chapter 17.
C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 18.
C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 19.
C-93, An Act to provide no-cost, expedited record suspensions for simple possession of cannabis—Chapter 20.
C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020—Chapter 21.
C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tariff and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act—Chapter 22.
C-91, An Act respecting Indigenous languages—Chapter 23.
C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families—Chapter 24.
C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 25.
C-48, An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast—Chapter 26.
C-83, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and another Act—Chapter 27.
C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts—Chapter 28.
C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures—Chapter 29.
It being 2:55 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, September 16, 2019, at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 28(2) and 24(1).
(The House adjourned at 2:55 p.m.)
The 42nd Parliament was dissolved by Royal Proclamation on September 11, 2019.
Aboriginal languagesAboriginal peoplesAccess for disabled peopleAccess to informationAdjournmentAgriculture, environment and natural res ...British ColumbiaBudget 2019 (March 19, 2019)C-101, An Act to amend the Customs Tarif ...C-102, An Act for granting to Her Majest ...C-48, An Act respecting the regulation o ... ...Show all topics
View John Brassard Profile
View John Brassard Profile
2018-10-01 13:51 [p.22031]
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to speak about Bill C-77, to enact military justice reforms. They say that imitation is the best form of flattery. The government of the day has taken into account many of the proposals that were in Bill C-71 from the previous government, with the exception of adding a couple of things. It has simply copied and pasted that legislation into Bill C-77.
I want to spend a couple of moments on some issues that have come up lately in the House. Throughout the debate this morning, we heard the government side talk about victims and victims' rights. On this side of the House, and in the previous government, I have strongly advocated for the rights of victims, as we did the previous government with the introduction of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. It is paramount that governments ensure that they put the rights of victims ahead of the rights of criminals.
Over the course of the last couple of weeks, we have seen some highly publicized situations come up that have gained the attention of Canadians, in large part because of the issues brought up in the House. I will note two cases in particular as examples.
There is the Christopher Garnier case in Nova Scotia. Christopher Garnier murdered police officer and volunteer firefighter Christine Campbell. It was a highly publicized case. Ahead of veterans, Mr. Garnier was receiving PTSD benefits from Veterans Affairs.
Of course over the last week, we have also seen the issue around Tori Stafford come up. Her murderer is now sitting in an aboriginal healing centre in northern Saskatchewan when she should be behind bars and razor wire, which is exactly where she was before.
On the issues of victims' rights, we have to ensure we put them ahead of the rights of criminals. We have not seen that, as an example in the case of the government, over the course of the last couple of weeks. Many of us heard the father of Tori Stafford over the weekend, pleading with the Prime Minister of our country to correct that situation.
Fortunately, tomorrow on opposition day, members of the government side will have the opportunity to stand and do what is right with respect to an opposition day motion we will be put forward. It calls on the Government of Canada, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Public Safety to reverse the decision of Correctional Service Canada and ensure Tori Stafford's killer is put back behind bars and razor wire where she belongs, not surrounded by trees at a healing centre. The government and its members will have the opportunity tomorrow to do the right thing by standing in support of the opposition day motion.
On the issue of Bill C-71, as I said earlier, the Conservatives will always stand for victims and not criminals. Over the weekend, I had a robust discussion about this very issue as it related to criminals. It was more so about the current legislation, Bill C-71 and Bill C-75, as it relates to the new Liberal gun registry and changes to criminal justice acts, and in particular about the list of many otherwise serious criminal activities being reduced to summary convictions.
In some of the discussions I had around my riding this weekend, people were quite concerned not only with the gun registry and that it did little to tackle the real issue of gangs, gang violence and illegal gun activity, but also with the fact that many of these more heinous and serious crimes would be potentially reduced to summary convictions. The reason for that is the government's inability to fill judicial appointments on the bench and cases are getting backlogged. The government would simply rather slap criminals on the wrist with this potential summary conviction rather than looking after victims' rights and victims instead of criminals.
Part of this legislation, one of the important pieces of it, is the Gladue decision. For the most part, this is a copy and paste of the previous bill, Bill C-71, from the previous Conservative government. However, the main difference between the two would be the addition of the Gladue decision into the National Defence Act.
In effect, this addition would mean that aboriginal members of the CAF, who face charges under the National Defence Act, would face lighter punishments if convicted. That causes problems with respect to the fact that the special considerations for indigenous members could result in sentences that would be less harsh than those of other CAF members. In fact, it could undermine the operational discipline, morale and some of the anti-racism policies of the CAF. It is a concern.
We will support this legislation and get it to committee to ensure we hear from those various stakeholders, such as first nations communities and advocates.
View John Brassard Profile
View John Brassard Profile
2018-10-01 15:16 [p.22046]
Mr. Speaker, if my French were a bit better, then we would not need the interpretation, but I am working on it.
I do want to clarify something I was saying just before question period. I mentioned the situation regarding the Truro police officer Catherine Campbell and I referred to her as “Christine” Campbell, not “Catherine” Campbell. A good friend of mine is named Christine Campbell and it is easy for me to think in those terms.
Let me go back to question period today. Members of the official opposition, including me, again asked several government members and the public safety minister about the situation with respect to Tori Stafford and the fact that her killer has been moved to an aboriginal healing centre.
In the context of speaking of a victims bill of rights, I cannot believe for the life of me that the government is tripling down on this situation. Tomorrow we will be presenting an opposition day motion to deal with this situation, because Canadians are so outraged by this. Over the weekend, Tori Stafford's father issued a letter to the Prime Minister begging him to reverse this decision, which we are going to ask the government to do tomorrow.
It is my hope that the government will not quadruple down on this and will instead do the right thing. Canadians are outraged by this entire situation. They are outraged that the killer would be allowed to be placed not behind bars and razor wire, but instead be surrounded by trees at an aboriginal healing centre where there are children as well.
The minister tried to answer the question by saying that there are children at the Grand Valley Institution. The fact is that the Grand Valley Institution is entirely surrounded by fences and razor wire and the inmates are in pods behind bars.
The minister is suggesting that the two institutions are the same. One is a medium-maximum security prison and the other is a medium-minimum security prison. By the minister suggesting that they are similar, he is not being frank with Canadians, and that needs to be clarified.
When I was on the veterans affairs committee, we often dealt with the issue of PTSD and the impact that it has on our serving members. Quite a few forces members came before that committee and spoke about sexual assault and the impact it has. This again relates to Bill C-77. We had quite lengthy discussions at the veterans affairs committee over this and how it relates specifically to military justice and the Canadian justice system.
Bill C-77 is a cut-and-paste version of what the previous Conservative government introduced in Bill C-71 at the end of its mandate in 2015.
The purpose of Bill C-77 is to align the military justice system of Canada with the Criminal Code of Canada. The bill would do this in a number of ways, such as enshrining a victims bill of rights in the National Defence Act.
The Victims Bill of Rights was quite a comprehensive document. The intent of the previous government was, in contrast to the current government, to look after victims and their families to make sure that within the criminal justice system they were looked after. The emphasis in the Victims Bill of Rights was not on criminals but on the victims.
This piece of legislation would enshrine the Victims Bill of Rights into the National Defence Act, putting a statute of limitations of six months on summary hearing cases and clarifying what cases should be handled by a summary hearing. Bill C-71 would have instituted these changes as well had it passed the previous Parliament.
The main difference between this legislation and Bill C-71 is the addition of the Gladue decision into the National Defence Act. This addition will mean that aboriginal members of the Canadian Forces facing charges under the National Defence Act would face lighter punishments and special consideration if convicted.
We have heard on this side of the House during the debate all day that it could result in sentences that are less harsh versus other CAF members, so the question of fairness comes into it. Members could undermine operational discipline, morale and anti-racism policies.
The vast majority of Bill C-77 is based on the previous Conservative government's bill. We are going to support this bill, but we are going to seek some amendments at the committee stage. Excuse the cynicism, but it is our hope that this bill and some of those amendments that come at committee will be looked at by the government side. I know that we will have lots of stakeholders who come to committee. There will be recommendations from those stakeholders, including first nations communities and other advocates for military justice and civil justice in this country. It is our hope that the government will listen to all the information that comes forward and will deal with some of those considerations. Again, the government has not shown that commitment in the past to being open to many of the recommendations, not just from the Conservative side but from the NDP side as well. We are hoping that the Liberals will do that.
The previous bill had hundreds of consultations. They had stakeholders. Victims and members of communities came forward and spoke to Bill C-71. We landed at a good place with that piece of legislation. However, the Gladue decision certainly made changes to that.
I am fortunate, as you are, Mr. Speaker, to be close to a military base, base Borden, or camp Borden, as it was known in the past. In the time I have spent at base Borden and with base commander Atherton, as well as Chief Warrant Officer Charette, many people who serve have come and gone. When I was the critic for veterans affairs, I used to travel across the country meeting with military members, veterans and stakeholders and their families. The first question I would ask when I was in front of them was how many had gone through base Borden, and the hands would go up. It is the largest training base in Canada. I used to ask how many were at camp Borden, and some hands would go up, and I would say to those people, boy, they were old, because it has not been camp Borden for a while.
It is an integral part of our community, and those members who are placed at base Borden, as Canada's largest training base, come from all over the country. In fact, they come from all over the world to train in languages and other disciplines. I am quite honoured to be able to represent an area that has a military base like base Borden. In fact, there are thousands of people who live in my riding who are stationed at the base and work there in either a military or civilian capacity. They are truly heroes, in my mind.
I try to spend as much time at the base as I can. I was there last week when the United Nations peacekeepers were in town. They were holding their biannual meeting, and I was there for a speech at the base. I went there for dinner and then there was a ceremony at Peacekeepers' Park in Angus.
It plays an important role in our community, and not just an economic role. The connection to the base is one that is valued and cherished, so supporting our military members at all levels, including with this piece of legislation, is critical in what we do here in Parliament as parliamentarians.
In conclusion, I would say that Bill C-77 is an important piece of legislation. We are supportive of this bill proceeding to committee. We think it needs some work and some scrutiny. Therefore, I hope that when it gets to committee, the majority Liberal side will take some of these concerns we have and that stakeholders have and implement this to make it a better piece of legislation.
I would be remiss if I did not speak about something that was a passion of mine. I am really disappointed that it never received support from Parliament. It received support from this side and the NDP side, but not from the government side. It is Bill C-378, which was a private member's bill I proposed about having a military covenant with our military members. We would have been only the second country in the world to establish such a covenant, behind Great Britain, and unfortunately, the government side did not support it. It related specifically to the sacrifice made by veterans. It is something I was very proud to present, and I was very sorry to see that it did not pass through this Parliament.
However, there is hope, because at our policy convention in Halifax just a few short weeks ago, members of the Conservative Party made it a point to ensure that as a matter of policy, a military covenant would be established between our veterans and the people of this country who owe them so much.
View David Anderson Profile
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleagues for being so interested in this issue. I heard the Liberals say that they wanted this to leave the House immediately, but some of us do not have a lot of chance to speak to bills that are outside of our portfolio area. I am not on the defence committee, so that is not a place where I will be able to participate. Therefore, this is my sole chance to participate in this debate.
I hope my colleagues opposite understand that we are not ragging the puck here. We just want to give people an opportunity to speak to the issues.
These are important issues that come out of a number of different areas. I want to talk later about the Victims Bill of Rights, what it means and how much it has improved and changed the lives of Canadians. That has been the foundation of what we are doing. Bill C-77 tries to apply that bill of rights to the military as well.
My colleague who spoke previously basically had the same opening as I did. He talked about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. It is interesting that on the things the government has succeeded in, it has had to copy us. The things the Liberals have not copied us on have been pretty much a disaster. If we think about electoral reform and so on, their own initiatives have not gone anywhere. However, the ones we had done the work on and laid the foundation and the groundwork for, the Liberals have had some success.
Apart from this bill, I think of things like CETA, the trade agreement with Europe, which was pretty much handed to the Liberals, but they almost messed that up. They took it back and started messing with some of the text. The next thing was the Europeans wanted to open that whole agreement up again. The government had to fight and struggle to ensure it was implemented the way that we had negotiated it.
We are seeing the same thing with TPP. The agreement basically was finished and handed to the Liberals. We are sitting here two and a half years later and still do not have it through the House even though we were the ones who did the work on it. It is a good agreement and it should be implemented as soon as possible.
We saw the struggles the Liberals had around NAFTA, where they insisted on taking the agreement that worked very well and came so close to making a complete mess of it. Canadians need to understand that we were saved at the last minute by the fact that the U.S. auto sector stepped in and said that it needed to get the agreement done, that the negotiators could not be serious if they allowed the President to put tariffs on autos. Finally, our government realized it had better quit playing games, trying to make the President look bad, fooling around that way, and decided to get the agreement done.
Interestingly enough, the Liberals really did not gain anything with it. It barely held the ground that we had in the past. That seems to be the way the government operates.
That brings us back to Bill C-77, hopefully something that will be much easier for the Liberals to get through in the form it is in right now. We have heard debate about it. At this point, we will support the bill at second reading to go to committee as soon as the debate is done in the House. The point of it is to align the military justice system of Canada with the Criminal Code of Canada. It is a good and important objective. As I said before, it centres around the Victims Bill of Rights that was passed in 2015. It takes that and enshrines it in the National Defence Act.
Many people talked specifically about Bill C-77 and what is included in it. However, I would like to back up a step and talk about the Victims Bill of Rights, which lays the foundation for the discussion we are having today and for the bill that is being presented here today.
Obviously, the Victims Bill of Rights created a clear set of rights for victims of crime. It requires those rights to be considered during the trial processes and it provides four rights for victims in Canada. Those rights are the ideas of information, protection for their rights of participation in the system and then some aspect of restitution.
Some of it seems to be common sense, but perhaps is not in the courts. Canadians will understand that every victim should have the right to request information that he or she needs with respect to the system and the role the victims play in that, the services and programs that are available to them. Victims should be aware of the fact that they have the right to file complaints if their rights are being violated.
In investigations, victims have the right to ask about the status and outcome of the investigations. They have the right to know where the location of the proceedings are taking place. They have the right to ask for information about any kind of reviews that are being done under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
For the last week we have been talking about an issue in western Canada, actually in my riding. A young “lady”, and I use that word very loosely, participated in the kidnapping, rape, torture, murder and burial of an eight-year-old girl. She was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Then about a week ago we found out she had been moved from a maximum-security prison to medium-security prison a couple of years ago. In the last few weeks, she was moved to what was basically a minimum-security prison.
I am familiar with the Okimaw Ohci healing lodge. It is in my riding and I have been there several times. I have been there for its open days and have enjoyed going there. However, this is not the appropriate place for someone like that.
As I pointed out, the rights of victims require that those who have suffered have the opportunity to find out what is going on in the system. When Tori Stafford's father found out what had happened, he appealed to the Prime Minister. He said that it was crazy. The person had murdered his daughter and he had to live with that every day of his life. He said that the Prime Minister had sent her to a minimum-security prison. Not only was it not a prison, but it was in a treed area. It was like a park setting with small cabins arranged in small units. Not only did it not have a fence around, or have restrictions or whatever, but children were allowed to go and spend time with their mothers.
My constituents have made their opinions clear to me. They agree with our position over the last week that this needs to be reversed.
The reason we know about it is because there is a Victims Bill of Rights and that is the foundation for the changes being suggested in Bill C-77.
Victims are allowed to attend hearings that are open. With respect to protection and security, people have the right to have their security considered. In the criminal justice system, they have the right to protection from intimidation and retaliation. We have talked about that today in regard to Bill C-77. They have the right to have their privacy considered and having their identity protected as well. They also have the right to request any kind of help they might need when appearing as witnesses in proceedings.
There are other things around participation. Victims have the right to give their views about decisions to be made by the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system that affect their rights. They have the right to speak up. We think that is an important right.
We are all familiar with victim impact statements and the role they play. In some court cases, victims are allowed to give victim impact statements, how the criminal impacted their lives, how this activity has destroyed, for example, the lives of their families.
The Victims Bill of Rights also talks about restitution orders and the fact that victims have the right to have the court consider making restitution to them by the offender.
There are a number of other things in the Victims Bill of Rights, but that lays the foundation for us for Bill C-77. The bill is about enshrining that Victims Bill of Rights in the National Defence Act. It also puts a statute of limitations of six months on summary hearing cases.
We heard this morning about the various levels of discipline and how the defence minister , if we trust him, was trying to make some changes that would speed up some of the discipline cases on lesser offences. We are hoping that what the Liberals are saying is actually true.
This is virtually a copy of something that was presented three years ago by the former Conservative government just before the last election. I guess the good thing is, as I mentioned, the Liberals have taken this on and have decided that they are going to bring the bill forward in much the same fashion and structure that it was before and introduce those changes.
There are some differences. We have talked a bit about them as well. One of the main differences in this bill, and probably will be one of the main things that will be discussed at committee, is the addition of the Gladue decision in the National Defence Act. For those people who are not familiar with that, it instructs the courts to take into consideration an aboriginal person's background when he or she is sentenced. On occasion, when that is applied, it may mean that the sentencing itself or the sentencing process will be different for that individual than it would be for a non-aboriginal person.
People have questioned whether this should be considered in the military. Is it appropriate that in the military, where everyone is subject to the same structures of discipline, where we try to bring about equality and equal participation, someone would have a different sentencing structured or a different level of punishment than other people would based on these kinds of considerations? I am sure we will be bringing forward those issues and asking those questions at committee.
Our government made it a priority to stand up for victims. That is why we brought forward the Victims Bill of Rights. That is also why we saw our Bill C-71 come forward prior to the election, in pretty much the form being presented by the current government. We know that the priority of government, on this side of the House anyway, should be to protect the safety of its citizens. We take that responsibility very seriously.
Putting the rights of victims back into the centre of the criminal justice system was important to us. It was something we spoke about many times and made it the centre of a number of different pieces of legislation, the guarantee that victims would have the right to have a more effective voice in the system and that they would be treated with courtesy and compassion. I think we are all familiar with situations in the past years where often victims seemed to be harassed more than they were treated with compassion and respect when they came forward with charges. We were determined to try to reverse that trend and ensure people were treated with respect, while keeping our streets, our cities and communities safe for Canadians and their families. That was why we took so many concrete steps to hold people accountable for their actions. We are glad to see this being extended to the military as well.
The question I need to ask is this. Are the Liberals really serious about this bill? They say that they want it to go to committee as soon as possible, and we hope that is true. However, what we have seen in the past is that they are far more interested in PR when it comes to issues of criminal activity than they are in the content. We see that in this Parliament.
I think of Bill C-71, the firearms legislation. The bill has come forward. The government has made a declaration that it wants to deal with the crimes with respect to gangs and the illegal use of firearms. The bill does not mention either of those things but creates massive problems for legitimate firearms owners. It is almost as if the Liberals looked at what the PR side of it was, decided they could make it an attack on legitimate firearms owners, convince the media country that it was a good thing and they did not have to do the hard work of trying to solve the gang situation and getting illegal guns off the street.
Bill C-71 is an example of where the Liberals do not seem to take this issue of crime seriously. I hope they are with respect to Bill C-77. I asked a question of the minister this morning and I trust he answered it honestly.
With respect to Bill C-71, another issue we had was the misuse of statistics. The Liberals take an extreme statistic, apply it, then say that is the average and that they will operate using that as a starting point. However, anyone who knows the statistics knows that the year they were using, 2013, was such an exceptional year and it did not really fit into the normal trend. There is a lot of attack on regular citizens it seems, particularly in Bill C-71, and not much that would actually protect victims of crime.
We brought forward a number of other bills when we were in government: the Safe Streets and Communities Act; the reform of the not criminally responsible legislation, which was needed for many years, and we were happy to bring that forward; and the laws against sexual exploitation and cyber intimidation.
It is good to see these changes are coming forward. I know there have been some changes made since 2016, even within the military. The government talks about the fact that the director of military prosecutions has changed the way that it does things, the way it approaches these issues. There are a number of things in the government's document. It talks about how it has already introduced changes, such as providing information proactively to victims on the choice of jurisdictions in a sexual misconduct matter. Therefore, if there is a charge of sexual misconduct, the victim now has more say in what jurisdiction he or she wants it looked at. It has some information that it can provide that will help. Victims are kept informed throughout the investigation and throughout the trial process. That did not happen before in the military. The DMP, in its overhaul of the way it has done things, has included this as one of the things it thinks is important.
Now the DMP has started to consider the views of victims in determining the public interest in these cases. Is there public interest in moving forward with the prosecution of the cases? It is allowing victims to participate. I know that witness preparation has been improved. It is spending more time with witnesses, finding out what they will be testifying to and if they are prepared to be competent witnesses. It is assuring victims' comfort and security. I am told it is one of the key considerations. In the past, as I mentioned, people have been intimidated, even by the way the system is set up, so this is set up to be much more fair to them.
It is making efforts to make sure that in sexual misconduct cases, victim impact statements are relevant and considered. It is trying to get consistency with the prosecution and prosecutors so that each of them approaches the issues in the same way. That is probably an important consideration in that there needs to be consistency within the military itself and the way it deals with and addresses these issues. That is part of what Bill C-77 is trying to do: to bring the consistency provided in the Victims Bill of Rights into the military part of the justice system. Another thing is that sexual misconduct cases are being expedited in the military courts to try to get them out of the way.
There are a lot of things going on. As I mentioned, there are the indigenous sentencing considerations. We heard earlier today that there are changes to the summary trial process and the way summary charges are handled. There are a number of other areas around the victims rights at courts martial as well that have changed. They have a different perspective and a different opportunity. A victim's liaison officer would be put in place to give victims an opportunity to get this information and go to somebody who can work with and help them.
I come back to the concern that Liberals are honest about dealing with victims. We have heard over the last three or four weeks in the House of Commons about a gentleman who murdered a female police officer, desecrated the body and was sentenced to jail. Then he applied for Veterans Affairs benefits and the government has been providing those benefits to him. Those benefits, I am told, can be provided by Correctional Service Canada, but the government has made the decision that he deserves veterans benefits. Conservatives have argued that he does not. There are people who have served who receive them, but he has not served or spent a moment of time in military service and yet he is getting these benefits.
The government said it would cut them off for now, but we need a better response than that from the government. That was a bad response in that case. Now with Tori Stafford, we have heard the comments made by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness this afternoon. It is another slow response, a bad response to people who have been victimized in the worst ways by crimes and the best the ministers of the government can say is they have given it to somebody who will review it for a long time and when that person gets back to them, they will let us know how it turns out. In the case of Tori Stafford, by the time that happens, how long will that woman have been in the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge, being able to do whatever she wants to do, having access to children and wandering off the property if she wants? She is not eligible for parole for another 13 years. What does she have to lose should she decide to do something inappropriate in Okimaw Ohci?
That is an example of the government not being willing to react to these issues. We hope that when this bill goes to committee, Liberals will deal seriously with it, and when it is implemented, they actually treat it seriously, because they do not have a history anywhere else of dealing fairly and honestly with victims. Hopefully, in this situation, they will and we look forward to when this bill is passed.
It is a good bill, Conservatives wrote most of it, and we are looking forward to the government applying it and hopefully, it will take care of many of these issues that people have faced at military trials and those kinds of situations.
View Larry Miller Profile
View Larry Miller Profile
2018-10-01 17:04 [p.22060]
Mr. Speaker, before I get into the issue at hand, it is no wonder that taxpayers and voters across this country get skeptical about politics when somebody, whether it is the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister or the Minister of Veterans Affairs, stands up every day and tries to pretend that something is exactly like something else when it is not. I am referring to what he just talked about on the minimum-security prison where this murderer, child killer, was moved to. She was behind bars in minimum security. She is not today and that is a huge difference. People get it, no matter how they try and spin it.
Before my blood boils much more, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-77, which will amend the National Defence Act to bring about some changes to the Canadian military justice system. For the most part, these changes are both needed and welcomed. The bill before us today is in fact very similar to a previous Conservative bill, Bill C-71. I do not want to confuse anyone. The Bill C-71 that I am referring to is a bill from a previous government. It is not the same Bill C-71 that the Liberals have passed through this House which is a direct attack on law-abiding firearms owners. That is most certainly a Bill C-71 that I will never be supporting. The Bill C-71 that I am referring to was put forward by our previous Conservative government in an attempt to accomplish many of the same goals that the bill before us here today seeks to accomplish.
The fundamental objectives of this legislation, that I believe are supported across party lines, are aligning the military justice system in Canada with the Criminal Code of Canada, enshrining the Victims Bill of Rights into the National Defence Act, putting a statute of limitations of six months on summary trial cases and clarifying what cases should be handled by a summary trial. These are all very positive steps forward that are contained within Bill C-77 and I am supportive of them moving forward.
I would like to take some time to focus on one of these central points, with respect to enacting the Victims Bill of Rights. It should be pointed out that it was the former Conservative government that brought forward the Victims Bill of Rights when we were in government. It was an incredible step forward to ensure that Canadians who are victims of crime are supported. That is our party's record when it comes to supporting survivors.
Unfortunately, time and time again we see the Liberals talking the talk but not walking the walk when it comes to support for victims in this country. In fact, they've adopted a “hug a thug” mentality when it comes to modernizing the Criminal Code. Through Bill C-75, the Liberals are actually making it possible for perpetrators of heinous criminal acts, some carrying sentences of 10 years in prison, to get off with only a ticket, fine or minor jail time. Bill C-75 introduces a number of measures that are intended to deal with delays in Canada's court system. However, as I have said, the massive 302-page bill will also end up reducing sentences for a number of dangerous crimes. This will be done by provisions in the bill that could reclassify indictable offences so that they may be punishable as summary offences, which would carry a maximum penalty of only two years.
A potential 10-year sentence lessened to two years is the Liberal solution to judicial delays. I sent a mailing out to my constituents that informed them of Bill C-75 and what it would do. I invited them to respond to me via a response card. The response card asked them if they agreed with Bill C-75. To be clear, there was literature that went with it to explain exactly what was there so that people understood what they were voting on.
In my entire time serving the riding of Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, I have never had such an immense return to a mailing like this. I received nearly 1,600 responses to this question. Of the responses, 97% of respondents said that they disagreed with Bill C-75, while only 31 individuals out of that 1,600 agreed and 17 were unsure or needed more information. This was certainly a message heard loud and clear. Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound does not support Bill C-75.
Canadians are also having a hard time believing that this government supports the men and women who serve this country.
I rose in the House last week to make the Minister of Veterans Affairs aware of a veteran in Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound who cannot receive the important support he needs. He is 87 years old and is a veteran of the Korean War. His name is Barry Jackson. I know the family well. He served our country admirably and is now looking for any kind of help from Veterans Affairs. Unfortunately, it will not return his calls.
First I will provide a bit of history. It took years for Barry Jackson to be approved for a wheelchair ramp. Now he needs a scooter, and all he gets is silence from Veterans Affairs. His son Jonathon contacted my office after learning that the Liberals were paying for PTSD treatment for a convicted murderer who has never served in the military one single day in his life. It truly is shameful that a murderer and cop killer with not one day of military service is receiving benefits.
When Barry Jackson got the call from Canada in 1951, he answered that call and headed off to Korea, just like thousands of other young Canadian men did. However, years later, when Barry Jackson needed help and reached out to Canada, nada, nothing, zero. From Veterans Affairs, nothing; from the Prime Minister, nothing; from the Minister of Veterans Affairs, nothing. They should all be ashamed.
Christopher Garnier, meanwhile, committed unspeakable acts, but because his father served in the armed forces, he is getting support, while actual veterans like Barry Jackson wait and wait. It is unfair and, I would say, un-Canadian. What is really ironic, and we can use whatever word we want, is that with the money in Veterans Affairs and the services available, veterans like Barry Jackson, who laid their lives on the line to earn those services when they needed them, are the ones who cannot get them. However, a cop killer and rapist like Chris Garnier, one of the worst human beings one can imagine, has no problem getting them and did not serve one day. That is why people shake their heads and wonder why they even support or want government. It is things like this that give it all a dirty feeling.
When it comes to supporting victims and the men and women who serve this country, the Liberals do not have a great record.
Earlier in my remarks, I mentioned that Bill C-77 almost directly mirrors Bill C-71 from a previous Parliament. There are, however, a few differences I would like to highlight. Perhaps the most glaring difference between the two bills would be the addition of the Gladue decision in relation to subsection 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code of Canada to the National Defence Act.
This addition would mean that aboriginal members of the Canadian Armed Forces facing charges under the National Defence Act may face lighter punishment if convicted. There is absolutely no place in the Canadian Armed Forces, or in Canadian society, for that matter, for discrimination of any kind. No one should ever be discriminated against based upon race, gender, religion, culture or any other factor. That being said, the insertion of this principle has the potential to result in different considerations for offences committed by aboriginal CAF members than for those committed by non-aboriginal forces members. This could lead to sentences that are less harsh and could undermine operational discipline, morale in the forces and even anti-racism policies.
I want to point out, while I have the opportunity, that there are two reserves in my riding. Cape Croker, which is just north of my home town of Wiarton, has the distinction of having the highest percentage of young men who have served in wars. That is something I know they are proud of. Wilmer Nadjiwon, a former chief, just passed away a year or so ago at 96. I stand to be corrected, but I believe that he and seven of his brothers, the eight of them, were in the war, and some of them did not come home. They gave it all, so this is not a slam against aboriginal veterans across this country.
View John Nater Profile
View John Nater Profile
2018-10-01 17:50 [p.22066]
Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to debate Bill C-77, an act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other acts.
I find the comments coming from the Liberals somewhat interesting and rich about needing to ram this bill through all of a sudden. Here we are on October 1, and now it is time to ram this bill through when it took them three years to get to this point. When it was first introduced on May 10, we went through two months of sitting in May and June, had midnight sittings through most of the month of June, but yet the government did not see fit to bring it forward for debate then. Instead, the first day of debate for this bill was September 21, a Friday sitting, where just about two hours of debate can occur. Here we are on just our second day on the bill, and all of a sudden the Liberals are crying that we should be immediately ramming this through, before members have a chance to debate it.
In our former Conservative government, we placed victims at the centre of our criminal justice system. We thought it was important the victim of a crime be granted the right and privilege to participate in the criminal justice system. We did this in a number of different ways, but most importantly, through Bill C-32, which created the Victims Bill of Rights. We did that because we felt it was important the victim have a voice and the opportunity to fully participate in our criminal justice system.
It has been disappointing to hear from these Liberals the last couple of weeks, who would rather place criminals ahead of victims on so many different issues. In the past two weeks alone, we saw these Liberals defend granting veterans benefits to convicted murderer Chris Garnier, a convicted murderer who did not spend a single day in the military. He never once donned our nation's uniform, never once participated in Canada's Armed Forces, yet these Liberals stood in this very place and defended the right of that convicted murderer to receive veterans benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder, that he, by his own admission, had because of the brutal murder he committed. These Liberals are defending his right to receive treatment paid for by veterans rather than that which is available through our Correctional Service of Canada.
Tomorrow we will be debating a motion in this very place brought forward by our leader, the leader of Her Majesty's loyal opposition, about the tragic case of Tori Stafford's murderer being transferred from a prison with bars and razor wire to a healing lodge, where the commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada admitted there are often children present. We heard the Liberals defending this once again today in question period, defending the murderer of an eight-year-old girl who was brutally murdered. The Liberals are defending the transfer of her killer from a prison to a healing lodge. It is wrong. Tomorrow, we will see where the Liberals truly stand on victims when they are called to account to stand in this place and defend that decision.
This follows a series of moves by these Liberals to place a greater emphasis on the criminal rather than the victim. Bill C-75 would actually reduce a sentence for a number of what we on this side consider serious crimes.
This would include participating in the activity of a terrorist group, infanticide, a couple of impaired driving offences causing bodily harm, abducting a person under the age of 14, forced marriage, advocating genocide, extortion by libel, arson for fraudulent purposes, and possession of property obtained by crime. They also want sentences reduced for participation in the activities of a criminal organization. With all of the challenges we are facing, these Liberals want to reduce sentence for those participating in gang activities. I know this is wrong and Canadians know it is wrong.
When the former Conservative government introduced the Victims Bill of Rights in 2014, our then justice minister saw fit to make this bill of rights a quasi-constitutional document, a document so important that it would take precedence over many other federal statutes. At the time, our minister of justice, the hon. Peter Mackay, stated on April 9, 2014:
In order to give meaningful effect to victims' rights by all players in our criminal justice system, our government is proposing that this bill have quasi-constitutional status. This would mean that the Canadian victims bill of rights would prevail over other federal statutes, with the exception of the Constitution Act, which includes the Charter of Rights and other quasi-constitutional statutes within our legal system, such as the Official Languages Act, the Privacy Act, and, of course, the Canadian Human Rights Act.
What does this bill do? It effectively reintroduces Bill C-71 from the previous Parliament, which our Conservative government introduced, and applies the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights to the military justice system. In particular, it provides for four key rights for victims: the right to information, the right to protection, the right to participation, and the right to restitution.
Many Canadians, whether they serve in the Canadian forces or not, often find the criminal justice system intimidating and confusing, and find it challenging to get information about the case being made about the crime perpetrated against them. The right to information is about their right to have information in the general sense of how the system works, and also specifically regarding their case so they know about its progress. It is also to know information about the investigation, and the prosecution and sentencing of the person who perpetrated the act against them.
Whether it comes to the criminal justice system or the military justice system, the second right is the right to protection. This is to ensure that victim safety and security is protected. Whether that is by having their identity protected from public disclosure or using other measures that would allow for their protection, we believe this is exceptionally important.
I do see that my time is running short, so I will not have a full opportunity to talk about the right to participation and right to restitution. However, I will say that those of us on the Conservative benches will always stand for the victims of crime. We will defend the victims of crime and ensure that they have a place in both our criminal justice and military justice systems so that their voices are heard. We will stand with victims.
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